The battle over vaccinations has taken a turn for the worse in New York.
The widening measles outbreak has prompted public health officials to take extraordinary measures to limit the spread of the highly contagious virus.
The city of New York will be making unvaccinated people in high-risk areas in Brooklyn get immunized or they will face fines upwards of $1,000. Schools in Washington have barred hundreds of students from classes and school events due to an outbreak there.
Hospitals in some areas are currently screening kids who have a fever and/or a rash in the nation’s second-worst outbreak since the supposed elimination of measles in 2000.
But what about people who can’t – or shouldn’t – get vaccinated?
Of course, with any battle involving health, public trust must be taken into consideration. Parents vaccinate their children in order to protect them from preventable diseases. This also helps those who can’t get vaccinated due to age or other health issues like cancer.
For years now, a battle has been brewing between anti-vaxxers and everyone else. Whether or not, vaccines cause mental disabilities like autism. Now, with a measles outbreak going on in the United States, Facebook has taken steps to limit the outbreak and the anti-vaxxers opinions from being released.
After a rough year of dealing with tons of fake news and being criticized for not being able to control the news, Facebook has stepped up to the plate and decided to control the spread of false news relating to anti-vexxers.
Back in September, the Pew Research Center reported that at least two thirds of Americans get their news on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Starting this year as well, the World Health Organization has declared people deciding not to vaccinate as a world crisis and the CDC has noted the increasing number of children that are not getting vaccinated.
This has resulted in a measles outbreak in Washington state where over 50 kids, mainly those who have not been vaccinated, have gotten measles. It has gotten to the point where the state may force parents to vaccinate their children.
The paper that was published by the disgraced doctor has been debunked multiple times now. Seriously, there’s no reason for anyone not to have a vaccine. We aren’t in the middle ages now, we have the power to stop diseases like polio and measles, and yet this subject remains a debate.
Anti-vaxxer-bashing is on the rise again — and for good reason.
Thanks to an outbreak of measles at Disney Land, the movement has been trending on news sources, social media, and flooding Reddit. One image posted to Reddit in particular points out that anti-vaxxers (those who oppose vaccinations) aren’t new — the original poster states that the photo is condemning an anti-vaccination movement from 1940. We here at Whim posted a story about this very troubling subject in Oct. 2014, stating that “the original surgeon who brought [the anti-vaccination movement] to light has since been discredited and stripped of his medical license.”
But what is the history of this movement and why are we still seeing it in our headlines?
In England, widespread smallpox vaccination began in the early 1800s, thanks to Edward Jenner’s cowpox experiments. With such a new and worrisome practice for the general population, this vaccination certainly deserved speculation — something all new innovations should have to face. Their rationale for criticism included sanitary, religious, scientific, and political objections.
The first organized groups against vaccinations began to pop up and eventually led to government policy making vaccinations compulsory, as well as the development of a commission designed to study vaccination.
The end of the 19th century saw the first organized anti-vaxxer movement in the US (The American anti-vaccinationists) fought in court to repeal vaccination laws in several states including California, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
In the 1970s, an outcry against vaccinations rang around the world in response to a report from the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London, which claimed that 36 children suffered neurological conditions following DTP immunizations. An independent study later confirmed that the vaccination was safe and helped to lead a pro-vaccination campaign.
And then there’s the dreaded Andrew Wakefield, the former surgeon and medical researcher who in 1998 published a paper claiming a link between the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine and autism (and bowel disease). Later, the journal that published the article retracted it after Wakefield’s data was found to be fraudulent and largely influenced by a law board that had hired him to look for the link.
Since Wakefield’s now-discredited claim, several studies have been done to prove that there is no link between the MMR vaccine, autism, or bowel disease, and he has been stripped of his medical license. However, the research published by Wakefield is still used by anti-vaxxers and conspiracy band-wagoners alike, along with the presence of thimerosal (a mercury containing compound used as a preservative in vaccines).
Due to the volatile atmosphere surrounding vaccinations, in July of 1999, leading US public health, medical organizations, and vaccine manufacturers decided to significantly reduce or eliminate thimerosal from vaccines. Currently, the preservative is no longer used in most childhood vaccines, but is often present in yearly flu vaccines. Still, there is no scientific evidence to support that thimerosal poses any significant risk.
Despite this, celebrities like Jenny McCarthy (a former Playboy model) and her advocacy group, Generation Rescue, as well as the organization Talk about Curing Autism (TACA) have spearheaded efforts to eliminate vaccinations, claiming they cause autism — just as the disgraced Wakefield claimed to have proven in his (say it with me) fraudulent article.
Although the world has had many government and independently sponsored studies done around the world, unfortunately, the public remains suspicious of vaccines. There’s much more evidence now to support vaccinations than was available 200 years ago, when Jenner first discovered a way to prevent hundreds of thousands of smallpox deaths. So why are we still having this argument?
Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by decades without devastating death tolls from many of the worst communicable diseases and begun taking our modern medicine a little too much for granted. Unfortunately, without harsh laws that prohibit some of the freedoms of choice we US citizens so highly value, there isn’t much to be done for those who choose not to vaccinate except to blast the media with the consequences of their actions.
There’s a dangerous trend spreading like wildfire, or rather, disease among American mothers. It has resulted in the outbreak of many uncommon diseases among US children, including measles and whooping cough. This trend is known as the Anti-Vaccination Movement or simply, Anti-vaxxers.
Mothers have a variety of reasons for deciding to support this trend. Some of them believe that vaccines cause autism or trigger auto-immune disorders. Others think that the vaccines themselves are completely unnecessary, and are merely a scam put on by major pharmaceutical companies in order to make more money.
Firstly, there have been a vast number of studies proving that vaccines are not linked to autism in any way; the originalsurgeon who brought this hypothesis to light has since been discredited and stripped of his medical license. Choosing to believe this lie after extensive proof is about as dumb as holding tight to the belief that the world is flat in the 21st century. As for the pharmaceutical companies, although they may make a lot of money, vaccines are completely necessary.
There is a great reason behind the rule that children attending public school must be vaccinated. When parents decide not to vaccinate their children, it doesn’t just affect them. Vaccinations are required in schools because schools are where children congregate five days out of the week; it’s a place where diseases are spread relatively easily. Not vaccinating one child puts all of them at risk. Although I understand religious exemption, being exempt from that rule simply because you want to be is silly and risky to others.
Forbes Magazine stated that, “Washington (…) has suffered 2,520 cases (of Whooping Cough) so far this year, a 1300% increase over last year.” The outrageous statistics are largely due to the popularity of the Anti-vaxxer’s movement. The only way to bring these statistics back down to normal is to spread the truth about Anti-vaxxing: it’s dangerous.
Do you really want the honor of being patient zero in the next polio outbreak in the US? Do us all a favor and vaccinate your kids. If it doesn’t save his or her life, it will save someone else’s.