This week, after news broke that New York City was experiencing its first measles outbreak in years linked to so-called "anti-vaxxers," I published an infographic on my blog, Mommy Greenest, which broke down the numbers associated with vaccines. I prefaced it with these three facts:
In 2013, the Journal of Pediatrics found no connection between vaccines and autism.
In 2011, the Institute of Medicine found no connection between vaccines and autism.
In 2010, Andrew Wakefield, who first proposed the connection between vaccines and autism, was stripped of his medical license for fraud.
I did not expect an overwhelmingly positive response -- the last time I had written about vaccines in context of Jenny McCarthy joining The View, the negative comments from those opposed to vaccinations came fast and furious, right out of the gate.
But after the post was called out by Paige Wolf, author of the book Spit That Out: The Overly Informed Parent's Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt, I was immediately drawn in to a Facebook conversation that made me question my perspective.
Paige prefaced her link to my post with a statement that she was joining me in "coming out" as pro-vaccine. "I have always laid low about this because it is so controversial in the holistic and green parenting communities, but... it is time for the facts to be presented," she wrote.
Which made me wonder: Can you be green and pro-vaccine?
Although many environmental advocates applauded my post, saying they were relieved to see a pro-vaccination stance from a green blogger, there were just as many who were vehemently opposed. They stated that they felt "shamed" by pro-vaccination parents who felt that the anti-vaccination movement was putting their kids at risk.
And they shared a vehement mistrust of the medical system and the government.
As I responded to the comments, I tried to convey that I empathized with these anti-vaccine parents. I know that parenting decisions are not made lightly -- all of us simply want to make sure our kids are as healthy as possible. But I also tried to convey the importance of assessing credible scientific information in making those decisions, and having the courage to change your mind if the evidence contradicts your original stance.
I believe that we can still support environmental health while remaining pro-vaccine. Isn't the green movement about questioning preconceptions, seeking out good science, and making better decisions?
I think it is. How about you?