Mommy Bloggers "Babble" About Vaccines (Part 2)
Jul 21, 2011

Yesterday I commented on an article that appeared in Babble’s blog entitled “The Worst Things People Say About Unvaccinated Kids”.
Today, I want to draw your attention to a follow-up article that also appeared in Babble entitled, “Why You Should Vaccinate Your Kids”. 
Given the title, let me just say that I had high hopes for this piece.  While the article is well-intentioned, it unfortunately lacks conviction and concrete evidence.
In this post the author, Sierra Black, who admits to having delayed vaccines, emphasizes that immunizations are not just a personal choice, but a public health issue, as well as a privilege.  She acknowledges that in the two years she delayed vaccines for her daughter, she was relying on the herd immunity of a well-vaccinated community. She also highlights a larger view as she touches upon the cost-benefit of vaccines, as well as the complex economics of vaccine production in helping developing nations to reduce the incidence of disease.
While the article makes an effort to support vaccination, in the end the message fails to deliver a strong impact.  Shortly after making the point that vaccinating is for the good of the community, she then suggests that “Good parents need to weigh their risks and options, and ultimately need to choose what’s right for their family.”  While it appears that the author is being compassionate and doesn’t want to criticize parents for making their own vaccination decisions, this desire to have every parent “feel right about this personal decision” negates her stance that vaccines are about public health.
It may not be fair, but there are times when public policy has had to override personal beliefs in this country.  Unfortunately, for people like Sierra and many others, this can be difficult to endorse in today’s society – especially when many people feel their personal liberties take precedence over public policy.  Fortunately, we have the overwhelming convictions of doctors, scientists and immunization experts who continue to speak out in favor of vaccination.  While parents do have a choice regarding vaccines, public health officials remain hopeful that these parental decisions will be based on sound science and not just gut emotion.
In one instance, Sierra states that vaccines “are safer than you think”.  While her intent is to calm fears of a doubting public, her assumption is that everyone has the same opinions regarding safety.  However, in my experiences on this blog and on the Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page, I have encountered plenty of parents, as well as many doctors and immunization specialists, who already feel that vaccines are safe  – safer of course than the alternative – disease!
While it’s nice to add Sierra’s commentary to the mix, and I commend her for speaking out, I felt that  another article, entitled, “7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Refuse or Delay Vaccinations”, by Julie Ryan Evans, on Cafe Mom’s The Stir, was much more effective in communicating the importance of timely vaccinations.
In this piece, the author explains how she is always searching for information to relieve her worries and help ensure she is doing the right thing by vaccinating.  She admits that she is “stuck somewhere in the middles of the debate”, so she seeks the advice of Dr. Jana Shaw, a mother and physician who is also a member of the New York State Department of Health Immunization Expert Panel and she presents this doctor’s advice for general “fodder”.
Way to go Julie!
Hopefully more parents will follow Julie’s lead.  She was able to distinguish between sound medical advice based on scientific evidence, and the emotional impressions that appear to contribute to her vaccine hesitancy.  This type of article illustrates that many parents, like Julie, seek to gather information from immunization experts and other reputable sources, which is very encouraging indeed.
So, in comparison to the myths about the unvaccinated, how well to you think these articles did in presenting another perspective on vaccinations?  If you’re someone who is “on the fence”, did you find that either of these articles presented any compelling reasons for you to favor vaccination?

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