Ultimately, immunization is a question for parents


To the Editor:

In regards to the February 27 article [Draft immunization policy puts Island school nurses on same page], there are many thoughtful, intelligent parents on this Island and elsewhere who regard the question of immunization seriously and seek to inform themselves on the subject. They do not rely on a single segment of the medical community for information, and they certainly do not rely on the glossy pamphlets made by the pharmaceutical companies who profit from vaccinations given out in doctors’ offices.

Valid considerations from many sources look at the possible side effects of each vaccination, the contents of each vaccination (including toxic metals such as aluminum and mercury), the wisdom of a policy that gives multiple doses to very young infants in quick succession, the availability of long-term studies on the impact of vaccinations on the health of an individual over a lifetime, and the statistics of devastating diseases that may have been nearly eradicated through some vaccination programs. Medical journals, case studies, personal accounts and court cases provide differing results and underscore the intricacy of the issue.

Some parents decide to follow the standard vaccination protocol. Some have confidence in established vaccinations but do not have confidence in newer vaccinations (note the vaccinations whose ingredients have been altered over time to be “safer”). There is the view that vaccinating against a serious disease is worth the side effect risks, but that the dangers of an illness such as chicken pox is relatively low and does not warrant the risks of vaccination, especially in regards to achieving lifetime immunity.

Other parents choose a slower, more conservative approach to the vaccination schedule, allowing further physical and neurological maturation of their infants before exposing them to the stresses of vaccinations. Some will accept the polio vaccination, say, but refuse to expose their male child to a vaccination for cervical cancer. There are those who choose to not vaccinate their child at all.

To suggest that parents are irresponsible by not blindly following a standardized immunization policy discounts the thoughtful inquiry and valid decisions that many parents have made regarding immunizations. Worse still is the attitude that parents must unconditionally inject their healthy child with a substance that they may consider to be toxic, for the “greater good.” That is, if you do not conform and vaccinate your child according to policy schedule, you are responsible if other individuals become ill including, ironically, those whose immunizations have worn off or failed.

It’s fine to be a fierce advocate of vaccinations. Ultimately, however, it is the right of the parent to be a fierce advocate of the medical decisions made for their child. To make vaccinations mandatory or try to impose a single view on this complex subject is an attempt to strip parents of this right.

Colleen Drew