Here’s the imaginary conversation I had with an anti-vaxxer every night at 2am during the week we nursed Finn through chicken pox, which was two weeks ago. Last week we were still in recovery (still scabbing, still social pariahs), and this week we are tackling hand, foot and mouth disease, because childcare is the gift that keeps giving when it comes to illnesses. So yeah, lots of time to sit in the rocking chair with a crying baby and imagine what I’d say to whoever it was who didn’t vaccinate their kid and it ended up in our childcare infecting all the little ones too young for their own vaccination.
ME: Ohhhh, why us? Why our little baby? This is shit! He’d be immune in six months, after his shots. Just six months and this would have been avoided! I hate everything!
ANTI-VAXXER: But, aren’t you pleased he’s been immunised NATURALLY? This is the way nature intended!
ME: Oh yeah, a totally uncontrolled dose way before his little body is able to handle it! It’s natural the way bushfires and cancer are natural! Everything sucks!
ANTI-VAXXER: You need to get over yourself! Chicken pox is a MILD CHILDHOOD ILLNESS!
ME: I know it is, usually. But not always, as I discovered when I made the mistake of consulting Dr Google. And Finn’s has gotten infected, his temperature’s out of control, last night I slept on the floor next to his cot because his breathing wasn’t right and the home visit doctor couldn’t send anyone out to check on him and I was too worried to leave him alone. And now he needs antibiotics, which is the last thing anyone needs, let alone a baby. Wahhh!
A-V: You know, we all had chicken pox when we were kids. And we’re all FINE!
ME: I know! I had it when I was 14, it was unpleasant and I scratched myself to bits but mostly I remember watching Sister Act every day with my sister, who was quarantined with the same illness. And more to the point, I knew what was happening to me! Finn has no idea! He just knows he feels really, really shit. And why should a baby feel that way, especially for a preventable illness? Why should he have to suffer? This is not character building! This is not teaching him an important life lesson. This is something he shouldn’t have to deal with. A suffering baby is the worst thing in the world. How do parents of truly sick children cope with this? Day in, day out? How do you live with yourself, knowing your unscientific views lead to this kind of suffering – unpleasant, but short-lived with no long-term consequences, despite my histrionics – but also much, much worse?
A-V: Because vaccines are mostly a conspiracy between government and pharmaceutical companies.
ME: Dr House already explained that. Also, I work for the government and trust me when I say we are not organised enough for a conspiracy.
A-V: You know vaccines cause autism, right?