Yesterday my wife took the twins to the doctor for a checkup. They wanted to start our babies on their “vaccination schedule,” but, oddly, our schedule differs slightly from the one predetermined by the medical establishment. I’m not against all vaccines, but I am strongly opposed to the idea of blindly handing our babies over to the nurse and saying, “Here! Pump whatever chemicals you want into them. I’ll be in the lobby reading a Highlights magazine, give me a holler when it’s over.” In other words, vaccinating is a conscious decision that my wife and I wish to make, not one with which we will passively cooperate.
That said, one of the vaccines we chose to forgo is the Hepatitis B immunization. I mentioned that on Friday’s show and it elicited many responses from folks who are, apparently, quite offended that we didn’t consult with them before making a choice about our children’s medical treatment. You know, all parenting decisions you make these days must be debated in front of the People’s Peanut Gallery, where the verdicts are swift and harsh. Here’s one email I received, it’s an apt representation of several other similar messages:
Your conspiracy theories about vaccinations would make me laugh if they weren’t so infuriating. If you don’t get your children vaccinated for Hepatitis B or any other disease, YOU PUT EVERYONE AT RISK JACKASS. I get so sick of you antivaccination retards. Society gets rid of diseases when everyone comes together and vaccinates. I don’t want my child to get sick just because you don’t understand science. There are many ways to get Hep B and people get it all the time without have sex aand you’ve now put your child at risk for it which puts everyone at risk. Moron. Get them vaccinatedstop being stupid. You are a horrible parent and you’re putting your kids at risk idiot.
Against my better judgment, I responded to Kevin. I’m posting it here as a general response to all of the other Kevins of the world.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist — I’m a conspirator. You see, about a year ago my wife and I conspired to conceive children. I won’t go into detail about the steps we took to bring this plot to fruition, but suffice it to say that our plan succeeded. Now, as the result of this dastardly scheme, we are “parents”. This parental title has dangerous implications; it gives us the terrifying ability to do all sorts of things. For instance, most horrifically, we can make decisions about our kids’ well being and health care without conferring with the public, the government, the community, society, or even you.
Also, we are able to forgo vaccinations so that we can turn our children into biological weapons, which is the clear intention of anyone who doesn’t keep their kids “up to date” on their shots.
Other than that, I’m not sure what conspiracy you’re referring to. When I speak of the potential adverse side effects of the Hep B vaccine, or the studies linking it to liver and brain damage, or the obvious risks involved anytime you inject disease-causing organisms into the body of a small child, I am not proposing a “conspiracy,” nor am I theorizing anything. I am not a “no vaccines at all” type of person, but I don’t think you’re in a position to ridicule those folks if you’re in the “any and every vaccine is automatically OK with me, and I’ll let the doctors give it to my child without doing any research about it beforehand” camp.
I don’t judge you for falling in line and following the trends — even when the trend involves introducing potentially dangerous chemicals to the undeveloped immune system of your infant children — but I do lament how your sort tends to lash out mindlessly at anyone who strays from the “normal” path. When I call your behavior “mindless,” I don’t mean it as an insult. I mean it as an observation. After all, there certainly isn’t anything thoughtful or rational in shouting about how your child is directly at risk of contracting an STD because my kids didn’t get a vaccine.
Hepatitis B is, in fact, primarily a sexually transmitted disease. In most cases, you contract it by making unhealthy lifestyle choices. I notice that, in your world, our “society” should work to eradicate illnesses by turning our babies into lab rats, rather than by telling adults to stop making foolish and destructive decisions. Why do you yell at my family for choosing to forgo an unnecessary medical treatment that would expose my children to high levels of aluminum, and not at the legions of people who refuse to forgo promiscuous sex and intravenous drugs? I have to be honest, I’m somewhat disturbed by the implication that all of our children are budding drug addicts and philanderers, so we ought to immunize them in anticipation of this eventuality.
There are other ways to get this virus, I grant you. Prison guards who have fecal matter and urine hurled at their faces all day are in a high risk category. Folks who work in hospitals are logically required to be vaccinated. A child whose mother has the disease can, unfortunately, contract it. You hear about rare cases of patients in hospitals coming out of a medical procedure or blood transfusion with Hepatitis B, but then again, if you can’t trust your doctor to give you blood that isn’t tainted with a chronic illness, you probably shouldn’t trust him to give shots to your baby. If you do a lot of traveling in third world countries, that will likely increase your Hep B chances as well.
