By Cathy Jameson
October is National Bully Prevention Month. It is National Vaccine Injury Month.
Ironic, no? Here are some recent vaccine-related news articles posted on the web during October:High Court Orders Two Sister Must Receive MMR Vaccine Announcing UK Government Considering Mandatory Whooping Cough Vaccine for Newborns Flu Shots During Pregnancy Reduce Autism Risk Could A Vaccines for PTSD Protect Soldier?Gates Foundation Introduces Trendy New Bracelets as Ridiculous Marketing Ploy to Push Vaccines
My head spins when I see headlines like those above. But, to the average reader, they may truly not know why some of the content of those stories are absolutely ridiculous. The reader may not be aware of the many risks of vaccinating or realize how much money goes into this industry. This happens when mainstream news refuses to offer both sides of the vaccine story.
I get several phone calls and emails every month from parents asking for help when they see similar headlines in the news. I get questions like: What can I do when my doctor isn’t listening to me? Why is my doctor bullying me about this? What do I say if I don’t want all those shots? What should I bring to the appointment to prove what he’s saying about vaccines and autism is wrong?
I let parents know that the best thing that they can, and should do, is to learn as much as they can. I tell them to be ready to speak up when it’s time and to never forget it’s their child—not the doctor’s, that they are bringing into the exam room. I also suggest to these parents to read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. And then read some more. Knowledge truly is power, and applying that knowledge can be very powerful.
In the past, the places I spend the most time discussing vaccines, vaccine safety and how autism is linked to vaccines occurs in an exam room with one of my son’s medical providers as well as on blogs, message boards and in the comments of web-based articles. In the exam room, some doctors and medical staff are adamant about “No vaccines? No service.” Fine! I say. I’d rather take my children to someone else who actually respects them and their health. It may be more costly to find a different provider, but their life is absolutely worth it.
Online discussions about vaccines can be no different. Depending on the vaccine topic or fact being discussed, reported or distorted, I’ve run into hostile individuals who refuse to hear me out. “You don’t like them? Conversation OVER.” I learned the hard way that some people aren’t worth engaging. Fortunately, the last encounter I had with someone online
who rudely represented the pro-vaccine camp hasn’t had a repeat. Easily I could have decided to never discuss vaccines online again with how negative that interaction was. But I decided I wouldn’t walk away completely. I can’t because those quietly witnessing the conversation later seek me out offline. Not wanting to chime in directly, they ask questions behind the scenes and appreciate my perspective as the parent of a vaccine-injured child and ask for advice.
New parents on the scene, the lurkers who’ve just made the autism-vaccine link discovery, are listening intently to those conversations. Those lurkers are sometimes on the fence about the decision they face. Some of them want solid answers and would expect them from professionals they trust. But how do they trust someone who’s banking off of their medical decisions: Should I vaccinate? I think I might. Maybe not all at once though like my friend did with her kid. He’s been so sick after all those shots and now has autism. Doctors say the autism has nothing to the shots, but I know it wasn’t there before the shots. What if I don’t vaccinate? My doctor keeps badgering me like I’m doing something wrong. I hate it. He always says, “You know your baby best…” and then hounds me to do what he wants to do. He says my kids have to have all these shots, SO many of them, to get into school. I called the school and they take vaccine exemptions, so why is my doctor pressuring me so badly?
New parents have questions. New parents want answers. What’s a new parent, or any parent for that matter, to do as they start asking what seems like an innocent question about vaccines either in the exam room or on the internet? # 1 – Do stay calm.
Online trolls love vaccine drama. Pharma shills do too. They get off on their wordsmithing, their debating skills and how much of your time they can waste. If it’s in the exam room that you raise a question or concern, and if it’s an ill-informed doctor or pushy nurse you’re up against, be prepared well ahead of time with what you want to ask, say or point out. Because your knowledge directly benefits your child’s health, stay calm, know your stuff and be ready to stand your ground. Keep in mind that some practices benefit from doling out pharmaceutical products. The more you know about where your doctor’s loyalty lies, the stronger you can be with the decisions or statements you want to make.
