Friday, February 25, 2011

For the Love of Polio

When you have a baby you are inevitably struck by how tiny and fragile they are.  All you want as a new parent is to do right by your child.  You want to provide every possible advantage to set them up for success in all aspects of life.  You want to do everything in your power to protect them in any way that you can.  You will follow the recommendations by the APA to help prevent SIDS.  You will provide the best nourishment you can.  You will insist that anyone who comes within three feet be doused in hand sanitizer.  You will buy toys to provide stimulation and promote brain development.  And you will follow the recommended schedule set by the CDC for vaccinations to protect your child against potentially life-threatening diseases.  Or will you?
Believe it or not, there is a growing trend amongst new mothers to “opt-out” of getting their child vaccinated.  This appears to be more common in affluent, progressive communities; according to an article by MSN Health some areas such as Ashland, Oregon and certain counties in California are showing exemption rates up to 19%.  Why in the world would any sane person make this decision, you ask?  Well, according to these individuals vaccinations contain such horrific ingredients as pig’s blood, mouse brain, monkey’s kidneys, formaldehyde, and even human fetal medium.  If you ask for the list of ingredients in a vaccination, the information will be handed over willingly and you will see that this is actually true.  There are also claims that certain vaccinations can cause autism, though no credible studies have been done to prove this.
I can’t help but wonder if these “well-informed” people have taken the following facts into consideration.  The fatality rate for diphtheria in children under 5 is up to 20 percent.  (Though, to be fair, I do not know the fatality rate for mouse brain consumption.)  Mumps can cause permanent deafness and, in males, permanent testicular shrinkage sometimes resulting in infertility.  Polio can cause paralysis.  Tetanus has a mortality rate of higher than 10%.  Other diseases such as rubella, rotavirus, and measles can cause rashes, fever, joint aches and pains, dehydration, and can lead to potentially fatal complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis, and even death.  Isn’t a little pig’s blood better than the risk of your child suffering needlessly and potentially perishing from a preventable disease?
Yeah, but polio?  Mumps?  Rubella?  No one gets those diseases anymore, you might be thinking.  And you would be right.  Since the polio vaccination was invented in the 1950s, the polio virus has been nearly eradicated in most of the world.  The same is true of many of the other diseases I’ve mentioned.  How did that happen?  Well, people chose to get vaccinated against the disease.  The funny thing about a vaccination is that for it to work properly you must actually get it.  And the more contagious a disease is, the more people that need to be vaccinated to prevent it from spreading.  Take measles, for instance.  The CDC states that if 90 to 95 percent of the population isn’t vaccinated, it is likely that an epidemic of the disease would occur.  So choosing not to vaccinate your child is not a personal decision.  It is a decision that not only puts your child at risk, but puts other children your child comes into contact with at risk, pregnant women and their unborn children at risk, and could lead to a worldwide epidemic.  I’m not sure if I could live with that much blood on my hands.
There is a small percentage of children who legitimately cannot be vaccinated due to compromised immune systems or severe allergies.  In these cases, I can understand opting out.  But, in my opinion, to choose not to have an otherwise healthy child vaccinated because of a tiny amount of monkey kidney is reckless and irresponsible.  You better damn well at least be a vegetarian.  The risks of not “vaxing” way outweigh any perceived risks that getting the vaccinations might carry.  So please, take a deep breath.  Relax.  Stop searching for things to complain about and over analyze.  And for the love of polio, vaccinate your children.


Carla Easley said...

Your baby is absolutely beautiful :)

Kiwikate said...

Lovely to hear such a sane post about vaccination!
Well done!
As a doctor, I read both 'sides' of this discussion with a bucketload of salt and choose to vaccinate as do 99% of doctors. While microbiologists, pediatricians and immunologists immunise their children, I will.