Children of Anti-Vaxxers Tell Their Stories | 22 Words

At this point, it's common knowledge that vaccines haven't been linked with autism. Doctors have checked and checked again, but nothing credible has ever come up.

Still, there are people who identify as 'anti-vaxxers' and decline to vaccinate their children. Now, in a packed Reddit thread, those peoples' children have a few things to say about it.

Check out stories from 30 children of anti-vaxxers, who each feel quite different from their parents!

One redditor always thought they had been vaccinated—until their employer discovered otherwise.

I had an idea they were anti-vaxxers, but it was never confirmed. They mentioned my younger brother wasn’t [vaccinated] but it was “justified" because we were living in the mountains of Montana and it was too far a drive to the Doctor. I assumed I had been as I was born in civilization and we didn’t move to the hills until I was 3. We were homeschooled, my older brother had trouble at college with his immunizations and Mom said all the paperwork was lost when they moved. I was 30 years old and I was offered a job at a university helping train doctors, started getting paperwork asking for proof of vaccinations, I just said test me and give me whatever I need. But I know I’ve had Chicken Pox. Turns out I had nothing, no antibodies and I’d never had Chicken Pox either (Mom said I had). Lit up both arms with a run of shots over the next 3 months. Never forgot telling my boyfriend and he yelled “You’ve been to Mexico, TWICE, and Europe. Oh my god." Called my mom and said “Hey I’m getting a job and they say I’ve never been vaccinated. Was I?" She got very defensive and said no, she hated making us cry as babies and they’re bad for little kids. Also, did I really need them? She then tried to talk me out of them. Since I know how they work I felt very okay letting her know I’d already started the process. I’m so thankful for all of you protecting me until I found out. -sirenssong

This redditor, unfortunately, suffered the consequences of a disease for which a vaccine exists.

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Mom got rubella when pregnant with me. As a result, I was born severely deaf so there ya go. Life's not the best. -strangeunluckyfetus

This person’s parent had to see them with measles to understand the importance of vaccination.

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I got measles, as a 22-year-old, in my first week of moving to London. I’d previously lived up north, and on my first day of working immediately after finishing uni, I began feeling lethargic. By the second day, I felt pretty bad but soldiered on. Third day, I began taking (fairly effective) painkillers for the remainder of the week. Saturday, attended a local fair, after taking my morning painkiller. Had a bottle of beer with my dad and felt very strange afterward, almost floaty but in a kinda bad way. Decided to stop taking the painkillers, woke up with a raging fever and intense coughing on Sunday. Hobbled out of bed, feeling dizzy and horrible and noticed in the mirror of the bathroom that I looked like an Oompa Loompa (red splotchy rash all over). My step mum had been feeling similar symptoms that week, she decided to call an ambulance, who checked both of our conditions and turned out I had a raging (41c) fever and low oxygen. They took me to A&E and I was given fluids via a drip. Later, my step mum came in and was given the same treatment; the doctor on call said it’d probably be a general viral infection. At home, took the week off work and recovered. Step mum took off two weeks. She went back to A&E a couple of days after; the doctor on duty immediately spotted that it was measles. Thing is, in England if you get it, an organization called Public Health England has to be legally informed by your doctor, which informs your workplace about your illness. Cue an embarrassing email being sent by your new boss to everyone in your company before you’ve even met most of your colleagues. Took a while to recover. In a week I felt well enough to be out and about. You’re only infectious when you have the rash (and a little before and after). I still felt out of whack for several weeks. This happened in July, and I didn’t feel quite fully recovered until October or so. Obviously, neither myself or my step mum had been vaccinated with the MMR. My dad and sisters had had it as children. We immediately got both jabs, after we were told how painful mumps could be. Strongly recommend everyone gets the MMR vaccine. It’s straightforward and time-honored. Measles is unpleasant and can cause complications in adults. My intense coughing almost certainly caused some lung damage, and my hair just kind of... fell out in the months following. Save yourselves! My graduation ceremony was a couple of weeks after this. My actual mum saw how ill measles had left me and changed her mind on vaccinations. Shame it had to be that way, though. -AdamJay26

It’s a good thing medical professionals are often ready to help kids of anti-vaxxers, even later in life than usual.

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My parents chose not to vaccinate my sister and me. They have some... unique ideas about science and medicine. We were also homeschooled if that clarifies anything. We both wound up volunteering at hospitals at different points in our lives, so we had to get caught up anyway. For me, it was at age 20, for an internship at a mental health facility. It was a little awkward explaining to the nurse why I had nothing on my record, but she was understanding overall. My big concern now is what will happen when I get around to having children of my own in a few years. I think they'll see me as a bad mother if I get them vaccinated, so I'm anticipating some fireworks. -Arihagne

This redditor’s struggle wasn’t for their own vaccination, but their parents’.

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I was vaccinated when I was a baby as part of a mandatory vaccination program in the Soviet Union, but my parents wouldn’t vaccinate/get boosters after we moved to the States. My family is pathologically distrustful of doctors and medication of any kind and prefers homeopathy and alternative medicines. I didn’t realize I wasn’t fully vaccinated until I went in for a physical in college. Up till then, I’d just assumed I’d been fully vaccinated in Russia (Because that’s what my parents told me). I got all my shots up to date and I just never mentioned it to my parents. Their anti-medicine stance has softened as they age, but I generally avoid the topic because I can’t handle their bullshit and it never goes anywhere anyway. That said, I had a baby this past December in the middle of a really bad flu season and I told my parents that they weren’t allowed to see the baby until they could produce proof of a flu shot (this is absolutely something they’d lie about, so yes, I demanded written proof). They both got one as soon as they realized I was serious. -Kookalka Next up, another redditor gave their parent the same choice...and the answer wasn't so peaceful.

