I consider myself pro-vaccination. I believe in vaccines. No, I’ve not been specifically trained in deep medical science but I have taken a number of classes in college. I was not aware I “wasn’t supposed to vaccinate my kids” until a few years ago. Since everyone and anyone was calling me “crunchy” I decided I might as well look further into this community of people. Yes, by many proper accounts I fit the crunchy bill–cloth diapering, yoga, line drying clothing, dabbling in essential oils, herbal teas, composting, a desire for minimalism–I, unfortunately, vaccinated.
Curious, I looked into it. Was I doing wrong by not vaccinating?
Except… except I didn’t really like what I was reading. The vast majority of the information on Facebook and various blogs seemed suspect and even of the fear-mongering category. I knew what I knew about medical science from college, despite being far from an expert, and none of the bold claims seemed to fit.
Then there were the declarations to me to “do my homework”. What, pray tell, homework was I supposed to do? I wasn’t currently attending any advanced courses on vaccines, immunology, or biology. Heck, I wasn’t attending any courses. Oh, I was supposed to use the interweb.
Now, I do believe that the interweb, properly used by a knowledgeable hacker, can reveal all sorts of accurate information. I do know medical journals and studies can be accessed. I believe that yes indeed, someone smart and discerning enough, could likely do an excellent interweb-only research.
Yet how many of us are skilled to do that properly?
The “approved homework” seemed to come in the form of blogs, and blogs are as only as good as the writer. Oh, many claimed to have done more, actually looking at CDC reports and speaking to doctors, but the information still struck me as rather second-hand.
Some thoughts began to creep into my head:
- Did So-n-So’s dad who worked in pharmaceuticals really interview each and every upper being of the company to confirm their children weren’t vaccinated? Did he confirm his findings by digging into their private medical files?
- Did the 22-year-old mom with a degree in accounting really do thousands of hours of research on vaccines?
- How much can I trust Girl who said her friend said that most immunologists don’t vaccinate? How did they verify this?
- Why is the small fraction of doctors-who-don’t-vaccinate-their-families so much smaller than the fraction of doctors who do?
- Why was it so darn easy to find refutations on every claim the anti-vaccine community tossed out but so hard to find refutations to those refutations?
- How am I, an elementary teacher, more qualified to properly sift through this medical information than the guy who has done it for ten years professionally?
That last thought is what led me to the horrifying devil of the matter… I dared to put my trust in those I deemed wiser than me. But hey, this is where “doing my homework” led me.
But what about the other part of my homework? Reading the vaccine package insert? Well, our family doctor tends to hand us the insert upon every vaccination. Part of the office procedure, apparently. And I do like reading informative things, so I have been reading those inserts for the better part of six years.
Here is me reading a vaccine insert…
Oh, look, here’s the purpose of vaccine. Oh, instructions for the doctors and nurses… this is kind of boring but now I know how to mix a vaccine, I’m so educated. Now we have some dosage forms. Ooh, contraindications! That sounds important! Okay… looks like none of these apply to us so we’re good to go. Precautions! What do you mean I can’t let my toddler drive home? And now what’s next?
Good gravy, it’s lawyer stuff that makes the Happy Fun Ball look like indeed a good time. Government and company trying to cover their butts by listing everything under the sun.
I’m sorry, but I just can’t read the Adverse Reaction section with anything less than a grain of salt. Why?
Because, despite what people would have me believe, it’s nothing more than a list of everything that happened within six degrees of Kevin Bacon when someone may or may not have been on a drug trial.
That’s right. I don’t give it much thought because it is LAWYER STUFF. Most of those reactions have not been clinically confirmed. They are not gospel truth, and I would major most of them never happened to anyone.
So, no, I don’t know all that much, but higher education and those wiser than me helped me learn how to navigate a medical pamphlet.