Public health experts are celebrating some good news this week: Rubella, a contagious virus that can cause serious health defects
in unborn children, has been eliminated from the Americas. It’s the
first region of the world that the World Health Organization has
officially declared to be rubella-free.
We’ve all heard the recent news that diseases like measles are making a comeback in some parts of the U.S. thanks to some parents decision to not vaccinate their kids (or to vaccinate them on a different schedule than what doctors recommend). Vaccine rates remain pretty high overall (although the U.S. is far from first place), but super-infectious diseases like measles only require a bit of complacency to rear their ugly viral heads.
Anyone needing further reminder of just how effective vaccines have been at saving lives need only look at this infographic by Leon Farrant:
As Seth Mnookin puts it, vaccines have become “victims of their own success."
What do I mean by that? Thankfully (Jonas Salk FTW!), almost no one in my generation knows anybody with polio, or any of a host of other horrible diseases. But I worry this has made their threats seem distant, giving us a sort of complacency or "generational amnesia” for things that are actually really freakin’ dangerous. In fact, my video features a story about scurvy, another forgotten disease, that rings disturbingly true today.
Vaccine fears are not new. They didn’t start with Jenny McCarthy or Andrew Wakefield or the completely fraudulent claims of vaccines causing autism. They actually go back to 1796 when Edward Jenner tested the first smallpox vaccine. But to refuse them, to deny their life-saving importance in this day and age, in a nation where science has allowed us to have a quality of life never before seen in the history of human civilization, that is the worst kind of privilege.
When we protect ourselves and our children with vaccines, we protect everyone around us. As Eula Biss says, vaccines are “based on people voluntarily using their bodies to protect other vulnerable people.” They are one of the most altruistic and friendly things we can do to aid our fellow humans. Let’s not forget that.
In a study of 95,727 children with older siblings — including children whose older siblings had autism spectrum disorders — “Receipt of the MMR [measles, mumps, rubella] vaccine was not associated with increased risk of ASD, regardless of whether older siblings had ASD. These findings indicate no harmful association between MMR vaccine receipt and ASD even among children already at higher risk for ASD.” So can we at least start to move on from these groundless and harmful fears now?
Me:*minding my own business, cleaning the crumbs out of the sandwich toasting oven*
Ignoramuses at Subway:*talking about how they'd never vaccinate their children, because, autism*
Me:Excuse me, but I couldn't help overhearing you talking about autism. I happen to be somewhat of an expert on the topic. I have Kanner's syndrome.
Me:You don't know the proper name for classic autism, but you've somehow solved the medical mystery of what causes it?
Me:Listen. Let's just say that we live in some parallel universe where the entire medical community is wrong and Jenny McCarthy is right. Okay? Let's just say there's any chance that autism and vaccines have anything to do with each other. So what you're telling me is that you'd rather go through the pain of losing a child to some totally preventable disease that no one's heard of since the Oregon Trail than have a child like me?
Me:Do you even understand that that's what you're saying about yourself and your priorities by being against vaccinations?
Me:Because, if you honestly feel that way, I hope to God you never have children.
I don't.. I just don't understand what people dislike about anti-vaxxers? It's their choice to get sick should they be exposed to it?
Because they’re not just exposing themselves, they’re putting other peoples’s lives at risk. Some incredibly vulnerable people cannot be vaccinated and if a person choose to be un-vaccinated, then continues to be in a public places (like schools or DISNEYLAND) while contaminated with a disease they might not be aware they’ve contracted yet, a person who cannot be vaccinated - like a CHILD, infants, elderly person, or other immune-compromised persons (LIKE KIDS WITH CANCER) could catch what they have and THEY COULD DIE!
Plus, most anti-vaxxers only hold that position because they think vaccines cause autism - WHICH THEY DON’T. The SINGLE doctor who said they did was stripped of his medical license because the information he put out concerning the link between vaccines and autism WAS FRAUDULENT. They are basing their position on one asshole doctor’s lies which have been completely decimated by better doctors and accurate science.
I think the Penn and Teller video puts it best and I strongly suggest you watch it if you don’t understand the concept of herd safety and vaccines.
But the short of it is, people who chose not to vaccinate are not making a choice just for themselves and their children, they are literally putting other people’s lives in danger BASED ON A LIE. And even IF, even IF it was true that vaccines cause autism (which it’s NOT), to say that you would rather your child potentially develop a deadly or debilitating disease (because that’s what polio and measles are - deadly or debilitating diseases), OR pass a deadly or debilitating disease on to SOMEONE ELSE’S child than have autism (which is not deadly and certainly a much more livable condition that BEING CRIPPLED BY POLIO) - is incredibly selfish and unbelievably stupid.
Anyway, that’s my last word on the subject. I have no tolerance for people who are so unfeeling as to not vaccinate. They are endangering their children and others unnecessarily. I can’t believe anyone would rather have a dead kid than one with autism.