This person’s mother had a different answer to the ‘get vaccinated for my baby’ ultimatum.

I said the same thing, and my mum opted not to see the baby for 3 months. Bizarre life choices. Ultimately she hasn't had a lot to do with raising her grandson, which might be for the best. To her credit, she is honest. -actuallyarobot2

When in doubt, go with science.

I was not vaccinated as a child because my mother thought vaccines were evil, unchristian, and other ridiculous things. This was in the early '80s before all the autism BS, but she had her own unique theories. I got myself vaccinated when I went to university. My mother was disappointed and wanted to write a letter to the school explaining her religious views on vaccines (as she had done for years to keep me exempt), but I decided to go with science. -squeezymarmite

Even a medical degree didn’t change this redditor’s anti-vaxxer parents.

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I didn’t receive any vaccinations through childhood due to my parents’ beliefs. Once I got to college, I did my own research on them, learned the actual science behind them, and got all vaccinations. I then went to medical school, and yet they still don’t believe me and my medical degree regarding vaccinations. Holidays can get awkward. -guardian528

Lack of vaccination lead to a terrible bout of whooping cough for this redditor—and four siblings!

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My parents used to not vaccinate me or any of my four siblings, but when I was like three years old me, and my siblings all came down with whooping cough. It scarred my lungs, and I have yellow stains on my teeth because the high fevers cooked my adult teeth inside my head. My parents vaccinated us after that. I am not and have never been mad or spiteful toward my parents for not vaccinating me. They were just naive, and doing what they thought was best for my siblings and me. -Volcano_gurl

Starting college without your vaccines adds an extra few hurdles.

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When I was 19, I had to get some vaccines in order to start college, and my mom was NOT helpful. First, she tried to get me exempt from the vaccines, and when that didn’t work, she sent me into the clinic (alone) with completely false/outdated info. I was super embarrassed when the nurses looked at my notes and told me that none of it was correct. But luckily they helped me figure out what I needed and didn’t shame me too much for not having a previous vaccination record. A couple years later I went back in to get the rest of the recommended vaccines. My sister had her first kid (and the first grandbaby) last year, and our mom has been pushing her not to vaccinate. Fortunately, my sister has chosen to vaccinate. She still is trying to get us to watch a documentary about it to change our minds. Now all us kids just don’t talk to our mom about vaccines because it always turns into an argument. -itsshamefulreally

More often than not, anti-vaxxer parents are trying to protect their kids—until they realize where the real danger is.

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My mum didn't get the measles vaccination because at the time she thought it caused autism; she was kinda one of the first anti-vaxxers, wrote to papers about it everything. Anyway, a girl in our social group caught meningitis and died, basically freakishly uncommon. After that, mum was really scared the same thing could happen to me with any disease and basically begged me to get up to date with my shots. I guess the main takeaway is that when my mum was younger and inexperienced, she thought everything was a danger; she honestly thought she was doing best by me, I guess. -bellend_bellend

This redditor’s mother eventually turned it around herself!

My parents didn't give us the whooping cough vaccine under the advisement of our pediatrician. I actually didn't know this until last year, so I went and got vaccinated on my mom's recommendation. She wrote my siblings and me the following email to bring it up: As a parent, you are bound to make many mistakes. For me, not having the advantage of younger siblings, the internet, or (initially) many friends with babies, I think I learned to parent on the fly. At the time, there seemed to be a compelling reason not to include the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine along with whatever else was the recommended protocol for infants under the age of one year. I think we had read that it was one vaccine too many to be included in the series, and our first pediatrician felt strongly that it might have harmful side effects. Gramps had told me that he remembered having whooping cough as a child, and although it was harrowing, he survived. Draw your own conclusions here! However, I would now hope that you all might consider following up with your doctors to see if you should be vaccinated now as adults. Out of guilt, I'd be willing to sweeten the deal by paying for whatever isn't covered by your healthcare. (Tetanus shots, flu shots, etc. aren't a bad idea either, although you're on your own there!) Also, I want to apologize to [Sister], [Sister] and [Brother] for the time we went to the geneticist who took punch core samples of your skin for testing. We had no idea--and there's no excuse for our ignorance--that it would be a process painfully administered without anesthesia. I feel traumatized to this day, so I can't imagine how awful it was for you. I was reminded of those procedures recently when I heard Nobel Prize-winning geneticist, George Church tell his story on The Moth: My Life as a Guinea Pig. I love you all dearly! So, I didn't get them on my own in contradiction to my parents' decisions, but at their request, after they realized they had made a mistake. -affixqc

Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about concerns—they’ve done this many times before.

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When my daughter was born, we were terrified of the mercury. We asked a doctor, who explained everything to us clearly. The poor doc had that look though— "Oh shit, not this again"... -cat_of_danzig

In fact, this redditor got an idea of how much doctors have to explain the necessity of vaccinations.

When we had our first kid, we were shopping around for a pediatrician, and I was astounded how many doctors specifically told us they would only be our general doc if the children were vaccinated. I had no idea how often they must have that conversation. Apparently, in some places, the percent of anti-vaxxer parents is as high as 10%. The number of parents who are reluctant to give their kids vaccines can be as high as 25%. -dsf900 Keep reading for a crazy story of how far one parent went to prevent their child from receiving certain types of medical attention.

