Signing an agreement to vaccinate your kid and then reneging kinda takes the wind out of your religious objection sails but that hasn't stopped one Detroit mother. Rebecca Bredow, was just sentenced to seven days in jail for being in contempt of court when she failed to vaccinate her nine-year-old son as she had chosen to do per a joint custody agreement with her ex-spouse.
I have several major problems with this case, primarily that it is receiving media attention for the wrong reason. This woman is not going to jail because Michigan law mandates vaccinations - maintenance of adherence with vaccinations are made at the state and local level as requirements for school. She is going to jail because she flat out refused to obey a court order enforcing an agreement which she signed. If you are going to argue that vaccinations "goes against my beliefs" how is that only now an issue? Tailoring your beliefs to suit your needs sounds more like a power struggle in a domestic squabble than religion.
As has been happening, social media hysterics abound and the anti-vaccine propagandists will misrepresent the judge's decision, label her a big-pharma shill and paint her as a villain. Ms. Bredow is not of the belief that vaccines are responsible for autism but clearly, the people supporting her will conveniently claim this as part of their agenda. All one has to do is search her name on Facebook before being exposed to a landfill of conspiracy theorists, mother earth lovers or whatever hack group that has joined the fray. Rebecca Bredow is an accidental hero. She is now being treated as a martyr in what very obviously had zero to do with vaccines and more to do with not wanting her husband involved in making decisions for their children.
Ms. Bredow has claimed that she is not against vaccines "until they started grouping them together" which is when she felt she was against them. If you look at the vaccine schedule, vaccines are almost always grouped together whether it's receiving three at a time or more or less. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports the current vaccine schedule and there is no evidence that validates the utility of delaying or modifying this schedule.
I don't want to sound insensitive or for one second appear that I'm discounting the pain some parents have endured dealing with sick or dying children they feel were injured by vaccines. I doubt that vaccines were responsible for most but I'm sure they were a convenient scapegoat - I recognize that sounds harsh. Children are a sensitive issue and feeling in any way culpable for their poor health can trigger defensiveness and a need to find a reason or something to blame.
I have a four-year-old son and I know that I would stop at nothing to protect my child – I get that. I can also understand feeling flummoxed when my right to make medical decisions for my child has to take a back seat for the greater good. My esteemed colleague Dr. Alex Berezow wisely stated, "Your right to be sick ends where my right to be healthy begins." Of course, he is referencing herd immunity which requires a high percentage of immunity in a population to confer protection to those who are not immune (infants, immune-compromised individuals, or those who can't get vaccinated for medical reasons). Ultimately, choosing not to vaccinate your child can negatively impact your community or your surroundings.
I have said this time and again - that it's much more alluring to subscribe to conspiracy theories or buy into conspiracy theorists than to accept the truth – that doctors and scientists want to do right by humanity and our job is not to maim and destroy but preserve and protect. I have no financial conflicts of interest and I don't report to some super secret big-pharma overlord. I'm just a mom who wants to protect the public from con-artists and big fat lies.