“I chose not to vaccinate my son!”
-Dr. Anti Vaccines
I should have been shocked to hear this, but sadly this was not the first time I was hearing this heresy!
The Issue is REAL people!
This year itself Karnataka and Tamil Nadu government’s MR (Measles &Rubella) vaccination drives at schools has been met with overwhelming opposition from concerned parents. These parents refused to vaccinate their children on the account of a fear mongering message that has been making rounds on WhatsApp. This message says “vaccines will stunt your child’s growth, will make them impotent and may cause autism!”
Albeit being an educated, overall pro-vaccination person myself, I too sometimes get fazed by all the buzz. So let us filter out the noise and get to the facts!
What is Immunity?
Immunity is your body’s defense system that helps it fight off diseases, infections, allergies etc.
Looking to boost immunity the natural way? Read, Antioxidants: let your food protect you from all illnesses!
What Are Vaccines?
A vaccine is a biological agent that when administered elicits an immune response as if the body was fighting an actual infection. This false attack prepares body’s protective agents for a probable real attack.
A Vaccine could be an actual organism that has been inactivated (Himesh whose mic is confiscated so that he can’t sing!), an organism that has been attenuated (stripped of its disease causing strength a.k.a Himesh who is beaten up so that he can’t sing!) or just their antigenic surface proteins (just his hat!). In all these cases body recognizes them as a real threat (a singing Himesh !) and produces highly specific antibodies (soldier cells!) to fight and kill them. (sorry Himesh! couldn’t think of a better metaphor… we love you!!)
Since your body has already handled this specific attacker once in the form of a vaccine, it will be better equipped to detect, recognize and fight it in the future. The fancy scientific term for this phenomenon is “acquired immunity”!
Now, some fears and some widespread misconceptions against Vaccination-
It is unnatural, unnecessary and our body is capable of fighting diseases on its own!
“Our parents and grandparents were never vaccinated and they survived just fine!” I am sure every one of us has heard this one before.
Now, my great grandfather (with his 2 wives!) fathered a total of 21 children! How do I know the exact number? Because my grandma was number 21, the youngest of them all! And as far as I know, only 5 of them made it past their 20s (Natural Selection perhaps?). Infant mortality rate has positively decreased by over 70% in past 50 years! And alongside female literacy, more access to health facilities etc, vaccination too played a key role in achieving this great feat.
The credit should be given where the credit is due, and vaccination is the reason why we are not losing our children to smallpox and influenza anymore! So tell me,
“Are you pro natural selection or pro vaccination?”
- It causes Autism!
In 1998 (Dr.) Andrew J. Wakefield published his study findings in British medical journal Lancet that linked MMR vaccine to Autism in children. Those findings were found to be fraudulent, his paper was retracted and his medical license was revoked! Need I say more?
- It contains heavy metals/toxins which are harmful to tiny babies!
Yes, there are aluminum salts and organic mercuric compound (Thimerosal) present in vaccines, but those are present in extremely low amounts.  And guess what? There’s no evidence that they cause Autism! 
Suggested Read, Is cooking in Aluminum gonna poison your food?
Now, REAL benefits of Vaccines for your child and for YOU
. No getting sick or spreading sickness to other family members!
. No missing school for the child and no missed work days for you!
. No money wasted on the treatment of a rather easily preventable disease!
And the dark side-
Vaccines can be expensive and for the families with multiple kids, the cost adds up to a significant amount! Check out the Detailed cost of vaccination/ Immunization in India (Birth to 10 years of age) by Gauri Kshirsagar.
Relief: Most of these are provided free of cost at government facilities 🙂
In case of vaccination, sticking to the schedule is extremely important for optimal protection. But there are so many of these vaccines, that even our supermoms/superdads might find it difficult to remember them all!
Relief: Technology to the rescue!
“ Of course There will always be a little bit of fever following the vaccination, none the less vaccination is very important for children’s health and survival. It should be given on time and if you can not afford to get it from a private clinic, get it from a community clinic. Make sure to vaccinate your child!”
– Dr. Vineet Agarwal, pediatrician.
Herd Immunity OR Community Immunity!
To all those parents who say “We are not forcing our choice on anyone, we just choose not to get our child vaccinated!”, your perfectly healthy and disease free child can still be a carrier. And by choosing not to vaccinate your child, you might be putting ALL other children around them, especially the ones with weak/compromised immune system at a greater risk!
Remember, it takes only one untreated person for an eradicated disease to make a come back and cause an outbreak, just ONE! Don’t let your child be that one. This is what herd immunity is all about, “more people vaccinated, more natural protection for the weaker members of the community!”
Call To Action:
Whether or not to vaccinate your child, the choice is yours and yours alone to make! But heed my words, you are making this choice not just for your own child, but also for all their friends, their schoolmates, unfortunate kids living under that highway bridge and also the new baby born next door! The choice is yours indeed, so let it be not just well intended but also very well informed!
And in case you manage to get to the end of this article, enjoy this incredibly hilarious but insightful John Oliver special on Vaccines!
She is a Registered Dietitian who does not believe in dieting; She has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition but she is not your “I know it all Nutrition Guru!”; She loves food but loves talking about food even more. Her articles are a direct reflection of her personal quest where nutrition science meets real life! Oh, and she is owned by a 3 m.o. naughty kitten 🙂