Sometimes understanding takes a while, and now this redditor needs all their shots together.

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My parents were very against it. Never particularly vocal about it, but growing up, my schools would organize mass vaccinations for all the kids (MMR, etc.) and I was always mysteriously off sick those days. My school never noticed, and I was always pretty happy as I have a terrible phobia of needles and never really understood the health implications. I’ve never had any health problems, but I’ve had partners weirded out by it. I was dating one guy who didn’t want to go near me once he found out I hadn’t had any vaccinations. That felt odd. Last year there was a measles outbreak at my university, and I was very nervous about it. Called my parents for advice and their response? “Go get the vaccine." Classic. I’m guessing their opinions have changed over the years, but they’re too proud to say outright that maybe they were wrong and their children’s health could now be at risk. About time I got the rest of them done! -1742587

This redditor's mother was not only anti-vaccination, but anti-doctor altogether. It resulted in a medical emergency.

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My mother is just plain crazy when it comes to medical topics, and thinks that hospitals and doctors only want your money. So I was never vaccinated. For a little insight into the craziness, when I was 14, I was a breath away from dying from a burst appendix. My mother refused to take me to the hospital despite the pain. It was only when I started urinating blood that my father said he was taking me to the hospital. I was in and out of consciousness while he carried me to the car. My mom physically fought him as he carried me. I was medevaced to a larger hospital and had emergency surgery. The doctor told me in recovery that the infection was spreading to other organs, and my body was starting to shut down. If it had been a couple of hours or more, it would have been too late. Fast forward four years later when I joined the Army...the gauntlet of shots I received to get all the vaccinations was something else. I literally walked almost naked down a row with multiple medical staff on each side poking me with needles everywhere as I was told to keep walking forward and not stop. I am 35 now and feel just as healthy now as I did as a kid. Never had any other issues except for a hernia from strenuous exercise. Vaccinations do more good than harm. -Kukulcan83

Here’s the kind of awkward holiday conversations this Redditor has:

They generally cite skewed statistics or flawed papers from the 80s that supposedly support their claim that vaccines either cause further disease; or that humans got over diseases without vaccines and we just happened to be giving vaccines at the same time.  Most of their “logic" revolves around the natural response being the best response, and it’s unnatural to inject foreign “chemicals" into your body for this reason. Then they’ll say things like “we don’t need these vaccines, we don’t ever even see those diseases today" without realizing the painfully obvious point: that we don’t see the diseases because of the vaccines. There isn’t logic, just emotion. -guardian528

Herd immunity is the key to ridding ourselves of dangerous contagious diseases.

What people don't understand about vaccination is it isn't just there to protect the vaccinated. It protects the "herd" (herd immunity); the people who can't be vaccinated for whatever reason. This is part of the reason being vaccinated if you're able to be is so important. You're not only protecting yourself. You're protecting those around you whose immune systems aren't up to it and could be hugely negatively impacted by their fellow neighbors refusing for their own uneducated reasons. -hihelloneighboroonie

And the process of applying to college is hard enough without parents interfering.

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[My mom] sabotaged me getting into the college I wanted simply because they did not accept religious exemptions and she couldn't trick any doctors into signing a health exemption. I wanted to go do it myself, but they were through accepting applications by then, and I was desperate to go to some college, so I found a different one. -eXpialidocious_ On the next page, one child of the anti-vaxxers has a response to an anti-vaccination "documentary" that made the rounds a few years ago.

This child of anti-vaxxers has plenty of reason to discontinue tradition.

My dad was the anti-vaxxer, my mom was mostly ambivalent. Neither my brother or I were vaccinated at birth, and I didn’t get my shots until I turned 19. My brother had to get a tetanus shot once when he was six, due to an injury. It burned my dad up for a while. His reasoning was typical: he believed that the mercury in the vaccines would cause us to somehow develop autism. My parents were also pretty hippy-dippy compared to most baby boomers, so they were concerned about chemicals and all that as well. Jokes on them, though, because both my brother and I have [Aspergers] regardless of being unvaccinated. It was always a pain in the ass whenever we had to do school-related paperwork or field trip stuff because my parents would have to produce a letter stating that it was their “religious right" to keep us “untainted" by vaccination (we were never a religious family). I wasn’t a super sickly child (with a few exceptions), but my younger brother suffered a lot. He got pneumonia when he was little, like 3-4. They had to keep him in the hospital and I remember my dad taking care of me at home while my mom stayed in the room with my brother. About a year or two after that he got walking pneumonia and again was hospitalized. He’s also allergic to damn near everything and has bad asthma now. He has epilepsy, and we both have chronic migraines. I never had anything seriously life-threatening in terms of illness, but there was a nearly yearlong period where I had strep throat almost every other week. I should have had my tonsils out (they wanted to intubate me at one point but for whatever reason changed their minds?), but my dad threw a fit about having any surgeries performed. I also developed shingles when I was 13, which my father initially treated as poison ivy and left mostly untreated until my mother intervened. I still have little to no feeling on swatches of the left side of my body from the blister scars. That sucked. I did, however, have to get my vaccinations when I turned 18 and enrolled in college. He was not pleased about that, and actually, we didn’t talk for almost a year because of my decision to get vaccinated. Eventually, we worked things out, but it took a while. I’ll be vaccinating any children I may have in the future, though. Tl;dr: wasn’t vaccinated until I chose to do so myself as a legal adult bc parents were afraid of autism. My brother and I were sick a lot as a kid, with some really preventable and stupid illnesses. I plan on vaccinating any children I have. -Larktoothe Keep reading to see how one member of Reddit shut down their family's objections like a boss!

