With the coronavirus pandemic raging across the country, many have noticed that the anti-vaccination movement has gone strangely silent. We've no doubt they're doubling down privately, however.
After Redditor CluelessFanGirl asked the online community, "Former Anti-Vaxxers, what caused you to change your mind?" many came forward to share their stories. As it turns out, there's just far too much evidence out there that the whole movement is absurd... who knew?
I'll give you an historical one:
"In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way.
"I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation.
"This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it, my example showing that the regret may be the same either way and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen."
"My mum told me last week..."
My mum told me last week when we were talking about a COVID-19 vaccine that she nearly didn't have my brother and I vaccinated - I was shocked, because she was a nurse for years and years, and she now stresses the importance of getting our yearly flu vaccinations and pushes my needle-phobic dad to get his.
Basically, when she was doing her nurse training back in the early 70's, she did a few weeks on the only ward in the country at the time for people with profound and multiple disabilities (PMLD). The majority were born with PMLD or had them as a result of oxygen deprivation at birth, but she was told that a handful of them developed them following "vaccine injury" (not sure if this is a medically accepted term but those are the words she used) from a single bad batch of vaccines for Measles and Rubella, I think.
By the time my brother and I were born in 1988 and 1990, she was still affected by what she'd seen back in the 70's, and although she'd seen the progress in vaccinations and there were no more reports of these "bad batches" of vaccines, she didn't allow them to give us our first vaccine doses on time. It wasn't until my aunt (also a trained nurse) showed her the latest stats and research about vaccines that she reluctantly decided to have us vaccinated. I was one year old at the time and scheduled for the MMR jab (it was the MR vaccine that she was told caused these "vaccine injuries"), and she was very reluctant to go ahead with it but ultimately agreed that both my brother (2 and a half at the time) needed to catch up on all our vaccines. She didn't take us to get them, she sent my dad instead (again, needle-phobic) and he and I apparently cried the whole time.
She told me that she'd glad she decided for us to get the vaccines as we've been mostly healthy since then, and if it hadn't been for our aunt we might not have ever been vaccinated.
"I was a teenager..."
I was a teenager and used to believe that if I got sick, my immune system would handle it and make me stronger. Like most youth, I believed I was invulnerable. I figured, thousands of years of ancestors had survived without vaccines, and so could I.
It was years before I realised that before vaccines, people didn't just "heal the viruses away" - most of them died or were crippled by illness their whole lives.
"In grad school..."
Hard to say, but, reading. Honestly.
I was on the elderberry/colloidal silver/whatever natural BS flavor of the week in my late teens - early twenties.
Could dig up some obscure study from the 1960s to support it, "well flu shots aren't 100% effective, what's the point? Have you see all the people who get sick from it?" etc. etc.
Simply put, I had bad advice from some of my father's vitamin shop, Libertarian, naturopath, whatever friends.
In grad school I took more statistics classes, keep reading about data analysis, started to learn what significant sample sizes meant, common logical and statistical fallacies and...surprise...most anti-science nonsense doesn't hold up empirically at all. There's just no data to support it, and requires torturing of statistics and misrepresentation to defend their case.
Luckily I don't have some epic story of a family member dying from a preventable disease, but it's still embarrassing to think back how arrogantly I was convinced I was more clever than the actual doctors and scientists.
"Unfortunately for her..."
Kind of boring, but I have a whackjob grandmother who believes in all the pseudoscience health bs. Crystal healing, electromagnetic communications cause cancer, vaccines are bad, eat apricot pits to cure cancer, the whole 9 miles. When I was a kid she tried to teach me all of this stuff like it was gospel, and I believed her because I was a kid and why would my grandmom be wrong about something?
Unfortunately for her the minute I turned like, 7, I got a huge hyperfixation on biology and quickly learned that all the stuff she spouted was utter bs. I'm autistic, and I was like the stereotypical autistic kid where they just know a ton about one particular subject and devour any kind of learning material related to it they can get their hands on (I'm actually still like that... except now I can get a degree for it). It was not hard for me to realize that none of the things she believed made any sense, even as a kid.
"My ex husband..."
My ex husband was a very controlling person and did not want our kids to get vaccines. I was always so scared knowing my kids had no protection. One day one of our kids scraped themselves on a fence and the school called me. I snapped and took them straight to an urgent care for a tetanus shot and just started secretly getting all my kids vaccines. We eventually divorced and now all my kids are fully caught up.
"I held off..."
I was a stereotypical, naturalistic vegan type. Didn't believe in essential oils or crystal healing or anything. Just believed (mistakenly) that you couldn't beat nature and that vaccines were messing around with my baby's natural immunity growth. I believed they were an unnecessary risk. I knew my decision was controversial so I kept it quiet, I wouldn't have been out campaigning or splashing it all over social media, it was a private decision.
I held off until he was 2. We don't routinely vaccinate for chickenpox here in the UK so he got it which is expected. However he got a bacterial infection on top and had to spend a night in hospital. Nothing too traumatic but I realised I didn't have the balls to play nature v. medicine anymore.
"I read an article..."
I read an article about a mom who changed her view on vaccinations because of how radical the anti-vax groups were. A lot of them were anti-gay, anti-abortion. And so crazy about all of it. Pro the dumbest sh!t, like oils. Pushed the agendas of things that were obviously false. It made her step back and change her entire outlook on the anti-vax movement. I wish I could find this article, it was pretty interesting. Probably on Facebook. But she made great points against them.
"I wasn't really..."
I wasn't really an antivaxxer by today's standard and definition, but back then I did question the validity of it. I used to wear my tinfoil hat back in the Facebook days and delved into some wacko sh!t like the usual Illuminati, lizard people, hollow moon and other sh!t. I guess after I grew apart from my friends who were also into all that I gradually came back to reality and realized how dumb it all is.
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