On Vaccines, Fear and the Islands We Create

cover_MayFrom The Rotarian:

Not long after our first daughter was born, I remember seeing her on the exam table in the doctor’s office, lying on her back, with the white paper crinkling underneath her. She was soft and small and fragile. I remember watching the needle pierce her leg, and feeling a strange mix of guilt and relief. There was a slight delay before her face changed and her scream filled the room. As a father, I cringed.

In 2006, there were rumors about mercury in the injections, and some possible link with autism. My wife and I had heard them. With the anxiety of all new parents, we wanted, more than anything, to keep our daughter from harm. But sorting through the opinions and anecdotes and research was overwhelming. We were torn between fear, belief, and trust.

Fortunately, we had a good doctor whom we did trust, who assured us that the shots didn’t contain mercury and that they posed no risk of autism. We believed her. We were too exhausted to do much more than that. Things might have been harder if we’d felt differently about our doctor, or about Western medicine, or about the world. But we didn’t. We just did our best. Today our daughter is healthy and thriving. For that we’re grateful. Yet a surprising number of new parents in my generation don’t feel the way we did. They don’t believe their doctors. And they haven’t come to see vaccinations as an obvious, logical, low-risk choice.

Read the rest here.

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