All of this nonsense about diseases that have effectively been eradicated starting to pop back in the picture due, at least in large part, to people choosing not to vaccinate is getting ridiculous. Unfortunately many are uninformed, misinformed, or have developed some crackpot conspiracy theory, which is wreaking havoc on such a simple and effective method of preventing the spread of infection. Let’s look at an analogy involving a wool blanket and a bitterly cold day. The wool blanket will represent the vaccine and the bitter cold will represent the infectious pathogen.
Wool blankets keep people warm. Just like vaccines prevent disease. There isn’t a question about this, this is fact. Wool blankets aren’t magic suits that can protect against temperatures hovering just above absolute zero, or exposure to blizzard-like conditions for decades at a time, just like vaccines have their own limitations. People aren’t given a one-shot deal at birth, becoming magically protected from communicable disease from day one. Vaccines often given in a series and take time to kick in. Vaccines don’t guarantee a 100% protection rate and they may not last a lifetime. Even though they aren’t magic, there is still no question that wool blankets keep people warm, just like there is no question that vaccines prevent disease. My father-in-law says that wool from goat hair makes the warmest blankets and the entire scientific community says that vaccines are the most effective method we have to prevent certain diseases, as of now. Scientists are continuously tweaking and changing and adjusting as more information is gathered, and over time the evidence has remained the same – vaccines prevent disease. It would be dangerous to purposefully sit outside in a blizzard and refuse a wool blanket, just as it is dangerous for most people to refuse vaccination for themselves or their children.
Large wool blankets keep people warm, and when many people crawl underneath the blanket together, the collective body heat keeps everyone even warmer. It’s hard to freeze to death when it’s not just your own body heat being trapped underneath, but you have your entire community’s body heat surrounding you as well. Vaccines are most effective when everyone is vaccinated – everyone is safer when they are surrounded by others who are also protected. It’s hard to get measles when your fellow neighbor isn’t breathing measle germs onto the grocery cart handle you touch, the rolled silverware you pick up at the restaurant or on the desk you sit down at when you go to parent-teacher conferences. The whole group is protected by all (or most) of the group being protected. This is called herd immunity. When you separate yourself from the herd, you’re effectively ripping off the warm blanket while you jump out, and taking your precious body heat with you. Even if others are still under the blanket, you’ve put them at greater risk. The more people who leave, the greater the risk. This is why your neighbors want to stab you in the eye when you tell them you aren’t vaccinating your children. Assuming you aren’t quarantining yourself in some anti-vaxx compound, you’re putting them at risk.
Some people are more susceptible to damage from the cold than others. Like, say, newborns, the elderly or someone who is otherwise immunocompromised. For many, individuals being exposed to bitter temperatures might be an inconvenience or an experience that causes no more than temporary discomfort. For some of the population, however, exposure is more dangerous and is potentially lethal. Let’s take measles, for example, for many of us, getting the measles might be an inconvenience, but for some it can result in lung infection, seizures and swelling of the brain. Even if the odds of serious or fatal damage are low without the protection of the wool blanket, they are so much higher than they would otherwise be if the damn wool blanket were there, just in case.
Wool blankets make some people itchy. And vaccinations may have side effects. For the most part, the side effects are not severe. A sore arm. Tiredness. A fever. But there are potential side-effects that can be devastating, and very rarely, even life-threatening (remember, vaccines are not magic potions). However, the overall risk of not vaccinating FAR OUTWEIGHS the overall risk of vaccinating. There is zero scientific evidence that suggests otherwise. For the world community as a whole, wool blankets are a warm, fuzzy, comfy, protective layer. If you think you’re rolling the dice by vaccinating, it’s important to look at the big picture and recognize that the odds are overwhelmingly in your favor when you choose to wrap up you and yours in the wool blanket. By not vaccinating, you’re absolutely putting yourself in a situation of greater risk, standing in the cold shivering, and exposing those around you to elements they would otherwise be protected from.
Wool blankets aren’t the only protection from the cold. However in this mediocre analogy, they are the best defense we have. We have heating packs and shelters we can build, but in our little hypothetical here, the wool blanket is the only tool everyone has access to, and is the one that has proven to be the most effective. Good nutrition and hygiene, and other preventative health measures are all crucial, of course, but alone they are not enough, proven both by pre-vaccine rates of infection, and by the fact that we simply can’t make everyone else take care of themselves like they should, or make them stay home and away from everyone else during their times of illness.
Vaccines aren’t given to newborns on the day they are born, they may not last a lifetime, and some people have legitimate medical reasons why they cannot receive them. These individuals have no way to wrap the wool blanket around themselves, and really depend on the rest of us around them to tuck them in. I’m not trying to pull the wool over your eyes here. It really is this simple.