For those of you who don’t know, I was a rubella baby. I came with the full complement of symptoms, vision loss, hearing loss, congenital heart issues, and learning disabilities. I’m luckier than some, but not as lucky as most. Lucky isn’t everything either. I still can’t drive. I still wear a hearing aid, a scleral shell, and my eye is still clouded by a cataract. I still live with the chronic pain of a surgical scar. I cannot do geometry. I would love for these things to change. My independence has been compromised. And that independence was compromised by measles. I get really angry when I think about the fact that there could be future generations with more people who have to live like I do because someone was selfish enough to compromise our herd immunity.
Because of the fact that my life has been changed by infectious disease, I am a strong proponent for immunization and vaccination.
According to Forbes, there is an outbreak of measles in Wales, a disease which thanks to herd immunity we had almost eradicated until the MMR vaccine Autism panic in the late 1990s.
I entirely understand people fearing that their children will have autism. I understand that it is a hard life, not just for the children, but for the parents. I’ve worked in preschools teaching Early Childhood Education.
But it is also my understanding through the hard work of many scientists, that the MMR vaccine is not linked to the causation of autism.
It isn’t just because of my disabilities that I am a strong proponent for the use of vaccination, it is also because of my history with terminal illness ,and with the future generations that will come after us.
When my father was alive, his condition made it so that so much as a common cold could have killed him at his worst. A close friend has cancer, and if she is exposed to anything so much as a sneeze during her time in radiation and chemotherapy, her immune system won’t be able to fight it off. By not vaccinating, people aren’t just compromising the lives of the future generations of children, but they’re also deeply threatening the lives of people fighting to live. The choice to fight cancer or HIV or leukemia is a brave one, but in order to fight it, people need protection. If I was sick as a child, it was my mother who took care of me, because there was no way we would have exposed my father to my sickness. Ever.
Let me reiterate: I was not around MY OWN FATHER when I was sick because we know it would put HIM at risk. If I couldn’t be around my parent, you shouldn’t be around PERFECT STRANGERS who could kill with germs.
Putting your child with no immunity in front of my second mom with cancer makes me want to fucking scream. The deep lack of thinking, the lack of research, the lack of caring for others, that is what really makes me angry.
Immunizing our children is a sign that we understand that the world is not just about US. It is about the larger community. It is about those with terminal illnesses who want to survive, it is about the pregnant women who want healthy lives for THEIR children, and it is about protecting the future generations from diseases which we had already eradicated.
I don’t want the return of polio. I don’t want the return of Spanish Influenza. I don’t want the return of German Measles.
The anti-vaccination movement is dangerous to the future, it is dangerous to those who need our protection as a society, and it is dangerous because no matter what, misinformation WILL come back to bite us in the ass.
Do your research. I do not believe for one second that the pediatricians I have known throughout my life would deliberately have exposed me to risk for YET ANOTHER disorder or disease. Don’t put the rest of the world at risk.
Being on the spectrum is hard. I know many people who are. But there is so much more risk to the vaccination dialogue than just autism. Lives are at stake. Futures are at stake. The ability for a person to be independent is at stake.
So to paraphrase Patrick Henry: Give me Herd Immunity or Give Me Death.
Children will die. Don’t let them. We have the technology to save lives.