The Natural Consequences of Unvaccinated Children

I was seven years old, walking home from school for the second time that day. School was literally across the street, and Sister Marie sent me home to change my pants again. I had been sitting in my chair practicing my handwriting when the girl behind me screeched because of the urine that was dripping off of my chair and splashing onto her shoes. Unlike the first time, I wasn’t embarrassed. I didn’t notice and I didn’t really care because I was too sick. The walk home seemed infinite, and I had to stop every few feet to gather my strength. My head pounded. When I finally got to the staircase that led to our upstairs apartment, I had to crawl up the dark stained wooden steps doggie style.

My mother rushed into action. Her only baby was sick. Not an unusual occurrence. Without penicillin and modern medicine, I wouldn’t have survived my first month let alone seven years. She cleaned me up, took my temperature, and put me in bed. My fever was 99, so she gave me orange-flavored chewable aspirin. Two hours later, my temp was 104. I was put into a tub full of cold water and ice. The pain, both from the illness and from the ice bath, was indescribable. Fever down to 100, I was rushed to the hospital. There, IVs and ice bags compounded my misery. I could see fear in my parents’ eyes. Even my father was worried.

The next day was better. Everything still hurt, but I was hydrated and my head didn’t feel like it was going to explode. The initial diagnosis was Mono. Kissing disease, it was called, and the nurses and my mom tried to tease me over the name. I still felt too awful to respond. The next day I broke out in a rash. It was measles, and I had exposed the whole school and hospital. I was patient zero in the 1957 measles outbreak in Willmar, Minnesota. I do not know how many people got sick or even died because of me. I got my infection from a cousin in Ohio whom I had visited prior to school starting. I don’t know how many children were born with birth defects because of me. I feel the guilt many years later, even though I did nothing wrong. I was up to date on all my vaccinations. But a measles vaccine wasn’t available in 1957.

I grew up with iron lungs, children dying from pertussis, and chicken pox parties. Unvaccinated children suffered horribly. They still do in countries where vaccines are limited. Fortunately, in the U.S. most children are vaccinated. They are relatively safe. Unfortunately, there are parents who think they are smarter and better informed than people who fight diseases for a living, and the children of these parents are at risk. The fact that these unvaccinated children also put the community, especially the unborn and infants, at risk aren’t important to these parents. In a democracy, they have the right to choose. But with choice comes consequences.

The arguments against vaccines are specious at best and outright lies at worst. Vaccines have been saving lives for centuries. Exhibit A is that George Washington saved his army at Valley Forge by having his surgeons vaccinate the entire army against smallpox. It was a crude affair, smallpox scabs poked into the arm with a heated knife. But it worked. The surrounding community was devastated by the disease, but the Continental Army survived. Measles and smallpox killed over half of the Native Americans who were exposed to them. It was the biggest factor in the Europeans’ ability to colonize the New World.

Most people do not understand how vaccines work, and ignorance breeds fear. It’s simple, really. A vaccine is like a wanted poster. It tells the body, “Here’s what the bad guy looks like. When you see him, kill him.” The details of how it works are easy to explain in terms of the metaphor of keys and locks. Viruses attach themselves to the protein coat of a cell. They enter the cell through the use of a chemical key that lets them enter and then reprogram it to produce copies of the virus. It’s like drug dealers taking over a candy factory and using it to manufacture meth.

Vaccines are dead copies of the virus, complete with the key it uses to open up the cell. Stimulated by the presence of the dead virus, the body uses T-cells to manufacture antibodies. These are like little locks that latch onto the key part of the virus. They fit onto that particular virus and only that virus. The antibody then sends a signal to the white blood cells that act like garbage trucks that clean up the immobilized enemy. The dead viruses do not last long in the body. They are removed quickly, but the T-cells keep making antibodies that will attach themselves to live viruses that enter the body.

One argument against vaccines is the question of their safety. Obviously, dead viruses are safe. It’s the live ones that are not. And as for the preservatives (called toxins by the antivaxxers), those have been extensively tested. Mercury, in the form of thimerosal, has been removed in spite of the lack of any evidence that it posed a danger. Kids get more toxins in the air they breathe and the water they drink (especially bottled water) than they do from a vaccine. Massive use of plastics has created huge environmental problems that dwarf anything medicine has created. Every week, there’s a new story about the health problems caused by PCBs, BPAs, PBDEs, PDAs, ABCs and God knows what else. And anyone who brings up the autism argument isn’t paying attention to the research. There’s better evidence that circumcision causes autism than immunization. And that evidence is laughable.

The point is that those who are willing to ignore the evidence about the safety and efficacy of vaccines are free to do so. But society, in the form of the government, must then take steps to protect the rest of us from the consequences of those decisions. The Amish choose to not live like the majority of people in the U.S. That’s fine; it’s their right as citizens. But they do not get to drive their horses and buggies on the public freeway with the rest of us. It’s a safety issue. Vehicles traveling sixty five miles an hour cannot safely coexist with 19th century technology. And when they do use public roads that they are allowed on, they have to have large safety triangles so cars don’t run into them.

I am not suggesting that people who aren’t vaccinated have to wear some kind of identification. That would be ridiculous. But they shouldn’t have the same access to all public places as people who are vaccinated. If you refuse to abide by public health standards, you are not allowed to run a restaurant. If you refuse to meet vaccination standards, you also shouldn’t be allowed to be enrolled in public schools and universities. Doctors and hospitals who have unvaccinated patients should be required to advertise that fact. Those who won’t listen to common sense shouldn’t be given carte blanche to endanger the rest of us. The natural consequence of not helping protect the herd is that you don’t get to be part of the herd.

Some of those parents who refuse to vaccinate say they are listening to their gut. Better they should listen to the children. Don’t say measles isn’t a scary disease until you have stayed up with a child who has it. Listen to children’s book author Roald Dahl write about the death of his daughter from measles. Listen to that little boy for whom a simple set of stairs became a mountain so many years ago. Vaccinate. Your. Child. Or go live by yourself.

27 Discussions on
“The Natural Consequences of Unvaccinated Children”
  • Wow, Jerome. That is one powerful argument. I agree wholeheartedly, but even those who don’t can see the clarity of it. I remember chicken pox parties too, and I was born in the ’60s. It is selfish not to vaccinate children.

  • Vaccines are NOt 100% safe, there are risks and side effects. This is a matter of giving out correct and accurate information and allowing people to make informed decisions with respect to their children.

  • I am pro-vaccinations. However, while your argument for them states that not getting them endangers society (by this I am referring the the US, as you were), it does not explain how. If an unvaccinated child sitting in a public classroom contracts the measles, I fail to see how it endangers the vaccinated girl sitting next to him. If she gets it, then clearly the vaccine did not work and thus was pointless.

    • The main issue is for young infants. There are a lot of vaccines given during the first two years. Measles vaccine is given at the 12 month check up. I will say that there are side-effects of the vaccines but my experience with my daughter has been mild immune response ie some swelling at the injection site and mild fever and so on. I will take that over an ICU stay.

      • I’m glad you are aware of side effects. During the recent court case in Italy, where the courts ruled that a specific vaccination caused autism, an internal GlaxoSmithKline document was released. It included 1200 pages of great data that no one I speak with wants to read, but I sifted through large portions of it. Internal studies by the pharm company itself indicated side effects including swelling of the brain, autism, seizures, walking problems and, in their particular study, eight infant deaths. These were all determined to be reasonable risks for the benefits of the immunizations they were selling.
        GlaxoSmithKline document is here

        I just can’t get this shedding issue out of my mind though, since I came across warnings for immuno-compromised individuals to stay away from those recently compromised (at Johns Hopkins) and this case reported by the American Academy of Pediatrics where a baby actually contracted measles from a newly vaccinated sibling.

        If we are spreading the disease, is it worth the risk?? Struggling to balance it all.

    • It affects children who are too young for vaccines and women who are pregnant for the unborn child is not vaccinated. Those people are unwillingly put at risk and they could be born with birth defects and little children get sick and die. This is not about the people who have been vaccinated.

      • I say keep your infants at home then. Babies who do not have immune systems strong enough to be out in the public, should not be in the public.
        Todays vaccinations are unsafe, especially when taken so many of them at the same time. So this is our alternative? Tripling up on the poisons so we can take our babies to a restaurant.

    • It endangers people like me who have had the vaccines, have had the measles and still have no immunity to measles…Wasn’t as worrisome when i was younger and strong but as I am heading toward middle age it is more of a risk.

