I will tell you right off the bat, that I have vaccinated my children for all diseases except for the flu (that’s another blog topic). But I don’t know if I made the right choices in doing that. My children are healthy and happy and do swell so far…but I do not KNOW that I made the right choice.
I think the topic is more complicated than the sound byte that our doctors, the CDC and the media wants us to believe.
When I was 3 years old, I had got the chicken pox from my older sibling and I am now immune to ever getting that disease again. I remember itching and being kept home for a while. I don’t remember it being a horrible disease, and yet we vaccinate our children now in order to prevent what was a normal routine in everyone’s lives in the early 70′s. Is this necessary? I truly did it because everyone else did it, but I think I might have preferred for them to have chicken pox at an early age as I did. I vaccinated them because I knew that was unlikely since everyone else was vaccinating their children, where would I expose them to the disease?
I never had the measles and I have had the measles vaccine. I immunized myself in order to prevent getting the disease while traveling. I may have had to by law before leaving the country. I cant remember. But when my children were born, I was able to pass my chicken pox immunity on to them for the first year of their life because my immunity to that disease was stronger than the vaccine induced immunity to measles. They were not immune to measles until they were vaccinated themselves at one year old. I travelled with them as small children and did not give much consideration to the possible risk that I exposed them to. Ignorance is bliss sometimes. I do know how lucky I am to have healthy kids.
It is fair to say that there is hysteria being caused by the recent measles Disneyland outbreak, pediatricians, media and even politicians running for president are all pointing fingers about the cause of the outbreak and begging others to vaccinate their children. And I cannot argue with them, but I cannot help listening to my inner bullshit detector and asking. Who was the first patient who spread the measles in Disneyland? Was it perhaps a child who was allergic to the vaccine? So if that is the case, that child could not have avoided getting measles, nor spreading it to others who were either too young or had a medical reason for not being vaccinated. I don’t think we know the answer to this question. Because allergies exist, medical excuses exist preventing everyone from immunizations, so how do we prevent those children from getting the disease? Children under one year old cannot be vaccinated and remain at risk. How do we prevent an immunocompromised child (one under cancer or HIV treatment) from being in contact with the first group?
I don’t know if this “outbreak” could be avoided. Perhaps if young mothers had not had the vaccine themselves and had contracted the disease at a young age, they would have shared their immunity with their children under one years of age and at least those children would not have been at as high a risk of getting the disease. Perhaps only the children who were immunosuppressed or allergic to the vaccine would have been at risk. But then, large group gatherings will always put them at risk and I am not sure anyone could have the right answer to this problem short of immune protection spacesuits for those at risk.
I worry that folks see a problem and their immediate gut reaction is to find the solution and point fingers at folks who made honest choices for the love of their children and maybe the solution and the finger pointing might be wrong and mean and unnecessary because let’s face it folks, we have a problem and the solution is not to criticize others. This is not the first disease outbreak and it will not be the last. I am sorry that some children are suffering from anything they may be suffering from, but I don’t know that the sound bite solution is the optimum solution.