Vaccines have been on the news a lot lately, primarily because people don’t want to be giving their children shots that would result in a neurological disorder (like autism) or something else. Now, while I regard this position as ultimately unsound and not informed on the scientific issue of vaccines as a whole, I believe that even if we grant this fundamental premise of the anti-vax crowd, there is still a very good reason to be pro-vaccine.
Put simply, even if vaccines did cause autism, it would still be irresponsible for parents to not vaccinate their children.
Vaccines are great at doing what they were intended to do. Namely, prevent certain diseases. It is virtually impossible to deny that the vaccines do their job. Unless, of course, you think that the scientific community is some kind of conspiracy organization, then you can deny it all you want. But you’d be wrong about vaccines and vaccines would still work.
Throw a conspiracy theory at something and you can deny or embrace anything, including decades of research.
And the moon landing.
Tell you what. If you’re a fan of conspiracy theories, I suggest you take a little time out of your day to study epistemology. Start here, on my blog! ❤
For a great visual (and potty-mouthed) presentation of what would happen to a population without vaccines, Penn & Teller made this video and you should watch it.
Remember, we are assuming that vaccines prevent diseases and that these same vaccines also cause autism in a small number of vaccine recipients.
Imagine a world where everyone is vaccinated.
In this world, preventable diseases are not a major problem. However, a small number of people have autism caused by vaccines (or some other cause).
Now imagine a world where no one was vaccinated.
In this world, preventable diseases kill hundreds (likely thousands) of people every year, and still a small number of people have autism (because vaccines are not the only potential cause of autism, even the anti-vaxers recognize this).
Clearly the world where we don’t have thousands of deaths from preventable diseases is the correct choice. There’s a darn good reason to vaccinate your kids.
I know what you’re saying.
“False dichotomy! There’s a middle ground there!”
Ok, you’re right.
Imagine that middle-ground world. The world where people choose between vaccination or a potentially autistic child.
So… the actual world.
In this world, we should still vaccinate, because if they don’t, their child may die from a deadly, preventable disease. And if they do, their child may have autism. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a child with a neurological disorder than a dead one who died of a preventable disease because I chose not to vaccinate.
Here’s the real clincher in this middle-ground scenario.
Some kids CAN’T be vaccinated for medical reasons. They’re either too young, have compromised immune systems or have other complications. The parents of these children are not even given the autism-or-deadly disease choice that other parents are.
If the unvaccinated kids live in a population where other kids are not vaccinated, preventable diseases present a real threat to their health and lives. But if they live in a community where everyone else is vaccinated, then the threat is significantly reduced because people around them don’t have the disease.
My ‘meta’ problem that I have with the anti-vax crowd is this.
They’d rather put hundreds (maybe thousands) of children in a life-threatening situation by allowing mumps, pneumonia, measles, diphtheria and many other diseases to be reintroduced into the community instead of having to potentially raise a child with a neurological disorder. They’d rather take the (increasingly likely, unfortunately) chance of their child coming down with a preventable illness (that may result in the child’s death) instead of the minuscule chance that they might have to raise an autistic child.
This is either severe ignorance or selfishness.
I’m not entirely sure which one it is.
I’m hoping ignorance is to blame.
Do the research.
Don’t spread misinformation.
Vaccinate your kids.
If you’re interested in the correlation between vaccines and autism, click here. I usually don’t like these infographic-type images, but this one is done remarkably well.
Thanks for reading.
* I am not trying to downplay the difficulties had by those with autism or families of those with someone with autism. I realize that it is difficult in many cases. I am also aware of several people on the spectrum who are extremely high functioning; in many situations, more skilled than those without autism.