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1. Basic info/terminology. Virus vs bacteria. Antigen vs adjuvant. Live virus. When you talk about the pertussis virus or removing thimerosol from the MMR it is hard to take you seriously.
2. The autism angle. Autism is a big concern for some parents. I get that. But contrary to popular opinion, it isn't the only or even primary concern of many parents. Auto-immune issues in general, fetal tissue in vaccines and other things influence many of us as much or more than a fear of autism.
3. Herd immunity. There is always the suggestion that non-vaxers are the ones who put others at risk by derailing herd immunity. The truth is that herd immunity is largely a myth. How many adults do you know that are fully up to date on all boosters? Um, yeah. Furthermore, not all diseases or vaccines are created equal (some are not even designed to prevent transmission, let alone the varying rates of efficacy) and while herd immunity might be plausible for a few, it isn't for most. All the non-vaxers that I know are fully aware of this--one reason why we study MMWRs, and educate ourselves on the symptoms and treatment options for many VPDs. We certainly don't rely on herd immunity in most cases.
4. Remembering how bad the diseases are. We are told with ineffable condescension that vaccines are a victim of their own success. If we could only remember a few decades ago... Aside from the fact that hygiene, improved medical care, nutrition and other things are at least as responsible for declining rates of mortality, the perception has changed significantly. Nobody was scared I would die when I got chicken pox. Even measles was not considered to be a big deal in most cases (and there is mounting evidence that we are trading a week of illness there for chronic allergies, asthma and other diseases). Some diseases are very serious, but so are the vaccine reactions.
5. Equality of diseases and vaccines. All diseases and vaccines are not created equal. My four month old is not at risk for Hep B or tetanus. Pertussis scares me. Mumps? Not really. The fact that my children are exclusively breastfed for a year, and continue to breastfeed after that affects my decision on Hib. I could go on and on. The risks vary according to age, family history, geography and many other things. Similarly, some vaccines are more reactive than others. Some are very effective, others are not.
6. The obsession with thimerosol. This still gets trotted out every time along with experts patiently explaining that thimerosol was removed from most vaccines years ago. While it was more removed from some than others, thimerosol isn't the over-riding concern for most of us. Aluminum, which is present in very dangerous amounts, concerns me more. There is a whole cocktail of nasty stuff in most vaccines (varies according to brand and type).
7. Fear of antigen overload. The same person talking about thimerosol sweetly pats us on the head as s/he explains that worries over too many vaccines at once are unfounded because the antigens are so weak. After all, we are exposed to far more bacteria or viruses at any given time than the ones injected in a vaccine. Well, yeah. The problem is all the adjuvants. The antigens are too weak to provoke an immune response on their own, so they are made into a threat with adjuvants like aluminum and other toxic substances. Forget about the antigens. Explain how levels that greatly exceed the FDA limits for toxic adjuvants aren't a problem.
8. Environmental exposure. You are exposed to these toxins in the environment, anyway. Yes, we are, and while that isn't a good thing there, either, in most cases, our bodies' natural defense systems help excrete them. Being injected into your muscle tissue bypasses a lot of that, and when you are talking about babies whose blood-brain barrier isn't developed, that is concerning.
9. Vaccine side effects are redness and soreness at the injection site and a fever. In rare cases, anaphylaxis may result. True. The implication is that fever isn't a big deal, and anaphylaxis is so rare that we shouldn't worry. Fine. What about the other side effects? Read the safety inserts, please. There are many serious side effects, including respiratory illness, arthritis, paralysis, an assortment of auto-immune disorders, and more.
10. Concerns about vaccines are based solely on the anecdotes of so and so who posted a story on vaccinesRthedevil.com. Most of us started questioning because of reactions we saw in our own children. But we didn't stop there. We spend countless hours poring over medical journals, researching the diseases, ingredients, the immune system, etc., learning all we can. Some are immunologists, neuroscientists and other medical professionals. We are educated and informed about vaccines. Talk to us. And if you are going to write about us, learn a little more first.