She grew up in a farm in Northeastern Argentina, one of the country’s poorest regions. She had a tough life; she went to school for 2 years, then she was off to work in the chacra (farm). At some point, her gambling father (whom she loathed) lost the chacra and they moved to a town on the border with Brazil, where she worked as a cleaner. She was not illiterate –she used to read before going to bed- but she wouldn’t have been considered an educated person in any time period.
She told me this story:
“Vaccination arrived to town when Roberto was a child. Back then polio was ravaging the cities and many children were left crippled. Some women of the town didn’t want to vaccinate their children; it was rumoured that the vaccine itself caused polio and that it was a government’s conspiracy (A military junta had just deposed General Peron, husband and Argentina’s most beloved tyrant). I spoke to the Dr (Like many people of her condition she had great respect for the title “doctor”). The Dr told me: ‘don’t pay attention to those ignorant people; go and vaccinate Roberto now; it is the best thing you can do for him'” -So she did.
Several of the town’s children contracted polio later that year in 1956, but my father was alright. My grandmother was proud of not having paid attention to the town’s folk; so proud, that she thought the story worth telling to her grandson 30 years later. I don’t remember why she told me this story, but I remembered the story and its message quite well: don’t listen to the ignorant; listen to people who know.
Sometimes too much information is unnecessary. I have decided not to waste your time explaining how vaccines work; we all learned that at school (I think). Nor will I talk about . My Grandmother’s story is much more concise: Listen to those who know, to those who dedicated their lives to save lives, to the doctors. Why to pay attention to anybody else? What does some mum (or an actress) know? Don’t follow the advice of isolated, swivel-eyed, “TV-doctors” either. Ask your GP or follow the advice of the World Health Organization: vaccines are safe, and they can save your child much suffering.
It is regrettable that ignorant conspiracy theories about vaccines have made such comeback. They have brought back diseases that we had almost eradicated two generations ago. I consider this to be a stain on modern Western society. It enrages me especially because everyone is supposed to be much more educated than grandma Pocha; now in Heaven, she must be struggling to understand what went wrong.