But it’s simply ridiculous to assume that every human being in the country has an equal shot at becoming Hep B positive. You’re at risk if you put yourself in, or are put in, a risky situation. Plain and simple. Even the CDC — hardly a bastion of anti-vaccination propaganda — has to go to extraordinary lengths to explain how the average baby might come down with a dangerous STD. Their “Hepatitis B fact sheet” tells us the virus is spread to children when their mother is infected, or when they are bitten by an infected person. They also list “eating food chewed by an infected person” and “sharing a toothbrush with an infected person.”
Let’s break these down, shall we? We’ve already covered the infected mother scenario. My wife doesn’t have Hepatitis B, not that it’s any of your business. I’m not sure if your kid typically eats food chewed by strangers, but my children are under a strict “only you chew your food” rule. I think it’s pretty easy to avoid sharing a toothbrush with a Hepatitis B carrier, in fact it’s easy to avoid sharing a tooth brush with anyone. As for being gnawed on by a sick person, how often do you think a child gets Hepatitis that way? Now contrast that likelihood with the chance of suffering an adverse reaction to the vaccine, and tell me which is cause for greater concern?
You may dispute the link between vaccines and autism, or vaccines and SIDS, but you can’t dispute the non-debatable link between risky decisions and diseases like Hepatitis B. You’re exposed to Hep B if you put yourself in a compromising situation, and usually that involves having random sex or using hardcore drugs. As far as I know, nobody has ever been crossing the street on some random morning only to be suddenly run over by a Hepatitis B truck. There’s nothing especially surprising about Hepatitis B and how it’s spread.
For the record, despite my stance on the vaccine, I am actually very intent on preventing my kids from getting Hepatitis. But my prevention strategy involves raising them and teaching them not to make horribly self destructive decisions. Outside of that, if they grow up and decide they’d like to work in a hospital or a prison, or they sign up for a mission trip to Ethiopia, then it might be time to talk about expanding their “vaccination schedule.”
Kevin, let me do you a favor and give you a tip for the next time you decide to valiantly defend the honor of prescription drug companies and their miraculous vaccines: If you want to convince people like me — that is, people who aren’t terribly worried about gaining the approval of the peanut gallery — you best abandon the “get vaccines for the sake of the collective” argument. Call me selfish or narcissistic, but I don’t parent my children based on what I think my neighbors might want me to do. Parenting isn’t a democracy. It isn’t up for a vote. Never in a thousand years would I force my children to undergo a medical procedure simply for the sake of being a cultural team player. If you see it that way, please email me the next time you take your kid to the orthodontist. I’m going to need a vote before you make any decisions about braces or retainers.
There are many factors that have contributed to this special brand of lunacy where we pretend that chronic illnesses like Hepatitis B can’t be easily avoided by adjusting our lifestyles and making healthy choices, but I think intellectual laziness and cowardice play a significant part. It’s the same thing that entices health teachers and politicians to make the maniacal claim that HIV is an “equal opportunity disease.” We’re deathly afraid of coming anywhere near anything that might be construed as — GASP! — moralizing. Instead we go around babbling about how everything impacts everyone in the same way, and our own decisions are never to blame when bad things happen.
You called me a bad parent, so I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to stick my tongue out and call you a bad parent in return, and then we can spend the next 45 minutes shooting spitballs at each other in the back of the classroom. But I don’t want to play that game because, for all I know, you’re a great parent. I’m not a big fan of your communication skills, nor do I find you to be the most critical of thinkers, and I’m not particularly inspired by your grammar and sentence structure, but I’m betting you still love your children and strive to do what you think is best for them. If that includes getting your infants immunized against STDs, then Godspeed. I don’t have a say in the matter, and I pray that it stays that way. My only very humble suggestion is that you MAKE the DECISIONS, instead of “going along with it” because the doctor will give you a dirty look if you don’t.
Also, as a general rule, always proofread when you want to call someone else an idiot.