I’m not anti-vaccine. The data proving the benefits of vaccines since their invention is overwhelming. They save lives. They make lives better, easier, more illness-free. They are the magic bullet of eliminating illness and should be compulsory.
Oops, hold on there. What? Compulsory? Magic bullet? Really? This seems to be the summary of the narratives and, worse, governmental edicts removing choice. Compulsory, government mandated things are not new in our lives as “free” Americans, and more all the time. If I jump up and down and yell about our shrinking freedoms, I immediately fall into the camp of extremists who seem to want the good old days of 1776. Well, I do live in the real world, I know I can’t remove government mandates for things like compulsory car insurance and health care any more than I can invent a time machine. But I can speak up when I see a line being crossed, and ask others to question it with me.
The “it” in this case is the apparent trend toward universal and broad-swath vaccination of the population, particularly infants and children. Yes, I have children. Yes, I personally have had a ton of vaccinations in my lifetime (I was in the US military for 4 years active duty). I’ve kept up on my various Hepatitis shots and boosters. But I don’t do flu shots, after simply getting ill every time I did do them (free at my workplace!). I mention these details to illustrate my basic value system with this sort of thing – choice. I make a best-effort attempt to understand the pros and cons, ask my doctor, do some research if I feel it necessary, and add in my personal experience to make a choice. Underlying these choices are what we all do whether we realize it or not – a risk vs. benefit assessment. In the case of Hepatitis and its various strains, and the fact I have a lifestyle that may increase my risk of exposure, I keep up on my vaccinations.
As a parent, I want to do similar things for my children until they are old enough to make their own risk-benefit assessments (and support their decision’s consequences). In a culture obsessed with child safety and the resultant overprotection of them, you’d think parents would be universally protective of what gets injected into their children. It seems the opposite is true – we are almost universally UN-questioning and accepting of what the vaccine makers and the government tells us. This is bad enough in itself, but then it goes beyond that to a kind of orthodox religion. If I decide not to get the full cocktail of chemicals injected into my small child, I am vilified. No reasoned discussion, no scientific facts, only reactionary hyperbole. The vaccine fanatics say “the science is settled” and won’t discuss it or even look at any current or new data. Try it sometime.
I can go on and on, but I know nothing I say or any facts I try to reprint will sway anyone who has already picked a side. I would like to encourage a thought though. If there’s even a small chance the science isn’t settled, that some vaccines, or even ONE vaccine, presents a risk to a child’s long term health (I’m looking at you, Autism), shouldn’t we all stop and ask ourselves why we are allowing pharmaceutical companies and the government to force us to vaccinate our children on their terms instead of ours? From there, we could take the discussion into risk/benefit territory (for example, should we really vaccinate against an illness that is a non-life-threatening one when there is a risk – how ever small – of causing permanent long-term health problems for the child?), to freedom of choice territory, to government corruption territory (look at the top campaign donation and lobbyist sources sometime). I mean, come on – this is our children we are talking about, our future, the future of the country and ultimately the human race. Risk that to save a week or two in bed with some temporary marks on the child’s skin? Really?