STFU Parents: How Parents Talk About Vaccines On Facebook (And Why Those Discussions Matter)

Last week, The Huffington Post ran an essay by JJ Keith titled “I’m Coming Out…as Pro-Vaccine“ that has since gone viral (no disease puns intended!). Although Keith herself says, “This shouldn’t be a controversial opinion,” vaccination controversy has been on the rise for years. What’s notable about that is that the original controversy, surrounding autism, gained considerable traction when anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy became an unofficial spokesperson, telling parents that vaccines and autism are directly linked. Having a celebrity figure in that role suddenly got parents very interested, and believing, and they spread McCarthy’s gospel at playgrounds across the country for many years, well past the time that UK physician and anti-vax guru Andrew Wakefield‘s infamous study was discredited. The truth about Wakefield’s study wasn’t nearly as relevant, or as pervasive, as McCarthy’s stance on the matter — at least according to those who believed her. And in a sense, this symbolic shift was an early detection in American society that one person’s fiction could be thousands of parents’ “fact.”

The increased discussion surrounding vaccination in the media isn’t surprising given our increased usage of social media. While social media can be used to share legitimate articles about vaccines, it can also be used to spread misinformation that gets lots of parents talking. In fact, one study claims that social networks play a significant role in parents’ decision to vaccinate their children. What this means is that not only do parents influence each other’s opinions through discussion on sites like Facebook, but they influence each other’s actions, as well, even when dealing with something as serious as immunization from deadly diseases. That’s why essays like Keith’s are so important, and why it’s a good sign that it’s being shared as much as it is. As she writes in her post:

“I’m writing here not to the anti-vaccine activists, but to other people like me. People who vaccinated their children but avoid saying too much about it because it seems like it’s hopeless or none of our business. Even if it feels like we’ll never change the mind of anti-vaccine advocates — and we might not — we can do our best to head off new recruits to their movement.”

She makes a valid point: If the internet is a place where strident opinions opposing vaccination abound, the odds of the anti-vaccine movement growing are not in the general public’s favor. Extremist views will only gain momentum, as more vocal anti-vaxxers lend their voices to the cause, and more parents will decide not to vaccinate their children based on information that’s foggy at best, and baseless at worst.

It’s also worth noting that reading conversation threads about vaccination can be a real mindfuck. People get wildly defensive about being either pro- or anti-vaccine, and for good reason. Pro-vaccine folks (like me) believe in the herd immunity theory, which “proposes that, in contagious diseases that are transmitted from individual to individual, chains of infection are likely to be disrupted when large numbers of a population are immune or less susceptible to the disease.” We get freaked out when an anti-vaxxer’s response to not vaccinating his or her child is, “My parenting is my business, not yours. I’ll do what I want with my child, and you do what you want with yours.”

After years of posting numerous articles about vaccination on the STFUP Facebook page — such as an article I shared titled “Anti-vaccine parents caused California’s lethal whooping couch epidemic“ – I’ve seen hundreds of parents assert that what they do with their children is nobody’s business but their own. But as JJ Keith poignantly said in her essay, “Vaccines are different from every other parenting issue in that the choices that parents make affect everyone else as well. Vaccines are everyone’s business.” Let’s take a look at a few parents who might beg to differ, and the debates that often play out when opinions and articles about vaccination are discussed on Facebook.

1. Informed Decisions

STFU ParentsOne of the biggest problems I have with all the vaccine chatter on social media is the way anti-vax parents claim to “know their stuff.” When parents who aren’t in the medical profession play doctor, peer influence can get dangerous. Just because Chelsea has “done a TON of research” and Jodie backs her up doesn’t mean that anything they’re saying is true. The weirdest thing about anti-vaccine activists calling bullshit on vaccines and herd immunity is that the movement gets considerably stronger based on a lot of herd immunity principles. The anti-vaxxers are strong in numbers, and sadly there are way too many people who base whether to vaccinate their children on what their friends do. Once a group of people who are involved in a church or a social circle start advocating against vaccination, their peers may follow suit or become suspicious of professional medical recommendations (even when the front page of the Autism Speaks website says, “We strongly encourage parents to have their children vaccinated for protection against serious disease.”).

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    • brebay

      You can’t put the word “truth” in your blog name unless everything you say is the truth. It’s true. I read in on worldtruth.truth.

