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Now That We’ve Got Your Attention…

By Christine Vara

This past week on Shot of Prevention has been extremely exciting.  We’ve seen a lot of activity and numerous new voices contributing their thoughts and insights through comments. First, I’d like to thank Shannon Des Roches Rosa, a concerned mother and wonderful writer, for sharing her perspective with us here. When I started contributing to this blog approximately 6 months ago, I explained that I was on a journey to learn more about vaccine preventable diseases and the issues concerning vaccine research and safety.  I openly admitted that I am not schooled in public health, nor am I a licensed medical professional.   I am simply a parent—like many of you, I imagine—who is constantly seeking to make the best choices for my family.   

The reality is that I am responsible, along with my husband, for the monumental task of caring for our five children in every way.  Each day I am bombarded with information just like most other parents -information from family, friends, broadcast media, printed news publications, health blogs, parenting sites, Facebook and Twitter.  Sometimes the information is scientific data, sometimes it is personal interpretation of anecdotal evidence, other times it is entirely opinion.  Part of my job as a parent is to learn how to process all this information and decide which is useful to me and my family.

This is no different when it comes to the concept of vaccines.  We each make our own individual decisions based on what we consider to be scientific evidence, professional opinions and reputable sources.  The differences lie in the fact that what I consider to be reputable sources may be different than what someone else references.  This is blatantly apparent by the growing number of recent comments to Shannon’s post entitled “Why My Child With Autism is Fully Vaccinated”.

This blog has been initiated by a non-profit vaccine advocacy group that is dedicated to improving public health and educating people about vaccines.  What better way to explore the real-life concerns of parents than creating an online community in which readers feel comfortable enough to share their questions and insights? Shot of Prevention is the community created to do just that.   It’s been my hope, as the lead contributor to the blog, that parents would come to share their experiences, learn about current vaccine related issues and seek answers to the many questions they have about vaccines.

In the past six months I have learned a great deal.  Some things that I have learned have surprised and shocked me, some have saddened me, while yet others have encouraged me.  What I have witnessed on this blog, in response to our latest guest post, has elicited each of those emotions.

After reading all of the comments that have been posted since last week, I realize that we have a new challenge here at Shot of Prevention.  While I am not surprised by the variety of content within the comments, I do feel that it is important for us, as a community of caring individuals, to pause for a moment to consider our effects on those who still remain undecided in regards to vaccine research and safety.  All perspectives have value in this ongoing discussion, and respect is what will continue to make Shot of Prevention a place where all of us feel comfortable sharing and evaluating the information available to us about vaccines and preventable diseases.

In closing, I want to again thank Shannon for her guest contribution to this blog.  Within her personal story, she has managed to share her own experience of having an autistic son and has clearly illustrated how her opinions regarding vaccines were ultimately shaped and influenced through her research.  As a concerned and educated parent, she was able to explore this complicated issue of vaccine safety and come to a determination that she is not only comfortable with, but willing to share openly with everyone on this blog.

It is my hope that others who have questions regarding vaccines, like Shannon once did, will come to fully participate in the conversation here at Shot of Prevention.  After all, we have created this blog for you, to help you seek the answers you need.  Let us know what your concerns are and we will do our best to provide you with insight.

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