Disease is like terrorism and anti-vaccine parents are committing treason

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Everyone is afraid of terrorism.

Terrorists strike without warning, often in the very places where we feel safest: cafes, concerts, and shopping malls. Terrorists kill and maim, leaving survivors with life long physical and psychological scars. The impact of terrorism is outsized. It only takes a few terrorist attacks for an entire population to feel vulnerable.

Refusing to vaccinate is the equivalent of insisting our police and soldiers should throw rocks at Islamic terrorists because that’s how we fought our foes in nature.

Not surprisingly, we view with horror anyone who aids and abets terrorism. We abhor American citizens who swear allegiance to Islamic terror organizations. We are horrified when they share information with terrorists about suitable targets or if they buy and supply weapons and explosives. Not surprisingly, we consider them traitors.

Vaccine preventable disease has a lot in common with terrorism. It strikes without warning in the places where we feel safest: home, school and work. It kills and maims, leaving survivors with life long physical and psychological scars. The impact of disease is outsized. Bacteria and viruses, too small for the eye to see, can take down and kill a grown man in a matter of hours. As you might imagine such attacks are even more devastating for children.

We ought to view with horror anyone who aids and abets vaccine preventable disease. We should fear anti-vaccine parents who pledge allegiance to Nature, which creates and maintains these tiny terrorists, as if Nature cares whether we live or die. We should be horrified by anti-vaxxers who offer their own children as fodder for vaccine preventable illnesses and then let those children expose other innocents. In truth, they are traitors to the rest of us.

Anti-vaxxers like to consider themselves hard-nose realists, ever wary of the possibility of government abetted corporate terrorism. It is axiomatic to them that they have more to fear from corporations than from bacteria and viruses. But they aren’t hard-nosed realists; they are startlingly child-like. They have been so softened by their easy access to technology, that they actually believe that life without technology (“Nature”) is benign. It’s the intellectual equivalent of stubbornly insisting that ISIS and other Islamic terrorists truly have our best interests at heart. And they are committing Nature’s equivalent of treason.

Vaccines protect everyone, but they offer the most protection to the most vulnerable. Just like the guns and bullet proof vests that we give our police officers and soldiers allow them to stand in a defensive formation and protect us from terrorist, vaccines serves as guns and bullet proof vests we give our immune systems. Refusing to vaccinate and relying on “natural” immunity is the intellectual equivalent of stripping our police and soldiers of their weapons and protective equipment, and telling them to throw rocks at ISIS and Al Quaeda because that’s how we fought our foes in nature.

Each child who is unvaccinated is the equivalent of a soldier in the defensive formation stripped of his weapons and protective gear. Not only is that soldier extremely vulnerable, but everyone else is vulnerable, too. No doubt a large group of soldiers could still defend those behind them if only one or two were deprived of weapons, but if more than a very few soldiers are unarmed, the line would break and the vulnerable civilians would be killed. That’s precisely what happens when parents refuse to vaccinate their children; everyone is put at risk.

Anti-vaxxers attempt to excuse their actions by claiming that their ultimate responsibility is to their own children whom they believe might be harmed by vaccines. But traitors always put the welfare of themselves and their families before the greater good; that’s generally why they commit treason. Claiming that you have the right to refuse to vaccinate your children because your only responsibility is to your child is the equivalent of enabling your child to be a terrorist if that’s what makes him happy since his welfare is your only concern.

Disease is like terrorism. Parents who enable either are committing treason.

  • Steph858

    Back when I was dating, I declined another date with one potential suitor when he told me “I’d never vaccinate any kids I might have – too dangerous.” He said this between puffs of a cigarette …

  • Christopher Hickie

    Regarding terrorism, the producer of Andrew Wakefield’s fraudumentary “Vaxxed” is telling those in attendance at after-movie Q and A’s that now is the time for guns. Yes, he did that. https://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2016/07/19/del-bigtree-crosses-the-line-tells-vaxxed-audience-nows-the-time-for-guns/

  • MaineJen

    This article is timely for me. My 4 year old daughter just spent 3 days in the hospital with scarlet fever (and what may or may not have been a secondary infection with staph) receiving IV antibiotics. She is on her way to a full recovery. I know scarlet fever/strep is not vaccine preventable, but even so, I have NEVER been so grateful to live in the modern age of antibiotics and vaccines. This illness came on her so scarily fast, and it was devastating to watch a normally *extremely* active child just…lay there…not wanting to move because her entire body hurt.

