The possible link between autism and the MMR vaccine once again hit the headlines last week. To vaccinate or not is the most difficult choice I have had to make as a parent. This confusing and controversial issue never seems to go away and often throws up more questions than it has answers.
Last Wednesday (1 August) the Advertising Standards Agency ordered the Babyjabs.co.uk website to remove some information from their site. They were making the claim that the 3 in 1 jab is causing up to 10% of autism in children!
Every parent in the UK has to make the decision whether to have their baby vaccinated, with the first set of jabs administered at two months. Being a parent to a new born child is amazing, emotional and often daunting, so at such an intense time a massive decision like this should be dealt with in a sensitive way. The reality though is a small leaflet from the health service explaining the vaccine schedule. It contains scarce information on the dangers of either the disease or the vaccines. The result being that what should be a major decision becomes little more than an acceptance to to go along with what is expected of you as a ‘good parent’.
I for one felt that my responsibility to my child meant I had to seek more information before making choices on his behalf.
It became immediately apparent to me and my partner that clear guidance and information is not readily available. We quickly found ourselves stuck between two extreme schools of thought:
- You are a bad parent endangering yours and other people’s children if you DON’T vaccinate!
- You are a bad parent endangering your child if you DO vaccinate!
Neither of these two schools backed up their arguments in a constructive way. And no amount of internet searches, visits to Hereford library or purchases from bookshops could find the middle ground. Even our GP could only offer limited knowledge.
Our local pharmacist did give us the information sheets that come with the vaccines, but this just threw up even more questions. When you find out that some jabs contain aluminium, mercury, gelatine, formaldehyde, aborted foetal tissue and other toxic chemicals you become more determined to find answers.
The questions we wanted answered where:
- How prevalent are the diseases?
- How effective are the vaccines?
- Is there any evidence that the vaccines are dangerous?
We had to answer them as best we could with our child’s health at the forefront of our minds. It would be very easy to loose yourself in the arguments surrounding vaccines. The power of pharmaceutical companies, the way GPs are paid, the vitriol of anti-vaccine groups, all of this can cloud your judgement. The mainstream media don’t help with their coverage of the issue, in-fact they add to the confusion with their half-reporting, and half-truths.
The conclusion we eventually got to is that the decision whether to vaccinate your child is a personal one for every parent. We shouldn’t be bullied one way or the other, but without balanced and substantiated evidence this decision, at present, is an extremely difficult one to make.