My BFF Is An Anti-Vaxxer And It's Destroying Our Friendship

by Kathy Black
Eugenio Marongiu/Getty

I’ve had the same best friend for over 30 years. It’s not one of those friendships where you lose touch and don’t see or talk for six months either. She’s the real deal — the one I can count on to bring me out of a funk or kick me in the ass when I need it.

We have the same taste in clothes, make up, and can tear it up in the home goods section. We finish each other’s sentences and love each other’s kids as if they were our own. We are on the same page on nearly everything — with one major exception.

My BFF doesn’t vaccinate.

When I first got pregnant, it was never a question for me that I’d vaccinate my kids. I believe in it. I’ve done my research. People die from many of the diseases that have been wiped out by vaccinations, and that’s all the proof this mother needs.

I watched my kids closely after each one for side effects and always felt confident I was making the right decision — not just for my kids, but for the rest of the people out there who can be affected if you don’t vaccinate your children.

When she first questioned me about my choice, I figured she was just being curious. She had a little one on the way after I had my first, and of course she wanted to know if he was up to date with his shots so her baby would be safe. Coming into contact with someone who has measles while pregnant can cause severe complications.

But I was wrong about her questions. That wasn’t where she was headed at all.

My friend had decided not to vaccinate her children. And while she was quiet about my choice to vaccinate at first, now she’s not. She’s judging me for choosing to vaccinate my kids, and I’m judging her for not. Quite frankly, I think she’s wrong.

It’s my job to keep my children safe from whooping cough, measles, and the chicken pox. She’s lectured me more than once about all the “shit” they put into vaccinations. By “shit,” she means formaldehyde which is already in our bodies. In fact, babies are born with over 50% more formaldehyde in their system than what is given in a vaccine, which is “residual.” So, we are talking about a tiny dose of something our body already has inside it to prevent death. It’s a no-brainier.

She loves to talk about all the new outbreaks of measles or whooping cough, saying, “See, a lot of these kids were vaccinated and they got it anyway!”

She turned her nose up when I told her about herd immunity — when most people are protected from certain diseases, it greatly reduces the risks for those who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons. There’s a reason why so many of these diseases went away. Think, people, think.

I asked her how she’d feel if her kids were carrying a virus, not showing any signs yet, but came into contact with a newborn who wasn’t old enough to receive certain shots yet. Her reply was, “We don’t hang out with babies for that reason.” WTAF?!

The thing is, measles is highly contagious. She doesn’t have to be at a play date with them to infect. What about the playground? The grocery store cart? A restaurant? The CDC reports,”Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.”

NINETY PERCENT. That fact is indisputable. And it’s infuriating to think anyone feels they can make that call.

Because her children aren’t vaccinated, they could easily infect someone who can’t receive their shots due to a medical condition. I asked her how she’d feel if her own child got the measles or whooping cough. She said she’s not taking the chance that they could become autistic.

Okay, well, first, there has been extensive research confirming is zero link to vaccinations and autism. And, aside from that, autism isn’t something to be feared. It makes a child who they are, and it isn’t something that needs to be “cured.” Deadly and contagious illnesses, on the other hand… well, these are something we should all fear.

Bottom line: I couldn’t live with the consequences of not vaccinating my family.

I’m not taking the chance my kids could become ill with long-lasting damage that chicken pox can leave in its wake. I’m not taking the chance my kids come down with measles, which can be deadly. And I’m not taking the chance that my kids could infect a precious newborn baby or a person whose immune system is too weak for vaccinations so they must depend on herd immunity to protect them.

Not only do I not understand her way of thinking — if you can prevent your child and other people from getting sick why wouldn’t you? — I’m pissed at her. Like, really fucking pissed. I’m mad at her for thinking she knows more than scientists and medical professionals and feels she has the right to make this decision for her child and other people.

I’m irate that she thinks it’s okay to lecture people. I’m irritated with her anti-vax obsession. It’s fucking annoying and over the top and I’m sick of hearing about it. I’m over her tangents about how they put “poison” in every shot the give people.

I don’t agree with her at all. She doesn’t agree with me at all. We’ve both said (over and over) how we feel about the issue.

She knows I’ve vaccinated my kids. She knows how I feel about it. And instead of agreeing to disagree, she won’t shut up about it.

I’m not used to feeling this way around my friend, and I’m not sure where we go from here.

Do you end a friendship because you disagree on whether to vaccinate your kids or not? It’s not what I want at all. We have a long history together, but I’m struggling.

I’m over talking about it with her. She’s not going to change her mind, and I’m not going to change my mind. And honestly, I have too many other things going on in my life to continue this angst between us.

I want to drop it, move on, and get back to where we were. But in order for us to do that, we need to make peace with each other’s decision. And honestly, with vaccines being so important, I’m not sure we can.