Kristen O’Meara was once a proud member of the anti-vaccination movement. She says she looked for anti-vax books and websites that would support her belief vaccines could be linked to autism, allergies, and ADHD. She even located pediatrician who let her skip vaccinations for her three children. As she recalls:
“I got absorbed in the anti-vax culture and secretly thought of myself as being superior to others. Parents who vaccinated didn’t have my special investigative skills. As far as I was concerned, they didn’t stop to question and were just sheep following the herd.
“Speaking of herds, I knew that the great reduction in diseases had a good deal to do with clinical vaccinations. I just thought: ‘Let someone else take on the risks of vaccinating.’ It was a very selfish viewpoint because I had the best of both worlds. I knew that my daughters had a low risk of contracting vaccine-preventable diseases — precisely because vaccination is effective. I had faith in herd immunity while questioning its very existence.”
And then all three of O’Meara’s children contracted rotavirus, which has been known to kill young children. Rotavirus is one of the immunizations O’Meara had decided to not give to her kids. So she did more research and what she found startled her:
“Then I started researching the intentional bias of the anti-vax reports. I wondered what would happen if I looked for confirmation of the efficiency and safety of vaccination. I read several books by Paul Offit, the co-inventor of a lifesaving rotavirus vaccine — who’s an indispensable purveyor of truth — as well as ‘The Panic Virus,’ a logical, comprehensive argument for vaccines by Seth Mnookin.”
Now Kristen O’Meara is now an outspoken advocate for childhood immunizations:
“I’m frustrated with the amount of misinformation I encountered when I set out on this journey. But in the end I am thankful, for the sake of Natasha, Áine and Lena, that I was able to reassess my position and accept information that is based on well-established, sound scientific evidence. If I can make even one anti-vaxxer think twice, speaking out will have been worth it.”
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