Dear Government officials, Pro-Vax parents, and Media pundits who want me to vaccinate my child,
Here I am again, drawn into this issue that I said I would never talk about because this whole discussion, debate, argument, whatever it is, makes me absolutely crazy.
I’m hearing loud and clear right now that you want me to vaccinate my child. I get that you’re passionate about it and you’re just trying to get your message across. I think you fail to understand, however, that I’m actually quite passionate about this issue too.
I have spent a lot of time reading, thinking, discussing, researching, and thinking some more about the decision to vaccinate my children or not. It’s not a decision that I make lightly. And I definitely hear that you think I should make the choice to vaccinate. But I think you need to know that the way you choose to approach this conversation has the exact opposite effect on me and my family’s decision than you are going for.
See, what we as parents who have questions and concerns about vaccinations need to hear is respectful and honest discussion. We are real people with real concerns about vaccines and their risks, the diseases they prevent against, our children’s health and safety, and the health of our society. We want our questions and concerns to be taken seriously and to be met with truthful and respectful responses.
So, let’s take a look at how honest and respectful this discussion is right now.
The Measles “Outbreak”
To begin with, the reason the issue of vaccines is raging right now is because of recent measles cases in the US. These cases of measles are labeled as an “outbreak” and the media is acting like people should be super concerned and freaking out about this. There have been 141 reported cases of measles, and the population of the US is around 316.1 million, so this means that .000045% of the population has contracted measles.
I’ve also heard the words “deadly disease” thrown around these discussions when stating the reasons that people should get vaccinated. But no one has died from measles during this outbreak. In fact, no one has died from measles in the US since 2003 according to the CDC. (source)
Using terms like “outbreak” and “deadly disease” in this discussion of measles cases and vaccines is disingenuous. Perhaps we could find a more accurate descriptive term than “outbreak”. And remember, we are looking for honest discussion here, and “deadly disease” is not an honest term. We are not stupid, we can hear the fear mongering.
We can do our own research and learn that this disease (and many other diseases that vaccines are currently available for) are in fact NOT deadly here in the US where we have, and will continue to have, proper and adequate medical care to treat these diseases. This is something we should all acknowledge and be grateful for instead of using terms to provoke fear and hysteria.
The Pro-Vax Voices
Next, let’s discuss the way those who are very pro-vaccine talk about people who are either anti-vaccine, or have questions and concerns about vaccines and might be on the fence about them. Let me give you a clue, it’s not very kind or respectful.
For example, Hilary Clinton recently tweeted:
Wow, condescending much? As if this is going to suddenly make all of my concerns go away and I’ll run right out and get my kid all of her vaccines.
Since I am a Christian and care about following Jesus, there is this gem that tells me that Jesus would have been pro-vaccine, and that I am not following Him faithfully if I don’t vaccinate my children. Nothing like a little side of faith-based guilt and shame to go along with my legitimate questions about vaccines.
And then, because I’m obviously just too stupid to get it, you must lay it out for me using an analogy of having brakes on your car being the same thing as vaccinating your children. Except this just doesn’t really work for me because the last time I checked having brakes on your car doesn’t actually have any known risks or side-effects.
And then people respond like this in the comments section on a link to the above article on Facebook:
Okay, you won me over with your kind and respectful words. You’re right, I’m an ill-informed moron and will go vaccinate my child right away.
The problem I see here is that you who are strongly pro-vaccine and think everyone should vaccinate their children according to the CDC schedule with no questions asked are not being respectful and honest about the legitimate concerns that parents have about vaccines. You just want to sweep them under the rug and pretend they don’t exist.
Vaccines absolutely carry real risks. Why else would the government have to create the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program? So if you try to argue that vaccines have no risks, then you are not engaging in honest discussion. It feels like you are throwing facts and common sense right out the window, when it’s facts and common sense that are actually needed to engage in meaningful discussion about vaccines.
The fact is, there are many, many well-educated, critical thinking, well read, concerned parents and citizens who DO want to make the best decision for both the health of their child and for the health of society as a whole. We already know there are risks to both vaccines and to the diseases they protect against. Therefore, we have appropriate concerns about these risks and are looking for information about how to best weigh the risks and benefits of both.
Without trustworthy information, presented in a respectful and honest way, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to navigate this issue and arrive at a decision we feel confident about. And so, by engaging in bullying, shaming, scare tactics, fear mongering, name calling and much worse, you are actually pushing us father away from being able to make the decision you want us to make.
You are pushing us away from vaccinating our children because you refuse to be respectful and honest with us. And we will not be scared or bullied into these decisions when we have legitimate questions and concerns that we want to be taken seriously before injecting our children with something that could have serious consequences. Ignoring these facts will not ever move us, and our country as a whole, toward the high vaccination rates you are so desperately looking for.
So, respect our questions and our desire for honest discussions about these issues. One of the best ways you can do that is by beginning to be honest about the risks of vaccines. Acknowledge that vaccines carry risks and can have destructive consequences just like the diseases they prevent against.
And then provide and promote trustworthy information that acknowledges the real risks and benefits of both vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases.
So, dear government officials, concerned pro-vax parents, and media pundits, if you truly want me to vaccinate my child for the good of the society, and I sincerely believe you do, you need to rethink your strategy. The way to get those of us who have questions and concerns about vaccines to vaccinate our children is not to shame us, belittle us, humiliate us, or scare us. It is to respect us and our concerns, and to engage in honest discussion with us.
A Parent who reads, researches, and struggles with the decision to vaccinate my children
And P.S. Before you get all bent out of shape, I am not anti-vaccine. My older two children are up to date on all of the vaccines they need for school. My youngest daughter is partially vaccinated based on a schedule and time-table that we feel comfortable with. Our plan was to have her fully vaccinated by the time she is ready to start school, but as I said in the post, the biggest thing that holds me back from continuing with her vaccines at this point is the way I perceive those on the “pro-vax side” to treat me, my concerns, and my partially vaccinate child. Please keep all discussion and comments respectful or they will be deleted at my discretion.
If you have questions and concerns about vaccines and the current vaccine schedule, and/or your child is unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, what’s one thing you’d like to say to those who want you to vaccinate your child? I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and opinions (respectfully) in the comments.
Cartoon credit: iosphere from freedigitalphotos.net