WITCH HUNT

by Cathy Arden on March 19, 2014

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I am dismayed and, frankly, disgusted regarding the current witch hunt of Jenny McCarthy. But, sadly, I’m not surprised.  I’ve been aware of vaccination witch hunts for decades now, since my children were babies.  They are now grown, healthy adults, and they were healthy children — and, as they will tell you, healthier than any of the friends they grew up with.  Jenny McCarthy is not advocating the eradication of vaccines.  She’s advocating safe vaccines and a safer schedule of vaccination.  Do the haters even know this?  Do they know that it takes 7-8 years for a child’s immune system to be fully formed?  And that perhaps vaccinating a child before their immune system is fully formed could damage their immune system?  So many people have jumped on the rock throwing bandwagon, just like in days of old.  Fear and panic and distrust abound.  Ignorance abounds, too, but not for those who have done their research on both sides of the issue.  At least if you’ve done the research, you are informed and can make an intelligent decision for your children based on real knowledge, not supposition. Don’t tell me how wonderful vaccinations are when you really don’t know a thing about it except for the fact that the AMA and your doctor tell you it’s the right thing to do.  If Jenny McCarthy isn’t the “proper” spokesperson for an argument against the current state of vaccination, I am sorry for that.  But I will tell you this — I did not vaccinate my children, and this decision came out of exhaustive research as I was a journalist at the time and research was my forté.  It still is.  I was also a mother, and I was not going to do at least equal research into what I put into my children’s bodies as I did into what type of car I was going to buy. I found it suspect at the time, and still do, that people are willing to invest more time and research into the types of cars they buy than the types of medicine they give their children.  I read every book I could get my hands on, pro and con, spoke to and interviewed countless doctors in New York (where I lived), read many medical and scientific articles, and my children’s father and I came to an educated and informed decision for our children after exhaustive research.  I welcomed arguments from doctors, but only if they were willing to read the material I was reading, and discuss all of my concerns.  I respect most medical doctors, but I have never blindly accepted what a doctor has told me.  I mean, we do go for second opinions, we do our research on various types of procedures and prescriptions.   As adults we move around from doctor to doctor until we find someone we trust.  I dare say we should do the same for our children, and not just blindly follow what any one doctor tells us to do or what mainstream media is dishing out.

Was my decision not to vaccinate my children easy?  Not at all.  At that time, I was among an even smaller minority than exists now.  There was no internet.  One researcher in NYC was holding workshops in her apartment to educate people about vaccinations.  I had to research the laws in my state as well, and then in other states when I moved with my children to them.  I had to learn how to deal with elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and universities and even summer camps.  I had to learn my rights.  I held my breath year after year after year, before school began every September and before camp began every summer.  We once had to hire a lawyer.  One of my children was not able to attend the first day of camp one summer as the camp thought they had the right to ban her for not being vaccinated.  They did not.  We once had to contact the New York State Board of Health who, by the way, supported our decision not to vaccinate. They supported it because, contrary to popular belief, you are NOT required to vaccinate your children.  There are various options that afford you the right not to do so.  I did so much work researching law, I swear I should have gone to law school.  I continued to interview doctors wherever I went.  I had to choose my children’s doctors wisely and carefully.  Yes, I sometimes consulted homeopaths, but I always had a medical doctor for my children as well.  Some medical doctors refused to treat my children because they were not vaccinated.  Shame on those doctors.

