Many people seem to think that the decision to vaccinate their child is a personal one. Some believe there is a strong link between immunizations and Autism, while others believe that it will in some way violate their religious beliefs. Rebecca Bredow, a mother from Pontiac, Michigan, falls into the latter category. Earlier this month, Bredow was found in contempt of court for failing to ensure that her 9-year-old son received the appropriate vaccinations for his age group. She was sentenced to seven days in jail, but ended up serving only five days. In that time, Bredow lost primary custody of her son, who received four immunizations while she was in jail.
What Happens When You Don’t Vaccinate Your Child?
“I would rather go to jail for standing up for what I believe in than vaccinating my child,” Bredow explains, adding that she believes the decision to vaccinate a child is a “personal choice.”
But is it a personal choice? Not really.
It’s true the state of Michigan is one of many that allow parents to opt-out of vaccinations for non-medical reasons. While states allow this practice, it’s far from a personal choice when you consider the ability of one unvaccinated child to infect an infant who is too young to receive vaccines or a cancer patient whose immune system has been compromised due to chemotherapy treatments. Vaccine preventable diseases (VPD) include measles, whooping cough, chicken pox, Hib (virus that causes meningitis), and the Flu. Several of those diseases can prove fatal to small children and cancer patients.
Would you want a child who has the measles or whooping cough sitting next to yours at daycare or in a classroom? Do you think Bredow and other parents who make the choice to opt-out of vaccines for their kids considered the impact their choice has on a cancer patient too sick to fend off whatever their child spreads along the way? Probably not.
That’s why refusing to vaccinate your child is far from a personal choice. It’s a choice that has the ability to kill babies, those battling diseases, and the elderly.
2015 Disneyland Outbreak Demonstrates the Dangers of a Parent’s “Personal Choice”
A measles outbreak in 2015 at Disneyland saw 51 people infected with the disease. The ages of those infected ranged from younger than 12 months to individuals in their 60s. Since the measles is an airborne disease, there is no way of knowing that you’ve been infected until symptoms begin roughly three to fourteen days later. All in all, Disneyland found that employees, young children, and older adults all suffered from this outbreak, with those guests taking the disease to other states like Arizona, Washington State, and Utah.
Parents like Bredow have the choice to avoid vaccination, but the parents of small infants who visited the park had no idea what their children were being exposed to. So why shouldn’t parents of small children be allowed to decide if they want their child around those who haven’t been vaccinated? Why are parents like Bredow allowed to make a decision that could impact the health of your child without you even knowing?
Are Parents Getting Carried Away?
In a word…yes! All of the parents who think vaccines are “too harmful” to their child are living proof of the benefits and the impact of immunizations! Thanks to vaccinations over the years, they haven’t died from the flu (despite having it several times in life), developed polio, or come down with the case of the measles. At one point in history, all of those diseases killed tens of thousands of people. What’s better is that the majority don’t seem to suffer from Autism and they haven’t been struck by lightening because God (or the supreme leader of their faith) doesn’t think vaccinations are safe.
So, what is the Michigan mom (and other parents just like her) really saying by refusing to vaccinate their children? They’re saying that they haven’t considered at all what their decision means for the health and safety of anyone else. And if we’re all going to avoid dying of something as simple as the flu…that selfish way of thinking will have to change.
What do you think? Are vaccines truly a personal choice? Or, is this just another negative impact of new-age parenting? Don’t be afraid to sounds off!