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October 15, 2009

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Don't you know that it's the best time to receive the home loans, which would help you.

We are also very cautious about the vaccines. My kids have all been vaccinated, but not with any of the flu ones yet. My husband's grandmother had an autoimmune disease that they think was triggered by a routine flu shot. She died from it. Since these can be hereditary, we opt not to have the flu one given in the off chance this could happen to our kids. It's about weighing the "what ifs" on either side. Small chance of dying from flu vs. small chance of dying from autoimmune disease triggered by flu vaccine. I don't know the right answer.

Honestly, I usually love your posts, but this just makes me angry. There are children (and adults) with suppressed immune systems who can die from little things like the chicken pox that anti-vaccine parents don't inoculate their children against. Child A goes to a chicken pox party, shows up at school, infects immuno-suppressant Child B. Child A gets 2 weeks of itches and ice cream; Child B gets a trip to the hospital.

And your story of how your kids got the flu shot and then a crummy stomach virus a few days later? Did you ever consider they got the virus from sick kids in the waiting room? Or, I don't know, ANYWHERE ELSE? I just roll my eyes and sigh when I hear people say these outlandish things, like, "He got the flu vaccine... and then a few days later... he got incredibly sick," as if that is proof of a causal link between the vaccine and the later event. You could just as accurately say, "He ate butter pecan ice cream... and then a week later... he got incredibly sick." Or any of the other millions of things he did in the days prior to getting sick. Come. On.

I really enjoyed this post, Kristen.

And I'm glad you participated in that...ahem...glamorous event.

I think it's important for even the most anti-vaccine spokespeople to remember that there are people behind those big vaccine companies...people who are trying to do their best to make our world a safer + better place.

I currently am kind of a "middle of the road" girl when it comes to vaccines. We do vaccinate our children, but we selectively vaccinate. And we never get the flu shot.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.

The thing is, the stats for vaccinations way, way, way overwhelm the anecdotal evidence against. Plus, the anecdotal evidence hasn't held up to proper trials. It's just people's feeling and impression based on timing and neglecting any number of relevent factors that they didn't notice at the time. It's a clear activity to measure against, but not a relevent one.

Vaccines are little short of miraculous. It's hard for people our age to understand, most everyone we know never had a dread childhood disease. For those of you in your twenties and early thirties, your parents maybe never even knew anyone except older relatives who'd had these diseases. It's hard to picture how many of us would have died or been crippled if not for vaccination programs when we were children.

Look at the numbers of people killed or crippled by these diseases in the 1920's. Look at the numbers dropping, and dropping, sometimes to 0 since then. Look at the numbers which never dropped in countries which don't have such programs. Look at the numbers rising in Great Britain, where they are a bit ahead of us on when parents started refusing.

I'm a beleiver, and not ashamed to admit it.

Thank you for this. I'm the outlaw among my inlaws because I've insisted on having my kids vaccinated. I get grief from my husband over it too - but I have seen too much good come from vaccinations to be willing to take the chance and not have my kids vaccinated.

That said we've never done the flu vaccination. My oldest is only 2, my youngest is 4 months old. I work from home so they don't go to daycare and I try to be really proactive when it comes to handwashing and all that fun stuff. When the kids are older we might start getting flu vaccinations, but right now I'm just not comfortable with it.

I appreciate a pediatrician who is pro-vaccination, but not a fanatic about it who on her own, delayed the vaccination schedule when my oldest proved to be pretty sensitive to the shots.

I vaccinate my kids. I don't even think twice about it. I watch them carefully afterwards, and thankfully they've never had any adverse reactions.

That said, I don't judge those who choose not to. Everyone can only do their best, right? However, my concern is that the vaccinated kids are currently protecting those who aren't vaccinated (I'm not talk flu here, but the biggies). If the number of unvaccinated kids outweighs vaccinated kids and those scales tip... yikes.

Is unvaccinated a word?

isn't the bonnet and goggles just the most amazing fashion accessories ev-er?! that's what i wear to some deliveries and some procedures. oh yeah baby it is hot....almost as hot as that mominatrix and shredhead t i now possess.
great informative piece.

