It has been said that some people are destined to die stupid.
If you take the Pacific Highway six and a half hours north from Sydney, you’ll reach the mid-north coast. Just before Coffs Harbour, if you veer off the highway and aim dead west you’ll pass through a sprinkling of towns. My mother is the GP at one such small town. She doesn’t do it for the scant money, but because she loves her patients.
But of late, this love has been tested by a silent killer. The mid-north coast of NSW may well be a microcosmic Petri dish for this disease, but is by no means alone. Cities across the developed world have also fallen prey to this stealth assassin. Scientists, feverishly working to gain control of this outbreak, have identified the following predisposing factors: living in the first-world and access to the internet. If you’re in this group and want to be tested, don't worry – you are home safe because you have not presented with another critical sign: pigheaded refusal to heed (western) medical advice.
What renders this disease unique is its displaced transmission: the full physical brunt is passed onto the hosts’ children (names such as Dantay, Storm and Anarchy have been correlated with higher incidence), while stupidity and paranoia actually bolster within the adult hosts themselves. The name of this condition is Purposeful Rejection of Immunisation in Kids (or PRIK), but it also overlaps with other disorders, such as Kyle Sandilands.
The first clues can be gleaned in the clinic itself. A toddler, deviously put forward as the subject in need of medical attention, is given an examination. The doctor will then request the child’s immunisation history. Alarm bells should ring if the adult displays any of the following: ignorance, confabulation, and the production of internet print-outs. The latter all look cute and eco-friendly - colonic irrigation is good for the self-starter - but take a darker hue when you actually begin to read the articles. Closer examination will reveal paranoia, moral panic and purported evidence of a grand conspiracy between governments, doctors and drug companies.
However, wingnuttery’s full force is always unleashed on the same topic: vaccination. Vaccinations cause dangerous side effects. Vaccinations don’t work. There’s the claimed link between vaccination and autism, debunked so many times that wearing a tinfoil hat whilst dancing the Macarena actually begins to feel life-affirming.
My mother encountered a well-meaning PRIK who had deprived her daughter of vaccinations. Sure as eggs, the child contracted whooping cough and recovered normally due to herd immunity (their chances of getting sick was lessened due to the sense of responsibility of the immunised majority). When the parent was gently pressed over the fact that her actions could conceivably have killed a baby, even a partially immunised one with whom her child had come in contact, a response was not forthcoming. It later turned out that a huge number of children at her kids’ school became afflicted with whooping cough, the end-of-year festivities had to be cancelled, and, most tragically, a child with a disability was robbed of his first big chance to perform on stage. There is a conspiracy here, but it’s not Zionists, Freemasons or NASA goblins – it’s called the cult of the individual.
I suppose there’s even a chance that some PRIKs are reading this article right now. I’ll let them off the hook for a bit. Nobody likes reading scientific studies. Unlike headlines, they’re not even remotely sensational. Science is ball-busting, bleary-eyed work with lots of numbers and digits and words like hypovitaminosises and subacute sclerosing pan encephalitis that are beyond most people’s comprehension. As a result, science is best left to the scientists. As well as the luminaries who make the discoveries, there are also other scientists who pore over every corpuscle of data to make sure there’s no margin for error. This is called peer review. PRIKs really like glossing over this stuff because it’s way more exciting to say that crystals will stop your kids from getting sick, or that Aunt Daphne died at age 95 and was a PRIK all her life.
But it’s never too late to get informed. Take a science class. Read a book (not titled Melanie’s Marvellous Measles). Go and visit a cemetery, littered with the graves of those who died prematurely due to childhood infective diseases.
Best of all, consult some statistics. Whereas once a mother needed to give birth to 15 children just to ensure three or four of them survived to adulthood, now we've been given the ultimate defensive weapon – an ability to fight the organism by building up antibodies. This is the essence of vaccination.
Yes, we’re all gonna die. But you don’t have to take others out while being a real PRIK.
This article first appeared on Daily Life.