what would you do?
The more I read about smallpox, the less I know. It will either spread like wildfire and we'll all be dead within days, or only one out of every three people will die from it and the rest will recover. Or anything in between. Or it's the vaccine that will kill you, not the disease, or the vaccine is good, but not for people under 18.
Bush is planning on making the vaccines available to everyone, starting with military personnel and health care workers. In some cities, preparations are already in full swing. It all sounds very ominous to me, but I've been known to make mountains out of molehills.
Bill Quick brought up an interesting point in his post about smallpox last night. He links to an ABC news article about the side effects of the smallpox vaccine which states that "many doctors believe people under 18 should not be vaccinated unless there is a real health emergency." Bill then poses the question:
How many parents will go along with the notion of getting vacinnated themselves, but leaving their children unprotected?
My response in his comments:
I was just writing a post about this very thing. I would never get vaccinated if my kids couldn't. I'd rather suffer with them.
That said - and I know this will sound morbid and horrible to those that don't have kids - but if we were hit by smallpox and it was inevitable that it would strike us all, I would kill my kids in their sleep rather than make them go through the horror of dying from smallpox.
This is not a thought I just threw out there. It's something that I, as a card-carrying pessimist, have thought about plenty of times before.
A few years ago, I re-read Stephen King's The Stand. The first time I read it, I didn't have any children and I though the idea of armageddon and the ensuing post-apocalyptic world was fascinating. I still think it's fascinating, just not cool.
When I read the book again, all sorts of dark thoughts went through my head. War, disease, radiation, chemical and biological warfare. What would I do if something like that was imminent? How would I handle it with my children? I even played out a scenario in my head about an earthquake in the ocean and a tidal wave coming to wipe out Long Island, bringing death to us all. What would I do?
And the answer was simple. If I knew that we were all destined to die some horrible death; that some wretched, painful disease was going to strike us all within days, or a poison gas or chemical that would cause us to all go insane and die in a short matter of time, the choice would be clear. I would kill my children, and then myself, rather than make them go through that. I couldn't imagine sitting there, cradling my child in my arms while he erupted in festering sores, or watching my daughter suffer as her airways closed up and not being able to do anything - or dying in front of them myself.
I had it all planned out. I would give them a hefty dose of NyQuil or something similar to make them fall asleep, and then I would suffocate them while they slept, sparing them from the misery of watching themselves die, of the pain that would come with whatever fate awaited us. And then I would kill myself.
Morbid, yes. I know. But I can see no other way I would deal with it.
To answer Bill's question, I would not get the vaccine if my children couldn't. Even if children under 18 could somehow get vaccinated, Natalie still wouldn't be eligible because the experts say that people with eczema should not get the vaccine because a side effect would be...death.
I don't know how remote the chances of us being struck with a smallpox epidemic are. But all the news coming out about vaccines and preparations worries me.
I try not to let it weigh too heavily on my thoughts. After all, I do have other child-related things to worry about; there's school projects and Christmas shopping and birthday parties to deal with and I prepare for each of them as if tomorrow will always come, and it will come without disease or chemicals being released into our air. I can't spend my days worrying about tidal waves and earthquakes and crazed dictators. That's what 3am is for.
But I will tell you that the more I read and the more I hear and the more I see, the more pronounced that shiver up my spine gets. And it frightens me to no end that I have already made the decision that I would rather let my children die at the hands of their mother than at the hands of terrorism.
*Update* N.Z. Bear has an eerily similar post