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Opinion: I used to be opposed to vaccines. This is how I changed my mind.

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Just a few years ago, I was opposed to vaccines. I felt that the risks of measles were being exaggerated when periodic outbreaks would occur. I refused to get my tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis booster when my doctor offered it, and I declined the flu shot every year. I particularly regret the decision regarding the flu shot. As a hospital employee at the time, even though I worked in an area where I did not come into contact with patients, if I had caught the flu during that time, I could have spread it, putting others at risk.

The measles outbreak underway in Clark County, Wash., and the cases that have been reported in nine other states this year are a reminder for me of just how far my views have shifted. In previous years when I rejected vaccination, I would have thought that I didn’t have to worry about measles because I lived a healthy lifestyle, or that the news was just being used to scare people into vaccinating unnecessarily. I can’t help but think back to my old beliefs and how much of my reasoning was based on misleading or false information. But my experience is also a reminder that education and compassion can be valuable tools in the fight against anti-vaccination sentiment.

My reasons for being against vaccines stemmed mostly from misunderstanding the ingredients in the vaccines and how they worked. People who tried to persuade me not to vaccinate told me about the many ingredients in vaccines, such as aluminum salts, polysorbate 80, and formaldehyde, but they did not explain the purpose of those ingredients. They advised me to read the vaccine package inserts without giving me an understanding of how to correctly interpret the information. I had also become convinced that many vaccine reactions were overlooked for various reasons and that they occurred much more frequently than documentation on vaccine safety showed.

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://arc-anglerfish-washpost-prod-washpost.s3.amazonaws.com/public/DQ2OW7BOFEI6TCWTTJNRCPWNHQ.jpg&w=916A child receives a vaccine in a hospital in Belgrade, Serbia, on Sept. 3, 2018. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)

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Click the link below for the article:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/i-used-to-be-opposed-to-vaccines-this-is-how-i-changed-my-mind/2019/02/11/20fca654-2e24-11e9-86ab-5d02109aeb01_story.html

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