Sorry, but No — Your Decision Not to Vaccinate Isn't a Private Matter

There are a lot of aspects of parenting that are, quite frankly, nobody's business. From birth plans and sleep schedules to breastfeeding and picking a name, these are all personal decisions that should not be discussed in the public court of opinion. However, the decision not to vaccinate your kid does not fall under this category of privacy; by not vaccinating your kid, you are putting the lives of others at risk, and that is the difference.

Parenting isn't done in a bubble, isolated from the rest of the world. In the course of a single day, my 3-year-old son may encounter hundreds of people, from those in the grocery store to people on the train or at the playground. Kids, those lovable, disgusting creatures who like to touch everything and not cover their mouths when they cough, have a tendency to spread germs. Vaccines help children avoid minor illnesses like chicken pox and major and deadly diseases like diphtheria and measles.

People avoid vaccines for a variety of reasons, like an unfounded fear of chemicals or the concern that they're too much too soon. Many people who decide not to vaccinate do so because they fear it will lead to autism. First of all, it is super offensive that autism is thought to be so devastating that people are willing to risk their children's lives just to avoid it. Secondly, the study that linked vaccines with autism has been retracted, revealing it as a vile and elaborate fraud built on lies. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines help make children healthier. Vaccines are safe. These are facts.

What vaccines really do is save lives. The World Health Organization estimates that in the last 20 years alone, the measles vaccine has saved 17.1 million people. While some parents are deciding that vaccines aren't for them, people in other countries are doing everything they can to ensure that their babies have a shot at life.

Babies too young to immunize, sick children, and the elderly who were never immunized are all at risk from someone else not getting vaccinated. Most measles deaths in the US happen to babies under the age of 3 months because they were too young to be vaccinated. Many of these babies were exposed to other people who were unknowingly carrying the disease. Not vaccinating literally kills babies. All parents deserve the opportunity to protect their children, and that job is made significantly easier if we as a community do our part. The more people vaccinate, the safer we all are. I get that every parent has the right to make decisions that affect their child, but when those decisions can cause serious harm — even death — to others, they forfeit that right.