I recently read On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss — talk about the timely publication of a book. Since the second trimester when our doctor recommended the Tdap vaccine and a flu shot for us and anyone coming around our soon-to-be-born child, my husband and I have discussed vaccinations together and with others. It’s a touchy subject to say the very least.
When I asked a question on Facebook about the weirdness of asking my friends and family to get those two shots before meeting our daughter, I was met with a fascinating amount of both support (“you’re the parent, what you say goes”), resistance (because I was being “crazy”, too worried, “can’t protect her from everything”, “I’m not getting a shot, guess I’ll see your kid when she’s 3”), and caution (“be prepared for the backlash”, “you can ask, but don’t expect everyone to do it”, “make sure people know it isn’t personal”). (This was also the MOST comments I’ve ever received on a FB post…like 50+.)
Jesse has co-workers that are appalled that we got the two vaccines and that we’re planning to follow the recommended schedule for vaccinating our child. His co-worker suggested we do more research and check out the National Vaccination Information Center — a website with no ties to the government (it’s a non-profit) and with links to Mercola.com, a website run by a doctor that makes big statements about things without necessarily providing the research.
I’m now well into my third trimester and more concerned with taking care of an infant than who is or isn’t vaccinated, but it’s still something that me and Jesse talk about. Do we vaccinate Evie? Do we follow the recommended schedule? The answer to both is yes and after reading this book and countless articles (both personal stories of not being vaccinated, articles with science-based evidence, and random Internet stuff), I’m even more sure that’s the right choice for us. By vaccinating, we’re saying, “we don’t care about just our child’s health — we care about the health of everyone.” There are people out there who CAN’T be vaccinated and if people who can be choose not to do it, that hurts everyone.
(Also interesting to note that since I posted the FB question, my newsfeed has started showing me more and more articles about vaccination).
Do I understand the fear other parents have about vaccinations, of course. Shooting your kid up with what sounds like a scary amount of disease and chemicals doesn’t sound like the healthy choice, but at some point you have to put your faith in the science and research that has proven that it’s a good idea.
While reading On Immunity, there were times I wish the author would have delved deeper into the topic she brought up. And occasionally I would get a bit lost in her vampire metaphor. But overall I found it to be just enough to explain the reasoning, the science, the history, and the research of immunity and vaccinations. Plus the author includes nearly 40 pages of notes and references which I find very encouraging — it means she’s not simply writing from her perspective as a mother, but from someone who sought out more information about a difficult subject (and I can definitely respect that).
Highly recommend this one! It reminded me of Breasts by Florence Williams (I really have to find my copy of that book…)
A few of the articles I’ve read…(or the ones I can still find).
- The Anti-Vaccination Epidemic via The Wall Street Journal
- Growing Up Unvaccinated via Slate
- Tonight’s PBS Special Makes the Most Powerful Argument for Vaccines Yet via Mother Jones
- CDC Statistics Show What Happens When You Don’t Vaccinate via io9
- Leaving the Anti-Vaccine Movement via Voices for Vaccines
- Why I Wish My Daughter Had Been Vaccinated via The Guardian
- How Many People Aren’t Vaccinating Their Kids in Your State? via Mother Jones
- Missed Vaccines Weaken ‘Herd Immunity’ in Children via USA Today
- Anti-Vaccination Beliefs are Contagious like a Disease via Washington Post
- The Herd Mentality of the Anti-Vaxxer Movement via io9
- I’m Coming Out…as Pro-Vaccine via HuffPost
- Vaccine Refusals Fueled California’s Whooping Cough Epidemic via NPR