Friday, September 28, 2007

Books and Guts

Yesterday someone gave me a whole lot of grief for not vaccinating my baby according to the recommended schedule. It's a convoluted story about how it all came up, but she knew that I was only doing one vax at a time, and asked how often I was doing them "every two weeks?" I said no, I was doing them a couple of months apart. She got a shocked and condescending look on her face and said "but then you'll never be able to get them all done by the time he's two."
"I know, but he'll have them before he starts school."
"Oh, but he really needs them by two."
I launched into an explanation of how I have done my research, from authoritative sources such as the CDC (Betcha *she* hasn't read the pink book cover to cover, even though she's an MD!)
She looked at me as though I were insane, and said "Well, I can see you've done your research, and you have the right to make those choices for your children, but I'm glad that other parents aren't making those same choices or we would lose the herd immunity. Other parents don't ask as many questions, they just accept. You are lucky that they are getting their shots, because they are helping protect your child."
I could have hit her. She's glad that other parents don't take the time to research for their kids? That they don't question? That they don't CARE?! Oh, and I should be greatful to those uncaring parents because they are 'protecting' my child?
*deep breaths*
After the fact, I came up with a number of great retorts for her, but in the moment I was just so overwhelmed with her staunch insistence that I was doing my children a disservice by caring enough to be educated. I've spoken with other doctors who may not have agreed with me, but they at least respected that I was trying to make educated decisions.

I make my parenting choices based on three things: education, intuition, and prayer. I would venture to say that the prayer actually overlaps into the intuition, because much of the intuition is actually inspiration. I 'go with my gut,' be those feelings based on Divine guidance or on instinct. Book and Guts people. That's how I mother. I'm far from perfect, but the method is not flawed, and I think we'd have a better world if more people tried it.

Edited to add:
A few of those responses I thought of later:
"Oh, have you read the CDC's book cover to cover? Because I have..."
"Herd immunity? Are we talking about children or sheep?"
[after she asked if family members had had reactions, and why I was worried about them] "It's not just about reactions. Giving multiple vaccines at once, or close together, gives a child toxic levels of aluminum."
[after "you'll never get done by two"] "Well thank heaven for that!" (this was my dh's response when I told him. Yay Hubby!!! He's pro vax too, but at least he has the sense to want them spread out!)
"Oh, so you're saying that good parents don't ask questions? Have you ever read 1984?"
[after "what if he got measles out here in the middle of winter"] "Well, hallelujah if he gets the real thing and can develop real immunity, that's so hard to do nowdays!"


alisaterry said...

I'm proud of you for keeping your composure. She certainly proved your point for you.

Herd immunity is such a stupid thing. It would make sense if vaccines were 100% effective, but none of them are (this is straight from the package inserts). So even if every person on earth got these vaccines, total herd immunity would not exist.

Besides that, the live virus vaccines sometimes GIVE the person the disease and spread it to friends and family members. The Chicken Pox vaccine is most notorious for that.

katef said...

Ugh! I have come across that attitude a few times too, once from a close friend who emailed me a research paper implying that parents who didn't vaccinate did so only out of fear and were putting the rest of the 'herd' at risk because of their fears! I am always so offended when people bring up the 'herd' thing but never know what to say! Can you share some of the great responses you thought of after the event??

Leah said...

Um... I'll be the first to admit I haven't done any research, but I do know that the term "herd immunity" when applied to children kind of creeps me out.

Tuan's Princess said...

Ugh! I'm sorry you had to hear all of that junk. I am responsible for my own children and not for everyone elses. I am never going to inject my child with toxins to maybe, possibly, perhance protect yours! And wtf is up with "thank goodness all the other parents don't ask questions"! Insane!

Jessica said...

Herd immunity? I can't believe someone would actually say that! And praising parent's for not questioning what society claims is best for their child? That's ridiculous!
Please excuse my ignorance because I'm trying to learn about vax before going back to the pediatrician in January, but are there diseases/sicknesses that children are vaccinated for that the body may not recover from on it's own? For example, polio?
If you want to just email me, that's fine.

Sunrise Programmer said...

Umm...what exactly is the issue with herd immunity? All it means is that because many people in our herd (in my case, a town near Seattle) have had their shots, the amount of the disease (chicken pox -- measles -- whatever) is less.

Because fewer people have the disease, an un-vaccinated person is less likely to get it, to. And un-vaccination here also includes people for whom the vaccine didn't take.

Why do you dislike the word "herd"? All it means a bunch of animals, and in the context of anatomy we're pretty much animals. Pigs have hearts; so do we. Sharks have livers; so do we. Cats have ears; so do we. Beagles get cancer; so do we.

There'a s commenter who asks if there are any diseases which we don't recover from. Answer: yes, lots. Have you ever looked into your family tree, and noticed the number of families with dead kids? There's a reason that kids normally live to be adults nowadays. Well, actually a lot of that is decent plumbing, but it's neck-and-neck with vaccines.

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