And so, while she was vaccinated to schedule at 5 years, including the chicken pox vaccine which was newly released then (out of fear of her getting shingles later in life, as my father did when misdiagnosed and has had a half-paralysed face/head for the past 20 or so years), she has not been vaccinated for rubella in her teens. Her concentration has improved since, she has no intentions to have children later in life and she has high aspirations which depend on her HSC studies – all these things has led to my decision.
And to clarify a bit more, I would not tell another parent to vaccinate or not. Yes, even if my child had a life-threatening disease that predisposed him/her from being vaccinated, and ‘depended’ on other children being vaccinated. I personally don’t feel it’s my right, when vaccines have the potential to kill a small percentage of babies.
Likewise, I would be greatly insulted to have someone tell me whether I was right or wrong in my decision to vaccinate or not.
But... this isn’t an article about the rights or wrongs of vaccinations. It’s about the underlying dynamics of the long-standing, immoveable debate between “pro-vaxxers” & “anti-vaxxers”.
As I got fired up on facebook sharing what I believed about vaccinations, I came to a point where I wondered why I was so fired up. I thought: why so heated?
When I finally stopped being so caught up in defending my stance (of sitting on the fence, mind you!?), I suddenly was confronted with the uncomfortable tension that made me want to react. It was intense – an underlying anxiety, as if I was defending my child from a monster. (If you just had imagery of the monster being Tony Abbott like I just did, I can only laugh & say that’s not what I meant).
Then things become clearer to me.
Stating the obvious first, both sides are deeply entrenched in ‘can’t trust’ issues. Driven by fear, both sides deeply distrust something that could potentially harm their children:
--- On the pro-vaxxer side, there's a deep fear of 'terrifying' diseases that we can't predict of control. A fear that makes you want to create some sort of certainty, some sense of safety from these invisible 'monsters' that threaten the health & wellbeing (even life) of our children. Stick to the vaccine schedule, pump as many vaccines as you can, as many times as. Protect the children from the anti-vaxxers who threaten overall 'herd immunity'.
--- On the anti-vaxxers side, there's a deep fear of what's inside the vaccines. Whether it be live viruses, toxic preservatives/additives or any potential side-effects (for some, seizure & death, for others, autism & learning impairment of various degrees). The 'monster' vaccine is bad. Protect the children from these invisible toxins. Protect them from the medical authority figures in cahoots with big pharma, out to make big bucks while sacrificing our children.
On a side note, trust issues and limiting beliefs often pop up around figures of authority. Whether it be fluoridation of drinking water, fracking, GMO foods – you can notice the same energy and behaviours at play. Note that I am not saying anything is right or wrong, only that these battles have been fought for a very long time with the same energy of direct opposition (never the twain shall meet), campaigns/protests and fighting the authority (e.g. government or corporations). This is the same dynamic as the Israeli-Palestine conflict. At what point does a resolution ever occur?
But to me, there is something even more deeply charged up around the vaccination debate...
If you haven’t guessed it by now, parent guilt.
Nothing gets me like parent guilt does. I have slowly, slowly been coming to terms with what it makes me do, how it skews my judgement. It just makes me want to react.
Parent guilt is where you feel ashamed and/or guilty for something that you have or haven’t done for your child. I have felt parent guilt for so many things over the course of my child’s life:
- being a single mum in her early years which meant that she wasn’t being provided a role model of a loving relationship
- dating/marrying a man that she is often at loggerheads with so that she has instilled a deep mistrust towards men
- likewise, choosing a controlling man as her father and further instilling a deep mistrust towards men
- being a studying mum which meant that she was stuck in full-time childcare since 10 months of age
- being a single, working mum which meant that she was stuck not just in school, but afterschool care for her primary school years
- being too tired and cranky as a working, single mum to give her full attention (play, reading or homework) that she desired at night
I wished someone had pointed it out to me sooner that maybe this companion of mine was never of any great help anyway. A never ending self-manipulation to stay the ‘good’ parent by not being associated with ‘bad’.
Parent guilt can be self-inflicted thinking and feeling – or it can be projected onto others. You end up responding to the fear and guilt, not directly to what you child needs in that moment. In the end, it takes you away from being present to your child.
