For the love of God, why do strangers keep striking up conversations with me? Maybe I just have a face for it. On a recent trip home, a woman decided to talk to me about the recent measles outbreak and how she still believes that vaccinations can cause autism in children. And despite not having children, that if confronted with the decision, she would still not vaccinate them. I nodded along politely as she said all of this—like someone who doesn’t know any better when enduring small talk on public transport—and then she said it. “I mean look at you, you were vaccinated, right? That’s probably what caused your thing with the sticks. You know, you should sue.”
My crutched have been called “sticks” before. It has even been suggested that I sue various doctors and hospital administrators, but it has never been suggested that my disability has had something to do with being vaccinated. I was stunned into silence. What I should have done was tell her to shut her face.
Anti-vaxxers, as they are called, follow the research of a debunked physician and haven’t seemed to have done the research to realize that his work was complete malarkey. Anti-vaxxers have even gone one step further and have tossed around the idea of “measles parties” to expose their children to the disease in a controlled environment. To them I ask, why would you expose your children to disease and potential disability even if for a short period? I wouldn’t wish a disabled life on anyone even if it were just for a week or a month. While measles may only last a few days or weeks, why would you so willingly put your child in a state of constant diarrhea, inflammation of the brain, pneumonia and potentially permanent blindness? You may be prepared to have your children attend an infectious disease party, but are you capable of keeping your child hydrated, caring for a child who may be permanently brain damaged, listening as your child slowly suffocates from the fluid building in their lungs, could you teach them braille?
What will you say when your child comes home from school and cries to you because everyone in her class was invited to a birthday party but her? How will you deal with teachers who confuse disability with the absence of intelligence? Can you coach your adult child with interview questions that tip-toe around their disability? How will you deal with the way your family blames you and how everyone stares? Are you truly prepared for your child’s life after measles? Stop using people like me as a reason why you shouldn’t vaccinate and consider all the reasons why you should. What are you prepared to make you child go through?