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Public Isn’t Here For Your Delayed-Vaxxing Excuses

Photograph by Getty Images

No matter where you come down on vaccines for preventable childhood illnesses, it's kids who are the ones at risk. Their chance of catching the measles from a non-vaccinated child is far greater than suffering from a severe (and rare) allergic reaction caused by vaccination in most cases.

(Their chance of developing autism due to vaccines are basically zero, since vaccines do not cause autism.)

Despite the safety and efficacy of immunizations for healthy children, there are still parents out there who go ahead and put us all at risk by refusing to bring their kids to the doctor's office to get caught up on these routines shots.

And the public is judging the moms of these kids—pretty harshly and with some amount of disdain left over for other moms who aren't quite with the program.

A University of British Columbia study, published in Social Science and Medicine earlier this month, examined attitudes toward children who haven't received all their vaccinations and their parents. What they found was pretty telling.

The amount of judgment corresponds with just how unvaccinated the child is and why.

"How under-vaccinated children and their parents are viewed by others heavily depends on the reasons why the child hasn't been vaccinated," Richard Carpiano, the study's lead author, and UBC sociology professor, said. "If the parent has simply refused vaccines, we found that people view them more negatively than if the parent delayed some vaccines because of safety concerns or if they didn't have time because of work or family demands."

So the public tends to give a little leeway for effort and acknowledgment that vaccines are necessary in healthy kids. The public rejects, however, hardcore non-vaxxers.

Here's how the study worked: Participants were given four scenarios (using data collected from an online survey conducted in 2015) and asked questions that measured their attitudes—such as blame toward the mother if the child or others became sick—and how willing respondents would be to make friends with the mother or let their kids socialize with the under-vaccinated child.

(Note: If you're wondering why women were singled out, its because researchers wanted the focus to be on the primary decision-makers of children's health—otherwise known as mom.)

Respondents were quick to discredit both the parent and their under-vaccinated child, regardless of the reason they weren't up-to-date on vaccinations.

In the first scenario, the mother had concerns about vaccinations and refused to immunize her child. The second mom had similar concerns but elected to delay her child's vaccinations. A third scenario involved a mother who had no concerns over vaccinations, but her job and family demands made it difficult to stay up-to-date with medical appointments. In the final scenario—the control group—the mother in question had zero concerns and remained current on all vaccinations.

After reading each scenario, survey respondents were asked questions that measured attitudes such as blame toward the mother if the child or others became sick, and how willing they would be to make friends with a mother and/or let their children socialize with the under-vaccinated child.

The results? Respondents were quick to discredit both the parent and their under-vaccinated child, regardless of the reason they weren't up-to-date on vaccinations. However, they viewed parents and children who reject all vaccines most negatively.

The judge-y respondents also supported public policies that aim to boost vaccination rates and/or ban under-vaccinated children from school. Apparently, the public in general thinks vaccines are a good thing for everybody. So while they cut slack for busy moms who haven't had time to make an appointment or get the kids in, they still don't want to hang until she gets that crossed off the list.

That's great news for parents of vaccinated children but not so much for those immunization Nazi's who remain loyal to hypothetical wisdom. #sorrynotsorry

Lucky for them, they don’t live in Germany where fines for not vaccinating children are on the rise and public outrage is at an all-time high.

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