Thursday, April 03, 2008

My Feelings About Vaccination and Doctors' Attitudes
Yesterday was the first World Autism Awareness Day. CNN carried pieces about autism throughout the day. In the evening, I sat down to watch a panel on Larry King Live. Mr. King had Jenny McCarthy, a celebrity with a child with autism, on with several doctors. Her son's pediatrician, Jay Gordon, sat next to her. Beside him was another doctor I respect, Harvey Karp. Next to him was the president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics, whose name I did not get. All the doctors are members of the Academy. At the outset, Dr. Gordon and Ms. McCarthy stated that they are not anti-vaccines. Nor am I, even now.
You see, I now question whether or not it could have been too many vaccines given too early, and possibly with ingredients that cause harm to some of the babies and children vaccinated. The fact is, that studies have been made to see if there is a connection between giving one vaccine, the MMR, and autism and so far, no connection has been found.
On the other hand, for several vaccines, parents have noted that their child reacted badly to it. And, it is to be noted, there is the fact that there is an acknowledgement of this, even to the point of causing death or disability, in that some parents get compensation for this damage. The recent Poling case is one example. And, I have to think, there are many more children who did not react physically at the time with fevers or other indicators, who, it may be found in time, were damaged.
Ms. McCarthy made the point that we are giving many more vaccines, and most of them to babies and pre-schoolers, than we did even 20 or 25 years ago. She asked that the schedule be reviewed. She also made the point that there are ingredients in the vaccines such as aluminum and anti-freeze and still in some, thimerosol. She also stated that environmental damage, including vaccinations, along with genetic predisposition to susceptibility, needs to be investigated further. I could not agree more with her points.
This brings me to the attitudes of physicians in this country regarding parents and their rights to not vaccinate or to ask for certain vaccines to not be given or be delayed. I have personally been chided about delaying some vaccines for our son. In fact, when our son was seven or eight, a nurse in a clinic was asked to give a certain vaccine, but not the MMR. She gave the MMR and said "That was the vaccine he needed." Parents are not heeded when they want to decide for themselves which vaccines are to be given and when they are to be given. There are countless stories about this kind of deciding for the parents, and against their wishes.
In fact, a large number of parents, given the anecdotes I read, are spoken to harshly and even refused care in the practice of a particular physician, and not in a kindly way, when they tell the physician they are not giving a vaccine on schedule. Who decides this schedule? Not the parents.
We are told we are scaremongers if we recount our stories and suggest to other parents that they carefully read the side effects and possible harm that can come from giving a particular vaccine. In fact, we are given a long, detailed sheet to sign, permitting the vaccine to be given, which is unreadable to the average person, and the attendant stands over you with a pen in many instances, expecting you to just get on with it and sign away.
Many times I have heard the argument that many more children died or got damaged from the diseases the vaccines protect the baby or child from than from the vaccines. This is not a disputed fact at all. Yet, if I, as a parent, decide that I want to delay a vaccine or not to give a particular vaccine, I am treated as a no-nothing and negligent parent. This does not mean the parent is anti-vaccination.
Although I would never, ever want to see any baby harmed, I propose that somehow we make it the babies of those who are adamant that vaccines be given on schedule, are the ones to take the risk and the ones to get hurt or killed by this schedule of vaccination, and not mine, thank you very much. I did not sign my son up for this condition knowingly, and wonder if I did unknowingly.
And yes, it is me, and many parents like me, who are chided and made to listen to often angry tones when we question giving a vaccine to a baby or child with an immune system that is not fully formed. Many are given at birth. I have loved ones in the profession and vaccine industry who think I have "gone way overboard" in my stated regrets and simple questioning of this massive public health experiment which again, the proponents acknowledge that some, and I think, many, have been harmed by vaccinations in some way. And it is parents like me who regret giving away the consent and who can't sleep many nights because they think the vaccine and other unstudied environmental assaults likely caused their child's autism. I concede that it has not been proven that vaccines cause autism or contribute to causing autism. Can the doctors and pharmaceutical industry representatives also concede that the schedule and the ingredients in the vaccine need more study and better data to make sure they do not contribute to or cause autism?