|Medieval Plague Doctor|
Yesterday's health section of the the Los Angeles Times devoted much of its sparse coverage to the importance of vaccinating one's children and reported on the rising incidences of pertussis and measles. The coverage included a pompous and condescending letter from a Seattle doctor and was, as usual, completely lacking in stories of those people whose children had, in fact, been damaged by vaccines. There was the usual nod to the hysterical voices of those in the autism community but otherwise no mention was made of the risks of vaccines or even the smallest acknowledgement that scientists are constantly working on making vaccines safer (the "er" at the end of the "saf" being the crucial distinction here, if you get my drift).
I want to clarify first of all that I'm not against vaccinations. I'm not sure that the DPT vaccine that Sophie got, along with two other vaccines (for a total of five), at two months of age, were the cause of her seizures or the catalyst for some underlying disorder. I know that my own vaccination record from 1963 shows some negative reactions, and this was not discovered until about three years after Sophie's seizures began, so I chose NOT to vaccinate my sons. Was this decision an emotional one? I'm not a big one for curse words, but I'll say here that you'd better fucking believe it was a decision partly based on emotion. It was a difficult decision and one that I felt much anxiety over off and on for years, but I don't regret it. When I read articles like the ones in the newspaper today, I feel sick to my stomach. I feel sick to my stomach because I have never, not once, seen anything remotely resembling recognition of or coverage of stories like ours, written respectfully and in a balanced way. I replied to the doctor by writing this:
I'm so tired of the same sorts of letters and arguments published over and over and over, simplifying this extremely complex issue. I am the mother of a sixteen year old girl who has suffered from refractory epilepsy every single day of her life since she received her initial vaccinations at two months of age. Is her life the requisite sacrifice to ensure herd immunity? Why are voices like mine and countless others like mine not heard in this vaccination coverage? Letters like the esteemed doctors, and the rest of the coverage in this paper only serve to fan the flames of the hysterics and further de-spirit those of us who might not necessarily be anti-vaccine but who have serious, viable questions and blame for the healthcare our children have received. I have two sons who I have chosen NOT to vaccinate, the kind of children who I imagine you feel are putting others at risk every single day that they are not vaccinated. I ask you whether you might sign a paper attesting that should I vaccinate them, they will NOT begin seizing like their sister did so many years ago and NOT need to be cared for, fed, bathed, diapered and comforted for the rest of their lives. I would ask you, too, to care for them financially should they follow in the steps of their sister and perhaps figure out how to deal with their heartbroken mother.
I wonder if he'll answer me.