Dear parentsDear parents

Dear parents, teachers, and students

To those of you with children, to those of you expecting children, to those of you planning to have children in the future…no one truly understands the importance of vaccinating your children… until you’re watching your own flesh and blood wheeze for breath, cough their lungs out, and scratch at painful boils covering the surface of their skin. I can see some of you squirming in your seats, but it’s true! To think you could have shielded them from all that pain… You might be asking: what if I don’t want children? Newsflash: throughout your life, you yourself are constantly at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases! As many as 3 million people die from these diseases annually and approximately half of them are children below the age of 5! These are 1.5 million babies we’re talking about! Children even younger than your own, I’d bet! What’s worse, an unsettling number of them are due to people who choose not to vaccinate! Is there anyone here who doesn’t plan on vaccinating their children? I’d hope not. For the sake of the future of our society!

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Why, you ask? Well, where do I start?

If there’s anything you take away from me today, let it be this: there is no reason not to vaccinate. None. So do it! However, an increasing number of parents are still willing to forgo vaccinating their children, usually for one of two reasons: an abundance of false information, or a lack of reliable information. I stand here today, in front of you, to clear up any misunderstandings you might have about either one. Some parents would rather die than allow anything dangerous into their children’s veins and I’m sure all of us here can relate to that! Why would you, when you have no knowledge of whether it could kill them? Right? However, what you have to consider…is that vaccines have been tirelessly tested millions of times by people who have been studying them for decades! Do you think vaccines would have been deemed safe for public use if they gave people cancer? For example, the meningitis B virus vaccine took 20 years to be licensed for use! That’s two decades! If you had a baby, they’d have moved out by then! That’s not even taking into account the hoops they had to jump through, the phases they had to pass, and the regulations they had to meet! So, if anyone says vaccines give people rabies, they’re lying!

Speaking of false information, who here has heard of a cohort study about vaccines published in 1998? I can see some nods–Well I bet you know where this is going! At this point, it’s probably public knowledge that most of the fans of the ‘AntiVax Movement’ came from the nasty claim that the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine was linked to children exhibiting autistic symptoms. Hands up if you would have stopped vaccinating your children if you had heard this back then! See, that would’ve been perfectly fathomable…if the claims were true. However, for the next decade, the link was extensively studied, and there was no confirmation of the original findings. Furthermore, of the 12 scientists that wrote the paper, only two scientists have not yet retracted their statements. Even the medical journal that published it acknowledged that the claims were false! And the scientist that didn’t retract his statement? He had his license to practise revoked after he was found guilty of the abuse of developmentally delayed children. Yikes! I wouldn’t want him anywhere near my kids, let alone anyone else’s! So, rest assured, vaccines don’t cause autism! Besides, even if vaccines did cause autism, some parents are essentially saying, if given the choice between an autistic child and a dead child, they’re going to take their chances with death. Would you agree? That’s what I thought.

Nevertheless, not vaccinating your children also endangers the children around them. Did you know that if you vaccinate your children, you decrease the chances of anyone particularly susceptible of contracting that disease? This concept is called herd immunity and is also why the higher the number of vaccinated members of our society there are, the better. Do you know someone that’s either deathly allergic to vaccines or is simply too weak to be vaccinated? Perhaps a child undergoing chemotherapy? A pregnant sister? A friend with an autoimmune disease? Essentially, some diseases can’t get to them because of the large number of vaccinated people–they are unable to be infected, nor infect anyone else. Think of it as a buffer system–if you’re vaccinated, you’re the one acting as their bodyguard against any unprecedented attacks against their immune system. You’re the one keeping them safe. The bad news is, herd immunity only works if a major percentage of the population is vaccinated. Due to the rising numbers of ‘anti-vaxxers’, some diseases that have been thought to be eradicated by herd immunity are starting to reemerge. Polio, measles, and even smallpox are crawling out of their graves in preparation of terrorizing our lives. Please vaccinate, so we can shove them back in.

Simply put, vaccines save lives. 2-3 million lives per year, to be exact. Despite the inconceivable number of false claims floating around the world about vaccines, the undeniable truth is that vaccinations do awfully more good than harm, and are necessary for our survival. There were made to save your life, after all… So for the sake of the people around you, and yourself, vaccinate!

And finally, imagine the vulnerable people you love accidentally coming into contact with someone intentionally left unvaccinated. What if that someone was carrying a deadly disease and they were strong enough to fight it off, but your loved one wasn’t? Think of the pain they’d go through. Think of all the grief you’d witness. Think of them taking one last breath… You can change that when you leave this room. You can make sure that doesn’t happen, by passing it on. You can make people start vaccinating again. Just remember, you’re saving hundreds of lives with every mind you change.