      • EcnoTheNeato

        Written by their CEO, T. Ruthie McTrutherson

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      All the stupid in the Facebook posts made me feel queasy. I want to yell at these people but don’t know them. So frustrating. Must. Stop. Stupid.

    • Simone

      I could accept it as plausible that several doctors were in odd cahoots to trick parents into having their children vaccinated for some odd reason. I don’t mind the odd conspiracy theory and there are some that seem to make more sense than the accepted discourse. But if you want me to believe that the entire Western orthodox medical system is conspiring in some strange way to push unnecessary vaccines into children’s bodies, I am going to find that one a bit hard to swallow.

      I too am sceptical of science being hailed as a constant progression towards betterment; I feel that in many cases orthodox medicine makes existing health conditions worse, not better; and I deplore the paradigms of generic experience of illness, specific aetiology and cure-not-care as much as the next person.

      And I vaccinate like my kid’s life depends on it.

    • Kelby Johnson

      Oh the vaccination argument… I vaccinate my kids. Both of them get their shots whenever the doctor says we need them. I’ve never had chicken pox and as far as I know, I’ve never been vaccinated against them. The last thing I want is to catch them from my kids or anyone else’s kid for that matter.

      I don’t understand why people think contracting one of these deadly diseases is better than a small reaction from a vaccine or being diagnosed with autism. It literally blows my mind.

    • CrazyFor Kate

      Hey, guys, I have a problem with my mom. She is mostly pro-vax but is CONVINCED that vaccines can cause autism, because two friends of hers had kids with autism when that particular theory was in vogue.

      “But CFK, I RESPECT these women! They are SMART women! Surely they know what’s right!”

      Yeah, but neither of them went to medical school or did any research beyond hearing rumors in the early 90′s. Apparently, being smart in general means you know everything. My mom won’t hear that the study was debunked. How do I convince my mom that her smart friends are not freaking doctors? Sigh.

      • Steph

        I would suggest something along these lines:

        “Mom, we’re both pretty smart, right? We’re respected among out friends and family, right? We both know some little tricks about getting better from an illness, like eating chicken soup, getting plenty of vitamin C, and getting plenty of rest to make the healing process quicker. That being said, would you feel comfortable with me performing an appendectomy on you? Even if I’d read all about them and done research on them? You would leave that to the experts, right? Why is this scenario any different? You know what else those two women have? Cars. Would you trust them to rebuild your engine?”

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      I’ve been ’round and ’round these discussions more than I can count.

      I’m gonna stick with science, and the science is firmly pro-vaccine. I’ll take a jab, any day, over the risk of, oh, say… influenza that could turn into a fatal pneumonia.

      Please, please, get your kids vaxxed, get yourself vaxxed, you’re protecting more than just yourself with that one stick of a needle. You’re helping to protect the immune-compromised, the elderly, pregnant women, and infants.

    • jessica

      Right on. I take a gentle approach when I engage anti-vaccine proponants- or would take a gentle approach since I’m no longer working as an RN for the time being- and I think that is the best approach primarily because I discovered that a lot of these people are harboring a lot of pain and guilt that I believe influenced their anti-vax stance. Specifically, a lot of these people seemed to blame themselves for their child’s autism diagnosis or epilepsy (another one some people blame on vaccines). Perhaps believing that something could have been done differently and their child could have been “saved” makes it easier for them to deal rather than accepting that the outcome was beyond their control? Or maybe it helps them to have the vaccines/pharmaceutical industry/medical community as a scapegoat to vent their anger upon? I don’t know. All I know is that I feel for these people who blame themselves for something that is beyond their control. I mean my SIL actually said to me that her son’s diagnosis (a rare genetically inherited disease) was HER fault because she didn’t eat enough vegetables when she was pregnant! Then, with tears in her eyes, she went on to explain to me that she really wanted to do what was best for her kid but was so stressed out all the time and has always been weak willed and a junk food addict and so on. On and on placing the blame for an unlucky role of the dice so to speak on herself. Heartbreaking stuff and so far I haven’t been able to help her see that she’s not to blame.

