THE BLOG

If You Are Not Vaccinating Your Children, You Are Selfish

02/06/2015 12:25 pm ET | Updated Apr 08, 2015

If you are not vaccinating your children, you are selfish. Yes, I said it. Selfish. I thought of ways to sugarcoat that statement, but I ultimately decided against it. You may hate me for saying that, and that's fair. But someone had to say it. Want to know why? Keep reading.

I am not a mom (yet). I am not a doctor. I am not a scientist. But as the daughter of a pediatrician, I have heard every excuse under the sun as to why vaccinations are "bad," the most misleading one being that "it will cause autism." Here's the thing: Autism is a real concern, and I sympathize with parents who have had to deal with the many related challenges it may bring. Nevertheless, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the Institute of Medicine, all agree that vaccines are not proven to cause autism. But why trust the professional scientists? What do they know? I'm sure Jenny McCarthy is a more reliable source...

Choosing not to vaccinate your child will, however, make your child vulnerable to contracting a number of infectious, contagious, life-threatening diseases -- measles, polio, tetanus, mumps, diphtheria, pertussis... the list goes on. Do you know what will happen if your child contracts one of these diseases? All of the other children who were not vaccinated will also be exposed to these infectious, contagious, life-threatening sicknesses. In other words, your decision not to vaccinate your own child has the potential to harm others.

I've watched the same moms on Facebook who criticize President Obama's "inability" to protect America from Ebola defend their own decision not to vaccinate their children. So, you want the government to magically prevent outbreaks and protect us all from sickness, but you refuse to protect your own children from deadly, preventable diseases? You will not take your family to Africa, in fear that they might "catch Ebola," yet you leave your child unprotected here in America, where the measles are now spreading? I cannot, for the life of me, understand this illogical rationalization. About 1 out of 10,000 people per year who take an aspirin are at risk of excess intracerebral hemorrhage, aka bleeding in the brain. So, I guess "logic" follows that we should all stop taking aspirin ASAP! Thank God headaches aren't contagious.

Anastasia Williams, M.D., named by the Washingtonian as one of the top pediatricians in the Washington, D.C., area, tells her patients that a decision not to vaccinate their healthy child is a decision to potentially cause the death of both their child and other vulnerable children in their community. She encourages all of her patients to vaccinate their children, explaining that:

Overall, we know that vaccines are safe, and vaccines prevent diseases. During outbreaks like the current measles outbreak, infants and children with suppressed immune systems [cancer patients, for example] are extremely vulnerable to not only contracting the disease, but also to having more serious complications from the disease.

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Vaccines have prevented over 6 million deaths a year across the globe -- that's 6 million children who may have been dead, but who are still alive because of their parent's decision to vaccinate. Now, I do believe in the freedom of choice. If you do not want your child to be one of the 6 million children whose lives were saved, that's your choice -- but before you make your decision, understand that the consequences of choosing not to vaccinate your child has potentially disastrous and devastating ramifications for all of us. If that does not bother you, then yes, you are selfish.