There. I said it. This is something that many physicians and other health professionals have been thinking for a long time, and I think it needs to be put out there. If you are not vaccinating your children you are doing them a major disservice and putting them and others at risk for the rest of their lives. So I would like to take this time to go over some of the myths and general foolishness I have heard over the years.
It’s a personal decision
The idea of not vaccinating is a personal parenting decision is malarkey, and betrays a lack of knowledge on how vaccines actually work. You see, when scientists and physicians talk about eradicating a disease, they are relying on a concept called herd immunity. Herd immunity happens when most people in a community are vaccinated from a particular disease. I say most, because there are always going to be some people who cannot be vaccinated, maybe because their immune system is not strong enough to handle the vaccine or maybe because they are allergic to one of the non active ingredients in the vaccine. When most people are vaccinated, it protects those who cannot have the vaccine from developing the disease. However, when only some people are vaccinated the immuno-compromised people are not protected. Here is a graphic showing the basic concept:
A recent example of this would be the measles outbreak in New York. Because it is one of the older diseases, many parents may not be aware of the devastating conequences of measles. It’s an extremely contagious respiratory illness. It’s viral, so no, you can’t just take antibiotics and have it go away. When a child gets measles, a painful rash spreads all over their body. It looks like this:
About 1 in every 20 cases, the child will develop pneumonia. About 1 or 2 children will die from measles out of every 1000 cases. It’s a devastating illness, and something I would hope most parents would want to protect their children from.
I’ve done my research
This also betrays a lack of knowledge. What exactly do you mean by research? I’m quite certain it didn’t take place in a lab and you didn’t receive funding from the NIH. Typically, the “research” being done is reading extremely biased websites, and hearing anecdotes from other anti-vaxx parents. I promise, if shown peer reviewed studies that show a benefit to delayed vaccination or not vaccinating at all, I will have no problem changing my tune. Until then,
Vaccines cause autism
I saved this for last, simply because it’s my least favorite. This fallacy is generally based off of two misconceptions. The first is a debunked journal article. I’m not going to go into that part in much detail other to say that it’s not considered to be “good science” and is ignored by the mainstream scientific community. The other misconception has to do with a statistical error. Many of you have probably heard the term, “correlation does not equal causation”. But what does that actually mean? Here is a simple exercise to try:
All the most famous serial killers in the world (think Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, etc) wore white socks. The act of wearing white socks made them serial killers. What’s wrong with this logic?
The answer is of course, that just because they all wore white socks (a correlation) does not mean that was the reason why they were serial killers (a causation). So how does this relate to autism and vaccines? The specific vaccine that was pointed to “causing” autism was the MMR vaccine (which protects from the nasty measles we talked about earlier). The typical age MMR is given is 12 to 15 months. This is right around the time that parents tend to notice the classic signs of autism. Generally, if the child is not showing verbal communication skills, such as babbling or saying words, by 15 months, that’s when mom or dad takes them to the doctor. So what happened was, a child would get the vaccine at 12 months, the parents would notice these autism signs soon afterwards, take the child back to the doctor and get an autism diagnosis. Does that mean the vaccine caused the autism? Did Ted Bundy kill people because he wore white socks?
Some more vaccine facts
I focused pretty heavily on measles, and I would like to give some other information on diseases that most parents vaccinate their children against:
I hope that this article can shed some light on the importance of vaccinating your children. And if my words don’t convince you, maybe her’s will. This is what anti-vaccination looks like: