Dear Hudson Valley Parent Magazine, Part 2

Hopefully readers will remember that several months ago I posted a draft of a letter to Hudson Valley Parent Magazine, a local parenting magazine that can be picked up free pretty much everywhere in the Hudson Valley, including doctor’s offices and schools and anywhere families go. The magazine had published an article in support of the debunked idea that vaccines cause autism. Rather outraged, I felt it was my responsibility to write to the magazine and inform them of the current state of the research and the dangers of continuing to perpetuate this myth.

The magazine doesn’t publish letters to the editor so I wasn’t sure if anything would come of it. I sent the letter to the editor, who replied quite quickly. She posted my letter, along with a letter from a local pediatrician, on the website. She also requested an interview so that she could write a follow up to the article. The interview appears in this month’s issue of the magazine. Although short, and perhaps unlikely to undo the damage of the original article (and, I think, not as good as the letter I wrote), I am thrilled that the editor agreed that this was important enough to include in the print edition of the magazine.

This experience has been very valuable to me. I usually clam up and can’t confront people about this sort of issue, because I become fired up and perplexed and feel like I can’t make coherent arguments in support of my position. However, I realized that my target audience wasn’t the “true believers” but parents on the fence about vaccination or simply in need of accurate information. We are never going to be able to convince those who so blindly believe something in spite of overwhelming evidence against it, but I think (or at least hope) that most people are not like that and are simply seeking good, reliable information to inform their decisions. I am glad to contribute to the pool of good information.

In related news, the Institute of Medicine has, after a review of apparently 1000s of studies, once again determined that vaccines are safe and don’t cause autism. Shocker!


2 thoughts on “Dear Hudson Valley Parent Magazine, Part 2”

  1. Alex – In 1976, the swine flu vaccine may have caused some cases of a very rare autoimmune disease called Guillian-Barre, but that was related to that particular vaccine preparation and has not been seen with any other flu vaccines before or since then. As for a causal link, there isnt any data that supports the hypothesis that the flu vaccine can cause Graves Disease. Your parent’s reaction is actually quite normal I think. Despite all logic, data and attempts to convince otherwise, the correlation between the two events elicits an extremely powerful emotional response that is hard to ignore. Its the same response that drives the vaccine-autism movement: Post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this therefore because of this). This is why I argue for the importance of the scientific method – it is way to see things more clearly than emotion and common sense allows us to see.

  2. Thats’s very cool that they were so willing to try and correct their errors. This story also made me think of something maybe a little off topic…but have you ever heard of flu shots being the cause of auto-immune diseases? My younger sister developed Grave’s disease right after getting a flu shot, so my parents are convinced it must be the cause.

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