Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Anti-vaccination rhetoric; disablism; eliminationism.]

"I know my kids best. I know what morals and values are right for my children. I think we should not have an oppressive state telling us what to do."—Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI), the latest Republican to speak out against vaccine mandates.

This week started with a weekend piece in the New York Times about parents who choose not to vaccinate their children, which contained passages such as this one:
Missy Foster, 43, said she had not vaccinated her daughter, Tully, who is now 18 months old, against measles because of concern that the M.M.R. vaccine — which stands for measles, mumps and rubella, or German measles — might be associated with autism.

"It's the worst shot," she said, with tears in her eyes. "Do you want to wake up one morning and the light is gone from her eyes with autism or something?"
Rank disablism, rooted in an accountable belief in a thoroughly discredited study.

And passages like this:
After researching the issue and reading information from a national anti-vaccine group, Ms. McDonald said she and her husband, a chiropractor, decided to raise their four children without vaccines. She said they ate well and had never been to the doctor, and she insisted that her daughter was healthier than many classmates. But when the school sent her home with a letter, Ms. McDonald's daughter was so concerned about missing two weeks of Advanced Placement classes that she suggested simply getting a measles inoculation.

"I said, 'No, absolutely not,'" Ms. McDonald said. "I said, 'I'd rather you miss an entire semester than you get the shot.'"
So, not vaccinating one's children is a principled choice, but if one of those children wants the vaccine, their choice is not valid and not respected. Gross hypocrisy.

And passages like this:
In San Geronimo, Calif., a mostly rural community of rolling hills and oak trees about 30 miles north of San Francisco, 40 percent of the students walking into Lagunitas Elementary School have not been inoculated against measles, according to the school's figures. Twenty-five percent have not been vaccinated for polio.
That is shocking. And the school superintendent explained the alarming indifference to vaccinations this way: "A lot of people here have personal beliefs that are faith based."
The faith, Mr. Carroll said, is not so much religious as it is a belief that "they raise their children in a natural, organic environment" and are suspicious of pharmaceutical companies and big business.
I mean.

screen cap of tweet authored by me reading: 'And believing organic food protects against measles? Tell that to an 18th century peasant who died from it. I guarantee they ate organic.'

I understand religious objections to vaccinations. (And for most of my life, the small percentage of people who chose not to vaccinate for religious reasons did not affect "the herd.") But these are not religious beliefs:

* Believing, based on a discredited study by an unethical former doctor, that vaccinations cause autism.

* Believing that your child having autism makes them less than fully human.

* Believing that your parenting right is more important than your child's agency.

* Believing that a "natural, organic environment" exists in isolation from measles. Which, by the way, are both natural and organic.

* Believing that your right to not inoculate against infectious diseases is more important than the social contract to eradicate infectious diseases, which is most important for people made most vulnerable by compromised immune systems or poverty.

I will flatly admit that my contempt for not vaccinating is utterly selfish. I have an autoimmune disorder; I am vaccinated but thus still at risk.

Like millions of other people, including Dr. Tim Jacks' daughter Maggie, who has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Or babies who are too young to be vaccinated. Or adults fighting or living with various diseases.

I have now had the flu for a month and counting. I get facial numbness and tics and shakes in reaction to simple infections. I don't want to get measles. Which is, contrary to current narratives, "a highly contagious, serious disease."

That said, I am sympathetic to religious objections, mostly because legitimate religious objections are a very small part of the population.

But you don't want to vaccinate your kid because you want to live an organic life? Or because you don't like the government telling you what you do? Nope. Sorry. That ain't how society works. Not when it comes to infectious disease.

And you don't want to vaccinate your kid because you can't imagine a fate worse than being the parent of a child with autism? Fuck you. Don't risk other people's lives with your bigotry.

I don't think it's any mystery that I am wholly in support of choice, and I am wholly in support of people having control over their healthcare, and I am wholly in support of skepticism, and I am wholly in support of alternative medicine.

But vaccinations aren't about choice, or independence, or unproven science, or alternative medicine. Not really. They're about the social contract, and what citizens owe one another. They're about the most privileged people doing what they can to protect the most vulnerable.

Because it isn't the privileged white kid of wealthy parents who live in a clean, beautiful, rural environment and can afford all the best organic food and are able to access the best healthcare available if that unvaccinated kid gets measles who is the most at risk by people's choice not to inoculate.

It's the poor kid of poor parents who lives in the neighborhood at the ass-end of the waste disposal for the factory that produces the packaging for organic granola bars, who breathes contaminated air and drinks contaminated water and resultingly has a compromised immune system that makes them more likely to contract measles even if they've been vaccinated, and more likely not to have access to cutting edge healthcare if they do, who is the most at risk by people's choice not to inoculate.

We're all in this together. For that kid's life, not for a privileged parent's personal choice.

We don't owe our own health to anyone else, but we absolutely do owe other people's health to them. And being vaccinated is part of that responsibility.

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