Sunday, March 23, 2014

Public Enemy Number One

Anti-vaxI do my best to live and let live. I understand that not everyone is going to agree about everything, and not everyone is going to agree with me. I’m passionate about the things I hold true, but I try not to beat people over the held with it. Each to their own, right?
However, there are times when things can harm others. One of my hot-button issues is marriage equality. I do not take kindly to those who would deny people I love and value the same rights that are afforded to the rest of us. Are people physically harmed by laws that prohibit same-sex marriage? Perhaps not, but they are emotionally and psychologically harmed, and they are being treated as “less than” the rest of us. I simply cannot abide that, and I will do whatever I can to ensure that these laws go by the wayside. It’s only a matter of time.

My other hot-button issue—probably my main one—is vaccines, which will come as no surprise to many of you. I’ve gotten riled up about this before. Well, I’m even more riled up now. In fact, I’m loaded and ready for bear.

I’m downright pissed.

We are starting to see more and more reports of preventable diseases in our country and in the world. Let me reiterate that. Preventable diseases. Outbreaks of measles in New York and British Columbia; outbreaks of pertussis in California and the Midwest; outbreaks of polio in Africa and Pakistan; twenty years after measles was considered to be all but eradicated, it is once again endemic—meaning that it exists there, rather than is a rarity—in the United Kingdom.

This is insane. This has to stop. These are life-threatening infections that can be prevented by vaccines. The worst case scenario is that people will die from these infections, and that happens all the time. Other consequences of infection are deafness, blindness, sterility, and brain damage. There have been over two dozen studies consisting of hundreds of thousands of children that show that there is absolutely no connection between vaccines and autism, but there are still those who cling to their irrational and unscientific beliefs that vaccines are harmful. The initial study that posited a connection, by Andrew Wakefield in the UK, consisted of twelve children. TWELVE. His study was shown to be fraudulent and unethical, it was retracted by the Lancet, and he was stripped of his medical license. He was working for a rival vaccine company, and he completely fabricated a bowel disease caused by the MMR vaccine.

THAT is the guy that these people are still following. An unethical shill for a company that wanted to market an alternative vaccine.

I’m all for letting people live their lives as they see fit, but that doesn’t apply here. Because these decisions aren’t just impacting your child. They are impacting the newborn next door who is too young to be vaccinated. They are impacting your elderly mother who can’t fight off infections as easily. They are impacting the guy you see at the grocery store who is battling cancer. They are impacting the person with AIDS, the person who had a lung transplant, the person with rheumatoid arthritis, the person who had a bone marrow transplant to fight breast cancer or testicular cancer or leukemia. YOUR selfish and uninformed decisions have the potential to literally kill people, including people that I love.

So I am done with this “I understand your viewpoint” bullshit. Because I do NOT understand your viewpoint. You are basing your decisions on a discredited study, you know nothing about legitimate science or how the immune system works, and you have decided that your thousands of hours of Google research of fringe websites and alleged scientific papers that are not peer-reviewed is somehow the equivalent of people who have spent years in school learning about how these things actually work and who have spent their lives trying to find a way to prevent others from dealing with these diseases and their consequences.

I am past the point where I am willing to say that your concerns about vaccinations have merit. They don’t. You don’t understand the first thing about medicine or vaccines or the immune system, and you suck. You are willing to put your own child at risk because of your delusions. Even if your child caught one of these preventable diseases and survived, why would you subject them to the fever and potential trauma that can come with these diseases? Why would you take that risk? Why would you knowingly subject others to such a risk? This is monstrous. You are a threat to public health and you are a threat to a healthy society.

If you want to continue on this ridiculous pathway, go live in a commune in the woods or on an island and take your chances there. Stay the fuck out of our public spaces and deal with your infections on your own. I pity your kids, and I wish I could charge you with criminal negligence. But we’re not at that point yet, so just go away and stop infecting people because you’re too rock stupid to understand how serious these infections are and how safe the vaccines are.

Dr. Paul Offit has said that things probably won’t change until we start seeing a comeback of these preventable diseases, and people once again understand how serious they can be. I’m sorry to say that it seems that he is right. We are now seeing a resurgence of these infections, and it is up to the rest of us to push back against the ignorance and say that we value the societal contract. If we are to be a part of society, we need to understand that our actions have consequences. When you make that misinformed decision for your own child, you are making it not just for them, but for many others.

I am to the point of shunning and public shaming. I don’t want to be around you if you choose to ignore vaccines, and I will not hesitate to point out that you are ignorant about medicine, immunology, and microbiology. The tide is turning against you, anti-vaxxers. As more people come down with preventable diseases, we will blame YOU.

Count on it.