This post originally appeared on the Thinking Campaigns blog of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR.
By Lisa Vanella
In the “Gender Shift” report, we talk about mothers today and the “copious amounts of guilt” they heap on themselves (and how the media and prominent figures stoke that guilt). Adds the report: “Mothers have been blamed for everything from the rise in childhood obesity to increased rates of attention deficit disorder and autism.” Here’s what we said earlier this year about an angst- and guilt-riddled medical decision mothers today are facing:
My husband and I gave our kids all their vaccines throughout their childhoods and never had any regrets. Part of our rationale stems from my having worked with vaccine manufacturers and pharma companies throughout my career, and I have spoken with parents who actually lost their children to benign illnesses such as chicken pox before the vaccine was available. In listening to the heartbreaking stories of these families, I always said to myself that if there was a vaccine available for something, I would be an advocate for prevention.
Last year, we were faced with the decision of whether to vaccinate our 14-year-old daughter against cervical cancer with Gardasil. Now, as my pediatrician will undoubtedly attest, I am every pediatrician’s nightmare. I have been known to walk into his office with statistics, data, and clinical questions that have often led him to call the American Academy of Pediatrics or the vaccine manufacturer directly (there was even a conference call once between all of us!).
But regarding Gardasil, my husband and I just couldn’t make a decision, so we relied on our pediatrician for advice. We were aware of many facts: The vaccine is very new, and although it is more than 90 percent effective against cervical and other gynecological cancers, there have been reports of hundreds of adverse effects including autoimmune illnesses, blindness, and even death. Our pediatrician told us that the deaths were attributed to girls who were smoking and taking birth control pills and, hence, had strokes. There was also a case of a girl who was in a car accident the day of her vaccination, but because the death happened within 24 hours of administration, it had to be listed as a potential death due to vaccine. Our doctor assured us that the vaccine was safe and that he had given it to both of his daughters, so we closed our eyes and trusted him…and handed him our daughter’s arm.
Last week, my daughter received the final Gardasil shot in her series and, once again, I closed my eyes when she was injected, as lots more information has become available in the year since she started the series. Internet searches reveal thousands of posts from mothers desperate to connect with other mothers of injured daughters, possibly due to the shot. Social media networks host hundreds of groups with thousands of disturbing stories about adverse reactions. Last week, a national NBC story that originated in Dallas discussed the continued controversy about Gardasil. Other reports include a study that discussed a statistically significant difference in the number of cases of severe arthritis in young women given the vaccine versus those who were given a placebo.
I pray that my daughter’s current injury in her left leg, since last week, is attributed to kick-line dancing (and it probably is). I have never had this much anxiety over a vaccine! I truly hope that in the next two years, when we will be considering the shot for my younger daughter, I will still be a believer in an ounce of prevention, but until then, I remain skeptical.
Lisa Vanella is newsengine lead for Euro RSCG Worldwide PR.
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