The other day, as I perused the Seattle Times Online, I came across a starling story about how Washington State has the HIGHEST number of vaccine exceptions for children in the nation. So 6% of the kindergardeners in this state do not have some or all of their immunizations. Lovely.
I will admit when we were first pregnant with Sidney, I heard about the so-called link between autism and immunization. I had friends who swore that immunization was highly dangerous and I listened to them because as a soon to be parent, you obviously want to make all the right decisions. I started to think we should consider an alternative immunization schedule. Not to completely give up on vaccines but to space them out. Then I read "Baby 411" written by a doctor, started looking at the CDC website and remembered that I believe in science.
Third world countries are falling all over themselves to get vaccinations for deadly & disfiguring diseases that still exist in the world. Because the US has nearly eradicated some of these from our daily lives, within a generation or two, we've become forgetful, stupid or both. The immunity to small pox, chicken pox, measles, mumps, polio, etcetera doesn't continue unless you get the shots. So when parents who have issues with the vaccines withhold them from their own kids and then put my child, myself and my community in danger of contracting one of these diseases--well that is just selfish and stupid. The concept of herd immunity only works if everyone does it. From my understanding, the vaccines themselves create a barrier to the disease but it's really the combined barrier of the complete group that keeps a disease from getting a foothold and spreading. This is especially true for the very young who can't get immunizations until certain ages. For instance the MMR shot is not given until 1 year of age. Until then, they are dependent on all around them to be healthy.
I just can't understand how we got here: turning down such a life-saving breakthrough of science like we're turning down an appetizer at a dinner party. These should not be optional. And if it's really that much of a problem for someone, perhaps they should go live in the woods, home-school their child and never expect to come into contact with any other human being.