Quantcast
Connect with us

Teens with anti-vaxx parents are seeking out help online to get secretly vaccinated

Published

on

Reddit, the vast online forum and link aggregator, is a digital haven for advice, self-help, and general discussion; for almost any subculture or topic you want to discuss, you can find a Reddit community. Now, as the anti-vaccination movement has driven more parents to exempt their children from vaccines, some teenagers are turning to online forums like Reddit to find advice on how to get vaccinated, against their parents’ wishes.

This article first appeared in Salon.

ADVERTISEMENT

Laura C., an 18-year-old from Colorado who has posted on Reddit about her situation, told Salon over email she has not been vaccinated since she was two. She said her mom calls herself an anti-vaxxer.

“I haven’t had my boosters,” she said. “My mom always talked about how I was ‘too special’ for shots because of my autism,” adding that she “stopped with the first MMR.”

MMR refers to a vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella, a standard-issue vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children should get two doses of the vaccine; the first between 12 and 15 months of age, and the second between four and six years of age.

The normalization of the anti-vaccination movement is relatively recent, and has been wreaking havoc on public health. The CDC found that the number of two-year-olds who had not received vaccinations grew to 1.3 percent for those born in 2015; comparatively, for those who were born in 2011, the percentage was at 0.9. Though that gap seems small, the relationship between unvaccinated people and disease is not linear; rather, there is a tipping point that confers “herd immunity,” meaning that enough people are vaccinated that the disease will not spread, despite the few unvaccinated.

ADVERTISEMENT

The World Health Organization named “vaccine hesitancy” one of the top threats to public health to prioritize in 2019. Until about twenty years ago, just about everyone in the United States was automatically vaccinated from youth, by virtue of state laws mandating it. However, American children in all 50 states are allowed a medical exemption if the child has a specific medical condition, and all but three states in the U.S. offer non-medical exemptions for religious reasons. Eighteen states allow philosophical exemptions for those who object to immunizations due to personal or moral beliefs — and it is these exemptions that have been the root of a loophole allowing parents who don’t believe in vaccinations to keep their children from getting them.

Laura, who did not want her full name to be published, said she felt “left out” when she read other students’ transcripts for school, and that she still needs a variety of shots before she can attend college, which has led her to seek out her own options.

“I plan to get Hepatitis A and B, MMR, the flu, HPV, TDaP [tetanus, diptheria and pertussis] , and many other immunizations that I was ‘exempt’ from,” she said, noting the rise in measles has made her “seriously anxious.”

ADVERTISEMENT

In 2000, 37 years after measles vaccination programs began, national health experts declared that the disease had been eliminated in the United States. Yet in 2018, the second-greatest number of annual cases were reported since the disease was declared “eliminated” 18 years earlier. Many public health experts have attributed that rise to the increasing popularity of the anti-vaccination movement. A county near Portland, Oregon, is the latest to experience an outbreak, and it is likely not a coincidence that this occurred in a county that has seen a decrease in child vaccination rates. From 2014 to 2015, a measles outbreak in California spread throughout eight states. Of the California residents who had measles, 45 percent were unvaccinated.

A 23-year-old in Canada, who also requested to remain anonymous, told Salon via email she never got vaccinations as a child.

“I was a home birth and my mom took me to homeopathic and naturopathic doctors who she knew,” the 23-year-old told Salon. “I found out [I wasn’t vaccinated] when it was time to get our shots at school, they sent us home forms for our parents to fill out and my mom said that I had an exception and told me not to get any shots.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Around the age of 13, the Canadian started scouring the internet to figure out how to get vaccinated herself. Eventually, she found a youth clinic that provided free sexual health services to youth.

“I talked to one of the doctors there about lots of different things and vaccines came up,” the 23-year-old explained. “We started talking and she pointed me towards Wikipedia and WebMD and encouraged me to look into it myself and see what I thought about vaccines. I had also never been allowed to take antibiotics, and at the time I had strep throat so I looked those up on Wikipedia as well.”

After this research, the 23-year-old came to believe that misinformation has driven the mother’s decision. Eventually, she went to a vaccine clinic.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I asked for everything I could get and then was given a booster appointment card. Since then, I’ve gotten all my boosters and get a yearly flu shot,” she explained. “I do wish my parents has gotten me vaccinated, and I’m glad I was able to get myself vaccinated.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Washington Post editorial board calls Trump too cowardly to pass background checks in scathing editorial

Published

on

The Washington Post just published a scathing editorial saying that President Donald Trump is far too cowardly to fight for gun safety laws or any kind of gun reform.

For a brief few days, while Trump was on vacation, he was willing to say that background checks needed to be tightened. But once he was on the phone with the National Rifle Association, everything changed. It isn't the first time. When Trump promised action after the Parkland, Florida massacre he said to the faces of parents who'd just lost their children. The next day he reneged. Now Americans are back at step one, where the next shooting is around the corner and even if police are on scene to take the shooter down in less than 60 seconds, people will still die.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump’s tumbling support among ‘the poorly educated’ may crush his 2020 prospects: report

Published

on

When Donald Trump famously declared, “I love the poorly educated” during his 2016 campaign, it was obvious that he was taking a much more populist (or rather, pseudo-populist) approach than Republican presidential candidates were typically known for. And white males without college degrees continue to be a key part of the president’s base. But Washington Post columnist Aaron Blake, analyzing an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Monday, stresses that when Trump is up against a “generic 2020 Democrat,” he finds himself struggling with non-college educated white women.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told Republican donors any recession will be ‘moderate and short’

Published

on

President Donald Trump has spent the last week claiming that any talk of a recession is a conspiracy theory by the media and part of a leftist coup against him.

The message didn't seem to get to his chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who told Republican donors this week that the recession will be a quick one.

Politico reported the comments Tuesday, saying that it was part of a Jackson, Wyoming fundraiser with White House aides Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who are supposed to be "camping" with their family, according to her Instagram channel.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image