This is a great post. Vaccines do have side effects, but that doesn't mean they are evil or invaluable. The most important thing is to relay to a pediatrician that you trust all of your family medical history and all of your concerns. You never know what dots they may be able to connect for you. We have a unique vaccination schedule for our kids, as does my sister whose child had seizures as a reaction, and there are some we have to skip altogether.

Thanks for taking a moment to educate yourself and your readers.

@ maus
OMG you did not just say that everyone that chooses not to vaccinate is wearing a foil hat? I really hope not, because you see a foil hat would not fit over my dreads.
Also just out of curiosity, which parenting magazine did you copy your comment out of?
And how much, if any, research have you done before you shot your kids up?

Of all of the blogger press junkets, this is the one I would have liked to be at the most. I'm such a medical nerd.

As an RN, I've already been vaccinated for the seasonal flu and H1N1. But my views on vaccination are far more complicated than could be told in one comment. I am pro-vaccination, but I believe in delayed, spaced-out vaccinations. There are some I have refused for my children.

Vaccines are vital to keeping terrible illnesses out of the general population, which is why I still choose to vaccinate. But I also value my immune system and don't want to stress it out with creating antibodies for 8 different viruses at the same time - which is why I delay and space out the shots for both myself and my children.

I'm not saying everyone should do it my way, but it's the best solution for my family based on my knowledge of the situation.

My husbands in pharmacy school, so I kind of have to be pro-vaccine. I certainly think if children are allergic or have had any reaction they shouldn't get them, but otherwise it's irresponsible not to, not for you but for the community. Vaccines are like armor. They protect society against diseases that can kill people (and yes many of those diseases are treatable, but newborns and the elderly are still very vulnerable even to easy to treat diseases)
Our armor has some holes, these holes are caused by children who CANNOT get vaccinated, and by children who the vaccines don't work on (for example, I've gotten the MMR three times in my life, and I've never obtained immunity, there's I believe a 20% chance of that happening, but I'm not a hundred percent on that statistic)
The rest of the armor shields children like me from getting sick.
But then you've got people who don't vaccinate for religious reasons, and if there is a large region of religious non-vaccinators (completely making up words here) the armor doesn't protect everyone as well. Now we're also getting clusters of parents who are afraid to vaccinate, and the hole in are armor are getting bigger and bigger.
It's America, so you've got a choice and I respect your opinion if you choose not to vaccinate your child. But my opinion is that while your child may recover just fine, but they may give it to a teacher, like me, who didn't get immunity, and I may bring it home to my newborn, who may not recover as well as your kid can.
Well I'm a SAHM now that my newborn is here, but you get the idea.

I was not vaccinated against Pertussis. I got the DT vaccine instead. Years later, when I was in college, I got Pertussis. I was horribly ill, away from home, and the university clinic doctors kept insisting that I just had a bad cold. One friend and I were sick, while the rest of our friends were fine. We were sick for 3 months, waking up throughout the night with choking coughs. It was not until sometime in the third month that we were talking and realized that neither one of us had gotten the whooping cough vaccine. She was officially diagnosed because she cracked two ribs coughing!

My point is that if you choose not to vaccinate your children, make sure that THEY know, and ALL their doctors know. Although my records showed a DT only vaccine, it wasn't something I knew to point out, and it is obviously something that the doctor did not notice.

I'm old enough that I grew up with parents who have lived through a time when vaccines did not exist. They have horror stories of friends and relatives who were horribly ill or died from diseases that are now preventable and almost unknown, like whooping cough and polio. It would have been terrifying to have children back then.

I typically vaccinate, but our girls won't get the H1N1 vaccine. There was a newspaper article yesterday saying that all the flu in the Chicago area right now is H1N1. The seasonal flu hasn't started yet. Guess what? The H1N1 vaccine isn't even available here yet.

By the time our girls could possibly get the vaccine, they will have already been exposed to the virus. Several children and teachers in their school have already had it.