    • The “how” is called herd immunity. If many people are vaccinated in an area, an incoming pathogen will run up against immunity at every turn. If 1 person is not vaccinated, because they have health complications, then the fact that everyone around them is vaccinated offers a protection around them, like a barrier. If everyone around them is not vaccinated, then a pathogen can rip right through a population.

  • I’m the parent of a child who suffered a VERY real vaccination injury. While I am not anti-vaccine and I can concede that globally vaccinations have probably saved more lives than the harm they have caused, I am frustrated that your account has ZERO acknowledgement or recognition for the other side of the spectrum.

    My family also pays just as much in tax (if not more) as you or someone else’s child who is sitting in a class room in a public school, if ‘anchor babies’ aren’t denied a public school education in the interest of a common good, than neither should my child be, especially because under your pretense…her peers should be fully vaccinated which reduces the risk.

    The fact is, that no one in the US has died from measles in the last 20 years. yet a suspected 100 measles vaccine related deaths have been reported.

    I am sorry that you contracted the measles. I am sorry that you claim that you are patient zero (even though you say you contracted it from your cousin) and that your contact with classmates may have resulted in an out break, but please…stop projecting whatever guilt you may feel on the rest of us.

    • Thank you…this man forgets a lot of historical details too. There are many who contracted polio from the vaccine and many who received a tainted lot who now have cancer and leukemia as a result. There are many more risks than he has indicated. He simplifies this and it is a very complex issue. There is historical evidence that suggests that other cultures who didn’t have our same vaccination schedules saw their disease rates decline the same level ours did. Today our FDA and CDC deserve scrutiny over their business practices and many conflict of interest practices. We have to protect our children and make sure that they are safe…quit being sheeple and follow what we are told. The evidence is all around us in increased autism numbers and parents who continue to give the exact same account. The package inserts are there for all of us to read…all the risks spelled out. Lots of ignorance displayed in this article…

  • I have a grandson who was born with a mitochondrial disease. He had all of the vaccines but does not respond to them, which means he can still get those diseases. Thanks to parents that think they know best, his life is in danger constantly. A parent that is afraid their child will have some kind of bad reaction to the vaccines
    should know that their child is now in great danger of contracting one of many horrible illnesses that we can now prevent.

    • ‘Thanks to parents that think they know best.’ A parent IS the judge of what is best for their child. The moment we as a society decide someone else should determine the best course of action for OUR children – is the moment we stop being parents and become nothing more than breeders for the government. No thanks. I am a PARENT – as such – I make decisions for my children from the second I know they exist. Do not tell me I am ‘smart’ enough to make every other decision for my child… except whether to vaccinate or not. Keep your babies at home if they are too young to receive the vaccines you believe are infallible. I pay taxes. I and my children are citizens of this country and until the day the Constitution is shredded and a dictator installed – I and I alone will make medical choices for my minor children.

      • Did you ever take a biology class in your entire life? Do you not have even a basic understanding of herd immunity? Your freedom to be retarded ends where my rights begin. If someone is born immunocompromised, herd immunity from vaccination protects them. Read a book before you post ignorant trite bull****.

        • Here immuNity can only exist if people continue to get vaccinated. The more people who don’t the less herd immunity protects those who choose not to vaccinate.

          • It is great to be educated in the sciences and to be aware of the theory behind herd immunity. Before we take away individual rights based on theory, however, we need to check out medically sound research and real life analysis of the application of that theory. In 1989, with an official immunization rate of 99% Quebec had a massive measles outbreak. ( China has forced immunization and also reached the theoretical Utopian level of 95% immunization with a recent outbreak that was large enough that it made news throughout Europe, but sadly not in the United States. Rio had the same experience. Herd immunity is a flawed and failing idea.

            It will be a happy day when the medical community in the US cares enough to include data from respected journals outside of their borders and control. European countries pulling the Gardisil vaccine because of a preponderance of death and maimings, India having larger outbreaks of Vaccine Induced Polio Paralysis than the natural strain of Polio is producing, Brazil courts using BraxoSmithKline’s own research (an amazing read) to declare legally that vaccinations cause autism. ( Tragically this, and other, industry declarations that vaccinations do not cause autism are based on research done without an unvaccinated control group. This design flaw makes findings irrelevant to the discussion, but the list of side effects specifically found during the above study is pertinent and the basis of the court ruling. In the industry the scientifically requisite control group is omitted because of ‘ethical concerns’ about not vaccinating any subjects.

