I don’t think antivaxxers are evil

flu shot - h1n1 by marymactavish
flu shot – h1n1, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

…. any more than I think pro-circumcisers are evil.

I think we just read science very very differently.

Right now, there is still a lot of solid debate going on about the value of circumcision in health, in disease prevention, for boys. Without going into detail here, some are saying “it’s a good thing, it helps prevent STDs like HPV and HIV in adulthood” and others — scientists, health workers, including from European countries that have been fine without circumcision for years — are pointing out real flaws in that science. It’s evolving. More is becoming clear.

So ultimately, I believe that kids should have autonomy in that level of body modification, that like tongue bifurcation and ear piercing and scarification, they can choose genital modification (prince alberts, scrotal piercing, circumcision) later if they want to, and like other adult disease-preventing major body changes, it can wait.

It’s not my job to make major body changes for my child that don’t have to be done in infancy.

But with immunizations, solid science says they’re good and work, most antivax debate comes from either outmoded/disproved science, popular bad science for ratings (some TV doctors, for example), or people who believe that, say, all GMOs are bad in all contexts.

And they prevent him from dying of diseases that he can contract right now.

(The really scientific debates aren’t whether most immunizations are better than none, they’re more about when and in what order, with a few “minor” diseases being in the “is it better to just let them get it?” camp, e.g. the chicken pox vaccine can wear off before we expect it to, should kids just get CP from exposure, or get CP vax boosters later?)

So we don’t let our kid have autonomy about immunizations. I don’t want him to get swine flu this year. People are being hospitalized with it locally, more than 20 right here in the bay area have died.

(True: The people who are dying aren’t robust teens, they’re people in “at risk” populations. Also true: I am in an at risk population. I don’t want your flu germs. Please immunize. Like yours, my immunization doesn’t eliminate my risk, it only hugely reduces it.)

When we went in, a kid was screaming bloody murder that it would hurt. I felt for him. I told Owen why he was screaming, but that it didn’t hurt very much. I asked if I could show him what it would feel like, sort of. He said yes, I gave his skin a pinch, then let him pinch mine. Then I got my shot, and barely noticed the needle.

Owen sat down happily, Audrey held his arm still, and he got his shot. It didn’t hurt. No fuss. And now his chances of getting sick with this fierce flu strain are less, as are mine, and that’s good.

This post grew out of the thought that it probably hurts my antivax friends and family as much to know I am in favor of filling Owen with weakened viruses and chemicals as it hurts me to know that there are still people out there performing risky cosmetic surgery on their children’s genitals

I get it, but I think it’s mostly about how I read and trust the science in each case.


2 thoughts on “I don’t think antivaxxers are evil

  1. THANK YOU for getting your flu shots!

    My 14 months old daughter has an egg allergy (it’s not as severe as her nut allergy, but it’s still pretty bad) and cannot recieve the flu shot. According to the CDC website, that may change in the future as they change how the shots are made, but it’s scary right now. Here in Oklahoma, we have had children die from the flu. Why wouldn’t I protect my child if I could?!

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