Kristen O’Meara, a teacher who lives just outside of Chicago, decided not to vaccinate her three daughters when they were born, citing belief in scientifically unsound anti-vaccination “research.” She has since changed her mind after her daughters (who are all under the age of seven), and she and her husband, contracted rotavirus, a painful illness that can cause diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration.
“I put my kids at risk,” she said in an interview that aired on Good Morning America on Monday. “I should have taken more time to research both sides.”
“I scoured everything I could possibly find about why vaccines might be harmful. I became pretty convinced.”
A recent study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that the number of doctors encountering parents who have refused their child vaccines for non-medical reasons has increased from 74.5 percent to 87 percent between 2006 and 2013.
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The thing about O’Meara’s technique (scouring everything about why vaccines might be bad for you) is that it conveniently leaves out the settled science that vaccines are actually not bad for you, and are, in fact, good for you, in that they effectively prevent a host of diseases. The act of looking for information isn’t inherently honorable—anyone who scours 4chan for information about why women might be scientifically worse than men is bound to come out an avid men’s rights enthusiast. Check your research methods, people!
Anyway, O’Meara’s kids are now fully vaccinated and she says she feels guilty for putting them at risk.
“I’m frustrated with the amount of misinformation I encountered when I set out on this journey,” O’Meara wrote in a New York Post article called “I was an anti-vax crackpot—until this happened.” “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.”
Watch the whole interview here.