The charge in the vaccination debate reeks of parent guilt. For example:
--- On the anti-vaxxers side, a future-projected guilt that you might kill or impair your child by getting them vaccinated. Being against the 'bad' pharmaceuticals, therefore being on the 'good' side. Maybe for some who are parents of an autistic child or a child who had serious side-effect (or even died) - a lingering guilt that they weren't informed enough to prevent it. Some feeling pride to not be the fool, like the pro-vaxxers who naively trust big pharma & the medicos.
--- On the pro-vaxxers side, the future-projected guilt that you might kill or harm not only your children, but other parent's children by not upholding the 'herd immunity'. Future-projected guilt and self-manipulation to stick to the current immunisation schedule, otherwise you won't be a 'good' parent. Shaming anti-vaxxers by calling them selfish (classic guilt terminology) and misinformed.
Guilt (& shame) is a great way to keep others and yourself in line of what’s ‘good’ and ‘right’. It’s the way we teach our children early in life – rewarded if ‘good’ and punished if ‘bad’. An emotion that both makes you feel bad about yourself while also making you explode in outrage when someone has the nerve to hint that you are bad. Even promotes a pride of being ‘good’ by projecting a definition of ‘bad’ onto the other.
And then adding to the cocktail of trust and guilt issues in the vaccination debate, the “No Jab, No Pay, No Play” campaign ignites another deep-seated limiting belief system. The powerless belief.
As soon as you take away someone’s choice and push your own agenda, you disempower them. People either then become the victim or rebel with a force of retaliation to attain back some sense of ‘power’. Pro-vaxxers have felt powerless to maintain complete and utter herd immunity because anti-vaxxers wouldn’t comply. Now, a number of anti-vaxxers feel their financial support & benefits are at stake - powerless to and being punished by the government (authority) for living their beliefs. But the power has only shifted slightly with this latest campaign – actually in truth, no one is in control.
What a mess! A triple cocktail of limiting beliefs fuelling the debate around the triple antigen, MMR and other vaccines.
And none of it has any heart.
Actually, this fight pulls us away from our hearts.
Ultimately, we love our kids. They are beautiful embodiments of innocence that we want to protect, to cherish and to provide for. Call it parent instinct & biology – call it unconditional love. It’s strong & it exists.
In the need to make the other side wrong, and prove who’s right, in the need to defend our stances and try to change others, we forget momentarily that both sides deeply want the same thing – our own children to be safe and have health. In the vaccine debate, both sides have different ideas on how that can exist.
And each side is rushing to find proof that supports their beliefs about vaccines. It’s science! It’s commonsense! Look what happened in my experience! Think about that time when....! Hear this story about what went wrong!
Look at this graph! Of deaths, of dates, of cases!
Look at this latest ‘scientific’ study!
(By the way, I worked in the research field for a couple of years – and there are more factors at play than just ‘it’s a scientific study & therefore it’s proof’. You can play with statistics to push your case (I have), clinic funding only goes to where the funders find relevance to their agendas, scientific journals have special rankings to determine whether the study/researchers are of any worth (google –‘impact factor’ & be aware that some scientists know how to play their field to their advantage)... and I have even heard stories of researchers I knew deleting data points here and there... Be wary if an article starts with ‘scientists have found...’ or ‘studies have shown...’ with no reference or link of the study itself – and no idea whether they have a reputation of clear & impartial studies with no agenda except truth.)
Anyway, back to the debate and looking for proof to prove the other wrong.
It reminds me of when my husband & I fight. Although we never really fight about anything important, but in the heat of the argument, each side wants to prove the other wrong. This reason and that reason. Look at this proof of how you are bad & I’m good. Minor things are argued over in detail– and not much energy put in to coming up with a solution.
No heart, no humility.
Just guilt-tripping, mistrust and powerlessness. Leading to more misunderstandings.
There’s actually another belief running – one that probably keeps us from ever coming to a resolution in the vaccine debate. It’s a belief that there is a right way.
It’s right to vaccinate! It’s right to avoid vaccinations & anything else big pharma shoves down our throat!
Everyone is so stuck on there being a right way – that they overlook that many ways could co-exist.
