When It’s Not a Choice: Measles or Driving While Tired |

When It’s Not a Choice: Measles or Driving While Tired

admin March 21, 2014

Sick of the same, tired-old “herd immunity” line: the choices you make could impact others, so vaccinate to protect all those other kids out there? Find out why it’s nonsense.

More nonsense about vaccines and herd immunity popped up in my feed today.

It’s the story of a young boy with leukemia, who is exposed to the measles while in the hospital.  The mother passionately describes her stress at waiting out the 21-day incubation period, praying her immuno-compromised son doesn’t end up developing the measles.  She begs parents to vaccinate so we have herd immunity because if you don’t, it could affect children like her son.  (He did not catch the measles.)

I’m sorry for the family.  Truly.  I cannot imagine the grief and difficulty that families who have children with cancer or other serious medical issues go through.  It must be terribly stressful for them.  And I’m glad their little boy didn’t end up getting the measles.

I don’t, however, feel so charitable towards the people who are currently using this family.  They’re using this mom to emotionally manipulate people into vaccinating.  They ought to be ashamed!  Emotional manipulation has no part in a discussion as important as this one.

The manipulation, of course, is the same, tired-old “herd immunity” line: the choices you make could impact others, so vaccinate to protect all those other kids out there.  But, it’s complete nonsense.

We All Affect Others

Vaccination is not a magical situation.  It is not different than other scenarios where what we do might affect others.  There are many decisions we make every day that could potentially affect others — but we don’t think of their needs before our own, do we?

You might be thinking, “I always think of others!  I would never do something that would negatively impact them!”  Okay.  So you have never:

  • Taken the last of some kind of food at a party, office function, or restaurant
  • Cut someone off in traffic
  • Failed to pay a bill on time
  • …etc.

I’ll bet every one of us has done these at one time or another.

I know, you’re saying — “Those don’t really matter.  They might make someone a little upset, but it’s not going to hurt anything.”

Very true.  But there’s something that most of us have done at some point, something that some do often, that really could hurt someone.   That does hurt people.  And not only is it not illegal, but we only offer quiet advice on how to avoid it.  We don’t bully people who do it.  And it’s an actual, real, causing-serious-issues problem right now.

Yawning While Driving?

Have you ever woken up from a rough night, yawning, feeling very tired…but knowing you needed to leave for work or school anyway?  I have.  Have you ever found yourself drifting off while driving?  Have you ever desperately tried turning the radio up, opening the window, drinking coffee, etc. to keep yourself awake?  It’s been years…but I have.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. These figures may be the tip of the iceberg, since currently it is difficult to attribute crashes to sleepiness. (source)

It’s pretty clear that driving while tired is something people do a lot…and which can have drastic consequences for others.  At least 1550 deaths per year?  Yet…do we shame and bully people who drive while tired?  Is it illegal?  Is it even an issue we’re discussing?

No, we’re too busy bullying people who don’t vaccinate.

Many choices that people make can have consequences for others.  Driving while tired certainly can.  Yet if we’re faced with the choice to drive while tired, or skip work, how many are going to skip work?  Almost none.  Most will grip the wheel, swig some coffee, and hope for the best.  This is demonstrably far more dangerous to others than not vaccinating.  It represents a clear, immediate danger each and every time you are on the road and are fatigued.

Unlike an unvaccinated child, who is generally healthy and not a threat.

The point is, there’s no escaping that our decisions can and do affect others.  We don’t live in a bubble.  And we don’t ostracize people from society because they’re more self-interested than into the good of society.  That’s human nature.  It’s normal.  And honestly?  You can only control you, not others.  You can’t erase the risk that you face, or might pose to someone else, every time you leave the house.

The vaccination decision actually affects people quite a lot less than other issues do.  Yet we’ve blown it completely out of proportion.  We’ve decided it’s this massive, crazy risk that’s worthy of bullying, shaming, ostracizing others.  

