So yesterday I wrote this other diary. My general intent was to express dismay that people here are so intolerant of anyone who decides not to vaccinate, or even is hesitant about vaccinating, his or her children.

The response was roughly what I expected. (Although I didn't expect to be compared to a proponent of gay conversion therapy; that was a level of ignorance and belligerence that actually surprised me.)

So now below the fold I'm going to give an example vaccination decision that I had to make in my life. Anyone who wishes to do so can explain to me in the comments how your simple, unified 'anti-anti-vaxxer' theory would have applied.

Several hours after my child was born --- a normal, healthy baby, by any metric --- a nurse came into the hospital room to inject him with a hepatitis B vaccine.

My spouse and I had both been tested for hepatitis B earlier in the pregnancy, as part of a general panel of blood tests; there were no particular risk factors. Both tests came back negative, to no one's surprise. Neither my spouse nor I had taken up intravenous drug use or risky sexual behavior in the intervening months.

So there we were, exhausted from 28 hours of labor plus the first few hours of this child's life. I did have the presence of mind to ask what the nurse was about to do, and she told me.

I asked for more clarification. Was there something they knew that we didn't? Was there some reason to expect that the child had contracted, or would risk contracting, hepatitis B in the near future?

No, no. Just hospital protocol, we were told. Unless we wanted to refuse the vaccination and sign a waiver...?

I signed the waiver.

Now you can tell me that I am an 'anti-vaxxer', or that my action was tantamount to supporting gay conversion therapy. You can tell me that I'm 'anti-science' (although my credentials would compare favorably with anyone's on this site). You can tell me that I put my child's health at risk by not allowing the vaccine.

I will tell you that the very purpose of a vaccine is to simulate a previous immune response against a disease. It's not a magic ring of protection. It's something that, by design, causes a significant physiological event in the body of the recipient.

And I will tell you that I saw no reason to trigger such an event in the hours-old, 9.5 pound body of my child. In exchange for immunity against hepatitis B.

Here's what's going to happen in the comments.

Some of you are going to be suspicious of the story... did it really happen? Am I some kind of shady character, that gave them a reason to suspect that my child was at risk for hepatitis B?

Some of you are going to tell me I should have let her inject my child, and that it's ridiculous ever to doubt the safety or efficacy of a current medical protocol.

Some of you are going to notice that your belligerent, one-size-fits-all, no-need-to-think approach to vaccination --- your 'anti-anti-vaxxer' position --- comes up against an interesting corner case here. You'll try to salvage it by telling me something like, "Oh, that situation doesn't count as being anti-vax... now, if it were measles, then of course you're a degenerate child abuser," or some such.

And to this last cohort of people I would say: there are more of these corner cases than you realize. The policies you would enforce --- if only you were in charge! --- would incur a great deal of unnecessary risk in a great deal of idiotic situations, for no particular benefit to anyone.

Life isn't as clear-cut as you might like it to be.

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