To vaccinate or not to vaccinate is, to many, the question. For several years a successively more well-educated Western world has become successively less educated when it comes to vaccines and their risks and benefits. This is a Western world which is happily governed by media, where phrases like “Big Pharma,” “corporate giants,” and “autism” are often enough to keep children far out of reach of anything vaccines. I am such a child. Born in 1988, I have as of today still not had a single vaccine. Not one, ever. I will naturally immunise myself now as an adult, since I do not want to be responsible for spreading serious diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella. And they are serious diseases. I quote from the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control):
It is a common misperception that measles is a harmless disease. Some people also believe that the healthcare system in developed countries has sufficient resources for good care when someone is infected with measles.
Correction of the myth
This misperception probably occurs due to the vaccination’s success: many people have never seen a person with measles infection and consider measles a relatively harmless disease. In fact, measles can be a very severe infection, which cannot be directly treated with antivirals.”
This is just one of many diseases we have the opportunity to immunise ourselves and our children against, which also helps our community and those children who are unable to vaccinate because they are allergic to some component of the vaccine. These allergies do in no way mean that vaccines are generally dangerous; humans can die from ingesting nuts or being stung by a bee, things which occur naturally and have in no way been modified by humans. It seems as if this anti-vaccination wave that has been spreading for years has several different sources. The greatest is perhaps our fear of the unknown. The many different components of a vaccine, and how it works, is complicated and therefore difficult to understand. If something is difficult to understand it also becomes scary to adults and children. Instead of reading the long texts with medical terminology – or even the publications which have been specifically designed for parents – which explain why vaccines are vital, and are not a threat to your child, it’s easier to read the 30-word fear-mongering texts being shared on social media.
Beyond the difficulty in understanding and ignorance creating fear, media has created an almost insurmountable myth regarding serious side-effects that vaccines supposedly have. To this day I have not seen a single vaccination-negative study which didn’t turn out to be paid for by anti-vaccination groups, or unscientifically and unprofessionally carried out on a small group of subjects. There is no link between vaccinations and autism. None.
And yet there I was a year ago, about to move to England. “Mum, could you scan and email anything you’ve got on my health as a child? I want to be able to tell the doctors in England what I’ve had or not.” “Well, you’ve had chickenpox it says here, but you haven’t had rubella, I’d be glad if you could contract that before you try to get pregnant.” Thanks mum, that’s so sweet. I translate information about Rubella from folkhälsomyndigheten.se: “if the disease is contracted within the first 14-16 weeks of pregnancy, there is a risk for so-called congenital rubella syndrome. During this early embryonic stage the cellular division is rapid, and if a rubella infection was to disturb the foundation of various organs the risks for stillbirth, spontaneous abortion or long-term means for the child are great.” But what if any of those unfounded studies were true; better to risk the death of your unborn grandchild, or severely impairing it for life, rather than immunising your child.
When it’s time for my husband and I, we are going to vaccinate. For our sake, for the child’s sake, for the sake of the world. If we all vaccinate against these diseases we have the power to eradicate them. If we all spread information we can eradicate ignorance and fear. If we all just read a little and decide that perhaps it isn’t that hard to understand, then perhaps we can step into the 21st century a little bit wiser, a little bit better equipped, and with safer, healthier children.