But here's the problem. I don't understand why some people are against vaccination. The supposed 'link to autism' is a myth. I realize Wikipedia is not necessarily a reliable font of all knowledge, but what they have to say on the topic agrees with all the other research I've done, and presents it in a nicely compact form. This is what they say about vaccination:
Early success and compulsion brought widespread acceptance and mass vaccination campaigns were undertaken which have greatly reduced the incidence of many diseases in many areas. The eradication of smallpox, which was last seen in a natural case in 1977, is considered the most spectacular success of vaccination. Currently some people assert that childhood vaccination causes some autoimmune disease and autism. Scientific studies have not demonstrated a link, however, the assertion found space in a United States House of Representatives report in 2003 which included the suggestion that mercury derivatives in vaccines might have been a cause of autism.Listen, I'm not a scientist. I got C's in my science classes in college, and that was on a good day. But one thing college did teach me was to trust the scientific method -- it's the only reliable way we have to figure out how the world works, and for the most part, it's tremendously effective. Sure, there are problems with it, especially when researchers go in with a set of biases and don't even know what their biases are (remind me to tell you sometime about the early research that 'proved' that men were smarter than women -- the researchers were comparing skull sizes to get that result, but they didn't realize that they were unconsciously choosing the biggest male skulls and comparing them to the smallest female skulls -- because that matched their preconceived ideas about what the 'ideal' masculine and feminine looked like...). But most of the time, especially today, researchers work really hard to set up their studies well, without bias, putting good data in, so they can get reliable truth out. I trust the scientific method -- and you can trust it too. It just works.
So given that study after study after study has found no link between between vaccines and autism, I don't understand why I keep hearing parents talking about not vaccinating their kids. I'm guessing some of them are misinformed -- they heard about that one mercury report Wikipedia mentions and just don't know about the rest. Or they've read bad books, not realizing how weak the books' arguments were. (Someone loaned me one when I was pregnant that sounded convincing at first (the Romm book, I think), but just didn't have any actual data to back its arguments up.) But I know that other parents have honestly tried to do a lot of research -- some of them even understand that vaccination works -- and they still don't want to vaccinate their kids. And I don't understand where their reluctance is coming from, even though I've read the whole Wikipedia article on the vaccination controversy. I just don't get why there's a real controversy at all. Help?
Because here's the thing. Vaccination is a joint endeavor. It works when everyone participates -- that's how we eradicated smallpox, and why we're close to eradicating polio and measles. But it does far less good for me to vaccinate my kid (and have her take the tiny but existing risk that the vaccine will give her the disease) if others don't vaccinate their kids. Every person who doesn't vaccinate puts more of the burden on those of us who do -- we take the burden up to protect our children and yours.
If I think about that too long, especially when I'm sitting in a chilly doctor's office with my little baby girl in her diaper, waiting for those sharp needles, I can get pretty angry. For every parent whose child isn't vaccinated, my daughter's suffering becomes less useful -- it's worth a little less. So tell me -- why are you doing this to my baby?