I started reading this book "On Immunity: An Inoculation" by Eula Biss recently and I love it. It does such a great job of delving into the fears and perception of risk we have in society especially when it comes to medical interventions. Plus the author writes so well, I don't feel like I'm reading a heavy scientific text but almost like a magazine op-ed.
I've been a vaccine advocate ever since I realized that there are people that I KNOW who are totally against vaccines and it totally baffled me.
I mean, I always knew there were people who are on the fringe of everything and believe in crazy conspiracy theories, like that the earth is flat, that 9/11 never happened, that the government is controlled by aliens or whatever and thought that people who were against vaccines belonged to that group.
But when a friend on Facebook posted a stupid article stating that the HPV vaccine causes young girls to become infertile, after reading the article and realizing that the whole article was based on one instance in Australia of a young girl who did start early-onset menopause a few weeks after getting the vaccine and her doctor wasn't sure what caused it, I pointed it out to her that one instance (of an unproven complication) does not mean that its unsafe, thinking that maybe I'd calm her fears.
However, she responded saying that she strongly believes that vaccines are bad and none of her three children have been vaccinated - for ANYTHING.
I was baffled and wanted to know more so I asked her about why she thought that (very politely) and she responded with the usual (that long term effects of vaccines are unknown, probably cause authism/cancer/autoimmune diseases) and said she believes that the organic, whole food diet that she gives her kids will ensure their immune systems are strong enough to beat any of those diseases and that she KNOWS this because she attended a seminar by Dr. Palevsky.
I was dumbfounded. But as a just another parent and with no real authority to tell her she was wrong, it did get me thinking that this is another reason that I NEED to keep pursuing medicine. And having immersed myself afterwards in the world of the anti-vaccinators, I feel like I'm getting a real insight into why they believe what they believe and how to try and change their minds - or at least, SOME of their minds.