Friday, November 20, 2009

vaccines take two

I had the misfortune of sitting next to one of those people yesterday, one of those people who think their phone conversation is so important that they should speak loudly enough for everyone on the bus to suffer though it. Not only was this person rude and inconsiderate, she was kind enough to let us all know what a big fat hypocrite she is. I didn't want to know about her life story, her struggles, or her personal beliefs, but apparently she felt the need to broadcast them to the entire bus, so now, I do not feel like I am invading her privacy by sharing my thoughts on what I was forced to sit through.

She got pregnant two years ago, at which time she was, in her words, "very pro-choice", and then, at age 20, pregnant and unwed, she chose to let the zygote develop to full term. It was, she says, a very difficult decision. Subsequently, she was recently featured in a Collegian article at a candle-light vigil along with her son and a group of pro-life activists.

Let me pause to note that I respect her choice to have a child, and I admire any student mother - heck, I admire all mothers! I also have nothing against people who want to hold a peaceful, and non-intrusive, demonstration of their views. Good for her - good for them. If she had hung up the phone right then, I would not have felt the need to share her otherwise innocuous rudeness publicly. But she didn't.

Said girl proceeded to complain about the doctor's visit she had with her son earlier that day, and how the doctor was recommending that her son be vaccinated against Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR). She was outraged at this suggestion - she has, after all, heard many stories about children who developed autism after getting vaccines...WHAT?!?! Hold the bus, literally! At this point, my husband can see that I am about to blow a gasket on this girl...even now, remembering it, my heart is pounding out of my chest. Said girl continues to go on, and on, about how she doesn't trust doctors or science, and that stories from her personal encounters give her the background she needs to determine that her son is NOT going to be vaccinated. The icing on the cake, though, was when she worked herself into a huff on the phone as she recalled how the doctor wrote a note to the daycare her son was attending, recommending that he not be allowed back until he received his MMR vaccination. The gall of some medical professionals! I encourage every parent, every person, in fact, to do their own research before making decisions about their health, or the health of their children, but to ignore peer-reviewed, validated studies in favor of regurgitated scare-mongering, that is negligent and destructive to individuals and to society as a whole.

As someone who hopes to become a parent, I would definitely NOT want to send my child to any daycare where he or she would be exposed to non-immunized children. Why should my child be exposed to preventable, potentially life-threatening diseases because said girl lives her life off of hearsay and misinformation? I would be disappointed had the doctor NOT made that recommendation.

In case you're wondering, there is absolutely no evidence that vaccines cause autism. There is also no evidence that driving while pregnant, or eating tomatoes, or breast-feeding cause autism, so please spare me the argument that lack of support does not indicate a negative result. When it comes to autism, there is such a wealth of papers that show a lack of support, that together they do indicate a negative result. Autism is actually a spectrum of disorders and can have a profound effect on families with autistic children, siblings, parents. Work by reporters for the Sunday Times ( exposed that the one (and only) research to ever show any link between autism and vaccines, published in 1998, falsified and altered its data to produce the desired results - most of the children had already been showing signs of autism prior to their vaccination, and their symptoms span the wide range of autism spectrum disorder. Basically, the one study on which all of this hysteria is based, is a bold-faced lie. However, it is a lie that people want to believe, so they grasp onto it with every fiber of their being; people would rather blame a scapegoat, however innocent it may be, than live without knowing the truth.

So, after 15 minutes of this incessant dribbling of whatever brain matter said girl has left, I cannot stand it anymore and politely excuse myself from the bus to endure a walk in the November rainstorm, rather than risking the chance that I'll lose my cool with the mass of uninformed and completely irrational excuses sitting next to me.

Sitting down in our car, soaked from the rain, it dawned on me:

Why bring a child into this world just to let him die of a preventable disease?

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