To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, is that really a question?

I did a blog on this on a personal blog years ago & got royally flamed by a mass number of random strangers (I’m,not kidding). I’m gonna try this again, why? Because this is my opinion & I Have the right to it. Because PUBLIC Health includes me. Let me start off with stating that I’m up on my vaccinations as are my children. That said, there are several groups of people who cannot get vaccinated for one reason or another. These people rely on whats called “herd immunity.” In other words, the idea tat if everyone else is vaccinated, they are safe from said disease. Well folks “herd immunity” is long becoming a thing of the past with the anti-vaccine movement and the likes of Jenny McCarthy preaching anti-vaccine myths. I say myths b/c in case people don’t know, the original researcher who claimed a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism, later recanted stating he was pressured to make up those results.

Currently in modern day 2014, history is revisiting us, in the forms of measles, polio and other diseases whose eradication were once celebrated.

The state in which I live, California, has seen a tenfold increase of the outbreak compared to last year. In Orange County this year – and its only May, folks – 21 people have been diagnosed with measles.  Health officials have warned citizens that this is the biggest outbreak the state has ever seen in recent history. Tuesday night, members of the Orange County Health Department held a meeting about the astonishing outbreak and are “encouraging members to get vaccinated because the vaccine is 99% effective after only two doses. Measles is a highly contagious disease, and people who have not received the vaccination are putting everyone else at risk.”

Other things I have heard from people in the anti-vaccine camp are “well no one gets those diseases anymore,” “look at the statistics from the CDC, we don’t NEED those vaccines anymore” and “look at how the rates of autism have gone up since vaccines were started.”

Let me start by responding to these statements with some commonsense facts. First off, no one in THE UNITED STATES gets these diseases anymore. Polio, measles, etc all still are alive and well in many, many countries. “No one” gets them here…because we have vaccines for them. So in response to statement #2, yes we still do “need” vaccines. In response to the third statement, this is simply ignorant. People who claim that autism directly correlates with vaccines show their lack of critical thinking skills. Rule number one in research: correlation doesn’t equal causation. There are MANY things that correlate to the rise in autism in the past several decades: environmental changes, higher rates of diagnosing, more awareness, dietary changes including more processed food.California has most likely seen such a rapid spread of the disease because this state gives parents the choice to opt out of having their children vaccinated. The fact that measles was eliminated from the US in 2000 may be quickly changing.

I’m neither pro-conventional medicine or anti-alternative. I actually am a big believer in both as well as the concept of complementary medicine and moderation in many things. I believe vaccines should be spaced out, if anything for the practical reason that 3 shots or more is a lot for a kid. My opinion though is that the anti-vaccine camp seems petrified of information that isn’t in line with their view. I have seen people cite studies about autism rates. I would be curious to see a study done on non-vaccinated children/people to see the rates of autism and other spectrum disorders. Moreover, on the commonsense end of things, is it really worth it? Is having an autistic child really worse than having a dead one? Is having a child with learning or social issues worse than a child crippled from polio? This to me is essentially what extremist anti-vaccine folks are saying in not so many words.

 

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