I had been writing a post about the growing anti-vaccination movement in my head for the past few days. I was figuring out how to structure my argument about why parents who decide not to vaccinate their kids against preventable diseases like measles, mumps, polio and whooping cough are endangering not just their own kids, but our society as a whole. Then I got into an online argument with the husband of a family friend on the topic and I’ve decided to take a pass. Not because he convinced me that not-immunizing his kids was the right choice, scientifically, no.
I’m not going to bother because it’s obvious there’s really no point. Anti-vax parents are just as dead-set in their belief system as flat earthers or climate deniers. They tend to ignore the bulk of the science as well as the overwhelming good vaccines have done that say immunizations are not only safe, but save thousands upon thousands of lives each year. At the same time, they are motivated in their deep-seated belief by the well being of their child, which is the first tenant of any good parent, and so I cannot fault them for that. But trying to convince them, in any way, that their decision not to protect their children against potentially deadly diseases was the wrong one will fail each and every time. This is a conclusion that the CDC also recently reached themselves which spells trouble for any hope of stopping the very recent rise of preventable diseases in the United States.
The more I think about it, the only way I see to slow the growing anti-vacination movement is to discover the true cause (and eventually the cure) for autism. The ever-increasing numbers of children diagnosed with autism in this country is the catalyst that fuels these parents and rightly so. Autism is a scary neurological condition that places heavy burdens on both the afflicted and their families. Until the true causation for the condition is known, vaccines will continue to be blamed, and more and more outbreaks of preventable diseases will occur. We can (and should) pass laws that mandate vaccinations but even those won’t completely work because there will always be parents who will willingly break such a law to “safeguard” their child. Unfortunately, the cause(s) of autism may never be found and that, more than anything else, is what scares me most.