Also, there seems to be some confusion about how to dose the H1N1 vaccine. First they say two doses. Then they say only one dose. Now they are back to saying two doses. Even if it was available, I won't give the girls a vaccine when no one really knows the proper dose.

We have chosen to vaccinate... mostly. I still do not believe in the chicken pox vaccine for reasons I won't get into, so we've chosen not to vaccinate for that until our kids are 10. We've also chosen an alternative schedule that spreads out the shots and greatly delays certain vaccines like HepB (which is low risk for our situation). We are also careful not to give vaccines when we suspect our kids may be getting sick. Vaccines are not all or nothing, and they can be administered a lot more carefully and thoughtfully than the traditional schedule.

We deliberated, debated and weighed the consequences before we even decided to have my then baby daughter get vaccinated. With all the stigma surrounding vaccinations, it was a huge effort to even get to that point to say YES we're vaccinating. We talked and talked to her Pediatrician about our concerns and he did hear us out and gave us the leverage to decide on our own without judgment. We did get her vaccinated and we're at peace with it now. The key is knowing whether it is even necessary to get it. We have to travel out of the country that time.

Thanks for the thoughtful post--you have an interesting postitioning in all of this.

We vaccinated our first two out of three sons on schedule. The third one I have put on an alternate schedule. Most likely, we'll look back in history and it wasn't necessary. But there's a little nagging part of me that worries about how many vaccines children are given per visit now... and in such a compressed time span. That's in regard to the additives in vaccines.

I also have mixed feelings because we are now vaccinating for some diseases that aren't really deadly--does rotavirus kill anyone? I'm not on the bandwagon for either camp and I haven't exhaustively researched. My two eldest have food allergies and horrible eczema. My youngest has none of this. I'm not willing to make the leap of claiming there's a link. But we are creating such sterile environments already that attempting to eradicate all disease might be monkeying too much with mother nature. I just wonder.

On the other hand, I feel like if we all stop vaccinating then those devastating diseases will become more prevalent. And the risks of dying from those are far greater than reactions to the vaccines. So for that reason I'm pro-vaccine I suppose--but selectively, and on a schedule that doesn't make me cringe. That's my unscientific, mommy take on it I guess!

I have vaccinated both my kids as my husband and I were and the diseases are normally worse than the shots. I had chicken pox at 15, ended up on antibiotics and almost ended up in the hospital. Now I have to worry about shingles. If my kids don't have to experience that the vaccines are worth it to me. I still have huge concerns about h1n1 vaccine and Gardasil but will trust my ped's opinions when the time comes. Both my kids will get flu shots due to having asthma.
I undrstand why some will not vaccinate, and I support their choice. But they must undrstand the consequences and weight them before proceeding.

I vaccinate, like many others have said, to help maintain the herd immunity, not because I love watching people stick needles in my baby. I also trust my pediatrician, and usually follow whatever schedule he uses for his own kids.

I have a tip for reducing pain during vaccines though (if your ped/nurse will let you). I wore my 6 month old in a front carrier during his last round of shots and he didn't make a peep. The nurse was a little worried she might end up stabbing me accidentally but the baby held perfectly still and she called it a miracle.

Thanks for the thoughtful and well-balanced post. I'm enjoying the comments.

I vaccinate. I trust my family's doctor (solo practice, one doc for all of us, no ped) and do what he suggests. I also do my homework so I can ask questions before we proceed. We are partners in keeping my family healthy.

I work at a university that has already had a few hundred cases of H1N1. My daughter is in daycare on campus and there have been cases in the room next to her's. I got my own H1N1 vaccine yesterday.

Thanks for giving everyone a chance to be heard here.

@tuesday

I'm not editing any comments. Feel free to try again.

I am sad you have not chosen to publish my post. It seems you put only positive comment about vaccines?

I totally forgot about that pad of paper and pen! Bless David for that note-taking swag.

