Why this ten year anti-vaxx mom started fully vaccinating: Part IV

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If you haven’t read parts 1-3 of my story from being a ten year anti-vaccinating mom to fully vaccinating my children, you can catch up here!

Part I: Questioning Vaccines 

Part II: Do Vaccines Cause Autism {They Don’t}

Part III: Social Media and Vaccines 

Somewhere between 2012, when I had my third child, and 2014, when I had my fourth child, I started to question whether I had been wrong about not vaccinating. I started to ask myself, “Why was I so adamantly against vaccines? Could I really defend my stance?” In my efforts to become more educated, I had actually turned into someone who had become very narrow-minded when it came to all things “natural.” I had picked a “side,” picked a “team,” and I was Team Crunchy Mom. And The Crunchy Mommy Team said no vaccines. But in my heart, I was questioning and didn’t know where to turn next. Being a crunchy anti-vaxx mom was such a deep part of my identity and I was afraid of losing my tribe.

The new family doctor we had (the one who had diagnosed my daughter with lead poisoning), had become someone I trusted. During one appointment she asked me, “Can we talk about why you’re not vaccinating?”

My first instinct was to internally roll my eyes, become defensive, and tell her that I did not, in fact, want to talk about it. But because I trusted her, and she had asked me in a respectful way, I listened. She asked me where I was getting my information about vaccines, and I told her that I was reading studies. In hindsight, I don’t know if that was true. I was honestly only reading the headlines of studies that people posted on social media, memes that quoted studies, or maybe the occasional YouTube video that claimed to quote a study. In my mind that was “reading a study.”

Then she asked me, “Do you read peer-reviewed studies?” And the truth was that I didn’t even know what that meant. She asked me if I would make an effort to read peer-reviewed studies about vaccine safety, I told her I would, and we left it at that.

Shortly thereafter, a vaccine meme crossed my social feed. It had a giant picture of a needle with murky, brown goo swimming in the vial, and it said, “These are the REAL ingredients in the flu vaccine. Would you inject this into your baby?” It included mercury, aborted fetal cells, and other nastiness that no self-respecting mother would put in her baby. It had a link, so I clicked it to see where this meme came from. The link took me to a Natural News website which actually had no information about any study. Two clicks and I couldn’t find anything credible about this scary-looking meme.

So I went out on my own to find out what was actually in a flu vaccine. It turned out that there wasn’t any mercury or aborted fetal cells in a flu vaccine.

I also found out about a college course on vaccines through the online learning site Coursera, offered by the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. This course is no longer available, but through it, I learned about the history of vaccines, how vaccines for viruses and bacteria are made, benefits, risks, and common controversies about vaccines. It was the comprehensive education that I needed to feel confident that I should get my children vaccinated.

The course professor, Dr. Paul Offit, also helped found the Vaccine Information Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They offer all the same information that was in the course, with (peer reviewed!) research references throughout.

Here are some helpful resources if you are open to learning more about the safety of vaccines:

The Vaccine Information Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)

CDC: What’s In Vaccines

What is a Peer-Reviewed Article {helpful video link}

I’d also like to throw out there that I don’t think that anyone who is vaccine-hesitant should start vaccinating because of reading these posts I’ve written. What I’ve shared over the last few posts is just my opinion. I am not a scientist, doctor, or researcher. I’m just a mom. A blog post like this should only be a starting point for seeking out quality, scientific, unbiased information on vaccines. A blog isn’t usually a great source for making a decision about something so important. Memes, GIFs, headlines of articles that comes across your social feed, the opinion of someone in a Facebook group that you’re in, a random You Tuber, are just a starting point for actual research.

 

 

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