Monday the 30th wrapped up World Vaccination Week. I was somewhat tickled to see that the Vatican, in a short press release, approached the topic as if it’s straightforward and devoid of controversy. It simply points out the many benefits of vaccination, and the bad things that happen when vaccination isn’t happening.
The reason the Vatican so readily sees vaccination as an unmistakeable good is because it is looking at the world globally. It’s not behaving as if small pockets of vaccine refusers are the majority, or as if they’re more important than, for instance, the third world, where mothers will walk for miles and line up all day to get life-saving vaccines for their kids.
And that’s what made the difference for me: Thinking globally.
I used to be hesitant about vaccines. I defiantly told my pediatrician that I’d “done my homework” and wouldn’t be needing about half the vaccines on the list. I didn’t think my particular kids were at risk for these diseases, and so I didn’t think my kids should have to get jabbed. Pretty simple.
Now, however, I have a daughter with diabetes, and a virus that affects her stomach could land her in the hospital. Now I have a niece with a congenital heart defect. Now I have friends whose kids have suppressed immune systems. Now I have a pal who’s going through chemotherapy. Now I have a mother in a nursing home. Now I know moms whose kids are allergic to vaccines, and they desperately wish their kids could be vaccinated, but they can’t.
Now, my kids get all their vaccines, because I’m trying to think globally. When my kids go out into the world, they spread joy, the spread excitement, they spread ideas, they spread enthusiasm . . . and they spread whatever germs they’re carrying around. But because they’re vaccinated, they’re far less likely to be carrying and spreading germs that can make themselves and other people seriously sick.
People who aren’t vaccinated, or who can only be partially vaccinated, or whose immune system isn’t working well, can be devastated by those germs, and so they depend on vaccinated people to do their part and keep disease rates low. The more people who are vaccinated, the less disease there is to spread, and the lower the likelihood that unvaccinated people will get sick.
I used to think, “My kids aren’t sick! So why should we worry about getting these rare, unlikely diseases?” Now I know that because my kids aren’t sick and weak, we have the obligation to help protect people who are sick and weak.
Now I really have “done my homework,” which is the true work of all mankind. I’ve looked hard at the lives of other people, and can see very clearly that if I can help protect their health, I must. Like the Church, I’m thinking globally. My own convenience isn’t more important than other people’s health and lives. This is basic Christian behavior. If I’m healthy enough to get vaccinations, it’s my Christian duty to do so.