      • Katherine Handcock

        I view the anti-vax crowd as an extension the extended-rear-facing care seat or the people who buy helmets for toddlers. Parents desperately want to believe that if they just do everything RIGHT, their child will be healthy and safe and happy. And if they see examples of a child who ISN’T, they need to convince themselves that it could never happen to their child. So, a four-year-old died in a car crash, but that couldn’t happen to me because mine is still in a rear-facing seat; my friend’s son is autistic or epileptic, but that must be because she vaccinated; my cousin’s toddler had to go to the ER for stitched, but that won’t happen to us because I don’t let my kid play with X, Y, or Z.

        It’s so hard as a parent to know that you can make all the right decisions, for all the right reasons, and things can still go wrong. The anti-vaccine movement makes things sound so certain. The pro-vaccine crowd says things like, “I think it’s important to vaccinate, even if there’s a chance my child will have a reaction to the vaccine.” but the anti-vaccine crowd says, “By not vaccinating, your child will not have a reaction.” They don’t say, “Of course, there’s a chance your child could catch a serious disease that could have been prevented by the vaccine,” but pro-vaccine arguments are always upfront about the risks. So it creates a false sense of safety.

        I feel that deep-down terror too; the idea that a decision I made could lead to injury or worse for my child is horrifying. But I admit that I can’t control everything. For some people, that admission is too scary to face.

      • Blueathena623

        I think its also due in part to the increased pressure on hands-on parenting, like you see in AP. I’m not saying AP and antivax are linked, but there is this general sense that NOTHiNG about parenting can be “outsourced” anymore. The parent is the be all end all, and so that is why some parents feel like their “research” is more valid than the opinions of the medical profession.

    • Katherine Handcock

      Talking about vaccines is a big deal for me — I believe vaccination is SO important, and I try desperately to counter the ridiculously poor information that floats around out there. But there are some bad ways to talk about the subject. I think it’s very important to keep the conversation respectful but firm — kind of like you would talk to your boss if you knew he/she was about to make a really big mistake. When you get into name-calling, telling people they’re stupid/deluded/paranoid, I think it takes away from your argument.

      When I see one of the anti-vaccine things floating around — happens from time to time, since I’m a member of some parenting-related Facebook groups — I always post something. But I try to keep it factual, clear, and unemotional. It won’t convince the hard-line anti-vaccine crowd, but those who are on the fence will know who’s speaking purely emotionally and who has the facts and information to back up their stance.

      That said, I also think it should be mandatory for parents to see footage of what these diseases do before they opt out of vaccines. If you feel like it’s manipulative to show videos of children, show the National Geographic special about Jane Goodall and the chimps at Gombe — the one where they showed what happened to the chimp population when polio struck there. I remember seeing it as a kid and asking my mom; she told me one of the shots I got would help prevent polio. It left an amazing impression on me about the value of these vaccines.

    • Mae Blackwood

      “I read this thing one time and it said. . .” Is how I imagine most of these conversations starting when it comes to the anti-vaccine supporters. I have no hesitation about vaccinating this child when she’s here and the time comes. I’d rather not bury my child after watching her suffer from a disease that has not been an issue for decades upon decades.

      Also, I hate to be that person, but the first one about the Nazi doctors and what – not. But, I a lot of common medical practices we use now were discovered from the experiments conducted in the camps. Of course, this doesn’t make it disgusting what they subjected people to, but most of our medical practices were discovered after all sorts of disgusting shit people have done to others in the name of science.

      I’m sure these people don’t turn their nose up at all medical practices we use today, but I’m also sure they haven’t bothered to look into how we figured out a lot of stuff.

      • Katherine Handcock

        That’s a very valuable comment about how we’ve learned so much about medicine. After all, when you look at the real origins of modern medicine, they were stealing corpses from graveyards so that they could perform post-mortem exams to learn anatomy. Not something we’d ever suggest we do again, but value can emerge from awful actions.

      • Mae Blackwood

        That’s how I saw it. It seems terrible, but, we are awfully grateful they know this stuff now. We’re far from “barbaric” procedures. Even if it was horrible, I’m still very happy that if I go into a hospital for something they know what’s up and I won’t automatically get a “I have no clue wtf is going on, sorry.”

        From dirt flowers grow, I suppose.

      • Blueathena623

        Actually, there isn’t much use for nazi medical data, and I can’t really think of many medical practices that have come from those experiments.

      • Mae Blackwood

        When I took some medical classes when I was still in school, we talked a lot about the uses of these experiments and how they affected todays practices.

