I confess: I have a strong stand on vaccinations, and that is that vaccinations should be given on a schedule approved by a medical doctor to all children with as few exceptions made as possible. I believe that these exceptions should be based on proven medical harm, such as severe allergy to a component (like the egg protein in a flu shot). If parents decide to give kids shots on a delayed schedule, one-at-a-time, in order to monitor reactions, fine -- because at least they're innoculating their children. The threat to my kids if they don't is too great, and I don't think that anyone should have the right to expose my children to disease. I have argued until I'm blue in the face with various religious whack-jobs who feel that their God and fate should control whether or not their child -- or mine by association -- contracts and suffers from a disease. These are the same parents who would let their child die before receiving medical treatment for a disease like diabetes. I know some very educated people who are Christian Scientists, and I do not question their right to follow their faith -- but they should have NO right to kill their children through failure to treat them for disease that has no faith-based cure (like, all of them). I submit that failing to vaccinate, should your child die from a preventable disease, is as criminal. I believe in God and Christ, and I pray. I pray extra when my kids are sick. But I also took enough science classes to know that faith alone does not heal. Some will say I'm blaspheming. I call it Real Life.
Harsh? Maybe. I have one child who is as sturdy as an ox and another who has a compromised immune system for a myriad of reasons. I rely on "herd immunity" to protect my child's health -- hoping that the few unvaccinated among us will simply never be around my kid. When I recently heard someone at his nursery school talk of refusing vaccinations, it was all I could do not to plug my ears and sing "La La La" at the top of my lungs. There's someone -- and probably more -- on his playground every day who hasn't been vaccinated. That scares the shit out of me, for, as effective as vaccines are, they're not 100%. And the more I dig on this issue, the more it appears that there may be a clustering of exemptions here in NoCal. This means herd immunity may be compromised, which is unquestionably a bad thing for us all. Doctors expect a measles outbreak to occur in this country because of parents refusing the MMR. Is there a chance that such an outbreak will cause more harm than *might* be caused by the vaccine? I hope we never know.
As for these chicken pox parties, puh-leez... Why not expose your child to driving without a seatbelt, secondhand smoke and swimming without a lifevest all at the same time? CHICKEN POX IS A DANGEROUS DISEASE. It can cause encephalitis, brain damage, even DEATH. Why on earth would any good parent ever take the chance of their child getting this vaccine-preventable illness? A family friend of ours who is a pediatrician watched her own child die from a chicken pox vaccine in her own arms, and even she will tell you that the chances of the vaccine being harmful are much less than the chances of chicken pox causing lasting damage to your kid. God rest her child's soul, and thank God that she still believes in vaccination.
Look, I don't use words like "should" and "crime" and "religious whack-jobs" often, but I'm angry. I'm angry that parents can go rogue with regard to vaccinations that protect my child as much as their own. If my child is exposed to chicken pox and contracts it from a kid who attended one of these parties (because the parent didn't keep the child inside for a week afterward -- no one does!), then I will go after that parent to the fullest extent that the law allows.
At the end of the day, yes, there are a blessed few people in this world who really cannot be vaccinated. I'll pray for them not to contract a vaccine-preventable illness, as some hope is better than none. But for all of the parents out there who think that they know more than doctors, scientists, public health officials, etc. -- you just plain don't. And you don't have a right to risk harming my child. I don't think you should have a right to risk harming yours, either. Vaccinations save lives. For the sake of the children, I hope that herd immunity protects these victims from their parents' ill-informed decisions. I also hope that the laws tighten before the cluster of exemptions grows large enough to do some real harm.