The Inherent Dangers of the Anti-Vaccination Movement
There has a trend growing in momentum over the past decade. The rise of misinformation and alternative medicine has been increasing and the rejection of science based modern medicine has been gaining unwanted momentum. The most profound and dangerous of examples is the rejection on vaccine uptake. As we know vaccines work by stimulating our immune system to produce antibodies (substances produced by the body to fight disease) without actually infecting us with the disease. They trigger the immune system to produce its own antibodies, as though the body has been infected with a disease. There have been many factors leading to this decline in vaccine uptake. A great deal of this has a lot to do with celebrities endorsing fallacious claims and Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Oz back in the early 2000’s who brought on to their T.V. shows, a former British Gastroenterologist named Andrew Wakfeild.
Andrew Wakfeild had published a study in The Lancet in 1998 that tried to show the correlation between the MMR Vaccine and the onset of autism in children. After the publication of the paper, other researchers were unable to reproduce Wakefield’s findings or confirm his hypothesis of an association between the MMR vaccine and autism, or autism and gastrointestinal disease. A 2004 investigation by Sunday Times reporter Brian Deer identified undisclosed financial conflicts of interest on Wakefield’s part, and most of his co-authors then withdrew their support for the study’s interpretations. The British General Medical Council (GMC) conducted an inquiry into allegations of misconduct against Wakefield and two former colleagues.
The investigation centered on Deer’s numerous findings, including that children with autism were subjected to unnecessary invasive medical procedures, such as colonoscopy and lumbar puncture, and that Wakefield acted without the required ethical approval from an institutional review board. On 8 February 2009, Brian Deer reported in The Sunday Times that Wakefield had “fixed” results and “manipulated” patient data in his 1998 paper, creating the appearance of a link with autism.
When he was discredited instead of withdrawing and going back to his practice, he decided to contact the Oprah Winfrey show to get his 15 minutes of fame. Andrew Wakfeild subsequently lost his license to practice for doing this, but in this wake, caused wide spread panic and paranoia across the globe.
Like a wild fire people with no scientific or medical backgrounds started fear mongering against vaccines with no evidence to back up said claims. Famous people like Jenny McCarthy (who should know better), and Jim Carrey started activist movements that were anti-scientific and fear mongered to the public, feeding into this delusion and nonsense. Anything you could think of was used as a weapon of fear, from claiming Thimersal and Mercury found in vaccines were also causing ASD in children or that even the vaccine killed more people then it saved, of course with no supporting evidence to said claims.
This has now lead to the reappearance of what was thought to be nearly eradicated diseases in modern society. Measles and Pertussis have made a come back due to non vaccine adherence and because of this people who are immunocompromised, the young, and the elderly are at even higher risk to mortality to these diseases since there is no herd immunity to protect them. In addition to this, new fears of almost unheard of diseases may also make a comeback; polio and meningitis are two very deadly and virulent diseases that could also make a sweeping comeback as well if this particular trend keeps going.
Also new and dangerous alternative medicine nostrums like homeopathic vaccines are being pushed and puts the gullible, misinformed and/or uneducated at an even higher risk. When the hysteria of the Ebola outbreak occurred, this form of quackery was quick to appear. People desperate for treatment to protect their loved ones were sold effectively water in a syringe.
So with all this going on, the question must be asked, “what will it take for people to come to their senses?” When the Disneyland outbreak of Measles occurred, people were still unchanged and even showed a sort of selfishness. “I’m not going to vaccinate my children and risk their health, who care’s if you’re already vulnerable (kid) family member get’s sick and dies because my kid gave your kid (or family member) measles, it’s not going to kill my kids, I’ll take my chances.”
So here are some numbers from the CDC in the United States alone, From June 3rd 2007 to May 9th 2015 there have been 149,957 reported hospitalizations and 9,020 deaths due to vaccine preventable diseases. Even with all the evidence and scientific studies to show the efficacy of vaccines and the number of deaths every year, some how people remain unchanged. So again one must ask the question, “how bad will this have to get; what will it take for people to finally realize that what they are doing or more accurately not doing, is dangerous, what is it going to take and will it too late by then?”
Chen R, Destefano F. Vaccine adverse events: causal or coincidental? The Lancet 1998; Vol 351: 611-12
Fombonne E. Inflammatory bowel disease and autism, The Lancet: Research Letters 1998; Vol 351: 955.
Elliman D, Bedford H, Miller E. MMR vaccine: Worries are not justified. Archives of Disease in Childhood 2001; 85:271-4.
Summary: A review of evidence on MMR to date by Elliman and Bedford. It concluded that there is neither experience nor research evidence for giving the triple vaccine separately anywhere in the world. There is no case for introducing single vaccines and worries over MMR are unjustified.
World Health Organization (2001). Statement on the use of MMR vaccine 24 January 2001
Summary: The World Health Organization (WHO) released its view of the evidence regarding the safety of the MMR vaccine. It stated: ‘WHO strongly endorses the use of MMR vaccine on the grounds of its convincing record of safety and efficacy. The combination vaccine is recommended rather than the monovalent presentation when available and the disease burden justifies its use. There has been no new scientific evidence that would suggest impaired safety of MMR. On the contrary, all results from vaccine trials published reaffirm the high safety of MMR vaccine.’
Madsen KM, et al. A population-based study of measles, mumps and rubella vaccination and autism. New England Journal of Medicine 2002; 347: 1477-82.
Summary: A retrospective cohort study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reviewed over 500,000 children born in Denmark. The main objective of this study was to evaluate whether there was an association between MMR vaccine and autism. This paper concluded ‘This study provides strong evidence against the hypothesis that MMR vaccination causes autism.’
Mrozek-Budzyn D; Kieltyka A; Majewska R Lack of Association Between Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination and Autism in Children: A Case-Control Study. The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal: 1 December 2009. doi: 10.1097/INF.0b013e3181c40a8a