Rub Some Dirt On It

I want my child to grow up dirty – in all her blackened bare feet, tangled hair, mud pie baking, snail racing, tree climbing, scraped knee-ness glory. I will be that weird mom that yells to her kid, “Rub some dirt on it and get on with your life”.

But I am not delusional about the medicinal properties of dirt. Dirt is good but rubbing dirt on your kid will not make them immune to measles, so just in case please vaccinate your kids in addition to letting them get dirty. Because dirt is not a miracle worker, but vaccines actually are.

I am equal parts enraged and bemused by the Anti-Vaccine movement that has gained considerable momentum in the past twenty years and has seemingly exploded in support and action since 2013.

And while I am a big supporter of the old adage, “If you have nothing nice to say, just STFU.”. In this instance, I believe honesty is the best policy. Honesty trumps politeness. Honesty trumps keeping quiet. Honesty trumps minding your own business. Because some choices we as parents make should not be a choice at all.

The first time I heard about this notion that vaccines were potentially dangerous or that some moms choose to forgo them was long before I myself considered becoming a mother, it was around about 2010, I was twenty-seven and was chatting to a mother to two young children.

I cannot remember how or why we got onto the topic, but vaccinations came up. She was vehemently against it, she said that none of her children were ever vaccinated and never would be. Vaccines, in her opinion, were incredibly dangerous and the risk their administration posed to her children far outweighed any protection they provided, a benefit which according to her was also debatable.

She had incredible tales of the danger of vaccines; “they are grown on the livers of live monkeys”, “they have mercury and other toxic chemicals in them”, “they weaken the child’s immune system”, “they can cause autoimmune disorders, why do you think there are so many kids with asthma nowadays”, “they don’t even work, it’s all a money making scheme by the doctors and big pharma”, “why when there is an outbreak of measles or whatever else, the majority of people who fall ill are vaccinated?” and the most common and popularised argument – “vaccines have been directly linked as a cause of autism”.

This was the first time I had ever heard of such a thing, I mean I was fully immunised and there had never been any debate as to whether I would be, my mom did as the doctor advised and immunised all three of her children. And we turned out fine, didn’t we?

I turned to Google to see what it had to say on the matter and I was amazed to see that it indeed was a real thing – people were against vaccinations and were choosing to not vaccinate their children.

And from that moment I concluded that these individuals were either incredibly gullible and would believe anything or were incredibly ignorant and didn’t fully understand the scientific research proving vaccines safe, and instead, they chose to believe an actress whose most significant achievement was appearing in Playboy magazine.

Now, I am no medical professional, no scientist, I do not currently, nor have I ever worked for a pharmaceutical company and I know very little about medicine or the development of vaccinations.

I am, however, semi-literate, live in a third world country in which people die every day from preventable and treatable diseases and I have an interest in history. And this is what I have to say on the topic.

  1. Vaccines biggest strength has become its biggest weakness

Vaccines are widely regarded as the greatest medical advance of the 20th Century. And this success has also seemingly been its downfall because it has been so successful that the moms of today, those aged fifty and under, in affluent and developed corners of the world from Cape Town to LA to Perth have had the luxury of collective amnesia.

Our generation has never seen the effects of the diseases, against which we vaccinate, in full force. How many of us have had our child suffer a permanent disability at the hands of Polio? Or had half our child’s school class die from a smallpox outbreak? Or have given birth to a child that is marred by blindness, deafness and a damaged heart because you were exposed to German Measles (or Rubella) in the early stages of your pregnancy?

I venture to say none to any of the above questions. Vaccines have allowed us as a civilisation to in some instances and areas of the world eradicate infectious diseases like smallpox and polio.

The first ever vaccination against an infectious disease was pioneered at the end of the 1700s in Britain, it was developed to fight smallpox, which was a massive killer around the world. In the 1600s and 1700s, 1 in 13 of all deaths in London was caused by smallpox. When the vaccine was introduced in 1796 the number of deaths caused by the disease sharply declined, and over the next 100 years, the disease was all but irradicated, as it accounted for 0,01% deaths in 1900.

Interestingly, in 1980, the WHO officially certified the global elimination of smallpox, the first ever eradication of a disease in human history, and at the time the organisation recommended that all countries cease vaccination and that all laboratories should destroy their remaining stocks. Surely if there was some massive conspiracy theory by big pharma, doctors and the medical fraternity they would have continued to vaccinate against this disease and reap the monetary benefits?

The last major outbreak of polio in the United States was in 1953 where 57 879 cases were reported and 3 147 of those cases resulted in death and many more of these cases would have resulted in paralysis or disability. According to WHO, polio mainly affects children under the age of five, so it is heart-breaking to imagine that the victims of this awful disease are pre-school children. If not for vaccinations, Izzy would fall into this vulnerable group.