Let’s be real: 1% of children 5 and under are deliberately unvaccinated.  That is not a large number.  Meanwhile, there are millions of drivers on the road…and you don’t know how many may be impaired in some way.  It’s a much, much, much greater threat.

So let’s just put it all into perspective.  If you’re bullying parents who don’t vaccinate their children because of some perceived future potential threat to your children, you’re ignoring much bigger, immediate threats.  You have no leg to stand on with this argument.  None.

I hope this is the end of the “vaccinate for the herd” argument.  Because it really is quite silly.  Each family should do what is best for them, whether that’s vaccinating or not, and leave everyone else alone.  As I said — you control you, not others.  And you do not have a right to live in a world where people care more about your family than about their own.  Period.

How do you feel about “herd immunity” as an argument?

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  1. I totally agree with you Kate! You said it so well. I hope others take the time to listen. . .


  2. As I’ve went along and learned more on this topic, the concept of herd immunity in my honest opinion is really quite silly. Its like people believe the vaccinated have this magic sparkly shield of protection and they don’t. I think its more of a bullying tactic than anything.

    Thanks for your words of wisdom once again! Excellent article!


  3. I completely agree! People do things everyday that affects us all! I believe that ingesting animal products, sugar, MSG, fluoride, aspartame, pharmaceuticals, and I could go on, directly affects the health of the entire population and our environment. We all pay for it financially and physically. We all have to care for the sick and their families when they end up in the hospital. Cancer, heart disease and mental illnesses are costing society billions and families are being destroyed by these illnesses. Why are we spending so much money bullying people about vaccinations when that is just a distraction for the REAL huge health and environmental issues that we face. The illnesses that vaccines allegedly cover, are of little concern when compared to the devastation that we face caused by CANCER, heart disease, stroke, auto-immune diseases, the full range of mental illnesses – Alzheimers, dementia, depression, Autism, ADHD, and the list goes on and on. These illness are directly related to decisions we make each and every day. Those who chose to take part in the factory farmed animal products, or choose to use chemicals to clean with, or choose to eat the crappy junk food (that isn’t real food), or choose to use plastics, or choose to drink fluoridated water or those who choose to indulge in the decadent, lifestyle of convenience that causes bodily and earthly destruction, those who make choices like these everyday cause everyone, animals, and the earth HARM and jeopardize life as we know it!!! And yet, we don’t bully everyone for these decisions that cause more harm and damage than the illnesses that the vaccines are supposedly protecting against…


  4. I’ve been sitting here trying to play devil’s advocate for balance, because I agree with you so strongly. However, I can’t. Blame my own confirmation bias or whatever, but this argument seems pretty airtight. I am in no way obligated to care about the safety of anyone else’s family more than my own. Love it, you’re awesome!


  5. Beautiful. “Herd immunity” is a lie used to bully others. Check out anything Dr. Russell Blaylock says. Unfortunately, no matter how stellar someone’s credentials, people do their best to discredit if the person doesn’t believe in vaccines.


  6. I think your argument has a lot of holes. Are you really comparing failing to immunize with driving while tired? It seems to me that the biggest difference between these two “dangers” is that people who knowingly drive while tired do so while knowing the risks to others and being too selfish to sacrifice for others. It is a generally accepted belief that driving while tired is dangerous – you have the stats to prove it. However, it is obvious that it is NOT generally accepted by non-vaxers that failing to vaccinate is dangerous. It is one thing to say “Hey – driving while tired is dangerous but I’m going to do it anyway because I have to” and quite another to say “Driving while tired is not dangerous at all”. You are not saying that failing to immunize is dangerous but you are going to do it anyway. You are arguing that failing to immunize is not dangerous. Two different arguments. I will continue to press for an honest dialogue about vaccinations – they have eradicated dangerous diseases in the modern world. Third world countries without vaccinations are suffering from diseases which are preventable by vaccinations. The proof is out there, but you have to be willing to see it. I guess I am bullying you now.


  7. Not to mention all of the people driving around on various medications prescribed by their doctor that can affect their response time, cause sleepiness and other side effects that may be hazardous while driving.


