Vaccination is a sensitive topic on the parenting scene. Anti-vaxxers have a very loud voice and big agenda when it comes to arguing against vaccines. Although the science is clear, anti-vaxxers have spread fear and beat their drum the loudest. Despite the fact that the CDC has determined that vaccines do not cause autism (and other researchers have found a link to antidepressants and autism), anti-vaxxers continue to ignore facts and shout over substance with their feelings on vaccination. In California, a state with some of the highest rates of unvaccinated children, it’s wealthy white families who choose not to vaccinate their children: “The percentage of kindergartners with state-issued personal belief exemptions doubled from 2007 to 2013, from 1.54% to 3.06%.”
What does this mean?
In developing countries and poor neighborhoods, vaccination is essential to survival. People who do not have access to health care rely on vaccinations to improve their odds of literally staying alive. The wealthy, white anti-vaxxers are not sympathetic to the life or death odds of “others”. Dr. Jack Wolfson, an Arizona cardiologist and anti-vaxxer, said this about his decision not to vaccinate his kids: “It’s an unfortunate thing that people die, but people die. I’m not going to put my child at risk to save another child,” Wolfson said.
What? Let’s back up for a second.
The reason why vaccination is so successful at eradicating deadly disease is twofold. First, you have the majority of people vaccinated against an illness – let’s use measles as an example. No one wants to get the measles, but many Americans are privileged to be vaccinated or otherwise protected by the heard (the heard is the vaccinated majority).
According to the CDC, “Worldwide, an estimated 20 million people get measles and 146,000 people die from the disease each year—that equals about 400 deaths every day or about 17 deaths every hour.”
Meanwhile, the number of children who die from autism every year: zero.
There are many people who cannot be protected from measles through vaccination. Namely infants under 1 year old, who have not received the vaccine yet. Infants who are exposed to measles are at the highest risk, followed by unvaccinated pregnant women and the elderly.
For argument’s sake, let’s say vaccines did cause autism (which they do not). But even if vaccines did cause autism, which outcome would you prefer for your child: autism or death? And, what are you saying about autistic children if your greatest fear is that your child may “become” autistic instead of dead? Autistic children are living, breathing children. They have challenges, but they are alive.
To say you’ll refuse to vaccinate and rely on the herd because your concern is only for your child’s safety? That’s selfish. And I don’t think it’s the kind of world you want your children living in – a world where people only care about their own safety and well being, and disregard millions of other lives.
The reason why white, wealthy people don’t vaccinate their children? Simple: it’s a grotesque sense of entitlement and privilege. Only wealthy people have the privilege of denying life-saving vaccinations because if they’re wrong – if their child becomes gravely ill – they have the resources to access the highest quality health care money can buy. They don’t need to vaccinate their children because their children are already insulated by the herd and by their financial resources. They mistakenly think their wealth is a superpower, but their money doesn’t make them immune to disease.
There’s no big government conspiracy with vaccines. The reason the government wants you to vaccinate children? Because children are the most vulnerable. Their lives are most dependent upon immunity and the herd.