Based upon the consensus of just about every researcher who’s even marginally credible, we can all just go ahead and agree that vaccines do not cause autism. A rise in vaccination rates correlating with a rise in autism rates is just that—a correlation. And as any high schooler who has taken an entry-level stats class can tell you, correlation does not imply causation.
But suspend disbelief with me for a moment, and suppose that they did. Suppose that the anecdotal evidence was actually significant. Suppose Jenny McCarthy wasn’t actually a misguided menace, but a warrior mom.
Even if they were right, by arguing that children should go unvaccinated because of supposed neurological risks, anti-vaxxers are making a repulsive value judgment: that it’s better to have a child who’s vulnerable to all manner of deadly diseases than a child who’s vulnerable to autism.
One of my immediate family members has autism, and though it has presented challenges, his life has just as much value as mine. And I’m damn glad he made it through childhood without contracting tetanus, pertussis—or measles, for that matter, a long-dormant disease that’s seen a resurgence among unvaccinated children recently. I’m glad he’s been able to grow into the kind, intelligent, thriving man he is today. The idea that deadly disease is a preferable alternative to neurodiversity is so ludicrous, I hate that I have to even entertain it for the sake of argument.
So I won’t any longer—back to reality. Vaccines don’t cause autism. Get over it, and vaccinate your damn kids.
Caroline is a senior Humanities for Teaching and Journalism student at Seattle University. She enjoys swing dancing, urban exploring and writing stories that enable her to receive free food.