Let’s see if we can make this as clear as possible. If you’re taking your kid to see a doctor and that doctor has agreed to work with you in coming up with a vaccine schedule for your child that makes you more comfortable than the CDC’s official schedule, that person is a fuck-up. Doctors are supposed to do what their years of medical training has led them to believe is best for your child, not what you think is best because you’re a mommy or daddy and you have a degree from Google University. If you can convince a medical professional to adjust his or her decisions based on stuff you read on the internet and heard from some of your friends, that’s a medical professional you probably don’t want to be trusting your well-being to. Sorry, but unless you’ve personally gone to medical school or are being directly counseled by someone else who has, your opinion really doesn’t hold a lot of water when placed against that of your doctor.
Your doctor’s job isn’t to entertain your caprices and conspiracy theories, it’s to keep you healthy. If you give him or her a request or suggestion that runs contrary to what that person believes is likely right for you and your family — whether it’s adjusting the recommended vaccine schedule or choosing not to vaccinate entirely — he or she should tell you to go find somebody else and kick your ass out into the street. If more doctors were willing to do this instead of engaging in concierge medicine — basically being nothing more than very highly paid valets or maids for arrogant assholes used to getting their own way — then there’s a possibility there wouldn’t currently be 170 people in 17 states infected with the measles. In California, in particular, if more doctors stood firm on vaccinations and the schedule put in place by the CDC, the state almost certainly wouldn’t be dealing with 130 confirmed cases of the measles — a disease thought eradicated years ago — and Disneyland wouldn’t have been allowed to become ground zero for one of the largest and most virulent outbreaks in the U.S.
If you believe vaccinations cause autism or that children’s bodies simply can’t handle multiple vaccination shots, there’s a pretty good chance nothing the host of a TV show can say will convince you otherwise (unless maybe that host is Jenny McCarthy). That’s why last week, Jimmy Kimmel brought on some real-life doctors for a PSA aimed at getting people to vaccinate their children. While Kimmel may only be a comic, there’s often truth in comedy and dear God did he speak some necessary truths to his audience, particularly the Los Angeles studio audience. “Parents here are more scared of gluten than they are of small pox,” he said, before launching into an epic scold of anti-vaxxers and those who question the official word on vaccines with absolutely nothing in the way of solid evidence to back up their claims.
“This would all be okay if your kids were the only ones affected, but they’re not because unvaccinated kids put all children in danger especially babies who are too young to get the vaccination shot. But of course that’s according to ‘doctors’ so take that one with a grain of salt. Now some people are saying that kids who aren’s vaccinated shouldn’t be allowed to go to school or daycare or go to public places. But I don’t — here’s how I think it should go: If you are one of those people who knows more than doctors, that’s fine, no vaccinations. But you’re not allowed to go to the doctor anymore. Why would you even want to go to a doctor who knows less than you do? So if you fall and you cut your head open, you will not be admitted to the emergency room. Stay at home, find that sewing kit you stole from the Marriott and stitch it up yourself, doc.”
The doctors he assembled took it from there.
Well, you can imagine how the big brains of the militant anti-vaxxer crowd are reacting to this. Since eviscerating them on national television, Kimmel’s seen their fire concentrated on him. On Monday night, he read some of the tweets he’s been getting.
The U.S. Surgeon General was in L.A. on Monday and while there he issued a plea to parents to “please, please, please vaccinate your children.” Dr. Vivek H. Murthy warned not only that the measles outbreak will continue to spread but that even more diseases long thought eradicated may soon come roaring back to life and move like wildfire across the country. This is the kind of thing that’s easily avoidable and considering the push now on to remove all personal belief and religious exemptions for vaccines in California, it’s apparent that lawmakers are finally realizing they’ve indulged these people long enough and at great cost. It goes back to what Kimmel said: the choice whether or not to ensure that your child isn’t a walking Petri dish who has the potential to spread disease isn’t simply your problem, it’s everyone’s.
For a very long time now we’ve left the decision to vaccinate up to parents because in a sane world we figured they’d make the logical, responsible decision. Some of them have refused to and now other people’s children are in danger because of it. So one more time for the cheap seats: Vaccinate your kids. For the moment, in most states you have the choice to do the right thing. Make no mistake, though — if you don’t, pretty soon it won’t be left up to you. Society will have to step in and make the decision for you because we just cannot fucking tolerate you putting us and our children at risk.
Updated to include anti-vaxx response
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.