Mom Discovers New Close Friend Is an Anti-Vaxxer & Doesn't Know What to Do

Twenty20/maginnis

Mom friends
Twenty20/maginnis

The number of measles cases throughout the US is still growing, unfortunately. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,182 cases of the potentially deadly disease -- most of which involve children -- have been confirmed across 30 states. It's no wonder why many parents are on high alert right now, especially in areas with low vaccination rates, and why the divide between pro- and anti-vaxx parents continues to grow. Such was the case for one mom who recently discovered her friend is staunchly anti-vaxx. Now, she's worried about letting her friend's kid around her own -- and moreover, she wonders how they'll even stay friends.

  • The mom recently wrote into Slate's parenting advice column, "Care and Feeding," where she hoped to get some guidance about her predicament.

    As the woman explained in her letter, the two moms met fairly recently, bonding over their delivery room horror stories and "the stresses of working mom life."

    But her new friend certainly has shown her share of what the letter writer describes as "quirks." Among them, she's an acupuncturist, who "thinks that alternative medicine is apparently the thing that will cure all the ills of modern society, like obesity."

    The last time the two hung out, the letter writer noticed her friend had some peculiar reading material. 

    "I noticed a book about vaccines, and when I looked up the title later, it turned out to be advocating a modified vaccination schedule where you skip some recommended vaccines and delay others," she continued. 

    Immediately, this raised some alarm bells.

    "I am a pro-science, pro-evidence-based-medicine person. So I guess I have two issues: 1.) I have to ask her if her kid is vaccinated before he hangs out with my kid again, right? How do I broach this topic, and what do I do if the answer is that she’s doing this middle-of-the-road route of getting some vaccinations but not others? And 2.) even if her kid has all his vaccinations, can I keep being friends with someone who is basically a professional medical quack?"

  • Advertisement
  • The columnist, Rumaan Alam, ultimately advised the mom that only she can decide who to be friends with.

    Care and Feeding
    Slate

    But as far as her concerns about letting her son play with the (possibly) unvaccinated child, Alam suggested to the mom that the best thing to do would be to consult her doctor. 

    "I suspect what she’ll tell you is that you cannot realistically control with whom your child comes into contact, and therefore the most important step for his health is to make sure that he is immunized," Alam wrote.

    But as to whether or not she should be friends with someone who holds different beliefs? That was a little tougher to figure out. Here's Alam's response:

    "The second question you pose is harder to answer. Parenthood can be a lonely gig (hilarious because you’re never actually alone) and sometimes you just need to be around someone who is going through something similar to what you’re going through. These people sometimes seem like friends, but I like to think of them as being more like colleagues. After all, your only real bond with many of them is the shared endeavor of being parents."

    So in the end, his advice on that one was ... well, no advice at all. 

    "You’re the only one who can say what principles matter so much to you that they determine with whom you spend time," Alam noted.

  • As opposed to Alam, the commenters weren't afraid to hold back. In fact, many had some REAL issues with befriending someone who is anti-vaxx.


    "Being different from friends is okay if the difference is irrelevant," one commenter wrote. "When the difference has repercussions, especially that may endanger your child, then being friends is not ok. You have to decide if your child is endangered, and you have to know with certainty that your child is not absorbing the kookiness from your friend. Your kid has to know that she is not playing with a full deck."

    Someone else added that that the whole vaccination conversation should be pretty simple.

    "'Are you against vaccinating kids?'" the commenter wrote. "'Yes. I am.' 'You're an idiot and we can't be friends.' That was easy. Why do some people make life so hard?" 

    Another person pointed out that alternative medicine isn't always something to scoff at -- but not vaccinating your kid? Well, that's a different story.

    "The vaccine question is far more important than the Chinese medicine angle," a third person wrote. "Letter Writer should politely ask the friend if she has vaccinated her child, and if not, stop seeing her."

    Too bad we'll probably never get an update on what happened here. (But my money's on it not ending well.)

vaccines