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Recently, New Jersey angered parents by requiring children between 6 months and 5 years that attend day care or preschool to receive a flu shot. The reasons given for laws like this are that it’s in the public’s best interest- supposedly, fewer children will get sick and/or die, if they’re all inoculated. Disease also costs companies and the state money in missed productivity and health care costs. So, what’s to object to? Won’t the majority benefit if everyone is vaccinated?
For most of us, yearly shots at the doctor’s office were a way of life and few people gave any potential dangers a second thought. When my oldest child Molly was born 11 1/2 years ago, it didn’t occur to me to question the safety and necessity of vaccines- at that point I was under the delusion that doctors always know best. I’ve since learned that medical professionals, who are certainly wonderful, invaluable people who make our world a better place to live in, are also fallible and quite often, misinformed.
At Molly’s one year checkup she was given the varicella vaccine, to ensure she would never get Chicken Pox, or at least limit it to a mild case if she ever did. Six months later, when we went back for her 18 month checkup, a flustered nurse asked me if Molly had received the varicella vaccine yet. Since most shots are given on an age-based schedule, I was surprised she had to ask and said as much. She told me that some 1 year olds had not received the vaccine because it had been taken off the market for a few months because of safety concerns. They were playing catch up now to make sure the children who had turned 1 during that time got the shot at their next check up.
I asked what I thought was an obvious question, “How do you know that it’s safe now? And was the shot my daughter got safe?”. She assured me in vague terms that it was completely safe and I had nothing to worry about. Fortunately, Molly has never suffered any ill effects from that shot (nor has she gotten the Chicken Pox), but that event was what inspired me to do a little more research into what I thought was a normal part of American childhood. What I found surprised me.
Not long afterward I met my friend, Carol, who’s teenage son had never progressed mentally beyond 6 months, and had to live in a home offering constant medical attention. Though unable to provide absolute proof, her story made it pretty clear that his problems stemmed from the DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus) shot, and subsequent booster shots, he had received as an infant. The doctors, of course, had denied all responsibility or blame, but could offer no other explanation as to why her son went from a healthy child to a near vegetable.
Having just had my 2nd child, I went to my pediatrician and started asking questions. Were these vaccines safe? How many children suffered from severe side-effects? Was there any signs that showed genetic predisposition to reacting negatively? If doctors really believed they were safe, why was I required to always sign a form releasing the doctor from culpability should there be a negative effect? He patiently listened, but could offer no evidence- only platitudes and vague “facts”.
Now, I’m not suggesting that all vaccines are dangerous, or that all parents should reject them. I do suggest some research, especially into family history to see if their have been instances of bad reactions.
I continued my research and the more I learned about vaccines, the more I began to mistrust most of them and to question why we were giving healthy babies shots that were full of poison (mercury). When another friend became concerned that her 2 year old, who had received more than his share of vaccine shots because of a removed spleen, had autism, I turned my direction that way and began to find that many parents and scientists had found links between the ingredients in vaccines and autism. And who denied this the most vehemently? The ones who benefited financially from the marketing of shots- the pharmaceutical companies who manufactured them. Meanwhile, record numbers of children are being diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum.
Though it was a battle with my pediatrician and his nurse at times, I began to delay or avoid altogether certain vaccines with my two existing children and the two more who were born later. Since I homeschool, I didn’t have to worry about meeting the requirements set by public schools for attendance, but I knew that other parents who objected to vaccines for conscientious or religious reasons didn’t have it quite so easy.
I also began to hear stories from other like-minded parents about the pressure they were put under by their doctors to have their children vaccinated. Or implied threats from the nurses that Child Protective Services don’t look kindly upon parents who refuse vaccinations and their obligation to report parents who “put their children’s health in jeopardy”. In fear, some of these parents stopped taking their children to the doctor altogether, fearing their children would be removed from their home for refusing to subject their children to something they honestly believed was potentially dangerous.
Thankfully, so far, I haven’t been required by the state to inoculate my children according to their time-table, but I question how long I will enjoy that freedom. In 2007, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a law requiring young girls to receive Gardisol, a vaccine that claims to prevent cervical cancer. The outcry by parents was instant and overwhelming, especially when it became clear that Gov. Perry had benefited financially from Merck, manufacturer of Gardisol.
Simply put, does the government have the right to require parents to inoculate their children? Especially if the parents have religous, moral, or just plain common-sense objections to it? Where does this government authority stop? Can they also require us to feed our children according to a certain menu and schedule? After all, far more children suffer from obesity in America than Polio, Chicken Pox, Measels, Mumps or Rubella. How much is obesity costing America in health care expenditures and missed productivity?
How far are we, as Americans, as parents, willing to allow the federal or state governments to intrude into our homes? Where do we draw the line? At a federal level, that answer is easy- the Constitution is our standard. The real battle is at a state level, at least for now. Once federal healthcare is passed by the Obama Administration, DC may well feel they have the right to dictate what we eat or drink, if we exercise and other health-related issues. Though, my personal opinion is that Washington would prefer a lazy, obese population. They’re much easier to control.
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Thanks Lizzianthus007 for this article