Jay and I have been researching vaccines lately. We’ve both been vaccinated numerous times (my vaccine record is a mile long, after spending two years in the Peace Corps), but for our baby, we wanted to know more before we just blindly followed the majority and vaccinated according to schedule.
I’ve been reading for weeks, and there are two sides to every angle in the vaccine realm. There are major organizations in support of mandatory vaccination, and there are studies that call immunizations into serious question. There are people who swear they will never allow any vaccines be given to their children, and others who say that parents who don’t vaccinate are the scum of the earth. But what strikes me about the whole debate is how heated and often illogical it is. And the people who scream the loudest about how important vaccines are tend to be people who actually know very little about them. It’s similar to the reaction people often give to the idea of home birth – stating with authority how dangerous it must be, when in fact the opposite it true. People with very little actual knowledge about vaccines often feel justified in insisting that vaccinations are a must and that anyone who questions them must be a moron.
What saddens me is that the most educated people in the vaccine debate are often parents of children who have been injured or killed by vaccines. These parents have a significant interest in the subject, and some have spent thousands of hours researching all the data available. They tend to know vastly more about the subject than the much bigger group of parents who have obediently herded their babies and toddlers into doctors’ offices for each vaccine – right on schedule.
Jay and I are leaning towards not vaccinating our baby. I will breastfeed for at least a year, providing a dramatically strengthened immune system for our little one. We do not plan to put our baby into daycare, which markedly cuts the risk of all childhood illnesses. We have not ruled out all vaccines yet. We may decide to get some, depending on the circumstances. We will continue to research the subject, and will look at each vaccine on a case-by-case basis. In Colorado, we have a right to waive any and all vaccines, for which I’m grateful.
But I don’t discuss this subject with people unless they bring it up first. I have no desire to argue with anyone about it. And unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of intelligent, unemotional dialog about the subject. Whether a parent decides that their children will get no vaccinations, or a few, or all that are recommended, is a highly personal decision. And yet it seems to me that relatively few people actually research the subject beforehand. Most parents just do what their doctor tells them. A handful of parents want nothing to do with the medical system and reject vaccinations outright, without ever looking deeper at the underlying data. With something so important at stake – the health of our babies and children, and indeed our entire health care system – I’m surprised that more people don’t do a lot more research on the subject.