Thursday, October 21, 2010

No, seriously, think of the children

I promise there were more pleasant topics about which I was going to post, but when I saw this article about a pertussis outbreak in California that's killed 10 babies so far, I almost threw up. So I'm writing about this.

If you were to meet me in person and we were to talk about vaccines and you were to tell me you weren't going to vaccinate your children, I would consider punching you in the throat. And then I'd probably go through with it. There's zero reason for people not to vaccinate their children - especially against highly lethal, completely preventable diseases - and there are many, many reasons to do so. Sadly, 10 more reasons just manifested themselves in California, and it probably isn't going to change anyone's minds over there.

Wow, schmei, get over yourself. You don't even have kids. Who gives you the right?

Good point. Allow me to explain:

My father was the youngest of 4 children. He had two sisters and a brother. Only, wait, he never met his sisters. They both died, several weeks apart, of pertussis, commonly called whooping cough. The older girl was almost two, and her little sister was only a few weeks old. Some infected asshole decided to stop by and visit my grandmother with her new baby and her toddler at home. Over the next few weeks she watched, completely helpless, as whooping cough killed them both.

The pertussis vaccine came out about 2 years too late for my two aunts.

My grandparents went on to have two more children - two boys - and I can't help but wonder how it affected my grandmother, to lose her baby daughters and then to have two boys instead. Maybe it was better, really, because they were completely different. I don't know. By all accounts she was a loving mother to her sons. Additionally, from what I've heard about her, she never really recovered from her daughters' deaths. She died young, and still heartbroken. Her sons were in their early twenties. They're both in their sixties now, and they don't really talk about it much.

Last year, my graduate program ordered me to get a pertussis booster, which I thought was annoying at the time. But I read more about it, and it turns out that in adults, pertussis vaccination can wear out over time. It's recommended to get a booster every five years or so.

I was very glad I had the booster before I met my newborn niece. And I'm glad my sister is completely reasonable about vaccinating her baby, because the study that claimed a connection between vaccines and autism was terribly flawed and has since been recanted. Sis is a scientist so she gets that... but it's information that really doesn't require a degree in physics.

Sadly, recanting that article hasn't stopped stupid people from refusing to vaccinate their children. What those stupid people don't realize is that it's not their own children they're killing, most likely it's other people's infants.

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