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Dad took blood samples at his kid's birthday party. And that's not the worst part.

There's tons of misinformation about vaccines, aka the reason we no longer live in a world where half of our babies won't live to see age 12. Let's review.

Dad took blood samples at his kid's birthday party. And that's not the worst part.

Vaccines used to be pretty uncontroversial.

People saw the devastation of diseases like polio, smallpox, and tetanus. To the earliest people to get vaccinated, vaccines were miraculous. Child mortality dropped. General health improved. As more and more people got vaccinated, some diseases disappeared from the developed world.

So what happened?

Why did people begin to fear medicines that they once regarded as saviors? The truth is, there's lots of misinformation out there and lots of conflicts of interest on all sides. It's hard to know what the facts are.


Maki Naro put together this comic to address people's ongoing concerns. One of the most shocking panels describes how Dr. Andrew Wakefield (even if you haven't heard of him, you've probably heard of his work — he wrote an article, later retracted, that tied the MMR vaccine to autism and started that whole panic) paid for blood samples at his kid's birthday party. And it just gets shadier from there.

It's important that everyone who can get their vaccines does.

So help out our collective immunity by passing this to a friend, OK?

Fact Check Time!

Here's that original Lancet study (with a big ol' "RETRACTED" stamp). And here's the second Lancet study.

How prevalent are severely adverse vaccine reactions? While most of them are, in fact, about 1 in a million, the CDC notes that the actual rates vary from 1 in 100 (adenovirus) to 1 in 20k or 100k (rotavirus) to 1 in 55k or 250k (yellow fever). However, those vaccines aren't part of the generally recommended vaccine schedule.

That formaldehyde part sounds crazy, right? Does my body actually make that stuff? Turns out, yes. From FDA: "The body continuously processes formaldehyde, both from what it makes on its own and from what it has been exposed to in the environment. ... Studies have shown that for a newborn of average weight of 6 - 8 pounds, the amount of formaldehyde in their body is 50-70 times higher than the upper amount that they could receive from a single dose of a vaccine or from vaccines administered over time."

The panel about mercury has raised a number of questions. Didn't your chemistry teacher tell you that it's an element, so there's just the one kind? In this context, we're talking about two different molecules that contain mercury, and mercury's traits change when it's in a molecular compound. The FDA has a more in-depth explanation of the research on these compounds.

Want more? Check out this other post on vaccines. And for even more, check out yet another post on vaccines and autism. And this one.

True

Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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The joy on his face when he sees what his love is going to look like in 30 years is priceless.

OK, I'm happily and forever alone, but even I cried like a little tiny baby.

This article originally appeared on 5.15.15