Friday, January 22, 2010

A thought about vaccines

I just want to go on the record as saying that I am extremely disappointed in what the scientific types are offering up on these topics lately. I guess it never occured to them that a parent might not be interested in taking everything they have to say at face value, and that I might be as skeptical of them as they suggest I should be of everyone else (and I am). Regarding vaccines, why does everyone seem to think that it is appropriate for "anti-vaxers," who are mostly parents working with personal observations, to proffer up some sort of scientifically sound theory as to HOW the causation works? This seems extremely silly to me.

It also seems that almost every person I ever see discuss this topic cannot resist trashing Jenny McCarthy, a person whom I know nothing about (nor do I care to, really). It's annoying because it's so irrelevant to my personal decisionmaking what she has said and she seems to be some sort of straw man for the "scientific" people, for lack of a better term.

I am not anti-vaccination, for the record, I'm just pro-my-son, and I sure wish I could find a balanced, reasoned, logical discussion about the risks of vaccines that is really honest and doesn't expect me to just assume that a bunch of guys in white coats have really got it all figured out and so I should just stop worrying MY pretty little head about it. Or God knows, I should just let these strangers inject my kid with God-knows-what (because I sure don't) or else I'm an unpatriotic idiot who's threatening herd immunity because I'm too stupid to trust some government bureaucrats and a bunch of academics. Yeah, we know THOSE people are never wrong.

You see, here's how I see it:

1. everyone agrees that autism = genes + environment
2. now call me stupid, but to me environment means, inter alia, the stuff in the needle that they are injecting into my child.

You know what? there are a lot of environmental variables. And you can bet that I pay attention to/worry about every single one of them, from the stress in my son's life to the air that he breathes to the food that he eats to the medicine he takes to the ... yeah, the shots.

Alright, I didn't do so well in science, but I would like someone to explain to me how this makes me irrational?

Now, it's true that measles, etc. is scary stuff. And yes, I plan to look up those statistics too. But after reading for about the 5oth time the statement that "the benefits outweigh the risks" of vaccines, I'm starting to get really p-- ... er, ticked off, that these patronizing people think that they don't have to lay out some kind of real case that this is true. Or explain whether the benefits to which they are referring are the benefits to my son or the benefits to society.

Vaccines are an amazing modern miracle, but they are also deliberately provoking my child's immune system. I have read enough to be pretty durn sure that none of these people understands nearly as much as they pretend to understand about how the immune system works. You know what, they just really don't. For that matter, I'm not convinced they know as much about the human body PERIOD as they pretend to, either.

And when it comes to my son's brain, it really p-- ... er, ticks me off when people pretend to know things that they don't really know. I don't care who they are.

I'm not playing games here, I have to get it right, people. What are all these people trying to accomplish anyway? One thing is for certain, I have yet to find a single person who really sounds like they give a rat's a-- about my son's neurological condition, or the fact that *I* have to get this one right. I can't just take their frakkin' word for it.

And no, I'm not impressed by their studies, either. They don't actually say zippo, as far as I can tell, about whether or not something in those vaccines could be hurting/could have hurt MY kiddo. Granted, I need to take a class in statistics. But I smell a lot of smoke and mirrors.

What it all boils down to is that all these people know is that MOST kids with autism don't GET autism from vaccines. that's it. that's all they know. Otherwise, they seem to expect that I should just toe their party line unless I can prove to them that vaccines are bad for my kid. Huh?

Sure, sure, down with the Jenny McCarthy fear-mongerers. But really. Boo hiss to the patronizing white-coat-worship-mongerers.

PS-- Er, if you happen to be my brilliant best friend who happens to be an MD doing a fellowship in infectious disease right now, and you know who you are, and you happen to read this post, I trust you know I am not talking about you. I'm just talking about the stuff I've been reading. YOU are awesome and if all of "these other people" (I know that's vague but I didn't keep good notes and I'm tired) -- anyhow, if only everyone in a white coat were like YOU, this post wouldn't exist.:)


  1. I don't know. I find the scientific evidence on safety compelling, for example measles morbidity before and after the vax was introduced. But I do share the need to rail against the system, just not the scientific system. What bothers me is that I don't think that parents should need to engage in science to make informed decisions; after all, most of us aren't scientists. Our institutions - government, educational (universities) and trade associations (American Academy of Pediatrics) - should to more to establish trust so that parents don't have to question public policy (ie vax recommendations). There's too much big pharma money in each of these institutions, and thus parents have good reason to be skeptical. See, e.g.:

    So why not reform the system to rid it of conflicts of interest? In my mind, that's the key to turning this around. But there's little debate on the subject.