Despite a fully established body of research conclusively proving that vaccines save lives, the anti-vaxxing movement continues to grow. The problem has gotten so severe that the World Health Organization (WHO) named “vaccine hesitancy” one of the top ten threats to global health in 2019.
One of the biggest myths surrounding vaccines is the claim that they cause autism. The misconception originated with a debunked 1997 study that linked the two together, but has since been consistently discredited “due to serious procedural errors, undisclosed financial conflicts of interest, and ethical violations.” Andrew Wakefield, the prestigious surgeon who published it, lost his medical license and the paper was retracted from The Lancet medical journal.
Since then, dozens of major studies found there was no link between vaccines and autism, some suggesting that autism develops in utero, before a child is even born.
And yet the popularity of the anti-vaxx movement barrels forward. This is due in no small part to celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, Alicia Silverstone, Selma Blair, and others preaching the anti-vaccine gospel on social media.
One of the latest to join these ranks is vegan makeup queen Kat Von D, who chose to share her decision not to vaccinate her kids on Instagram.
In turn, Twitter user Clementine posted a thread about her personal experience with vaccines. It has since gone viral.
in light of what @thekatvond said about vaccinations today, i feel that it's time for me to finally share my story about vaccines & my personal health. A THREAD:— blue speed mouse. (@clemfairie) June 8, 2018
If anyone had a right to espouse anti-vaccine views, that someone was Clementine. At just 14 years old, she underwent life-ruining side effects from the tetanus-diphtheria vaccine.
when i was 14, i received a tetanus-diphtheria vaccine as part of a routine physical. as a competitive swimmer, i was in fantastic shape. my health & my fitness were my life. i was strong, had amazing lung capacity, & rarely caught more than a cold. that changed overnight.— blue speed mouse. (@clemfairie) June 8, 2018
my arm tripled in size from the injection & was very painful. i started to have trouble breathing. then most of the muscles in my body stopped working. i developed pneumonia & was bedridden for approximately 6 months. i could barely move or breathe. i almost died.— blue speed mouse. (@clemfairie) June 8, 2018
As a result, Clementine developed pneumonia, was bedridden for half a year, was struck with random paralysis and atrophies muscles, and started having to use a wheelchair.
i began to struggle with random paralysis. breathing remained painful & difficult due to a mostly paralyzed diaphragm (which remained that way for 5 years). my muscles atrophied seemingly instantly. i began to exhibit stroke-like symptoms. i had to use a wheelchair.— blue speed mouse. (@clemfairie) June 8, 2018
it was a waking nightmare, made worse by the lack of a diagnosis. it took 2 years for us to find a name for my condition: guillain-barre syndrome, officially listed as a possible side-effect of the tetanus-diphtheria vaccine a whole year after i contracted it.— blue speed mouse. (@clemfairie) June 8, 2018
that vaccine, in many ways, destroyed my life. i will always have gbs & i will always have serious symptoms. i could relapse again at any time & there is nothing that any doctor can do for me. there is no treatment. this is my reality for the rest of my life.— blue speed mouse. (@clemfairie) June 8, 2018
After listing the ways in which the tetanus-diphtheria vaccine ruined her body, one would assume Clementine is adamantly anti-vaccines. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
so many would assume that i'm anti-vaccine. which is entirely, thoroughly, grossly incorrect. i am an unwavering supporter of vaccinations for every single person who can receive one. (that does not include immune-compromised individuals, which i also am.)— blue speed mouse. (@clemfairie) June 8, 2018
She realizes she is an outlier, and essentially writes that she is ok with “taking one for the team” if it means the “majority of people” can be healthy.
