A reaction to factual stories on vaccination (Part 4).

Wired Fear CoverNote: You can now read this at Wired Magazine. Day 1. Day 2.

This is the fourth part of Amy Wallace’s (website) (twitter) tweet session following up her amazing article in Wired Magazine.  Today’s tweets are a selection of comments from the actual article.

As with the last few days, I have decided to consolidate this in to a blog post that is easier to read for those who, like me, find it annoying trying to read bottom to top and in such short snippets.  Again the only changes I have made have been the adding of paragraphs (something not possible in 140 character tweets) and the occasional full stop, comma or space.  Other than that, the section in block quotes below is directly as they came from her twitter stream.

Hello, everybody. Just heard from the 345th person who has taken the time to write me after reading my Wired story on vaccine panic. You can read that story here: wired.com/magazi... Yesterday I was interviewed by National Public Radio’s Melissa Block. The interview, which ran on “All Things Considered,”. Is available online here: npr.org/templates...

Meanwhile, for those of you just joining this discussion, you should know that there are 465 comments appended to the story on Wired’s site. Wired and I have been trying to address some of the commenters’ concerns in blog posts. So far, we’ve discussed thimerosal: wired.com/magazi... We’ve provided a Short History of Vaccine Panic: wired.com/magazin... We’ve explained “Who is This Amy Wallace, Anyway?” wired.com/magazin... We’ve reported on a mumps outbreak in Brooklyn: wired.com/magazi...

The latest post, on squalene, can be read here: wired.com/magazi...

Here’s a good piece I missed until now: minnpost.com/heal... And here’s a great exchange of views on the topic: metafilter.com/8...

One commenter, bearwife, says:

“I always take a little Jon Stewart when a little thing like death threats against brilliant pediatricians upsets me. As he said during the Ayers uproar… Oh, angry mob, is there any problem your wisdom and torches can’t solve?”

Another person, Rusty, echoes something we note in the story: that the anti-vax position is held by people of varying political views. He says:

“a truly disturbing number [of non-vaccinators] are lefty Whole Foods shoppers that claim loudly and at great length in all other circumstances to be members of the ‘reality based community.’ Anti-intellectualism and anti-science views are to be expected from the widely anti-intellectual and anti-science right… But the participation of the left is what drives this out of the tinfoil-lined closet.”

It would appear I created this post a little early.  Amy Wallace continued on a few hours later with this:

Here’s a note from a father of an unvaccinated boy who got sick:

“I’m certain that at least one parent reading this article whose son is due for a vaccination will trust you and hear the message loud and clear, vaccines do more good than bad. Perhaps that parent will debate with the spouse about safety and win, and the child [will be] taken in for his vaccinations. Maybe that child won’t end up being injured with encephalitis as a result, the way my son did. And the world keeps spinning and the innocent sleep effortlessly.

From an adult with “mild autism”:

“Don’t let the anti-vax crowd who are writing you unfavorable letters get to you. I don’t think anything will convince them that vaccines don’t cause autism. Though I understand how they feel, since I hate my autism and would like a cure.”

I’ll close Day 4 with an email from a NYC pediatrician who offers a way of looking at autism that makes sense to me. (Long, but worth it).

“In my own work, I see another ‘spectrum,’ if you will: at one end are parents who are convinced that there is something wrong with their child that needs to be fixed. A developmental delay, a fever, a runny nose, difficulty sleeping or feeding.

These parents will devote great energy to trying to figure out what caused the problem and to change it… and when these changes fail to remediate the perceived problem, they start to look for an expert who can find the REAL reason.  This often involves a lot of out-of-pocket expense, frustration, and recrimination against all the doctors who failed them along their path….

On the other end are parents who perceive their child’s illness or discomfort as a phase or process, and see their role (and mine) as working out the best way to get the kid through it.  This often involves exploring what the child is experiencing, and looking for practical adaptations that will help the child feel more comfortable: the cough may go on for a week, but this medicine will help decrease the post nasal drip and interrupted sleep.

We may not ever find out what caused the hives, but this medicine will shorten the time they take to go away and decrease the itching.  And we don’t know why your child has developmental delay but let’s do speech therapy, let’s figure out household routines that allay his anxiety and increase his autonomy.

Autism now is seen as a complex and variable condition — it starts with parents and doctors saying: this child has some different behaviors — let’s find out more about who he is, what are the areas where we can apply therapies that will help him be more comfortable and help us to know more about him so we can support him and know him better and help him get along in life.  We now know that autism presents subtly and gradually, and that the observation that children suddenly switch off or change abruptly at age one or two is not accurate. And just like normal children, autistic children change and grow with time and maturation– we can’t predict what their level of function will be when they grow up.  We have to wait and see, while providing the most thoughtful support we can muster.”

Day Five of the tweet stream begins tomorrow…

Part 1: Initial response to feedback.

Part 2: Quotes from most eloquent letters.

Part 3: Feedback from people with ASD.

Part 5: Comments and feedback.

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4 thoughts on “A reaction to factual stories on vaccination (Part 4).

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