Over the years I’ve seen several articles about the “anti-vaccine” movement and how terribly detrimental this groups’ beliefs are. Outspoken and fiercely determined, they’ll stop at nothing to get their point across.
I suppose that because I am in support of vaccine safety, and the fact that I share my son’s vaccine injury story whenever possible, it automatically clumps me in that ill-spoken group. I couldn’t be more proud.
Vaccines are known to cause injury. The anti-vaccine movement wasn’t the first to discover that fact. But because they, and I, say exactly that, we are blamed for giving vaccines a bad rap. Well, if not us, then whom?
And why is it so wrong for me to want to give another parent a head’s up about vaccines? We do that all the time with other products and services:
Them: Wow, nice shirt!
Me: Oh, thanks. Wal-Mart, only $5.97.
Them: What a deal!
Them: I’m looking for a new tablet for my kids. Which one do you like?
Me: We have an iPad 2. Ronan loves his. In fact, it’s been great tool for all my kids.
Them: Awesome, I’ll check it out!
Them: Hey, I heard the plumber you hired really screwed up your plumbing and you had to hire someone else.
Me: It was a nightmare! We had water e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. Steer clear of XYZ Plumbing. They’re unprofessional, and they’ll rip you off!
Them: Good to know…
Them: I want to read up on vaccines the doctor says my kids have to have. I may want to do some of them, but I know they don’t actually “need” them. What do you suggest?
Me: Heavy subject, huh? Well, if I had to do it all over again, I’d ask more questions and do lots more reading. I’d look up side effects, research alternate ways to prevent or treat diseases and also factor in my family’s medical history. People have a lot to think about, as you’ll discover, but remember you usually have a choice to get them or not. Don’t forget to look up vaccine exemptions for your state. No one, especially your doctor, should bully you into them.
Them: I guess I have some reading to do. The next appointment is in two weeks. I’ll get started today. Thanks!
Easily I could talk and talk and talk, and quote and cite and point out hundreds of sources that support the suggestions I made in that last conversations. Depending on the person and their level of vaccine and health knowledge, I am careful in how much I share so as not to overwhelm them. There really is a lot to know and also to consider.
That type of conversation sounds harmless, right?
When it comes to vaccines, I’ve been informed that what I say is untrue. I’ve been told to watch what I say and how I say it. I’ve also been told that my information is not just wrong, but dead wrong. Not only that, but I’ve been accused of endangering the lives of others because of what I believe. Unless what I say, believe or write comes straight from a medical textbook, some people prefer I just shut up.
I can live with someone doubting me and not agreeing with my opinion, but to tell me to stop talking about vaccines, vaccine safety and vaccine injury? After what my child has gone through? No way.
I can’t tell if they’re offended, aggravated or possibly jealousy, but those attacking the anti-vaccine community and me personally are so clouded in their thinking that they will never see me for who I am. They’ll only see me for what I am not. They and the media can call me anti-vaccine all day long. If they think that’s insulting, it isn’t. In using that term, they’re drawing attention to an issue that we’ve worked hard to address. It’s the very same issue that the media and others have tried for years to play down or ignore.
As a former supporter of all things mainstream medicine, I can honestly say that I trusted in the system implicitly. I depended on the media to tell me all about it too. I found comfort in knowing that there was an organized system and all I had to do was follow it. I did that, and I did that well. I did that without questioning and without any doubts until my eyes were opened.
Now I know more, and now I know better. That is what I share with others. To try to say that my opinion is dangerous goes against the very definition of what an opinion is. Being called out because of it, while others are allowed to regurgitate false information that’s being systematically crammed down the public’s throats, is ridiculous.
The system and the media seem to be working overtime as of late. They’re countering an army of anti-vaccine crazy parents step-by-step. They’re scrambling to write, mock and block us as we simply share our stories and experiences. Let them work overtime. Passion, not a paycheck, fuels our movement. I’m sure our efforts, mine included, add to their workload. Too bad for them because, for the record, even though this is the hardest I’ve ever worked in my entire life, I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.