It absolutely infuriates me that there are people out there right now refusing to vaccinate their children. It is neglect, plain and simple. I truly believe that the government should compel all citizens to be vaccinated against all preventable diseases.
Do you know what polio is? Seriously. Maybe you don’t, because you’re young, and your parents are young, and you don’t read much. Polio was the scourge of American children throughout the 1940s and ‘50s. That shit would paralyze you and kill you dead. Back in its heyday, 35,000 cases were reported annually. Let that sink in for a moment.
The polio vaccine was introduced in 1955. Ten years later there were only 61 cases of polio. The last naturally occurring case of polio in the U.S. was reported in 1979 (in an Amish community- they don’t vaccinate because they're crazy... come and get me, Amish!). The last imported case was reported in 1993. So, yeah, we pretty much beat it.
Then there’s smallpox. Are you afraid of smallpox? No, because it’s gone. We don’t even need to vaccinate against it anymore, because we stomped it out in the U.S. in 1949, and worldwide in 1977. That’s right, vaccines have completely eradicated smallpox.
So why do we still have pertussis, chicken pox, hepatitis, and a host of other diseases, ranging from inconvenient to deadly? Because of gullible people who believe celebrities like Jenny McCarthy know more than scientists. For the last time, people, vaccines do not cause autism! That “theory” was based on a falsified study. One fraudulent study. Every other study has shown no correlation between vaccines and autism. And- this cannot be stressed enough- the only one that did has now been debunked.
I know someone who knows someone (sorry, I can’t get more specific, just in case “someone” reads this) who believes that vaccines are a government conspiracy. Honestly. This person believes that a portion of vaccines actually infect patients because… I don’t know, Obama? Whatever. Horrifying, right? Oh, did I mention that this person is a parent? And their child may very well be sitting next to yours in a classroom one day, because the parents can claim a religious exemption to get out of vaccinating.
Now, let’s talk flu shots. Flu shots do not give you the flu, or a cold. If you know someone who caught a cold shortly after receiving a flu shot, guess what? That person needs to do a better job of washing their hands, and learn not to touch their face. The flu vaccine contains inactive, or “dead” DNA from the three strains of the flu that you’re most likely to be infected with each season. They cannot come back to life and mutate you into a Human Flu, because this is real life, not X-Men. If you know someone who got the flu after getting a flu vaccine… First of all, ask for something in writing from their doctor, because that’s most likely bullshit. But if they really did (and I do personally know someone who did), this is because the flu shot only protects against three strains, not the three hundred other ones floating around out there.
Anecdote time! I worked with a girl who refused to get a free flu shot (on company time, no less) because she insisted that it gave you the flu. I directed her to all sorts of scientific literature, but she would have none of it. She contracted the Swine Flu. She deserved it.
And if you think that the flu isn’t dangerous, please know that although cases are underreported, the CDC estimates that between 3,000 to 49,000 Americans die from the flu every year. Die. Want another anecdote? A friend of a friend died from it this season. She was a healthy single mother to three children, two of whom were infants. Infants who will never know their mother, because she couldn’t be bothered to get a stick in the arm at Target for a lousy ten bucks.
So why am I so riled up about vaccines? I shouldn’t care what other people do, should I? The dummies die from diseases, and as for their kids, well, they had stupid in their genes anyway, right? Not quite. There’s still the whole concept of herd immunity. I’m not vaccinated against smallpox, but I don’t have to worry, because there’s nobody out there to catch it from, see? And babies don’t get shot up with every vaccine right out of the gate. In fact, babies don’t get vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox or hepatitis A until they’re a year old. They depend on everyone else in the community to be vaccinated, and therefore unable to spread it to them. The problem is, the herd isn’t immune anymore.
In 2009, there were 20,480 reported cases of varicella-zoster (chicken pox) in the U.S. My 10-month-old son was one of those cases. Just a few weeks shy of immunity. And he gave it to my immunocompromised friend. If I knew who infected him, I swear, I would press charges. As far as I’m concerned, that’s two counts each of attempted manslaughter, depraved indifference, and wanton disregard for public safety (yeah, I watch a lot of “Law & Order”). Luckily, they’re both fine now. In fact, 20,478 people are fine… Two died. That is two too many.
When I was a child, there was no vaccine for chicken pox. I never contracted the disease. When I was in my mid-twenties, I heard that there was a vaccine available, and I had to go to three different doctors’ offices to track it down. If you’re an adult who’s never had chicken pox, I urge you to get vaccinated immediately. Chicken pox is a lot more serious for adults- it can lead to cerebellar ataxia, encephalitis, myocarditis, pneumonia, Reye's syndrome or transient arthritis. If you contract chicken pox while pregnant, it can cause birth defects or life-threatening infections in the fetus.
If you’re still not convinced, please follow all the links peppered throughout this post. And after that, if you still don’t believe in vaccinations, do the rest of us a favor and stay the hell away, would you?