17 People On What It’s Like To Grow Up With Anti-Vaxxer Parents

The anti-vaxxer movement is one of the more annoying and tedious talking points spouted from all manner of political affiliates.  Apparently, being extremely misinformed about vaccines is more contagious than the things kids get vaccinated for.

A recent AskReddit thread prompted people who had grown up with anti-vaxxer parents but were vaccinated later in life to describe their experience. The responses ran the gamut — many of them were cautionary tales, and quite a few people seem to have a rocky relationship with their parents as a result.

Here are their stories:

17. strangeunluckyfetus’s username is sadly apt:

Mom got rubella when pregnant with me, as a result, I was born severely deaf so there ya go. Life’s not the best. Yall don’t be f**king stupid.

16. Arihagne’s parents eventually came to their senses (sort of):

My parents chose not to vaccinate my sister and me. They have some… unique ideas about science and medicine. We were also homeschooled, if that clarifies anything.

We both wound up volunteering at hospitals at different points in our lives, so we had to get caught up anyway. For me it was at age 20, for an internship at a mental health facility. It was a little awkward explaining to the nurse why I had nothing on my record, but she was understanding overall.

I did tell my parents, and I thought they would be really upset. They were for a little bit, but they also recognized that I’m an adult and it’s my choice… even if they think it’s a bad one. I think they were also more concerned about exposing me to anything when I was developing, versus now they figure my body can take whatever I put it through.

My big concern now is what will happen when I get around to having children of my own in a few years. I think they’ll see me as a bad mother if I get them vaccinated, so I’m anticipating some fireworks.

15. squeezymarmite apparently had some incredulous doctors:

I was not vaccinated as a child because my mother thought vaccines were evil, unchristian, and other ridiculous things. This was in the early 80s before all the autism-bs, but she had her own unique theories. I got myself vaccinated when I went to university. My mother was disappointed and wanted to write a letter to the school explaining her religious views on vaccines (as she had done for years to keep me exempt) but I decided to go with science.

The most amusing part was going to doctors trying to get childhood vaccines as an adult. One doctor didn’t even believe me. He actually laughed, What do you mean you need an MMR?! The doctor who eventually got me sorted had to look up a schedule and sort of wing it because it is something she had never dealt with before. We had a good laugh. (Though DTAP is no joke. That sh*t f**king hurts!) My mother was not happy but sort of conceded that getting vaccinated as an adult was less risky than as a baby or whatever.

14. roughnecktwozero’s mom was kind of a hypocrite:

My parents were anti-vaxxers before it was cool. Like in the 90s. Kinda that ex-hippie, alternative medicine crowd but still conservative somehow. Anyway, I got my EMT license a few years ago and they were like hey we see that you don’t have these vaccinations on your record. I had totally forgotten that I didn’t have these basic MMR type vacces. I said “Load me up with everything you can”. And now I’m a super hero.

They weren’t happy that I got them, but my mom also believed that red dye #40 and cows milk would give you cancer so I could never have that growing up. She got cancer at 67 anyway. Oh did I mention she’s a smoker too…. Yeah I dont really give a sh*t what they think.

13. guardian528 avoids the topic of vaccinations at Christmas:

I didn’t receive any vaccinations through childhood due to my parents beliefs. Once I got to college, I did my own research on them, learned the actual science behind them, and got all vaccinations in college. I then went to medical school, and yet they still don’t believe me and my medical degree regarding vaccinations. Holidays can get awkward.

12. Larktoothe’s brother now lives with the unfortunate consequences of not getting vaccinated:

My dad was the anti-vaxxer, my mom was mostly ambivalent. Neither my brother or I were vaccinated at birth, and I didn’t get my shots until I turned 19. My brother had to get a tetanus shot once when he was six, due to an injury. It burned my dad up for a while.

It was always a pain in the ass whenever we had to do school related paperwork or field trip stuff, because my parents would have to produce a letter stating that it was their “religious right” to keep us “untainted” by vaccination (we were never a religious family).

