By Asha Brogan
I was never vaccinated. My parents are wonderful hippies who made the concious decision when I was born to let me “build up immunity”. As a child I always thought I was so special for this, I would proudly tell people, listing the reasons why my parents had made the decision. Occasionally it raised conflict, such as almost being sent home from summer camp when the administration found out I was a potential biohazard, but on “religious standing” my parents convinced the camp to let me stay. The reasons were not religious though, but lay in a deep distrust of pharmaceutical companies and “modern medicine”. I was born at home with a midwife, never brought to a hospital, and was either by luck or the vast array of herbal medicines and supplements very rarely sick and had no allergies.
My emphatic support of the lack of vaccines carried through till I was 20 and became close friends with a microbiologist who’s opinion I highly valued. He was worried by my lack of immunizations and I was given lecture after lecture on the matter, in the friendly way of someone who deeply cares for your well being and thinks you’re about to contract polio THIS INSTANT. I had been rolling many of his points around in my head, many of them talking about how there are children and adults who aren’t able to get vaccinated and it is up to the community around them to keep them safe. That currently, as an unvaccinated individual it was fine if I didn’t want those vaccines, because everyone around me had them, and was acting as my protective blanket. But since I COULD get vaccinated, I was one less safety link for those who could not, a potential major threat to someone out there.
During the recent lecture, Thursday, on public health and the readings of last week I thought a lot on my conversations with this friend, on how there was what felt personally good the individual (i.e., not getting vaccines) and what was better for the public good. I have been so convinced, raised in a community where it was normal not to get vaccines*, but the lecture and readings this week made me feel as if it was time to really take control of my health situation, and not just for me, but for those living around me as well.
picture from: http://memes.doublie.com/ca-law-vaccine-debate-memes/