I'm re-posting something I wrote several years ago, as a rejoinder -- in part -- to another round of parents "taking a stand" and coming down on those who choose not to vaccinate their children. However reasoned, the argument is always the same, the simplification grotesque, the tempers flare, implications of immorality abound, there is nothing new under the sun.
I told a friend the other day, that I'm like a fly drawn to shit whenever this issue comes up, that I know better than to enter the fray because it makes me physically nauseous (and I am a woman with an iron stomach, have only thrown up about five times in my life). I typed out my spiel on a Facebook post, decrying the simplification of this issue, was promptly mollified, assured that "children like Sophie should be protected by the rest of us getting vaccinated," the whole herd mentality drone, that's not it at all, not at all, I thought. I went silent.
I told my friend that the O of Sophie's little mouth that embedded itself into my consciousness immediately after her initial vaccines is the O of the nightmare, of the Munchian shriek, of the aversion to all those who profess certainty and loyalty to Science with a capital S.
Reason left through that O, on the rigid back of Science and Industry, coupled, obscene.
I am reminded, again, of how Science with a capital S has been wrong, so wrong about -- dare I say it -- marijuana?
Their statues are made of matchsticks, as the bard would say, crumbling into one another. Love minus O.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Last night, PBS' Frontline aired what was touted as an unbiased look at "The Vaccine Wars" and which I refused to watch because the debate makes me physically ill. About one week before Sophie began seizing as a baby, she received her first five infant vaccines. In 1995, the DPT shot still contained the live pertussis virus, and Sophie had a fever and high-pitched screaming soon after. She was diagnosed with infantile spasms, a particularly devastating seizure disorder and so began our odyssey. While we never made a "case" for it, we have always suspected that those vaccines were, if not the cause, then a catalyst for Sophie's seizure disorder and since then have learned that a genetic predisposition to negative reactions from vaccines is a possibility (I, too, had negative reactions to vaccines in 1963, something I only discovered a few years ago when I took a look at my vaccine records that were all marked up in red). In any case, enough is unclear that we chose NOT to vaccinate the boys and while this was a difficult decision to make, it is not something that we regret.
The vaccine debate rages on and on and the voices are always loud and biased. When I've entered the fray, I have done so at my own personal peril, because like I said, it makes me almost physically ill. I maintain that the issue is complex and that the media and parents often boil it down to a ridiculous simplicity, vilifying the other side with regularity. I am pasting an email that I received today from our long-time pediatrician, Dr. Jay Gordon, who has responded to the Frontline special with great integrity