I am a firm believer in no judgements when it comes to parenting. I think the trolling and shaming of parents making their own decisions in the best interests of their kids is appalling.
You only need glance at the Daily Mail comments section to see thousands of mean-spirited remarks about all manner of parenting decisions.
You chose not to breastfeed? You’re a terrible mother, don’t you know breast is best??
You moved your six-week-old into their own room already? Do you want him to die??
You went on a mini break without your baby? How utterly selfish of you!!
You don’t make all our own organic baby food? Do you want your child to die of heart disease at 25??
But do you know what, maybe I’m just as bad. Or at least halfway to being just as bad. Because there’s an issue that I am extremely judgemental about. This one really riles me particularly as those who choose to do it are not only putting their children at risk, but other people’s children too.
I’m referring to people who don’t vaccinate their children. The anti-vaccer movement is growing in popularity, helped by the question mark President Donald Trump has placed over the safety of vaccinations. Thanks Dr Donald. I expect you’ll be treating those measles outbreaks personally?
And I’m not just hysterically blustering there. America actually is having problems with measles outbreaks. Last month it was reported an outbreak of measles in the US state of Minnesota meant the state had more cases than the whole of the US did in 2016. The vast majority of the 73 cases involved children who had not been vaccinated. Since the outbreak more than 2,500 people have been exposed to the disease, mostly in shared classrooms. Newborn babies don’t get the jab until they are one. Think of all those doctor waiting rooms and play areas where they are sharing space with other kids who may carry this highly contagious disease.
And that in a nutshell is my main argument. You’re making a decision that could have very serious repercussions for someone else’s child. Yes most cases of measles clear up but some can cause life-threatening complications. Why take the risk?
Here’s a quote from American talk show host Jimmy Kimmel which helps explain why I have a problem with this: “There’s a small, but still sizable group of people who are choosing not to vaccinate their children. Here in LA, there are schools in which 20% of the students aren’t vaccinated, because parents here are more scared of gluten than they are of smallpox! And, as a result, we now have measles again.”
So how has the anti-vaccer campaign gained such influence? Step forward former British doctor Andrew Wakefield. I say former because he’s not a doctor anymore, because he falsely claimed he had found a link between the MMR jab and autism. His initial study dating back to 1998 was withdrawn by The Lancet which had first published it. It was later called an “elaborate fraud” in the British Medical Journal. He is now banned from practising medicine in the UK.
Despite the widespread condemnation of Wakefield’s study and reassurance by the medical community that vaccinations are not only safe but protect your kids from terrible diseases there remains a suspicion of the MMR jab and other vaccinations. Take-up on the whooping cough vaccination has also been hit by the scepticism in the UK.
In the UK the study was blamed for leading to the uptake of vaccinations to drop to just half of children in some areas. Nationwide just eight in 10 children had their jabs in 2003/04. The numbers have since improved but still fall short of targets in some areas.
Because he wasn’t satisfied with the damage already inflicted Wakefield released a movie called Vaxxed in 2016 accusing the American government of a cover up surrounding the MMR jab and it being responsible for an autism outbreak.
The medical community’s response is best summed up by Dr Ian Lipkin, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, who told the Wall Street Journal it was more like a science fiction film than a documentary, adding: “As a documentary it misrepresents what science knows about autism, undermines public confidence in the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and attacks the integrity of legitimate scientists and public-health officials.”
Outside the UK 1.5million children die each year because families cannot afford or don’t have access to vaccinations.
In the UK heartbroken families who lost children to meningitis have campaigned desperately for the Meningitis B jab to be rolled out to all children on the NHS, not just newborns, because jabs save lives.
So to summarise, here’s the argument against vaccinations:
Donald Trump isn’t sure about them and an ex-doctor is still peddling his widely disgraced theory making a false link between MMR and autism.
And the argument why you should vaccinate your kids:
Doctors support it.
Science supports it. The World Health Organisation says the uptake of vaccinations should be 95 percent among a population to create a “herd immunity” to stop outbreaks.
Statistics support it. Measles was eliminated from the US in 2000. Outbreaks began after Wakefield’s campaign gained traction in the US.
What do you think about the anti-vaccer movement? Did you have any doubts about vaccinating your children? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.