Monday, June 13, 2011
Important - Vaccinating children safely
Yes, I know, this is a far cry from my usual political content. But, if you have children or grandchildren you love, or know someone with small children, or who is about to give birth, it could be very important information. Please be patient - I get there eventually, but I want you to know my source is a good one, a lady who does her research with due diligence.
There is an author I have read extensively who is a little out of the usual genres of what I read. Her name is Jodi Picoult, and she is one of the best writers I have ever read. She takes topics of national concern - school shootings; child molestation by priest; spousal abuse; having a child, a sibling, for blood and tissue donations for another sick child - and weaves a story of the families involved, the dynamics of the relationships, and develops real characters who display the same emotions, the same struggles to understand and function, as we all go through when faced by similar dire straits. She does this so well, understands both the relationships and the issues so thoroughly, that it is both amazing and truly enlightening.
The books may seem like the literary version of "chick flicks", but to dismiss them in that fashion would be a terrible mistake. Jodi is the real thing, and what and how she writes is incredible, not to be missed if you are a thinking human being. Read her once, and you will read all she writes. She grabs you and doesn't let you go until you understand - until you know what it is to be abused, the parent of a molested child, an abused spouse, or a man falsely accused of molesting your students. (Jodi's early book, Second Glance, while ostensibly a sort of ghost story, goes into the actual practice of eugenics - and ethnic cleansing - practiced by the state of Maine , not just against the "feeble-minded" but also against the Micmacs and other Indian tribes, years before Hitler thought of it.)
Which brings us, in a roundabout way to the topic of this blog. More and more parents are concerned about the possibility of their child developing autism due to childhood vaccinations. Thimerosol, a mercury compound present in some vaccinations is thought to be one culprit. Recently the CDC (IIRC) [edit: actually the NIH] has poo-pooed this connection, but as usual, they have politicized an issue that isn't as simple as they would like to make it. Their concern for the very real possibility of an increase in childhood infections due to parental refusal to vaccinate has been made into an attempt to balance the cost of thousands of children developing autism against the cost of millions of children developing the childhood diseases prevented by the vaccinations.
Jodi, in her article about her book, says this is wrong. It is not necessary to accept making hundreds of new autistic children in order to continue the practice of vaccination. It appears to be quite possible to simply be smarter about how the vaccinations are scheduled, and to avoid the ones that contain thimerosol - which may only affect a small population of children, but most likely does affect some of them. The medical community is willing to accept the production of a number of autistic children in their need to see all children vaccinated. But parents do not need to risk that result. They can insist upon vaccinations that do not contain thimerosol. They cannot be threatened for a refusal to vaccinate if they are willing to have their child vaccinated with a safe product, one not containing thimerosol. And they should.
Here is a link to what she has to say, toward the end of her explanation for why she wrote her book House Rules, dealing with autism. Jodi says at one point: