Debate vaccines online? I must be crazy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wow, mention the word vaccine and you start a firestorm. This is especially true if you suggest that maybe the way we give vaccines is not ideal for everyone.

Earlier today, I let myself get involved in a discussion about giving, or not giving, shots to kids. It was one of those Internet things I know better than to jump into, but oh I jumped anyway.

I’m not sure what got the ball rolling to fire up this debate. Maybe it was the cases of measles they think originated at Disneyland and the discussion about the measles vaccine that they sparked. Anyway, what always seems to come up with this subject is the role vaccines play in autism. And, that was what prompted me to spring out of my nice little frying pan and into the fire.

You cannot jump into a fire and not expect to get burned. Boy, did I get burned. People who don’t know you call you ignorant, an idiot and, given the chance, question your upbringing if you dare to disagree or question a comment.

Here is an example of one of those comments, “…you are completely ignorant and I feel sorry for you and those near you.” Wow.

To say people have strong views about vaccines is an understatement. There are those who vehemently oppose them and are sure they cause all manner of bad things.

Then there is the other side that wants to vaccinate the world and is equally sure there is no danger in doing so. If you try to sit in the middle of this battlefield, well as I was told today, “you are pathetic.”

Why am I pathetic? Because I said maybe, just maybe we don’t have all the answers when it comes to vaccines. Let me be clear, I am not opposed to vaccines and I’m not a parent who claims to know beyond a shadow of doubt that any vaccine caused my child to have autism. I know she had a pretty bad reaction to some vaccines, but I can’t say she would not have autism had she never been given a vaccine.

What I think is that there is no definitive answer as to whether or not vaccines adversely affect some people. So my thought is we should be smart when it comes to giving our children their shots.

We could at least consider the wisdom of giving babies multiple vaccines at the same time. Instead of taking sides and arguing about it, we might do studies to determine which children might be more susceptible to having a negative response to a vaccine, and maybe wait until they are older to give those shots.

Oh and wouldn’t it be good idea to make sure the ingredients in the vaccines are safe. I think they figured out mercury as a preservative wasn’t a great idea. (Except for flu shots. I think it is still in those).

Well, what I learned today is if you question, some folks will slam you to the mat and call you crazy. I also learned people, and I’m including myself in the “people,” tend to hear what they want to hear. So when we make up our minds, open discussion is over.

This is an emotionally charged subject, even among those who insist we need to take emotion out of the discussion. In fact, they seem the most emotional and the ones most likely to resort to name-calling.

After about my 900th comment saying I didn’t oppose vaccines but did think keeping an open mind on the topic was a good thing, I gave up, knowing I was playing an ego game that was not going to have any winners. (Notice it’s a game that the news media likes to keep going, wonder why…)

So what did this adventure into the land of cyber-conversation teach me? Well, I learned the best thing to do is delete, delete, delete unless you enjoy having your upbringing brought into question.