We’ve been over this before, many, many times. Vaccines are safe, and they’re not some evil plot by some secret, sinister group to reduce the world’s population. They aren’t the cause of autism. So why in the hell would people turn their backs on years of research and not immunize their children? The reason is that we’re a couple of generations removed from the days when polio was common and people still died from smallpox. These days, we’re also bombarded with pseudo-medicine from has-been celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and thousands of quack doctors like Dr. Mehmet Oz trying to sell you various “miracle” supplements and weight loss products. These snake oil salesmen have also even gone so far as to try to convince people through their various blogs and other publications that measles and other diseases aren’t serious and that “natural immunity” is the way to go. From I Fucking Love Science:
It is also evident that many people believe that measles is not serious enough to warrant vaccination. It may therefore surprise some people to find out that, according to the CDC, 30% of cases develop one or more complications including pneumonia, ear infections or diarrhea. Around 1 in every 1,000 will develop an inflammation of the brain known as encephalitis which can lead to convulsions and may leave the child deaf or mentally retarded. Furthermore, 1 or 2 of every 1,000 children who contract measles will die. (Source)
Not just content to tell people that immunizations are unnecessary, some individuals like Dr. Russell Blaylock from the “Vaccine Information Network” also push the false claim that vaccines actually cause brain damage or autism, and people actually believe it. But here’s how the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine works according to the CDC:
The MMR vaccine is a live, attenuated (weakened), combination vaccine that protects against the measles, mumps, and rubella viruses. It was first licensed in the combined form in 1971 and contains the safest and most effective forms of each vaccine.
It is made by taking the measles virus from the throat of an infected person and adapting it to grow in chick embryo cells in a laboratory. As the virus becomes better able to grow in the chick embryo cells, it becomes less able to grow in a child’s skin or lungs. When this vaccine virus is given to a child it replicates only a little before it is eliminated from the body. This replication causes the body to develop an immunity that, in 95% of children, lasts for a lifetime.
A second dose of the vaccine is recommended to protect those 5% who did not develop immunity in the first dose and to give “booster” effect to those who did develop an immune response. (Source)
Measles actually spreads very easily, and it only takes one infected individual to create an outbreak as a study by the CDC confirmed. These outbreaks occur even with individuals who have been vaccinated, so it is imperative that as many people as possible are vaccinated because statistically, the odds of spreading disease is lessened even if someone fails to build an immunity from the shot. Then why would anyone with a medical license suggest that children go without a lifesaving immunization? It’s simple – there’s a lot of money to be made in the anti-vaccine movement, which resembles a cult in many ways.
So how come people like Dr. Oz, Dr. Blaylock or others can keep their medical licenses? Doesn’t this information violate the Hippocratic Oath? Vox.com explains:
The AMA—the steward of the medical profession of which most American doctors are a member—has ethics guidelines that do address some of the problems with Oz’s work. “There are ethical opinions the AMA puts out that say that a physician is always going to be truthful and not going to mislead patients,” an AMA spokesperson says.
For example, the AMA Code of Medical Ethics states, “It is unethical to engage in or to aid and abet in treatment which has no scientific basis and is dangerous, is calculated to deceive the patient by giving false hope, or which may cause the patient to delay in seeking proper care.” But this provision falls under the category of “nonscientific practitioners” (i.e., naturopaths) and would not apply to actual MDs like Oz.
What’s more, the AMA cannot enforce any of its rules. That’s up to the states, which license and regulate doctors. “The AMA is a voluntary membership organization,” says the spokesperson. “We are not vested with any authority at the state or federal level.” (Source)
And once again, this is not an issue confined to the far right or the Alex Jones crowd. While they may believe vaccines are some sort of crazy government plot, the anti-vaccine movement is a very real problem on the left. We now have an outbreak of measles and the rate of unvaccinated kids is at a 20 year high. Coincidence? Of course not. As The Daily Show pointed out, these aren’t crackpot conspiracy nuts living out in the woods, they’re urban and liberal.
I truly believe that the only way to convince these people of the error of their ways isn’t by repeatedly bashing them over the head with science, but by showing them that they and their children are being used to fatten the bank accounts of those who sell pseudo-medicine. As a friend of mine once said, some people will pay more for the sideshow to prove they haven’t been taken in by the circus. The anti-vaccine movement is full of well-meaning, but gullible individuals who have been swindled by opportunists who care only about money, and not the children they hurt. Sadly, it may take a long hospital stay (or worse) before they wake up to the fact that they’re being used.
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