I try as much as possible to stay away from politics here on this blog—those sorts of discussions are insidious, incendiary, and, most of the time, just plain irritating.
That said, it’s hard to ignore the recent hullabaloo over the resurgence of the measles virus, the role the anti-vaccination crowd has played in this resurgence, and the degree to which traveling with young children could put your family at risk of becoming one of the statistics.
I’m not going to rehash all the facts; for a solid rundown of how this mess got started, you can click here. I’m also not going to argue the science—if literally tens of thousands of doctors (and children’s book author, Roald Dahl) say vaccines are good, I don’t really understand how anyone could disagree. Still, because some parents believe vaccines are bad, the vulnerability they’re perpetuating in their kids essentially puts the rest of us with young kids (especially those who are too young to be fully vaccinated) in the line of fire to contract some pretty major health problems.
In recent days I’ve read a number of articles (such as this one) quoting parents who have canceled trips to Disneyland and other family trips out of fear of their kids contracting the disease.
Every time I read one of these stories, I want to scream: WUSSIES!
Don’t get me wrong; the threat of illness is real. And for families with babies who are too young to receive the measles vaccination, the decision of whether to go or not is, as the CDC tells us, serious business. But for those of us with kids over the age of 2 (or 4 or 6, depending on which researchers you choose to believe) to let this threat—or just about any other threat, IMHO—stop us from living our lives, THAT is the real tragedy of all.
So much of family travel is about setting examples for our kids. Do you want them to mimic your tendencies to live in fear?
The reality is that we all take significant risks the moment we leave the house every morning. You could be in a fatal car crash. My kids could be abducted. I could have a heart attack. Heck, in today’s day and age, any one of us could be the victim of terrorism or just a really violent temper-tantrum by a madman.
Whether you like it or not, anti-vaxers are among us, which means all of us are at risk of coming into contact with the measles virus at pretty much any time. Traveling may heighten this risk a little, but the risk is there nevertheless. In other words, scary shit is everywhere. So why stop traveling?
There are a lot of things in this life that can put us in danger of illness and eventually death. Travel, on the other hand, enriches us, nurtures our souls, teaches us about the world around us, and helps us strengthen a foundation of understanding in ourselves and our kids. Travel heightens the living parts of each of us. It’s the absolute last thing we should relinquish.
And so, I beg you: If you’ve got plans to travel and one of your kids hasn’t been vaccinated for measles, don’t freak. Instead, get the kid a vaccine, get some face masks. Get some gloves. And be diligent about keeping your child’s hands out of his or her mouth and face.
If you don’t have plans to travel and are shying away from doing so because of this issue, get over yourself and get out there. The world won’t wait for anti-vaxers. And it certainly won’t wait for you.