Yes, it is possible to be an advocate for immunization policies and immunizations and be a real person. It is possible to be in favor of immunizations without being paid for your opinion. You can be a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, and aunt. You can even be childless and be an immunization advocate.
So, why is it so hard for people opposed to vaccines to believe?
Take me, for example. I have two kids. I do not spam their image and details all over the internet because, as they get older, we all value keeping their lives private and safe from strangers. Also, I do not need to validate my existence based on them. I am their mother but I don’t need to share our trials and tribulations, successes and failures, ups and downs with the world. If you are my friend on Facebook, you have seen my lovely children. They are truly lovely people, inside and out. Healthy, happy, active, intelligent. They are perfect, in my eyes. They are fully vaccinated and, for the most part, have experienced great health throughout their lives. Before we started getting flu vaccines yearly, we did all get H1N1 in 2009, not vaccinated. We had it one at a time, which was hard. Because I was not working, I was able to care for us all. Other than the couple of days I was nearly dead (literally), we did okay. The children’s father took care of us while I was sick. Thankfully, we have been vaccinated for flu five years in a row, now, and these have been tremendously healthy five years. Before the rotavirus vaccine was routine, my oldest had that as a baby. That was the catalyst for me becoming a vaccine advocate. We are incredibly blesses to live in a country where most people vaccinate and these diseases are rare.
So, why is it so hard to imagine an average American mother could spend a lot of time online advocating for vaccines? I get accused of being paid to do this because some people cannot fathom I would do it for free. There was a time when I was a volunteer with a marvelous organization called Within Reach. I specifically was associated with their Vax Northwest group. I learned about Vax Northwest and asked them to please come to my town with their Immunity Community project. I felt that we needed them badly because immunization exemption rates, at local schools, are well above 10%. And, they are also involved with breastfeeding and nutrition and developmental screenings and education, all of which I am also passionate about. Now, we did get a small stipend to attend meetings but I have never been paid to post online nor have I ever been paid to talk to parent groups or work at local festivals or meet with my legislators or talk to the media or be interviewed by local papers or National Geographic or run Facebook pages or write for blogs. I have been a stay at home mom for a long time and this is just one of my many hobbies. I am highly skilled at multi-tasking and am able to make meals, keep my kids happy and healthy, make sure my home is clean, play with my kids, exercise, take care of pets, and have a social life AND chat online! I am a chatty Kathy. I was named well.
I have no ties to pharmaceutical companies whatsoever and never have. In fact, to qualify for a 2015 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award, I had to prove I have no ties to industry whatsoever. I am just a volunteer vaccine advocate because it is the right thing to do and vaccines do work.
I will be honest. The more people challenge me on this shill issue, the more it makes me dig in and advocate for vaccines more. The more they call me names, the more it fires me up to advocate for proven health measures that keep babies alive. The more they post personal information about myself or my friends, the more it makes me know that this is the right hobby for me.
So, yes, I am a real mother, I have real children, the are really vaccinated and so am I. No, I am not paid to post. The only people I know of who are paid to post work for “natural health” websites or Age of Autism. Otherwise, I have never seen any proof whatsoever that anyone is paid to post about vaccines. I am pretty darn sure most people who post against vaccines are not paid to do so.
As always, remember to use your thinking skills when it comes to making healthcare decisions.