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[personal profile] rayjwinteraven
Having a son with Aspergers syndrome, maybe a daughter with it, maybe having it myself, isn't near the same as having a family member with low-functioning autism. However, I do feel I have a right to my opinions as long as I don't shove them down anyone's throat. With that in mind, it is in my opinion that vaccines are a good and essential thing for the community. I will discuss my thoughts, which may ramble, and I will strive to not disrespect anyone who chooses to not vaccinate.

In general, I believe that vaccines help prevent disease. In the UK, apparently, measles is on the rise again because of fear of vaccines causing autism. There have been more deaths. Not too far from where I live, pertussis is on the rise, and four years ago while I was pregnant with Fawn, rubella was running through a community not too far away, where vaccinations were being waived as a religious right.

It's hard to imagine being afraid for your baby, knowing that if you managed to get rubella since your blood titre is non-existent despite childhood vaccination that now your child has a pretty good chance of permanent disability or even death. I think to know what that fear is like, you have to be in that situation. I look down at my barren belly and the memory is pretty faint, but I know intellectually that I was very afraid. Maybe that's why it's so easy to dismiss the fear of malformed hearts and eyes and deafness that cannot be healed - because it's not a real fear unless you're there. Well, we're getting back there.

We had almost eliminated polio. Now, that's not a casual thing. I remember the man in the apartment building where I'd lived, hand twisted up like a goose head atop a craning neck, the exhausting limp to get down to the elevator and back, the scooter which made travel easier but could do nothing for the oral motor control and the poor gnarled hands. It's coming back in places, again because of fear of vaccines.

In some places of the world, there's fear that the vaccines are tainted with things like sterilization drugs. I can see that; paranoia doesn't mean they're NOT out to get you, and the only solution I know is to find trusted people to truly supervise the production.

Here, and in the UK, and in the U.S.A., the fear is that vaccination produces autism. 1 in 150 are on the spectrum now. The incidence is climbing - which would really be interesting if vaccinations cause autism spectrum disorders, because more and more people are avoiding vaccinations. All we need is one unvaccinated child with an autism spectrum disorder to disprove the entire causation theory.

http://www.chop.edu/consumer/jsp/division/generic.jsp?id=84662 seems to show fairly well that not receiving the MMR vaccine, at least, doesn't keep you from getting autism: "The percentage of children vaccinated was the same in children with autism as in other children in the North Thames region". http://photoninthedarkness.blogspot.com/2006/03/how-to-seek-and-not-find.html mentions a genetic disease that seems similar to autism, although I'm not sure it's the same. Interesting though that it doesn't appear to have been noted by someone doing a thorough study of all Amish children to show that not a one has autism. And http://www.pacificspirit.com/2006/11/21/mmr_and_autism mentions 'children who were diagnosed with autism before they were vaccinated'.

To be fair, there's also discussion that 'autism' is more than one thing. The spectrum is so very wide, with so many variations, and there are genetic studies happening which seem to have found markers for particular symptoms within autism. There's at least one mitochondrial disease which can be aggravated by the vaccine, to produce autism-like symptoms; perhaps other autism sub-sets respond to the environmental trigger of vaccination or even the stress of having something jabbed into your arm like that. And there are other reasons to not vaccinate.

However, it does not seem to me that vaccination has caused my son's symptoms, and it does not seem to me that vaccination is the only way people end up on the spectrum, and it DOES seem to me that vaccinating enough people provides 'herd immunity' so that a few people who don't vaccinate for other reasons may be protected from contracting life-threatening diseases. I don't care if the average person who chooses not to vaccinate figures they're all treatable - go tell that to the guy crippled from polio, tell that to the family of the West Virginia baby who died from pertussis in 2004, and the 197000 people who died from measles in 2007.

I chose to vaccinate my children, even knowing the hypothesis that vaccinations cause autism. I did it for them, I did it for me, I did it for the community. And I would do it again.

Date: 2009-05-26 07:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bitterwind.livejournal.com
I blame television :)

Date: 2009-05-27 05:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sylrayj.livejournal.com
It's a convenient scapegoat. :)

Date: 2009-05-26 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] helianthas.livejournal.com
very good post.

Date: 2009-05-27 05:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sylrayj.livejournal.com
Thanks. *hug* A friend's baby girl got pertussis - she's too young to be vaccinated yet. This didn't happen in front of me before. Sparrow's classmates didn't get pertussis, and his peers were of a significantly lower social class than that friend and presumably are at greater risk. Our countries have helped make these diseases significantly less problematic, but now we have to watch out for them again. :(

It just seems unfair.

Date: 2009-05-27 12:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vidasmiler.livejournal.com
I have noticed too that fear of vaccination seems to have spread in Australia. As a result schools are sometimes refusing to let unvaccinated kids in. I guess it is for the parent to decide to weigh up the odds. My choice to go ahead with vaccination was simple (but the what ifs from the media still creep in). After reading your post I can see that there is a lot of mis-information out there. Great post Rayj. *hugs*

Date: 2009-05-28 08:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sylrayj.livejournal.com
Thank you. :)

It's tough. There's mis-information, and quite likely bootloads of incomplete information, and I know everyone wants to do what's best for their kids - just wish they recognized that 'their kids' aren't just the ones they cook supper for. They're also my kids, and your kid, and all the other kids out there.

Date: 2009-06-06 11:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] victoria7.livejournal.com
This is interesting to me. My mother didn't vaccinate me or my sister.

Date: 2009-06-06 11:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sylrayj.livejournal.com
There's probably a base number where 'herd immunity' covers people who choose to not vaccinate. I don't object to people making an informed choice based on their personal beliefs, or for medical purposes. The worry, for me, is when there are so few vaccinated due to poor awareness that the entire population is more vulnerable.

There was a posting on the About.com site's Autism blog, asking those who don't vaccinate what they plan to do to keep themselves protected from the diseases they haven't been warded against. When I stopped reading, there was not a single comment saying anything productive, except 'We're avoiding all the toxins including vaccines so we're perfectly fine, nobody is poisoning us through the so-called vaccination schedule!' Perhaps I'd have found it more helpful before the statement that the government was purposely poisoning everyone - striving to be as healthy as possible sounds like a fair solution, as well as being aware of instances of disease outbreaks and staying home when sick.

I know that you actively strive to be as healthy as you can be, and that you have made choices to improve your health. Everyone should probably reconsider their habits and choose healthier ones where possible, and it's probably more important for those who aren't vaccinated. I think you're doing a good job.


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