Love your write up. And once again, it was such a treat to meet you in person. Maybe next time Ryan Reynolds can be there too :)

I was sent a really good book on vaccines for review once a long time ago-- it's called The Vaccine Book and it's by one of the younger Drs. Sears (as in, one of the grown kids of the attachment parenting Dr. Sears). The book is pro-vaccine in general, but it is very respectful toward parents who are nervous about vaccines, and offers a delayed vaccine schedule you can propose to your doctor if you are concerned about getting them all at once. What I loved most about it was that it had actual ingredient lists for the vaccines, and all sorts of statistical info about the risks associated with the disease versus the risks associated with the vaccine. I really enjoy reading about science and so I like it when books for parents actually include scientific data.

I am pro-vax because I am anti-polio (and anti-measles, and anti-pneumonia . . .) and because I understand the basics of how vaccines work and the science makes sense to me.

But I am also generally skeptical of big pharma, and I do try to look into the possible side effects of any and all medicines I give my child. So I really appreciate it when companies make it easier for me to find information. I'm glad Glaxo invited you and other bloggers on this trip.

I usually ask my peditrician what he does for his kids and then vaccinate accordingly. for example, when emily and josh were babies, he wasn't pushing the chicken pox vaccine. they got the pox and we dealt with it. when Isabella was a baby, he had decided that she should get the vaccine, so we did.

I don't know if this the "right" solution, but it's what works for me. He is my kids' doctor...I trust him. so, if he thinks they should get flu/swine flu shots...they will.


Firstly, a quick point - the flu vaccine takes up to ten days to take effect. If you get sick (the flu, GI virus, not side-effects) in the meantime, usually you would have gotten that sickness anyway. It is possible that your immune system was temporarily pressured by the vaccine and didn't fight off the sickness as well as it would have otherwise, but in general it has nothing to do with the vaccine.

If you are low-risk, there is no need to get the flu vaccine. I get it every year because of having had pneumonia as a child. Flu means weeks and weeks of problems, sometimes requiring hospitalisation.

As for other vaccines, they are as good as they can be at this point in time. Drug companies, even if they are looking to make profits (no loss-making company survives) are not putting out inferior vaccines. They are not skimping on research. They are doing their best to produce the best vaccines they can. Obviously they are not perfect. Medical science is not perfect.

Some vaccines I do not believe are appropriate for babies - HepB for example. Most others are. Delay if you want (MMR is a prime exampe) but unless you are keeping your child in a bubble they will be exposed to preventable disease. The more people that choose not to vaccinate, the more disease will be around.

For me, it comes down to the fact that these vaccines save lives every day. Nothing frustrated me more as a medical student than desperately sick children, sick with preventable diseases. Desperate parents willing to do anything. Anything but vaccinate.

We are so privileged to even have to option to vaccinate. Millions don't. I'll take it with both hands please.

I'm a bit of a skeptic, so I'm not surprised that when GSK invited you to their facility, the people you met were dedicated and friendly and sympathetic. GSK would be idiots to invite you if it weren't the case. Still ...

We vaccinate.

We do this for two reasons mainly - our kids, and the common good (aka, other people. aka, ya'll). To date we have been fortunate to have had no adverse effects from vaccines (none we can perceive, anyway). As with anything you do in life, there are risks. A child could react badly. You could get a bad batch. The building you're getting your shots in could collapse on you in the middle of your appointment. How likely are any of these things to happen? Not very. But they're all possibilities, and all of them will occur to someone at some point.

Vaccines work. How many people do you know alive today who have polio? How many children do you know who have died from rubella, measles, etc? Before vaccines were available, did all kids who got these diseases die? Clearly not. Did some? Yes. We have seen the end of many horrible diseases and the vast reduction of many more.

Not vaccinating my kids would put them at some risk, and expose those around them to potential risk. But the greater risk, I believe, of not vaccinating is we start to turn the clock back. If your kid is the only one in your town to skip vaccines, is that so bad? Maybe not. But what if it's 10 kids? Or 100 kids? Or 1,000? If the trend against vaccinations gains ground, incidence of formerly rare diseases will increase. I'm not interested in contributing to that.

So, we vaccinate.

Thanks for the thoughtful post, Kristen.

Thanks so much for the information. I love reading your blog - it always makes me feel better about the mama drama! My son is 7 months old and is up to date with his vaccinations, though the decision to do so was not an easy one. Like many others have stated, my husband and I weighed the options and felt the consequences of not being vaccinated exceeded the risks. However, I am still agonizing over the H1N1 and will probably take a wait and see approach. Thank you again for going to this meeting and posting about it - it made me feel so much better about our decision to vaccinate!

I vaccinate.

I feel no shame for this. It's not like I get all excited and willy nilly let any old needle stick my kid with what ever chemicals are in it.

But my grandmother had polio. While gestating my mother.

She lived but only after a year in an iron lung and the remainder of her life crippled and enduring vocal paralysis.

The issue isn't black and white. All I can do is research my decision and hope I made the right choice.

Since I have a thing for handicapped kids though, it's really a win win for me.

*ducks as people hurl stones at her head*

@Kelly

When you're dealing with drug companies, you're dealing with lawyers, and from my understanding, GSK was very limited on who they could bring in. As you might guess, the anti-vax crowd (with whom I don't completely disassociate myself from, actually) can be challenging, and risky. I'm not sure that this was the forum for that. That doesn't mean that's not something that could happen in the future.

Even so, I know that The Feminist Breeder asked a lot of hard questions, as many as she could, and they were happy to answer what they could as well as send her any info they had to assist in answering.

While I am glad that GSK reached out to you and other bloggers I find it interesting that most of the attendees choose to fully vaccinate their children.

To really make an impact I think GSK needs to invite some parents who haven't vaccinated their children and open up the lines of discussion.

I am local to GSK, we don't vaccinate, and I would love a chance to visit them and talk to them about vaccines. I'm surprised they didn't try to find someone to attend who doesn't vaccinate.

For anyone to go on a plane alone with 3 kids, and attend this kind of event makes me in awe. I don't even like to go to the store with all my kids! LOL

I'm torn. My son is 5 month's old & at his first vaccination appointment he cried, and then I cried. *sigh* It's a tough subject and I did a lot of kicking & screaming in my head while holding him down as the nurse prepared to administer the shots. I felt guilty after he had the shots, and I'd feel terribly guilty if he ever got sick because of not having them. Oh the drama of being a mama.

I'm a vaxer.

There, I said it.

I delayed the MMR for Boy Child for a year so that I could possibly separate any developmental symptoms that might arise around the same time the vax was administered.

I've asked for preservative free, which the doc has happily provided for me.

Separate them if you have to, that's fine, but Whooping Cough isn't fun, folks. Neither is Mumps. Or Rubella, or Tetanus, or Polio. I bet if FDR had been offered a shot that could have prevented Polio, he would have taken it.

Such a sticky, confusing, debatable topic.
For me, part of the equation was finding a pediatrician that I like and trust.
I do all the standard vaccinations because I feel the good outweighs the bad, and my pediatrician gave them to her own kids.
We are skipping H1N1 because she's not giving it to her own children. She feels it hasn't been tested enough- and I believe her.
Thanks for the post.

I'm in an interesting situation: I WANT my family to get vaccinated against H1N1 yet no one around here plans on distributing it. My MIL is staunchly against it as well as my pediatrician. Ugh.

@Jamie - I agree, although my mom thought very long and hard about it. We all had terrible reactions to the DTaP.

I'd like to say (without offending my mom's generation) that it could be that we're more educated. That could very well be interpreted as also being more anxious, but I think as people see more illnesses, not just autism, cancers, etc. and the number of vaccines increases rapidly, people are trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

I do think there's some merit in asking why all babies need the HepB vaccine at birth. Or HepA later on. I think it's fair that parents be able to make an informed decision. It's often times just really hard to find accurate information.

Oh, yea, and Ryan Reynolds? Yum.