Here’s how one redditor put it to their anti-vaxxer grandpa:

My grandpa is convinced on the whole vaccines cause autism thing. When I was pregnant with my first kid, he harped on it so much until I finally said, “it doesn’t cause autism, but even if it did I would still do it. I’d rather have an autistic kid than a dead one." Shut him up fairly well. -HCGB

This child of anti-vaxxers changed their mind about it after seeing the effects first-hand.

My mom is against vaccines, and I grew up in a very anti-vaccine school and was treated by homeopathic and holistic doctors. I used to believe all that. Then I started med school and changed my mind to "vaccines aren't bad, but they aren't necessary." Then I did a rotation at a pediatric hospital in the neurological area. That was a huge eye opener!! Meningitis is an awful disease, and anti-vaxxers never talk about it. The children I saw were the ones that survived and had brain damage afterward. It was awful to see kids that could have had a perfectly normal life to end up like that. -anesthesiagirl

This redditor got their MMR vaccine in the nick of time.

My parents were against the MMR vaccination as my older brother was diagnosed with Aspergers shortly after he received it. I’m the youngest child and so never got the jab, even though mumps actually caused my mum to go half deaf as a teenager. It always made me uncomfortable knowing I wasn’t protected and I was of a strong mind to do it eventually, but of course it’s hard going against your parents’ beliefs when they felt so strongly at what had happened to them. To me it felt like a form of denial of the autism in the family, which they see as much worse than it is—my brother is an amazing guy, and they should give him more credit. Before you go to Uni you have to get a meningitis jab; while I was at the doctor’s, the doctor suggested giving me the MMR. I told her my parents were against it and she said she’d give it to me now and then in a few months I could tell them and prove that I was absolutely fine. So I did that. A few months after receiving the full vaccination, my flatmate and close friend got diagnosed with rubella. It spread all over her body causing glandular and scarlet fever, she spent over a month in the hospital and was in a fatal position. If I hadn’t done it at that moment, I could’ve been in serious trouble. And rubella isn’t common here at all. So if in doubt about going behind their backs, do it for yourself and your own safety, and that’s the only excuse you need. -lazyswayz

Pro tip: protect yourself from cancer wherever you can.

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When the HPV vaccine came out, there was a bunch of stories on the news about girls having poor reactions to it, getting seizures, comas. Most of it nonsense, but my mother saw the news stories and chose not to get me vaccinated. But then, right after college I had a brief bout of thyroid cancer and decided I would take every precaution I could to not get more cancer. So I got the shots. I think at the time I didn't tell my mom, but afterward, it came up. She was more huffy than anything else, and defended her thoughts at the time, but accepted my decision and reasoning. -xrf_rcc

There’s an anti-vaccination film called ‘Vaxxed’ (made by an ex-doctor whose license was revoked), and these redditors are NOT about it.

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We had our first child at the very beginning of the year and had to tell my father that since he won't get vaccinated, he won't be able to see his grandbaby until the baby gets their shots. The baby had their first round of shots a few months ago, and my father can now visit. It pained me to do that, and I know it pained him, but I was not putting my child at risk for his choice. This last weekend we visited my father. At the end of the visit, he handed me Vaxxed. He knows our feelings on the matter - preventable diseases should be prevented, herd immunity protects those most at risk, autism is not caused by vaccines. It's just... disrespectful. I know he thinks he's trying to protect his grandson from harm, but it's coming from the completely wrong direction, and no one can seem to change his opinion on the matter. -humplick

This redditor caught three diseases that could have been prevented with one shot.

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My parents never explicitly said they were anti-vaccine to me, but I was never vaccinated as a child. I actually caught Measles, Mumps, and Rubella on separate occasions, luckily diagnosed quickly enough to not cause any major health implications long term, but still a pretty miserable experience each time. So yeah, thanks for that. -otto82 Read up on the next page about one redditor's reliance on 'herd immunity' (and family troubles because of it), plus an Autistic person's response to anti-vaxxer concerns.

One redditor can’t even visit the in-laws.

I am immunosuppressed due to transplant, and my husband's side of the family are anti-vaxxers. I don't think they believe I'm serious about not attending family gatherings ever again. I know I can bump into a nonvaccinated person by just being out in public, but if I can avoid a known risk, I'm going to do it. Thank you, everyone, who's had their shots for helping keep me alive and healthy!! -auntiepink

Tragedy turned this redditor’s mom into an anti-vaxxer.

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My story is a bit complex. My mother is an avid anti-vaxxer, but didn't become that way until after my late sister died. She blamed the vaccines she got a few weeks before her death (she was 3 months old) for it, instead of the SIDS tragedy it was. My next youngest sibling was 'allergic' to eggs, and so didn't get any vaccines until she was 8, after my parents were divorced and we had to move to a new state with new laws. My two youngest siblings have never been vaccinated against anything. -MomentoMoriBenn

Even if vaccinations and autism were linked (they aren’t), autistic people are here to tell us it’s not the worst thing that could happen.

As an autistic person here as well it hurts to know that so many parents think it’s the worst possible thing that could happen to their child. I would think dying of measles ranks a bit higher on that scale. -el1414

This redditor had a scare after a childhood of anti-vaccination rhetoric.

