With officials in no less than three states dealing with the devastation of active measles outbreaks, the issue of vaccination, and those who put the lives of many in jeopardy by not vaccinating their children, has come to the fore. Despite the fact that study after study — one very recently and written about right here on this very website, this very week — shows that there is no link between vaccination and autism, parents continue to ignore the advice of medical professionals and common GD sense and don’t get their kids vaccinated against completely avoidable diseases.
In fact, Dan very recently wrote about a man whose child is at the center of one of the current measles outbreaks grappling with the fact that he avoided getting his kid the MMR vaccine — it guards against measles, mumps, and rubella — out of fear that they’d later be diagnosed with autism, as if it were something that can be spread like a cold or the flu.
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And guess what happened? His kid got measles instead, and now is the biological epicenter of a medical earthquake.
With all the appropriate focus on the measles outbreaks and the anti-vaxxer movement is getting right now, stories like Joshua Nerius’ become even more important. CNN recently reported on Joshua — who found out his parents were anti-vaxxers in the most terrifying way.
You see, a few years back, Josh went to the doctors with a high fever and rash. After antibiotics didn’t work, his condition consistently worsened. So that’s when he went to the emergency room and a doctor diagnosed him with measles. The doctor then asked Joshua if he was vaccinated as a child.
Joshua didn’t know.
Nerius texted the question to his mother. She sent back a thumbs-down emoji.
His next stop was an isolation room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
A thumbs-down emoji?
What a way to find out your mom is kinda mom-umentally stupid. (I make no apologies for the dad joke of a mom joke because life is short and you have to embrace it sometimes, people.) Anyway, Joshua found out the really terribly hard way that his mom and dad had been anti-vaxxers.
“It makes me so angry. My parents thought they were doing the right thing. They were persuaded by the anti-vaxers,” he said.
Nerius’ story provides a nightmarish reminder of the importance of herd immunity. Before he’d gotten his measles diagnosis, and before he’d shown any symptoms, he went to a tech conference in Las Vegas. Thousands of people were there too. Think of the catastrophic consequences if most of those people hadn’t been given the MMR vaccine.
“I was shaking hands with hundreds of people a day. I wasn’t contagious yet, but it’s sobering to think if the timing had been just slightly different, how many people I could have infected,” he said.
I’m not sure I’d be as charitable to my own parents as he is, but interestingly, Joshua doesn’t blame his for not vaccinating him. He blames their lack of access to better information.
Nerius doesn’t blame his parents for not vaccinating him. He says they were believers in alternative medicine, and in the 1980s, there was no Internet where they could double-check what they were being told by anti-vaxers.
Because we do have the Internet now, Joshua isn’t as forgiving of modern day parents who are anti-vaxxers.
“The science on this has been settled. It’s been solved. When I look at where we are today, with people who are willfully deciding to ignore the facts, it really frustrates me,” Nerius said. “I just don’t understand the mindset of people who want to spread fear.”
As the CNN report noted, the current presidential administration’s communications chief, Bill Shine, has a wife who promoted anti-vaxxer nonsense just last month. I know it’s probably very shocking that the same administration run by a guy who stared at the sun during an eclipse to OWN THE LIBS would also have anti-vaxxers in their midst, but hey, that’s what I’m telling you is precisely the case, so…yeah. Darla Shine is an anti-vaxxer and her husband works with the most powerful man in the free world in a very influential position.
“Bring back our #ChildhoodDiseases they keep you healthy,” she wrote.
Hopefully we can combat the bad information and scientifically illiterate, downright dangerous mythologies of the anti-vaxxer movement with more stories like Joshua’s. Then again, it’d be nice if we didn’t have anyone else who could tell a story like Joshua’s, wouldn’t it?
A man can still dream in this country, can’t he?
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook and Instagram, but not Twitter because he has a potty mouth.