        When it comes to things like what we know about hypothermia and freezing comes solely from these experiments. And also, a lot of experiments done were the basis for learning more and understanding more about all sorts of things.

        Everything we know now had to start somewhere. Though, they didn’t get a lot of things right (or much of it at all, really) these experiments did give us a place to start. It was easier for us to look at them later and go “Okay, that didn’t work for them, let’s try something else.”

      • Blueathena623

        But the nazi experiments aren’t the extent of our hypothermia knowledge and as for freezing knowledge there has been interesting debate on the validity of the data. And the experiments about “learning more” — most of it is either useless (injecting chemicals into eyes), nothing we would ever need to know (does iodine cause sterilization when injected into reproductive organs), just brutal rehash of information we already knew (bone grafting was not a new idea), or done under such horrible conditions that the data is pointless (because starved, tortured, sick individuals respond differently than typical people).

    • scooby23

      Another argument I hate is “There are sooooo many chemicals in vaccines though!” Ever eat food? Drink water? Breath in air much? There are chemicals in those. Unless you die, you can’t avoid chemicals all together.

      • Katherine Handcock

        My dad is a chemist, and when the herbal medicine trend first got going, an ad would come on the TV saying something like, “If you’ve got a cold, why not try Herbal Wonderful’s cold cure. All natural sources, with none of those dangerous chemicals.” And I’d hear him muttering under his breath, “EVERYTHING is chemical!”

      • scooby23

        Yes, exactly! There are chemicals all around us! Trying to avoid them all together is like trying to avoid touching grass.

    • Elizabeth

      I have a cousin who’s not vaccinating her three children, and my sister brought up a good point: if her kids decide they want to go to college they might be screwed. Most (all?) colleges require certain vaccinations, and I believe that some of these require boosters over a certain number of years to be effective. And that’s not to mention the hell they’ll go through if they ever want to study abroad.

      Oh yes, and this cousin also doesn’t believe in college. ….

      (I know this comment will be so far down that no one will see it, but I’d like to hear an opinion on this — can non-vaccinated kids go to college?)

      • Courtney Lynn

        I caught it before it got sucked into the abyss! I don’t know about not being able to go to college. When I went, they never asked for my vax records. I believe a lot of public schools will not allow your kids in if they are not up to date, though. That was the thing when I was in elementary school. I will say this as far as her not believing in college, she can “not believe” all she wants but if her kids want to go, they’ll find a way. I don’t believe college is the only way, but I support anyone’s decision to go. Can’t hurt!

      • CW

        If the college is in a state where there is a religious or personal beliefs exemption, then yes. But most college students are over 18 so they can decide for themselves to get vaccinated if they were previously unvaccinated.

      • AP

        My (private) university had vaccination requirements to live in the dorms or attend class. A student caught meningitis during summer session one year, and they posted signs on all the doors banning anyone from entering the building without the vaccinations.

        I did have a friend who’d had an allergic reaction to the first or second dose of MMR and she was granted a waiver, but it did cause a ton of bureaucratic problems later on, as she was an education major and teachers were required to be vaccinated to do their practicums.

      • EcnoTheNeato

        My state school also had requirements to live in dorms, and as part of the honors program I was required to live in honors housing on campus (if I wanted to be in the honors program, which I obviously did!). Not sure if there was a religious exemption to attend the school, but to live in the housing they provide, you HAD to be vax-ed against certain things. Another thing I didn’t have to worry about, especially because I didn’t think about it to begin with!

        Luckily, I’m a normal person who had all his shots, and I think I just needed a booster for meningitis.

        Also…”doesn’t believe in college”? As in, she doesn’t think they exist? o_O

      • NYProf

        The school I teach at does not allow un-vaccinated students. They must provide the school with proof of immunization or they will be dismissed from classes.

    • Courtney Lynn

      Ugh…Can we stop taking advice from a woman who used to do shoe ads while sitting on a toilet? I have YET to see a reliable source from any of these moms who have done such extensive “research”. Because we know that the doctors and scientists who create these vaccines don’t do any! Not like they spent years trying to come up with them or spent some time in school to learn how to handle them. Sheesh.

      And may I just say that I can’t fucking stand it when people end a statement or post with “just sayin’” or any of it’s abbreviations. GAH!

