Naivety is key to the anti-vaccine movement

close up of white syringe
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I will never understand the anti-vaccine lot. Perhaps though, when you have never watched your baby fight for life, tubes coming out of every available orifice, monitors beeping incessantly, when you have never watched the rib cage strenuously rise and fall at each breath, perhaps it is far easier to believe one discredited doctor over decades of scientific research.

Those whom risk their child’s lives based on nothing more than a whim tread a very dangerous, very precarious path. Their belief in pseudo-science over fact, their acceptance of conspiracies by big pharma seems the latest trend, and a worryingly fashionable one at that. Far from keeping quiet about their misinformed stance, many seem to parade it on social media or at parent and baby groups as a badge of honour.

I recall one mother (herself having had the privilege of vaccination), sat with a healthy newborn in her arms saying how it was her own choice not to vaccinate her baby. It was her legally given choice, but it should not have been. It was not her life that she was putting at risk for the sake of some quackery she’d read on the internet. I was told that vaccines “polluted the body and upset it’s natural rhythm” and that “we should develop our own immunity without the need for artificial drugs”. The irony is of course that this is just that the drugs allow the body to do. She went on to say how vaccinations were given mainly to satisfy the appetites of greedy drug companies, and that this was the primary motivating factor.

Undoubtedly when it comes to greed and big profit margins it’s hard to disagree that large drug companies can provide some of the best examples (recent instances of how they have fleeced the NHS are fairly easy to come by). But, and this is a big but, all of this so-called logic pre-supposes one crucial factor, that is that the NHS and its staff are somehow complicit in their exploitation of the most vulnerable patients.

When we are sick we have to trust healthcare professionals to do what is best for us, and in some emergency cases consent for procedure cannot always be sought prior to it occurring. I do wonder if the mother I spoke to would deny lifesaving chemotherapy (for example) on the same basis? Drug companies also profit here, but, whether it is a vaccine for the measles or treatment for cancer, it is still ultimately down to the discretion of the clinician to determine whether treatment is appropriate and required.

I don’t really understand where this new spike in avoiding vaccinations has originated from. Andrew Wakefield and his theories have long been discredited, but there has certainly been a significant rise in recent years of post-truth and the ability to spread lies and misconception like wildfire. Many of the world’s most well-known politicians and celebrities have this off to a fine art, and many are influenced by their statements.

Regardless of its more recent origins though, this thinking must be eradicated before the long-term affects of not protecting our children are felt en masse. The public at large must listen to the scientists and health professionals (most of them also parents) who are desperate to avoid completely preventable deaths.

I would never wish my experience on anyone, but watching your child fight to survive makes you appreciate how fragile their little life is. My child’s difficulties were not preventable. I did everything medically I should have done and still had to endure this torture, and I will be eternally grateful to the NHS, and to medicine, for a happy ending. I cannot conceive how any decent person would ever run the risk of enduring this trauma willingly, or of inflicting it on someone else’s child through the failure to do what is right.

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