December 09, 2013

I Fear Death, Not Autism

My best friend's daughter, who I consider to be my "honorary niece" is allergic to a whole bunch of things. She's allergic to wheat, milk, pineapple and eggplant. She's deathly allergic to eggs and soy. She carries an Epipen.

They actually discovered the egg allergy after she had an allergic reaction to a vaccine. Luckily, that reaction wasn't deadly, but since many vaccines are made using egg albumen, it means she cannot get vaccinated.

This doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the vaccine. Her reaction to it is not because the vaccine is bad. Also, her body reacting this way to common foods does not make her bad. It's just the way her body works. In fact, as long as she doesn't eat (or get injected with) any of her allergens, she's a wonderful and bright little girl.

Because she cannot get vaccinated, she needs to rely on the people who can get vaccinated to reduce the spread of deadly illnesses, hopefully reducing her chances of catching one. And that terrifies me because so many people are opting not to vaccinate because they fear autism more than death.

I don't fear autism. You can live a long and healthy life with autism. But I do fear one of my family members or friends dying from an illness that can be prevented. And I really shouldn't be having these types of worries in this day and age.

I am scared because despite my son being vaccinated, I know he could still get measles or whooping cough from someone who didn't get vaccinated. I don't like the idea of my son suffering from a potentially fatal disease. I especially don't want him to suffer from a preventable disease when we've taken all the precautions available to us, but others didn't. I certainly don't want him to be left with scars or permanent damage caused by surviving such an illness.

I wonder, is it selfish of me to want kids to be healthy? Is it bad of me to wish everyone who could get vaccinated does, so they protect everyone? I usually am "live and let live" about most things, but in this case when people don't get vaccinated, they're potentially stopping me and those I love from living. That's not really fair.

You may also be interested in reading: Vaccines Scarier Than Illnesses