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The past was a terrible place–don’t let anti-vaxxers take us back there

I want to maintain Feministe’s proud tradition of attacking anti-vaxers, because these people are the scum of the earth. These are the people who have benefitted most from modern medical advances, but who not only refuse to protect their own children from diseases that used to kill and disable huge numbers of children (and adults, for that matter), who want the benefit of the common good (herd immunity) without contributing to the common good, who fundamentally don’t care if children and adults who can’t get vaccines because their immune systems are compromised die. They are scum.

I fundamentally think that anti-vaxers won’t listen to reason or to evidence, any more than any other kind of science-deniers will. Despite the fact that hundreds of years of organic food and no industrial waste coincided with mass child death and epidemics, they believe that feeding their kids the purest food and water will keep them healthy. They believe that good hygiene wiped out disease (yeah, you know what? By the early 1950s, when polio was still scourging the industrial world, hygiene was well understood. Washing your hands doesn’t prevent polio. You know what prevents polio? The fucking polio vaccine, that’s what.).

Well, fuck them. I strongly believe that we need to ostracize them completely. I already know some pediatricians will not allow children who are not vaccinated into their practice, because they don’t want to put their pre-vaccinated and immuno-compromised patients at risk, and good on them. Schools need to not admit them. We need to make them social lepers. It is fucking criminal that it is the children of anti-vaxers, who have no control over the assholishness of their parents who will bear the brunt of this, just as they will bear the brunt of preventable contagious illness, and we need to ostracize the parents as well, in every way possible.

I mean, look at this asshole:

It’s not my responsibility to inject my child with chemicals in order for [a child who has leukemia] to be supposedly healthy,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s very likely that her leukemia is from vaccinations in the first place.”

“I’m not going to sacrifice the well-being of my child. My child is pure,” he added. “It’s not my responsibility to be protecting their child.”

CNN asked Wolfson if he could live with himself if his unvaccinated child got another child gravely ill.

“I could live with myself easily,” he said. “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.”

He blamed the Jacks family for taking Maggie to the clinic for care.

“If a child is so vulnerable like that, they shouldn’t be going out into society,” he said.

You know what? It fucking well is all of our responsibility to keep each other’s children healthy. That’s what it means to live in a fucking society. And it is not fucking “unfortunate” when children die. It’s a trauma and tragedy from which the family–to say nothing of the child–never recovers. A preventable trauma and tragedy. And you shouldn’t take your child for fucking medical care when she’s sick? Does this asshole, who is a doctor, even hear himself? He is scum. He is evil. And he should lose his medical license for spouting this bilge. I can’t emphasize this enough, no matter what his beliefs may be, VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE LEUKEMIA.

He could live with himself if he got someone else’s kid killed? Could he live with the lawsuit? Or–and I was just talking about this with my father–could he live with that kid’s parents coming after him with guns? My father and I were talking about a news story he’d read years ago about a father who stepped calmly and openly up to the man who had murdered his child and shot to death him as he was being walked into the courthouse for his trial. My dad told me that he completely understood, because as far as he was concerned, if you outlived your children, your life was over. That nothing else mattered anymore, life would just be ashes, and that that was why he wouldn’t care about losing his freedom at that point. Does this asshole think he’s immune to that? That a parent who loses their kid thanks to his bullshit won’t come after him? And I tell you what, I would raise money for that parent’s legal defense.

In better news, here’s a news story about heroic parents suing to keep unvaccinated kids out of his child’s school. Good on him. I hope he wins.

I fucking hate these people. Vaccines and antibiotics are two most important and effective medical advances we have ever made. In the 1940s, mortality for children 1-4 was 250 deaths per 100,000 children, and for children 5-14 it was 100. Now it’s around 25 in the first category and around 15 in the second. Infant mortality was around 50 per 1000 live births and is now around 6. There are pretty horrifying disparities by race and class, but the pattern of decline has actually been the same. Why? Fucking vaccinations and antibiotics are why. Maybe anti-vaxxers find the prospect of learning disabilities and autism more upsetting than that of dead children, but that says far more about them than anything else.

Where are the forced-birthers on this issue? They’re so eager to destroy reproductive choice for women in the name of saving babies–why are they silent when it comes to parental choice regarding vaccines? Surely if “it’s not a choice, it’s a child” were ever an appropriate slogan, it is here.


28 thoughts on The past was a terrible place–don’t let anti-vaxxers take us back there

  1. I like this so much. I can’t express how much I hate, hate, anti-vaxxers. (And loathsome people like Chris Christie — Mr. Ebola Quarantine himself — who pander to them by talking about “parental choice”).

