I decided to post this 2012 essay that I wrote for Ashland’s local paper, The Daily Tidings, that I previously had only linked to. Now, 2015, we see a sizable outbreak of chickenpox, but more concerning (because it’s a more serious disease), measles and whooping cough (pertussis) are making a come-back in the US, while Ashland is seriously under-immunized to protect the community from an outbreak.
An “Acts Matter” essay for the Tidings
“GET THE SHOT…OR NOT”
By Lorie Anderson
I heard vaccine opposers insisting vaccines don’t work, aren’t necessary, cause untold injuries and deaths, that unvaccinated kids are healthier, refusers more intelligent, natural alternatives available and herd immunity a lie.
Embarking on a personal quest about a decade ago to sort fact from fiction, I learned the importance of seeking science-based sources and of honing my “baloney detection” abilities.
After studying the vaccine debate, I came to this conclusion: Not much is 100 percent safe or effective, but the most credible sources reveal vaccine benefits far outweigh their rare serious risks, saving lives and reducing suffering.
Governmental, independent and research organizations worldwide are committed to maximizing vaccine safety and effectiveness. Meanwhile, anti-vaccine assertions are often fallacious, scientifically unsupported and misleading — yet compelling enough to result in destructive outbreaks and derailment of disease eradication efforts.
I first encountered anti-vaccine sentiment in Ashland when my now teenage son was a baby. A dad announced: “I won’t poison my daughter’s pristine system with vaccines!” My reflexive response: “Fine, our vaccinated children will protect yours.” I received a disturbing introduction to “herd immunity” relaying this story to our pediatrician: “You’re not protecting his child as much as his child is putting yours at risk,” she said.
Maximum protection depends upon the community. Vaccination neglect, refusal and delay threaten our community’s well-being, and while I empathize with parents’ fears and concerns, it’s hard to contain resentment for authority figures who twist facts and spread misinformation.
Lorie Anderson has lived in Ashland since 1976. She and her husband, Curt, have a daughter, 30, and son, 14. She is a former social work counselor and appeared on Frontline “The Vaccine War” on PBS in 2010.