So here we are in the Philippines today, staring down a veritable health crisis thanks to a measles outbreak that has resulted in 55 deaths of children for what should be a preventable disease.
In a time where so much knowledge and progress is right on our fingertips, this is unacceptable. But we know where all of this is rooted from: an irrational fear of vaccines brought about by last year’s much-ballyhooed Dengvaxia scare. Here’s the shocker, though: multiple medical experts, including the government’s own Department of Health, have concluded that there are no deaths that have been scientifically proven to have been directly caused by Dengvaxia. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. This is important to point out, because in the effort to politicize this whole issue, trust in the effectivity of vaccines had dropped from 95% in 2015 to 22% in 2018. And yes, that means vaccines as a whole, and not just Dengvaxia.
Which is why people have been coming up with memes mocking anti-vaxxers recently. Is it mean-spirited? Yes, but it’s mean-spirited because the stakes are high: if you don’t make it clear that someone’s kids can die if they don’t vaccinate their kids, then they won’t understand just how important it is to vaccinate. It’s the last bastion for gallows humor that still shockingly remains politically correct. And because we at the 8List are awesome like that, we’re backing up these memes with cold, hard facts, because that’s usually the one thing memes are pretty bad at.
An imperfect analogy that works…
Nag-iinstall ka ng anti-virus sa laptop pero hindi sa anak mo? Hala.
— Leonard Javier ⌬ (@STPbasileo) February 6, 2019
They Say: Vaccines are risky!
We Say: Everything is a risk, and not vaccinating is a much bigger risk than vaccinating. Look. If even President Duterte himself is already telling everyone to get vaccines, then you know this health issue has crossed political lines. Better yet, protecting ourselves from diseases we’ve almost eliminated over the years should never be politicized, to begin with.
Oh. Oh. Ohhhhh.
They Say: But we Googled it! So did you! Why is your research any better than ours?
We Say: Because vaccine research is backed by peer-reviewed studies, which is something not a single anti-vaccine study has ever had thus far. When you consider the sheer weight and importance of peer-reviewed studies when it comes to credibility, then all that Google research amounts to nothing in contrast.
Also, that meme above, if you get it.
Correcting the meme.
They Say: Vaccines are a money-making scheme by the medical industry!
We Say: You know what would make more money than a measles vaccine they give away for FREE in the Philippines? A measles outbreak. Doesn’t take a mathematician to calculate the difference there, does it?
Correcting the meme, part deux.
They Say: If your kids are vaccinated, why should you worry?
We Say: Not all kids can be vaccinated. Measles vaccines at the earliest can be given to children six months old, but normally at nine months old. This means that for an entire half-year, these kids are vulnerable to measles, which is 90% contagious to unvaccinated people. Older people also have compromised immune systems, so they’re at risk, too. And at a 97% effectivity rate, that means that some people simply don’t get measles immunization by sheer bad luck and rely on everyone else having it.
Anyone who voluntarily avoids having their kids vaccinated reduces this collective immunity that protects everyone who for one reason or another, simply cannot be vaccinated.
A victim of its own success.
They Say: Eh, whatever. Measles? It’s NBD.
We Say: Tell that to the 70 kids who died of measles as of this writing. The reason most of us think measles isn’t such a big deal is precisely because we’ve seen so little of it in the last few years, and we’ve been better at treating it thanks to advancements in medicine.
But you know what they say about an ounce of prevention versus a pound of cure, right?
Cruel, but where’s the lie?
They Say: But vaccines cause autism!
We Say: NO, THEY DON’T. Not only was the lone “study” linking vaccines to autism eventually debunked when the author, Andrew Wakefield, was proven to have been on the payroll of people who wanted to sue vaccine makers, autism is also known to be a genetic condition, which means you either have it, or you don’t. You don’t “catch” it. Ever.
Also, if you had to choose between a child on the spectrum and a child dying horribly of polio, shouldn’t the choice be obvious, even if, again, vaccines do not cause autism? Because when you cite this reason against vaccines, this is essentially the choice you are making: better a dead child than one with autism. And that’s patently ridiculous.
Public service advisory…
They Say: Why blame Persida Acosta for the outbreak? She’s the PAO Chief, not the head of DOH.
We Say: Is the PAO chief solely to blame for this outbreak of measles that, as of writing, has claimed 60 lives in one hospital alone? Of course not. But it cannot be denied that we’d have far less problems if she stayed in her lane as a, y’know, lawyer, and not the pathologist she clearly isn’t. It would also help if she weren’t a notorious anti-vaxxer.
It’s been a long day without you my friend…
They Say: Measles aren’t fatal, so why should we be worried?
We Say: In countries where there is inadequate healthcare (hint: us), mortality rates can be up to 10%, even barring complications. That means, of the
This is very important to realize, because people who claim to be “thinking” will insist that there must be some other explanation for this measles outbreak, like maybe “busy mothers,” or something like that. The reality, though, cannot be denied: people are terrified. You can’t one minute talk about how scary Dengvaxia is, then the next minute pretend this had nothing to do with people not vaccinating at the same time. The doublespeak is just impossible to ignore there.
Here’s the problem with memes, though: sometimes, they’re not backed by facts, and that’s a crying shame. Yes, we’ve come to a point where we need to explain the joke, because the alternative is just heartbreaking. 47 kids never chose to risk dying of measles.