I’m pro-vaccine (for the most part) but sometimes I think I dislike the pro-vaccine movement way more than the anti-vaccine movement. Anti-vax people are just paranoid and misinformed, but pro-vax people seem to be less pro-vax than they are anti-anti-vaxers. The language used against anti-vax people is downright vicious at times, and there is so much fear mongering. Calm down, these people are just trying their best to do the right thing for their children, like any other decent parent. They might not be making the most socially acceptable or logical of decisions, but they are certainly not acting out of malice.
I personally think avoiding vaccines is not the wisest idea in general, but considering how screwed up the US health care system is, trying to figure out truth in a sea of Big Pharma, corporate controlled media, and skewed statistics is no easy feat. Every article has an agenda, every study was paid for by someone who probably has connections with this corporation or that one. It’s not like the government has never been wrong about stuff. I’m not big on conspiracy theories (sooo exhausting!), but I can sympathize with people distrusting the government and mainstream US health care. They both can be corrupt and sucky in a lot of ways. Plus, those who make vaccines have a motive to keep people vaccinated beyond public health…vaccines are a product. Encouraging vitriol about how stupid and evil people who don’t vaccinate are is a great way to get people to pay for said product, so that no one can accuse them of being stupid and evil for not vaccinating! The US is weird in that we advertise medications, vaccinations, and other health care services/products like advertising shampoo, cars, or cat food (except for the person with the super fast voice who lists the side effects at the end, you hardly ever see that in cat food commercials) and we’re very capitalistic about our health care. We cajole asymptomatic young women into getting pap smears they don’t need in order to make a few extra bucks off the insurance companies (Finland doesn’t even start routine pap smears on asymptomatic patients until they reach age 30, and so far they are not all dead from cervical cancer) and many US doctors even hold birth control pills hostage in order to coerce women into consenting to those unnecessary pap smears. Our c-section rate is through the roof, and our maternal and infant mortality rates are absolutely dismal for a developed country. Our health care system is very troubling, that’s for sure. It’s easy to see how people might start to think it’s ALL bad. Sure, Jenny McCarthy might just be going for a money grab, but most parents who chose not to vaccinate their kids are just trying to protect their children from something they perceive as dangerous. They might be misinformed or paranoid, but there’s so much that IS wrong with mainstream health care here that it’s not surprising that people are suspicious. It’s not like vaccines aren’t a product, sold for profit, and it’s not like they’re risk free.
Still, vaccines are amazing technology. I’m sincerely grateful for them. I once had a small run in with a rabid bat (yes, the poor thing tested positive, I’m not just assuming) and had to get the rabies vaccines. Boy was that fun! Seriously though, I’m really glad to not be dead, especially since rabies is virtually ALWAYS fatal. I’m also glad we don’t really have to worry about polio in this country anymore, that sounds so terrifying! Vaccines have done us a world of good. For most people, they appear to be pretty harmless, though there are some extremely serious potential side effects. After encountering my rabid bat friend (RIP), there was no question, whatever risk of a vaccine reaction was worth it in the face of potential horrible Old Yeller situation. For every medical procedure, you ought to weigh the potential risks vs. potential benefits.
Of course, with vaccines we are not just talking about one kid’s health, we have to also keep in mind the fact that other children could be put at risk by a decrease in vaccination, especially kids who are immunocompromised. We have the whole herd immunity thing we rely on. This is a really important thing to consider. I think this is the major reason people get so upset about the anti-vax movement, because outbreaks of measles and such are scary business and the potential consequences are not restricted to the individual, like choosing whether to get your wisdom teeth pulled. It’s easy to freak out and think everyone is in danger because a people are not following the guidelines. Especially since there are so many articles with alarming titles like, “How one unvaccinated child sparked another measles outbreak” and other scary things.
Buuuuut, we are pretty much overreacting. (Thanks, media, for making everything sound way more terrifying and dire than it actually is. You’re always so good at that.) According to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html), as of July 25th, we’ve had 585 reported cases of measles in the US in 2014. This is a record number since we declared measles to be “eliminated” here in 2000, so that is alarming, but…we mustn’t forget what a tiny amount of people that is. Right now, the US population is approximately 318,552,177 people. (http://www.census.gov/popclock/) That’s about 0.0000018% of the US population that has had measles this year. Thankfully, no deaths have been recorded so far. So, out of 318,552,177 people, none of us have died of measles in 2014.
To put that into perspective a bit, an estimated 1,640 children died from abuse and neglect in 2012. (https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/fatality.pdf) If you’re feeling morbid, take a look at these cause of death stats from 2011: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/pdf/leading_causes_of_death_by_age_group_2011-a.pdf ,
So freaking out and getting hostile over the very small minority of parents who choose not to vaccinate their children is kind of a big waste of time, if your concern is the public or pediatric health/welfare. Sure, when I have a child I intend to vaccinate him/her against measles, it sounds thoroughly unpleasant to contract measles and it CAN be very dangerous if someone with a compromised immune system is exposed, but refusing the vaccine does not automatically mean DEATH! FIRE AND BRIMSTONE! THE END IS NIGH! ALL THE CHILDREN ARE DEAD AND MEASLEY AND IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT, FANS OF JENNY MCCARTHY!!
If you’re genuinely concerned about child health or welfare, there are many more causes of death in children that are significantly more of a problem. Let’s put our efforts towards reducing child abuse, unsafe driving, smoking, premature births, SIDS, cancer, gun safety, etc. It seems much more logical to focus on the things that actually are killing kids in this country as we speak, instead of the 0.000018% of the nation’s population that contracted and subsequently recovered from measles this year. Instead of attacking parents for being stupid or selfish, maybe try being reassuring, because these parents are NERVOUS, they’ve been scared away from vaccines. Shaming them won’t make them want to hear what you want to say, and their choices probably won’t affect you nearly as much as you think they might.
TL;DR: Vaccinating your kid is usually a better idea than not vaccinating your kid, for their sake and for the sake of general public health…but, contrary to the crazed online article headlines, it is not the end of the world either way. So no matter which side you’re on, there’s no need to be fanatical about it.
"My response to the “I am not a feminist” internet phenomenon….
First of all, it’s clear you don’t know what feminism is. But I’m not going to explain it to you. You can google it. To quote an old friend, “I’m not the feminist babysitter.”
But here is what I think you should know.
You’re insulting every woman who was forcibly restrained in a jail cell with a feeding tube down her throat for your right to vote, less than 100 years ago.
You’re degrading every woman who has accessed a rape crisis center, which wouldn’t exist without the feminist movement.
You’re undermining every woman who fought to make marital rape a crime (it was legal until 1993).
You’re spitting on the legacy of every woman who fought for women to be allowed to own property (1848). For the abolition of slavery and the rise of the labor union. For the right to divorce. For women to be allowed to have access to birth control (Comstock laws). For middle and upper class women to be allowed to work outside the home (poor women have always worked outside the home). To make domestic violence a crime in the US (It is very much legal in many parts of the world). To make workplace sexual harassment a crime.
In short, you know not what you speak of. You reap the rewards of these women’s sacrifices every day of your life. When you grin with your cutsey sign about how you’re not a feminist, you ignorantly spit on the sacred struggle of the past 200 years. You bite the hand that has fed you freedom, safety, and a voice.
In short, kiss my ass, you ignorant little jerks.”