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My mom had a child who became brain damaged during birth due to a hole in the umbilical cord. She became convinced that there was some malpractice cover-up and gradually that all of medicine is one big conspiracy. I stopped getting vaccines around 10 due to a mysterious ailment I had that turned out to be recurrent benign positional paroxysmal vertigo. For some reason, doctors couldn’t figure it out and thought I had brain cancer. My mom became convinced it was vaccine-related, and claimed she “traced my vaccine" and it was a “bad batch" that had killed a boy who got it. I stopped getting vaccines and turned in forms to school every year claiming “personal objection" exemption from all vaccines from that point on. I ended up deciding to become a biomedical scientist and enrolled in a Ph.D. program. The Hep B vaccine was recommended for all students, and I received the first course of the vaccine...and then mentioned it to my mom. She FLIPPED OUT. She told me she couldn’t believe I would do something so stupid, and that there were so many bad reactions I could have and they didn’t all happen immediately. I started reading horror stories online about bad Hep B shot reactions. And I panicked. I really thought I may have done something really stupid. This was pretty ironic since I was in a science Ph.D. program, but I was still making sense of what part of my childhood brainwashing was true and still coming to my own belief system. In my hesitation/uncertainty, I failed to get the next dose of the Hep B shot in the required time window. I did intend to get it, but I forgot about it in the craziness of grad school. Fast forward to my 3rd year; I was studying liver cancer and working with a liver cancer cell line called Hep3B. I was reading the literature and stumbled on a paper that said that scientists had found that Hep3B cells are infected...with LIVE HEPATITIS B VIRUS. That was really terrifying because I had been working with them for months and definitely had not taken the precautions you are supposed would take if you are working with active human pathogens. The fact that I passed up a free HepB shot and could have stupidly contracted HepB really crystallized the importance of vaccines for me that day. I didn’t ever have obvious symptoms of HepB, but nonetheless, I worried that I might have it up until I got pregnant with my daughter and tested negative during the prenatal tests. Needless to say, my daughter has gotten 100% of her vaccines and will continue to. I chose for her a pediatrician who refuses to see patients who don’t get all of their vaccines on schedule. I don’t even want to share a waiting room with unvaxxed kids. -the_real_dairy_queen

Some parents have selective hearing when it comes to vaccines.

My mum was completely against vaccinations. I only got the MMR by mistake because they didn't ask the parents - just lined us up outside the library and we went in one by one. She was furious when I told her what had happened. I caught whooping cough at age 34, and it was hell. My partner hates her for putting me through that. I've since had a few vaccinations for travel, as has my younger sister. Neither of us would ever tell our mother that we have had them though. There was a slight hint a few years back, and she was already through the roof before my sister corrected herself and lied to cover the mention. We will never tell her. -realbasilisk

Some parents were on board until the HPV vaccines came around.

My sister was the right age when they introduced Gardasil in schools, but my mom didn't provide consent because she thought that a vaccine against a virus that is transmitted sexually would make my sister have tons of premarital sex.illtemperedklavier

Some parents thought they had "legitimate" medical reasons for not vaccinating their kids.

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I'm in my earlyish 20s and I have never had vaccines, however I am very much for them! I'm actually embarrassed that I don't have them. My parents didn't vaccinate me as a child for a "legitimate" medical reason, so they say, but my brother was not vaccinated either. I am pretty sure I can get them now, regardless of if the medical situation is the truth or not. I'm on the search for a general doctor in my new state right now to ask questions and get vaccinated. I'm curious if there were any risks involved in getting vaccinated as an adult?sprytely

The good news is that if you're an adult, you can take vaccinations into your own hands.

My mum is non-believer of vaccines. I am only 16, but I believe that scientists and doctors know what they are doing more than what my mum does. As of this moment, I will vaccinate myself when I can, and my kids.ekadie2467

Even seemingly smart parents can fall for the anti-vax trap.

My mum is a well-educated woman (master level)so people are surprised when I tell them my mother never got me immunised.

I think my Mum never actually truly believed that vaccines where bad. I just think she easily falls for anything that is against mainstream and being anti-vax ticked the box. She has always enjoyed going against the grain, for example, she doesn't believe in climate change and is very transphobic. But none of her arguments ever hold up when you question her about them.

When my sister was 19 she got the mumps and ended up in hospital. At that point, she got all of her immunisations up to date.

When I decided I wanted to be a nurse I needed to get my immunisations up to date. It was very pricey as you had to pay if you missed the free immunisation in high school. I wish she had just put our health before her hippy identity.

Until this day when I ask her why she didn't imunise us, she doesn't have an answer.Napscatsandchats

Often it's one parent who feels more strongly than the other about the situation.

Basically, my mother was anti-vax, my dad let her handle that. So when she died when I was 9, no one in the family really cared that much we just continued it as that was what we were used to. Continued to have the exempt forms in school (wish I think claimed it was religious reasons but it wasn't) until I was 14/15. Then I was old enough to educate myself and was like oh shit I should do this and convinced my dad and battaboom I had shots.

The kicker... my brother didn't have shots but still has autism. So... Take that dead mother??BeaconInferno

The next one is an interesting case.

Some kids never get the whole story as to why their parents were anti-vaxxers.

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My mom got all my vaccinations when I was really little, but never took me in for my pre-middle school physical, and I was never really sure why. I have no idea why the school let me enroll without the physical/shots having been done.

When I moved in with my dad, I had to get caught up pretty quickly. I would go in, get four shots (which was the max) and then come back in a few weeks. I got everything I needed, and a few that I didn't need but my dad wanted me to have.

My mom never seemed to have an opinion about it. Just shrugged it off. She and he didn't communicate much, so they were always doing stuff without asking the other. One time while we were out of state, he took me to a clinic being held at a school to get a vaccination. Neither I nor my mother knew that this was planned.naomi_is_watching

A seemingly-related trauma can sometimes be responsible for these beliefs.

