Whose Business is it Anyway?
Jul 26, 2011

Mommy Bloggers Babble About Vaccine Myths (Part 3)

Last week I began a discussion about “Mommy Bloggers” who have voiced their opinions on vaccination. Today’s post continues with a review of a Babble Strollerderby blog written by Stephanie Precourt, entitled “I Don’t Vaccinate My Kids and It’s None of Your Business”. 

Clearly, parents assess vaccines differently and in rather personal ways.  This article is no exception.   Stephanie’s attitudes regarding vaccinations are upfront and emotional – most likely due to her belief that her two children were injured by vaccines.

She complains that she constantly has to “defend herself” regarding this “painful subject” and states, “The debate is, surprise surprise, never ending.  I’m tired of it. Seriously, it’s not anyone’s business but MINE if I vaccinate my kids or not.”

While she is passionate, she is adamant that she doesn’t want anyone judging her for her decisions, she doesn’t want to have to explain her choice and she doesn’t feel she should answer to anyone.
Unfortunately, it is this exact attitude that makes it difficult for vaccine advocates to understand people like Stephanie, and it’s a common theme for parents who choose not to vaccinate their children to feel as though they don’t need to explain their position.  In writing this blog post, Stephanie has essentially created an opportunity for some real dialogue and insight into her vaccine concerns.  However, her attitude mimics a frustrated child storming off the playground when she states, “…reading fiery blog posts about it [vaccines] and offering a defense when only falling on deaf ears? I’m done.”
Stephanie certainly has every right to complain that her “defense” falls on deaf ears, but it’s interesting that she then turns a deaf ear to everyone else – hardly the way to improve communication and understanding. The reality is that there are – and probably always will be – parents who would choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children.  However, ignoring our different perspectives will certainly not help us to put an end to the “never-ending” debate.  The way I see it, if parents can try to have civil conversations about their concerns, they may then have a productive dialogue and  learn something about one another.  But, if we decide to ignore one another, we can rest assured the issues we’re concerned about will never be adequately addressed.
What’s probably the most telling statement she makes is when she explains that

“People are only passionate about voicing their opinions publicly because they are trying to validate their choices”.  She goes on to say that “The loudest voices are often the most unsure, seeking the validation that their choice is the right one because as much as they are trying to pretend they know exactly what they’re doing, none of us really knows what we’re doing”.  Yet, she readily admits that, in the past, she “was quick to defend our stance on immunizations because possibly I was still convincing myself that I was doing the right thing. You know, searching for that validation?”

It’s interesting to hear this comment from a parent who is so strongly opposed to vaccination.  The fact that there even is a “debate” surrounding vaccines is a direct result of the passionate people who publicly oppose vaccination, in direct conflict to the recommendations of the immunization experts. In trying to validate their choices that ignore the scientific research, anti-vaccine activists often make quite a lot of noise and draw as much attention as possible.  In fact, online commentary offered here on Shot of PreventionMoms Who Vax, Parents Who Protect, and the Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page, have only come into existence because of the anti-vaccine rhetoric that has permeated so many online forums.
Sorry to say Stephanie, but the vaccine conversation is really just getting started and that is largely because the pro-vaccine camp is no longer going to sit back and allow the misinformation to continue.   More parents are recognizing the threat that unvaccinated children pose to our public health at large, and so they too are beginning grass-roots efforts to counter the misinformation of those who oppose vaccination.  They are speaking up in favor of things such as  stronger mandates, limited exemptionsvaccine developments, and further availability and accessibility world-wide.
Like many others who oppose vaccines, Stephanie advises the following:

“Here is where your own research, common sense, and parenting intuition is going to kick in for you. No one (doctor, friend, or Internet) can assure you more than what your gut instinct confirms.”

Unfortunately, such dangerous advice is exactly why vaccine advocates are concerned about the influence of the anti-vaccine mommy bloggers.  No one would ever accept recommendations from immunization experts that were made based on gut instinct, would they? 
Goodness, I sure hope not! 
Here at Shot of Prevention, we feel that parents should value the recommendations of experts, who have an intimate understanding of the research and science, because after all, whose business it is anyway?
Do you feel that Stephanie’s choice not to vaccinate her children is anyone else’s business?  Why or why not?

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