Department of Bad Ideas: the idea that vaccination is “a personal decision.” Vaccination is a personal decision the way texting while driving is a personal decision. That is, it’s not.
In certain circles, especially in the [Attachment Parenting] community, there’s huge pressure to reject or at least delay vaccines. (While a delay is better than not doing it at all, it’s still dangerous.) You then show by your personal meddling with the schedule that you care, that you’ve paid attention and done research. Hey, we haven’t all gotten degrees in epidemiology and studied the schedule, but we can all scowl at it skeptically, right? Following the recommendations of the scientists who research this stuff for a living is for sheep. They must all somehow be in the thrall of large pharmaceutical corporations. Or so the thinking goes.
It’s time for a little social pressure of our own. It’s time for us to tell Mayim to take this one back. Stop being responsible for the measles or pertussis revivals. Once you blog about it and talk about it on interviews, like the one you did recently for Science Friday, you’re no longer just influencing your friends. It’s no longer a private, personal decision. You’re influencing everyone within earshot. Stop being a disease vector. Stop pretending like the only person affected by your decisions is you. Start acting like the role model you aspire to be.
But Mayim Bialik – Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory, which is why I know who she is – is firm that it is indeed personal. I find that kind of imperturbable selfishness deeply irritating.