(CNN)“Oh, we’re not planning to vaccinate.” These are the words a friend says to me in the midst of a conversation about their impending child.
I silently count to ten.
“How come?” I ask, trying to keep my voice light and airy. Trying to pretend that I don’t feel as though my friend has verbally slapped me across the face with this breezy declaration.
Their answer doesn’t really matter. I’ve heard dozens of reasons. Autism, the world is safer now, the government is using vaccines as a way to get nanobites into the populace, vaccines are just a moneymaking scam. Or, as the wife of White House communications chief Bill Shine tweeted (amid a measles outbreak) recently, childhood diseases like measles “keep you healthy & fight cancer.”
No matter what any of these people say about vaccines, I personally know they’re wrong.
In 1985 my mother was exposed to German Measles due to a failure in herd immunity. Herd immunity is created when the “herd” is vaccinated to the point where the disease, infection, or bacteria has nowhere to go, and no hosts to hide in. My mother remembers getting a rash all over her body on Valentine’s Day and being sick for a week. She didn’t know what it was. She didn’t know she needed her MMR vaccine booster, as they weren’t standard at the time (as they are now). The other thing that she didn’t know? She was pregnant at the time. With me.
As a result, I was born with Congenital Rubella Syndrome. I had cataracts in both eyes, a heart defect and hearing loss, plus a handful of other weird symptoms that I would find out later are classically CRS related but didn’t seem so at the time.
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