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I'm late to the conversation but I'll post. When I was a child, I had a baby sibling who began exhibiting strange symptoms and died shortly after a round of immunizations. There was not a conclusive autopsy, it was called SIDS. Some of my family came to believe that it was the result of an immunization reaction and became anti-vaxxers. Now that I am grown and have my own child, I did vaccinate my child because I fully understand the massive public health benefits and the real risks of the diseases that immunizations protect us from. I will admit I was nervous when vaccinating my child but I did it. Is it possible that some vaccines some of the time have had harmful side effects for a small number of people? Yes. Medical interventions and medications sometimes have side effects and occasionally very dangerous ones, and we need to acknowledge and understand them when they happen. But most of life is not black and white. While I will never know what killed my sibling, I have come to believe that the risks of not vaccinating are much much greater.runawayoldgirl

In some cases, it was just a case of parents who didn't work too hard to make sure their kids got the health care they needed.

I am 31 and me and my siblings were never vaccinated, reason, lazy parenting. I never really thought about vaccinations, until I got pregnant and was asked. Turns out I am immune to chicken pox and got Rubella shot while pregnant. Both my kids are now vaccinated.stresseddamsel

Some kids who weren't vaccinated ended up very sick.

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My parents refused to have me vaccinated as a newborn all the way up until I was about seven. As a result, I had Whooping Cough (Pertussis) as a baby and came very near to death. Parents: please, please vaccinate your kids.Albus_Mumbledore

Many parents aren't just distrustful of vaccines but of medical doctors and hospitals in general.

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My mother is just plain crazy when it comes to medical topics, and thinks that hospitals and doctors only want your money. So I was never vaccinated. For a little insight into the craziness, when I was 14, I was a breathe away from dying from a burst appendix.

My mother refused to take me to the hospital despite the pain. It was only when I started urinating blood that my father said he was taking me to the hospital.

I was in and out of consciousness while he carried me to the car. My mom physically fought him as he carried me. I was med-evaced to a larger hospital and had emergency surgery.

The doctor told me in recovery that the infection was spreading to other organs, and my body was starting to shut down. If it had been a couple of hours or more, it would have been too late.

Fast forward four years later when I joined the Army...the gauntlet of shots I received to get all the vaccinations was something else. I literally walked almost naked down a row with multiple medical staff on each side poking me with needles everywhere as I was told to keep walking forward and not stop.

I am 35 now and feel just as healthy now as I did as a kid. Never had any other issues except for a hernia from strenuous exercise. Vaccinations do more good than harm.Kukulcan83

The next one seems like sort of a common story.

Any time a new vaccine comes out, there are immediately naysayers who come out of the woodwork.

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My mom made sure I got all my required vaccines and has always been very pro-vax. However, she bought into a lot of bullsh*t “articles" online about the HPV vaccine and for some reason that was the one vaccine I didn’t end up getting (along with a couple final boosters). I’m 19 and still haven’t gotten it, but quite frankly I probably should just to be safe.el1414

Some parents end up regretting the decisions they make when their kid is young.

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I never got the shots as a child. My parents didn't think they were essential since I was a perfectly healthy baby. But around my 2nd year in college, I got a bad case of measles and had to be confined for about a month. I dropped a few classes and my hospital bills were off the charts (they didn't believe in insurance either). My parents then realized it was stupid to not have me vaxxed as a child.vickiemon

This mother stopped vaccinating her child at the age of five. But why?

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My mother stopped getting me immunized when I was five. My dad wanted us immunized but since Mom was against it my little brother and sister never got theirs. I got completely caught up once I turned 19. Dad got remarried a few years ago and he and his new wife are apparently anti-vaxxers now and believe that my baby sisters issue with one of her pinky fingers was caused from something his wife got while pregnant and the entire thing is just completely whackadoodle.degraffendore

With some parents, they didn't hop onto a bandwagon. These were deep-seated beliefs that they held for a long time before it was ever a fad.

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My parents were anti-vaxxers before it was cool. Like in the 90s. Kinda that ex-hippie, alternative medicine crowd but still conservative somehow. Anyway, I got my EMT license a few years ago and they were like hey we see that you don't have these vaccinations on your record. I had totally forgotten that I didn't have these basic MMR type vaccines. I said, "Load me up with everything you can".  And now I'm a superhero.

They weren't happy that I got them, but my mom also believed that red dye #40 and cows milk would give you cancer so I could never have that growing up. She got cancer at 67 anyway. Oh did I mention she's a smoker too... Yeah, I don't really give a shit what they think.roughnecktwozero

This nurse is anti-vaccine.

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My mother is a nurse and also against most vaccines. From what I know, she's against because she witnessed some vaccines tests on newborns that apparently killed many of them, and she treated some kids that got very sick after vaccines.

She says I got my first shots when I was born but she never brought me back to have some more and refused all vaccines when I was in elementary school.

I decided when I got 16 years old to get My first vaccine (VPH) and she said it wasn't useful and I shouldn't get it but at that point, it was my decision.

Since then I got a few vaccines (for travels and basic stuff as well) and I was pretty mad at her because these were free when I was young but I now have to pay for many of them.

I'm now trying to explain to her why vaccines are important even though I'm not that much at risk to catch these diseases. I'm a bit scared though because my sister is following her way of thinking it seems and I'm afraid she won't vaccine her children.Josiane212

This Redditor is taking no arguments.

