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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone else had friendships with parents who aren't vaccinating end/become super strained because of all the news coverage/social debate about vaccines and measles currently?

I'm very AP, breastfed both of my kids well into toddlerhood, and my children attend Waldorf, which tends to have a high vaccine exemption rate... so my kids have a fair number of friends whose parents choose not to vaccinate. While my own kids are fully vaccinated, I've tried to (at least publicly) keep a very neutral attitude on the topic to avoid hurting the feelings of my friends who aren't vaccinating since it seemed like their choice mainly impacted their own children. Witnessing the very real fears of my friends who are pregnant, have babies/young toddlers, and children with immune disorders recently, however, has made it harder for me to keep quiet about why I feel vaccinating is a better/more socially responsible choice.

Recently I made a fairly neutral comment on a Facebook friend's public pro-vaccine post and one of my friends who doesn't vax saw it and commented with anti-vax research and got in a huge debate with the OP, despite not knowing the person whose Facebook account it was on, which put a strain on our friendship. Yesterday I decided to finally publicly share my views on my own Facebook and link to Roald Dahl's letter begging parents to vaccinate; I'm pretty sure that was the end of that friendship, but another friend whose children have a primary immuno deficiency thanked me for making the post.

Just curious if anyone else has experienced anything similar. It makes me sad to lose friends who have shared so many of the same parenting values as me (i.e. extended breastfeeding, gentle discipline), but I'm also finding it really hard to ignore what's turning out to be such a profound philosophical disagreement that now is having practical consequences in the form of herd immunity dropping and diseases gaining traction. They think I'm brainwashed/toeing the government line, and I'm worried that their choices could hurt other children who are too young/sick to be vaccinated. It kind of majorly sucks, though, since we do share so much in common that this issue is proving to be so divisive.
 

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The media is definitely polarizing, but this discussion has been polarized for awhile. I started posting vaccine info in favor of vaccinating on schedule whenever I was looking into the issue again before my 2nd baby was born. I actually had a number of friends send me inbox messages thanking me for sharing the info, because they felt like most of what they were hearing was from the other side and they weren't completely comfortable coming out in support of vaccines.

With others, the tension have been high. Some people I'm just used to arguing with and we can argue all day about it without it affecting our relationship. It affects the more tenuous relationships, though. I've lost at least one friend over it. I just totally disagree with some of the accusations she's made, and her beliefs about vaccines causing harm. It's something we couldn't find any common ground on, and our friendship evaporated over that. People bring a lot of baggage to this issue and it's hard to avoid inadvertently hurting feelings even when you think you're being neutral.

I'm sorry this has been a problem for you though. Even when you may be willing to work through the differences, other people aren't always so ready to do that.
 

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I tend to keep it quite quiet among my actual friends. I have several I suspect may be nonvax, but based largely on experience here prefer not to have that conversation with them. Before I got engaged here it world by have even occurred to me there were nonvaxer a in this day and age!
 

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Before I got engaged here it world by have even occurred to me there were nonvaxer a in this day and age!
I have heard this a lot and it's funny to me... I grew up with family members that didn't vax or were definitely suspicious of vaccines. But I also grew up hearing "true stories" about Sasquatch, aliens and castor oil cures for everything. My grandparents listened to Art Bell on Coast to Coast (now George Noory.)
It never occurred to me that this stuff was unusual until I was older.
 

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Hah that's funny! We really had different paths. :) My family are all quite science lovers - mum was a science teacher, dad studied engineering.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I tend to keep it quite quiet among my actual friends. I have several I suspect may be nonvax, but based largely on experience here prefer not to have that conversation with them. Before I got engaged here it world by have even occurred to me there were nonvaxer a in this day and age!
Wow. I wish that were possible. Even before I came out with my own opinions, my non-vax friends would take any opportunity to lecture on why vaccines were bad.

ETA: I ran into one of the friends I was worried was offended by my vaccine FB post today and everything was cool, so I was maybe worrying more than necessary, but we didn't talk about vaxxing. I think maybe what happens is that both sides tend to be more opinionated/vocal on social media than IRL?
 

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Discussion Starter #8

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Holy cow yes! I have a group of friends I've known for a long time that are largely anti-vax. I really enjoy these women, think they are smart, witty, brilliant people whom I agree with on many things, but this one issue just makes my skin crawl. Like I just wish no one would talk about it. I sometimes feel like we are so philosophically different, maybe we just can't be friends. I try to stay neutral, but to my very core I think they are misinformed and putting themselves and others at risk. Of course, they feel exactly the same about me I'm sure. I really don't want to lose friends over this one thing.
 

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Oh my gosh, it lists the vaccination level at one Waldorf school as being as low as 30%. I knew Waldorf had a higher rate of exemptions, but I had no idea it had gotten as high as 70%. I'm so tempted to ask what ours is in the school office, but I'm not sure I want to know.
I have (provax) friends in California, who are now having to add vaccination rates into their school choice decisions (which is hard enough it would seem - complicated schools districts over there!).
 