    Diseases like this used to be commonplace. Parents used to have to watch their kids go through this regularly. For gods’ sake. If there is a vaccine, @#$% use it. If you think a shot is worse than a disease, you literally don’t know what you don’t know.

  • JLW

    Everything about this article is abhorrent. Since when is science infallible? There is a clear problem and it makes me suspicious when there is no room for dissent or critical thinking, whether it be regarding vaccinations or global warming. I happen to know children who were vaccine injured. Do their lives mean nothing? It happens, whether or not you want to agree. You’re an MD, but I couldn’t care less. Credentials mean nothing to me when the owner viciously attacks those who question he/she has adopted as their belief. Belief without knowledge is dangerous. Yes, you could say that applies to the other side, and it does. However, you cannot logically say that vaccines are safe for all children, unless you simply don’t care about those who may be vulnerable (which I suspect you don’t). Medications are not one size fits all…neither are vaccines. Take the time to read a vaccine insert. There is a laundry list of potential reactions listed. So don’t come back at me with any “scientific evidence” that states they are 100% safe. Science these days is crap. It involves intellectual group think and “peer reviewed” studies, which are no more than two individuals with the same bias scratching each others’ backs. Give me a break. This blog permanently lost me.

    • LaMont

      So if seatbelts save 100,000 lives in a certain time period but physically harm 2 people, would you be in favor of questioning seatbelts and risking those 100,000 lives? After all, that’s not 100% perfect. Do you think it’s possible to try to prevent those two injuries with better technology, advances, etc. *while still being in favor of saving those 100,000 lives*? If not, why? No one is saying that vaccines are perfect (that “100%” straw man, always fun), they’re saying the jury is in, that they’re far *safer* than abstaining from vaccines, like the seatbelts in this example. Plus, a “laundry list of reactions” doesn’t mean a laundry list of severe harms, nor does it state the frequency of those reactions. I got two vaccines the other day and the soreness in my arms is annoying, but it’s nothing compared to meningitis or tetanus. And “soreness” is something that would be on that list of potential harms – but that cost/benefit analysis is easy to me…

    • Azuran

      Where in this post does it says that vaccine are 100% safe? It doesn’t. No one is saying they are 100% safe. However, they are practically as safe as anything can possibly be. The risks of vaccination are thousands of times outweighed by the risks of not vaccinating.
      It’s entirely possible that you know someone who was vaccine injured. I know someone who is alive because he WASN’T wearing his seat belt. Doesn’t mean I’ve stopped wearing it myself. Because I know that the risk of it killing me is much lower than my risk of dying without one.
      There are indeed people who cannot be vaccinated, either because they had reactions in the past, because of allergies, or because of their health. No doctor ever claimed that 100% of kids, without any exception, can and should be vaccinated. But those who can should in order to protect themselves and those who cannot, including this vaccine injured kid you know (since, if it’s a real vaccine injury, he’s unlikely to be vaccinated again). Do you want him to catch measles and polio on top of his vaccine injury?

      Honestly, I’m pretty sure this blog never had you, so it’s not really a big loss.

    • Jetske Goslinga

      Early in my career (I’m an engineer), one of my mentors said to me: Nothing is 100% safe. Everything carries risk. And risk management is our business.

      That has stuck with me since, because it’s as true in life as it is in engineering. Sure vaccines are not 100% safe. And it’s terribly sad when a child suffers a vaccine injury. It’s infinitely sadder when a child suffers permanent damage from a vaccine-preventable disease. And the risks are so much higher. It makes me wonder why any sane parent would refuse to vaccinate their child.

  • Fleur

    It’s the conspiracy theorizing in particular that drives me nuts. Refusing to give your kid the MMR because “there’s no proof that it’s 100 per cent safe” is just scientifically illiterate. Believing that there’s clear evidence that it kills or damages vast numbers of babies, but that the evidence has been suppressed by a global conspiracy of doctors, politicians and drug companies, is just crazy paranoid. Back at the height of the whole controversy over MMR, the UK tabloids were demanding to know whether the PM’s baby son, Leo Blair, had received the MMR or single jabs. Leaving aside the question of whether it was any of the Daily Mail’s business, I didn’t really see the importance of whether the Blairs believed the MMR vaccine was safe or not – they weren’t scientists and, IIRC, they were close friends with at least one controversial woo practitioner. Yet I spoke to plenty of people who seemed to believe that the Blairs must have Secret Inside Information that the MMR vaccine caused autism. Presumably they were envisioning some kind of top-secret conversation at 10 Downing Street where the nation’s top experts said “actually, Mr Blair, the evidence shows a definite link between the MMR jab and autism, but we’re going to bury the data and carrying on poisoning the nation’s children because the kickbacks from Big Pharma are too good. But we’re going to spare your son because, hey, there are perks to being the PM. Don’t tell anyone, ok?”

