Is there anything more contested today than vaccinations? Both sides fight their point tooth and nail and the most vigilant seldom budge from their position.
Tara Hills, the mom from Ottawa, Canada didn't believe in vaccinations but a recent measles outbreak in her area made her rethink her stance. Hills wrote about her decision in a post for the Scientific Parent Blog, titled "Learning the Hard Way." She wrote the blog from quarantine after all 7 of her children became sick with pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.
Hills found out her children had whooping cough right after she had talked to her pediatrician about getting them caught up on their vaccinations. She wrote that her first three children were partially vaccinated on an alternative schedule and the other four were not vaccinated at all.
"We stopped because we were scared and didn’t know who to trust," Hills wrote in her post, claiming concerns that vaccines were part of a conspiracy as one reason to avoid them. "Were we unwittingly doing greater harm than help to our beloved children? So much smoke must mean a fire so we defaulted to the ‘do nothing and hope nothing bad happens’ position."
When the measles outbreak hit, Hills began to worry that her children were putting other children at risk, like her sister's toddler or her 34 week old baby in NICU.
Unfortunately, Hills' children became ill before they could be vaccinated. "For six years we were frozen in fear from vaccines, and now we are frozen because of the disease. My oldest two are getting better, the youngest four are getting worse and fast," she wrote. "Tonight, the baby started ‘whooping’. I did the right thing going to the hospital when I did. I can only hope this painfully honest sharing will help others."
Dr. William Schaffner says stories like Hills' can reach parents who won't listen to the mainstream medical community.
"She’s representative of many young, educated parents today, who are out there seeking information and...find themselves whiplashed and they have information and it’s conflicting and they can’t resolve it," said Schaffner. "Their default position, is 'Ok I’m not going to do anything.' Which is as serious a choice as doing something."
The founder of the non-profit Voices for Vaccines, Karen Ernst applauds Hills decision to speak up about her change of heart.
"I just feel so much gratitude for parents, who not only change their minds and admit they are wrong...but do so publicly," said Ernst. "I think of them as the prodigal son [and] that we're so glad they have decided to vaccinate their children. that's a great gift for communities."
Is there anything that would change your mind about vaccines? What would make you stop or start believing in vaccinations?