I was tagged in a Facebook post last week. In the post was a link for an article about the Commonwealth of Virginia’s religious exemption. The religious exemption, for now, is safe. With how California managed to take parents’ rights away, I celebrated the victory. A woman who saw the post did not.
I’m not shocked. Not everyone believes in vaccine choice. This woman in particular very clearly did not. Her first comment was not only ignorant but also showed how insensitive she was. Without considering an individual’s medical history or respecting that a person’s religious belief can influences healthcare decisions, she said that the unvaccinated should be denied services from doctors, public health and from schools. She added that to be unvaccinated goes against the greater good and that in order to be able to mingle and interact in public, people should be vaccinated. To not be vaccinated is selfish.
I didn’t know who this person was at all besides that she is a friend of my friend, so I debated whether or not to reply. I could not let her grand and demanding statements be the last ones on the thread, so I chimed in. I said, Well, thank God some of them don’t (deny services)! Thank God for doctors, health officials, and schools who are open-minded and more understanding that for some people – children and adults – cannot be vaccinated for either health reasons, personal reasons, or religious reasons. If you want to be vaccinated, go for it. No one is stopping you. But for those who have serious reservations about them or who have had serious reactions from vaccines (like my family members have), having the freedom to choose is a welcomed option.
As honest and upbeat as I tried to be in my response, I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t make a new friend. The woman came back saying that as a believer in public health guidelines, those who do not abide (by those public health guidelines), even for religious reasons, are a danger. She went as far as to compare that danger to someone running around with a loaded gun. I found it somewhat ironic that she used a loaded gun as a comparison. I know many parents who compare vaccinating their children to that of playing Russian roulette.
When I see these sorts of ignorant blanket statements and the must-vaccinate-all-humans-no-matter-what mentality being shared by adults, I can’t help but wonder something. Are the adults making ludicrous demands “up-to-date” according to the CDC’s adult vaccine schedule? I tend to doubt that they are. But I wouldn’t know if this gal was unless I asked.
I’ve never asked other adults who come blazing onto a thread making generalized statements that we all need to be up-to-date, but I asked this one point blank if she herself was caught up with vaccines. She proudly claimed that she was.
I had to believe her.
I’m not willing to play a ‘show me your shot record and I’ll show you mine’ game. She was a complete stranger who has no idea that my son’s vaccine-injury made me a staunch supporter of vaccine choice. She was also still ticked that the Joint Commission on Health Care’s vote last week was a big win in my eyes. It was a major win in the eyes of the hundreds of other parents who’d shown up at each of the commission meetings that took place this year, too.
One would think that people could understand that a vaccine injury, like my son’s, would be grounds to limit and even remove vaccine expectations. One would also hope that gaining knowledge of that injury would draw some sort of sympathy as well. But when people believe that vaccines are only safe and only effective, like this woman undoubtedly believes, they are incapable of mustering an ounce of sympathy. They will fathom that vaccines harm when their logic has been skewed by tunnel vision. That tunnel vision focuses only on the assumed benefits of a medical procedure that in actuality comes with risks. Unless they fall ill post-vaccination like my child did, which I would never wish upon anyone, they may never be able to fully grasp the severity of our situation. Our situation is unfortunate. Despite me sharing that on the thread, retelling our experience fell on deaf ears.
Because of what happened to Ronan, my main focus is on him and his siblings. It’s on protecting our rights. It’s on meeting my children’s individual health care needs. Right now, vaccines are not part of that plan. I’ve done my homework on the subject. I’ve prayed for guidance about it as well. Apparently that’s not enough nor acceptable to some people including the woman that I talked to online late last week. She shared that it is in her quest to support legislation that would strip my rights and that would mandate vaccines. This woman’s got another thing coming to her if she thinks that I’m going to let anyone in my family take a bullet for her or for the greater good. We’ve already done that. I’ll never let anyone do that to my family ever again.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.