In a few days I will be flying to an African country to start a new job with a humanitarian organization. The organization that I work for requires its employees to be extensively vaccinated before doing any field work. This is absolutely non-negotiable, as it should be. I have spent the past two weeks with sore arms from getting jabbed, and I've got to say, I'm really grateful. I'm grateful that I have access to this kind of care. I'm going to a part of the world where the diseases that I am vaccinated against still regularly sicken and kill people, and I am able to just walk into a doctor's office, get stuck with a few needles, and boom, protected. So seemingly simple, and yet billions of people in this world don't have that luxury. They will watch their children die of polio and measles while people here in the developed world rant and proselytize about the dangers of vaccination. And of course we're now seeing the consequences of this kind of thinking, as the vaccine-preventable diseases that anti-vaxxers assured us were "no big deal", or "a thing of the past", or "only an issue in the third world" are gaining a foothold again, despite all our "hygiene" and "nutritious, organic food." It boggles the mind.
I'm also grateful that my parents made sure that I was fully vaccinated as a child. I only found out recently that I had a bad reaction as a baby to the DTP vaccine. Fever, lots of crying, and just generally being sick and out of sorts for a few days. Nothing life-threatening, but obviously upsetting for a new parent. Instead of swearing off vaccines as dangerous and toxic, my mother talked to my pediatrician, and they decided to modify the schedule slightly so that I would receive that particular vaccine by itself and a little bit later. I had no problems after that, and suffered no lasting ill effects or developmental delays.
So as a big FUCK YOU to anti-vaxxers everywhere (and especially those insufferable, sanctimonious assholes in my Facebook feed), here is a list of the things that I am very happy to be vaccinated against:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Yellow fever
- Meningococcal meningitis
Suck on that, anti-vaxxers. Vaccines: they're a good thing.