Here is a good article about the anti-vaccination movement of late. By noting that culture, by no means do I throw my stock with the current medical establishment with its cherished infanticide money-maker. One nurse friend recently told me about an abortion performed at a local Seattle area hospital where the paper work said the baby was too inconvenient to keep. Trusty medical establishment; they’ll tell you all you need to know. But I digress already.
As of yet, no link between vaccination and autism has been shown. That first clause is likely the cause of much of the suspicion, like no one has found the cause because pharmaceutical execs have hidden the evidence beneath their piles of gold bullion. On this one, it’s better to think of the “yet” the same way they haven’t found the homosexual gene “yet.” It appears, all desperation to the contrary, that it doesn’t exist.
The question of vaccination is not whether one will take a risk but which kind. Paul Offit says it well: “The choice not to get a vaccine is not a choice to take no risk. It’s just a choice to take a different risk.” As far as we know (and a constantly changing scientific consensus ought to keep the “as far as” in there), vaccines don’t cause autism. As far as we do know, disease outbreaks do occur in the absence of certain vaccines. I cherish the fact that my wife runs an extremely low chance of dying in childbirth, and the fact that my kids are as likely to get struck by lightning as to get polio. I made that comparison up, but the fact that polio is so rare makes it plausible. And vaccination can be thanked for that. You either have be an ingrate or distractedly panicked not to be mindful of and thankful for these advances. Of course, this gratitude does not require signing up for every shot the federal government recommends. I heard Ron Paul, a politician (and doctor) I generally trust, that the last time the government handed out swine flu vaccines, twenty-something people died from the vaccine and just a few from the flu. There are good questions to ask your doctor, and any parent would be irresponsible to not ask for reasons and find out where those reasons lead.
I would love to see the government get out of the medicine business. Private industry, unhindered by their over-regulation, could no doubt do a much better job. But this doesn’t mean everything the government says is wrong, nor does the vaccine boogeyman Paul Offit appear to embrace just any vaccine. In 2002 when the war on terror was at a fever pitch and old ladies were being frisked at the airport in case they were jihadist Muslims, Offit voted down a small pox vaccine intended for thousands. Why? Because one in a million who got the vaccine would die, and outbreaks of small pox could be contained if they did occur. So the benefit of administering it were outweighed by the risks.
Most importantly, Christians ought not to make decisions based on fear, and they ought not to pretend that somehow their medical decisions are righteous. This is difficult because these topics, especially when the health of children is involved, are volatile. As I mentioned, the scientific consensus has not shown a link between autism and vaccines, but this is not to say the current consensus is ultimately correct, or that someone is an idiot for not following it. It’s more complicated than some people on both sides of these questions assume it is. What no one should do is let themselves be driven by fear and hysteria, somehow looking for ultimate peace in a medical decision. Your kid can still die no matter what you do, helmet, elbow pad, surrounding bubble and all.