Facebook Debates: The Vaccine Quagmire
As my nearly-400 friends would tell you, I don’t shy away from stirring up a good debate on Facebook. I “live out loud,” as I like to say, and, for the most part, I share my opinions readily, carefully respecting your right to have your own, too. Perhaps it’s my liberal arts education that ingrained in me that healthy debate is good for democracy; plus, I am always learning from others, and, sometimes, I even change my mind.
But when it comes to commenting on others’ “out loud” lives, I am more hesitant. Take, for example, my handful of friends who regularly post their support for the anti-vaccination movement. Often, this is a sensitive issue for them, especially the ones whose lives have been touched by autism that they feel is vaccine-related. (No, I didn’t miss the gajillion medical studies wholly and repeatedly disproving the tie between vaccines and autism – but they did, and/or they don’t believe it.) These folks regularly post propaganda that they obtained not from a medical doctor but, rather, from their own “research” – you know, “research” conducted, most often, on the ever-reliable internet. On Facebook, I have tested the waters of pushing back. I have commented, “I vaccinate my family,” or even, sometimes, “I believe vaccines save lives.” (That’s really sticking my neck out.) But I don’t push back every time, or consistently, because really, it’s their Facebook page, and their lives, and it doesn’t really matter what I think … or does it? The ethical dilemma, for me, is that I don’t know who’s reading their Facebook page – and what if it’s people who believe them? What do I value more: my “friendship” on a social network, or my values?
Here’s what I’d like to post, were I to find the bravery: When it comes to vaccines, I absolutely trust my doctors, who wholeheartedly recommend every last one of them. In fact, we’ve had hosts – dozens! – of doctors of all ages and stages of practice in four states because of several moves, and not one doctor has ever suggested taking a pass on any vaccination. Thus, my children’s immunizations are all up to date, my family gets flu shots each year, and I will give my children the Gardasil vaccination against HPV. We have never had a significant or severe reaction to any of these shots, and I have zero regrets or questions about our decision to vaccinate. I don’t know where in the world their travels in life will take them, but I know that I want them immunized against the horrible diseases these vaccines were designed to fight. I feel that we are blessed to have this medicine at our disposal.Continued on the next page