It’s Horrifying That Vaccines Have Become ‘Political’

by Alicia Stein
Originally Published: 
Emily Elconin/Getty

Last week, soon after COVID vaccines became available for kids, my son’s school group chat started to light up. One parent wanted to know if anyone had successfully secured a vaccine appointment for their kids, and if so, where. She also wanted to know what side effects kids who’d gotten the vaccine had had so far.

All very normal questions, you’d think. I mean, people in this chat ask for doctor recommendations all the time. They ask about where the best place to get their pet groomed is, who’s the most reliable plumber in town, et cetera.

But, no. As soon as this question was asked, someone chimed in with, “We can’t talk about the vaccine here. It’s too political.”

Now, obviously I know what this person is referring to. The vaccine has become a highly politicized issue, with many people on the right largely playing down the pandemic, and buying into conspiracy theories about the vaccine and “big Pharma.” Sure, there are left leaning folks who believe all these things, but for the most part, believing that vaccines and vaccines mandate are part of some big ploy on the part of the government to poison and brainwash us all it’s a heavily right wing talking point.

But the thing is, the original poster wasn’t asking anyone’s opinion about whether or not her child should take the vaccine. She wasn’t asking whether people thought the schools should start requiring it. She was merely asking where she could take her kid for the vaccine, and what the experience has been like so far for other kids.

WTAF has this world come to? Seriously, I want to know.

Of course, after this one parent started complaining that this question was “too political,” other parents chimed in, agreeing. Then, one of them started posting unsourced, non-verified information about the “unknown” effects of the vaccine. And another person started posting some other nonsense about terrible things that might happen down the road if you get your kid the vaccine now.

I mean, I thought you folks were saying we weren’t supposed to be talking about this stuff? Hmmmm…

Finally, a few parents (myself included) came on to share where their kids have been vaccinated and where to get more information. And, because I couldn’t hold my tongue, I said, “Since when have vaccines become ‘political?’”

Because, really, what exactly are we doing here, folks?

Public health is not political. It’s just not. If our drinking water was contaminated with a deadly bacteria, would people be up in arms about the measures governments were taking to clean the water and make us safe?

What about firefighters? Paved roads? Making sure the manufacturing of our food is safe? These things are also funded by our government and are put in place to protect us all. Why aren’t people pissed off about that?

There aren’t “two sides” about how to protect others from a deadly virus that is literally killing thousands of Americans per day. And even if you are against taking the vaccine, why is it a problem for others to be talking about doing it themselves? I thought it was a “you do you” mentality here?

Besides all the “this makes no sense” type of arguments here, when it came to the bonkers discussion that unfolded my kids’ school’s group chat, I also was struck by how using the “it’s too political” argument was actually just a tactic to shut our whole discussion down. If certain topics can’t be talked about, then information can’t be shared, and everyone starts to feel like normal things—like getting our kids their shots—are somehow taboo and can only be discussed in private.

Thankfully, this tactic only worked for a little while. Yes, this particular discussion went a little haywire, and I’m not sure that the original poster’s query was actually answered. But a few days later, someone else asked the same question about where she could get her kid vaxxed, and this time, simple suggestions were shared.

No one came on there crying that this was “too sensitive” or “too heated” a discussion to have. Thank GAWD.

Because, honestly, if normal parents were barred from ever again exchanging basic information about doctor’s appointments, vaccinations, and our kids’ health and safety, I would really be freaking the eff out. I mean, things are bad enough as it is.

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