An Open Letter To Anti-Vaccers

Let me make this clear: I'm not going to be polite. 

I get it, you're scared. Modern medicine is absolutely terrifying. The thought of wiping out the diseases that once almost did the same to our population can be frightening. But luckily there's this awesome tool that can help us learn more about things and it's called science. Yes, science. And it's here to help us for the better.

Instead of getting into the gritty details about science, let's talk about vaccines, their history, and why they're important (hint: they protect us from deadly diseases). In the past 50 years, vaccines have saved more lives than any other medical resource or procedure. Vaccines became widely available starting in the 1920s and have been key in nearly eliminating certain diseases such as polio. Because of the polio vaccine, polio is close to being completely gone from the planet. Talk about impressive.

Vaccines work in their awesome ways by stimulating our immune system to produce antibodies in order to help prevent illness. Newborn babies and young children as well as older people are at risk for diseases like whooping cough, rubella, and measles. Vaccines do a great job at keeping these members of society healthy and well, alive. Most parents want their children to live long and successful lives so vaccines are awesome in making sure that happens. Still not convinced of the good they do? Let's delve deeper.

Most vaccines are 90% to 99% effective in preventing disease and even if a vaccinated child does get the disease, the symptoms tend to be less serious and non-life threatening. Another amazing part about vaccines is that they help keep boost the immunity within a population. Think about it; if every person in a city takes the steps to prevent disease, then their health as a whole will be drastically improved. 

So let's get back to the real reason you wont vaccinate: fear. It's the main motivating factor as to why so many parents are afraid to have their kids protected against deadly illness. Luckily there's plenty of research to help calm your nerves on the topic. 

Vaccines are safe. All vaccines are tested and approved by the FDA for safe use in children. The places where vaccines are made [obviously] have to be licensed. Vaccines are constantly being studied and reviewed. Remember, they're here to help us.

Another main reason you're probably scared is that old myth about Autism being linked to childhood vaccinations. This is something your mother's mother told her which she then told you hence why you're hesitant to potentially save your child's life and others. This myth, is indeed, a myth. 

The idea that vaccines could be linked to autism burst onto the international stage with a paper published in the British journal The Lancet in the late 90s. Media coverage of the claim then followed intensely. The paper suggested a link between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism but was eventually retracted in 2010. Sadly the damage from that false report still remains today. Parents who still believe this age old rumor today regardless of evidence proving otherwise are admitting that they would rather risk the safety of their child than have a child with special needs. Interesting. Side note: It's been studied that the mutations in genes associated with autism affect how the brain develops and functions, starting well before birth. Even though the symptoms of autism may not be apparent immediately, the underlying brain differences are accumulating. 

Now that we've debunked that lie, let's talk again about why vaccines matter.

There are plenty of young children with immune disorders that are unable to receive vaccinations. This makes it extra crucial that kids with normally functioning immune systems get vaccinated. If an ill and unvaccinated child comes in contact with someone who has the disease, their life can be incredibly endangered. It's not simply about protecting your kids, but about protecting our society as a whole. 

Still not convinced and don't want to vaccinate your children? Here's a tip: don't have any. Choosing to not vaccinate is both selfish and risky. So do us (the human population) a favor and think about how your decision might affect others. It's a choice that has more of an impact than you might have guessed. And you're decision to save your kid's life, might actually save others too (it will).