I’m writing this post because there is a lot of hoopla about vaccinations right now and I think one more anecdote to the pile of anecdotes out there about vaccinations is important.
My daughter, Bean (yeah, that's not her real name), is going to be three really soon and I need to go into her history a bit to really be able to delineate her vaccination story effectively.
Bean was born about three years ago to two of the most loving parents on the planet, if I don’t say so myself. To this day I’m amazed at the changes your body and brain go through when you have a kid. I was always the kind of guy that thought kids were something my sister should have, I now have completely reversed that position.
Its amazing to me how you can love someone so much that just cries, needs to be fed, burps, pukes, pisses and poops. But you do, and each week that passes, I love her more and more. Bean learned to walk a little later than average, but not much later, 13 months. But she learned some basic sign language at 8 months (“more” was her first signed word).
Our household has 2 languages in it, I’m an English speaker trying to learn French. My wife is French who speaks perfect English. We decided that I would talk to Bean in English and she would talk to her in French.
With the signing and the dual languages we expected her to start speaking late and she did. But in time we started to realize that she still wasn't speaking even after allowing for some extra time. There was a word here or there, but she was way behind in speaking. The inability to communicate lead to temperament issues and the all out tantrums were both common and severe. As new parents we had trouble differentiating between normal toddler tantrums and this. But looking at the pace of other kids, we slowly realized that Bean was behind the curve.
We further noted extreme discomfort in social situations. She did a little better with adults, but when it was other kids she would be very flustered and usually end up in a tantrum. Its so hard to see someone you love that much get so upset by normal social interactions that other kids are actually having fun with.
We also noticed that she was rarely smiling or happy. She didnt giggle like other little girls not near as often.
In time we got child therapists. New York State has a great program where therapists come to your house to help your child get up to speed. We have a speech therapist, an occupational therapist (not what it sounds like, the OC helps her negotiate new and different tactile senses), and a therapist to help with her social interactions. I really appreciate these programs available in my sate and now understand where some of the exorbitant tax money goes.
We also took Bean to a developmental psychologist. The autism word was thrown around, but it became clear that bean was probably not autistic. She was very ahead in some cognitive areas and very behind in others, but he didn't think it was a case of autism.
I want to fast forward to the beginning of October now. Bean got her flu vaccination. It had thimerisol and everything. She had absolutely no physical reactions to it whatsoever: no fever, no swelling, no pain. However since the shot there have been some huge changes in her.
Bean was able to start school since then. She can be in a group of 7 kids in good comfort. This is totally amazing. She has been really fun to be around, really explorative, points out lots of new things here at home, at school and at our weekend house. She can talk well enough that we generally understand what she wants to say although there is still some baby talk that comes out that is hard to understand. She laughs at funny stories or when we joke around. She still has tantrums when she doesn’t get her way, but they are rarely for random or unintelligible reasons anymore. Basically it feels like ever since we got the flu shot for her, she has become a normal child for her age.
Everything in this post is 100% true and accurate as far as I can remember it. I am also 100% sure that if I ask my wife, she will have a different chronology and describe the severity of different aspects of Beans personality differently, but not differently enough that we couldn’t ascribe her improvement to the flu vaccination. You’ll notice that I went ahead and gave credit to the vaccination for her improvement and not the months of work the therapists did.
But I know its not the flu vaccination, of course it isn’t, because there is no reason to think that it is, just like the other way. Just because something happens hours, days or weeks after a vaccination doesn't necessarily mean that it was because of the vaccination itself. The cause and effect must specifically be studied. To date there is simply no good reason to fear vaccines unless you have allergies to eggs, or some familial history of negative reactions.
I understand how vaccinations work with your immune system. I learned it in high school and relearned it to be able to understand this so called controversy. I have heard the claims by antivaxxers and have read the responses of medical professions on each and every one of those claims even as goalposts move. I then went and checked the claims of the medical professionals. You know what? the people who actually do science and medicine as a living are far better at explaining why they are right, backing up their claims with references that actually confirm what they are saying and have far, far larger datasets that they draw on to show the veracity of their claims. That is part of the years of training that went into their education to be a medical professional. Folks like Kevin Trudeau, Jenny McCarthy, and JB Handley have never had to deal with that rigor and are completely unequipped to back up anything they say without misrepresentation, conspiracy theories, and ad hominem attacks. Their delusions are no more probable, no more explainable, and no more real than the idea that my daughters extreme cognitive improvement came from the flu vaccine.
I love my daughter. I love her to the point that stepping in front of a moving train for her seems like a tiny inconvenience. Part of my love for her is to show her immune system what the bad guys look like, so it can fight them without causing suffering for her.
Oh, and by the way, I didn't start speaking until I was near three. No, I don't think any delays she had were from her vaccinations.