I don't see any reason it's their business when you vaccinate your own children. It's your choice, do it and refuse to argue with them, even if that means pretending to agree with them. Personally, my Mom knows I don't agree with her anti-vax stance and I'm simply not going to have the argument with her. If she tries to bring it up constantly or something (which I don't think she'll do) then I'll just have to stay away for awhile. -ironman288

And this Redditor had words for anyone whose parents might disparage them for vaccinating.

Hey, so when you have babies, your responsibility will be to them, not to your parents. It's up to you to keep your little ones safe, and as you know, that means vaccinating them against illnesses that kill them. If your parents kick up a fuss, it's going to be difficult, but you need to be firm and explain that immunization is vital to a child's wellbeing, and to that of the children around them. They might think you're a bad mother, but they'd be categorically wrong. Also find out if your parents are vaccinated themselves, and if not, you may want to get them to do so before they meet any future new borns. -Sabrielle24

Everything comes in shades of grey.

Reading this thread is kind of eye-opening to me, in the sense that anti-vaxxers come in a spectrum too. There's obviously people who are staunchly against it for whatever reason, but there's also people who think that "Well, those are weakened viruses, babies are weak. Maybe they'll be able to take it when they get older, but not now", and other parents who simply believe in setting a reasonable distance between one vaccine to the next. It makes me hopeful that the extreme anti-vaxxers are just the loud minority. -SarahFiajarro

One user refuted the argument that toddler bodies can’t handle the chemicals from a vaccine.

The body of a young baby / toddler is a perfect firestorm of attempted infections and immunological response. Everything looks sweet and cuddly and fat and healthy in the cot or running around, but that's deceptive; at the cellular level it's vicious, brutal warfare. ‘You mustn't put nasty chemicals in my baby's helpless body’ is the stupidest statement. -faithle55

This Redditor’s anti-vaxxer mom made life very difficult in more ways than one:

My mom also iced me out when she first found out I was secretly vaccinated by my step mom. And when I supported my best friend who came out as gay. And currently because she hates my fiance and I refuse to leave him for her. Also, I had step throat 18 times in the span of about 2 years and my doctor really wanted to take my tonsils out, but my mom refused because she also hated surgery, as well as vaccinations. She once dropped me off at my dad's house for my week with him while I had strep and apparently I had such a high fever that my step mom thought I was going to die (she's a nurse, btw). She rushed me to the bathroom and made me sit in freezing cold water while she ran from the kitchen to the bathroom throwing ice cubes into the tub. Once my fever was down enough, she rushed me to the hospital (we lived 30 minutes from the hospital, which is why she did the ice bath first). While we were there, she secretly had my younger brothers vaccinated and once I was better, she got me vaccinated too. And then she somehow secretly kept us updated on our vaccinations because she worked at the hospital. When she asked my mom why she didn't rush me to the hospital (my mom only lived 7 minutes away from the hospital), my mom said, "she always has fevers. It's just from the step throat. Every time I take her in they just give her useless medicine and try to make me let her have her tonsils taken out. It's pointless to go. Plus, her school wouldn't let her go to school if they knew she had strep." Every time I got strep, one of my classmates would also get and it got to the point that I was severally bullied because my class blamed me for getting them sick. Which yes, I was the source of the strep, but there wasn't anything I could do about it. The worst part is, the strep started to present itself as this nasty rash on my torso before I would get the swelling in my tonsils and I still have scars from the rash. I also have tinnitus, which my doctor told me I probably got from having high fevers frequently. But yeah, a one time surgery would have been worse, apparently. -MrsPotatodactyl

And the vaccination had to be a secret, because a judge had ruled that medical decision were to be made jointly, by both parents.

The judge also had that ruling in my parents custody hearing, which is why my step mom had to secretly have us vaccinated by a doctor she worked with. She also secretly took me to my check ups and took care of my health without my mom finding out, which is a difficult thing to do in a small town. I'm really, really grateful that I she came into my life when she did. -MrsPotatodactyl

Take it from someone who relies on herd immunity: vaccines are important.

Both of my parents are pro-vaccine, but I have an immune problem that causes my body to react horribly to vaccines (I developed a form of juvenile arthritis when I got my first vaccines). While I didn't get sick much (Above-average immune system and keeping me away from sick kids), if I do get something like the chicken pox, I could end up in the hospital. Anywho, I'm very pro-vaccine myself, mostly because herd immunity makes it far less likely people like me get seriously ill. -Daakjenaar

Hindsight is always 20/20:

I nearly died from bronchial pneumonia when I was 2 years old and I can actually remember my mother getting me vaccinated when I got older down the line. I never asked them but I guess they didn’t want to vaccinate me at first but did after I got sick. -Rydakule

A lack of vaccinations will hold you back.

I know a girl that was told her entire life that she was vaccinated. She got very embarrassed when she was going to travel abroad and showed up with a "homeopathic vaccine card" and found it was invalid and couldn't travel unless she had real vaccines. -luke_in_the_sky

This family had a long descent into anti-vaccination.

My mom vaccinated me but not my 3 younger sisters. When my sister got pregnant and had her baby my mom convinced her not to vaccinate. The family battles got even crazier at that point. -jefferylucille

This doctor is quite brave:

The worst part about anti-vaxxers isn't even just the risk to their own kids, but the risk to the DR who may or may not eventually treat them. My sister has an extremely rare immune disorder however works as an oncologist. She has to worry constantly about getting sick as it could literally kill her, the added stress of unvaccinated patients drives her absolutely nuts. She had the option to stop working and teach at a University but has stayed with her chosen career... I have so much respect for her. -thispostislava

Passion isn’t always a good thing.