    And the people who are now saying “measles is no big deal”? Fuck that. I had measles when I was 7 years old, and was never sicker in childhood. Dangerously high fever, hallucinations, all of it. I’m lucky I survived. And I had mumps and chicken pox too.

    I think all exemptions for vaccinations should be eliminated except when there are real medical reasons.

    I think anyone whose unvaccinated child is responsible for transmitting an illness should be financially liable for the medical costs, and perhaps should even go to jail if somebody dies.

    I think people like Jenny McCarthy and Bill Maher are scum. (The latter should stop complaining about Muslims and look in the mirror and think about how many deaths he’s been responsible for.)

    I could go on indefinitely!

    1. Seconding everything (except I didn’t have measles because I was fortunate enough be a child in the age of the MMR vaccine). I’m sure there must be people I hate more than anti-vaxxers…no, wait. There aren’t.

      1. So, practically speaking as someone who soon will have two babies and one young child in your household, are you going to have to start interrogating every other parent you meet — at the playground and everywhere else — to make sure they’re not anti-vaxxers before allowing their kids to get anywhere near yours?

        I guess so. How else would you find out?

        And I hope nobody compares this backlash — the recent extent of which actually encourages me — to a witch hunt. Sometimes the dangers are real.

        1. I honestly don’t know. Maybe I’d try to bring it up in conversation? I can’t control whom my kids play with, and I think I wouldn’t try, because no child likes that kind of interference, but I do think there would have to be a household rule, at the very least until all the kids are over two and have had all the vaccinations. But even the flu shots–I developed my asthma in the wake of two very bad respiratory flus, one of which I literally only caught because I decided I was young and strong and didn’t need the flu shot (young and dumb, more like). I know this for a fact because both my roommate and my boyfriend that year got the shot, and neither one of them caught it from me. A bad flu is bad news if you have asthma. I feel very lucky not to be living somewhere where the opt-out rate is high.

          Apparently some anti-vaxxer group described NY as the hardest state to get an opt-out in. I’m proud of my state! But apparently the rate in some private schools is dismal–another reason not to love them. In public schools, however, the vaccination rate is 98%!

          And good on NYC–we bar unvaccinated children from public schools when a vaccine-preventable disease has been diagnosed in those schools.

        2. From your first link — as much as I hate to contribute to the stereotype of Park Slope (remember the “double-wide stroller” thread?):

          Among the other schools showing a low vaccination rate was Brooklyn Free, a Summerhill school started by Park Slope Food Co-op members who first suggested the idea in the co-op’s newsletter, the Linewaiters’ Gazette. It clocked in at 63.3 percent. Its Manhattan sister school, located in East Harlem, is even lower: 36.4 percent.

      2. Sorry; I hit “post” before adding the block-quote tags. Anyway, don’t send your kids to those schools! Or to the Rudolf Steiner School. I actually knew kids who went there.

        With all the new-agey rationalizations I see from anti-vaxxers, it’s nice to see traditional religious beliefs offered once in a while (from your second link):

        Ms. Check said she rejected vaccination after her daughter was “intoxicated” by a few shots during infancy, which she said caused an onslaught of food and milk allergies, rashes and infections. Combined with a religious revelation she had during the difficult pregnancy, she said, the experience turned her away from medicine. Now she uses holistic treatments.

        “Disease is pestilence,” Ms. Check said, “and pestilence is from the devil. The devil is germs and disease, which is cancer and any of those things that can take you down. But if you trust in the Lord, these things cannot come near you.”

  2. An added note: for herd immunity to be effective, the vaccination rate has to be 95% or higher. We do not have a lot of wiggle room. That 5% who are not vaccinated need to be those with compromised immune systems. The rest of us have an obligation to vaccinate.

  3. I think this is a combination of lacking of science literacy, not really having polio in living memory, disdain for authority and a shift to idealizing parental autonomy.

    My own father didn’t want us vaccinated over fear of side effects. The healthy food and alternative medicine industries can be exploitative. My mother just took us anyway. I do blame the friends and relatives of anti-vaxxers for not combating this on a personal level. Of course, you probably need both parents to consent to medical care. But I don’t see a family court judge punishing a parent for the responsible choice.

    I am most angry at people that clearly no better being willing to risk public health to pander to stupidity….Chris Christie….

    1. Of course, you probably need both parents to consent to medical care.

      I don’t think that’s true as a practical matter — if you take your kid to a doctor to be vaccinated, nobody’s going to ask you for a written consent from the other parent. (It’s not like taking a kid under a certain age out of the country, for which you do need written consent from the other parent to make sure it’s not an international kidnapping.)

