Three San Diego children who were too young to be vaccinated were part of a measles outbreak last month. Where do you suppose these babies got the measles? I’m guessing they were exposed to the offspring of the parents who thought better of vaccinating their children – nine of whom were also part of the outbreak.
Isn’t it great to live in a country so rife with civil liberties that one is often left without them? I not only have the civil right to decline vaccination, I also have the civil right to insist that ignorance onto my children in the form of a disease that can cause pneumonia, brain swelling, and death. What’s more, you can’t stop me from exercising this civil right even as it snatches yours right out from under you — and your children.
As if that weren’t enough freedom, I can also expose my diseased child to everyone else, including those too young to be vaccinated and the few whose vaccination provided no barrier. We could say the San Diego outbreak was the fault of the babies who were too young to be vaccinated, but that’s kind of like blaming the car of the sober motorist for having been in the drunk driver’s path.
Sybil Carlson has two young children who are immunized against some diseases, but not measles. What’s so special about measles? She did a little reading between shots. “Natural” parents subscribe to the unproven belief that vaccinations are linked to autism, neurological disorders, and asthma.
A couple of Freudian slips come to light when these parents start talking. “I refuse to sacrifice my children for the greater good,” Carlson says, but admits, “I cannot deny that my child can put someone else at risk.” Before anyone jumps up in her defense, let us put a second ear to what the woman is saying.
Carlson’s child could no more refuse a shot in the arm than the child could demand it. The child isn’t putting anyone at risk; she is – and a damned cheeky thing it is to place your child between yourself and your critics while at the same time wailing a battle cry on that child’s behalf. It is no accident that Ms. Carlson refers to her offspring as “children” and refers to your offspring as “someone.” She won’t take her children to the altar of immunization, but is more than willing to subject “the greater good” (your children) to the disease her child could contract.
During last month’s outbreak in San Diego, parent Linda Palmer wanted to send her son to a party where a child with measles would be in attendance, in hopes her son would get measles. Years earlier, her son contracted chickenpox at a party where she knew children with the virus would be in attendance. She declined his invitation to the measles party because she thought he might be ostracized if he became ill.
Ostracization or brain swelling. You can see the dilemma.
It’s hard to imagine a parent who, even after going to all the trouble of educating herself about the side effects of vaccines, could still be ignorant enough to rank the severity of measles with chickenpox. That’s like comparing cancer to the common cold. Selective armchair research of questionable Internet content is community-contagious and leads to the kind of thinking that has resulted in clustered outbreaks of measles, mumps, and pertussis.
I am reminded of an episode of BBC’s How Clean Is Your House? The environmentally friendly woman of one particularly filthy household insisted those sent in to clean her abode use only chemical-free products. She was opposed to bleach, but not the copious amounts of insect life, mold, salmonella, and Escherichia coli (E. coli) with which she shared a residence. It became clear in short order that she had, for years, used her opposition to chemicals to justify her laziness.