    • ILoveJellybeans

      Why do people still listen to these websites? I thought it was common knowledge that the majority of websites with the word “truth” in the title contain nothing but misinformation and lies with no authority whatsoever. The kind of website who would believe the online rantings of some insane blogger who is wearing a tin foil hat because theyre worried about the government trying to steal their thoughts over scientists/doctors/the news purely because Tin Foil Hat Man confirms their world views that everything that exists is out to kill you. They like thinking that everything is evil and they are the elite ones who know the truth, because it makes them feel so good about themselves.
      As someone with Aspergers, I am somewhat offended that there are people who wouldnt vaccinate their kid and put their lives at risk because they would rather their kid get polio than be autistic. Even though any real doctor/scientist knows that the vaccine/autism myth is a lie, wouldnt people rather their kids be autistic than catch a deadly disease that might kill them. Unless theyre the kind of person who thinks that if their kid actually does catch any diseases, they wont die because they could cure them with prayer, “magic” water, eating certain plants or just by wishful thinking, and we all know what happens then…
      My future kids will definitely be vaccinated.

    • Nell

      I had severe pertussis (whooping cough) when i was 4 years old. I almost died. I was also fully vaccinated. People have to remember that being vaccinated does not necessarily mean that you are I immuned from these diseases. People also have to remember that many vaccines carry live viruses that cause the individual who received them to be contagious. The Rotavirus vaccine is one. So people can point fingers at “anti- vaxxers”, however they should be aware that they could be the very ones spreading the viruses to the people most at risk. ( elderly, immuno suppressed, infants, etc). I am in the health care field and we are required to be “fully” vaccinated. That means we are tested to see if our bodies have built an immunity to these diseases. One of my co- workers had the hep-b vax 7 times before she refused to get another one. Her body was not building immunity to the disease from the vaccine. Is she putting people at risk now? Are you putting people at risk? Stop pointing fingers and make an informed choice to vax or not vax. Either way, you will never know for sure if you have the immunity from the strain unless you get tested for the immunity. Another thing I should point out is that diseases mutate. There is not just 1 polio viruses but several. When a pharmaceutical company creates a vaccine, they base it on the most severe strain and the strain with higher prevalence. The outbreaks you see or read in the news don’t always have the facts. Who brought the disease to the community? Were they vaccinated? What was the percentage of individuals who contacted the disease that were vaccinated and visa versa? Do your research people, whether you vax or not. I also think it’s crazy that you would “delete” a friend on Facebook because they choose not to vaccinate. Nice “friend”!

    • Badger96

      They “don’t want to offer up [their] children as a sacrifice” to vaccines, yet they’re perfectly okay offering them- and other children and adults with weakened immune systems- up as sacrifices to preventable diseases, many of which can be lethal.

    • RCIG

      So does turrets make you break out in castle like outcroppings? How would you even know your kid had it if you can’t even spell it?

    • Alice

      At the risk of incurring the wrath of the masses, I’d like to openly state that, I fully plan on avoiding vaccinations for my child. According to various literature on the topic, giving vaccines to children under one may not result in the desired immunity, because a child’s immune system is not yet robust enough to have a “full” response, and to reliably produce lasting antibodies. In some cases, though minimal, the actual disease that was supposed to be prevented by active vaccines was caused by it in a few (the oral polio vaccine). There is very little extensive long-term (10 years +) research, furthermore, on newly developed recombinant DNA vaccines; you’re literally it! Worse, while some of the preservatives that brought nation-wide scandal were removed from the bulk of vaccines (like mercury), there’s a wide range of toxic preservatives left. One study cited that there was actually Monosodium Glutamate found in a vaccine, which is just ridiculous as this has been found to slow mental development in children under 5 (it’s probably not too good after 5 either). But the bottom line is not the finding of any particular study – it’s that the vaccines are produced by big pharma; they have historically backed government efforts to vaccinate the masses – and anyone who has worked for a corporation knows two things: A.) they’re always cutting costs, regardless of quality and B.) they’re desperate to sell product, irrespective a need. While I agree that it’s entirely selfish to avoid what, in some cases, can lead to lowered wide-spread disease (provided one is constantly getting booster shots, as only a few of the vaccines actually produce lifetime immunity) (and provided one is not getting excessive boosters, if one already has sufficient immunity, which is thought to exacerbate negative side-effects) – at the risk of getting “un-friended” I’m selfishly going to do what’s best for my child. Don’t worry though, they won’t be in the public school system as far as I know so, their risk to your children should be minimal.

