“If my kid can’t bring peanut butter to school, yours shouldn’t be able to bring preventable diseases.”
I’ve seen this statement floating around both Facebook and Twitter for a couple of months, and it’s only ramped up since the Disneyland measles outbreak.
I find myself a bit confused, though. Stick with me as I sort my thoughts out here.
It appears to me as if those making these statements would like to drag us parents of food allergic children into the vaccination debate when we don’t belong there.
To be sure, the vaccine debate is heated and one that plays out even in the food allergy community. I guess I’d like to clarify to make sure that those passing this statement—and others like it—around aren’t singling us out.
If my kid can’t bring peanut butter to school, yours shouldn’t be able to bring preventable diseases.
— Kim (@kkjordan) January 28, 2015
To clarify: your kid can’t bring peanut butter to school because someone born with a life-threatening allergy attends your school, and your school (and/or district) made a choice to protect that child (and others) to keep allergic children alive while they are at school. (This, by the way, is a move I applaud. I always love it when children are protected by the adults entrusted with keeping them alive. It’s kind of a favorite of mine.)
Back to the statement comparing food allergies with vaccines. Please note, this is where I really feel like breaking out in a, “You talkin’ to meeee?” moment. Because my son is fully vaccinated. Your logic doesn’t hold. You are drawing a comparison that doesn’t make sense.
Granted, I have my own thoughts about all the vaccinations and their efficacy. Many of my thoughts are informed by real-life experience sitting in round-table “war-room” discussions with epidemiologists from the CDC. I’m not 100% sure about the efficacy of the vaccines, but that did not keep me from fully vaccinating my son.
Imagine my surprise when it seemed as if you were addressing me, and parents like me. Because it was not my choice for the child I bore to have life threatening food allergies. But it was my choice to fully vaccinate him.
Let’s boil it down to this: vaccines are (currently) a choice given to parents in the United States of America. Whether you like it or not.
My son’s life threatening food allergies are not.
I know many families of children with food allergies that, when they can, vaccinate their children fully. By the way, that “when they can” caveat is for those who cannot vaccinate because their child may have a life threatening reaction to the vaccine itself because of the ingredients in the vaccine.
Let’s pretend for a moment that this statement is a blanket statement of, “we do our best to keep all children safe at school, which I feel should include vaccinations to keep those who cannot be vaccinated, safe.” Okay. I get that statement. Maybe we could reword the tweet to not draw the ill-fitting comparison to food allergies. Would that be fair?
There’s no need to draw us in your debate when we don’t belong there. With things like major food recalls and keeping our children safe from anaphylactic reactions on our minds, being drawn in to a debate like this just won’t work for us.
We don’t have the time or bandwidth to deal with silly assumptions or correlations. Our goal is to protect all of the members of our community, too.
Whether you believe it or not, you’ll have to take my word for it.