    2. Yea, though I wouldn’t be surprised if a dispute over vaccinations came up in a custody case or one parent attempted to sue the other. The clinic could be liable if one parent was deeply unhappy over the situation. People do seem to have really strong beliefs over vaccinations. I’d expect that extreme reactions to happen. I know there have been kidnappings over homeschooling disputes.

  4. Where are the forced-birthers on this issue? They’re so eager to destroy reproductive choice for women in the name of saving babies–why are they silent when it comes to parental choice regarding vaccines?

    Here in Ireland, there’s actually a lot of overlap between the anti-vaxxers and the forced birthers. To me it’s further evidence that their opposition to abortion has nothing to do with being “pro-child”, and everything to do with their fetishisation of the patriarchal nuclear family, which they see as effectively their own little sovereign state.

    (We also had a court case recently between parents who disagreed on whether to vaccinate. The pro-vax parent won.)

    1. Good point on the “fetishisation of the patriarchal nuclear family”! Also in Ireland, and something else that’s topical just now is the fundamental Christian group opposing same-sex marriage, not because they are against it, but because it will mean straight couples won’t be given any preference over same-sex couples when adopting. And they usually pause there, as if to present to you the fair accompli given fact that one parent of each gender is better than any other combination of genders.

      Except that, I can think of a number of factors that might make one a good parent, and gender just doesn’t seem remotely relevant.

      Not having wished to go so far off-topic, I’ll say that the anti-vaxxers emerge here every so often. In particular they make spurious links to autism, but I remember hearing references to heavy metal poisoning via vaccinations as well. The autism arguments are deeply ableist, but this can be a pretty ableist country.

    2. That’s the case here in the US too. Anti-vaxxers are bimodal, actually: there’s a bunch in the “progressive” crunchy granola camp but also many who are anti-choice, fundie right-wingers (particularly Quiverfull, Christian Patriarchy, and their ilk).

      1. What I’ve been saying about the pro-forced-birth anti-vaxxers is that as far as they’re concerned, children are private property, and so what to do with them is up to their parents, but women are public property, so the state owns our choices.

  5. My grandad, born 1918, had infant measles. He was lucky to survive but spent the rest of his life with partial sight loss, partial hearing loss and severe facial scarring.
    Measles, although primarily a childhood illness, is not trivial. It is bloody serious and often fatal.
    These morons have the luxury of being anti-vaccine because they’ve almost certainly never seen a child with measles or smallpox or polio. If they had, they’d vaccinate. If yoibtold people from the 1940s that we have the power to prevent these diseases but didn’t use it, they’d be aghast.

  6. Wow. I read your incredibly passionate and right-on post, and then nervously scrolled down through the comments, certain I’d find outrage and indignation from one of your anti-vax targets … and found nothing but positive replies! Thumbs up, everyone!

    1. Well the viciously vitriolic and totalitarian attitude in the thread certainly doesn’t leave much room for any kind of rational discussion. You have slammed the door to any dissent so don’t be so smug about all the ‘positive replies’.

      1. Nice alliteration with “viciously vitriolic.”

        Damn straight I’ve slammed the door to any dissent. There is no “debate” here, any more than there is about evolution or climate change. “Rational discussion” is impossible with people who don’t acknowledge medical science, think that vaccines cause leukemia, and are totes OK with their children being the vector through which others die. So, you know, no great loss.

        1. The tone of your post sounds as moronic as some of the anti-vaxers, and what you’re advocating in terms of sanctions against people who choose not to vaccinate their kids borders on fascism.

        2. What kind of sanctions would you recommend, Patti, for people who deliberately expose other people’s children (who are too young to be vaccinated or can’t be vaccinated) to dangerous illnesses like measles, by refusing to vaccinate their own children without actual medical reasons?

          Personally, if someone did that to my child and he became ill or died as a result, I think prison would be too good for that person.

          And I don’t think you have any idea what fascism is. Using that word only confirms your gross ignorance.

        3. Yeah, that’s how fascism works, Patti. First you make sure that children don’t suffer and die unnecessarily using ostracism and civil lawsuits, next, you invade Poland.

          I see you’ve trotted out a tone argument…I guess even you have to acknowledge that the actual, well, facts aren’t on your side.

        4. EG, I laughed so hard at the Poland line, I had to explain to coworkers what I was reading.

          Patti, what is your complaint? That EG’s original post wasn’t friendly? Or do you actually support anti-vaxxers? I honestly can’t tell if you’re trolling (kudos, I guess, if you are).

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