It was in this decade – the 1950’s – that the first effective polio vaccines were developed, and it was in the second half of this decade and the beginning of the next that the polio outbreaks plummeted, and I mean plummeted, from the tens of thousands of cases and thousands of deaths in 1953 to 449 cases and 41 deaths in 1963. The number of cases and deaths has continued to decline, with only a handful of cases being reported yearly. The global push to end polio has reached its final stages, with just 3 remaining countries still working to eradicate this debilitating disease.

According to WHO, “vaccines have prevented at least 10 million deaths between 2010 and 2015, and many more lives were protected from illness (like whooping cough, mumps and measles).”

And this is the blissful ignorance that vaccinating has bought us. But with several decades of life without the horrors infectious disease reap on our children staring us in the face day-to-day, we have had the luxury of time and naivety to question the value of vaccinating, the ignorance to think that a vaccine’s benefits far out way its drawbacks and the arrogance to believe our Google degree in medicine supersedes that of an actual medical degree and countless years of experience at the frontline of disease and suffering.

All you have to do is talk to a historian and you will quickly gain a glimpse into the world before vaccines. Erika Holst, a historian, shares her opinion on the matter and recounts some of the writings from the 18th century she and her colleagues have encountered during the course of their work.

“I couldn’t help but notice that all my historian friends fell firmly into the camp of pro-vaccines. Even the crunchy ones, even the woman who home-schools her kids and gave birth at home in an inflatable pool.”, she says.

She explains further, “The reason for this is best summed up by my friend Kristen Wands, a curator in Wethersfield, Connecticut: “I read the letters and diaries of anguished 18th-century parents who lost numerous children to diseases we can prevent and treat today. I know what a world without vaccines looks like, and you wouldn’t want to live there.”

Holst goes on to share additional insight into a world where deadly illnesses are commonplace. “How necessary to live in constant readiness for death’s summons,” wrote Helen Edwards. Our ancestors lived with the acute awareness that death was never far from life, often ending correspondence “if you live” or “if I live”.

She goes on to say, “Try to imagine, for a moment, if every time your child got a runny nose, you wondered if that illness would be his last. Try to imagine loving your children and grandchildren, but not daring to assume that they would all grow to adulthood. Try to imagine families who had not buried their children being the exception, not the rule. Try to imagine if a quarter of the children you know would not live to see their fifth birthdays. Our ancestors, who watched their children die of the diseases vaccines prevent, would have given just about anything to have had them.”

Because I feel this particular topic requires the right amount of attention and due diligence, I don’t want to gloss over the issues and the facts, I have broken it into two parts so it is a little more easy to digest. So, look out for part two. Coming next week.



  1. VaxNot

    Vaccine makers are aware that a significant number of parents are waking up to the vaccine hoax (that they don’t work) and have employed focus groups on how best to maintain their sales goals (i.e. vaccine uptake among the “vaccine hesitant”). They discovered that the most effective strategy was exaggerating fear of disease, and so far, this strategy has worked beautifully. People now are terrified of “viruses” where, just a few decades ago, there was no such fear, because essentially no one died from measles, mumps, chicken pox, polio, etc. Part of the fear mongering strategy was to have doctors mis-categorize deaths to hide deaths from medical interventions and blame them on “viruses.” So for example, deaths from a flu shot are classified as deaths from flu. And deaths from other vaccines are classified as anything but an adverse reaction to the vaccine. So, the number of vaccine adverse events reported to VAERS is about 1% of the real number. And so doctors and consumers of mainstream news reports have no clue about the real harm that is disabling 10s of 1,000s of children each year. Thankfully the Vaxxed film crew has documented 1,000s of parental stories of vaccine injury. Many are available at VaxNot dot com. Just watch a few dozen and then get back to me!

    1. theuglytruthofbeingamom

      I find this kind of rhetoric very conspiracy theory-esque. Until such time as an organization like WHO or the likes says vaccines are more dangerous than helpful, I really struggle to take the “research” from the other side seriously. I am sorry but I will however have a look at all the sources and references you shared. Thanks

  2. melissa joyce

    I vaccinate but as the mother of a child on the spectrum every time i see the comparison about how even if it could be proven that it causes autism that it’s still better have clearly not dealt with the severe end of the spectrum. My sons moderate and thanks to meds acts more normally then he did. There are good points in this post but I feel like every article i read that a pro vaxer writes just wants to prove how they are superior to those who don’t. I vax but as a mother of a child who does have a severe allergy to one. I can understand why some are hesitant.

