As many of you know, I am pro-vaccine. I am a parent of three children, two on the Autism Spectrum and yes I am pro-vaccine. Many people find this odd. I don’t. In the United States of America, we have the choice to walk into a physician’s office and get a vaccination for the flu, for pneumonia, or chicken pox. These diseases can be fatal in children and the elderly. Recently a friend of mine shared a Forbes.com article with me on Facebook about parental aversion to vaccinating their children. It got me to thinking, why the aversion? Let’s look some things I discovered while researching this topic online.
Vaccines are a hot button issue. Not only are their pro and con websites where you can access opinion information about vaccines, but also there are websites that advise the researcher, often parents, to avoid vaccinating their children. There have been laws created to prevent states from opting out of vaccinating and making vaccinations mandatory for their school children. But I also found out that vaccine controversies are not new to us. Vaccine controversies go back to the 1721 when Reverend Cotton Mather introduced inoculation to Boston during the smallpox epidemic of that year. Of course there was an experiment after much haggling over the inoculation but eventually Dr. Zabdiel Boylston tried the experiment on his 6-year-old son, his slave, and his slaves son. Each contracted the disease and after several days of being sick, they were classified as being “no longer gravely ill”. Boylston went on to vaccinate thousands in Massachusetts. Even in the 1700’s, vaccination was a hot button issue, especially in the religious community.
If we fast forward to 1853, President Thomas Jefferson was interested in vaccination and ordered that vaccinations be created that would include invention to prevent damage of heat to allow it to travel to the southern states where small pox was wide-spread. By the end of the 19th century, smallpox outbreaks were contained and the smallpox vaccine was created with prevention in large populations in mind. So we can continue to trace the controversy through the years until we get to the 20th Century where there was a broadcast in 1982 called “DPT: Vaccine Roulette” about the DPT vaccine and then the 1998 publication of an academic article that has been discredited that sparked the MMR vaccine debacle.
When we look at the Forbes.com article “A Vaccine Eliminated A Deadly Killer of Infants. So Why Do Some People Fear It.”, the prevalence of pneumococcus disease in kids under five decreased from 100 cases in 100,000 people to 20 cases in 100,000 people. I am not saying that vaccines do not come with their issues. There are such things as vaccine injuries. There is a court set up for this. Do I believe that vaccines are the cause of many developmental disabilities that they are believed to cause? No. Do I feel that they may be the trigger, it is possible. I am not a doctor, I do not know. My children, all them have had their vaccines as well as their boosters. Do I feel that their autism is caused by vaccines, no. I know that what ever it is, it is genetic or rather; it is the way that they are wired. I feel that in our society, we cannot go back to the days when disease was allowed to run unchecked without a way to prevent them.
In today’s society we have parents that do not vaccinate their children. This is not only dangerous to them, but it is dangerous to us. It is dangerous to babies and to the elderly. Not only that, we have to think that there are children in developing countries that will not survive to year five without vaccinations. These children also need our help. I am a parent, I am an advocate, and I am a vaccinated individual. Any day that I have my children is a good day and I can imagine that any parent in a developing country that has lost a child to a vaccine preventable disease and has had the opportunity to have their surviving children vaccinated will say that same thing. I cannot imagine putting my children or any other individual at risk because I chose to not vaccinate my children. I cannot imagine not doing what I can to help those that desire but do not have the access to vaccines the opportunity to receive one.
As I stated before, vaccination has been a hot button issue and it has gone from being a religious issue to being an issue of fear that your child could be diagnosed with a developmental disability. The fear of a disability does not outweigh the loss of a child. It does not out weigh disease that could infect others.