OK, my last blog post on why we chose not to vaccinate baby Noor caused quite an uproar.
I think I should set the record straight: I am not anti-vaccination. In fact, I agree with everyone that vaccines are some of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind. And, I know that vaccinations are largely responsible for reducing (effectively eliminating) many communicable diseases in the U.S. So, I’m all for them as an invention.
That said, I just think that the decision to vaccinate or not though needs to always be an ongoing cost benefit analysis. Right now, it makes no sense for my family, where I’m living (reasons here)… if I was moving to another country, or travelling through a infected area, or there was an epidemic in the U.S., I’d obviously re-evaluate.
So, that was my whole point with the previous post. Now, the thing that I’m actually a little frightened by is that this simple blog-post on vaccination has gotten so much response… calls to tattoo my children, flack for me putting other children at risk, etc., which are all really unfounded given the vanishingly small rate of incidence. I mean, all these severe communicable diseases comprise just a handful of cases of infection (FORGET ABOUT DEATH) each per year in the whole U.S.
Numbers of people infected with each disease for the year 2012 according to CDC:
measles 54 people
mumps: 69 people
rubella: 8 people
diphtheria: 1 person (first case in 5 years)
tetnus: 36 people
pertussis: 8,718 people
polio: 0 people (for last 5 years no cases)
Note that the above is the infection rate in the whole U.S.! The serious complication / death rate would be a very small percentage (say 1%) of those… So, let’s say, 100 people max died of these diseases last year (almost all from complications related to pertussis, btw. Those complications too, it should be noted, are not uniformly distributed and vary with age, access to medical facilities, and other socio-demographic factors. So, you can’t just take them and apply them straight to yourself).
So, people are saying they are worried that my non-vaccinated child will expose their children to risk. Here’s the amazing part: My child has to first get one of these diseases, then has to infect one of the vaccinated children, then there have to be serious complications for this to be even a matter worth getting upset about. The chances here are super-super-super-unlikely that that is going to happen.
Now, the rub here is that, according to the same CDC, each year over 500,000 people (or >50X more than all these communicable diseases combined) were treated in emergency rooms for bicycle accidents alone last year, with over 700 deaths attributable to bikes. (source: CDC Home and Recreation Safetly Report)
Yet, would you worry about your child mixing with others who encourage him/her to ride a bike? No way. You know why? Because even those numbers aren’t that high. It’s just not very likely (although 50x more likely than by the above diseases) that your kid will end up in a hospital due to a bike accident.
Or worse: Everyone pretty much knows that, it’s sugar intake, food quantity / quality that are by many many orders of magnitude the real health issues in this country. Sugar intake, food quantity / quality are literally directly responsible for obesity and health issues in hundreds of millions of Americans, and millions of deaths per year as they directly contribute to our worst, most prevalent diseases (Cancer, Diabetes, Stroke, Heart Disease, etc.)
Yet, again, most parents are perfectly fine letting their kids associate with all these other kids / families who are making terrible diet and lifestyle choices known as the American Diet. Indeed, many themselves consume vast amounts of processed foods, sugars, etc. And our government / industry / healthcare system does little to systematically discourage this. Is it any wonder that 2/3rd of the population is overweight, with 1/3rd obese?
So, while everyone is up in arms here and arguing about vaccination and the compromise to “herd immunity” and their kids health by those crazies in the unvaccinated camp, my little unvaccinated, sugar free, organic child will have to contend with a sea of children with terrible diet / exercise habits when she enters school… You tell me who is putting who more at risk?
Yet nobody is saying to tattoo sedentary fat kids with a big health warning on their foreheads saying: “Do not eat like this child!” Right? That’d be absurd.
Anyhow… just trying to put things into perspective here.
The point of my original article was that vaccination may not be a rational choice for many in the U.S. right now. Whether you believe that or not, the amount of reaction to this article has led me to another conclusion:
If you care about health, stop worrying about vaccination / communicable diseases altogether. They are not in the set of major problems in the U.S anymore!
Instead put all your “healthy debate” time and effort into improving the diet, environmental inputs (household products, air, water) and exercise habits of your family and community. I say this, because I truly doubt that a blog post on sugar intake would get this type of response or attention (let alone 30,000x more response, which would indicate that people are making a proportionately rational expenditure of time and effort in pursuit of better health!)
Good luck and health to all…