A concerned mother responds to last week’s PediaBlog post regarding those who oppose vaccinations:
Very timely topic. The front page of today’s Wall Street Journal, “Fifteen Years After Autism Panic, A Plague of Measles Erupts”. Okay, it is in Wales, but stories like this are very disconcerting to someone like me. I am a parent of a soon-to-be 6 year-old child who has an immune system that has been weakened by chemotherapy and he cannot get immunizations at this time. He is one of those mentioned above who must rely on “herd immunization” to stay alive. Conveying this information to school staff members and people in the community has been met with mixed replies. I think some of these folks feel that I am overreacting with these concerns, but after reading this article and the one in the Wall Street journal, I see that my worries are justified. Hopefully a few of those people who give me strange looks will see articles like this and think of my child. From the perspective of this onco-mom, the thought scares me that my son is winning his fight against cancer, but may be taken down by chickenpox or some other disease that once was nearly eradicated from our society. Like I don’t have enough to worry about.
Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children (or vaccinate using their own illogical schedules) are typically very intelligent people who, for some reason, think that the laws of nature and probability don’t apply to them and their loved ones. It’s a case of thinking they know more than the experts (or a suspicion that the “experts” have ulterior motives in a larger, conspiratorial game). And, in all of it, there is a huge blind spot in their perception that obscures the benefit of vaccines to the “herd.” Most anti-vaccine parents would not characterize themselves as greedy (fate will shine upon them favorably) and selfish (everyone else is on their own). But, other than fear, what else could it be?
Phil Plait sums it up:
I’m a parent myself. My wife and I have had to make tough decisions about our own daughter over and over again, especially when she was an infant. That’s why we carefully researched those issues and sought out information—science-based, credible information—about them. And that’s why all three of us are up-to-date in our vaccinations.
Despite McCarthy’s well-meaning intentions and sincerity, her claims are still very, very wrong. So let me be clear: Don’t heed the advice of anti-vaxxers. Instead, go to your board-certified doctor and ask about vaccines. And if the doctor recommends you go ahead and get the shots, do it. The life you save may be your own child’s, as well of those of children all around you.