“It’s my choice to not vaccinate my kids.”

It shouldn’t be.

Everyone talks about the right to choose. The right to choose about your reproductive care, the right to choose about your end of life care, and the right to choose about your child’s vaccines. The problem with the last one is you’re making a choice for someone else, which is, of course, the whole premise of parenting. But this choice is not only putting your child at risk, but other children at risk. So, now, you are again making a choice for someone else, but not under the guise of parenting, and you are doing it against their will.

We have no trouble accepting all sorts of other things that help keep children safe that are recommended, such as putting infants to sleep on their backs, or measures that are mandated, such as car seats. Why are vaccines any different? Why is the science and research of car seat safety accepted, but not vaccine safety? Is it because of incorrect information being spread on social media along with the perceived right to make decisions based on what you, or a popular celebrity, “think” is accurate? Or is it the new direction our society seems to have gone in with a “look out for No. 1” attitude?

I believe it is all of these reasons, and more.

Memes on social media poke fun at this phenomenon: “When the CDC says to throw out your romaine lettuce everyone takes it as gospel, yet when the same agency tells you that vaccines save lives, they are part of the Illuminati?” It is a meme designed to make people laugh but at the same time, it should make people think. Why do people believe the CDC is telling the truth about one thing and not the other? Why is food safety more believable than vaccine safety? Because, as in everything else, our society picks and chooses what it wants to believe. The problem is, just because you don’t believe in something, it doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

Parents are responsible for raising a child to adulthood and making choices for them that will impact the rest of their life. You do have the right to choose not to vaccinate your child and expose them to preventable diseases. You don’t have the right to make that choice for someone else’s child.