The Dangers of Anti-Vaccination

August 8, 2017 Hunter Zahedi

In the age of internet health fads and an almost purposeful desire not to do research on the actual effects of these fads, it is no surprise that the “anti-vaxxer” movement has caught so much steam. We cannot stress enough how dangerous this is. According to the Pew Research Center, 30% of Americans believe that vaccines should be a matter of parental choice, in opposition to 13% of scientists. Their argument originates from a British physician named Andrew Wakefield that in 1998 claimed a direct connection between autism and the MMR vaccine, or the cure for mumps, measles, and rubella. Ironically, Wakefield was not only applying for a patent for a replacement measles vaccine, but was also being funded by lawyers that represented the parents of autistic children who erroneously accused their children's conditions on the MMR vaccine. His research was later accused of being forged due to its inconsistency with connected hospital records.

 

Luckily, these numbers are not yet low enough to breach “herd-immunity”, or the amount of people that need to be vaccinated from an infectious disease in order to keep it from spreading through a community. Despite scientific evidence to the contrary, it does not stop public figures such as Jenny McCarthy, Charlie Sheen, Kirstie Alley, Rob Schneider, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie from spreading doubt amongst parents that are concerned for the wellbeing of their children. The new argument, instead of a link between autism and gastrointestinal disease immunizations, is the presence of a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal in many multi-dose vials or inactivated vaccines. While mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin, the effects of mercury poisoning are a far cry from the symptoms of autism disorders. Thimerosal, in fact, is needed in these vaccines in order to prevent bacterial contamination, which is an a very serious threat to the lives of the vaccinated. It should also be noted that since 2002, the United States government mandated to drastically reduce the levels of thimerosal in vaccines to be almost negligible.

 

It is absolutely crucial for parents to make informed decisions about their children’s health care and not to act on hearsay. Immunization is not the Atkin's diet or a juice cleanse. Immunization is what keeps us from seeing another outbreak of the Polio virus that crippled 35,000 Americans annually in the 1940’s and 1950’s. It’s what keeps your child safe from smallpox, which killed three out of every ten of its victims and left the survivors covered in horrific scarring before it was declared to be eradicated in 1980. Medical myths can be a massive danger to the ill-informed, which is what makes National Immunization Awareness Month so important. Whenever you hear a friend, family member, or even a stranger claim that vaccines are dangerous or even unnecessary, make sure to set the record straight.  

 

Here is a list of vaccinations and when your child should receive them:

  • HePB - Hepatitis B

  • RV - Rotavirus

  • DTaP - Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

  • Hib - Haemophilus Influenzae

  • PCV - Pneumococcal Disease

  • IPV - Polio

  • Influenza - Flu

  • MMR - Measles, Mumps, and Rubella

  • Varicella - Chickenpox

  • HepA - Hepatitis A

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