Very few people in this world had a healthier upbringing than Amy Parker:
I was brought up on an incredibly healthy diet: no sugar till I was 1, breastfed for over a year, organic homegrown vegetables, raw milk, no MSG, no additives, no aspartame. My mother used homeopathy, aromatherapy, osteopathy; we took daily supplements of vitamin C, echinacea, cod liver oil.
I had an outdoor lifestyle; I grew up next to a farm in England’s Lake District, walked everywhere, did sports and danced twice a week, drank plenty of water. I wasn’t even allowed pop; even my fresh juice was watered down to protect my teeth, and I would’ve killed for white, shop-bought bread in my lunchbox once in a while and biscuits instead of fruit, like all the other kids.
We ate (organic local) meat maybe once or twice a week, and my mother and father cooked everything from scratch—I have yet to taste a Findus crispy pancake, and oven chips (“fries,” to Americans) were reserved for those nights when Mum and Dad had friends over and we got a “treat.”
Amy’s parents forgot one thing: Vaccines.
As healthy as my lifestyle seemed, I contracted measles, mumps, rubella, a type of viral meningitis, scarlatina, whooping cough, yearly tonsillitis, and chickenpox. In my 20s I got precancerous HPV and spent six months of my life wondering how I was going to tell my two children under the age of 7 that Mummy might have cancer before it was safely removed.
While she is not as strict with controlling her own kids’ diet and activities, Amy Parker hasn’t forgotten the importance of immunizing her children. As a result, they are seldom sick and, with the exception of chickenpox during infancy, have never had the “cruel” and unpleasant experiences of getting sick with common, vaccine-preventable childhood diseases.
Knowing these illnesses intimately during childhood, Amy has some advice for “anti-vaxxer” parents:
If you think your child’s immune system is strong enough to fight off vaccine-preventable diseases, then it’s strong enough to fight off the tiny amounts of dead or weakened pathogens present in any of the vaccines.
But not everyone around you is that strong, not everyone has a choice, not everyone can fight those illnesses, and not everyone can be vaccinated. If you have a healthy child, then your healthy child can cope with vaccines and can care about those unhealthy children who can’t.
I would ask the anti-vaxxers to treat their children with compassion and a sense of responsibility for those around them. I would ask them not to teach their children to be self-serving and scared of the world in which they live and the people around them.
She knows what she is talking about.
More PediaBlog on vaccines here.
(Back Pat: Lynn Hurdle)