            Check out international experiences with the un-vaccinated from a French pediatrician at ( ) and note the sources. As a good scientist I am sure you always go back to the citations and review them for good research design and proper reporting. I find the greater number of valid (or even cited) sources from the anti-vaccination articles than from pro-vaccination writings. This doesn’t match the current widespread belief of quackery–so I will continue to read real sources and I hope you will as well.

  • If this were an anti-vax post, you would all be pointing out how silly it is to take medical advice from an English Professor.

    There is so much real data to refute everything said in this article. This is hate mongering and is dangerous for us all as a nation. It has exactly the same scientific reliability as the arguments that supported separate toilets for people of color to protect the community from “disease”. (you may have to cut and paste these links to get educated, worth it!)

    If you are willing to take away someone’s freedom for this issue, I hope you will at least give an hour to the other side of the debate. You owe them that before segregating any population.

    Here is an actual scientific expert to walk through some of the misinformation being shared widely during this hysteria,

    Shedding and Herd Immunity are two specific issues we tend to misunderstand.

    As long as vaccinated children are shedding viruses, we are in danger of being infected by a recently vaccinated child. Here is a documented case in a journal by the American Academcy of Peditrics.

    You see from the above case that there are tests to determine if the outbreak came from a lab (vaccinated child) or a wild strain (unvaccinated). These tests were not conducted on 90% of the patients of the Disneyland outbreak. I can’t help but wonder why.

    Or here is a article with a compilation of sources including European shedding infection cases as well

    The theory of herd immunity continues to fail in the real world. Before we force Formaldehyde (on the package inserts and recognized legally as a carcinogen by the State of California) into our children’s blood take a look at how it worked out for Quebec with their 99% vax rate and ensuing break out for over a thousand people.

    Or more recently for China, the 97.5% vax rate achieved by 2010 couldn’t hold back the resurgence of an outbreak in 2013. The industry claimed China’s outbreak happened because of immigration, so if you buy the lie you must take a strong stance against immigration in our country as well. Being pro-vaccination, it turns out can be a somewhat exclusive.

    Maybe we should spend all this money, time and effort improving water and sanitation for all people. I get that there is no profit margin in this course, but there is a clear indication that this will bring down levels of disease. Please spend at least an hour thoughtfully studying this from a scientific point of view–and leave your fear behind and freedoms intact.

    • Jean,

      This will be the last time I chase down all of these dead-end websites that either don’t support anti-vaxxer claims, are bogus science sites, or were misinterpreted, but given the number of comments you’ve posted, here, your claims deserve at least one rebuttal. Let’s start with the ad hominem argument. I am a science teacher and have been for over twenty-six years. I have done thousands of hours of scientific research, especially when I wrote for an NSF funded project. I think I am qualified to advocate a side in what is a social / political (not science) argument. Jean, you haven’t stated your qualifications for addressing anything scientific, but they can’t be good based, at a minimum, on the following discussion, which makes your initial insult doubly curious.

      Every anti-vaxxer uses the same discredited sites, data, and logical fallacies. They treat all scientists as equal and lump all vaccines into the same basket while they cherry pick data from entities they often disagree with. The Pediatrics journal article on shedding is representative of the wild goose chases I’ve been on. It writes about one case–that’s ONE–in which an older unvaccinated sibling caught a rotovirus (not MEASLES) from a younger vaccinated sibling. The shedding Jean is so concerned about means live viruses shed through the stool. In the common vernacular, one sibling got into another sibling’s poop. You can all say “EWWW” now. Get some rubber gloves, soap, and hand sanitizer and shedding is not an issue. This same journal urges parents to vaccinate their children citing 99% effectiveness and 1 in a million chances of serious complications from the MMR. The Canadian reference is a confusingly translated abstract of a 24-year-old article that said it was more than a lack of vaccinations that was responsible for the 1989 measles outbreak. See Canada’s 2013 report on measles:

      The final report (Quebec Ministry of Health1996) stated that the areas that suffered the outbreak had 79% vaccination rates and that about 20% of the cases occurred in vaccinated children, which led to a change in shot scheduling protocols. That proved effective:

