Anti-Vaxxers are…. Human.

People who don’t vaccinate are selfish, ignorant crazies.
People who don’t vaccinate should be jailed.
People who don’t vaccinate should be sued for negligent homicide.
People who don’t vaccinate need an anti-stupidity shot.
People who don’t vaccinate are spoiled.
People who vaccinate blindly follow the herd.
People who vaccinate are ignorant.
People who vaccinate put their kids health last.

These are just a few of the things I have heard, been told, and read over the past couple days. With the Measles outbreak that we’ve seen, tons of people are now taking a side. And let me tell you, middle ground does not exist. You’re an unfit parent either way. Either you’re blindly following the herd and endangering your child, or blindly following the misguided ideas of a pseudo-starlet. Neither of which is true all the time, neither of which is false all the time. Let’s discuss some misconceptions and myths in the hopes that we stop brow-beating each other into the ground.

Misconception #1: People who do/don’t vaccinate are ignorant.
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to come to a different educated opinion. Just because someone is looking at the same information and comes to a different conclusion doesn’t mean they didn’t look at it. If you ask your doctor, he/she will tell you that every vaccine has risks. In the same way that each medicine has risks, vaccines are not exempt. Yes, serious complications are rare, but they do exist. When we are talking about non-imminent threats parents need to carefully weigh the benefit and risk of every medical decision concerning their children. If they decide that the benefits outweigh the risks, they should proceed with vaccination. Those parents who find that the benefits do not outweigh the risks should forgo the vaccination. We do what is best for our kids. That is the duty of the parent.

Misconception #2: People who do/don’t vaccinate are negligent.
My response to this argument is: knock it off. Attacking each other’s parenting (yes, parenting) choices is really low. We do what it best for our kids. That is the duty of a parent. What is best for someone else’s child may be different than what is best for your child. Medical autonomy and decisions are part of the freedom we enjoy in our democracy. Exercising that right responsibly is key. The truly negligent are those who follow what other people say, rumor, and “general knowledge’ without doing their own research.

Misconception #3: There are no risks to vaccinating/not vaccinating.
There are risks for both. Those who don’t vaccinate aren’t just worried about autism. People who have done their research know there are enough proven risks to vaccinating that insistence on their ignorance on those grounds is poor. Proven risks of vaccinating include: swelling, encephalitis, paralysis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, seizure, allergy, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, high fever (104+), hearing loss, contracting a virus and (extremely rarely) death (as well as many more). People who do not vaccinate should also know that there are risks. The risks of not vaccinating include: contracting diseases/viruses that vaccines help ward off, fever, hearing loss, paralysis, high fever, asthma, cancer, swelling, rash, death and infecting others (among many others). Don’t those lists seem quite similar? That’s because they are. The frequency with which seriously negative consequences are suffered as a result of either choice vary widely. Keeping that in mind, Dr. Sears presents the following numbers as estimates on current averages and the number of vaccines recommended by the CDC. Each child has a 1 in 5300 will suffer a severe reaction to a vaccine by the age of two. (Severe being: Guillan-Barre, encephalitis, shock, seizure, and auto-immune response). Each child has a 1 in 1095 of contracting a severe reaction to a vaccine preventable illness. (Severe being any hospitalization.) This number is raised by the frequency of flu and rotavirus frequency. Most major diseases have numbers in the 1 in 10,000+ range. Neither side can say theirs comes without risks.

Misconception #4: Those who do/don’t vaccinate are leaving the health of their child up to chance.
Many vaccines do not provide immunization. That is why we see people who have been vaccinated still getting these diseases. We also know that vaccine immunity wears off and we don’t know exactly when. Many ‘anti-vaxxers’ insist that getting certain diseases is preferable to vaccination because it then provides lifelong immunity with little risk when exposed at the proper age. Remember your Mom calling everyone else’s parents to see who has chickenpox so you could get it? Rubella and Mumps are extremely mild when contracted prior to puberty and provide lifelong immunity. This can be one incentive that some parents feel to postponing vaccines. Anti-vaxxers would sometimes criticize those who vaccinate as leaving their child’s future up to chance when they are more likely to have serious repercussions. Likewise, those who don’t vaccinate are accused of taking no measures to protect their children and other children from the chance of spreading said disease. However, many of those who don’t vaccinate or postpone vaccination breastfeed, do not put their children in daycare or school, and therefore reduce their child’s risk of contracting/transmitting a virus significantly.

Bottom Line: I’m not a doctor. I’m just a Mom, albeit on the crunchy side of medicine. Yesterday, one of my best friends told me that I am selfish and ignorant. I am not an ‘anti-vaxxer.’ I am postponing some of my son’s vaccines and forgoing a couple. But there is no word for those who don’t vaccinate in a timely fashion or choose to eliminate one or two. There is only pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine. This dichotomy is forcing people to take a side they are not fully convinced of. By discussing ways to reduce risks reasonably on both sides more people will vaccinate with confidence when they vaccinate.
My friend told me that I am putting my son’s health ahead of the health of others. Hell yeah, I am. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about other people. I don’t place my son in daycare. I breastfeed him on demand. And if I send him to school, he will be vaccinated fully to protect others. It’s not so cut and dry. The more you know, the more complex the issue becomes. What should never be up for debate is whether or not parents are competent human beings, competent parents for vaccinating/ not vaccinating.
There is no name for what I am but human.


Sources and Inspiration:
Anti-Vaxxers- Sue/Charge Them
Negligence of Anti-Vaxxers
Jail Anti-Vaxxers
Stupidity Shot
Dr. Sears On Vaccines
Dealing with Anti-Vaxxers

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