I’m just going to say right out, I know little of the science of vaccines. It’s not something I ever cared or thought all that much about; unti recently I just accepted vaccines as normal and healthy. As with most kids, I got jabbed with the needle whenever the nurse came to school. It was usually a horrible experience because inevitably someone, a classmate or my brother, would always punch my newly poked arm and it would hurt like the dickens for the rest of the day, but I never questioned it.
I like vaccines; I like kids not getting polio or malaria. Up until about a year ago, I thought anti-vaxxers were nuts, I still think some of them are.
But this last year I have began to have my doubts, and it has nothing to do with any arguments anti-vaxxers have made. The only anti-vaxxer (although, he seemed more skeptical than outright opposed) I’ve read is Vox and none of what I’ve read of his has been a definitive argument for why not to vaccinate, he seemed argue more that parents should have a choice.
I’ve really been beginning to have doubts about vaccines because of those in favour of them. However nuts some of the anti-vaxxers are, the insanity of the pro-vaxxers dwarfs them as the sun does the moon. Over the last month, I have bombarded with pro-vaccine propoganda from what little MSM I read, from websites, from FB, and without fail it sounds like a deranged religious crusade:
“Those ignorant, fearful anti-vaxxer heathens need to see the light of the vaccine and accept the salvation of the injection. If in their superstitious ignorance they fail reject the teachings of the divine Department of Health, then we, the noble, holy, chosen of SCIENCE! shall force the truth into them for their own good. To herd immunity be the glory, the honour, and the power, forever and ever. Amen!”
I exaggerate, but barely.
Anything being pushed with this much unhinged fervor automatically triggers my skepticism reflexes. When and why the hell did the pro-vaccine crowd become such raving fanatics?
The tyrannical nature of the pro-vaxxers is the first thing to get to me. If vaccines work then why the need to force others to get them? Just get your own kids vaccinated and they’ll be fine. Let other parents worry about their own kids. The only reason to try to force them on others seems to be that a doubt that vaccines work, but if you doubt vaccines work, why force them on others?
Now, herd immunity comes up whenever I see that bit of common sense mentioned. Sure, there may be a few kids with cancer who may not be able to get vaccinated, but these are 0.02% of the population. Statistically they hardly exist. For such rare cases, I’m sure a reasonable solution can be found that doesn’t require mandatory, non-consensual, government-forced injections. Maybe have a school wing or a few classrooms where the unvaccinated are not allowed, or a private tutor for the child with cancer, or whatever. However its done, I’m sure the one in 5,000 case can be accommodated on an individual basis.
As well, what happens to those cancer kids, if/when the government decides that having cancer is no excuse for not vaccinating? The precedent of the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few will already have been set.
Second, what is with the simple labels of pro- or anti-vaccinations? You’re in either in favour of every vaccine under the sun or some anti-vaxxer nutjob. I don’t know much about the science of vaccines, but even I know there is no single vaccination, as the plural ‘s’ implies. There are many vaccines and each vaccination would carry a different cost-benefit analysis.
In my barely-considered opinion, the polio vaccine seems like an unarguable good. I can’t see me not giving it to my child. On the other hand the case for the HPV vaccine is much more suspect. The vaccine prevents a virus that is easy to avoid (ie. don’t be promiscuous) and very rarely (about 0.009% of the time by my quick calculation) causes cancer. So, I’d question if the HPV vaccine is worth the potential risks.
Yet when I’ve seen people question the costs and benefits of the HPV vaccine, or even just say parents should be allowed to choose whether to inject their teenage daughters with this, they are automatically lumped in as an insane anti-vaxxers who want to flood the streets with malaria-infected, polio-crippled children. This is even more insane when you realize that herd immunity is even more meaningless with respect to an STD.
Third, I keep seeing the argument that there is no risk to vaccines and they are entirely safe. That can simply not be true. There is no such thing as completely safe when injecting foreign chemicals into your body. Even good-ol-fashioned Tylenol can have some severe side effects, and a vaccination is literally injecting a benign form of a disease into yourself. The constant denial of risks makes me suspicious. To be fair, organizations like the CDC seem to be reasonable in this respect (“low-risk”, “negligible risk”, etc.) but almost every pro-vaxxer propagandist completely discounts any risk at all.
Finally, the types of people I see going all insanely pro-vax are also the types of people I see who are very pro-immigrant and pro-illegals. If vaccinations are so important to public health and herd immunity, why do these same pro-vax people support importing hordes of unvaccinated third-world children? There seems a strong disconnect there, which makes me question their reasoning and motives.
The manichean worldview of the pro-vaxxers combined with their messianic tones, lack of nuance, and logical contradictions makes me strongly wonder about the efficacy of vaccinations. Why the need for such insanity if the position is so supposedly self-evidently true?
None of this is to say anti-vaxxers are all paragons of reason. The science does not seem to support vaccines causing autism (although…). We probably have more autistic kids because parents are having children later in life. But even people like Jenny McCarthy seem calm and reasonable when compared to the ravings of the pro-vaxxers.
I can’t say I’m anti-vaccines, I’m still on the pro-reasonable vaccine side, but it would be accurate to say I’m anti-anti-anti-vaxxers.
If the pro-vaxxers sounded sane, I would never have even thought to question vaccines; if/when I had kids, I would have just done whatever the doctor said was best without a second thought. But given the unhinged rantings of the pro-vaxxers, I now have my doubts; if the truth is so obvious, why the need to hysterics? If/when it comes time, I’m going to be doing my research and may even decline some of those vaccines of lesser import.
Surely, I’m not the only one who’s been forced into questioning vaccines due to the unreasonableness of the pro-vaxxers. Why do people act in ways that are so destructive to their stated intention?