An Italian toy maker has been accused of trivialising a serious childhood disease with the new edition of its popular Cicciobello doll, which children are invited to treat of the measles.
In our ever-growing world where the science can never be settled, we need passionate and dedicated scientists. Scientists are known to spend a great deal of time studying and learning from the natural world around us. Their discoveries are based on their observations and experimentation and then presented for others to see. Data is important, but one thing I sometimes see being forgotten in the field is recognition of the actual human being who has contributed to scientific findings and statistics. I was reminded of that after catching up on reading a few studies last week. One in particular, which was about using social media to help parents understand and improve their attitudes about vaccines, brought me right back to the time when I began to question vaccines, my doctor, and Science.
Before I had kids, and even after having them, I would never have said that I had an attitude about vaccines. Back then, I honestly never thought too long about them. I just knew I wanted them without any sort of hesitation. But, after observing my son fall ill post-vaccination, I started having doubts. As I began to question them, I realized that I didn’t have enough information beyond what the doctor was telling me. Since she only offered positive vaccine thoughts and a very strong opinion supporting them, I set out to find the facts I wanted and needed. Like parents today who also have questions, I had to learn how to look for unbiased information. I had to learn how to discern what I heard from other people. Putting emotions aside, I had to learn how to weigh what I was being told by the pediatrician and also factor in what my gut was telling me. She said that they were necessary and would help my children be healthier. But after seeing reactions while also learning that they were not required for school entry, I really wasn’t sure what I was being told about vaccines was completely true. As she kept pushing them despite the problems Ronan was having, I became one of those parents who was “on the fence” about vaccines. I needed more help. But from where?
I needed rock-solid Science. Surely, that could help me.
As a child, I never liked Science. I didn’t hate it, I just didn’t appreciate it. The sicker Ronan became, though, I was drawn toward it. Spending countless hours at the library (think pre-internet days) and finding myself spending the most time searching for and reading books from the Science section, I was forced to learn more about topics I should’ve paid better attention to when I was in school. Being the parent of a chronically-ill child, I’ve had to rely on Science as well as people in the medical community in order to support my son and his intense needs. In the long run Science did help. So did keeping my son, and what he was dealing with, forefront in my mind.
In retrospect, that should’ve been proof enough. But my naiveté kept me from seeing reality. Plus, others, like our doctor, refused to see the human in front of them, too. Eventually, I knew that I couldn’t discount what was happening right in front of me. And when I discovered that other people elsewhere were reporting similar issues with their kids, I knew that I was onto something.
I hadn’t yet found those other people but soon would.
In those early days when I had gotten as far as library searches could take me, I began to use the internet. Unsure of how to navigate it like I can today, I wasn’t always confident in what to look for. Thankfully, I kept at it and explored all that I could. What a treasure trove of information! Even so, I wasn’t prepared for the rabbit hole I was about to walk into after a family member told me to check out something called a discussion board. Tip toeing into one, I was overwhelmed, but I was also glad to discover that other people were asking the very same questions about vaccines that I also was. Thank God for those early Yahoo! Group days.