When did Measles Become a Human Rights Issue?

If you are anywhere near the social media these days, you have been hearing about measles and vaccines….A LOT. Let me just preface this post by saying I am not hosting a debate on whether or not you should vaccinate yourself or your child. Don’t go there. Neither will I. (and if you comment on anything other than supporting families, regardless of their decision, and supporting human rights, it will be deleted) So, when exactly did measles become a human rights issue?

That happened right around the time that some (not all by any means) people started calling for the police to round up any parents who haven’t vaccinated their children, others called for non-vaccinating families to wear the equivalent of a Nazi star, still others cried for concentration camps, and a few of the really far out violent people suggested that parents just be shot and the children taken to foster care. It wouldn’t be the first time the United States has forced people into concentration camps, and for much less than choosing not to vaccinate, but I can hope that our society has come a bit farther than that in this day and age.

Photo by Markus Grossalber

Photo by Markus Grossalber

Personally, I don’t care what you do. Vaccinate. Don’t vaccinate. My hope would be that you do your research. And by research, I’m not talking about reading the propaganda from either side but by digging into actual medical journals and evaluating what is there. I know I am not the only one who can lose track of time due to the joy of digging through the stacks. Then, take that information, along with your personal and family information, and make an informed decision (because you know your health and your family’s history). That would be my hope.

However, even if you don’t do your research and make a decision, I still don’t care what you decide. Why? It is not my decision to make. I have this thing about bodily autonomy. I happen to enjoy it. I want the right to make my own decisions regarding my heath care and what I allow others to do with my body, whether that is addressing birth choices, reproductive rights, sexual assault, physical assault, cancer treatments, or anything else. And if I want that right for myself, than I can’t expect to tell someone else that they must or must not allow someone to do something to them.

Life comes with no guarantees. There are always risks. If you are fearful that an un-vaccinated person will put you at risk or that a just vaccinated person is shedding and putting you at risk, you probably need to stay home. You have no idea who has or has not had the diseases, had the vaccines or not, had recent boosters or not. If you aren’t comfortable with the decision you have made for your family, then maybe you should re-evaluate that decision.

Now, some will loudly say that people who don’t vaccinate are putting the population as a whole at risk, and therefore we can’t risk allowing a person to have bodily autonomy in this matter. Frankly, there are a lot of factors which people at risk for these diseases, and I think we should focus on those for a minute.

Healthy lifestyles – the Standard American Diet really isn’t helping you stay healthy. Sanitation – sanitation is such a key point when it comes to preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Poverty – families living at or below the poverty line are much more likely to suffer from all types of illness. We need to help everyone make a decent living wage so that they can provide for their families to be healthy. Maternity and paternity leave – the United States gets a big, huge fail on this. We need both so that our fragile newborns don’t have to go to daycares right away. Breastfeeding, breastfeeding rights, and milk banks – we should be supporting this first step in the immune system. Paid sick leave – sick people need to be able to stay home and get better instead of passing it on to everyone else. Share baked goods you bring in. Leave the illness at home.

As a recap: Let’s advocate for doing your own research. Let’s advocate for information on healthy living. Let’s advocate for good sanitation. Let’s actually work to help people who are at a higher risk in general, such as families living at or below the poverty line. Let’s call for changes in work and school policies which encourage health so that we don’t have sick people out there running around. Let’s have women not be the only ones taking time away from their chosen careers (WOH, WAH, or SAH) to care for the sick, the young, and the elderly. Promote breastfeeding! Instate both maternity and paternity policies so that parents don’t have to drop their newborns off at daycare. Let’s promote a decent living wage so that people can be healthy. 

All of these things sound like much better options than sending families to concentration camps or shooting parents, who love their kids just as much as you love yours. And all of them are positive ways to advocate for and support families without crossing that bodily autonomy line.

If you are sick, by all means…….STAY HOME!

I would also politely ask you to go wash your hands, because I have been in public restrooms;  I know the majority of people out there are not washing their hands and science backs that up. A little bit of soap and water and scrub for 20 seconds. Doesn’t that feel better? (imagine that said with the voice of your own mother)