kannaophelia: (Default)
 I was told recently at a mothers and babies group by two of the ladies (two of  the most dear to my heart) that they were surprised I was so pro-vaccination because I seemed like the kind of person who would be really anti.

I had a knee-jerk "Do I look stupid and irresponsible?" moment (that I didn't act or speak on, thank goodness) and then I laughed because... I'm awfully crunchy. I'm a lesbian, a vegetarian, I don't shave my legs or wear makeup or follow "beauty practices" (although I recently dyed my hair "lightest golden caramel brown", i.e. strawberry blonde) except on special occasions, and I follow a lot of attachment parenting practices, like baby wearing, baby led weaning, and part time elimination communication (omg FANTASTIC).  I desperately wanted a natural birth, although I settled for a safe one. We called our son Caius :P.

I can definitely see that someone would class me as the kind of woman who would be anti vaccination. But the thing is, I am also pro evidence based medicine. I was a medical librarian, I am educated, I can assess research. I read all the arguments pro and anti, I read Andrew Wakefield's book, and my position is this:

I am not convinced that combined MMR vaccinations at 18 months and rechallenged at 4 years causes leaky bowel syndrome in genetically susceptible children, leading to infantile regressive psychosis, commonly collapsed with "autism". I don't think the evidence from Wakefield's case studies is compelling, and further studies have failed to prove even a weak link. There are far more likely links with genetics and nutritional deficiency in pregnancy.

But even if I did, I would still vaccinate Cai, and get my own flu and whooping cough jabs. Because of risk-benefit calculations, because I will always try to act in my darling boy's best interests, and because of herd immunity and the people who rely on it.

I'm not one of the people who claim vaccinations are harmless in all cases. There have been tragic results. But there have been far more tragic results from epidemics of preventable diseases. For kids who do not have genuine medical reasons not to vaccinate, I am hardcore pro-vacc.

Jabbed: Love, Fear and Vaccines is an incredibly moving and unbiased documentary on the choices to vaccine, or not, that doesn't flinch from the hard issues.

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October 2014

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