About a year ago, I chimed in on an online conversation. A man, who I assumed had a daughter because of the type of questions he was asking, was curious about vaccines. He was specifically curious about the HPV vaccine. He was especially curious if there were any risk factors associated with it.
Like all vaccines on the CDC’s schedule, the HPV vaccine does come with risks. Despite referencing that fact right from the CDC’s website, I, as well as a few other parents, were unable to fully convince this fellow that the HPV vaccine wasn’t all that great. Of course, it’s not our job to convince anyone to do anything, especially when it comes to making personal health care choices, but since this fellow was asking for further information, several of us took the opportunity to tell him what we knew.
Statistics from current data with references—many from mainstream sources – was shared. From the tone of the dialogue, it seemed like that information was appreciated. As far as online vaccine conversations go, I thought it was a great conversation.
He asked more questions. We supplied more answers. For awhile there, it felt like this guy was hanging onto our every word. He did that until some of us started to add personal information.
In the past, personal experience is inevitably woven into these sorts of conversations, and why wouldn’t it? Vaccine statistics are based on vaccines administered to everyday folk and their kids, but when some parents start sharing their firsthand observations about vaccines, including how our own typically healthy children ended up with documented medical issues post-vaccination, some people stop listening. The beginning of the conversation may have gotten off to a good start, but could tell it was starting to change. This guy had just about had his fill of our input.
I couldn’t blame him.
I know how far-fetched some of our stories sound – healthy child turns chronically sickly, or begins to lose skills, or goes from typically developing to having autism-like symptoms with the only change in routine being a “routine” round of vaccines. Believe me, I was an unbeliever when I heard those kinds of stories, too! The more hard-to-believe personal stories and reasons that were offered as to why parents like us were now vaccine hesitant, the less he listened. I wasn’t surprised that this guy, like other parents who are desperate for more information, began to turn us off soon after.
He, like lots of other people who begin to question vaccines, wanted only the “good” statistics. He wanted to get his hands on only unbiased scientific-based articles that focused on just the benefits and not on negatives that sadly do exist. I wanted to tell him, Good luck with finding all of that, buddy! but took a step back from the conversation for a few minutes instead.