Sunni Mariah didn’t know that when she snapped this pic of a sign in her doctor’s office in Colorado with the caption, “New sign at my Dr’s office is throwing some serious shade vaccinateyourkids,” it would go viral. But that’s exactly what’s happened, and people are both cheering and chastising the message.
Except Mariah’s doctor isn’t the one who authored the message on the sign. It was actually Dr. Rachel Heap of Australia who, two years ago, wrote the fiery rant that has been ruffling a lot of feathers since Mariah’s post spread across the internet like wildfire.
Dr. Heap is “an intensive care specialist who works in the Northern Rivers region of NSW” and who “in her spare time, politely and respectfully does her best to correct misinformation put out by ‘professional anti-vaxxers,'” reports MSN. While Dr. Heap “admits the tone of her words is a bit different to the ‘polite and respectful’ tone generally used by the Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters,” she also believes education and prevention are at the forefront of her work.
As someone who is firmly pro-vaxx, I applaud Dr. Heap’s message. There are a lot of parenting choices we make, almost all of which affect no one but ourselves and our children. Unless somebody is blatantly putting their children at risk, we have no business bashing their philosophies.
But that’s the thing about not vaccinating. It’s nothing like choosing bottle over breast, organic over non, or private over public schooling. Choosing not to vaccinate is not only choosing to put one’s own children at risk — it is also choosing to potentially expose other people’s families to preventable and oftentimes deadly diseases. And in my book, that is simply not OK.
Vaccination rates are up 12 percent in the United States since 2013, which is a win for science and good news for disease prevention. But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. While the number of people opting to inoculate is on the rise in recent years, the number of people opting NOT to vaccinate their children is increasing as well, up to 4 percent from just 2.5 percent in 2010, reports NBC News.
If anything, this means that not only have messages such as Dr. Heap’s been effective at educating people about the benefits of vaccination, but they are also still necessary today to combat the swells of misinformation surrounding disease prevention.
So here’s a hat tip to Dr. Heap and Sunni Mariah’s doctor in Colorado who, while certainly receiving their fair share of flack for their straightforwardness, are waging the battle against anti-science in order to win the war for public health and safety.