Are “antivaxxers” child abusers?

Vaccinations have changed children’s health for the better for decades now. So why the sudden backlash?

We recently had the unfortunate opportunity to experience the emergency ward in a hospital twice within a month. I haven’t written about it until now because, to be honest, it was extremely traumatic for our child, my wife, and for me.

Now, our daughter ended up in intensive care for her second trip to the hospital. For those of you with a small child that has never been in intensive care with their child, you can imagine how awful it is. This was from a pretty common virus within the community (not too dissimilar to the common cold).

Imagine if your child ended up in hospital, intensive care or not, for an illness that is easily prevented. Those often unseen illnesses that we don’t worry about because of vaccinations. Well, thanks to the “anti vaccination” movement (yes, it’s an entire movement) some of those almost eradicated diseases are making a comeback. 

Already here in Australia there have been multiple outbreaks of measles. In New Zealand there was a huge outbreak where the entire south island ran out of vaccines. Likewise, just recently there has been a ban on unvaccinated children in parks in New York due to a measles outbreak.

Now, I don’t blame antivaxxers for he existence of measles. Neither do doctors and scientists. They do however blame them for fuelling and spreading the outbreaks. If you think of many vaccinations as a kind of firebreak this makes more sense. If the viruses have nowhere safe to “jump” to, the outbreak can be contained and halted.

I don’t even blame the antivaccination movement for their own beliefs. These are people who believe so deeply in wacky conspiracy theories (like autism is caused by vaccines – when it is caused by other factors including the age of the parents) that they do things like wear yellow stars at protests comparing themselves to Jews who were rounded up and gassed:

These are unwell people. In the same way we would protect children who are experiencing neglect from their parents due to lack of food, or exposure to drugs and alcohol, isn’t it time to start prosecuting adults who neglect the care of their children? At least in Australia we now deny these people any form of government child payments until their vaccines are up to date.

To end this post, please, if you see someone on your social media, or in your day to day life professing conspiracy theories about vaccines, don’t let it slide. It’s a form of child abuse and it places more than just their child’s life and health at risk. As a community we need the entire community to exhibit immunity, otherwise we cannot eradicate terrible diseases that medicine has the means to eradicate.