My daughter was sick for about four months before we finally knew what was going on; before she officially had a diagnosis. And within four hours of my publicly sharing her diagnosis of juvenile idiopathic arthritis, I received the following e-mail:
“Hey, I don’t want to get in your business but it’s been weighing heavy on me. I’m not sure if you vaccinate or not but I’ve seen the damage they can do sometimes causing auto immune disorders, allergies, etc.”
This stranger, without knowing anything else about my daughter’s history, was pointing the finger at vaccines. And while she was the first (and probably the kindest in her approach), she certainly wasn’t the last.
As I have worked to learn more about this disease in the month and a half since my daughter’s diagnosis, I have received no less than 20 emails making similar assertions. And comments on articles I’ve written about our experience do the same.
“Probably from vaccines,” these strangers will say. “This is why we don’t vaccinate.”
The whole thing has rubbed me the wrong way, so I just want to be clear about something once and for all: Vaccines did not cause my daughter’s condition.
You want to know how I know that? Because joint issues plague my daughter’s maternal family line. And she happens to be adopted from a rural Alaskan village of just 80 people. That village has no roads in or out and no hospital or easy access to medical care. I can almost guarantee that her grandmother and great aunt, who I’m told both had childhoods of near crippling joint pain, absolutely weren’t vaccinated.