I’m just putting it out there, but maybe, just maybe – we are looking at all of this in the wrong way, in an outdated mode of thinking. Everyone is out to get more scientific proof and cases to determine THE right thing to do– and yet it seems that whatever scientific proof is presented, it remains lacking to ever end the debate.
But what if we’re all wrong?
---There’s nothing harmful in the vaccines AND there’s nothing harmful in catching the diseases in this modern age of hygiene and antibiotics?
---Both build your immunity in some way with different risks and outcomes?
---The whole debate and studies are a waste of our precious resources (time, energy & money)?
---Experiencing both the vaccines and their associated diseases are the worst things to ever be applied to any human being?
---The human race is wiped out tomorrow by the most terrifying virus known to man (think SARS, ebola, mad cow, bird flu, swine flu and AIDS all mixed into one) making being vaccinated neither here or there to the cockroaches left behind in the wake?
But, maybe that’s too bitter a scenario for people to taste.
What if, then:
---The human spirit cannot be contained or harmed by any vaccine or disease?
---Fuelling the fight just promotes this reality that we can’t trust, we should feel guilty as parents and we are essentially powerless?
---Debating over whether vaccinations are right or wrong is all just a waste of your time and perpetuating how small/insignificant you are in this world?
---It all doesn’t matter?
---You (and your child) will land on your feet whether you vaccinate or not, so long as your actions are fuelled from a place of love and presence to your child’s true needs?
And maybe I’m just a mumbo-jumbling witch doctor & tree-hugging hippie.
I’d like to claim that I know everything about vaccinations – but the truth is I don’t. There is a lot of information out there on the internet – and the stuff worth reading is hard to find through all the muck. A lot of it is really hear-say, because that’s how humans operate (think of the power of urban myths). Sometimes our stances are only founded on ‘someone once said...’.
Here are a bunch of resources I’ve found useful to feel like I am on track to making an informed choice. But there is still a lot more for me to read. If you have any great resources, I’d love to know about them – please send them on to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Immunisation schedule in Australia as of March 2015. Shows the brands of vaccines currently used: http://www.health.qld.gov.au/publications/clinical-practice/guidelines-procedures/immunisation-schedule.pdf
You can find FDA links to how some brand vaccines are made and clinical trial outcomes for different vaccines (first thing I do is read the ingredients in the process & the number of deaths in the study): http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/default.htm
I can’t find a great link to show what the old schedules were (I’d love to know what I was vaccinated for in the 1980s) but here’s some: http://www.health.vic.gov.au/immunisation/resources/history.htm AND http://www.ncirs.edu.au/immunisation/history/index.php
Here’s our vaccine schedule compared to others around the world (thanks Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccination_schedule
Australian Bureau of Statistics information about immunisation rates (herd immunity) through late 1990s & early 2000s – plus immunisation schedules in those times: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/productsbytopic/9ACFFBA936A179CBCA256D3A002760D9?OpenDocument#APPENDIX%20A.%20Australian%20Standard%20V
Here are some estimates of Australia’s current ‘herd immunity’ (immunisation rates), broken up into different areas: http://www.myhealthycommunities.gov.au/Content/publications/downloads/NHPA_HC_Report_Imm_Rates_March_2014.pdf AND http://www.ncirs.edu.au/immunisation/coverage/maps/index.php
Here is the theory & history of herd immunity (a hard read, but quite impartial and informative): http://www.op12no2.me/stuff/herdhis.pdf
This will probably not help you understand your stance around vaccinating your child, but an interesting powerpoint from medicinesaustralia.com.au – especially the money spent on funding vaccines and the future vaccines they are working on now & wanting to test on the masses: http://medicinesaustralia.com.au/files/2010/01/Terry-Nolan-06.pdf
A controversial book by Dr Seers in California, highlighting the basics around vaccines for parents to make an informed choice. Note that a lot of medical professionals do not support this book. http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/vaccines/inside-vaccine-book
This is an interesting article by an immunologist: http://thinkingmomsrevolution.com/an-open-letter-to-legislators-currently-considering-vaccine-legislation-from-tetyana-obukhanych-phd-in-immunology/