Getting The Vax Straight


There is no subject likely to cause more of a shit-storm amongst parents than the question of vaccinations. I almost didn't bother writing anything about vaccinations because it never does any good. If you're lucky, it'll result in a vaguely respectful debate with half of commenters taking a staunch anti-vax stance and the other half stamping their feet firmly at the other end of the spectrum. If you're not lucky, an article on vaccinations can force even the most, gentle and kind-hearted person to spew out a vitriolic pile of vicious discourse that makes me imagine them sitting at their computer foaming at the mouth and banging their three heads against a wall. Quite simply - whether you vaccinate your kids is your choice. I chose to vaccinate my daughter and I'll be straight up honest: I think you should vaccinate your kids too. That doesn't mean that I don't respect your decision to disagree with me - I totally do - I just figure that, as this article is going to cause all sorts of people to lose their emotional shit anyway, I'd go balls deep and express my deepest, darkest opinions in all their dirty glory.

So, if I could say one thing, it would be this: stop fucking around and get your kids vaccinated. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh or disrespectful or angry - it's really none of those things. I guess if I could describe my emotions regarding this, it would be 'desperation'. For those of you who haven't vaccinated your kids and say, "Well, they never got mumps or measles or rubella or the flu," I say this to you: do you know why they didn't catch those diseases? Because the rest of us DID vaccinate our kids and while the majority of us are doing so, your kids will probably be largely protected. It's not rocket science. It's pretty simple maths.

These diseases did exist and now they don't. These diseases used to kill people, or seriously harm them, or cause them pain and discomfort for a period of time and now, they largely they don't. Before you shout about how they don't work anyway, we know that. We're not stupid. We know that vaccinations aren't 100% effective but they do produce immunity 90%+ of the time and I reckon those are pretty good odds. Let's face it, those odds are good enough for us when it comes to birth control. Condoms are 98% effective and the pill is 97% effective - that's enough to make most people comfortable enough to shag like rabbits without a care in the world. So why not when it comes to vaccinations?

So yes, vaccinated people can fall into that unlucky 2 or 3 per cent and still get mumps and measles and the flu but a lot more people don't get them and that means that even more people, quite simply, won't get them. Now, while your kids may sail through a case of the measels, one of the kids that your little one hugged at nursery may not sail through it and that kid may end up blind or dead. I know it's not your kid that ended up blind or dead, so who gives a shit, but I kind of do give a shit and I think you should too.

I know you're worried about what goes into these vaccinations and I can understand that, but you know what that is? That's fear and in my experience, any decision ever based on fear isn't the right one. Simple maths shows us that these vaccinations are safe - as safe as anything can be. The risks of your little one reacting badly to a vaccination are less than the odds of them reacting badly to nuts - in fact nearly 11 people a day are diagnosed with a nut allergy - and we still happily let our little ones try nuts.

In fact, it's not just nuts. We put them in the car (infinitely more likely to harm them than vaccinations), we take them swimming, we put them in the bath, we watch them scramble up climbing frames, we watch them jump off walls, learn to ride bikes, and a heap of other things that always hold the possibility of doing them harm. We take risks with our small people everyday. We make ourselves feel better about it by saying that they're calculated risks; that they are necessary risks...and they are. But so are vaccinations.

Anytime you ever put anything foreign into your little one's body - and I'm including food, medicine, homeopathic remedies, anything - you are putting them at risk. There's a chance their body will react against that because essentially, these are foreign bodies and while your little one's body is likely to deal with it - take from it what it needs - and shit out the rest, there's always the chance that it will do them harm. Vaccinations are no different.

"Oh!" I hear you cry. "You're just a sucker! You've been sucked in by the government and by Big Pharma and really they just want to make a shitload of money and they don't give a fuck about what happens to you and your child and how can you blindly place any faith in these big, fat, ugly, dirty corporations? You're so naive."

Let me tell you what little I know about the beast Big Pharma.

I know that they make a lot of drugs that save a lot of lives - not just vaccinations. I know that they use the best scientific brains to do it and that it requires some pretty advanced technology and labs and a bucket load of really extensive tests and I know that they are called Big Pharma because they employ a fucking shed load of people. People, I might add, just like you and me; people who go to Big Pharma every day and clock in and earn money so that they can do the best for their family and so that they can go home and feed them and clothe them and maybe take them on a holiday or two, or a trip to Disneyland. People who are good, clever, kind and hard-working people.

