I am well aware of how many people have concerns over vaccinations. I have spend the last number of years working closely with families living with children on the autism spectrum. I have heard just about every argument out there, many of which have been scientifically dispelled but still not acceptable to these families. I am also aware of how many families are oppositional to vaccines for religious reasons. However with that said I have serious concerns regarding recent outbreaks of measles in Canada and the growing issue over the reemergence of polio. As a polio survivor from the 1953 epidemic this is an issue that is very personal to me.
I raise my son to always take into account the consequences of any actions he decides to take. I have always told him I would support any of his decisions but that I also expected him to fully understand the consequences of his actions. And not only the consequences to him but the consequences those actions may have on others. For example the decision to get into a car and drive while impaired could result in the loss of his licence. However that is quite different from the consequences of killing someone while driving impaired. I feel the same thing about vaccinations.
Not vaccinating your child for fear of a variety of consequences is one thing. Failure to vaccine against conditions thought to have been eradicated but whose reemergence threatens an entire community is another. The recent outbreak of measles in the lower Fraser Valley is an example of how failure to vaccine a number of children has impacted over four hundred other individuals. This is so rare that there were doctors actually unable to diagnose it because they had never seen it before. And these outbreaks are not confined to the lower Fraser Valley. They have now been reported in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and many places in the States. These are no longer isolated cases. Parents responsibility to their children doesn’t end with that child, they also have a responsibility to ensure their community is safe. By denying vaccines you are putting your whole community at risk.
I have had families tell me that they need to know why their child was affected with whatever disorder. I had polio in 1953 and shared a bed with two of my siblings (eventually there were six of us) however I was the only one to contract polio. To be really honest the question of why me and not any of them has never entered my mind. The fact is I did contract it, there was no vaccine at the time, and I spend most of my time learning to live with it. There is no answer to why me and not them so why waste my time on an unanswerable question.
However I am well aware of the devastation this disease can cause. I was one of the lucky ones and survived. Many didn’t, many died or lived on but in much worse shape than myself. Yes I have had to use mobility aides for my entire life but that is way better than living my life in an institute or worse yet an iron lung. Less than a 100 people continue to live today in an iron lung and Martha Ann Lillard is one of them. Over sixty years is a long time to stay in one room when your mind is going a mile a minute. As I said I am one of the lucky ones. I take the current reemergence of polio very seriously.
Again I know families that are very oppositional to vaccine which is very much their right. However when it threatens our community I feel the need to speak out against it. While North American families worry about unknown complications to vaccines children is countries like Vietnam and Mozambique have their arms chopped off by rebels because they accepted immunization from UN health teams. Now that’s a worry but they did it anyway. The Rotarians have invested in a 30 year campaign to eradicate polio in third world countries and now that appears to have been for naught because parents don’t want to vaccine their children in “civilized” countries.
Yes I take the reemergence of polio very seriously and will debate the benefits of the vaccine with anyone. Polio like drunken driving doesn’t have to happen. It is a choice and often a bad one. Be responsible not only to your own child but to your neighbours child as well.
Just one man’s opinion!