One of the disadvantages of widespread vaccinations is that people tend to forget how really bad the diseases they’re preventing are. Increasingly, well-meaning parents are opting out of vaccinations, partly because they may have mild side-effects, and partly because of a superstition that they may cause more serious damage, like autism. Why take the risk, the thought goes, when the disease barely exists any more, and probably isn’t that bad?
Well, as someone who has had rubella, chicken pox, and (just recently) whooping cough, I think vaccinations are awesome. The off-chance of getting a headache is way better than catching any of the diseases the vaccinations prevent. With one shot, your child can avoid diseases which have serious odds of giving those who catch them physical disability, scarring, organ damage, and death. At best, the diseases are freakin’ miserable, and a whole lot worse than a regular cold.
And because of unimmunized children, as well as immigration from third world countries, the diseases modern medicine can prevent are making a comeback, tuberculosis in particular. I’m quite certain that the boy who sneezed all over me and gave me whooping cough was not vaccinated. It’s small comfort to think his mother had to deal with his horrible hacking coughs when the disease blossomed. It just makes three people (or more, if the boy sneezed on more vulnerable people) who just wish someone had opted for the proverbial ounce of prevention.
There’s no excuse for not getting immunized. At least in my county, childhood vaccinations are free at a county clinic, and boosters for adults are only $15. As soon as I’m over the lingering cough, I’m getting every booster shot I can.