By Marcella Piper-Terry, Founder of Vax Truth
When people talk about childhood vaccinations, it becomes almost immediately apparent that this discussion is not one that is likely to be had calmly. I believe that’s because there are basically three “camps” – or three different types of individuals who are likely to engage in this kind of discussion. The first “camp” is the “Official” one. Those who represent this camp are often doctors, nurses, and other “public health officials.” This camp is also represented by the CDC, AAP, and other organizations such as “Every Child By Two.” From the perspective of those in the “Official” camp, vaccines are safe. The argument that is used to prove vaccines are safe is basically, “Because we said so and we are the experts.”
The other two “camps” are composed mostly of parents and grandparents; though admittedly there are some organizations that could be lumped into these groups, as well. VaxTruth, for example, is just one such organization. VaxTruth, like many of the other organizations that are lumped in with the parents, differs from the “Official” groups in that we make no money from either the sale of vaccines or from any other sources related to vaccine uptake: whether it is higher or lower makes no difference to our financial bottom lines. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, we can talk about the remainder of the population who have opinions that are strong enough for them to weigh in, when it comes to vaccines.
Among the “Non-official” participants, there are those who are pro-vaccine and those who are labeled “anti-vaccine.” Among the “Anti-Vaxx” crowd, there is a lot of variability, much of which can be attributed to the “All-or-Nothing” stance we are forced to take, at least here in the U.S. For more about why some of us align ourselves with this Anti-Vaxx group, please read the article, “We Are Anti-Vaccine Wackos. It’s Just What We Do.”
Those parents and grandparents who argue on behalf of the pro-vaccine side do so for their own reasons. I can’t speak for them because I am not one of them. My suspicion is that they argue FOR vaccines because they believe they work and they believe they are safe. I’ll admit, my views about this are from personal experience because I used to believe the same things. Notice the emphasis on belief. Belief is different from knowledge. Knowledge comes from research and experience. Belief comes from what one has been taught to accept without question. This issue of belief is exactly why the debates about vaccines become so heated. It is also why, when you view one of these debates from the sidelines, you may notice that those who have invested the time to do their own research will have more ready access to citations to back up their concerns, whereas those who are relying on beliefs will often use such language as, “I know because my well-respected physician told me” – or – “There is no link between vaccines and autism! It’s been scientifically proven!” One of the things I learned during graduate school is that beliefs are the most difficult thing to change. That’s because they are so deeply held, and because they are taken on faith to be completely true. Sadly, for many of us who now find ourselves in the “Anti-vaxx” camp, it took our children’s health and in many cases, their lives, before we were able to alter our beliefs in the goodness of vaccines.