what happened to me has a literal one in a million chance of occurring. yes, i've suffered. i've suffered more than i can explain & i continue to suffer. but i'm the one in a million. i'm the outlying statistic that's a grim necessity for the majority of people to be healthy.— blue speed mouse. (@clemfairie) June 8, 2018
there is nothing in modern medicine that comes without risks. there's nothing in LIFE that comes without risks. i understand that & everyone else should too. there have to be people like me if the majority of people are going to stay safe & healthy. that's reality.— blue speed mouse. (@clemfairie) June 8, 2018
vaccines have done & continue to do so much good for the health of the general public. a few sad stories like mine don't change that. it hasn't changed it for me & it shouldn't change it for any of you.— blue speed mouse. (@clemfairie) June 8, 2018
She breaks down the crux of why anti-vaccinators are so selfish in a single tweet:
when you don't get vaccinated, you put at risk the lives of all of the people like me who CAN'T be vaccinated. you are literally playing russian roulette with OUR lives because you're nervous about a one in a million statistic. that's beyond selfish & there's no excuse.— blue speed mouse. (@clemfairie) June 8, 2018
keep the public healthy & safe. keep US healthy & safe. get vaccinated. get your children vaccinated. stop listening to conspiracy theories & look at actual statistics. think about the people with cancer & serious auto-immune illnesses that a lack of vaccinations puts at risk.— blue speed mouse. (@clemfairie) June 8, 2018
Vaccinating yourself and your children is hands-down The Right Thing To Do.
do the right thing--the socially conscious & caring thing--& get vaccinated. thank you.— blue speed mouse. (@clemfairie) June 8, 2018
(also, it's better for your health & your children's health, anyway. in case caring for the general public isn't your thing. again, statistics. read them.)— blue speed mouse. (@clemfairie) June 8, 2018
People on Twitter applauded Clementine for her bravery in sharing her debilitating experience, and with her selfless outlook on vaccination.
that is so sweet, thank you. it really did come straight from the heart, as this is an issue that concerns me deeply. i just want people to have the right information so that the general public can stay safe from these awful diseases.— blue speed mouse. (@clemfairie) June 9, 2018
I'm so glad this thread went in the direction it did. I'm so, so sorry for your suffering. But I'm so thankful that there are people like you, who through their struggle, can see the worth still. I hope your health remains as strong as your voice ?— robyn? (@robynyourbank) June 8, 2018
Thank you for sharing, and for seeing past your own suffering to the greater good vaccines can do for us all, especially for those who can NOT get vaccinated.— Neorotoxin (@Neorotoxin) June 8, 2018
My God thank you for this, everyone should read it and understand how important vaccines are. If they don’t just go to YouTube and listen to an infant with whooping cough. Vaccines are important not just you but herd immunity and is now things like polio are only in text books— Nate (@TheNate473) June 9, 2018
this went in a direction I didn’t expect and it blows me away that out of everyone who could have an actual reason to be wary of vaccinations, you still chose to strongly support the practice. You’re an incredible person, and reading this just demonstrates how much you care.— Tori (@_vaticinal) June 9, 2018
Thank you for sharing your story ?. People need to hear it. There is so much false information and pseudoscience regarding immunizations. As a cancer survivor, I appreciate you sharing ?. My family gets the flu shot every year because they know how important it is ?— Krista the Kuppiecake (@KupcakeCherry) June 9, 2018
You are amazing!!! Yes vaccines have a risk, but so does getting in and of a tub daily, crossing the street or driving to work yet we all do these things every day without a second thought. You went through hell and back yet you— Marcia Greco Collins (@emica5307) June 9, 2018
Other folks who were also living with a compromised immune system also chimed in:
Thank you for sharing your story ? people (like me) who are immune compromised RELY on people getting their vaccines. Thank you for spreading the word ?— Emily Gunn ? (@EmGGunns) June 9, 2018
i PRAY people make the correct decision to vaccinate. i rely on herd immunity. people like us need healthy people to remain healthy, to take the precautions. i wish i could contribute and i do when possible.— elle (@mitsurutenma) June 10, 2018
Clementine’s Twitter thread should be read by every single anti-vaxxer, and especially those with compromised immunity because these folks RELY on herd immunity. It takes strength and compassion to think the way Clementine thinks. Be like Clementine.