I’m pro-vaccination. I feel like it’s important to get that out of the way from the get-go. I believe in science and in the expertise of medical professionals who dedicate their lives to researching and implementing best practices when it comes to saving children from preventable diseases. I also believe there are a few anti-vaccination misconceptions that must be addressed.
First, pro-vaxxers are not victims of some delusion that vaccinations are 100% effective. We know they’re not. Our doctors know they’re not. Our government knows and recognizes they are not. But we also know that a 90% chance of immunity against a deadly disease is far better than a 0% chance.
Secondly, pro-vaxxers are not blind to the possible side effects of vaccinations. As with any medical treatment — and I mean any, including treatment of a simple cold with over-the-counter medication — vaccinations carry risks, from mild to severe, something the medical community and our government again recognize and are honest about. We have evaluated those risks and, in conjunction with our doctors’ counseling, have agreed that the risk of our children dying from a deadly disease is far greater than that of them dying from a side effect.
Furthermore, we know that herd immunity is not bullshit. It is a very real and very important part of protecting the weaker among our population, including the elderly, infants, and those who cannot be vaccinated for unique medical reasons. We also know that the decreasing number of people getting vaccinations thwarts herd immunity, putting these compromised individuals at risk. Just look at the news for proof.
Children are getting very sick and dying of communicable diseases for which there are preventative measures. The worst part? The parents of many of these children are pro-vaxx, but their kids are either too young to have all their immunizations or medically can’t get them. They rely on herd immunity to live, and its breakdown is causing great harm.
Finally, we know that “vaccine shedding,” correctly termed “viral shedding,” is nowhere near as dangerous as anti-vaxxers would have us believe. That’s because only certain vaccines carry the potential for viral shedding. For a vaccine to shed, it needs to contain a live virus that can reproduce. As many vaccinations contain attenuated, inactive, or conjugate viruses and bacteria, they do not shed, which means people who are vaccinated pose very little to no risk to those who are not, which is in stark contrast to those who are not vaccinated, as these individuals most definitely pose a risk to the vulnerable in our population.
With that said, not vaccinating children isn’t a choice that only affects your family. It has dire consequences for everyone’s families, including mine. So unless your kids cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons, I can only think of a few reasons not to vaccinate your children:
1. You plan for them to live in isolation for the rest of their lives. If you’re going to start a commune filled with unvaccinated people who make their own food and weave their own clothing and have zero contact with the outside world ever, you probably don’t need to vaccinate your kids.
2. You plan to wrap your kids up in a giant bubble for eternity. If a life of solitude isn’t your jam, you could always fashion an impenetrable globule around your children to protect them from rubella. Sure, they might not have any friends, but at least you saved them from that .000001 percent chance they’d die from getting the MMR.
3. You plan to douse your children in bleach. If you believe proper hygiene and diet is the best way to prevent communicable disease, dedication is the key to success. This means no fewer than seven bleach baths per day and, oh, don’t forget to feed them lye sandwiches as well. It’s best to tackle these things both inside and out.
4. You believe “those things” only happen to other people. If you’ve got a knack for stopping bad shit in its tracks by adopting a that-stuff-only-happens-in-third-world-countries attitude, I’d say you can forego vaccinating your kids. Seems legit to me.
5. You somehow know more about disease prevention than people who dedicate their lives to its research. Don’t have a medical degree or nearly a lifetime of investigating deadly disease prevention under your belt? No worries! If you think you know better than the people with advanced education and thousands of hours of experience in this field, or if you’ve come across some blog posts with 100 percent non-peer-reviewed nonsense in them, you’re good.
6. You can magically protect your family with positive thinking. If you’ve had success stymieing misfortune by sharing memes with gratifying platitudes on social media and meditating in fields of sunflowers, I say forget about vaccination — light some patchouli and bring on the healing up in this mofo!
7. Total world domination is your goal. Perhaps your intent is to wipe out as many people as possible by potentially passing on preventable diseases in an effort to make herd immunity your bitch. If so, you definitely shouldn’t vaccinate. Nothing says you mean business quite like biological warfare.
Still don’t want to vaccinate your kids? I guess it’s your right to put your own family in danger. But just remember: When you do, you’re making that same choice for my family, too.
©2015 Lola Lolita as first published on Scary Mommy