Why can’t they face the truth?
How many studies do you have to throw at the vaccine hysterics before they quit? How much of a scientific consensus and how many impeachable experts must you present?
That’s a trick question, of course. There’s no magic number. And that’s because the anti-vaccine crowd (or anti-vaxxers) are not interested in anything concrete, mundane and accurate as facts. They’re not really engaged in a debate about medicine. They’re immersed in a world of dark conspiracies, in the dark shadows where no data can be trusted, nothing is what it seems and those who buy the party line are just poor sheep.
And, boy are they living at the right time, when so much information and even more misinformation is just a click away on google. No matter what you believe, you can find some arbitrary site out there that will reinforce your views. Then you have the unlimited ability to anonymously spread all this disinformation on twitter, Facebook, Instagram and all the rest of the social media platforms.
As I write this story, there are measles outbreaks all over the world. A boy in Oregon almost died from whooping cough. Why are these anti-vaxxers so intent on living in a new world in which 50 to 100 million people could die each year from smallpox, chickenpox, diphtheria, whooping cough, red and German measles, mumps and polio?
They believe, or think that they believe that vaccines for all of the above diseases cause children to develop autism. Nothing could be farther from the truth and this whole conspiracy theory started with a man named Andrew Wakefield. He was a physician who in 1998 published papers in the Lancet, a British medical journal that supposedly proved that the current M.M.R (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine caused children to develop autism. He did this because he was developing his own version of the M.M.R vaccine and wanted to sell his in place of the existing vaccine. He was soon found out to be a fraud. His articles were removed from the British Medical Journal Lancet and his license to practise medicine was revoked. These are the hard facts and yet the anti-vaxxers believe his original claims and not the multitudes of scientists that later proved him to be a hoax.
Again and again, until blue in the face, medical authorities have debunked the renegade assertion that there’s a link between the M.M.R. vaccine and autism. Just this year a group of Danish researchers did a study that involved over 650,000 children and actually found a higher rate of autism in children that were not vaccinated. This study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and published March 5 of this year. (https:/./annals.org/aim/article-abstract/2727726/measles-mumps-rubella-vaccination-autism-nationwide-cohort-study)
Autism is an inherited genetic condition. It becomes very obvious when you see families with two or more autistic children. If this was a random disease affecting a miniscule population what are the odds of having two autistic children in the same family?
But even you accept the arguments put forth by anti-vaxxers, the criteria for any vaccine is benefits versus risks. The risk of death by vaccination is approximately 1 in 10million; about the same chances in winning LottoMax or the 649 lottery. But the benefit to moms and dads to have healthy children who are not killed or paralyzed by disease is immeasurable. I was stricken by Polio when I was ten years old and I am so thankful to Dr. Jonas Salk and the Salk vaccine for saving all the future generations from going through the terror of that disease when I was a child.
But being an anti-vaxxer does not have to be black and white. I am in favour of all the childhood vaccines given at the appropriate ages for maximum benefit. However I think that the flu vaccine is useless and a cash grab. I was against the original shingles vaccine but did a turnabout when the new shingles vaccine was shown to be 95% effective. Cervical cancer used to be a deadly killer however, when the birth control pill was introduced the incidence of cervical cancer dropped by 80 per cent because of the Pap test. Do we really have to vaccinate young girls with the HPV vaccine in an era in which as soon as squamous cells show up on a Pap test they are destroyed with one laser treatment? The vaccine is only effective for girls who never get tested or do not have a gynecologist.
I personally find the anti-vaxxers very scary because they tend to be well-educated upscale individuals and they run the political gamut. They’re on the left acting as if they’re concerned about social welfare while they let their unvaccinated children pose a risk to newborns and others who have not been vaccinated. They’re on the right among people who see the government and its laws as oppressive forces. Paranoia has no loyal affiliation.
Finally, junk science, nutty hypotheses and blasphemy have been around forever. Humans aren’t rationalists. We’re romantics, and the world is a wonderful place when you believe that you belong to some brave and special group and have experienced enlightenment—about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, about the existence of extraterrestrials, about the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre, about vaccines—that all the less perceptive, more gullible conformists out there simply can’t comprehend.
But in today’s world these cranks fly ever more stubbornly in the face of sophisticated research and hard-earned knowledge. They take all the benefits of wisdom that prior generations never had and toss it away, causing poor innocent children to suffer horrible rashes and pain, and in some cases even die.
We live in the Trump Era where the truth is not the truth but simply an alternative fact .Where’s the vaccine against that?