Nick Hughes

Opinion Editor

There has been a lot of speculation and criticism of the vaccines that Doctors recommend we get. Are they safe and will they cause side effects that I do not want my child to have to endure? The answer to the question is yes, they are safe. There are instances where a child cannot get a vaccine, however, but the notion to not vaccinate because you would rather avoid bogus claims of vaccines causing autism is ridiculous to me.

    Anti-Vaxxers, a movement centered on not vaccinating your children has gained a lot of headway in upper middle class white neighborhoods. The premise of not getting their children vaccinated goes like this, “I do not want my child to have autism.” I have some bad news for those who think that autism is caused by vaccines. It does not. Vaccines prevent diseases that can kill us. Diseases such as the measles, rubella, mumps, and various other ones are prevented by vaccines. Let me repeat, vaccines do not cause autism. Andrew Wakefield published a now debunked study stating there is a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

    Wakefield’s study claimed there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Even though it was later debunked, and Wakefield lost his Doctor’s license; there are still people intent on the truth of the study. It is annoying to me that celebrities have latched onto this study and refuse to vaccinate their children. Kat Von D has recently announced that she will not be vaccinating her child. That kind of exposure to the thought that being unvaccinated is good does not lend itself to healthy living for the rest of the population.

    What I find appalling is that I have been told, to my face, that parents would rather have their child die than have autism. The exact wording is lost to me, but it went something like this, “When you have autism something is wrong, and I do not want to deal with that kind of stress.” It felt like they spit in my face. I have autism and I am pretty sure I like having autism compared to the other option. That option is death if you did not know. I like living and I enjoy not being dead. I credit vaccinations for me not getting the measles, mumps, or rubella. I feel like those might not be good for you.

    These are all preventable by receiving a vaccination. Now, I know that some religions reasoning for not getting a vaccine exists. That is fine. Those people need to realize that their child will get sick. That is not a guarantee, per-se, but the likelihood is high. Herd immunity can only go so far. Herd immunity is that process of diseases not spreading throughout the populace because so many people have their vaccines.

    Nowadays, there are measles outbreaks across the country. There are outbreaks of the measles for the first time since the vaccine was created. This is all due to the lack of vaccinations that parents are deciding to partake in. What I do not get is why autism seems so terrifying to have. Is the stigma against mental illness that great that it prevents common sense medical practice? I am not that scary I do not think. Descriptions of me include: a nice guy, compassionate and completely obsessed with Star Wars.

    Mental illness is not something to be afraid of. Rather, it is something that needs studied more and needs to be accepted more.

    “I would rather you be on the autistic spectrum than dead.” – Cathy Hughes, Nick’s Mom

My Mom said this to me one time when I brought it up to her about her about the vaccine debate. Her argument, as a mother, is that Moms unconditionally love their children and are willing to do anything to help them. If that means dealing with dealing with a child that has a mental illness such as autism, my Mom took the bull by the horns and helped me get through my numerous struggles throughout my life. I am excessively thankful to my parents for giving me my vaccinations. It was important, and they understood that.

My thoughts on having autism is that it is an ordeal to have. I push through it though it though with the support of family and friends. I am also happy I have my vaccinations. Sure they hurt when I got them, but that instance of pain is worth a lifetime to me.