Big Billy Goats Gruff

IAS trollWhen I first heard one of the Immunisation Awareness Society’s (IAS) members talking about ‘trolls’ and ‘trolling,’ a vision of a dirty, pale green-coloured, wart-faced, long pointy-nosed monster hiding under a bridge came to mind.

What I did not realise at the time was how true this vision was when it comes to an Internet ‘troll’ – which I guess is where the name stems from.

They are ‘ugly’ people – as in unkind and cruel – and instead of hiding under a bridge, they hide behind a computer.

Wikipedia’s definition of a troll is: “Someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion, a forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

Over the past couple of months the IAS has been bombarded with ‘trolls’ trying to do what they can to discredit and silence the IAS. They have even stooped as low as to make personal attacks on some of the IAS team members. The trolls have negatively posted those members’ business websites on their Facebook page and created a new Facebook page with the IAS logo and name… these actions I feel are really crossing the line into outright aggression.

This is a free world we live in, and New Zealand is an especially free country, which I am grateful for. The IAS respects those who choose to vaccinate, we just would like to see people make an informed and confident decision when it comes to this extremely important matter. It is one of the biggest choices for our child’s future. We feel that a lot of the information out there – especially on government websites, in doctor’s surgeries and in the brochures given to parents – leave out important data on diseases and vaccines and leave people with a wrong impression. The IAS hopes to clarify this and paint the full picture.

If you imagine an ant looking up at an elephants foot: the rest of the elephant is there, it just can’t be seen. Looking at the Ministry of Health’s vaccination brochure you are given when your child is born is a little like this analogy. You are only getting a small part of the picture to base your decision on. The IAS offers information not readily available to complete the picture so people can then make a properly informed choice.

Many parents only read the official brochure, or go only to the Ministry of Health website, or hear only what their nurse or doctor has to say on vaccinations. Thus they miss a lot of information and can be quite mislead.

I have a personal reason for belonging to the IAS and wanting parents to see the all the information on vaccinations. I believe my first child, who was vaccinated up until 15 months, has been damaged due to the vaccines she received. I feel her body is damaged because of my lack of knowledge of vaccinations and having only this unbalanced so-called “expert” information to base my initial decision on. Although our life is now a daily battle and reminder of how important it is to be informed, my two later children, who are un-vaccinated, are as healthy as can be. I thank organisations like the IAS, their information, support and encouragement for this.

If you yourself trust vaccine effectiveness and safety, you have weighed up the risk versus benefit and have made the choice that vaccines are for you and your family, then we respect your decision. We realise that what is right for one person and family is not for another. Just because I personally do not support vaccinations, it does not mean that I feel like I need (or want to) bully and disrespect those that do. That’s the joy of living in this wonderful country of New Zealand, where we have freedom of choice. This choice – be it for, against or somewhere in between – needs to be upheld and respected.

The IAS has taken the Big Billy Goat Gruff’s stance and is bucking the trolls off the bridge by taking a zero tolerance stance to them and implementing ‘page rules’ on our Facebook Fan Page. We can now concentrate on helping New Zealanders with making this important decision, supporting those who have made the decision not to vaccinate, are affected or have children that have been adversely affected by vaccines.

“Respect doesn’t have to be shiny. It just needs to be wearable.”