Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Opposed to Vaccination? Let's Make that Sting

We're a little late in posting the op/ed on vaccination in yesterday's Strib, which was written by one of the Moms Who Vax, Ashley Shelby. The Star Tribune editor told Ashley that it was the most-read Opinion piece that day, at least online. And, of course, it stirred up quite a response.

The op/ed focused on creating trade-offs for parents who choose not to vaccinate--higher health insurance premiums, restrictions on attending private preschools and daycares, instituting sincerity testing, and closing the conscientious opt-out loophole in Minnesota's immunization statute. That being said, the Moms Who Vax initiative comes to the vaccine issue assuming that we have already lost the parents who are currently not vaccinating due to misinformation about vaccine safety. They are hardened in their beliefs, can find other parents who support to those beliefs, however devoid of science and common sense they are. Proof of this could be found in the one or two e-mails Ashley received from defensive anti-vaxxers. (It was heartening to learn that she hadn't received much hate e-mail).

We will not try to convert. It is a waste of our precious time and resources.

We will try to help new parents understand vaccine safety and why vaccination is so crucial for their children's health and well-being, but also for the community's health and well-being. One of the more selfish elements of the anti-vax movement has to do with nonvaccinating parents' reliance on herd immunity. If the majority--overwhelming majority, actually--95%--of the population vaccinates, their unvaccinated children should be safe. The problem is that herd immunity is fading fast.

In the case of measles in Minnesota, herd immunity is gone. 85% of parents vaccinate against measles, mumps, and rubella. Let that sink in for a minute.

Let's also make one thing clear about the Moms Who Vax. It should go without saying, but here it is: we have no--absolutely zero--connection to the pharmaceutical companies that make vaccines. In fact, Ashley Shelby has written very critically in the past about pharmaceutical companies on her blog Science for Sale. So yeah, we're not "pawns" of Big Pharma. We're moms who live in Hopkins, Minnesota, Upper Montclair, New Jersey, St. Paul, Minnesota, San Rafael, California, and beyond.

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