The Great Vaccine Debate

imageThe vaccine debate has really gotten out of hand over the past few years. Should you? Shouldn’t you? Are they good? Are they bad? Should I retain medical advice from some crazy lady on Facebook? (Ps that last one is ALWAYS a no!)

In 1998, a man by the name of Andrew Wakefield came out with a report that the MMR vaccine causes autism and colitis. It has since been proven that his report was fraudulent, but the anti vaccine movement continues to rise. You can read more about Andrew Wakefield here.

As a mom of three boys with autism, I get asked about my stance on vaccines quite frequently. And I support getting your children vaccinated. Your child can’t die from having autism. They can however die from measles, mumps, polio…the very things these vaccines prevent. We saw a large outbreak in measles in 2015 for the first time in decades because of the anti vaxx movement.

That being said, I’m on the fence about my beliefs on whether MMR causes autism. With my two oldest children, I had them vaccinated as per the schedule their doctor gave me. Neither one of them ever had any sort of reaction to any vaccine they received. So when I heard this vaccine connection for the first time, I immediately called bullshit.

But I had a much different experience with my littlest little. We moved from California to Florida when he was eight months old. On his first birthday I took him to the doctor for his one year well baby check. The shot schedule is different here than in California, which I didn’t realize was a thing. I thought it was the same everywhere. On his first birthday he received four vaccines: MMR, chicken pox, flu and hepatitis A. That is a lot to put in a little person at one time. My other kids never received a hepatitis A vaccine as it wasn’t required in California. They were also fifteen months old when they got the MMR and the chicken pox vaccine for the first time, not one.

I visually saw my son change that day. It was like others have described. Like a switch was flipped. At first, I thought it was just because he had all the shots and sometimes kids are fussy or tired afterward. But it never went away. He stopped sleeping through the night that day. He had started sleeping through the night at three months old. He stopped the day he got the shots and didn’t sleep through the night for two years. He would wake up screaming. Even at almost six years old, he still does it occasionally.

He was eighteen months old before he started walking and was (and still is) behind in gross and fine motor skills. He also wasn’t talking. He just started talking a few weeks ago. But his language skills are around a one year old level.

I took him to be assessed by a developmental pediatrician when he was around twenty months old. That doctor told me that he was mentally retarded. Which was a shock and also made me angry. He wouldn’t even consider the fact that he had autism, especially when his older brothers had it. I decided on a second opinion and took him to see a pediatric neurologist, who diagnosed him with moderate-severe autism within five minutes of meeting him.

It was at this time that I decided once and for all that doctors are full of shit.

Everything I’ve been through with my kids has really solidified this theory for me. That’s not to say you should ignore the doctors, but that you should question everything they tell you. You know your child better than anyone. One thing I learned (too late unfortunately) was that you can refuse too many vaccines at once. Say your child needs four, you can let him have one. Yeah, that means more trips back to the doctor, but in my opinion it’s ultimately safer than overloading their tiny little systems with too much at once.

One thing people need to consider when opting not to vaccinate is that you’re not just making that choice for your child. You’re making it for everyone they come into contact with. For example, my sister has an auto immune disease which has severely weakened her immune system. When the measles outbreak affected her community, she had to make sure she still had the antibodies from her childhood vaccination to fight off the disease. Due to her weakened immune system, she couldn’t get a booster shot for it. And she shouldn’t have to worry about getting measles because people are being all fast and loose with the anti vaccine movement.

imageThis is a picture I found on the internet while doing research for this blog post. I was horrified by it. Comparing vaccination to rape is NEVER ok and all it does is instill hate and panic in people. Sadly, the antivaxx movement comes across as nothing more than a cult.

In conclusion, you have to form your own opinions but you have to do the work that comes along with that. Don’t take one persons skewed views as your own. Research both sides and if you do decide not to vaccinate your children, discuss that choice with your doctor. Do what you can to keep them and the community safe. Don’t feed into the propaganda on either side. Do the research! We live in an age where you can find out virtually anything about anything from pretty much anywhere. Use that to your advantage!

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