Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Do Your Research"

Ah, the vaccines vs autism argument. I wish I could leave it alone, but I can't. Some people will continue to believe what they want to believe, no matter what evidence they are shown to the contrary.

Today, I overheard as a first-time dad was told by a stranger that he needed to "watch out for that MMR vaccine" with his newborn. I looked over at the guy and said nonchalantly, "Nah, you're ok. Get the vaccine." Apparently the antivaxxer didn't like that much. She proceeded to tell him that he needed to do his "research" (because she's obviously done hers) and that it affects about one in fifty. "Actually," I informed her, "Studies have shown that autism may be linked to other factors (such as gut bacteria). There's no real evidence to prove that the MMR vaccine or any other vaccines cause autism." She went back and forth with me a bit, as I countered each of her points calmly and with a smile, then turned to the new dad and warned him once again to do his own research, to which he responded, "I'm pretty sure my wife has done all of the research she can." I can only hope that by that he meant, So we're going to guard our kid against these fatal diseases, thank you very much. 

A friend of mine put it perfectly when she said, "Even if I didn't know better, I'd rather take my chances with vaccines causing autism than to have my kid die of polio. Autism I can handle. A dead child, not so much." So many parents fail to realize how terrible these diseases of the not-so-distant past really were. With the rise of misinformation and scare tactics, we're starting to see once eradicated diseases making a comeback in the U.S. Measles, mumps, and rubella are nothing to laugh at. They are serious diseases with serious consequences. As are polio, diphtheria, and the like. It's true that some of these illnesses are treatable, but the chances for serious complication or death is too great and the victims suffer through awful symptoms. Why anyone would risk contracting any of these is beyond me. I certainly couldn't fathom watching my child suffer through them.

We need to continue to vaccinate our children for sake of herd immunity. Infants, chemotherapy patients, and others with weak immune systems need the safety of herd immunity since their bodies cannot fight illness as easily as ours can.

If you are reading this and you still aren't convinced, please, do your own research. Read results from reliable sources and then determine your stance on this issue. In fact, here are a few to get you started:

Autism Speaks
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Autism Science Foundation

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