  3. Truejules

    Thank you for this article. I did not have to research what happened to families in the dark times before vaccines, I lived with the live version. My late mother (died Feb 15th 2019 age 85) told us about what childhood was like in the 1930s in England. She lived through the 2nd world war in London, sleeping in a bomb shelter and carrying a child’s “gas mask” to school everyday. I was fact both of my parents were taken from their parents as children (called evacuation) and sent to live with volunteer families in the country. Dads was great. He and his brother went to a farm, a huge difference from London. Mum hated hers and cried for her mum everyday at the age of 6,she had been sent to a wealthy Major and family in the country. They had to take her home for her own good. That’s how it relates to your story. Mum was a very sick child, with severe asthma who had missed almost a whole year of school being in hospital. That continued for most of her childhood. The risk of death was huge with pertussis, polio and tuberculosis. They had to keep her inside because a simple cold might have been deadly. She saw the children doomed to either die or live in an iron lung for their whole life. Like living in a metal coffin with just your head sticking out. She had severe pneumonia 4 times and xrays later in life showed telltale signs of TB. She must have had during that time. She also told me about the average family having at least 1or 2 kids who had died early in childhood, often not knowing what from. Disease was everywhere and like with this new virus in 2020,some of it never seen before. Between war and childhood illness that killed, she always said how she wish the vaccines were invented so she could have had a childhood and maybe some kids would have lived so that her next friend who didn’t show up at school, may have been absent for a reason instead of dying and no one ever seeing them again. She was visibly excited when talking about vaccines. If only, she pondered. Fast forward to 1986 when I had my daughter. I’d heard at work about some moms that were worried about side effects of dpt vaccine and told mom that I was going to do research and maybe not have little Kim vaccinated. I remember it clearly, walking through a mall, she stopped dead in her tracks and asked what I was talking about. I told her and at first, she was so angry as she asked me how would I ever consider that knowing her story. She then started to cry. She never got mad or cried so I was shocked. She spoke through the tears about how lucky we were that science could protect our children. Not like her. We didn’t talk about that ever again, I did what was recommended. What the antivax people fail to address is, in their own life, were they vaccinated!? What about their parents? Were they? I’ll assume yes, but then I want them to tell the world if they know anyone from either generation PERSONALLY, that suffered a devastating, life altering reaction to a vaccine? If so, which vaccine and what was the terrible consequence? In 60 years, I have NEVER met anyone, heard of any friend or family of my acquaintances that had any reaction at all. The person who commented this nonsense mentioned 1000 cases on film. If that’s the number out of 6 BILLION people worldwide, I’ll take those odds! They’re demonizing the decades of vaccines and the research scientists have done to invent them plus the fantastic success rates of eradicating some illnesses (measles was considered eradicated until these crazy people didn’t protect the herd and turned down vaccines and clusters of the disease were on an upswing in the US) on 1000 documented cases that may not have even been caused by vaccines? Don’t they think that the makers of these vaccines (because its all about profit) would have pulled them out if people were ending up with consequences and zillions of dollars was being paid out to damaged persons in lawsuits? Or become bankrupt from lawsuits? I, like you, will continue to trust the genius men and women who have invented vaccines that can render people immune to many terrible illnesses kids can get and have died or been left in with major consequences from UNTIL the scientific community tells us that they have found something so terrible has happened because of vaccines and they are discontinued. In 2020 we are facing a new virus, originating in China but now a global pandemic and I hope that when a vaccine is developed, these poorly informed antivaxers are refused it until everyone else has taken it and there’s any spare ones left. You can’t have it both ways. No vaccines wanted should be no vaccines wasted on those who think they are smarter than all of us, based on gossip and bs information and no real scientific proof of what they claim. Here’s a thought, maybe vaccines do cause brain damage (NO !) and the antivaxers are living proof because their “idiot” parents vaccinated them and somethings definately gone wrong with THEIR BRAINS. Isn’t it funny that the largest vaccinated group, the baby boomers, never had any issues after their vaccines? One would think that we all would have known someone, out of those millions, with damage. They need to open antivax schools and hospitals so our vaccinated kids don’t need to be exposed to this tiny population who would rather spread horrific disease than get a couple of needles and go on with their lives. Poor kids don’t stand a chance with parents like that and they don’t get a say in the matter. Stay healthy! My whole family did and now there’s 2 granddaughters who are the picture of health and vaccinated 100%.

    1. theuglytruthofbeingamom

      Thank you for sharing your’s and your mom’s story – it is quite incredible. And yes I really hope that the group who refuse vaccination get a wake-up call when it comes to Coronavirus when a vaccine is developed. But given some of what I have read online, they have already begun wailing about their human rights and the possibility of Coronavirus vaccines. As I said, there must be an island where those who dispute modern medicine and science can go and live and then we won’t have to fight over this anymore.

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