I was reading an article the other day about some crazy anti-vaccine people (particularly those that claim a link between vaccination and autism – the comments section had plenty of those). Why do I call them crazy? They take the side of non-scientific and even anti-scientific ideas.
For starters, the idea that vaccination caused autism started with a paper that was later retracted in full. The paper referred only to the MMR vaccine. Subsequent studies and reviews of the paper indicate that the lead author of the article had numerous conflicts of interest and manipulated data. No other scientific study or paper has found a link between vaccines and autism. It’s dangerous to persist in thinking that vaccinating children causes autism.
Why is it dangerous? Not vaccinating children leads to a reduction in herd immunity. Herd immunity is the force that prevents outbreaks of disease. Vaccination disrupts “chains of infection,” so even very small numbers of individuals who were not vaccinated may be protected. I’m not going to try to explain further, but know that the lower the vaccination rate, the less herd immunity can be relied upon to prevent outbreaks.
Not vaccinating your children is dangerous from more than just a public health perspective.
“Many scientific and medical research studies have found that individuals who exercise religious and/or philosophical exemptions are at a greater risk of contracting infections, which put themselves and their communities at risk.”
Not only do anti-vaccination beliefs jeopardize the community, they put the unvaccinated children at serious risk of injury or death.
I found the resources on historyofvaccines.org to be compelling, well-researched and reasonable. I particularly like their analysis of the ethical issues of vaccination and their history of the vaccination schedule complete with plenty of statistics that demonstrate just how amazing are the effects of vaccination.