If you had a neighbor who was anti-vaccination, would you want to know about it?
As Mamamia reports, a letter circulated by an anonymous writer called “Concerned Moms of Wisconsin” informed residents of a Wisconsin community that one of their neighbors wasn’t vaccinating her children.
The letter, which included the anti-vaxx mom’s name, was later posted on Imgur.
“Dear Resident,” it began. “Your neighbor, [name redacted], does not believe in vaccinating herself or her family. This puts anyone at risk if they are medically fragile, immunocompromised, or out of date in their vaccinations.”
The letter went on to warn the reader about the consequences of the mom’s choice:
Please use caution when sharing work or personal space with this individual, eating foods prepared by this individual, or attending gatherings at this individual’s house if you or the people who are important to you fall into medically at-risk categories. The unvaccinated pose a unique threat to infants, who often don’t yet have a full course of vaccinations completed, and can quickly become deathly ill or die.
This is followed by a list of states that have had outbreaks of disease, adding that “nearly all outbreaks of disease were started by unvaccinated individuals, who pass along vaccine-preventable diseases to those without adequate protection.”
The letter ended with a link to a site tracking outbreaks and deaths due to vaccine-preventable diseases. It added:
People who don’t believe in vaccines often hold other views that are at odds with widely accepted facts related to science and medicine. Protect yourself, your family, and your community by using caution when interacting with these people.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes that some parents have expressed fears about the safety of vaccines in general and the MMR vaccine in particular. To demonstrate that vaccines are “extraordinarily safe,” the AAP offers an exhaustive table of scientific studies that refute claims about the dangers of vaccines:
Research has been conducted on all of these topics, and the studies continue to find vaccines to be a safe and effective way to prevent serious disease.
The question of whether the anonymous letter targeting the anti-vaxx mom was justified prompted a debate on social media.
On Mamamia’s Facebook page, several commenters praised the anonymous letter writer and characterized the letter as a good deed for public health.
“Good!,” one commenter wrote. “If someone is going to make the choice to not vaccinate when they can, and should, they deserve to be known and avoided.”
Another agreed that it was fair to name the anti-vaccination mom.
“If you don’t want to vax because you wear a tin foil hat, you believe the rubbish spouted by the anti-vaxx movement, and are against ‘big pharma,’ then yes, you should be known to those around you so they can be cautious,” they wrote.
One mom wrote that this kind of information would be very useful to her family:
Great work mumma’s! My son had leukemia as a toddler and god forbid if he came into contact with any other diseases.
However, there were others who, despite agreeing that vaccinations were important, had reservations about the “name and shame” tactics employed in the letter.
“I agree with everything in this,” one commenter wrote on Imgur, “but bloody hell, have the courage and decency to sign your own name to a letter you write.”
Another expressed concerns about the attitude behind the letter.
“I understand ‘the goal’ of this, but it seems like it could quickly devolve into an unsubstantiated witch-hunt,” they added.
In fact, the reporting and outing aspect of the letter left several commenters uncomfortable. As one person put it:
Antivaxxers suck, but I don’t like the neighborhood commissar aspect of this.
What do you think? Are the anti-vaxx mom’s neighbors entitled to know that she and her children aren’t vaccinated against disease? Or did the anonymous letter writer go too far?