  8. Hi everyone! As a faithful reader of Modern Alternative Mama, I want to humbly request that everyone read the following thoroughly before ripping me to shreds 🙂 Okay? Okay.

    Unfortunately I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with this article *when it comes to me and my family*. I’ve done my research and feel like there’s too much conflicting information out there for me to rule out the community immunity concept. And if I can’t rule it out, it hits really close to home. There’s a couple at our church who have a daughter born with biliary atresia. When she was only a few months old, she required a liver transplant, which she received. She’s almost two now and still hasn’t been given the go ahead to be out in public because of her compromised immune system.

    One of the main reasons I vaccinate my healthy girl is so that when her future friend is able to be out and about, she’ll be protected. Like I’ve said, not being a doctor, I couldn’t tell you if herd immunity works or not. But on the off chance it does, I want to be sure to protect a little girl I’ve been praying for since she was born.

    To me this doesn’t seem much different than not sending food made with peanuts to nursery with my child (to protect kids with peanut allergies) or abiding by my state’s hands-free driving policy. Sure, “there are many decisions we make everyday that could potentially affect others–but we don’t think of their needs before our own.” That’s because we’re sinners, though! As a Christian I need to remember this: “Let each of you look out for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)” So, because I’m not convinced that herd immunity doesn’t function, I feel morally obligated to vaccinate my child to protect another. If you’re a Christian who’s entirely sold on the idea that herd immunity is a false concept, then you needn’t feel similarly obligated in any way to vaccinate your kids in order to protect others. I would never try to guilt you regarding this decision–you’re entirely within your rights and living in a way commensurate with your values, so good for you!

    However, there’s a lot of fear on both sides of the vaccination debate, and a lot of parents don’t think critically regarding vaccines (MAM does a great job of acknowledging this and keeping fearmongering OFF the table). The health of our children is a hugely emotionally-charged issue. So if another mom or dad is guilting you regarding your choice in this area, it’s probably because they’re afraid. Telling them they do plenty of things that endanger other people so they ought to get off your case basically just turns the guilt trip right back around. I really don’t think it’s the best response. It’s equivalent to someone confronting you with a mistake they think you made (even if they’re wrong), and you, instead of explaining your actions, respond by listing all the mistakes THEY’VE made. Not the most loving response, and one that’s super defensive.

    I realize that there are people out there who don’t want to hear information that conflicts with what they’ve chosen to believe, and they can be very hard to deal with (whatever side of the debate they fall on.) However, for those who are Christians like myself, I’d urge you NOT to use the response to guilt-trippers that “they do plenty of things that endanger others, too.” If you’re not given the chance to explain that from your perspective, you’re not endangering anyone (and perhaps to provide some information in favor of the anti-vaxx side of things) remember that when standing trial and falsely accused, Christ gave no answer.

    Let’s all remember to speak the truth *in love.* 🙂


  9. Laura, whether you do or don’t immunize your kids will not have an effect on your immune compromised neighbor kid. Heard immunity is a ‘theory’ that came out of a study done in the 1930’s that merely stated that when 2/3’s of a population has had a disease, the disease tends to disappear. 1/3 didn’t catch any disease in the study. The author of this study didn’t look to see why the 1/3 didn’t catch the disease, probably because they were healthier – who knows? From that tid bit in a study we now have the industry and government propaganda that this “heard immunity” is a fact and can be acheived through mass vaccinations (where’s the science?). Nothing could be farther from the truth. Being vaccinated doesn’t mean you can’t catch the disease you were vaccinated against. On the contrary, often the vaccine makes a person a carrier of the disease or worse, they catch the disease and have a worse course than a unvaccinated person (this is the case in the latest outbreaks of measles and whooping cough). If you are truly concerned, you would do well to read Suzanne Humphries, MD book called “Dissolving Illusions…”. One of the best books out there if you really want to understand vaccines and the history of public health.