      I never found another reference for a 99% vaccination rate, which would be astounding. More importantly, this and all other outbreaks have been stopped by, wait for it, mass vaccinations and quarantines for those who won’t vaccinate. China I ignored since it is a corrupt dictatorship. I read the 1,200-page report you referenced, and it did note every problem that might have been due to their batch of DPT vaccine (NOT MEASLES). It was not an internal document; it was a mandated, confidential report to the government (didn’t say which one) detailing every possible issue with their product. None of the eight deaths were tied to the vaccine. As for the Italian court, they used the only scientifically published anti-vaccine study (the totally discredited Lancet Study), and it is under appeal and is likely to be overturned. I also note it was an Italian court that held geologists responsible for an earthquake (already overturned).

      I could go on, but then this would become another essay. I agree that “Big Pharma” is untrustworthy. I agree that we should be skeptical of our government officials. But every independent organization says MMR is safe. As for the other ad hominem attacks: I served in the Army in Vietnam. I have the scars and a permanent disability to prove my commitment to your freedom and our Constitution. Asking people to be accountable for their decisions is not about taking away their freedom. But without accountability, freedom leads to anarchy. If there had been a measles vaccine in 1957, I would have gotten it even if the odds had been 10,000 to one. Many people won’t believe it, but I would rather have died from a measles vaccine than to have suffered what I did and to have spread the disease and its pain from Columbus OH to Willmar MN. It’s called “service before self.” My military father taught me that.

      Jerome Parent

      • Dear Jerome,
        This is such an emotional issue that we often forget to click through to sources and calmly read them. It is true that these anti-vax sites are often the information gathering point, but it you look closely, everything that has “converted” me to the other side of the fence goes back to source documents. I hope all who read these comments will make a strategy to aways go back to the source documentation. If you don’t follow the citations at the end of the article, on both sides of the discussion, back to the research and review it yourself, you will never really know.

        A little more clarity about the shedding concern. Yes, in this case it may have been poop, but virus has shown up in urine, breast milk and, most problematic, sweat. Here is an example showing it in the urine,

        This shedding is why immuno-vulnerable populations are told to avoid newly vaccinated individuals. I’m haven’t saved all sources on that. I was peacefully on the other side of the fence when I first encountered documents confirming shedding and never dreamed I’d be retracing my steps to support the other side.

        Here is another case of vaccine induced illness. It stands to reason that if a naturally acquired measles can cause an outbreak, then a lab-induced case of measles can do the same. What if we are creating the very monster we hoped to eradicate?

        I appreciated the document from Quebec. Definitely just a policy document. I am surprised you are willing to accept this, but not in-house research from GSK?

        Policy statements will generally reflect the accepted stance, but I did appreciate the graph on page nine. It is truly common ground in many documents I read, including the studies on the Chinese outbreaks, that immigration and travel are the go-to scapegoats for outbreaks.

        Are we all really comfortable where this is leading? Are we ready to take a completely anti-immigration stance? Limit our travel and quarantine each other? As a child of a military father, Jerome, I also understand some of the prices of freedom and this just feels like the sacrifices of my childhood and of my father are for naught if we shut each other down and dehumanize all. It has become so frenzied that I wonder if we are taking time to think about the future.

        We better be very sure that our vaccines are not causing more harm than good before we put that much faith in them.

  • Well done Jerome and as usual you hit the point so well and I agree. I say if you refuse and your child is the cause of an outbreak the parents should be responsible for all medical expense of the other children. Consequences for your actions.

    • Rafael,
      Perhaps we should, but to balance the liabilty those who shed and cause illness must also be held liable. Check out all the sources in this piece, but especially source #4 from the American Academy of Pediatrics

      It is interesting that we as a people are willing to hold each other responsible financially, yet the manufacturers of vaccinations are legally protected from being sued in the US. I have difficulty trusting protected actions. Still, there is at least the government arranged fund, of which a bit from the cost of each vaccination goes, to compensate victims of vaccination injury. No fault is found, of course, but at least some victims are getting financial help. It is something to help those whose lives are forever changed, or the parents of children who die.
      (There were eight deaths in this industry study obtained by the Italian courts, but that is considered a reasonable risk. These are on page 15 of the listed outcomes. Check out the entire list as well as the fatal outcomes in detail in section 5.2.1 )