I wasn’t a super sickly child (with a few exceptions) but my younger brother suffered a lot. He got pneumonia when he was real little, like 3-4. They had to keep him in the hospital and I remember my dad taking care of me at home while my mom stayed in the room with my brother. About a year or two after that he got walking pneumonia, and again was hospitalized. He’s also allergic to damn near everything, and has bad asthma now. He has epilepsy, and we both have chronic migraines.

I never had anything seriously life threatening in terms of illness, but there was a nearly yearlong period where I had strep throat almost every other week. I should have had my tonsils out (they wanted to intubate me at one point but for whatever reason changed their minds?) but my dad threw a fit about having any surgeries performed. I also developed shingles when I was 13, which my father initially treated as poison ivy and left mostly untreated until my mother intervened. I still have little to no feeling on swatches of the left side of my body from the blister scars. That sucked.

11. Professor_Zolomon is one of the few who did have a bad reaction to vaccines:

My story actually starts out a bit different from most anti-vaxxer parents in that they were both pro-vaccine until I was about 3. As it turns out, I am one of the very unlucky few who had an anaphylactic reaction to the MMR vaccine. My uncle apparently had one too, so I think there’s a genetic factor. Anyways this turned my mom into a raging anti-vaxxer. My dad was never really against it thankfully, but it was my mom who got to make the medical decisions. When I was a kid, I believed what my mother told me and thought vaccines were bad too. But, when I went to university for biology, I actually learned how they worked and realised they weren’t the devils juice my mom made them out to be. Anyways, I just got the last of my shots done, except for MMR… still need bloodwork done to see if I need it. I have no idea what my mother thinks of it, or even if she knows I had them. We haven’t talked in 3 years, because on top of being an anti-vaxxer, she was quite abusive to me and I don’t need that kind of toxicity in my life.

Sad thing is, the battle’s not even done, since my current partner has two children with an anti-vaxxer mom who also has full control over their medical decisions. I swear, if I wasn’t afraid of getting arrested, I’d take them myself to get them vaxxed.

10. itsshamefulreally’s mom tried to pull some illegal sh*t to avoid having her daughter vaccinated:

When I was 19 I had to get some vaccines in order to start college and my mom was NOT helpful. First she tried to get me exempt from the vaccines and when that didn’t work she sent me into the clinic (alone) with completely false/outdated info. I was super embarrassed when the nurses looked at my notes and told me that none of it was correct. But luckily they helped me figure out what I needed and didn’t shame me too much for not having a previous vaccination record. A couple years later I went back in to get the rest of the recommended vaccines.

My sister had her first kid (and the first grand baby) last year and our mom has been pushing her not to vaccinate. Fortunately, my sister has chosen to vaccinate.

She still is trying to get us to watch a documentary about it to change our minds. Now all us kids just don’t talk to our mom about vaccines because it always turns into an argument.

9. bellend_bellend’s mom was probably just trying her best:

My mum didn’t get the measles vaccination because at the time she thought it caused autism; she was kinda one of the first anti-vaxers, wrote to papers about it everything.

Anyway, a girl in our social group caught meningitis and died, basically freakishly uncommon. After that, mum was really scared the same thing could happen to me with any disease and basically begged me to get up to date with my shots. I guess the main takeaway is that when my mum was younger, and inexperienced, she thought everything was a danger; she honestly thought she was doing best by me, I guess. Still has a bit of a problem trusting experts, though, if her reaction to the Charlie Gard case is anything to go by.

8. monroezabaleta sort of got their mom to see the light:

As soon as I turned 18 I got all of my vaccines up to date, my mother stopped after I was 7 or so. My dad didn’t agree with her but respected her wishes. After I got them updated through my dad’s health insurance she was annoyed about it but I eventually managed to explain hurd immunity to her, and also found enough sources calling that out the study that claimed vaccines cause autism that she finally admitted she was incorrect, but still won’t admit that vaccines aren’t bad for you, saying that they have too much Mercury in them.