# 2 – Do show them the studies.
Back in the day this may have been hard to do. But, with the internet teeming with reliable, scientifically-based data, all one has to do is point out where the studies are. Ginger Taylor gathered studies
as did TACA
. You’ll see plenty of links to copy, paste, print and share. The next step once you’ve swapped studies? Ask them to read your stacks of facts. Make sure you’ve read theirs also. Don’t be shy. You’ll need to read them, too, because you’ll want to know how to counter them politely with science. If they won’t catch up to what you’re presenting, then you might feel that there’s no need to continue to argue/debate/beat your head against the wall with them. If, by chance, they do catch up, and if for instance, the argument is vaccines cause autism, follow up with a cordial reply asking if they need more proof that autism can result from vaccinations, share that the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has compensated families for their child’s autism which resulted from vaccinations. Remember that you may never get them to switch teams and join the vaccine safety camp, but you can plant tons of seeds to get them to think outside of their pharma-funded pro-vaccine box.# 3 – Do know the lingo
. Some of these types of conversations come down to semantics. One of the biggest red flags that pro-vaccinators like to wave, and is utterly incorrect, is when they immediately reference what happened to Dr. Wakefield: “Dr. Wakefield’s study was debunked!” This is when things can get especially heated and is the biggest clue for you: Run. Just run. They aren’t worth your time. They are also showing how immature and wrong they are. But, if you want to stick around and try to educate them, by all means, tell them the facts. Tell them that, first of all, it was not a study; it was a paper. Second, if they’d actually read the paper, they would know that Wakefield, et al never said what the media says they said. Third, the crucification, of Wakefield was spurred by news reporters in the mainstream media who simultaneously flooded most of what we were reading in the newspapers. Fourth, these anti-Wakefielders were duped by the very people they adamantly continue to defend because of the misinformation the newspapers reported. Not until these folks take themselves out of the mainstream media circus sideshow act atmosphere will they be able to realize the truth. Their heads deeply buried in the sand still to see that yet. # 4 - Do know what is going on with the “autism is only genetic” or “vaccines save lives” types of articles in mainstream news.
We all want to be well rounded, well versed and well aware of what all sources of media have to say about this very important topic. Learn to decipher what is fact, what is fiction and what is out right fear mongering. Reading all of the news coming out of the media is a good idea. Some of the stories may be hard to stomach, especially the “autism is only genetic” ones, but they are worth the read too. Read them to know what those who refuse to believe in the autism-vaccine link are saying. Get to know who these writers are. Check out who they are quoting and who prints or publishes the information they’re sharing. Big hint: just because the title Doctor comes before their name doesn’t mean he or she has your best health interest in mind. And, just because he or she is elected or nominated to their role doesn’t mean he or she isn’t being persuaded to tell only one side of the story.
# 5 – Do comment.
When new parents learn the facts, and as they become more comfortable supporting (and defending) the truth, their voice inevitably will get stronger. Tell your doctor what you’ve learned and that your decision about vaccines, even if it counters his, should be respected. Don’t be afraid to leave your thoughts in the comment section on news articles. If someone is disputing that autism is caused by anything but genetics, tell them what you know! Trolls and shills spend hours and hours countering parents and providers. Do the same. Do it as much and as many times as you can. Don’t tire of it because you never know who is lurking on the thread, article or blog post. Those lurkers may be soaking in everything you are saying. # 6 – Never ever give up.
Parents usually want the best for their children. Parents concerned about vaccines have committed to doing a 180⁰ on their child’s health when it’s been negatively affected. The stronger your convictions are about vaccines and vaccine safety, the louder your own voice becomes. The newfound knowledge, dedication and faith that you find in yourself is invaluable and very well could help the next new parent down the road.
Now, if you get tired, because I know you will, take a break. Avoid blogs during the full moon (oy!). If you have to, find a new doctor who respects you, your child and your family’s wishes. Take time to read as much as you can. Speak up when you are strong enough because someone somewhere has heard you and will heed your advice. Be ready to go through # 1 -5 again. Keep # 6 close by. You never know when your words and actions will help save a life.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.