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Vaccines- Who do you trust?

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I’m the first to admit I’m a bit of an enigma.  I like my veggies organic, my plastic BPA free (or ideally, not plastic), my cleaning products all-natural, and my babies fully vaccinated.  I know that last one might seem like a non sequitur, but it isn’t for me.  I’m all about keeping my kids healthy and protected and I see vaccinations as an important part of that plan.  But I know it all comes down to who you trust.

I read an interesting article recently about how the more conservative you are the less likely you are to trust people.  It’s an interesting concept.  We believe in the depravity of man, so we’re pretty suspicious people.  We can see conspiracy theories around every corner and I know for me that also means I don’t want anyone to take advantage of me or see me as naive.  So I work hard to be sure I do my homework on hot button issues and don’t let anybody pull the wool over my eyes.

This became a serious issue for me when it came time to think about vaccinating my child.  Google and I had some work to do.  I was reading article after article and feeling more confused than when I started.  It seemed like each source had their own science to back up their claims.  It finally occurred to me one night that I couldn’t actually read myself into being a doctor.  I literally have someone on my team who I pay to handle this kind of research and information, but I have to trust them enough to involve them in my decision making.

This is why I’m excited to have Dr. Mark McColl addressing your questions through this series of posts.  His advice has been invaluable, but I have had to choose to trust it.  I know I can’t make you trust him, but I want to tell you why I do so you’ll know why I wanted to make his wisdom available to you, too.

First of all, he loves Jesus (and he’s smart).  Brian was especially impressed to see that our baby’s doctor had a seminary degree along with being double-boarded in internal medicine and pediatrics.  That’s a lot of school!  This is a smart guy who does what he does because he wants to honor God.  He’s helping me make healthcare decisions for my child based on the same morals and ethics I support.

Second of all, he loves kids and parents.  We were impressed that when we had questions about our child’s health, we felt like we were truly listened to.  We were given accurate information, referrals when necessary, and respect.  He was gentle with Baby Josh and always made us feel like our concerns were worth addressing.

Third of all, he has a sense of humor.  That may not be important to you, but it’s always been important to me in knowing a professional I’m dealing with is a real person.

So it’s important to me that there’s a level of respect given to Dr. McColl for being willing to share his time and wisdom here with us and I’ll be moderating the comments closely to reflect that.  If you’re wondering if this series is something worth reading for you, please read the introductory post.

Here’s a thought:  You need a doctor you trust.  I think there are a lot of parents who are hiding their concerns about vaccinations from their doctor.  They don’t feel like they can ask their questions and get thoughtful answers or else they’ve decided against vaccinating and don’t want their doctors to know.  I’d like to encourage you that you need to have a doctor you trust.  If you think your doctor might be giving you faulty information about vaccinations because they aren’t aware of the most up-to-date research, you need a new doctor.  If you think your doctor would vaccinate your child because they would get a kickback from the drug company, you need a new doctor.  If you think your doctor would ignore your concerns and worries about vaccination if you were honest with her about them, you need a new doctor.  And, if you can’t find a doctor who agrees with your theories on vaccinating, it’s probably a good idea to rethink your theories on vaccinating.

I know the internet has lots of interesting ideas.  Honestly, I get a lot of great information (even medical information) from the internet.  Even as I’m compiling this series of posts, they will become part of what’s available on the internet to help people think through vaccination decisions.  I’m just a little sad at how quickly we’re willing to trust the nameless, faceless, reputationless, relationshipless internet for information that so intimately effects our lives.  At some point you need to connect with a person you trust to help you make the best decisions possible for the wellbeing of your individual kid.  If you don’t trust your doctor when it comes to vaccinations, why would you trust them when it comes to diagnosing a health problem or treating a serious illness?

I also find it odd how we may be quick to trust a celebrity’s opinion on vaccinations, although we wouldn’t trust their opinion or want to model our life after their decisions on ANY other topic.  We want to convince ourselves that doctors are biased because there is money to be made, but the celebrity that’s selling a book isn’t?  It doesn’t add up to me.

And ultimately this becomes an issue of trusting God.  It can feel like vaccinating is a choice to potentially harm your kids (either by the simple ouch of a needle or by a vaccine injury) and not vaccinating is a choice to trust God to protect your kids.  I think vaccination is an act of trusting God, too.  When we vaccinate we do it not just for the good of our own kids, but also for the good of the children around us who can’t be vaccinated (because they’re too young or have an immune condition).  We do it as an act of love and protection for the weakest and most vulnerable among us who can’t protect themselves.

My decision making process involves having a doctor I trust, doing my homework on specific vaccines and their potential for side-effects for my child, and then trusting God.  I am well aware that medical science has been wrong.  Remember, there was a time when the best science available said a blood-sucking parasite could cure what ailed you.  I know there may come a time when the medical tests and procedures we do today seem barbaric in the future, but I’m not responsible for that.  I’m responsible for making the best decision I can with the information available today.  And for me, that means relying on the wisdom and opinion of someone I trust.

Our guest posts on vaccination start tomorrow.

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3 Comments

  1. 2 things, unrelated:

    1) ” We believe in the depravity of man, so we’re pretty suspicious people.” Best quote about why I love my PCA peeps, ever.

    2) The way we found out pediatrician (and why we chose him) is really, because of a Seinfeld joke. He was an instructor at a St. E’s breastfeeding class, cracked a Jerry line, and we broke out in hysterics. The rest of the class was silent. We knew we needed to get his office’s number before we left.
    Luckily, the rest fell into place and both Stefan and I really did trust his decisions, and we actually had almost identical feelings with him regarding vaccines, prescription drugs, certain testing we did for our kids, and the like. God blessed us with someone who was perfect for our family…all from a Seinfeld joke 🙂

    Sarah M

  2. My favorite line was the one about trusting a celebrity’s opinion about vaccines. If there is one thing that drives me batty it is listening to someone quote Jenny McCarthy about vaccines. Because, you know, her grasp of immunology is so deep.

    And you have such great thoughts about trusting your doc. I promise – all the docs I know are trying to do the best they can to take care of their patients, which means trying to protect them (and all of society) from serious illness. And a standard part of med school curriculum is an entire semester’s worth of study on immunology, virology, And bacteriology – lots of info on vaccines, including lots of discussion of safety and efficacy.

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