Jab-bing at hysteria

It was E’s latest set of jabs today. I wasn’t looking forward to it. She had three – one in each leg and one in her arm. One of them was the MMR vaccine.

I doubt there’s anyone of a certain age who doesn’t hear those letters and feel the weight of recent history bear down on them. Now, I know the science was bad, I know the media coverage was hysterical and inaccurate and I’ve watched recent news coverage about the measles epidemic in Wales but still. Just for a second you think, what if something does happen as a result?

There was never any question of us not having the jab. I’m not stupid. It’s just the voice in the back of my head, the one that makes me feel guilty, the one that doubts my every move as a mother, that voice that wants to respond to hysteria.

I think this might be the most dangerous legacy of the whole debacle. A few weeks ago I was reading an article by a reformed anti-vaxxer. At the height of her resistance to vaccinations, she said that she thought her children would be OK because they ate organic fruit and because the really dangerous diseases don’t happen any more. I thought, having finished the article, that she was actually pretty brave. I’ve done some stupid things in my time but I’ve never advertised my past stupidity in a national newspaper.

Anyway, despite my knowing all the facts and despite my wanting E to be safe and protected there was still a frisson of fear in my tummy when the nurse says the letters. I feel like an idiot.

E is now asleep, having cried a bit and then forgotten all about the jabs. The worst part was keeping her still – having discovered that she can, she now wants to walk everywhere.

Incidentally, if you Google the word ‘jabs’ the first thing that comes up is the Justice, Awareness and Basic Support group – an advice group for “vaccine damaged children.” Are they just sitting there waiting to prey on overwrought parents?

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