First off, let me be absolutely clear here. I am extremely pro-vaccination because they work and work well. Contrary to the links you'll find in comments at the end of this story there is no scientific debate on that subject. Widespread vaccination is the best way to combat some of the most contagious and dangerous diseases that used to make living into a healthy adulthood much less likely in any given community. My daughter is fully vaccinated.
That said, there's something that I need to get off my chest, and that is that yes, the anti-vaccination crowd is indeed right about a few things. Not many things, and even the things that they are right about are often overblown because humans are very bad with statistics. Still, there are some hard, uncomfortable facts that need to be admitted if people on the side of vaccinations are not going to be labeled as hypocrites.
Vaccines Aren't 100 Percent Safe And Sometimes Kids are Badly Hurt By Them Nobody with any real credibility will ever be caught claiming that vaccines are perfectly safe. They aren't anymore than aspirin or peanut butter are perfectly safe. Humans are a hugely diverse group and we all have our different sensitivities. There are kids out there right now that can walk away from medications that might kill another.
There are cases of the DTaP vaccine causing permanent brain damage and seizures. Same from the MMR. That's not something I'm picking up from Natural News or another woo-tastic den of misinformation. That's the Centers for Disease Control. These cases are extremely rare, affecting maybe one out of a million children at most, but they do occasionally happen.
The horrible truth that we pro-vaccination people have to admit is that we are OK with those children being hurt in the name of wiping out more common ailments. It's a numbers game, and while I would rather have one child out of a million severely impaired than thousands walking with rubella causing birth defects in pregnant women, I'm not sure the woman with that impaired child will agree with me.
We Care About Our Safety More Than Your Freedom America loves its freedom. Often the word itself is used as the end of an argument. Freedom is supposed to triumph over tyranny and anything else is fascism. I actually have friends whose sole reason for not vaccinating has nothing to do with science and everything to do with "you can't make me!"
And yes, forcing everyone in a country to inject a medicine into their children that has a rare, but definite chance of causing moderate to severe reactions in order to participate in public schooling is definitely taking your freedom away. It really, really is, and while I lament that it must be so it's literally the only way that herd immunity works.
The horrible truth that we pro-vaccination people have to admit is that your rights to not be vaccinated simply don't matter as much to us as our rights to have a lot fewer cases of measles. All state-sponsored safety protocols are despotic to a degree, and it's time to stop being embarrassed about it.
This story continues on the next page.
Sometimes Vaccines are Flawed and Dangerous You might have seen some variations on this article over the last several months when the subject blew back up on social media. Basically, the conspiracy websites and naturopaths took a CDC report and extrapolated it to "CDC Admits Polio Vaccine Causes Cancer". The truth is, as any thinking person can probably deduce, way more complicated and far less terrifying than that.
But at its core, there is still a tiny grain of fact buried underneath all the fear. Before 1963 batches the polio vaccine did become tainted with a virus called SV40 as a result of less stringent decontamination procedures at the time. And SV40 has been shown to sometimes cause cancer in hamsters. And millions of people were exposed to it through vaccination.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Will everyone that received a polio vaccination before 1963 get cancer? No. Not even a tiny fraction of them, and even the ones that do it will be nearly impossible what role exposure to SV40 had in that cancers development. That's the thing about medicine and science. It's big, it's complicated, it's dependent on a huge amount of factors, and in the end it's still an odds game.
The horrible truth that we pro-vaccination people have to admit is that yes, there have been and will be mistakes made through the manufacturing a distribution of vaccines, and that sometimes those mistakes could lead to serious damage. It's simply unavoidable, just as with any large enterprise.
None of these are good enough reasons to cease a practice that has beaten back diseases that have plagued humanity for hundreds of years and saved millions of lives. Vaccination remains the best tool we have in the fight on widespread contagion. The benefits far-outweigh the risks. We are lucky to have it.
But it has its flaws like any other tool. I do the cause no benefit by pretending that it doesn't. Yes, you are being forced by the state to put something in your child's bloodstream that has a microscopic chance of impairing them for life, either through their physiological incompatibility with the substance or through and even smaller chance of a manufacturing error. All I can say in its defense is that it's way better than the alternative.