Then there are, of course, those nasty Big Fat Pharma cats who probably don't care much about whether your little one is vaccinated or not. They are simply in the business of making money and they are dirty, Madonna-style rich. Why? Because they've hit on a product that works. It's a product with the two best USPs going - it'll save your life and it'll save your kids' lives. So, of course, they can charge what they like for these products. But, let's face it, these products are pretty damn expensive to develop. Once they've nailed the development, creating the drug is probably a relatively cheap process but let's not forget that these drugs will have been created by people who are very brainy, and very well trained and probably very expensive to employ. They'll have been concocted in labs with equipment so specialised and so expensive that Lichenstein's GDP would struggle to cover it and then they've gone through rigorous testing processes which take years not days and so, while I'm not sure of the exact figures, I'm guessing all that costs a pretty penny.

Despite that, they're still making a huge mark up on these drugs, I have no doubt. I am sure the cunty fat cats who sit at the top of the Big Pharma tree and count their money and take it home to their massive mansions in their massive, chauffeur-driven, gas-guzzling cars are doing deals with governments and those deals may even be as shady as Rebekah Brooks left in charge of a newspaper...but you know what? That doesn't mean the drugs don't work. It doesn't mean vaccinations are bad and it doesn't mean you shouldn't vaccinate your just means that the greedy, fat people at the top of the tree are morally questionable at best and downright filthy human beings at worst.

While we're here, let's have a quick chat about Ebola. I'm sure we can all agree that the Ebola outbreak is about as devastating a human disaster as it is likely to get. I hate to bring the mood down but at the end of 2014 the WHO released figures that said that almost 10,000 people had died from the disease. The figure is actually likely to be more - not all cases will have been recorded especially in the more remote areas of the affected regions - and while it may have dropped off our news headlines, the disease continues to kill.

So, anti-vaxxers, what do we do? Do we tell them to wash their hands more thoroughly, more often? Do we tell them not to hug, touch, kiss, make love to each other? Do we tell them, as they watch their children's organs disintegrate and pour from their orifices, that they should ignore those people offering them a vaccination because they're only in it for the money and anyway, it might do you harm. Well you can try, but I'm guessing they'll punch you in the face and stamp over your unconscious body as they scramble to get to the drugs because you know what, they've just seen first hand what this disease does indiscriminately to those it infects.

So, what do we do about Ebola? We hope and pray that Big Pharma and little pharma and all the magic, clever brains in the world figure out a vaccination and a cure STAT. Because while this highly virulent, deadly disease is still stuck on the African continent and while it's only killing poor, brown people on a massive scale, you can sit all happy and tucked up in the knowledge that it's not your problem.

I have a feeling though, that if Ebola started raging through the UK infecting any middle class, white person no matter how small or cute, no matter how much organic food they ate or how many yoga sessions they did, you may not be as definitive in your stance against the drugs. I suspect that if Big Pharma waved it's gold-ring encrusted hand at you and said, "Oh hey! Over here! No worries, we've got this awesome drug and if you give it to your kids they won't catch Ebola but if you don't their organs will start exploding from the inside out," you'll be standing in line, just like you did when they charged you a small fortune to take the vaccinations in separate doses because that didn't cause autism.

And so to autism. This has, in the past, been disproven a number of times. More recently, governments and scientists and doctors are wondering if something in an individual's unique biological set up can be triggered by a component of a vaccination - whether this causes autism that otherwise wouldn't have happened, or whether it activates autistic symptoms that would have developed anyway - we'll never know.  When you say that vaccinations don't cause autism, you'll always hear a million people saying that their friend's mum's cleaner's dog breeder's son was forever changed after having his vaccinations.

So, for the sake of argument, let's say that vaccinations can cause autism. There are currently about 700,000 people in the UK with autism. The UK has a population of 64.1 million. That means that just about 1% of the UK has autism. Now, let's be honest - even if we are agreeing that vaccines cause autism, we can't attribute every case to vaccines but even if we said that a quarter of those were caused by vaccinations that means that the chances of your little one becoming autistic due to vaccinations is 1 in 400. Those odds are pretty frickin' low and that's only if we prove that vaccinations cause autism. Which we haven't.

If your baby girl needed life-saving surgery and the doctor said, "I have to tell you, there's a 1 in 400 chance that this operation will kill her," you'd tell the doctor to go ahead, right? "What are you standing here talking to me for?" you'd scream. "Go and save my little girl's life." And that's with a 1 in 400 chance of DEATH. Autism is an awful, heart-breaking diagnosis to live with but it isn't DEATH.

So, when you think about it, I mean REALLY think about it (you know, beyond your own world and your own family and your own life) surely you can see that the benefits far, far outweigh the risks, because, and here's the clincher isn't just about you.

I didn't vaccinate my kid just because I wanted to protect her and keep her safe (although that was obviously the main reason). I did it because it was also the responsible, and the right thing to do. I did it because it keeps society safe. It keeps old people safe. It keeps those with auto-immune issues safe. It keeps her school friends safe, and while it kind of pisses me off when you refuse to recognise it, it keeps your unvaccinated kids safe too.