Anti-vaxxing is a movement of people who think that vaccines cause more harm than good for their children. Despite a lot of evidence that disputes this claim, there are still plenty of people that believe their kids are better off without their vaccinations. Check out stories from people who were once anti-vaxxers and what changed their mind about vaccines.
This person's horrifying experience with measles convinced them that vaccines were the right move. They even doubled down on measles immunity.
"I had a 105 to 107 fever for a week straight. I was completely naked in my hospital room because the lightest gown was too much for me. I remember a doctor offering a napkin to me to cover my genitals during examinations for decent. That was too much for me. I was sweating so bad they put four sheets on my bed and I would sweat through them in a few hours.
Dim the lights because the lights were too hot. Turn the AC on full blast because I was hot. The only pain relief was sitting in a bathtub of ice and it wasn't cold enough for me.I remembering feeling what felt like my eyes melting because I was so hot.
The first vaccine I got was the MMR for Mumps, Measles, and Rubella because I was so scared of getting measles again. I don't care that the doctor told me I was immune to measles for life. I wanted to be double sure.
God, I almost decked an Anti-Vax for calling the MMR shot an excuse to avoid staying in bed for a week with the flu. Measles sucks. Can't wait to see that freaking virus go extinct."
This young mother turned to the Internet for advice and friendship but it led her astray. Luckily, a compassionate doctor was there to help.
"I had my daughter when I was very young. I was 20, so it wasn't exactly a teen pregnancy but I was still way too young. It was before my friends were having kids, too, so I was pretty isolated.
I got a lot of parenting advice online and joined a crunchy attachment parenting forum. Cringe. Although a lot of the philosophy made sense to me, there was a very all-or-nothing, holier(crunchier?)-than-thou attitude on the forum that made it pretty hostile. If you vaxxed your kids, you were a monster, basically. Being so young and naive, I was fed a lot of misinformation, horror stories, etc. that led me to delay my daughter's vaccinations. Luckily, I had a very patient and kind pediatrician who gently talked some sense into me.
It's really messed up, all the scaremongering going on. I think the anti-vax parents mean well and are trying to do what they think is right, but they are gravely, dangerously misinformed. Old diseases are coming back, and kids are dying from them. It's really scary."
This man was raised by an anti-vaxxer and didn't question things until he got to college
"I'd say I was an anti-vaxxer growing up. I was never given any form of shot growing up, aside from what the dentist injects in your gums to make you numb.
I never really knew it was a thing until I was in middle school and some kids brought up how awful it was getting shots. So, I asked my mother about it and she explained it as, 'They make you sick now so you're less likely to get sick later.' After hearing this, it just kinda stuck in my head, but I didn't do my own research into it. I was young and could not care less.
Then came high school, a lot of the anti-vaxx jokes were going around. I made it known that I wasn't vaccinated, and it kind of stopped, aside from one or two people who tried to talk to me about it. So once again, I just ignored it. I was too preoccupied with sports and friends and junk to worry about it I suppose.
Then I went to college, this was also about the time I discovered Reddit. I saw a lot of Anti-Vaxx stuff and I ignored it, for the most part, thinking these people were just not educated in the matter. Then I thought to myself, I'm not educated in it either. I took my mom's word as fact because 'I did the research! - My Mother. So, I started looking into it and turned out my mother was wrong, no surprise to you all reading but to me, this was pretty huge. The next time I saw her, I tried to explain to my findings. She didn't like me pointing them out. We had a debate about it for a while and I realized her mind was made up and there wasn't much changing it. I talked to my girlfriend about it and she had just assumed I was vaccinated. She urged me to make an appointment to get my shots. She was nice enough to explain how vaccines work and correct the wrong things I had been told growing up. She was studying medicine at the time.
So, I went and got my immunizations. This took a while because they can't just give you all of them at once. After my first trip, I told my father and he didn't seem to care at all. But my mother, oh man, she was VERY upset. She basically begged me not to get the rest. I still went and got the rest because I'm was adult at this point and I wanted to make my own decisions.
A little extra info, I didn't get sick very often growing up. Because of this, a lot of people who tried to change my mind would assume I got sick a lot when I didn't. That kind stumped the kids in my class who did try to talk to me about it. My brother had his first round of vaccines but when I was born, I had none. My brother is still not vaccinated despite me trying to show him proof. But he is also the type to argue vaping has no negative effects on his body and in fact is good for him. So I gave up on that for now."
After having a brush with death on 9/11, this father began to lose his trust in everything...including the medical community. Luckily, he was eventually able to see the bigger picture.
"On September 10th, 2001, for no reason other than I didn't feel ready for it, I called my friend who hired me for the sympathy gig and asked her to reschedule the work sessions we were supposed to have at 9:00 AM the next day at her offices. Which were on the 95th Floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. She moved the meeting to the 13th.
