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Our stance on vaccination shouldn’t be debated with malice

By: Lacy Hilliard
Tomahawk Writer/Photographer

Tell me a fact and I’ll direct you to at least five websites that feign credible evidence to oppose said fact. Show me hard science and I will find someone’s mother’s, brother’s, wife’s, sister’s, cousin that supposedly had an experience that goes against reported findings. Adult human beings tend to be skeptical and for good reason. This skepticism, be it created as a result of nature or nurture, can be healthy. It drives us to question and hopefully to seek additional information before ultimately settling on a decision. However, there’s a fine line between healthy skepticism and paranoia. Skepticism should lead to an educated and sound-minded decision whereas decisions bred of paranoia lack something that seems to be disappearing in the minds of many Americans – the facts.
Vaccination is scientifically proven to be overall safe and effective. It is estimated by the World Health Organization that vaccines prevent two to three million deaths per year. Adverse and life threatening reactions to vaccines occur so infrequently some suspected side effects couldn’t even be scientifically linked to vaccination. Sounds good, right? Yet, when my daughter was born, I found myself skeptical. My daughter came into this world just as the rise in autism and the suspicion that the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine might be to blame began to take center stage and I found myself hesitant. So hesitant, in fact, that I spent hours, weeks, months, pouring over vaccination studies yet as the moment every mother dreads drew nearer, I still felt no closer to a solid decision. Though every credible study I read denied a link between autism and vaccination, my skepticism gave way to paranoia and I simply could not accept these findings at face value. That’s when I took my concerns to my daughter’s doctor.
My daughter’s doctor wasn’t surprised by my paranoia nor did he judge me for discrediting the very foundation of his career –science. He knew that I was simply a mother that wanted to do what’s best for her daughter and the answer he gave me wasn’t about biomarkers or thimerosal or ethylmercury. Instead, he turned to me and said, “I know that vaccines are safe. So much so that I chose to give them to all three of my children. I would never ask you to give your daughter something that I wouldn’t be willing to give to my own children.” In that instant, he went from a lab coat wearing science pusher to a father, full of humility and understanding. My paranoia quickly dissipated and I decided to allow my daughter to receive the MMR vaccine –a decision I happily stand by to this day.

I’ve read multiple accounts from mothers that say they “lost” their otherwise developmentally normal children immediately following the MMR vaccine. The link between the MMR vaccine and autism has been scientifically explored and found to be non-existent.

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