Immune to the Facts?
A Letter to Anti-Vaccine Parents
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
You’re catching a lot of flak for the whole return-of-deadly-diseases-that-were-already-abolished thing. And I feel for you. Experts are saying your refusal to vaccinate your children is to blame for new outbreaks of measles and whooping cough — which was never your intention.
All you want is to protect your kids, right? We have so much access to so many different voices that it’s hard to know what to believe. So we make a choice. We go with our gut. We trust that if we follow our instincts, ignore the “popular” choice, and stand resolute in the face of the bitching masses, our kids will be better for it.
And good for you for questioning the norm. Anyone who’s paying attention these days has a healthy fear of big industry, from Wall Street to factory farms to pharmaceuticals. Who wouldn’t be skeptical of a too-tan, Lexus-driving pediatrician who wants to inject your perfectly perfect baby with just the wee-tiniest squirt of poison in order to “protect” her from diseases no one’s seen in decades. Yeah, right, doc. Lemme just bend right over for ya.
I get it. Same thing happened with circumcision, remember? A generation of parents began asking, “But … why? Doesn’t that just cause more problems than it cures?” Eventually, medical thinking shifted, and I bet you’re waiting for that to happen here, too, for everyone else to catch up to what you already suspect — at which point you’ll be lauded as heroes, the Great Protectors of Our Youth. Thing is, when you decide not to slice off your son’s foreskin, no one else is put at risk. No one dies.
Look, I’m as anti-establishment as the next mom. (You thought maybe someone named Starshine didn’t grow up in a counterculture household?) I don’t want the government insisting that my kids or I be injected with anything at all; that’s big-brother creepy. Then again … we do make sacrifices for the privilege of living here. We pay taxes for the common good. We buy collision insurance to protect those driving beside us. And let me be blunt: If I have to share this road with you, you damn well better be insured.
There’s no free ride, folks. You don’t get to keep your kids safe at the expense of other people’s kids. You can’t opt out of vaccinations with the peace of mind that the rest of us are keeping diseases at bay for you. Science is not a belief system. Science is not out to kill us all. And your trash talk about one of the greatest human achievements of the 20th century no longer reads as courage. You sound like those people who don’t believe in evolution. Or climate change. Or the holocaust. Your skepticism is fast becoming willful ignorance, and I know you can’t want that.
No one’s blaming you for making the decision you made when there was reasonable doubt. I’ll even say this: Those who declined vaccines when they lacked intel are probably better parents than the rest of us, who signed off simply because our doctors said to and because we really didn’t want to sift through all that crap on the Internet.
But now you know better. Pick your trusted authority: The Center for Disease Control, the Mayo Clinic, the New York Times all say the vaccine scare is hooey. Doctors are vaccinating their own children as fast as they can peel the back off a Princess Elsa Band-Aid.
So if you’re still holding out because you don’t want chemicals in your kids, then wait ‘til you see what they have to be pumped full of to survive the measles. Otherwise, now’s the time to step up, say thanks for the clarification, and offer your child’s pudgy little arm for the pricking.
It’s not too late for you to be the heroes in this story. And I, for one, will thank you.
Starshine Roshell is the author of Broad Assumptions.