I have two boys ages 4 and 5 who have been diagnosed with ASD. I read everything I can get my hands on about it, and vaccines sound very scary to me. However, I had another baby boy a month ago and the thought of not vaccinating him scares me even more. It's very easy to read books on the subject and quickly rally to one side of the argument, but thank you very much for showing another side, a side with a face and a cause. I WILL be getting baby boy #3 vaccinated, I will just be keeping a very close eye on every little reaction he has. Thanks again!

Thanks for sharing this K. I really was sorry not to be able to attend this event. Like you, I have general scientific curiosity as a former academic; I'm also interested given that I tend to be rather anti-interventionist. Probably the most stressful thing as a parent for me has been getting Laurel's various shots that she needed to go to school.

I really appreciate seeing this balanced post and look forward to reading others. -Christine

As a mom with a daughter with an underlying condition which makes her more likely to get sick, I thank you for attending this! I've been on several trips myself and by no way are you a sell out.

My kids get vaccinated for everything including the flu. If my daughter gets the flu, she is guaranteed a week in the hospital. For this reason alone, I wish everyone would get vaccinated, because not only are you putting your own children at risk for getting sick, you are putting my child at risk too.

Thanks for getting the word out!

Love this post. Love that you drag your former-academic-self out into the minivan, alligator-wrestle 3 carseats in the dark, and take notes with that blingy pen and paper to share this perspecitive with the rest of us. This is exactly the kind of perspective that's hard to get without moms like you doing the hard work and sharing it with the rest of us.

I really wanted to attend this event, but I was already traveling for work. I believe PASSIONATELY in the power of vaccines. Yes, there are side effects, but the risk is so low compared the benefits.

I'm curious if there's any weight to the conspiracy theorists arguments that vaccination programs are super profitable to drug companies. My feeling is that they're not terribly profitable and that GSK and others are getting a lot richer off of heart medications, lifestyle drugs (Viagra) and diabetes medications, but I'd love some facts to back it up.

@Roblynn - there are a lot of answers to that.

First off, vaccines are not 100% effective. Having a population in which vaccination predominates affords that population herd immunity, further reducing *everyone's* risk - vaccinated or not - of exposure and contracting disease.

Second, not everyone can get vaccinated. There are many medical contraindications to various vaccines, and those with such contraindications depend entirely on their own immune systems and effects of herd immunity to avoid suffering from the disease in question. The more people around the unvaccinated person are vaccinated, the less risk to the unvaccinated person.

Third, most of us are not so absurdly selfish as to think that the suffering or death of someone else's child does not affect society as a whole and therefore ourselves, if only indirectly. It boggles the mind to think that you'd rather have children dying of Hib again, even if your own are not affected.

Therefore, since statistically vaccination eliminates more suffering than it causes (no I don't wear rose-coloured glasses - I know that there are adverse reactions, sometimes very serious) I would hope that everyone who is eligible to receive a vaccine with established safety and efficacy takes off their tinfoil hats and does so.

Even though my family is already vaccinated.

Does that clear things up at all?

Just one question. If you all truly believe vaccines work, why are you worried if anyone else is vaccinated or not? How does that affect you if yours are working? Just curious.

I am generally pro-vaccine, although I did delay the Hepatitis B vaccine at birth (because my kids aren't allowed to have sex or use IV drugs until they're at least 6 months old!). I declined the Rotavirus vaccine with #1, but then got it for #2 after we had Rotavirus and I realized how much it sucked.

I do not believe that the big pharma corporations are "out to get us" or that there's any kind of conspiracy, but I do believe in unintended consequences.

I don't generally get flu shots for any of us (we're in a low risk group), and I have given a lot of careful consideration to the H1N1 vaccine.

We've decided to wait and see. If there's a big outbreak at the local university, or in any nearby major cities, we'll get it. However we won't be first in line to get it by any stretch - we're going to wait and see if there are side-effects in the people who do line up to get it. If H1N1 turns out to be no big thing (like SARS, bird flu a couple years ago, etc.) then we've avoided the side-effects of the vaccine (and there WILL be side effects - there always are). If it turns into a big deal AND the vaccine has side effects, I'm not sure what we'll do, but we'll figure something out - maybe we'll just lock ourselves in the house until May.

