A message to parents who do not vaccinate their children
We are living in a world where more and more parents do not vaccinate their children. This is a phenomenon that is rather common nowadays in Greece and has nothing to do with the cost of the vaccines and the financial crisis we are living in, since all vaccinations are still offered free of charge by our healthcare system.
Social media and specifically Facebook has created “partisans” who are against vaccines. Pages with innumerable likes can be found across the internet with numerous parents who consider themselves experts and accuse pharmaceutical companies that want to get rich and irresponsible parents who play with the lives of their children when vaccinations are considered.
From what I have seen, usually the administrators of such pages (which does not seem to be doctors or specialists in any case) are urging parents not to vaccinate their children and this thing is generating a total mess. Some parents seem to be in such confusion that even ask if it’s ok for their children to make friends and play with other children who are vaccinated! In short this thing feels like we are living in the Middle Ages.
A personal and alarming experience
Some time ago I came across an internet mothers group, with people who called themselves “deniers of vaccines”. From their conversations I realized that they all had between one to ten children in their immediate circle and while they did not vaccinate their children, none of they seemed to have become ill. They said that they also know a huge circle of children who suffered a thousand things from vaccinations. They said that others were paralyzed, some did not make it and some even escaped as a miracle.
The narrated stories about people they had heard about from a friend or a relative who suffered from one disease or medical condition when they were vaccinated, confirming how lucky they were not to follow the herd. All of us, namely, who as parents hear the advice of doctors and care to vaccinate our children.
Illogical arguments about vaccinations
Their main argument to support their belief was that “We do not vaccinate our children, and there has nothing been wrong with them.” I would like to say this to them: Dear parents, by not vaccinating your children nothing has gone wrong because the rest of us, fortunately we are still much more, we vaccinate our children and ourselves. In short, nothing has gone wrong simply because you live in an environment that is still difficult for a kid or an adult to get an illness. However, if there are many others who follow your actions and do not vaccinate their children, then the dangerous diseases may knock our door really soon.
For example, if five out of a hundred parents avoid vaccination, those five families will be protected and will most probably avoid the dangers of the vaccine, due to the remaining 95 who vaccinated and raised their children with any small risks vaccines may have, as all medications have contraindications. But if twenty out of a hundred parents decide to avoid vaccination, then the remaining eighty who assumed the risk of the vaccine for their children still remaining unprotected, because an epidemic can hit at any time despite being vaccinated. The thing with vaccines is that they work best if they all use them, so those who do not vaccinate their children bring a huge share of social responsibility for their choices.
Are vaccines 100% safe? No, but…
Some other parents say: “And who tells me that vaccines are 100% safe?”. Well, indeed, nothing is 100% safe, neither the water we drink and the air we breathe. And the reality is that no vaccine, like any medicine, is not 100% safe. But for any medical intervention it is good to balance things. On one side there are the benefits of vaccination: vaccines protect against diseases that can kill people and on the other side we can put the possible side effects from vaccines: usually immediate and transient, rarely long-term or permanent – they exist but they are rather unusual.
It is a fact that recommended vaccines save lives, they really work. Certain diseases like measles are not extinct or very rare because most children are vaccinated against them. Before the time of these vaccines, such diseases could be fatal. In parts of Africa and the developing world where modern vaccines are not available, such diseases still kill thousands, millions of children each year. And history shows that when vaccination do not take place, the disease very soon increases in frequency and epidemics appear.
I’m sure that parents who do not want to vaccinate their children, do not want to harm them. But the law requires that we vaccinate our children just like we wear our seatbelts in a car, no matter if some people sometimes do not. This is the best thing to do for ourselves and our children and it’s not a global conspiracy.