I watched it all happen, live on TV. I tried calling my wife, who was at a park with our kid. The connection was too poor to make myself understood well. I wanted them to come home. Or stay there. I didn't know what to say. I was sobbing. I was screaming. I was terrified. Fighter jets screamed overhead from a nearby airbase. I was scared. I now had nearly infinite fear points.
After this point, not sure when, but it wasn't long after, that the fear of the Systems That Are Supposed to Keep Us All Safe became like a mental virus. I lost my trust in all institutions. I stopped believing that the medical community was, for the most part, trying to solve sickness. I joined the NRA. I bought a lot of weapons and ammo even though we could not afford it.
We got partial knowledge from the internet about the 'suppressed information' of the 'dangers' of vaccines. We wanted our kid to be as safe as possible. There were plenty of people on the internet who had email lists and simple websites that propagated the delusion that vaccines caused Autism and so much more. I believed it all. I was able to find all of these citations of the (bogus) 'study' that claimed all of the wrong things about Vaccines. I wasn't thinking critically, but I really, honestly thought I and a small group of people had discovered an awful truth about vaccines. I trusted only myself, my wife and those who shared our common delusion. They wanted the same thing - absolute safety for our kids. It was a cult. And like all cults, presenting counter-evidence results in the backfire effect. Look it up.
We stopped vaccinating. Our doctors were good - very good. They never coerced, they didn't criticize, they just said, over and over things to the effect of, 'I disagree with your decision, and want you to consider all of the risks you're taking.' Visit after visit, they tried, gently and sometimes firmly. The reminded us that their own young children were vaccinated. They increased the pressure a little, and they kept trying. They gave us studies. They showed us pictures.
It took a few years to escape the cult. But I gradually opened my eyes a little bit. Evidence accumulated that my view was not just wrong - it was impossible. I could not deny that Polio had re-emerged in parts of the world where there were no vaccinations. I met someone my age who I found out had polio as a child and that was why she had such a massive limp and was barely able to walk her whole life. I watched a video of someone with Tetanus suffering before their slow death (don't ever do this). I met another person who had a child die a few months after birth - she was unknowingly exposed to measles while pregnant and the severe birth defects ultimately killed her daughter. And I got a job. And the money situation stabilized somewhat. I got some control over my life.
And, most importantly, because of this, I started to see the larger picture. I learned how driving a car was the most dangerous thing we did with our child.
I realized that there were so many more likely (and preventable) ways my son could come to harm, things that I could only partially control. I learned what Thimerosal actually is (Thimerosal is to Mercury as Salt is to Chlorine).
A constant drip-drip-drip of facts and evidence we started to trust (a little) wore away our fear. It did not for some of our friends, and those friendships dissolved.
In the end, the combination of intense fear and the sense of loss of control faded.
We got the vaccinations, first for the 'really scary' stuff, and later for the rest. Subsequent kids (we had 2 more) were up-to-date from the start.
This was all over a period of about 6 years. I still remember the crazy times, and how they felt.
I remember the overwhelming sense of wanting to protect my kid from all of what I perceived to be 'controllable' harm. I can speak with authority on how the backfire effect works on people.
Today's world of instant fear/identity cults fostered by social media and content personalization is an order of magnitude worse than it was in the years 2000-2005.
Back then I had to seek out people and information that supported my insanity.
Today, fundamentally wrong but well-packaged information automatically finds, supports, and reinforces insane world-views, instantly and with incredible efficacy.
Bad information can and does obscure good information - almost nothing gets through the filters and the personalization algorithms. But I fear you can't convert an anti-vaxxer with evidence anymore, any more than you can combat climate-change denial with facts.
Very few people are able to leave their identity-cults, it hurts and makes you feel lonely for a while. But I'm glad we did."
"I was on the fence of the anti-vaxxer movement. I took a college level chemistry series. It was General Chemistry through Organic, so everything thing from the elements and their relationships to one another to DNA replication, plus a full Anatomy & Physiology series.
No hippie-dippie website or Facebook post or granola cereal box can compare to having to really study the facts. Going through stoichiometry of chemical reactions really teaches you how the elements play ball. Doing lab work on cadavers shows you things like how cancer spreads to lymph nodes and how brain structure is even more ridiculously complicated than you can imagine. I elected for microbiology as well and they let you grow 'safe' diseases in a lab setting and you learn the how and why certain diseases propagate and the history of vaccines and what they actually do.
You can't absorb actual freaking knowledge that YOU have to pick up for class without having some of your opinions change. Do I think vaccines cause autism? No, and I never did, but now I can say without a doubt that I'm pretty sure it has more to do with how many more children survive childbirth and their toddler years compared to 100 years ago when like 40% of kids born died of Measles or Whooping Cough or Polio or some other disease. Couple that with better detection methods for autism and organic cognitive/behavioral disorders in the last 25 years or so, and you have a really weird correlation but not causation.
I wasn't really ever an anti-vaxxer, but getting 3/4 of a bachelor's in the medical field REALLY gives you a foundation for refuting bullcrap."