April 26, 2009

To vax, or not to vax...

Is it really a question?

What I mean is, vaccinations for your kids!

Now...I know when we get older, we might sometimes say fuck a flu shot and just carry on with our lives. Personally, for me since the flu virus itself regularly says fuck a flu shot, I haven't bothered since my last one in 2002 about, AFTER I'd gotten the flu anyway a year earlier. Call me irresponsible.

But the thing is, I wasn't a baby when I said that, I was more or less a teenager. I've been lucky enough not to have the flu since but I know if I catch it again it's pretty much my fault for not getting the shot (and the flu virus's fault for being a bastard). I've always felt that vaccines were important for babies--we're talking polio vaccines, chickenpox, mumps, measles, whooping cough...which are horrible and potentially fatal at ANY age you catch them, but especially for young children (and older adults as it turns out). Also not vaccinating your kids or yourself, you risk infecting others as well (yes, maybe even the ones with the shots).

So why am I talking about this. I do respect a parent's right not to vaccinate their kids, we can't force you to do it of course (or I don't think you can). But, as a semi-regular reader of Bad Astronomy, I've noticed that the Anti-Vax movement is something that gets Phil Plaitt's goat severely, and with good reason.

The problem I have with the anti-vax movement--that is, people like Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey and their ilk--is their lies. It's one thing not to want to vaccinate your kids, fine, that's just your prerogative. But not wanting to vaccinate your children because of claims that it leads to autism? Despite no medical evidence of this? Well that's just a bold faced lie.

Check out what he says about the growing anti-vax movement in Australia. Babies are dying from diseases that could be prevented with a shot. One article Plaitt links to is a woman claiming that no one dies from measles or whooping cough--which is ANOTHER bold faced lie that's just easily disproven with a few historical and/or medical documents. What you'll find is...babies dying from whooping cough.

Other than that lie which is really disturbing, the autism one bothers me too. April is, as I said earlier in the month, Autism Awareness month. I haven't gone into it as much as I'd like because I've really not had much involvement in autism, including people with autism. The thing is though, the "omg don't vaccinate your kids because they'll get autism!" for me is really horrible because I think it's just sending out a really, really bad message, to both people with autism and people without. I can imagine how devastating it is to find out your child is diagnosed with the disorder but using it as a scare tactic and claiming it's brought on by vaccines is just extremely wrong. As for what actually DOES cause autism, it's not entirely concrete but there is evidence that it is NOT childhood vaccinations.

Note: If you want to say, "well what DOES cause autism if it's not vaccines?!" I beg you to reconsider that. I'm far from an expert on autism but from what I understand, while there are multiple PROPOSED causes for autism (rather than "uhhh we don't know", that isn't quite right), vaccines have been repeatedly proven to NOT be one of the causes.

Back to the "these diseases don't cause death!" well...really I don't have anything to say about that other than yes the fuck it does. I've been really disturbed by the anti-vax movement for some time but it seems like it's reaching a fever pitch and with it spreading to other countries, frankly I'm a little miffed and afraid. The last thing I want to see is young children and babies dying from chickenpox and measles, all of which could be prevented with an early vaccine. There is not one concrete cause for autism from what I can gather, but depriving your child of life-saving vaccines isn't the answer either I'm afraid.

(Now, if you're like me you'll end up catching shingles later on in life anyway, but again such can be prevented)

(Really though, shingles fucking sucked. You think chicken pox was bad? Try scratching blisters)

(Longest fucking month of my life dude)

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