      • You’reanasshole

        Fine. But then you have to accept the responsibility of keeping your disease-ridden kid AWAY from other people that it might infect. And when said kid dies of whooping cough, measles, rubella or some other completely preventable disease, know that it will be entirely, 100% YOUR FAULT. You are a bad person, you will be a bad mother, and you should feel badly about yourself. DO NOT BREED you stupid, selfish, ignorant cow. No child deserves to have you for a mother.

      • Alice

        Karma tends to bring upon the person cursing others the curses they themselves issue. On that note, I would hope I have been civil in the things I have said, and spoken to others in a way that reflects my upbringing and values. I’m not a perfect mother, but, I have made a lot of efforts I am very proud of; I have breastfed my child past 9 months, and am fast approaching the 12 month mark, which only 20% of mothers typically do; this has been a great time investment given that my baby won’t eat from the breast, but it has paid off greatly in that he has never gotten sick, which is amazing. I read to my child 10 books a day, and we go on walks; he will never be stuck in a daycare. I feed him all organic, and socialize him with the world every day, and not a day passes that I don’t get a compliment on what a great a mother I am – and how happy my child is. These are gifts from God, gifts I wish upon all people. My choice not to allow big pharma to vaccinate him is in line with my dedication to him to keep him safe from mass-produced, preservative filled poison that is all around him in the world today. None of this though will be a substitute for a good moral education: I want him to learn to deal with people who insult him in a graceful way, one that shows compassion and empathy for those who have not had the benefit of a truly great upbringing. If he resorted to ad hominem attacks, I would definitely work on his critical thinking and logic skills, as there’s typically no gain in spewing forth such negativity into the world.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        It’s not an ad hominem to note that your choice not to vaccinate does, in fact, place other people at risk.

        So unless you have insurance that will cover your negligence every time your child passes an illness on to another person….

    • EcnoTheNeato

      Did…did blue in the last entry really just try to sound informed by using the word “turrets”?

      Ugh, if babies weren’t dying because of this, I’d laugh SO hard! But I can at least take solace that no one “liked” his/her comments…

      • Muggle

        It’s the other reason why I was so hacked off at her. It’s T-O-U-R-E-T-T-E Syndrome. The proper name for the condition is in fact Tourette Syndrome, not “Tourettes” though everyone calls it that anyway, even those of us who have it.

        Also, go check out my rage-stroke below about why anti-vaxxers should shut the ever-loving fuck UP about Tourette Syndrome. It has nothing to do with vaccines and I’d much rather have to deal with my tics than whooping cough or polio or something just as fucking horrible.

    • h

      The whole autism argument angers me so much because a) how many people are fully vaccinated and don’t have autism? A whole lot. B) even if it were proven that some people have an adverse reaction that causes autism… I’m sorry, I would much rather take that risk than take the risk of my child DYING from a completely preventable disease.

      I understand the idea of not wanting to pump your kid full of chemicals supported by companies, and that we have more vaccinations now than in the 80s when I got them. Chickenpox isn’t usually the end of the world, I had it when I was 6 and was itchy for a week and the biggest problem was that I had to miss the school Christmas concert. I understand the hesitation of vaccinating against something like that, that if your child happens to catch it, it happens and you move on. But chickenpox can be deadly if you miss it as a child and catch it as an adult. I wouldn’t want my child’s minor ailment to be the cause of someone else’s death, or for my child to catch it at a later age and face a dire situation.

      The only reason unvaccinated kids still very seldomly contract these diseases is BECAUSE of the herd immunity that has resulted from most people being vaccinated. But if the number of unvaccinated kids continues to rise, then that will no longer be the case.

      • EcnoTheNeato

        Don’t forget the worst part about chickenpox: Shingles :-x

      • scooby23

        And chickenpox can create a whole bunch of side complications, including but not limited to: pneumonia, inflammation of brain, toxic shock syndrome, and much, much more!

