in the end, it’s just an opinion

I am not an anti-vaxxer, nor do I religiously bow down at the altar of science.

I understand the societal benefits of herd immunity but I don’t like the idea of government mandates to require it.

I do not think that vaccines directly cause autism or other autism spectrum disorders, but I do find it interesting how the incident rate of these diagnoses are increasing right now.  Per the CDC, in 2000 the rate was around 1 in 150 children and in 2010, the rate was 1 in 68 children.  The current recommended vaccine schedule calls for 49 doses of 14 vaccines before the age of 6.    In the 1990’s there were only 9 recommended vaccines administered in far fewer than 49 doses.

Are our medical professionals better trained and is society more accepting of these historically stigmatized disorders, making the current percentages more of an accurate representation of the population that has always been impacted?  Or, is something else going on?  Is something causing more and more of our children to have autism than ever before?

I don’t know the answer.

And, neither do the experts.

 “This is harder than cancer because in cancer you can biopsy it; you can see it on an X-ray.  We don’t have a blood test [for autism]. There is no biomarker, no image, no pathology.”

Gary Goldstein, MD, president and CEO of Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore

“There’s been a lot of progress in the last few years in terms of understanding the causes of autism.  We know a lot more than we did.  One number you see often is that about 10% of those with autism have a definitive diagnosis, a causative condition.”

Marvin Natowicz, MD, PhD, a medical geneticist and vice chairman of the Genomic Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic

Only 10%?  That means up to 90% of cases have no known explanation…

I am uncomfortable with coming to any kind of conclusions based on those numbers.  And, yet, that is exactly what we constantly do as a society and as individuals for this topic, and most others.

Why?  Why do we do that?  Why do we judge others and allow ourselves to become so unashamedly arrogant, self-righteous, and combative when even the experts know very little?

I am often outspoken about media’s attempt to spin complex issues into only two views, right or wrong, black or white, conservative or liberal, but I am still just as likely to fall victim to their tactics as anyone else.  I understand why they do it.  Complex issues are hard sells, people will lose interest and turn the channel or read something else a browser click away, and that lost audience equals lost revenue.  You can’t run a business if you don’t make money, and news is business.  It is big business.  So, they take these complex issues and water them down to easily digestible sound bites that only hint at the true nature of the issues being discussed…

Where am I going with this?

I have a relative who was keeping her daughter, a happy and healthy child who was thriving by all accounts, current on vaccines according to the recommended schedule of doses and timing.  And then, after receiving the first dose of the MMR vaccine, her daughter changed.  She immediately showed signs that something was wrong.  Wasn’t happy and playful anymore.  Stopped meeting developmental milestones.  Stopped thriving.  And, eventually, she was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome.

Did the vaccine cause that?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Would she have eventually developed these problems anyway?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Perhaps the vaccine triggered something that might have remained dormant otherwise.  Perhaps the vaccine only hastened the outward symptoms of what was an inevitability.  Perhaps the vaccine had nothing at all to do with any of this, and the timing was purely coincidental.

But, as a parent, knowing this story, is it wrong for me to at least pause and consider the risks before I let the same vaccine be injected into my child?  My happy, healthy, and thriving child…

I won’t claim to have done all the research I should have done.  I won’t claim to be an expert.  I won’t even claim to know what is best for my child, though, as his parent, I will claim that I know better than almost everyone else.  I won’t claim that my child is more important than anyone he might put at risk if we choose not to vaccinate and therefore disrupt herd immunization rates, but, he is more important to me than the rest.

I will, however, claim that we need to be better about how quick we are to latch on to the sound bites we are fed via media and how quick we are to use those snippets of partial information to judge and blame and bash others…

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54 thoughts on “in the end, it’s just an opinion

  1. Such an appropriate post for Autism Awareness Day. You know I can relate. Our son had plenty of medical problems in the beginning. Now he is considered to be on the high functioning end of the spectrum because he is verbal. We have seem some behavioral issues emerge recently, though & some social anxieties. Most of that is due to bullying, though. & The school is helping him academically but is doing little about some other children picking on him.

    Anyway, as far as vaccines go, I don’t think they’re all bad but I definitely think we over vaccinate & something is terribly wrong with the system. It’s all driven by greed & it makes me sick. It should be about healing. *smfh*

    Thank you for sharing this.
    *hugs*

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  2. I have been a mixture of too lazy and too busy to write anything; and I doubt I could write something with this level of skill, eloquence, and heart anyway. So, I am just going to re blog this for my one or two followers to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been stewing on this post since the measles “epidemic” a few months ago. It’s taken this long for me to find the right words. Thank you for the praise, though, and unfailing support. Both are much appreciated.

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    • More irresponsible than knowingly injecting something into them that could have worse complications than any of the diseases the vaccine would protect against? Especially if there is a family history of having problems with vaccines?
      Can you agree that no two children are the same? And yet none of the drugs we give them are tailored to their specific needs. They can’t be, obviously, that would be far too expensive to be practical, so the vaccines become the best approximation of what works for most but not all…

      Liked by 1 person

      • When the vast majority of scientists say that vaccines are harmless, then yes, it is irresponsible (you don;t know more than they do, trust me, they get paid, relatively, very small amounts to help the entire human race).
        Vaccines aren’t tailored to every specific person because human biology, in terms of physical diseases is quite a one-size-fits-all thing (unlike mental health issues). The family history you speak of could have nothing whatsoever to do with vaccines, but because vaccines are seen as a very ‘intrusive’ ‘serious’ procedure (sticking needles into the flesh of people), then it’s only natural that people would view that particular vaccine as being responsible for a certain illness.
        Again, I must say, there is no tenable link between Autism and vaccines.
        Whether you believe me or not, you should get your child vaccinated – – at the very least your child will grow up healthy and happy – – at the very worst, they will spread diseases we thought were crushed, to other innocent people for no reason.
        It’s a question of ultimate rights – – do you really have the right to NOT stop your children from possibly infecting others? I’d say no. But it’s a very complicated issue. And I may be swayed slightly in the course of time.
        Cheers 🙂

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      • I appreciate your argument, and stated clearing at the beginning of my post that I’m not anti-vaccines, and do not know enough to argue about the autism link one way or the other. That’s not the point of this post anyway.
        Rather, I’m just trying to raise awareness about this complex issue and urge others to do more than parrot back the sound bytes the talking heads feed them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, I know that many anti-vaccine people are totally unscientific and incorrigible, and you’ve at least tried to see the other side, which is refreshing and welcomed… 😉
        But I urge you…..if you (without wishing to sound too learned) would learn about the absolutely incredible feats of scientists around the world, then I’d be much happier.
        One more person on the road to the greatest construct humanity has ever invented.
        Cheers 😉

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      • I have followed most of the amazing triumphs of scientists around the world. I’m not entirely uneducated despite admitting I haven’t done all the research. But, I also know that scientists are human and science in general is dependent on the strengths of the people connecting the work and the restrictions of technology and knowledge at the time. Those we only trust in today’s science can be just as incorrigible as those who refute all science.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I agree that positive thinking (some would call it faith) certainly has some merits in terms of dealing with diseases. But no amount of faith or praying has ever cured a disease. Praying is actually worse than a placebo, at least with a placebo you’re getting some form of visible treatment.

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      • Aren’t placebos generally just sugar pills? In which case, praying would be better than a placebo – because, in either case you believe what you are doing has the potential to work, and in praying you are getting far fewer calories… 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, sugar pills are one type of placebo.
        Placebos are interesting things, for example – a placebo injection of saline works better than a sugar pill, how can that be possible if both things don’t do anything to you? It’s all in the mind, my friend – as is praying, all in the head, talking to one’s self. (with varying helpful benefits 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I share your skepticism of the sort of group-think that promotes trends over truth. Let’s, each of us, admit what we know and what we don’t know and make the best decisions accordingly — without scare tactics and smear campaigns.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. By all means, you should do your own research if you aren’t comfortable with existing science that tells you that there is no link between vaccines and autism. What you should do is gather several thousands randomly selected toddlers (high hundreds would do but it would be pushing it), randomly divide them into a half that gets all the recommended vaccinations, and a half that gets no vaccinations at all, and then determine the number of autism cases in each group, and determine the probability that the difference (if there’s any) is within the margin of error or not. (The larger are the test groups, the smaller is the margin of error and clearer the pattern – if there’s a pattern).
    This may seem like a lot of work, and it is, but it’s the only way you can definitively research this question. So i’ll defer to the people who already did this research and found no link.
    And as for increase in autism cases corresponding to increase in vaccinations, there is just as clear correspondence between increasing sales of organic food and increase in number of autism diagnoses.

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    • You’re right! It’s a good thing we don’t eat organic in the kingdom either. Phew, crisis averted.
      😉
      I understand your point clearly, X. And I’m choosing to not read any meanness in your delivery, because I don’t think that is your style. But, you don’t really address the possibility that there could be genetic predispositions to bad reactions to certain vaccines. I’m not sure there have been any real research along those lines, has there?

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      • I was being sarcastic but not trying to be mean. And the experiment I described is an accurate description of how this research is supposed to be done.
        I am pretty sure there are some people who are genetically predisposed to have a bad reaction to vaccines. Some of these people are known – those who have immune system deficiencies and they are not vaccinated. With others it may be impossible to tell until they actually get the vaccination. However, the number of people who are predisposed to have a bad reaction to, say, a polio vaccine is much, much smaller than the number of people who are predisposed to have a bad reaction to actual polio virus, because the latter group is probably every one of us. And a “bad reaction” to polio virus is often a permanent physical disability or death.
        So I don’t know if there was research along those lines. It probably would make for interesting but relatively useless piece of knowledge, because we already know that the number of adverse reactions to vaccines isn’t near the numbers of cases of vaccine-preventable diseases (thousands to milions of cases, depending on the disease) before the vaccines came into use.

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      • Setting polio aside… because I completely agree the benefits of taking that vaccine outweigh the consequences, shall we discuss instead the recent mass hysteria about the measles epidemic from a few weeks ago… which has gone oddly quiet in the media. I guess they got their moneys worth out of it and have moved on to new crises… In the meantime, as a result of that hysteria, there is legislation in the works that will require mandatory vaccines for all children (no more religious exemptions), including home schooled children at Gov. Brown’s desk here in CA. So, the media hyping something way out of proportion could have long term affects that may, or may not, be for the better of all involved. It just so happens, that it was the Measles Mumps and Rubela vaccine that caused such a dramatic change to my family member, and has given the Queen and I reason to ponder the what and why of vaccines, beyond the sound bytes that are forced upon us by the same mass media that caused such a fervor.

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      • The measles epidemics was a pretty big story in the media, as far as I remember.
        I haven’t heard about the new legislation (because I’m not in CA), but I don’t think there should be any exemptions for vaccines except for medical ones – or unless the parents of unvaccinated child agree to be liable for any medical expenses, missed work time, etc. for any other kid who may contract a vaccine-preventable disease from their kid – possibly up to criminal penalties if it leads to someone’s death.

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      • That’s a pretty firm stance… i guess I’m just more of a “life is messy” kind of guy. Plus, making more laws always makes me nervous. Anyway, one of the interesting things about the measles vaccine, per our pediatrician, is that because it is a live virus, sometimes it actually gives the kids measles, rather than protecting them from it, and some of the previous outbreaks around the country have been traced back to kids who were vaccinated and contracted it and spread it.

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      • Life is already messy, and there is no need to make it even messier for people around you – especially when it can potentially go from simple mess to life or death kind of mess.
        It’s possible that some people will get measles from a vaccine, but since a vaccine contains a weakened virus, imagine what would happen if these kids who are obviously highly susceptible to measles get the full-strength live virus from somewhere else.

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      • I guess I’m just not a good global citizen, but that probably isn’t too surprising.
        One of these days I will heed Dylan’s advice, and get out of this new world, since I can’t lend a hand, but not yet. In the meantime, thank you for the mental sparring session. You made some great points and valid arguments that are all worth consideration for parents in the same dilemma.

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