When I read about science pushing the boundaries so that
women can give birth in their sixties, I thank God for giving me children when
I was much younger. Not only do I look back with amazement at the energy I had
that eludes me now (and I haven’t hit my sixties yet), but today’s parents have
to grapple with daunting challenges that weren’t on my radar screen.
Jenny McCarthy’s selection as a
host of The View, along with new measles and mump outbreaks has once again put the
vaccination/anti-vaccination debate on the front pages. When I took my own
children in for their vaccinations, I did so with intense gratitude. My mother
contracted polio as an infant and spent much of her childhood in hospitals or
recuperating from various operations at home while longingly watching from the
window as her siblings went off to school or play. While my mother possessed a
cheerful, sunny personality, every once in a while I would get a glimpse of the
lonely little girl in her past. The temporary discomfort that vaccinations caused
my babies were a price I paid with great appreciation in exchange for
protecting them from similar circumstances.
What would I do if I had the
responsibility to make decisions about vaccinations today? I do not know. Many
pro-vaccination articles that I read act as if those parents choosing not to
vaccinate are low-information people who don’t know that Dr. Wakefield’s 1990’s
research linking vaccinations and autism has been discredited. My experience is the opposite. The parents I
know who don’t vaccinate are super-high-information people. They are
intelligent and knowledgeable. They include physicians and scientists. Autism
is only one of many issues about which they are concerned.
Yet, they question authority by
not blindly accepting information from the American Academy of Pediatrics,
government sources or the media. Can I blame them? Is there any question that
the medical and scientific communities sometimes have placed, and continue to
place, political considerations ahead of medical integrity? Is there any question
that the majority of media today mostly report news that fits their social
engineering agenda while suppressing, as much as they can, news with which they
personally disagree? Can anyone really keep a straight face while asking young
parents to trust the government? When those in authority act deceitfully,
imprudently, and too frequently only in their own self-interest, they cannot be
surprised that pleas to trust them are scornfully dismissed.
Sadly, lack of principle and
uprightness in medical issues, are not new phenomena. A little research will
reveal shocking levels of malfeasance promoted in the name of science in the 20th
century, even if you remove Nazi Germany from the picture. My mother herself
had cause to be suspicious of doctors. She credited her ability to walk to
Australian nurse, Elizabeth
Kenny (1880-1952), who was ignored, discredited and lied about by doctors
when she insisted that her methods showed greater success than the medical
community’s standard treatment of polio patients. She was right. For many
doctors who were in powerful positions at the time, their egos proved larger
I certainly worry when I see a
recurrence of diseases from which we have been safe in the past few decades. However, in a society where, day in and day
out, we see emperors with no clothes, asking young parents to pretend that on
one issue he is royally garbed demands a level of loyalty and respect that has
not been earned.
6 thoughts on “Vaccination Views”
Since most, if not all, vaccination recommendations come directly from Government, or at least with Government sponsorship, I agree with you completely. The most foolish and often dangerous decisions that one can make is leaving such decisions to those who seem to suffer no consequences for being wrong.
I’m sorry for the delay in approving comments. We have just returned from a boating vacation and I was off-line. As I said, I don’t know what I would do if I had to decide about vaccinating a child today. This really isn’t a black and white issue, but each side believing the other is intelligent and well-meaning would be most helpful.
The case of your mother is a lesson to us all. Your mention of Elizabeth Kenny, who was treated shabbily, scorned and derided by the medical community, yet who turned out to be right, evokes one other apt example: Ignaz Semmelweis.
Dr. Semmelweis was a German-Hungarian physician in a hospital in Budapest. He worked in an early 19th century obstetrics ward. Women about to give birth would rather deliver at home than enter this ward because most of its patients sickened and died there. One day Dr. Semmelweis observed that delivering physicians had just come from dissecting cadavers, and did the math. Deducing that decaying matter on the doctors’ hands might be causing infection during delivery, he performed a study in which delivering physicians washed up using chlorinated lime. The mortality rates improved dramatically and Dr. Semmelweis published his results.
He was mocked, scorned and laughed out of the medical profession by doctors who saw no probable cause and were unwilling to wash their hands. But he rabidly defended and preached his findings. In the end Dr. Semmelweis was committed to an asylum where he died from a gangrenous wound inflicted during a brutal beating. In just a few years the work of Pasteur and Lister confirmed and established the germ theory, that ridiculous notion that decaying matter might host microscopic flora and fauna that cause disease. Dr. Semmelweis was right, just ahead of his time.
Your column today reinforces the sad observation that medicine has a dark side: a religion characterized by inflexible dogma and intolerance, and ridden with officious excommunication of heretics just like another religion, until illuminated by the light of science. The message of the prophet is adopted in the end, but the prophet himself is so often sacrificed.
Susan, Thank you so much for posting this! I appreciate and value your views. I have been anti-vaccination for myself the past decade and anti-vaccination for my daughter for 2 years. I can honestly say that I have over-educated myself regarding vaccination but my decision came from a revelation. If I have to believe one part of the Bible, I have to believe ALL of it. I read that God said he would “not put any of these diseases on you” if we listen and obey and he will be our Healer. I was prone to ear infections, sinus infections and allergies. I have been healthier in the past 10 years than I have in any other era of my life and my daughter (who suffered with asthma) lives a happy normal life and is involved in Cheer-leading and lyrical ballet. We do medicate her daily for asthma (I’m not anti-medication). This is such a personal issue but I knew once I read the ingredients that were in vaccinations, I couldn’t knowingly put that in my body. The flip side is my husband is vaccinated every year at work and he’s been sicker than a dog the past 8 years. Even I can do that math….
Great article. The fact is that vaccines are big business, and given the degree to which big business interests (like the pharmaceutical industry) influence governmental decisions, we don’t feel we can trust what we’re told. That’s the bottom line. (Although I did vaccinate my children.)
your writing reminds me of Comedian Chris Rock, talking about modern healthcare… (cleaned up for your site)
Chris Rock: Doctors don’t cure anything! They don’t cure anything! The last disease doctors cured was polio, when’s the last time you met someone with polio?
[Impersonating a boss and his employee]
Chris Rock: “Why weren’t you at work today?” “Oh, my polio’s actin’ up again!” They don’t cure anything!
“Ain’t no money in the cure, the money’s in the medicine…that’s how a drug dealer makes his money, on the comeback.”
Yes.. he is being funny, but he makes a point. there IS plenty of evidence that large corporations, that make money selling prescription drugs, have HUGE influence over a great many things… and sure, it sounds all conspiratorial.. until you look at (recent) history, and find out the only REAL truth out there.. is that it isn’t front and center. (gulf of tonkin anyone? Weapons of Mass Destruction anyone?.. bueller? bueller? )
I’m not going to claim to know..but curing a disease, has no residual income.. MANAGING sickness.. THAT has residual income. Greed is the top of the healthcare foodchain.. not health.
i have a 16yo who has not been vaccinated for anything.. he is fine. Polio is a 3rd world issue. stop allowing soo many 3rd worlders into the country without proper vaccines PRIOR to arrival.. and the US would have Zero cases of the disease.
todays Doctors are industrially taught no matter the symptom.. there is a drug for it.. even when they are wrong.. and they frequently are.. first diagosis.. no matter what the issue is.. “here let me prescribe a drug for you” is the knee jerk reaction.
i guess.. the bottom line is.. the healthcare system is so broken that its only a “symptom management system” rather than a health system.
Sadly its now cheaper for some procedures to be done (including airfare/hotel/food) in India and/or Mexico .. and ironically (?) the doctors are educated in the same schools.
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