The Cost of Not Vaccinating
by Eric Hall
October 11, 2014
Instead of finishing and posting a normal blog post this week, I wanted to share something that came across my social media feed thanks to the Anti-Vaccine Body Count page. While normally I would post about the statistics and science of how vaccines work and about their safety, sometimes using the same tactics as anti-vaccine, anti-science peddlers is effective in at least getting those on the fence to more closely examine their beliefs and hopefully the science.
Let me address some of the possible comments first. Yes, I know vaccines do occasionally cause an injury. Statistically, the chance of any permanent injury is so rare that you have a much better chance of being struck by lightning than you do getting permanently injured by a vaccine. However, there are many more people who are in danger of being harmed by the diseases they are designed to protect us from.
This brings me to [link and named removed by author]. Normally, I do not get too worked up by "open letters." And while [Name removed] may not get every scientific detail correct, and I may not entirely agree with her idea of community responsibility, I rather enjoyed her use of appeal to emotion, the same strategy employed by anti-vaccination websites. She highlights the fears of a parent with a child who is immunocompromised. Modern medicine gives us the tools to help [Name removed] child make it to adulthood and live a full, happy, productive life. The rejection of modern science is putting [Name removed] child at greater risk of not making it to adulthood.
[Name removed] begins with the event that inspired her post:
Tonight, while enjoying a nice dinner, I got a call from the director of my son's preschool. She was calling to tell me that they had made the decision to put my son in a different class because two children in the class he was supposed to be in have "opted out" of their vaccines. This may not sound like a big thing. He is still in the Tuesday-Thursday class, and since he doesn't start school until next Tuesday, it's not like he has to get readjusted to a whole new class. No harm, no foul. Actually, this is a big deal—a very big deal. You see, my son is immunocompromised. He has cancer. He was fully vaccinated and supporting the whole "herd immunity" thing before his cancer diagnosis, but that darn chemo wiped out his immunity to the communicable diseases against which he had already been vaccinated.Read the [link and named removed by author]. Thank you [name removed] for allowing it to be shared.
Update: It is sad that it appears the author was being attacked by some anti-vaccine people and had to close down the public access to her post and page. I am going to attempt to contact her to see if we can share her entire post here.
I also want to note before the post was removed and her page closed down, there was a history on her page. While it is not impossible to create an extensive fake profile with a history on Facebook, I didn't feel it necessary to investigate further. Why? Because I am not presenting this as proof. I wouldn't ever present an anecdote as proof (like anti-science sites do). Instead, I wanted to provide an example in narrative form which demonstrates one of the populations left vulnerable by the loss of herd immunity. The purpose of this post means the level of fact-checking is not set as high. In fact, even if it was entirely fabricated, it doesn't change its validity for this purpose. I have family and friends who have been affected by cancer. They do lose their immunity due to chemotherapy. They needed the family to be vaccinated so they could still enjoy get-togethers. This is not a unique story - but just an example of why your vaccine choice does affect others.
by Eric Hall
@Skeptoid Media, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit