Friday, September 25, 2009

Bring on the anti-vax haters

Fridays are typically slow days on websites and blogs, but nothing brings out the comments on a mommyblog quite like "controversial" posts about breastfeeding and vaccination. Check out my contribution to the conversation at the Chicago Moms Blog, where I'm comparing shots to seatbelts and leave a comment with your take on the issue.

Since the Chicago Moms Blog is being shut down, I'm pasting my post below.


Imagine for a moment you had a friend who doesn't buckle her children into car seats. Her pediatrician is horrified and her daycare provider protested, but your friend just waves away their--and your--concerns. She says sure, seat belts and car seats have saved some lives, but they could also be deadly.They're not fail proof. They're not fully tested. There are recalls all the time. Not only that, they could kill her kids if, say, the car engine catches fire and everyone needs to get out as fast as possible.

You're crazy, you respond. Everyone uses seat belts. It's the law!

Then your friend points out how the government has no business mandating how she raises her children. She needs to trust her motherly instinct instead of some government goon and that instinct knows her kids are safer without seat belts. And besides, she continues, car seats are expensive. They're made by bigcorporations with an eye to maximizing shareholder profits. That whole recommendation not to buy used and replace a car seat after 6 years of use? It's all about making money for the man, man.

To help defend her position, she forwards links to horror stories of kids killed or disfigured while strapped into their car seat. She cites experts--even celebrities--who eschew seatbelts and car seats for their own children.

The next time you head to the garage you pause for a moment before buckling in your own child. Are you doing the right thing?

I'm sure by now you've caught on to this metaphor. And you can probably tell where I fall in the great vaccination debate. The debate that shouldn't even be a debate. Scary anecdotes and a lack of understanding about the science of vaccination and the difference between correlation and causation has a growing number of moms worried about subjecting their kids to shots.

Yes, shots carry risks. So do seat belts. But in both cases, for most children, the risks of going without outweigh the risks of buckling up and vaccinating. If you never get into a high-speed accident, you may never need that seat belt. But the more parents eschew the medical "seat belt" of regular vaccination, the more children will get sick, suffer and die.

The CDC is recommending children between 6 months and 24 years of age get both the regular flu and H1N1 vaccines. Will you get your kids the shots (or mists)?

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt