You know, that old line about how you should “pray and study to see if vaccines are right for your family”.
My sister laughs that I am a crunchy hippy. My husband rolls his eyes over it but generally puts up with it. I suppose I do lean a little “crunchy”. I would love to live on a homestead, or at least have a bit of country property. I love cloth diapers. I love “natural” and “green” cleaning supplies. Whole foods strike me as awesome (though I balance that my share of fast food burgers). I buy essential oils every now and then (Butterfly Express because they strike me as a family-owned and fairly local) and even try to use them. I even wonder a little if there is anything to crystals and energies.
I also vaccinate my kids. Yes, yes, I know there are many posts out there on the internet where crunchy parents are defending their right to vaccinate and still be crunchy, but I still get the impression that the general crunchy community doesn’t like vaccinating.
I confess, sometimes I wonder like I wonder about those crystals. Could I be destroying my children by vaccinating them? Could the seeming rise of autism be related to this? Could putting all these things in the body be harmful? Of course, all the anti-vaxxers insist I research, so I read a few things and come to the conclusion I’m probably good with my vaccination tendencies. I’m sure I can read studies, but I also find things that refute anti-vax claims and the studies I do read don’t frighten me against vaccines. Besides, I don’t have a science degree, so I’ll let the professionals do the heavy work for me.
It’s not that I’m altogether frightened by not vaccinating. There seems to be good wisdom in naturally building immune systems and keeping homes healthy. Individually, a nonvaccinated person doesn’t really scare me. With my daughter having cystic fibrosis, I’m more worried about actually sick people, their vaccination status being neither here nor there.
What does bother me the most, however, is the claim that comes in variations but boils down to “Pray and research about it and do what’s right for your family.” The prayer thing is particularly common in crunchy LDS circles (probably similar in other Christian circles). Moms tell me how they prayed about vaccinating and were inspired against it.
Far be it from me to criticize someone’s spiritual inspiration; perhaps God did steer them from vaccinating, who knows. They also likely know their child’s health and physical situation better than I, and perhaps their research pulled up a glaring contraindication with vaccines. I do agree some people best not be vaccinated for their own health.
And certainly far be it from me to question the inspiration God feels like giving others.
Yet something about that line of “Pray and study and do what’s right for your family” doesn’t sit right with me–and this is a line that can be applies to a whole host of things. The average kids who will like the majority pass through vaccinations just fine… why would their parents be inspired to do different things? Why would studying lead to different conclusions? Shouldn’t vaccines be either fine for the majority or dangerous for the majority?
Why such an awkward and hodge-podge middle ground?
I mused this question in a Facebook group once. Ready answer, of course “Pray and study and do what’s right for your family. You have to take care of your family’s needs”. I pressed further “Then why would we come to different conclusions?”
And here’s where I discovered a problem. The answer I received (from anyone not just broken recording of how all families are different) was about how not everyone was at the same spiritual level.
So anyone who takes the vaccination matter to prayer and receives inspiration to indeed vaccinate is bad at receiving revelation. Isn’t “spiritual” enough. Isn’t “woke” enough. Is subject to some cruel prank by God. Is subject to the lesser law because they just aren’t ready to handle the spiritual responsibility of not vaccinating.
It’s really the only conclusion I can come to. And I don’t believe it.
Maybe I’m just too critical of the antivaccine ideology. But I just can’t imagine a scenario where the appropriateness of vaccines would vary so much from family to family. Could I imagine God inspiring a family not to vaccinate for unknown medical reasons? Absolutely. Could I imagine God inspiring a family to vaccinate, again for yet unknown medical reasons? Another absolutely.
You might say that answers my question. Individually, which is ultimately all there is, taking the matter to prayer makes sense. Studying and learning is always good.
But these antivaxxers who say they believe vaxxing is wrong though everyone should do what’s right for their family upend this notion. If vaccinations are truly bad, they are bad for the majority of the population. God expects us to use our brains, and if vaccines are so awful, why do I even need to take the matter to prayer to “see if it’s right for my family”? Yes, all families are different, but not so different vaccine have or not is going to be all over the chart.
Probably because if I were spiritually stronger I would automatically know I shouldn’t vaccinate, I type with sarcasm.
If vaccination is truly wrong for your kids, by all means, keep them safe. I don’t doubt the reality of vaccine injuries. But I trust the studies that have shown vaccines are still just fine for a majority of the population. If I can find a reason my kid shouldn’t be vaccinated, or if I feel a spiritual prompting against vaccinations, I will rethink the vaccination.
But let’s be honest: the “rightness” of vaccines isn’t going to vary so much that to “all families are different”. Vaccines are wrong for some people, that’s true. But for the rest of us? It’s either going to be right or wrong. Vaccines are either good and safe for the majority, or we need to get rid of them. There’s no inbetween.