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A Vaccine for Hypocrisy?

March 8, 2011

Ask your parents (or grandparents, if you’re younger than 20) if they have a vaccination scar on their arm. Mine do; as a child, I saw these scars for years before understanding what they were. When I learned, I was relieved to find out that medical science had advanced and I wouldn’t need to get my own. A simple – temporary – needle hole was all it would take.

I did get vaccinated. I got the entire spectrum of vaccinations available at the time – all three. Then I was pretty proud of my new-found resistance to measles, mumps, and rubella. Whatever they were.

Twenty-some years later, living in the ultra-alternative town of Portland Oregon, I have a child of my own and vaccination decisions to make. In a word, my daughter has never received any. The advice we have been operating from is along the lines of:  Vaccines are a product of the commercial-medical complex and actually unnecessary. Vaccines cause SIDS. Vaccines inhibit the immune system and heighten the chances of getting cancer. Now I’m no doctor and don’t suggest you take these allegations at face value. Do your own research and draw your own conclusions. As with so much in life, the advice you take is from people you trust, so the answers you get are in some sense set before the questions are asked. I definitely am guilty of taking advice from naturopathic doctors instead of M.D.’s.

Lately I’ve begun to re-think my stand on vaccinations. Here it is in a nutshell: I have the luxury of choosing to not vaccinate my daughter only because most of the people around me have chosen to! If the majority of the population chose not to vaccinate, disease would be so much more widespread that I probably would choose to. But as it is, we’re able to slip under the radar of the worst bugs because they have a hard time getting a foothold in this country anyway.

It makes me feel like an able-bodied homeless person who chooses to live off other people’s charity just because they can.

But I still don’t want to immunize her. I haven’t come to any conclusions except that we’re able to abstain only because other people don’t, and I’m not sure if that can be extended to mean I’m wrong and we should immunize after all.

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