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I should add as well as my "crunchy" Mom friends (who I don't ask about vaccination), the majority of my work friends are scientists, and there's a bit provax vibe among all of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I have (provax) friends in California, who are now having to add vaccination rates into their school choice decisions (which is hard enough it would seem - complicated schools districts over there!).
The probable rate of exemptions at our school is worrisome, but since my kids are both over 4 and fully vaccinated (and in generally good health) the risk of an outbreak occurring AND them being in the statistically small number of vaccinated individuals who contract the disease is a risk I'm willing to take because there are so many other benefits to their particular school/Waldorf in general that I'm reminded of every day. I'd have to majorly re-evaluate that risk/benefit assessment, however, if I had younger children/was planning on having more.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Holy cow yes! I have a group of friends I've known for a long time that are largely anti-vax. I really enjoy these women, think they are smart, witty, brilliant people whom I agree with on many things, but this one issue just makes my skin crawl. Like I just wish no one would talk about it. I sometimes feel like we are so philosophically different, maybe we just can't be friends. I try to stay neutral, but to my very core I think they are misinformed and putting themselves and others at risk. Of course, they feel exactly the same about me I'm sure. I really don't want to lose friends over this one thing.
This is why I'm thankful that vaccines haven't come up yet in any of my conversations with the parents of my daughters' classmates and only with the parent-friends I made/have kept from when they were toddlers. Noticed your signature, I'm in St. Paul :wink: I moved to MN in 2013 and haven't developed any close friendships with the parents of my kids' new/local friends; we mostly only talk about school stuff/to arrange play dates. The local friends I do have I made unrelated to parenting stuff and are mostly pro-vax.
 

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Oh neat! We just moved a bit over a month ago! Still very much adjusting and finding my way here :)
 

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Oh my gosh, it lists the vaccination level at one Waldorf school as being as low as 30%. I knew Waldorf had a higher rate of exemptions, but I had no idea it had gotten as high as 70%. I'm so tempted to ask what ours is in the school office, but I'm not sure I want to know.
In Michigan, this information is publicly available.

http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,4612,7-132-2942_4911_4914_68361-335711--,00.html

The Rudolph Steiner Highschool in our district has an exemption rate of 56%, whereas the district-wide average is 7%.
 

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In Michigan, this information is publicly available.

http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,4612,7-132-2942_4911_4914_68361-335711--,00.html

The Rudolph Steiner Highschool in our district has an exemption rate of 56%, whereas the district-wide average is 7%.
I've read that Steiner's health philosophy, called anthroposophy, promotes nonvaccination since the diseases are seen to have some beneficial karmic spiritual effect on the child.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthroposophic_medicine#Immunization

So it's no wonder that Waldorf/Steiner schools are places with high exemption rates.
 

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I've read that Steiner's health philosophy, called anthroposophy, promotes nonvaccination since the diseases are seen to have some beneficial karmic spiritual effect on the child.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthroposophic_medicine#Immunization

So it's no wonder that Waldorf/Steiner schools are places with high exemption rates.
We know parents that send their kids to this school. Some - though not all - are scary to talk to. What is even more scary, they are very well off and most have college degrees.
 

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From a herd immunity and public health standpoint....it's actually a good idea NOT to polarize from our non-vaccinating friends. All the studies show that if unvaccinated children are surrounded by vaccinated children they are unlikely to catch and spread VPDs. I'd much rather that than have non-vaccinating parents feeling cornered and herding together in infectious little pockets. I don't think the risks to my children are at all meaningful.
 

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From a herd immunity and public health standpoint....it's actually a good idea NOT to polarize from our non-vaccinating friends. All the studies show that if unvaccinated children are surrounded by vaccinated children they are unlikely to catch and spread VPDs. I'd much rather that than have non-vaccinating parents feeling cornered and herding together in infectious little pockets. I don't think the risks to my children are at all meaningful.
I agree with you, but it really depends on who your nonvax friends are. I have family members that don't vax and we get along and never talk about it. I post provax stuff, they see it and never comment. It's not an issue.

Then I have friends who have been drawn into this "vaccine choice" rhetoric who have been confrontational with me and cut off contact because I'm firmly pro-vax. I'm in favor of school policies (and workplace policies, esp healthcare) with limited exemptions and that's just against everything they believe. It's not a position I'll compromise on, but I don't purposely try to make it political or confrontational.

I wouldn't cut someone out of my life for this issue. Though often the people I encounter who are on the other side (not nonvax families, but those politically involved with anti-vax groups) have a lot of other politics and views that get in the way of a relationship.

There's a certain mindset that goes along with even the benign sounding "vaccine choice" stance.

It's the idea that there's an evil force working to remove/prevent informed consent, when in reality, as Orac is fond of saying, what they are fighting for is misinformed consent. That's troublesome to me. If people assume that because I believe in vaccination policies then I want to take away their rights to protect themselves and their children, it's hard for us to come to terms.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Oh neat! We just moved a bit over a month ago! Still very much adjusting and finding my way here :)
Hope it's going well! I've found Minnesota a bit difficult to make friendships in as an outsider but much better once I began dating someone from Minneapolis and has introduced me to more people. It's a great place for raising kids, and I'm totally in love with my daughters' school even if the vaccination rates are (most likely, I still haven't looked) troubling.
 
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