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Our Story Begins: Tackling The Vaccination Consternation


Vaccinate written on chalk board

Our Story Begins:
Tackling The Vaccination Consternation 

My oldest daughter is about to head to college, a new adventure and new frontier for her.  Part of the process for college admission is vaccinations and making sure she’s protected against meningitis.  I bring this up because we all as parents – mothers, fathers, straight, gay, what have you – love our children and want to do what’s best for them.

So when people come to me and say, flat out, that they refuse to vaccinate their kids I get angry.  I don’t mean put out, I mean angry.

I grew up in a household with a dad, and a brother and then my late wife who were all pharmacists.  My mom went through nurse’s training.  I had a teacher who was one of the last in a generation to get polio – and he walked, forever, with metal crutches, the cuffs hugging his upper arm and the clack of his metal assistants rattling down the hallway.  His legs just didn’t work, he was partially paralyzed.  He never complained but you always knew; his was the face of a debilitating disease.  These are the people who grew up in the era where you vaccinated, not because of societal pressure but because of the fear of what might happen if you didn’t.

I think we’ve lost that fear and that’s a bad thing.

An article in the Atlantic by David Perry speaks heavily to this issue.

In the article Perry focuses on Jenny McCarthy (for the record,  I rarely publicly call anyone out in what I write, but I am now).  She has been very vocal about skipping vaccinations.  She came out against them when her son was diagnosed with autism, citing evidence from a British study saying vaccinations have links to autism in kids.  She’s managed to gloss over somewhat that the study was debunked and the results had been skewed by the author.  She claimed she’d cured her son’s autism.  Then she told Time Magazine her son may not have been autistic at all.

Yet the damage is done.

I get angry, not because of the sheer audacity to claim you cure an as-of-yet incurable disorder.  Nor do I blame her for wanting to find cause or reason behind her son’s medical problems.  But still preaching avoidance of vaccination directly affects others.  It affected my family.

Three years ago, at the height of McCarthy’s campaign against vaccinations, my daughter, Hannah, at the waning end of her pertussis vaccine, came down with whooping cough.  We had an outbreak locally and the health department said it’s possible that unvaccinated individuals may have spread the disease to others around them.  Hannah had just hit the age when she needed her booster shots but had she been few years younger, this could have killed her.  As it was, Hannah was sick for months with a persistent, barking cough.  She couldn’t sleep at night.  She got colds and a sinus infection because the pertussis weakened her immune system.  At one point a chest cold turned to pneumonia which only worsened the cough.  The only thing that stopped it was a narcotic-based cough medicine which she wouldn’t take because it made her feel funny.

I sat up at night with her, worried, scared, and nearly as exhausted as she was.  The more Hannah suffered, the more frightened and angry I got.

So . . . yeah.  I take a stand on this issue, and it’s not necessarily going to be popular with everyone, but here’s the deal: realistically, they offer longer schedules for vaccinations, easing the amount of vaccine in a child’s body.  Flu shots are voluntary, but the kids’ shots have no thimerosal or mercury in them.  If you are in doubt, you can ask!

MOST importantly, it’s not just saving their lives, it’s saving the lives of those around us.  The references to problems with the vaccines are sketchy at best and the fact is, millions live when we have them.

Fear of the unknown is driving this while fear of the havoc these diseases can cause has diminished.  You or your child could be hit by a car tomorrow, but the narrow chance that your child could have problems due to a vaccine when not having it could open them up to a potentially fatal disease seems crazy to me.

I ask you . . . is this protecting our kids?

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Dave Manoucheri framed headshot


Dave Manoucheri is a writer, journalist and musician based in Sacramento, California.  A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.


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