I do not feel guilty when I say this. I have absolutely no patience for anti-vaccination advocates.

Listen, I know that conspiracies, no matter how ridiculous they are, still have some basis of fact. That’s why they’re conspiracies. There’s just enough fact to keep the conspiracy alive.

However, the anti-vaccination movement is based on absolutely zero scientific data. None. I have failed to see a single medical professional say that vaccinations are harmful. If you find one, please let me know and make sure that they have proof of a medical license. I would absolutely love to meet them.

Something happened just the other day that re-ignited my already burning passion about how much I hate the anti-vaccination movement and all who support it. I was waiting to ask my teacher something, and she was having a conversation with a parent. This mother was complaining how her kids kept getting sick, and how tired she was from taking care of them and stuff. I felt bad for her until my teacher asked if her children got their shots, just out of curiosity. This mom pursed her lips together and spat out a, “No, I don’t believe in that. And I guess that’s where I get controversial.”

Yeah, it sure is controversial letting your children suffer from preventable illnesses for no other reason other than your personal fake-fact bias.

Now, I have to be realistic. Some children can’t get vaccinated due to health issues. However, those children would have been most likely fine living happily in society since most everyone around them was vaccinated. That way, preventable diseases can’t be spread to them. As more and more parents are forcing their children to be at risk by not letting them get vaccines, this causes the resurgence of diseases that can be especially harmful to these kids with health problems. The graph of disease spread is an exponential one (if you know math). It’s extremely difficult to control the spread of disease once it starts.

I do want to say that if you are hesitant about vaccines because you don’t know much about them, that’s okay. I dozed off a lot in eighth grade science too. Google is right at your fingertips; do some research. There are hundreds of wonderful resources that explain how vaccines work.

In world news, we all saw the story of the eighteen-year-old who went against his mother’s wishes and got vaccinated without her permission. That story warmed my heart, but when I started digging more, I found entire internet forums dedicated to similar situations. Kids and teens are turning to strangers online to find ways to get vaccinated because their parents refused to give them that basic healthcare right. North Carolina is one of the few states that allows children the right to get vaccinated without parental permission, so that does show good progress, but the rest of the country needs to follow suit.

There was something else in the news that made me seethe with frustration. A couple took their unvaccinated son to Costa Rica and in turn reintroduced measles to the country after it had been free of the disease for five years. Five entire years. It makes me so angry that parents can bring their unvaccinated children and cause an outbreak of a preventable disease in a poorer country where most of the population has little access to healthcare, but you can’t bring fruit. I don’t think a papaya is killing children.

Last month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) called “vaccine hesitancy” one of the 10 most serious threats to human health. WHO is reporting that countries that were close to eliminating diseases such as measles for good are now seeing a resurgence. Measles caused 110,000 deaths worldwide in 2017 despite the vaccine. Most of those people who died? Children under five years old.

Is your political agenda worth the lives of children?

I would really like to see how you justify that.

One other argument that seems to be common with anti-vaxxers is the classic “vaccines cause autism.” I really thought that everyone finally learned that the entire “study” was fake and the “doctor” who spread the lies had his license revoked, but unfortunately people just hate fact-checking.

I see people scream at journalists about spreading fake news when they’re the ones still believing the fake news. It also makes me so mad that you would rather not vaccinate your child out of fear of “making them autistic.” You’d rather put a vulnerable human life in danger and potentially let them die an early death? You’d rather a dead child than an autistic one? I really hate to be harsh, but honestly, just say you hate people with autism. It’s a lot easier and doesn’t infect children with preventable diseases.

Parents who choose not to vaccinate their kids for their own personal agendas should be all charged with child neglect. Child neglect is defined as “the failure of a parent or other person with responsibility for the child to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the degree that the child’s health, safety, or well-being may be threatened with harm.” Children need to be vaccinated. That’s a basic healthcare right. If you refuse to provide that care, you neglect the needs of your child.

I don’t care if people call me hateful after they read this. I don’t care if I come off as hostile. I care too much about the lives of children to be bothered by what people say. I am fiercely pro-vaccine, and I always will be. I don’t like needles, but you better believe I will stand in line for however long it takes to get myself vaccinated. Getting vaccinated protects not only myself, but it protects others who can’t be protected, either for medical reasons or the ignorance of their parents. I will continue to be loud and annoying about this. I can’t just stand back and let it happen.

By: Cat Whiting, Opinion Editor

Correction: The 13th paragraph in the above story has been corrected to read “I really thought that everyone finally learned that the entire ‘study’ was fake and the ‘doctor’ who spread the lies had his license revoked, but unfortunately people just hate fact-checking.”

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