Sunday, 3 February 2013

Who gets harmed when you choose not to vaccinate?

Baby eating hat - My Secret Atheist Blog
Photo from Ania Bula's Call Out for Photos
 anti-anti-vaxxer campaign on the blog
Well thank goodness anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy has been dropped from the Ottawa Cancer Foundation's Bust a Move fundraiser.  The foundation came to its senses.

With this situation fresh in my memory, my wife told me about a friend of her's who has children who are allergic to eggs.   Her eldest daughter is so severely allergic that she cannot receive a flu shot and other vaccines that contain egg.  They found out by accident the first time she received the vaccine and it wasn't pretty.  Thankfully, they make you wait for fifteen minutes after the shot in case of serious reaction.

One thing that struck me about my wife's friend's situation is the general disbelief, dismissal and borderline hostility she encountered when telling nurses that her daughter could not receive these vaccines.  Was she being thrown into the same bucket as nutty Jenny McCarthy?  While the first had a valid and important reason to refuse vaccination, the second clearly did not.  Some people cannot receive the vaccinations which makes it all the more important that others in the population do receive their vaccinations - to protect the herd.  This is a distinction that needs to be made clearer to people.

So it's good that the Cancer Foundation recognized that the last thing cancer patients undergoing treatment need is a spike in unvaccinated people around them!

The excellent program Ask an Atheist takes this topic very seriously.  They've done an episode on Anti-Vaxxers.  More recently they did Preventable Death in Washington.

And the anti-vaxxer crowd are not who you would think they might be.  I know a very politically progressive atheist family who refuse to get their kids vaccinated.  So it's a good thing Ask an Atheist is taking up this challenge.

This brings me to Ania, author of the blog Scribbles and Rants, who wrote an excellent post, Who can it hurt?,  on how the anti-vaxx movement hurts many people, including her.
But see, the truth they don’t want to face is that it’s not themselves, or at least not just themselves, they are hurting. They are also hurting people whose immune systems have been compromised. People who have autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s or colitis, like lupus, diseases like HIV and AIDs, people on chemo or who have had an organ transplant, the elderly, and children. These are the people who will not only get sick, but are those most likely to suffer serious consequences like disability, even death as a result.  They are the people who rely on group immunity: who for one reason or another could not get the vaccine. People who, even if they were vaccinated, may not have enough of an immune response to fight off the illness.
I’ve made mention before to the fact that I have Crohn’s disease. Like many other people with the disease, my treatment is a set of biologics that modulate (read: suppress) my immune system. This same treatment is used for a variety of ailments. 
This has lead Ania to start up a new anti-anti-vaxxer campaign that focuses on those who are made vulnerable when herd immunity is compromised by those who can get vaccinated choose not to get vaccinated.  She is asking that we begin to put faces on those potential victims.
I am asking everyone to send in pictures of anyone who is at risk or has been hurt by people who choose not to vaccinate. Let us put a face to the countless who have been hurt by preventable illnesses.
This is my secret atheist blog so I'm not sure I can offer a photo of my own, but I can pass on the word!  Here's the link to her post...

If you are a person in such a situation or know someone who is, why not consider supporting this cause?  They say a picture is worth a thousand words. 


  1. Nice work! Hope you're okay with me using the photo here.

  2. Thanks, I made him myself ;) And yes, I gave Ania unrestricted permission as long as it was being used to promote vaccination.

  3. If a parent does want to vaccinate . . . why not wait until the child is a little older. I am against vaccination personally but particularly with newborn babies. I feel it is wiser to wait until a child is at least four to six years old.

    Respectfully, choosing healthy organic foods and herbs over drugs and vaccines.

    Whatever you choose, choose wisely and may you live and long and prosperous life.

    1. Because if you wait until the child is "a little older" it can get sick and die during that few months or years that you suggest waiting for. The risks in taking vaccines are minuscule, if you consider flying to be safe then vaccinations are REALLY safe. Organic foods are identical to ordinary food, I guarantee you that you cannot taste the difference. As for the "evil" chemical pesticides, well, the chemicals they use in them are not harmful at the levels that you POSSIBLY would ingest them at.


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