We're trying to walk down the middle of the road, and to exercise caution with the virus itself and with the vaccine.

I'm sure that the people who are making the vaccine are doing the very best that they can, and that they want to help people. I don't think there are mad scientists who are there saying, "This'll get 'em!" However, it has been so rushed to market, and there are ingredients (Squalene, Thimerosal) that are concerning... And with what happened in the 70s, well, taking the middle is the only way I can sleep at night.

Each family has to make their own decision. Personally, I'm glad you went. I'm glad that Glaxo is reaching out to real moms. I don't think you "sold out" at all. Traveling alone with 3 kids is more of a punishment than a reward! :)

While the controversy of vaccines scares me a little bit, I think the pros of getting vaccinated outweigh the cons significantly.

Much needed post.

Good post. It's nice to hear rational thinking- that's not usually prevalent in certain blogging circles. Usually the reasons to vax or not come from rather illogical places. :)

For the most part, I feel in between about the whole vaccine debate and I can sympathize with both sides.

Thanks for such a thoughtful post and the tidbits of info at the end.

And I had no idea who Ryan Reynolds was until I watch The Proposal.

Oh, Ryan Reynolds. I've developed a major movie crush on him (which is weird because I normally never, ever have a thing for blonde-haired boys... I likes me the black-haired ones.) So yeah, I'd go somewhere for Ryan Reynolds too (just don't tell the Hyphenated Husband.)

Did you suggest me to David for this trip? I had no idea. Thanks... and thanks for the link. ;)

And just what would you do on a trip for Ryan Reynolds?

You're such a sellout - going all the way to PA with your kids for a rental mini van, pen and pad of paper! All to listen to the enemy try and educate you. Honestly.

Vaccines scare me a little bit but not vaccinating scares me even more and isn't an option. Getting an opportunity to go there and listen to the doctors and scientists is the best way to get the information and facts first hand, I'm glad you had that opportunity.

Thanks so much for going, and for your really thoughtful post here. It's such an important issue.

But who is this Ryan Reynolds guy?

I work in the vaccine field (and am also a mom of a 1.5 yr old) And I just want to say that you are completely right. We don't just do this to make money. I would never work in vaccines if I didn't truly, deeply believe in them. Most of the diseases we currently protect against with childhood shots are fairly serious. (Flu shots are a little different because of how they work, so if you choose not to get them I totally understand.)

There are clearly some problems with them, which breaks my heart. But we are working constantly to try to understand and control them better.Knowing that there are people out there educating themselves and coming to intelligent conclusions is all we can ask for. Thanks.

I just hope that someday the people in Africa stop being paranoid enough about vaccines for the polio vaccine to FINALLY completely eradicate it once and for all.

I really, really wanted to go. I'm sorry I couldn't make it.

Wiping out disease via vaccination is all about herd immunity. Some people CAN'T have certain vaccinations, and everyone who could but doesn't puts those poor folks at risk. Our parents thought nothing of vaccinating us...they grew up on the tail end of watching polio turn healthy kids they knew into lifelong invalids, and then suddenly, polio disappeared in less than a generation. Think about that.

I attended a press conference and panel on vaccines last year that included folks like Roslyn Carter for the same reason...and I only got a free bottle of water. Cab fair I sprung for myself. Ah, the glamorous press life.

I came to the same conclusion - these are people who are saving lives. Millions of them, quite literarly. They believe in the good of what they do. They wring their hands over any problems that occur from it. They are parents themselves and they are conscientious and right-minded. They also presented some extremely compelling evidence in dispute of many of the autism claims. (Roslyn Carter, people. Not some marketing guy in a fancy suit.)

Of course I'm in bed with The Man for coming to such a conclusion. Probably paid off. Definitely getting sexual favors. To the degree where I was cautioned not to write about it, lest I reap the wrath of the vaccination-hating internet.

Most stories aren't black and white.

I'm glad to hear such a thoughtful panel of people went. Look forward to reading their thoughts.

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