Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jenny McCarthy is SO not Gonna be my BFF now!

My friend and I were talking on the phone today. We got into a very lively discussion about vaccinations and kids. She has 2 kids, ages 2 and 2 months. Baby Sally is 14 months now. So, we are both in the period where our kids get vaccinations when they go to the doctor.

Vaccinations are such a touchy subject for parents. Oy vey, can we find ONE subject we can all talk about without it becoming a controversy? PLEASE? Anyway, Texan Friend and I are on the same page about vaccinations: kids need 'em. Please, don't miss 'em. Parents, while very well-meaning, may be doing their child more harm than good by keeping them away from vaccines. So much media attention about this subject doesn't help either. Jenny McCarthy has certainly thrown her hat into the ring when fighting for Autism Research. I certainly encourage parents of children with Autism to be advocates for their children. And, it is very clear how much she loves her son. But, I don't think it hurt her image, already fading into has-been status, to become the poster-mother for Green Our Vaccines, an organization that is anti-vaccines.

I got to talking to Texan Friend about this today because I heard a report on NPR about the fallout of children not getting vaccinated against certain diseases. This, from the CDC (click to see the full report):

From January through July 2008, CDC received reports of 131 measles cases from 15 states and the District of Columbia—the highest year-to-date number since 1996. More than 90% of those infected had not been vaccinated, or their vaccination status was unknown. Many of these individuals were children whose parents chose not to have them vaccinated. Fifteen of the patients, including four infants, were hospitalized.

Again, I think that many families do not follow up on the education following a scary report about the causes of Autism. For example:
First we thought that vaccines caused autism (The report was shot down almost immediately. Click here.)
Then we thought that the mercury in vaccines caused autism (There's not link. Click here.)
Now we are finding that genes, not vaccines, are more closely linked to Autism. (click here.)

And, who can fault mothers for being careful with their children? They are our most precious gift and while we can feel free to take risks with our own health, we don't want to put our child in harm's way or even anything that might come close. But are these parents making the best decision? Are they doing the research? Maybe they protect their own children from germs and diseases. But what happens when they fly on a plane with a person who's been exposed to measles? What if an outbreak of whooping cough (pertussis) makes its rounds at the sports camp at your church? While we may not travel to other countries where these diseases still exist, other people do. Our neighbors, our co-workers, the checker at the grocery store, the greeter at Wal-Mart, germs and diseases are everywhere, despite our best effiorts. And our best efforts are vaccines!

Even when I began typing for this post, I immediately started to Google things like "autism vaccine link" and "mercury autism link" and "measles outbreak". And, I had a tough time finding ANYTHING that actually supported the reports of vaccines being a cause or a part of the cause of autism. Most of what I found said, "We can't say that autism is not caused by vaccines, but we also can't say that it is. We can't make that connection. There has been no proven link."

I watched the Today Show on October 30, when Dr. Nancy Snyderman interviewed a colleague, Dr. Paul Offit, who has gotten hate mail and death threats, all because of his vocal position regarding the lack of validity in the claim that vaccines cause autism. This is just insane! You would think the opposite would be true: that people would get all up in arms if their children were DENIED vaccines.

I have to make it clear: every family makes their own decisions about vaccinating or not vaccinating. It is a personal choice that only a parent can make. But, I thought about it today, when I was walking to my car with Baby Sally in the stroller - I had forgotten to put her jacket on and a stranger woman said, "That baby is going to get cold out here! She needs a jacket!" At first I was to myself, "Mind your own beeswax, twat!" But then I put myself in check and said, "No, she's just concerned about the baby." But people can agree that a JACKET is good protection from pneumonia, and VACCINES are dangerous? Because, while autism is truly awful and painful, it is not fatal. Measles is, especially for someone who's only about 25 pounds.

If someone can call DFS on me for spanking my child, what's the policy for a parent who is putting their child at risk for a deadly disease?


Jess said...


Aleta said...

Interesting post. I don't have children. Greg and I would love to start a family, but it would be a miracle if I can have a baby. Anyway, I've often wondered this topic, as I know some parents who believe their autistic child was a product of those shots. I don't know what to think, either way I could be swayed, but end result, I'd probably give my child the shot, because... as you ended this post ~ the outcome is death otherwise for those diseases.

Natalie said...

i have to say that i agree and it is much better to vaccinate than not oh and spanking isn't so bad for them either!

AngiDe- Nana's Box said...

Hmmm... interesting post. I have a good good friend who is anti-vaccines... I however have vaccinated my little girl....only because I didn't do the research beforehand and my Dr. said I should. I agree with a lot of what you said... but I also think that we as a society rely on Dr's to be honest and truthful to us, and to tell us what is best for us and our kids... sometimes I think they are more concerned about making sure they bill the insurance and the patient to the full extent.... and getting home by 5 pm
Either way... it's something to think about and research. Thanks for picking my brain! =)

"Nana's Box"

Anglophile Football Fanatic said...

