Vaccine Debate | Why we jumped into the anti-vaccine debate


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A lot of people have wondered: why did we do a post coming out on the side of vaccines? Why now? Why ever, when this is such a hot topic? And what do the other moderators think? And why did we only reference one source?

Well, here it goes.

"What do other NaturallyBorn moderators have to say about vaccines?"

I, Amy, the other founder of NaturallyBorn, second everything Pam wrote in her post. I, too, vaccinated my kids. And I too, consider myself a naturally-minded mom.

My reason for vaccinating my kids can be boiled down to this:

As benevolent as she is in some ways, Mother Nature also has a mean steak.

We go to great lengths to defend against her meaner side. We build tornado shelters. We fortify buildings to defend against her earthquakes. We avoid her poisonous plants and dangerous animals.

Polio, whooping cough, TB, measles... These are all Mother Nature's creations. Why, then, would we not defend our babies against her pathogens?

Mother Nature gave us big brains, and the biggest brains among us -- scientists and doctors -- have spent decades building up and testing defenses against her worst pathogens. Sure, there were issues with additives in vaccines, but those have mostly been resolved in the last two decades.

These big brains have done such a good job that today, the overwhelming majority of doctors agree that "vaccines are one of the safest forms of medicine ever developed".

I don't trust Big Pharma, but I DO trust doctors, university researchers, and the independent science journalists who have been watching and reporting on vaccines for decades. I trust them for a simple reason: their brains are way bigger than mine and/or they have spent more time looking at the facts than I ever will.

"Show us more evidence."

Predictably, we got challenged to do this. The anti-vaccine side often throws down this challenge, as they know that most of us don't have time to follow up on it.

And why would we? It is such a silly request. It is like being asked to prove that the earth is round. The evidence is so overwhelming, and the issue so long decided, that it is hard to know where to start.

Nevertheless, I gathered some links. Please see this post with articles and links about vaccination.

"Why did you take a position on this? Why now?"

Because we care about you! A LOT! We have been at this for three years now, and have been honored that so many of you have shared so much with us. We have fallen in love with this community, and when you love something, you feel worried and concerned when you see it going down a dangerous path.

So, we decided to take the risk by sharing our position here -- knowing full well that we will lose some of you -- for these reasons:

1) To dispel the idea that there are two legitimate sides to this debate

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Just because there are two sides to an issue doesn't mean that both sides have equal merit.

As Pam's post described, the facts are clearly and unequivocally on the side of vaccines. As the old saying goes, you can have your own opinions, but you can't have your own facts.

Ironically, there is no legitimate debate or controversy on this subject within the scientific community itself. Consider this: the International Medical Council on Vaccination -- a highly dubious organization with no significant support from the medical community -- was able to get a whopping 80 signatures from physicians to sign to a petition stating that "vaccines pose a significant risk of harm to the health of children." That's 8-0. There are roughly 200,000 family practice doctors and pediatricians in the U.S.

Compare that to The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), whose 110,000 members put out a statement supporting vaccination.

In fact, doctors and scientists everywhere are at their wits end, trying to figure out how to pull this controversy -- which was sparked by a fraudulent study -- back from the brink. They are sponsoring all sorts of programs to address the populist anti-vaccine movement, and are dismayed by studies that show that "Antivaccination Parents Dig In Heels Even after Receiving Medical Info."

And we got to our wits end, too. We decided that we could not, in good conscience, keep silent on this issue.

This is not a matter of people being entitled to their beliefs or opinions. Science is specifically intended to take beliefs and opinions out of the equation.

Our unofficial motto is "natural, practical parenting." That means we are committed to fact-based parenting. Unfortunately, there aren't many facts available when it comes to the softer arts of parenting. We should feel fortunate, therefore, that on this issue, the facts are clear.

2) To reassure other naturally-minded moms who choose to vaccinate their kids that they are not alone.

In the past three years, we have heard from so many moms who are afraid to reveal this choice (to their friends, or on this forum), for fear that all of their other natural parenting efforts will be dismissed and overshadowed because of it.

In other words, vaccination has become the topic that you don't discuss in polite company.

So to those mamas: YES, your NaturallyBorn founders firmly believe that you can be a naturally-minded parent and choose to vaccinate your kids.

3) To dispel the idea that, "you can't be a natural mom if you vaccinate your kids."

Protecting our babies is the most natural of all motherly instincts. You wouldn't leave your baby unattended at a dog park. Even though most dogs are friendly, you can't be sure and you wouldn't risk it.

Not all viruses are deadly, but you don't want to mess with those that are. Just ask this mom whose baby died of whooping cough.

And let's get this clear on this: there are no safe, natural ways to immunize your kids against polio or pertussis. None.

4) To help those moms who are struggling with this issue.

So, is it our intention to influence this debate? Yes! We are deeply worried that misinformation, hysteria, and peer-pressure are leading many of our on-the-fence moms to make decisions that are not in their babies' best interest.

This is one of the most important parenting decisions you will ever make. We want you to have the facts. We want you to know that not all studies are created equal. Studies sponsored by anti-vaccine groups that have never been subjected to peer review are not the same as studies undertaken by universities and research institutes. The latter are subjected to intense peer review and must meet strict methodology standards to be considered valid.

We also want you to feel supported in making a decision that has, paradoxically, become the "radical" decision in some antivaccine-dominated communities.

Final Thoughts

We started this community to fill the gap between the conventional parenting sites, and the go-all-natural-or-you're-banished crunchy mama communities. We wanted a place where suburban soccer moms like us could finally feel comfortable talking about breastfeeding, home birth, and natural parenting alternatives without being judged when we -- gasp -- grabbed for a disposable diaper or decided not to co-sleep.

Above all else, we wanted -- and still want -- to build a community that would be grounded in reason, pragmatism, empathy, and love.

It was in the spirit of being true to our mission that Pam shared her post.

If we lost some of you because of it, well, we are truly sorry to see you go. But we firmly believe that the 80/20 rule applies as much to natural parenting as it does to anything else in life. Including this website :-). If you agree with 80% of what you see here, then by all means, stay! If not, we wish you nothing but the best in health and parenting.

Please see this post for a collection of links and articles related to this topic.

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About

I am a founder of NaturallyBorn, and proud mama of three boys. I live in Northern California, and hold bachelors and masters degrees from U.C. Berkeley. I'm also the daughter of the best parenting coaches in the world (seriously).  Both of my parents are marriage & family therapists, both  have degrees in early childhood education, and both have run preschools (my dad still does.)  I've been lucky to learn so much from them, and hope to share their parenting lessons with our community.

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