This article about a mother of a child with cancer who can’t go to day care because of non-vaccinated kids kind of broke my heart.

I’m kind of sympathetic to parents who don’t believe in vaccinating their kids. In the end, everyone just wants to do what’s best for their kids, and if that’s what they believe, I can’t question that heart. But I don’t think that anti-vaccination parents fully take into account the costs of their decision. That article’s accounts of children dying from preventable sicknesses made me really sad. And yes, I’m somewhat selfish about this. I have a son who’s too young to have been fully vaccinated against everything, and it disturbs me a bit that he has an ever so slightly increased chance of getting seriously sick by non-vaccinated kids.

I also don’t think the anti-vaccination gang fully take into account the costs even for their own kids. Just take the flu. I read a compelling paper a while back that showed that kids who were born around the time of the crazy Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 had measurably lower IQs when they grew up than of people born before or after. Time had a story recently about how getting the flu when you’re young may increase the risk of other health issues much later in life. Honestly, I care mainly about the first – I’m anal about having my kids vaccinated (e.g. against the flu) because I don’t want their intelligence to be permanently stunted, however slightly, for no good reason.

In the end, it’s a cost-benefit analysis. Parents have to assess the benefit and risk of vaccinating versus not. It’s just my opinion that the anti-vaccine crowd doesn’t assess enough the risk of not vaccinating both to other kids and their own.

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