I am not anti-vaccine at all, but I have no problem with spacing them out a little better. If I have another child, I will refuse to allow a doctor to give my 2 day old a Hep vaccine in the hospital and I will refuse to allow a doctor to give my 4 month old four shots at the same time. That is TOO much medicine. As a first timer, I didn't know I could say no. If there is a next time, I will do it.

texasholly said...

First let me say I am seriously PRO vaccine and all three of my boys are up to date on theirs. Now for the second and controversial part. I have read Jenny's books. All of them. She has a very compelling story and pleads for some sanity regarding the vaccination process. I don't know about this new organization, but what she says in the books is very sensible. She believes there are certain children that are more susceptible to side effects from vaccinations and in those cases the vaccinations could and should be spaced further apart or delayed. There is no place in the things I have read from her that states that vaccinations for all children should be avoided. She identifies some warning signs to watch out for to help parents decide what is best for their children. One of the things we need to remember is that historically there were less immunizations required and given and they were spread out over a longer period. Now there are more and they have to squeeze them in since they are expecting the child to be in school by a young age. I did not delay my boys immunizations but if I had to do it over again I would still complete them but spread them out. Alrighty, I think I have gone on long enough!

Carrie Thompson said...

wow you are brave!

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

Great post. i agree with you 100%

Bridgett said...

My girls go to a school chock full of "philosophical objection" parents who don't vaccinate at all. That's all fine and good, I guess, except that if I have this baby in January and pertussis goes around, it's a death sentence for a newborn. My girls are vaccinated, but I still fear it. My OB told me, pretty much, if pertussis starts going around the city (more cases every year), I should just stay home and wait it out.

I've done enough genealogy lately to see ancestors' children die of diphtheria, pertussis, polio, and measles to know that it is just insane not to do these. And tetanus is in the environment, and will be forever (there is no way to eradicate it). But I don't think tetanus is one that folks have been suspicious of (or at least, it hasn't made the same headlines).

The hippie train I ride has to do with overuse of antibiotics. I'd rather do just about anything than take them or give them to my kids. But most doctors with any sense are on my side about that one.

Jen said...

Please, Please, Please vaccinate. You are so right there is not research out there to support it. And the alternative, death is much worse.

Last Place Finisher said...

Why vaccinate when you can waive your hands over your child's head and clear the blocked chakras?

TattooedMinivanMom said...

I've vaccinated both of my children and never even gave it a second thought. I trust their doctor.

FYI it's a myth that cold air causes colds. Germs do.

FYI again...I LOVE YOU! You're my 100th follower and I got soooo excited when I saw that on my site today. THANK YOU!!!!!!!

Mandy said...

I have vaccinated my children. I plan to vaccinate any future children we have. I am willing to consider some spacing of them, but I still trust my doctor (love her!). Pat yourself on the back...this post is well written and backed with research. Way to go to you for covering this controversial topic!!

The Nice One said...

Vaccines are a touchy subject for me.
I have a kid diagnosed with multiple neurological conditions. While there's absolutely no research that can 100% substantiate my concerns, I will say it was with great coincidence that my child who was developing language at a typical rate suddenly stopped talking shortly after a large series of vaccines. It was because of that I went into a more graduated mode of vaccinating my kids. I believe they can do good, but I believe we're giving too many. And, I believe they are loaded with a lot of unnecessary crap.

While vaccines can do good, they are also loaded with a lot of empty promises. The Whooping Cough outbreaks often caught up children who HAD been vaccinated. Where was the protection? And, the chicken pox shot, it was promised to deliver a long lasting immunity, however, we're now enforcing boosters of it.

Don't get me wrong, I can't stand J.M. and her whole spiel, but I do urge everyone to think long and hard and don't believe everything you read and everything your doctor says, just because they are wearing a white jacket.

Shan said...

Totally appreciate your post. I am a mom who believes in vaccinating. We just believe that it is the better decision. Those same parents who dont vaccinate will be the ones complaining if their poor kiddo gets something horrible. coulda shoulda woulda. I feel bad for the kids that do wind up with something that could have been prevented, that just sucks for the kid.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Hey All. I think the idea of spacing vaccines out is probably the best middle ground for all. I think it's really irresponsible for the media and esp. high-profile people (like JM) to put it out there that vaccines are bad. Not vaccinating kids will do more harm than autism ever has. But, I commented on another post somewhere else, that I would rather have an autistic child in my arms than one in the grave. So, weighing the two possibilities, I think it's better to vaccinate, even if you do it on a schedule that is later or longer than the "regular" one. And, I also think it's irresponsible for doctors not to listen to their patients & parents. They should be working with parents, not expecting them to blindly trust in their diagnoses (what's the plural of diagnosis?) If parents want the full panel of vaccines, that's what should happen. If parents want to not vaccinate, I think doctors should be armed with truthful scientific information to share with parents. If they decide to still not vaccinate, they should respect the parents' wishes. Ultimately, the parents are the ones who will bear the responsibility (assuming they don't go all nuts and sue everyone, which is a rant for another post...)