Family life

The great vaccine debate

Josiah had his 4 year check up today…bummer for him that meant getting his shots. Lucky for him, he won’t have to get them again for a few years.

After his appointment today it got me thinking about the great debate about vaccinations, which has been around for many, many, many years, but it seems to flare up with a vengeance every so often. Right now we’re in a flare up…probably because school just started and everyone was getting ready to make sure their kids had all their shots before returning to school.images

I’ve researched this before (I am a journalist — I do research for a living) and I’ve researched it recently. In the past when I’d studied it, I found out that one point one of the vaccinations way back when (at least before the 1980’s or earlier) contained mercury. That ingredient has since been removed according to all of the research.

I researched all of this before Josiah was born because I wanted to make an informed decision based on as factual of evidence as I could possibly get my hands on. After my research, my husband and I decided that Josiah was going to get vaccinated just like we did and just like my sister did.

In the past few weeks I’ve received copies of articles (different websites, basically a copy and paste of the same article) claiming that the government has admitted that the MMR vaccine causes autism. Whether these allegations are true is relative to this next point I’m going to make. When doing internet research there are a few key things you can do to check and see if a website is legitimate. When I was searching these particular “news” sites I found this:

  • These websites allow people without writing degrees or experience to write about whatever they want. It says so in the FAQs. That means I can write a story about astronauts in space and get it published — despite the fact that I have no knowledge of this except Google (which will provide me with other opinions about space written by people ignorant to the subject). These articles that are published will probably contain more opinion than fact.
  • These websites talk about posting “the truth” and how the liberal media is under the thumb of the government and newspapers and TV news only report what the government wants to. First of all, the media doesn’t answer to the government contrary to popular belief. Even at my small town paper we tick the government off more than anyone else for publishing stories they don’t want written. Second, do you know how many alien and conspiracy theory websites post about “the truth.”
  • Many of the websites I looked at basically had a copy-and-paste version of the same article. This means that when you Google it, it looks like you’re pulling up multiple “news” sites that are reporting about the same thing — so it MUST be true, right?
  • Most of these websites don’t tell you who wrote the article and don’t give you a way of contacting the site other than an email. You’ll never get a hold of the person that wrote the article, which ensures that that person doesn’t have to be held liable.
  • Some of these websites were created on Blogger or WordPress or other blog sites and had cheap cookie-cutter sites. Most legitimate news sources have their own webmasters and don’t have to use the cheaper blog sites (some college papers use wordpress, but I’m talking legit news sources).

Here’s something interesting that I found on the Autism Speaks website (which by the way is run and founded by two grandparents with a child with autism so as far as I can see it’s NOT a government run website):

  • They list signs to look for when questioning autism as early as 6 months. It also lists signs for 9, 12, and 24 months.
  • They also specifically state on their website that there is not enough evidence to claim that autism is caused by vaccines.
  • The website states that most of these symptoms start early, but that they become more noticeable between 1-2 years old (autism varies greatly, so this obviously varies).

The MMR vaccine is given at around 12 months and then again at 4 years old according to the Center for Disease Control vaccine chart. If the symptoms of autism start to escalate at around 1 year old and the MMR shot is given at 1 year old it’d be hard to tell what was the cause.

Here are a few of my questions that haven’t been answered:

  • If the MMR is given at 1 year old and symptoms of autism escalate at 1 year old, then how are we supposed to know if the child was going to have autism or if it was caused by MMR?
  • The MMR vaccine is given at 4 years old, so why aren’t there more 4-year-olds getting diagnosed with autism that were completely on track before? After all if MMR is to blame, wouldn’t it be possible that they didn’t have the reaction the first time around, but they had the reaction the second time?
  • This may be a stretch, but it’s something to consider…there are many adults having to go back and have the MMR shot before college because they’d lost their shot records. If MMR is to blame for causing autism, wouldn’t there be adults (probably not very many) that have had adverse reactions to MMR and had brain damage (maybe not necessarily as severe as a young child)? After all if MMR is bad, wouldn’t an extra dose because of lost shot records be even worse on your brain?

Many of these websites claim that autism has increased and that’s because of all the vaccines being given.

Here’s a list of other medical things that have increased in the past several years:

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Depression
  • Gluten-sensitivity/allergy
  • Anxiety

Are there outside factors that are causing all these kids to suddenly have ADD/ADHD? What about adults with depression? All research indicates that it’s not that any of the above syndromes have actually increased over the years, there’s just an increase in the diagnosis. As the field of medicine advances, doctors learn more about current diseases and illnesses which means they’re going to be diagnosed more.

Do you know that in the 1800s someone who was mute, deaf, or had a mental handicap (such as down syndrome or autism) was considered a “simple” person or considered possessed and there was no help for them and no diagnosis. Now that we know what autism and all of these other syndromes are, they’re more easily to diagnose.

What have I gotten from all of this research and pondering?

I have decided that there are some families that feel vaccines are not something for their families and they make the decision to not get their children vaccinated. Do I think unvaccinated kids are going to bring back polio? Probably not. If a family has done educated and un-biased research on the subject and choose not to vaccinate — that’s there decision. Contrary to popular belief, unvaccinated children can go to public school, they just have to fill out yearly waivers.

After all of my research, our family went one step further. We prayed. We prayed that God would show us what is right for our family — what is best for our children. After the research and the prayer, we decided that our kids are going to be vaccinated.

Am I saying that I think MMR causes autism? No. Am I saying that MMR and other vaccines are completely harmless? No, but then again, look at the list of side-effects on your Tylenol bottle. No medication is without side effects. What I’m saying is I don’t think there’s been sufficient enough research done for me to make the decision to stop vaccinating, but that doesn’t mean some other mom doesn’t feel differently.

For every decision we make as parents, there is evidence to support/refute our stance (take spanking, co-sleeping, and extended breastfeeding for example). As parents, we have to make educated decisions and trust that we’re making the best decision for our children. After all, no one else can make these decisions for our children (although there are people that would like to).

I posted a few related articles that I thought were interesting, particularly the one from the mother of an autistic child and a child with Aspergers.

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