It’s such a hot button topic these days, but it bears repeating. And then I’ll tell you a little story.
Little Grunt just went to get his first vaccinations. I took him to the one of the Public Health offices, where they are administered free of charge to all children; probably all adults if you need your boosters, too. When I arrived, I had to go through a set of large glass doors, and posted on these doors in bright red was the following:
STOP! If you have a persistent cough, and with it a rash, fever, or runny nose, DO NOT COME IN. Please go to the nearest urgent care facility immediately. THERE HAS BEEN A MEASLES OUTBREAK IN THIS AREA.
Yes, really, and yes, I have been tracking it as it has made the news. Just after Grunt was born, there was a case in the Calgary area which saw all unvaccinated children and those susceptible to infection sent home from a public school, including a couple pregnant teachers. People were enraged that someone who did not believe in vaccinations or had chosen not to get them for a certain reason had suddenly disrupted their child’s learning environment.
Then the cases started to appear in Edmonton. MiniSir was in Wainwright tracking them along with me, making sure I wasn’t taking our newborn out to places where the infected had visited in the last 7 days. What became apparent as more cases were reported was that it was one community in particular that was perpetrating all the nonsense. Unvaccinated children between 3 and 6 years of age that attended the same doctor’s offices, the same church, and the same grocery store were spreading it amongst themselves like one of those ridiculous chicken pox parties that used to occur in the 60s and 70s. One of these children even visited a maternity/newborn ward in a local hospital before being quarantined, primarily because I feel the parents just didn’t understand how seriously ill he was and how deadly his illness could be to those that cannot fight against it.
But the final straw was when an infected 30 year old male took the disease with him to West Edmonton Mall the day before Mother’s Day and spent 4 hours there spreading it around. Of all the socially irresponsible things to do, to me this was on a scale similar to that of a spree killing. I was texting with other new moms in the area every time more locations were announced, each of us making sure the others were aware of the details. We all wanted to be as careful as we could. Our husbands in the field were just as concerned. And then this dumb ass just waltzes through the busiest shopping centre in the city on one of the busiest shopping days of the year and spreads all that germy love around like a gift.
Grunt and I were lucky. All of those reported infected lived in the south end of the city, and so all the reported places of business where there could have been contact were far away from our usual haunts. But I still washed my hands religiously. I told strangers not to get too close to my baby. I purposefully avoided getting out of my car if I could, and when I did I wiped everything down with antibacterial wipes. I kept my son safe from the negligence of others because that’s what socially responsible parents and people do. The outbreak has been declared over in Calgary, but not in Edmonton. Not yet. And so, the signs at the Public Health office are still up, because you can’t be too careful.
Which leads me to my story. Last week there were celebrations at MiniSir’s regiment for the “Change of Command”, when a new commanding officer takes over from the old. There was a parade with lots of tanks driving around and firing blanks, so I took the baby out for some fresh air, sunshine, and pomp and circumstance. Afterward, everyone gathered at the regiment for a light lunch and socializing. While I was standing with Grunt waiting to see MiniSir, another officer asked if he and his family could sit beside me. Of course I said yes. I then made small talk and found an excuse to leave quickly. Why? Because said officer’s toddler was with him, and said officer has made it very clear to others that he doesn’t believe in vaccinations, ANY type of vaccinations, and his children have not had any. He put me in a position where I had to choose between social nicety and protecting my child. There wasn’t really a choice. I may have been rude, but I couldn’t consciously make the decision to stay where I was.
Science. Bill Nye, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Chris Hadfield can’t be wrong about it being awesome. Jenny McCarthy and Alicia Silverstone may be celeb “yummy mummies”, but until they can hold up a shred of evidence to suggest vaccinations aren’t safe, I’ll stick with the professionals on this: vaccines save lives, not Dr. Oz.