Dear Claire/Talulah/ Rainbow/Aida et al
You might be reading this from the waiting room of your private naturopath. Or from your iphone while you wait for your green snoothie to finish blending. (Don’t forget to add a pinch of ginger). Perhaps outside the school gates of the nice local primary school.
How would I know? Because I’m familiar with the type of mother you are…probably very similar to my own mother, and probably very similar to how I’ll be when I become a mother. You want the best for your children. You want little Will or little Kemi to grow up with the best of everything. Best schools, best clothes, best food, best health, best after school Judo class or African history Sunday school (depending on what floats your boat). You eat healthily. You love your yogalates class. You frequent Holland and Barrett for your monthly supply of Korean Ginseng. I can relate to all these things. I am THAT woman – so don’t think anything I’m about to say is because I’m an herbal-medicine-bashing-Richard-Dawkins-type.
(Here I am stereotyping…maybe you’re not any of these things, you’re just a normal, non-hippy Mum who loves her kids dearly).
I know you read a lot of Daily Mail articles about autism vaccines a few years ago (although you usually read more reputable broadsheets like the Guardian or the Independent), and they scared you. There was a study done by a doctor, who has since been stripped of his medical title, which linked autism to the MMR vaccinations. As you toured the university of Google, websites with names like naturesonlyteacher.com, or organicnews.org, yielded story after frightening story of children who had developed strange and wonderful diseases shortly after receiving their BCG/ Polio/ Measles/Chickenpox vaccination.
“Bleeding Nora!” you exclaimed. “There’s no way little William is getting a de-myelinating disease age 3!” You decided not to vaccinate him and spread the word quietly to the other Mums at the school gate.
I’l be very honest with you – there are risks and side effects with vaccinations. There are even, very rarely, major side effects. That’s the same with any medical intervention. But the risks are very very low and vaccination on the whole is not only very safe, but very important in eradicating a host of diseases that used to cripple whole populations. Smallpox has disappeared from planet earth, hooray! All because of vaccinations.
Let’s say though, that the MMR is linked to autism. No parent wants their child to have autism and it can be incredibly challenging for parents and adults with autism, but autism is not the worst thing that can happen at all. There are many people with autism who are independent, functional, thriving members of society. You can’t be an independent, functional, thriving member of society when you’re dead. That’s the unfortunate possibility when you don’t vaccinate your children against diseases such as measles. Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. Yes, it’s as scary as it sounds. Yes, it’s rare.
But it’s definitely a worse side effect than autism.
See, what really annoys me about the anti-vaccine movement is that the majority of people who believe in it (my Mum was wary of vaccines, although we had all the essential ones) are very intelligent (as I’m sure you are) but simply misinformed. It’s the people that give them misinformation that get my goat. A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
So, Claire/Talulah/ Rainbow/Aida et al. Don’t take my word for it. Google also has a lot of research papers which prove that vaccination is on the whole, safe, healthy, effective and the best thing to do for your child.
After you’ve read those papers, call your naturopath for your next appointment, and then call your GP to get little William jabbed.
Must dash – my decaff green tea awaits me.
Love and light