I empathize with vaccine hesitant parents. I felt wary myself, especially after going through the late 70’s pertussis vaccine scare that emerged right before my first child’s birth, wrongly claiming that the DPT vaccine most likely causes brain damage. With my second child, I felt trepidation over the growing number of infant and early childhood vaccines — so many, so soon (and even more nowadays.)
Ultimately I decided to trust my science-based doctors who follow the recommended CDC schedule, and who decided to fully immunize their own kids without hesitation. As I continue to learn more about the science and regulation of vaccines, I feel confident that I made (and am still making) the most well informed and protective decision for my family.
On my journey to sort fact from fiction regarding vaccinations, I often consult the Science Based Medicine (SBM) blog site.
Dr. David Gorski posted his review of Frontline’s “Vaccine War”, a PBS documentary that featured my town of Ashland Oregon as a low-immunization “hot spot.” He mentioned the appearance in the documentary of one parent in Ashland who favored full immunization(there are actually many here) – who happened to be me.
Later, he added: “ADDENDUM: There was a segment in which a pro-vaccination parent in Ashland was profiled. In a shot in which she was surfing the ‘net, guess what blog showed up?” It was a shot of Sciencebasedmedicine.org on my computer screen, a typical scene in my autodidactic life (thank you to my husband for informing me of that word).
I seized upon the opportunity to add this my comment in response:
Hello, Dr. Gorski, et al at SBM. I am the “pro-vaccine” parent from Ashland Oregon interviewed by Frontline for their Vaccine War program. You should know that I not only pulled your site up on my screen for their “B-roll” taping, but I sang its praises several times to them. One of my strongest points during my interview involved a basic vaccine consumer question: How can a non-scientist layperson, a member of the general public, figure out what to believe when both sides are claiming they are backed by scientific data and studies and expert analyses? When it comes to vaccines, is it really a matter of picking your poison: risk vaccine side-effects or risk the diseases? (Like Jenny McCarthy suggests when she says she’ll take measles over autism.)
I expressed to Frontline that the skeptical inquiry and science-based medicine movement provides a greatly needed counterbalance to anti-vaccinationist scare-mongering, notably on the web. I told them this movement has made me feel empowered. I no longer have to throw my hands into the air in confusion. I can see that when it comes to vaccines it’s not a matter of picking-your-poison, that the benefits of vaccination far, far outweigh the risks.
I expressed that I believe there are many vaccine-wary people who may just need some scientific literacy to learn how to sort out the claims and how to recognize credible versus non-credible souces of information. Among other things, I learned that vaccine safety and efficacy studies are on the higher, gold standard end of the continuum of bad to good science, while those critical of vaccines tend to cite studies that are of poor quality and they continue to defend those that have been seriously discredited (e.g. Andrew Wakefield).
The Frontline photographer took footage at my home of the cover of the Skeptical Inquirer magazine featuring Dr. Novella’s article on vaccines and autism published not too long ago. I suggested to Frontline that they interview some of the professionals from SBM, like you Dr. Gorski, and Dr. Novella, and Dr. Crislip. It was great to see that at least a flash of the SBM website survived the cuts. (My own vaccine related blog article, a critical analysis of the Desiree Jennings claims, didn’t survive the cuts: “A CHEERLEADER’S UNBELIEVABLE FLU VACCINE REACTION,” posted on Selectsmart.com, here, if you’re interested: http://www.selectsmart.com/commentary/blog.php?m=1336 [update: now posted on this blog.]
Mostly, I just want to say THANKS! Keep up the good work; please know that you are making an impact on the public, as you have on me. We are very fortunate that you and others who publish on this blog are willing to share your time, energy, and expertise. I really can’t express how grateful I feel.