Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.
~ Thomas Jefferson

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:

"The proponents of the vaccine/autism link feel that there may be underlying factors that predispose one child to autism versus another – a genetic quirk, a mitochondrial disorder, an immune system sent into overdrive by too many vaccines. To them, when it comes to vaccinations, one size doesn’t fit all.

Some of these parents have gone to vaccine court. In March 2008 Hannah Poling’s family won a claim saying that her autism was most likely triggered by receiving five shots against nine illnesses in one day. Hannah had mitochondrial disease – a nerve disorder that causes autism-like symptoms and is brought on by viral illness. In Hannah’s case, the vaccines did what viruses do: they triggered the reaction. Over the past 20 years, the government has quietly paid out 900 million dollars for vaccine injuries. And in the wake of the Poling verdict, the government has called for new safety studies to see if genetics might make some kids more susceptible to vaccine injury."

Please read the entire page at the link above.

And for those of you who know I simply can't leave politics and a concern for freedom out of the equation, here is another topic: Jodi speaks to the fact that high-functioning autistics - such as those with Asperger's Syndrome - may seem to be close to normal, but their syndrome, their behavioral symptoms, still leave them at risk:

"I think the hardest thing about having Asperger’s, though, is that there are times these kids look completely normal. And then at other times, it is blatantly clear that something’s a little different. The parents of AS kids I met with worried about this, and how – in their absence – their children would be able to communicate to others. One mother told me that she’d read AS kids should carry a card in their wallets, stating that they have autism. That way if a police officer approached, the card could be handed over. But this mother also asked, if her son reached for his wallet, would the policeman wait patiently – or assume he was going for a gun, and shoot first?"

[Considering the Diallo case in New York (immigrant shot while reaching for his wallet and ID), the recent shooting of a young Marine with a wife and two young children in Tucson, AZ, and the many other instances of police over-reaction and excessive force we know of, this is a very real concern. Reg]

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Sorry, folks. I was completely ignorant about comment rules. Anyone can post, but I'd prefer a name, even if it is made up. Anonymous posts just seem cheap, if you know what I mean. Also, if you want to argue a point, that's fine. Cheap shots and name calling towards me or another person commenting (ad hominem) is rude and will get you banned. Other than that, I'd love to get some comments.