    It may make you feel good vaccinating your daughter, but you aren’t protecting your neighbor’s child and you are putting your healthy child at risk. Getting vaccinated permanently changes the way your body responds to diseases that have evolved over the course of untold years in ways that we still don’t understand and secondly, you can’t get unvaccinated. Believe in the propagando if it makes you feel good, but if you want the truth you have to do some more research. I wish it was as simple as getting a “safe” shot but it is not, it is a very complicated issue (that Suzanne Humphries does such a good job of making the arguments and historical facts accessible to us) and many times the risks from the vaccine far outweigh risks from the disease. We all want healthy kids.

    I think this was a really good article to put things in persepective – the measles thing is a good example of risks outweighing the disease.

    Good luck with all th


  10. Thank you for your very kind spirit and your care for this little girl! That is wonderful.

    The issue most of us have with vaccinating is not that we just can’t be bothered with it when it’s someone else’s child. The issue is the extremely serious (brain injuring, paralyzing, and fatal) vaccine reactions we know about. Certainly ,if it was something not dangerous that I could do to be accommodating, it would be a much different situation. But I cannot take the risk of damaging a healthy baby for life (or further injuring a sick one, should the Lord give me one later) on the theory that maybe it helps someone else.

    May I recommend that you do some reading of Blaylock and others, particularly those on http://gianelloni.wordpress.com/?

    I believe that in not infecting ourselves deliberately with these viruses (and many vaccines are indeed live-virus!), we avoid shedding and we *are* in effect protecting others. I know/ know of multiple people who’ve become sick after coming into contact with someone else recently vaccinated. Coincidence? Maybe. But so is it coincidence when someone becomes ill after being around unvaccinated children.

    Here is a great post on the potential of infecting while vaccinated: http://everythingbirthblog.com/2012/08/think-of-the-weaker-children-who-cant-get-vaccinated/

    In making future decisions regarding vaccination, I would also recommend going back to sources that influenced you in favor of it. Check to see if there are financial conflicts of interest (i.e., funding by Merck and others). That is absolutely the case, unfortunately, with doctor’s offices, at least much of the time (lawsuit probabilities that I can’t get into, but google Vaccine Injury Act 1986). This may help clarify things.

    Again, thank you for your very gracious disagreement. What a breath of fresh air, and may the Lord give us all wisdom!


  11. Laura, what if your own child becomes vaccine injured and ends up with a lifetime of medical problems? Would it still be worth it to you to have *possibly* saved another child that may have never been affected by your daughter anyway? You are putting one child at risk for the sake of the other…so how do you choose which child to put at risk? It’s only human nature for us NOT to want to risk our own childrens’ lives.


  12. Laura,
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment.
    You spoke with compassion. Parenting has plenty challenges and when we can respect each other we are all better off.


  13. There will never be enough vaccines or enough vaccinated people to make it safe for someone with a truly inadequate immune system to go out in public. First, there are thousands of potentially fatal illnesses for which there are no vaccines. Influenza like illnesses, colds, various stomach bugs and on and on. Second, a large proportion of the population is not vaccinated with all of the possible vaccines if you also consider adults. Third, no vaccine is 100%, as we are repeatedly told, so even if you managed to surround this child with totally vaccinated people who had received every vaccine that could possibly be delivered, they could still be exposed to a vaccine related illness. Finally, some vaccines are known to shed, so she has to avoid anyone who has gotten a live virus vaccine.


  14. Laura, my oldest was vaccine-injured. It took years to overcome the majority of the negative results – and we are the lucky ones. Most results are permanent. What we dealt with, and still deal with, as a result has made our decision NOT to vaccinate our other 2 kids a very easy one to make. Until you have been in our shoes, please understand that you don’t know what it’s like. I have done so much research on both sides of the vax debate, and ultimately, it was through prayer and fasting that we made our decision. We never push anyone else one way or another, but encourage research, prayer and fasting as a way to decide. As a Christian, God has helped us make this decision and I fully trust Him.


  15. The same individuals who would complain about “a danger to others” are the same ones who would restrict access to affective alternative therapies that could save lives. Rather hypocritical.


  16. Good article, Kate. Here’s my take on “thinking about others”: When we’re sick, we stay away from people. But, parents act like their vaccinated child is safe to be around right after a vaccination. After one is vaccinated, they should be treated like one with whatever the disease is they were just given. Logically, when one receives a vaccine they are receiving a disease and therefore becoming a carrier of that disease for a while after “contracting” it, just like one who naturally acquires a disease. Instead, people have this false sense of security that once vaccinated they’re safe from disease and couldn’t possibly pass a disease on to someone else. To be honest, I’m more worried about having my children around those who are recently vaccinated because those people could be contagious!
    As for “herd immunity” from vaccination, the same could be said about those who have “chicken pox parties” (something I remember hearing about years ago and wouldn’t recommend). Those who naturally contract the disease are now immune for life. Similarly, the “pro-vaccine” people say that vaccinated people are immune to certain diseases, though even they have to admit that the immunity is not life-long so one must receive boosters every so often. (I was vaccinated as a child and still got pertussis as a teenager after the vaccine “wore off”… the dr. told me it wasn’t uncommon.) I understand that the “herd immunity” thing is to supposedly protect those with poor immunity. However, the best way for others to protect those with poor immunity is to be healthy, not to make one’s self ill by pumping in toxic chemicals and diseases. Sorry, I’m a logical person and “herd immunity” isn’t logical. People need to start thinking for themselves, and their families, and stop swallowing every elephant that’s fed to them. =)


  17. Laura it is not like your LO has Polio, mumps, chickenpox, pertussis, etc. I do not understand when people say I vaccinated my kid for the sake of another. Your kid does not have some underlying disease that is going to magically transfer to another. The major things to watch out for in everyday life (that are around every corner) and that most parents don’t see as being a big deal, is a cough or cold, low grade fever, green running nose. Then they bring their kid to church/in public and those with weak immune systems are really paying for it when it hits them. Vaccines do not make a person healthy, they do not protect against every other cold and flu germ that is getting our kids sick regularly. Why do people think, I’m vaccinated or my kids are vaccinated so automatically we are healthy as can be??


  18. Ditto Sarah D! It’s amazing what people can be scared into believing. How can people believe that a species that has survived for thousands of years without modern “medicine” all of the sudden can’t make it without periodic shots full of toxic chemicals that may or may not work for an undetermined amount of time? Or that giving an infant 5+ shots at one time is safe? It makes absolutely no sense!! I’m not against all vaccines for everyone, but for an otherwise healthy person, why take the risk?


  19. Its 1956 and my family are planning a trip to the Ohio state fair. Myself and my siblings are so excited to go. We are a poor family and this trip is one of very few outings we have had in my short life. I’m seven years old and its mid july. We have so much fun. Its hot and the mosquitos are bad. I get bit on my leg and scratch it with my finger nails. Later in the week I start to feel sick. Mom takes me to the hospital because I’m soo sick. I have contracted polio and spend the next year on the polio floor in a Cleveland hospital with other children with polio. A lot of them die. I make it but I will never walk again. The vaccine comes out one year later. I could have a different life if it was just one year later!


  20. Interesting read. People need to realize there’s no situation in life where we can control everything and have 0% risks. We need to stop playing the blame game and start taking responsibility for what we’ve been dealt. Making our own decisions based on our own risk status. Boosting our immune systems naturally or choosing to vaccinate if we believe that’s best for us. The most obvious to me is the fact that most non-vaxxers choose not to vaccinate are actually thinking of others! Their most loved ones! Their children! They are more educated and make decisions based on that understanding that their kids will be better off without. I believe we are to care for everyone to the best of our abilities. But it’s the ones who’ve been given to us, that come first. Once you’ve done your research, we realize that vaccination does more damage than good, has serious risks, and herd immunity is a joke and so the whole “vaccinate to care for others” really goes out the window.


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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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