    • Catherine

      It’s slightly different here in the UK. It’s up to your parents if you are vaccinated as a baby (my parents got me every vaccine going in the mid 80s!) , but aged 11-15 you have vaccines at school. I not sure if it’s different now (this was 15 or so years ago) but your parents had to specifically opt out of it, if your parents didn’t opt out you were took out of lesson as a group and then had the vaccines.. We had the BCG (Tuberculosis), Oral Polio drops and Meningitis. There is now one for school aged girls to immunise against HPV.
      When I have a child I am going to be like my parent and give them every vaccine there is.

    • kaeli

      Yellow on 3 is my favorite. She admits she sees why its hard to vaccinate and found a solution to do it because its important

    • Octavia

      The second-last sentence of Purple’s status in #1 reminds me so much of this clip:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfDCwP2SnI4

      I wish Stephen Fry would issue these crazy anti-vaccinators with a logic smackdown. It would be glorious.

    • Gracie

      Ugh. This reminds me too much of all the conversations I had with my friend last year. She would just randomly text me, or just run up to me all upset, basically ranting about conspiracy theories and stuff. These were some of my favorites:

      “The government is trying to save money so they’re making women who miscarry carry their babies to term just like they do with pigs and crows!”

      “Obama is a Muslim and he is working on passing a law that will make us all Muslim just like him!”

      “Obama is corrupt and he’s making a law that will get rid of democracy and he will become dictator and we will be all like his slaves!”

      So much wrong with those theories. So. Much. Wrong.

      Anyways, I hate all of this “the government is out to get us!” crap that’s based on stupid websites and documentaries that are heavily biased and full of fake information. If you are concerned about the government, vaccines, or anything else, do some research, some REAL research and get yourself educated.

      • EcnoTheNeato

        AND use the very democratic process that we have instigated to make sure that stuff doesn’t happen…I wonder if your friend votes at all, much less in elections besides presidential

        It won’t always turn out how you want (if you voted for Romney, for example), but if you keep voting at other levels, you can get the congressman, city council member, and such who feel best represent you/your values (or the one you think will do the city/state/country best!)

      • EcnoTheNeato

        Unless, of course, she also thinks that the whole system is rigged anyway. In which case, they’re doing an AWFULLY shitty job at it…And I pray for their well-being as they go about their daily life

    • doxgukka

      the argument i hate is “well if your kid is vaccinated they should be fine if mine is not” well what about the kids who CAN’T be vaccinated (for medical reasons, such as allergies) or are too young for the vaccination yet. So selfish! My husband has already stated that when/if we have children (it is currently difficult) un-vaccinated kids are not to come visit. And rightly so, we are already having problems making a baby, why would we then risk them to disease?

    • Nic

      Clearly, vaccines aren’t for everyone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQrovo7hshY. But, then again, aluminum and formaldehyde aren’t really good for anyone …

    • Emily Clocke

      Hey, remember back when that woman was arrested for letting her kids play outside while she watched? Apparently exposing your child to the risk of contracting or dying from polio, measles, rubella, ect is perfectly legal but exposing your child to nature and fun is illegal.

    • Emily Clocke

      They don’t, but even if vaccines do cause autism, in what world is autism worse than dozens of painful deadly diseases?

    • http://lawleramericanadventure.wordpress.com/ Nicole

      Approximately 37 percent of passenger vehicle occupants are still killed, despite wearing a seat belt. Because of that statistic, I am not going to wear a seat belt and I’m not going to let my children wear a seat belt. It’s so dangerous!
      That’s what it sounds like when I hear or read about anti vaxxers. Sure there’s always a risk to anything you do, nothing is infallible, but not vaccinating your kids is idiotic and irresponsible. Vaccines have been proven to save lives, but what has not vaccinating your kids led to? The highest cases of measles in 17 years? Dead children?

    • JaneyDeeDiddliosity

      We’re so far removed from seeing the effects of these diseases (because, vaccines work) that it’s easy to write them off as “harmless” and “natural”. They’re not.

      The thing that really gets me are the “I’ve done my research so I know more than doctors, longitudinal studies, and science” mommies. I want to slap them in the face so hard. Birthing a child does not bestow upon you the skills, knowledge, and abilities to be a doctor or a nurse or a medical researcher. The fact that you can’t evaluate shit you read on the internet critically is a big fucking red flag that you’re a fucking moron and shouldn’t be making healthcare decisions for yourself, never mind your child.

