I recently came across yet another article about the ongoing vaccination debates of late, and was, once again, struck by the absurdity of such controversy. Amidst rumors of autism, refusals to get the chicken pox vaccine, and even reported dangers of cold medications, this topic is becoming as heated as whether or not to breastfeed or stay home from work.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that people simply don’t trust doctors anymore. With the widespread and frequent use of online medical sites like WebMD enabling (often flawed) self-diagnoses and books advertising ever more rigorous and fanatical forms of healthy living, mothers no longer take pediatricians at their word. In fact, moms are taking their kids for second, third, even fourth opinions, and writing off doctors who recommend vaccinations.
What happened to the days when we were grateful?? Not to say that educating yourself on issues you find important is bad. But there was a time when mothers trusted doctors – who are trained to answer their questions and make suggestions based on their expert opinions (whether you agree with them or not). Yet the mere suggestion of the flu shot now brings moms to arms in doctors’ offices across the country.
Although polio has been widely eradicated in the Western world, a boycott of the polio vaccine in Africa by parents worried that the shot could contain harmful chemicals recently led to outbreaks in over a dozen countries. Which could, conceivably, happen in the US as well. And although many parents believe that their children won’t get sick, especially if they’re not yet in school, there’s no way to ensure kids are safe if you choose not to vaccinate.
The debate has been greatly intensified lately by reports about links between the MMR shot and autism, although scientific evidence thus far has not proven a cause and effect relationship between the two, and any correlation may simply come from the fact that the age the vaccine is given corresponds pretty directly with the age that the first symptoms of autism become apparent, leading many to draw mistaken conclusions.
Still, despite scientific studies and the advice of pediatricians, when it comes to choosing whether or not to vaccinate, many parents claim they’d rather be safe than sorry. But, knowing what could happen without vaccines, what decision is safer in this case? Yet, regardless of any and all reports favoring either side of the issue, without a question the debate will rage on.