7 Real-Life Consequences of Refusing Vaccinations

Not getting your children vaccinated is all the rage in natural parenting. The same parents who elect not to get their children vaccinated are usually the ones that feed them an all organic, vegan diet and forbid plastic toys made in China. Many believe that vaccinating your children can cause autism. However, choosing not to vaccinate can have potentially deadly consequences, not only for your children, but for others susceptible to illnesses your child transmits. The following scenarios may be very real if you chose not to vaccinate your child.

  1. Measles in San Diego

    According to The New York Times, San Diego saw an outbreak of measles in 2008 in which 12 children became ill from the disease. Of the 12 sick children, nine of them hadn’t been immunized as a result of their worrisome parents who chose not to vaccinate for personal reasons. The remaining three were too young to be vaccinated, which means that they likely contracted the illness from one of the non-inoculated older children. In the midst of the crisis, a woman named Linda Palmer considered sending her son to a “measles party” in which he would hopefully contract the illness from a peer. Palmer thought of the measles akin to chicken pox, hoping her child could go ahead and fight off the disease to build a natural immunity toward it for the future. Dr. Mark Sawyer, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, explains the mentality that parents like Palmer have concerning vaccinations. He notes, “Most of these parents have never seen measles, and don’t realize it could be a bad disease so they turn their concerns to unfounded risks. They do not perceive risk of the disease but perceive risk of the vaccine.”

  2. Whooping Cough in Washington

    National Public Radio’s Morning Edition addressed the growing concerns over Pertussis in Washington state. Already this year, Washington state has had 1,100 confirmed cases of Pertussis, also known as whooping cough. It is 10 times the amount of cases reported last year in the state, causing Gov. Christine Gregoire to enlist federal help. Whooping cough, which is entirely preventable via the correct immunizations, causes one in five infants that contract it to get pneumonia. Some may even die. However, if the public does not get proper inoculations both for their young children and teens — as it wears off around young adulthood — the disease can spread voraciously. The state is doling out 27,000 doses of the pertussis vaccine for anyone who lacks the proper health insurance and can’t otherwise afford the drug, so there is no excuse for not receiving the vaccination or boosters. A local Public Service Announcement puts the severity of the situation well, in which a mother stares deadpan into the camera and says, “”My name is Chelsey Charles. In 2011, my baby Kaliah died of pertussis, or whooping cough, a completely preventable disease. It devastated my family.”

  3. Polio in Minnesota

    Polio has long been thought to have been virtually eradicated from developed countries, with polio vaccinations keeping the crippling disease at bay. In an article by The New York Times in 2005, five Amish children were diagnosed with Polio after one child’s stool sample was evaluated at a lab due to what appeared to be an intestinal virus. As it turned out, the eight-month-old child has some sort of immune deficiency virus that makes her unable to get rid of the Polio. She spread it among various children in the community, although none of them were paralyzed. A farmer at a neighboring Amish community stated that while immunizations are not against Amish code, many choose not to inoculate their children because they believe that vaccines weaken the immune system. It is this kind of dangerous thinking that likely spread the polio around the community. If the virus is able to spread to too many unvaccinated people, its genes can change and it will become as lethal as it once was without much ability to control it. It can even change as such in the immune deficient Amish girl, since it may stew in her body with time to mutate for years.

  4. Shots In The Dark

    National Public Radio’s This American Life broadcasted an episode entitled “Ruining it for the Rest of Us” in which one story covered the dire consequences of choosing not to inoculate your children. In the true report, a 7-year-old, unvaccinated child flew to Switzerland with his family on vacation and returned with the measles. Before he became symptomatic, he had already spread it around the community. News reports were putting people in a panic, relaying that the virus could be spread up to 100 feet away from an infected child. The San Diego County Health Department had to investigate up to 980 exposures as a result of this one child, using traumatic quarantining methods. Megan Campbell’s 10-month-old was exposed to measles at the pediatrician’s office the same day that the Switzerland-bound child came in. As one of the first cases, her doctor thought it was a regular old virus. A rash covered his body, he dropped from 18 pounds to 12 pounds in a matter of five days, and his veins had collapsed from dehydration, making it difficult to get an IV in his arm when he was rushed to the hospital. He was sick for months with a high fever, but survived. Campbell relays that if parents truly don’t want to vaccinate their children, they should “have to live on an island. Their own little, infectious disease island.”

  5. Pertusis in Idaho

    According to Idaho’s Local News 8, an infant from Pocatello died earlier this month as a result of someone in the community failing to get vaccinations for whooping cough and spreading it onto the feeble baby. The child was too young to receive her own vaccinations, so the only way to have controlled the situation was to rely on the fact that parents should be responsible and acquire immunizations for their older children. In an infant, pertussis develops as a wheezing sound when the infant tries to breathe, gasping for air between debilitating coughs. Although it is extremely contagious, the immunizations render it preventable.

  6. Chicken Pox in North Carolina

    Rebecca Cole wrote a testimony for the Immunization Action Coalition detailing the death of her son, Christopher. Christopher Aaron Chinnes was 12 when he had his first serious asthma attack. After a bout of hospitalization, he was sent home with drugs including corticosteroids, which was normal. Shortly thereafter, he came down with the chicken pox. His mother was not concerned, as most children get over the chicken pox without struggle, but Christopher’s immune system was weakened as a result of the corticosteroids. As the virus consumed him, his mother took him to the hospital where he suffered seizures, hemorrhaging, went blind, and eventually became comatose. Within the week, he passed away. His mother found out after the fact that a vaccine for chicken pox existed and could have saved her son’s life. She now is a strong advocate for vaccinating against chicken pox, even if the individual is healthy, as her son was healthy aside from what seemed like a minor condition of asthma.

  7. Measles in Philadelphia

    USA Today’s Anita Manning wrote an article entitled “To vaccinate or not to vaccinate: Parents worry about safety – which worries health officials,” in which she described nine children in Philadelphia who died from the measles in 1991. Another 1,600 children contracted the disease but did not perish. Dr. Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, noted that the outbreak resulted from a religious group that had chosen not to vaccinate. In fact, seven of the nine dead children were members of the church, while the remaining two were infants unable to fight off the disease due to their fragile immune systems. The babies were also not old enough to get their vaccinations. Sadly, more than 1,000 people suffered because a few stubborn churchgoers were anti-vaccination.