      The fact that all of this is cloaked in conspiracy discourses makes it impossible to have a rational conversation with these people because it’s all about big pharma wanting to make a buck rather than preventing children from dying from diseases that they didn’t have to get in the first place.

      Sadly, people’s decision to vaccinate usually doesn’t harm their children but other people’s children who can’t be vaccinated (because they have an allergy, compromised immune system, or are simply too young).

      Perhaps I’m biased. I was raised by a grandmother who suffered the lifelong effects from having Polio as a child. Also, full-disclosure: I got chicken pox when I was 16 and I almost ended up in the ICU I was so sick. Last year, I got pertussis and coughed so much and so hard that I ended up pulling most of the interstitial muscles in my side and cracked a rib.

      People who don’t vaccinate their children because they’re afraid of Autism are dysphobic assholes.

      • Steph

        You know, I’m not a conspiracy theorist nor do I play one on TV, but if the government DID want to find a way to weaken the country from both a physical and mental standpoint, wouldn’t a great way to do that be to start a prevalent rumor that vaccines are bad for you?

        …..That faint “pop” you just heard was an anti-vaxxer’s head exploding.

      • JaneyDeeDiddliosity

        Hahahahaha!

    • Niki83

      LOL at those who blindly vaccinate!! :-D For the love of whatever one deems holy, think of the children! Think of humanity in general!!!

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        I am thinking of the children and humanity in general. That is why I get my vaccines regularly updated — so I’m not spreading around potentially lethal illnesses!

    • kare

      I’m not sure if this varies by state or school district or what, but when I was growing up you had to be vaccinated in order to keep attending school. So are these kids all home schooled? If so, that’s very sad. I mean not the home schooling part, but that they probably have limited interaction with kids their age since their parents are total nutjobs.

    • Thomas

      RE the Chicken pox thing, you don’t get the vaccine for the childhood illness (although it does protect against it) you get it for the adult version which is life threatening and a big deal

    • Katie Delia

      Personally I think the excuse “They’re my kids, I’ll do what I want!” sucks too. They’re not your property. They’re not a bracelet, a car, a house, a toy, or even a pet. They’re HUMAN BEINGS, and they don’t belong to you. It’s the same excuse people have been using to beat their kids for generations. Yes, the public has a vested interest in deciding what you can and cannot do with “your” kids, as well as a humanitarian interest in it. I respect that you think you’re doing what’s right for your kid; I fundamentally disagree with you, but I respect you’re trying to do your best. Don’t ruin that by treating them as property.

      • scooby23

        THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m sick and tired of that argument! I recently saw a woman using it to argue for holding her child in her arms in the car instead of putting him in a car seat (you know, like in the good ol’ days.)

    • Jimmypat

      Shingles is not just for old people! A younger person can get it under certain conditions, one of them being tremendous stress. I was 32 when my mother passed away after a short but horrific battle with cancer. I got shingles three months later. It is worse than you can imagine. Picture excruciating pain mixed with soreness and a deep itch that cannot even be breathed on, let alone scratched, and add in huge yellow fluid-filled blisters from hell that burst and weep. I spent a week nearly unconscious, just kept knocking myself out to get through it. The next week I remember running the blisters under scalding hot running water for RELIEF from the itch. It is a full month before you are functional. If it’s on your torso, you can’t wear clothing. If it is near your eyes you can go blind. If it is On your dominant hand, and mine was, you can’t do anything. You wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy. The chicken pox vaccination prevents it. Trust me, you don’t want your kids getting shingles one day.

    • pokeynabber

      I’ve been reading STFU Parents for a few years and the occasional mommish that got linked and I think that Yellow, from post 3, deserves the biggest Gold Star/most praise as I’ve ever seen here. she acknowledges that vaccines are vital and important, nut have a tiny potential risk. As a parent, she can’t give in to that risk, so she send the kids with Dad to get the shots. She knows that she’s wrong but cant help being wrong, so she finds a solution that helps her kids. Great job, Yellow from 3!!

    • Elaine

      My cousin chose not to vaccinate her child. She read tons of internet articles and claimed to be so much more informed than the doctors who recommended she vaccinate little Emmy. Emmy got viral meningitis and lost her hearing. She nearly died. She vaccinates her children now, but what an awful way to learn a lesson. If you choose not to vaccinate then you are putting your child at serious risk.

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