    • Who?

      Our new mate Dawn Batson is over at the Ina May post wanting people to prove that something or other is impossible. Scientific illiteracy is everywhere.

      Anyone who thinks there could reasonably be a global conspiracy concerning anything has clearly never tried to organise even something so minor as a chook raffle.

      • Fleur

        Yeah, it’s a funny thing about this site – I almost always enjoy Dr Amy and the BTL comments virtually saved my sanity when I was pregnant, but the trolls on here are exceptionally lame. Is there some kind of law of the internet that I’m not aware of re overall quality of BTL comments being in inverse proportion to the quality of the visiting trolls? (speaking of which, I don’t even think I want to know what’s going down on the “theology of quackery” post!)

        • Who?

          They are almost uniformly lame. Poor old Rozy (sp?) is definitely not right. Very angry. It’s like she turned up pre-revved.

  • J.B.

    I just saw a facebook thread about “are you getting your kids the HPV vaccine, why or why not?” I was really surprised by the people who said not. (And really pleased that some chimed in with facts!) I’m not as bothered by that as by not vaccinating against measles (transmission isn’t exactly through the air) but it’s pretty obvious they aren’t aware of the potential horror some here have shared about cervical cancer.

    Interestingly the pediatricians supposedly aren’t making a big deal about parents who choose to skip. Maybe partly because the cancers that occur are mainly in the adult population, not in child patients.

    • FormerPhysicist

      Yes, I see a lot of the “Gardasil researcher” blah blah blah posts ….

    • nomofear

      As an informed parent, I’ll be getting my kid every vaccine available (well, maybe not all the tropical diseases, lol, unless we’re going there), even if I have to pay for them. Healthy life = quiet life.

    • Sean Jungian

      I did request the HPV vaccine for my son when he was 13, but it wasn’t promoted at our small-town clinic. I was even told by the nurse that “you know it isn’t required for boys, right?”. So while I wouldn’t say they tried to discourage me from getting it for my son, they certainly don’t do much to promote it.

      On the other hand, there is a high-rotation commercial here in North Dakota that does urge parents to get their kids vaccinated against HPV.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    I don’t like the comparison to terrorism. The strategy for fighting terrorism is challenging and nuanced.

    The strategy for fighting disease, and in particular vaccine preventable disease, is straight-forward and obvious.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    As the recent rise of the Zika virus should make clear, Mother Nature is still the biggest, baddest terrorist out there. Not vaccinating is like agreeing to take an unknown package from her onto your next flight.

  • demodocus

    Not catching diseases is way more fun than catching them. Even if you discount the possibility of permanent impairment.

    • guest

      It’s as though the anti-vaxxers have confused diseases with Pokemon. No, you do NOT want to catch them all!

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    We abhor American citizens who swear allegiance to Islamic terror organizations.

    Too bad we don’t abhor those who swear allegiance to or just act in the interests of right wing Christian terrorists groups, who are a much greater threat in the US and Europe.

  • E.C.

    All adults should get their titers checked. I had all my childhood vaccines, but learned in my mid-thirties that I wasn’t immune to two of the three MMR diseases. A few years of adult boosters fixed that.

    • MI Dawn

      Yeah, I had mine checked and need a repeat MMR (again…sigh….). Was supposed to get it at the MD office but they were running so late I had to leave to go to work. I’ll get over there soon.

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      I have mine checked a lot and luckily never need a booster

  • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

    I think anti-vaccers are more like drunk drivers. They get away with it a few times and think they’re immortal. Then end up plowing head-on into a school bus full of children killing all of them but walk away without a scratch….or a jail sentence. Sort of like Affluenza Boy but with germs instead of a pickup truck.

    • Rhybellious

      To further your comparison….. My son is medically complex and special needs. He is immunocompromised. My daughter was a 31 week preemie. My kids are the ones in the crosswalk who get mown down right before they hit the entire bus…and they expect me to respect their “choice”? Not going to happen. The sociopathic arrogance that allows them to put their opinions and feelings above the actual facts terrifies me.

      • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

        “I don’t care about anyone else’s kids health and welfare, I only care about mine” seems like a very libertarian concept. It’s “Screw you, I got mine” taken to an extreme.