When my daughter was four years old, and my son was four months old, they came down with Whooping Cough/Pertussis.  My son got it from his sister.  Was I scared?  Yes.  Did I panic?  Yes.  I am a product of my culture as much as the next person, especially when fear gets the better of me.  I whisked my children away to experts in the Pulmonary Department at Mount Sinai Hospital, in New York City, who scared me to death and told me I had risked my children’s lives.  When I got home that night, I placed a phone call to a medical doctor who also was homeopathic and had treated many epidemics of Whooping Cough.  He reassured me that my children would be fine, and that there was no point in giving them the antibiotic that the specialists at Mount Sinai had prescribed.  He told me my four month old son would do better than my daughter as he was still nursing.  He was right.  I barely remember my son having Whooping Cough.  And he told me my daughter would be fine, she was not malnourished or living in poverty, she was not immunosuppressed, and she would have a minor cough for 100 days.  He was correct.  It was only the first two weeks that my daughter had a cough that concerned me.  And I was the person who diagnosed my own child.  Not one doctor I took my daughter to knew what was wrong with her.  They just said she had a cough and sent us home.  They were that unfamiliar with Whooping Cough.  I read all my books and was able to figure out that indeed my daughter’s symptoms mirrored those of Whooping Cough.  That “whoop” sound is not necessarily so obvious.  What gave it away for me, as one book pointed out, was that I would sit with my daughter during the initial coughing spells to keep her calm.  This was really the only sign I had of what we were dealing with.

My children also got Chickenpox.  And I was happy about this because I knew they’d be fine, and I knew that in the long run it would strengthen their immune systems.  My daughter had it worse than my son, and I recall one night when she and her father slept in an air conditioned room together because that made the itching more tolerable, and her father provided comfort during the agonizing itching phase.  We gave our children oatmeal baths.  And they got through it.  My daughter has a few pock marks on her face, which, at age 25, she doesn’t seem to mind very much.  But mostly what my children walked away with after Whooping Cough and Chickenpox were stronger immune systems than they had before those illnesses, and less days missed at school than anyone other children we knew.  I also believe my children have made it to adulthood with stronger immune systems that, thankfully, were never damaged by vaccinations.

I don’t believe that Jenny McCarthy is stupid, as hateful posts on Facebook and Twitter claim she is.  As she describes, she witnessed her son’s decline into autism directly following vaccination.  I have a close friend who went through the same thing with her son, and declined the next scheduled vaccination.  Given the confines of media and the constrained ways McCarthy has had to disclose her beliefs, we have only heard the brief version of her story in edited soundbites.  I’m sure none of the people throwing stones have read her book.  What shocks me most is that the majority of people passionately railing against Jenny McCarthy, and the majority of people who support vaccination, don’t know a damn thing about what they are saying.  They are repeating what they’ve heard from mass media and their doctors.  They haven’t looked beyond what they have been told and led to believe.  If, after doing all the research that is humanly possible for you to do for your children, you do decide to vaccinate, I respect you completely and support whatever decision you make.  But stop the witch hunt when you are operating on little knowledge.  If you had more knowledge, you would, at the least, understand where Jenny McCarthy is coming from and not throw rocks at her.  Do the work.  Then make your decision.  Don’t just be an informed consumer about your car.  Be an informed consumer about your children.

It is very hard work going against the mainstream.  It is very frightening to go against what the majority of doctors say.  Thankfully, I found some support back in the eighties and early nineties, and found some books that launched my children’s father and I onto a new path for our children.  I have faith that my children will do the same research for their children, and I will respect any decision they make because when you do the work, you have the best interest of your children in mind at all times.

If you want to begin getting a glimpse of the other side — if you have the courage to stretch beyond your comfort zone — here are a few links by doctors who had the courage to challenge widespread belief by their colleagues and their culture.

http://www.whale.to/vaccines/mendelsohn.html

http://vran.org/about-vaccines/general-issues/doctors-speak/the-case-against-immunizatons/

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert March 19, 2014 at 8:29 PM

The importance of speaking out against ignorance can never be overemphasized and here you have done an excellent job to bring the voice of reason to an important conversation within our society.

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Steve Howard March 20, 2014 at 1:23 PM

A few years ago congress passed a law that protected pharmaceutical companies from liability if it should emerge that vaccinations caused autism or any other abnormalities. This at the same time that the pharmaceutical companies insist there is no connection. I don’t know if there is or not. But, just in case, it’s good to know our government is taking measures to protect our corporate citizens…just in case.

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V March 21, 2014 at 4:56 AM

“And he told me my daughter would be fine, she was not malnourished or living in poverty, she was not immunosuppressed”

What about those are are malnourished? Are living in poverty? Are immunosuppressed? They might not be fine. Not being vaccinated on a mass scale leaves those in the aforementioned positions the most at risk.

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