As we are in the midst of a larger outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough), I’ve heard quite a few people vilifying those who choose to forgo vaccinations for themselves and/or their children. In most cases, those who don’t vaccinate are characterized as uneducated people who skip vaccines solely because of a supposed link between certain vaccines and autism and/or just listened to Jenny McCarthy and never researched more than that. Now, it’s entirely possible that some who forgo vaccines do so out of it ignorance or misinformation or lack of education, but then there are also uneducated people who do vaccinate without knowing any of the pros and cons or any information about the diseases. That being said, I can’t think of anyone I personally know who doesn’t vaccinate who made that decision based on an autism link or by listening to a celebrity.
Before I get into the reasons one might choose not to vaccinate, I’d like to quickly point out that at least part of the problem behind this outbreak is with the efficacy of the accident itself. During the 2010 outbreak in California, it was hypothesized that the pertussis virus had perhaps mutated. During the current outbreak, though, it is being pointed out that the acellular vaccine isn’t as effective as once believed, a fact that might have been exacerbated by improper storage of the vaccine, which the CDC is investigating. This is important information for everyone, whether you vaccinate or not, I think.
So why do people choose not to vaccinate? There are myriad reasons, and some people might have multiple reasons. For some, the reason stems from a moral or ethical dilemma due to the fact that some vaccines are created using aborted foetal cells. Some of these, such as the polio vaccine, have alternatives that are not derived from the use of aborted foetal cells, while others, such a rubella and varicella, do not. While Catholics are not the only ones who object to abortion, I am most familiar with that position, since I am Catholic. The Pontifical Academy for Life has said that, if an alternative exists, that is the one that should be used; if not, the vaccine can still be used provided the threat of the disease warrants it and we should write to the manufacturer urging them to create an alternative vaccine. Some may very well decide to skip at least the vaccines with aborted foetal cells after researching this.
I’ll look at more reasons in another post.