Copyright © 2015
Many people are so fearful of being judged that they don’t share their concerns about vaccination with anyone and are very private about the choices they make, whether it is to not vaccinate their children at all, delay vaccination or not consent to all vaccines on the schedule.
They can’t even ‘like’ information pages on Facebook or subscribe to public groups even though they would like to have the information and support networks, because it will show on their personal page and then their friends will know.
The judgements and name calling in the media, coupled with legislation and political commentary make it very daunting to be open with others when apparently you are affecting the health of the entire population; though of course you are not. You can make a choice to not comply with the vaccination schedule, but you certainly can’t share it on Facebook.
It hasn’t always been this way! I have been having conversations about vaccination in my community for 22 years and have held a very public position because of my role with Vaccination Information Serving Australia, including television interviews and public information seminars and booths at expos and fairs. I sole parented my 4 daughters and never hid that they were unvaccinated. They were (and are) healthy and lovely and they thrived at school and sport.
In the last 10 to 15 years the South Australian Government awarded out organisation grants on two occasions to buy office equipment including a data projector and computer. I was awarded in my local electorate of Mayo for volunteering and also given a National Volunteering award for my work in providing information on vaccination. The Woman’s and Children’s Hospital midwives were keen to get the information booklet ‘Investigate Before You Vaccinate’ included in their new baby pack for parents!
I have only had 3 people react at me - 2 at expos and 1 in my children’s school canteen who later apologised but I have had an infinite number of calm conversations with people in my community about health, organics, my children not ever needing antibiotics or Panadol, and sharing that they are unvaccinated.
VISA held a public forum at a local community centre when Meningococcal C Vaccine was first introduced and attracted people who were mostly in favour of vaccination but wanted to know more about this new vaccine.
There were 20 – 30 people grilling me about why I was questioning the vaccine.
I gave referenced information that indicated concerns and talked about the lack of information about side effects of vaccination in information that is given to parents but it wasn’t until I told the story of my eldest daughter sleeping 20 hours after being given whole cell pertussis vaccine at 3 months of age and not feeding the whole time that I really got their attention. (I will never forget because my breasts were so sore!) I told how I didn’t connect this as a vaccine reaction at the time – excessive somnolence, brain inflammation - because I was only told that she might have a mild fever and soreness at the injection site. I wasn’t even aware that other side effects existed.
I explained that I continued to vaccinate without questioning anything until she was two and contracted measles from MMR vaccine. The doctor said she was reacting to a virus. It wasn’t until someone gave me information that is freely available in the form of Product Manufacturers Information that I realised these were both vaccine reactions. Suddenly everyone in the room had a story of a vaccine reaction, unnoticed and unreported.
They made the connection. I had thrown all the facts in the world at them but the personal connection was like worlds colliding.
If you don’t speak worlds won’t collide and people won’t have the opportunity to connect and question outside of the dialogue that comes from the Government and the media.
Only speak when you feel is it right and are comfortable to do so. Don’t speak when it is an argument because there is nothing to gain there, just a loss of your dignity and energy. It is acceptable to say “you sound angry; I’m not comfortable at all with this” and even “Let’s save this for a less emotional time”. If you feel yourself getting upset or reacting in any situation its best to exit.
We need to be able to communicate and we have a right to do that without being judged. It’s really important to have calm conversations and respectful exchanges, especially in these volatile times.
Child Health Australia has been created to collect and collate contacts for mutual support, to build local networks and to monitor and share the effects of the No Jab No Pay legislation.