My mother is also an anti-vaxxer, although she didn't become that way until I was about 19. She likes to blame vaccines on my poor past medical history, but she neglects to mention that most of my issues were either genetic or caused by her doing things like smoking cigarettes all the time while pregnant. I've become distant from her in the last few years due to how "passionate" and crazy she gets about the things she believes in. I legitimately fear having children one day; I'm sure my mom would escalate things to a fist fight or trying to take away a baby because she believes vaccines are a form of abuse. -blackonix13

Think about how far we’ve come.

It's understandable that parents fear the thing they're more familiar with, that being autism today. However 100 years ago they'd almost certainly have a family member or someone they know struck down by disease and they'd have been begging for even a fraction of the protection that today's vaccines offer. Parents also today are so blinded by fear of autism that they don't really understand the difference between "rise in autism" vs. "rise in autism diagnoses". Autism isn't new, it's just better understood. -GlamRockDave

Here’s where a lot of frustration with anti-vaxxers comes in:

I think a lot of the (kinda valid) hatred towards anti-vaxxers comes from their callous disregard for other children. They're not trying to hurt their kids, but then you get other parents with children who have awful immune diseases literally begging anti-vaxxers to help them protect their child, and they just don't care. -Fairwhetherfriend

Even if we can understand where anti-vaxxing comes from, that doesn’t mean it’s good.

Often, the fear of screwing up their kids (or feeling like a bad parent) leads to over-doing it. Even after therapy with her physically there for the meetings, my mom still won't recognize or own up to all the stuff she put me through because she can't handle the idea that she could have harmed me. Funny how that intense desire not to hurt your kids can directly have the opposite effect. -bbyjffry

This person’s mother only half-changed her mind.

As soon as I turned 18, I got all of my vaccines up to date, my mother stopped after I was 7 or so. My dad didn't agree with her but respected her wishes. After I got them updated through my dad's health insurance she was annoyed about it but I eventually managed to explain herd immunity to her, and also found enough sources calling that out the study that claimed vaccines cause autism that she finally admitted she was incorrect, but still won't admit that vaccines aren't bad for you, saying that they have too much Mercury in them. -monroezabaleta

Another Redditor explained why the ‘mercury’ concern shouldn’t be an issue.

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The mercury thing is just a preservative, and it’s not even just mercury, it’s a compound. It’s as harmful as salt. Explain to her that, while sodium and chloride react explosively with water, when they are combined it’s fine. Same way with this mercury compound and the body. Also, a lot of vaccines don’t use that preservative anymore because people complained about it loudly enough. -Snow_97

It’s this easy for a disease to spread...

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Babies, and grandparents. Seriously. Even if you don't believe in flu shots or other vaccines, get them. If you are in college or work around other people, think of the immunocompromised. If you go home for the holidays, remember that schools, dorms, barracks, workspaces, etc all can easily spread diseases. Especially if you go through an airport to get home. It's easy to forget how much vaccines have changed our world, especially after nearly eradicating disfiguring diseases like Polio and Smallpox. -Wahots

And this Redditor is making some well-deserved progress:

My mother was an antivaxxer for many years. She didn't have me vaccinated unless I could not get out of it for school. She used Herbal remedies to treat heath issues and I do not blame her for dong what she did. She had five children, my father quit his job to start his own company and for 10 years he didn't make a profit. She was doing everything she could to decrease medical bills and was concerned about the chemicals people were pumping into their body. It became an issue when my sister was 13 and she got a bad cough. It got worse and worse despite my mother using herbs and taking her to a wholistic "doctor". My sister was on about 30 different herbs and getting worse. One night, she had such a bad attack that she couldn't breath and her "barking" cough woke up the entire house. She was sick with Pertussis, an infection that is vaccinated against in kids and has been brought to near extinction in the United States due to vaccination, but has been making a comeback due to antivaxxers. My sister (the one who had Pertussis/ aka "whooping" cough) followed in my mother's footsteps due to ignorance, and I joined the military. In the military, you get vaccinated for EVERYTHING. I have been vaccinated for polio, anthrax, rabies, tetanus, diphtheria, Pertussis, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and many more with no side effects. I began working in the medical field and went to school at George Washington School of medicine. While I was deployed. Then, my wife got pregnant. I had the resources to find and understand the scientific answer to the question antivaxxers ask "do vaccines cause autism and health issues?". Short answer, no. I saw people who weren't vaccinated dying of diseases we had nearly wiped from existence through vaccination. I saw ignorance cause health issues when simple treatment was turned away due to religious or personal belief. So I told my mom and sister that we were going to vaccinate my son. The issue being that TDAP, the tetanus, diphtheria and Pertussis vaccine can't be given to a child until he is 3-6 months old. I told them if they wanted to meet my son, they would have to get vaccinated. My mother conceded because there wasn't going to be anything keeping her from meeting her first grandchild. My sister told me she wasn't sacrificing her beliefs for me, and I told her, "that's fine. I'm not letting you near my son until he is vaccinated then. Why? Because his death is not worth your pride." She folded a month before he was born. Now the rest of my family has slowly been getting vaccinated for other stuff and looking to me for medical advice. I tell them that I love them and want the best for them, and show them peer reviewed scientific articles on proof against their beliefs. They are slowly switching to my side. -AHomesickTexan Like this story? Share and spread the word of these redditors' firsthand accounts of the dangers associated with a lack of vaccinations.