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The Negative Impact of the Anti-Vaccination Movement’s Resurgence

News & Politics, Political-Opinion

By Kyle Turner

The Anti-Vaccination movement has made a resurgence from the 1800s to disenfranchise humans from vaccinations. The reason for this is that people feel unsafe using vaccines because of the potential negative side effects.

Upon invention of vaccines there was not enough tangible evidence for people to feel safe using them, and for that reason there were a large amount of cases where people that were to be immunized were instead infected. This made the public wary of vaccinations-and rightly so-because the procedures at the time were not sterile. There were constant cross-contaminations between the cowpox that made the vaccine at the time and the smallpox patients getting treatment, thus infecting healthy people and making them lose their trust in the new procedure.

But times have changed; medicine has gotten much better, and the risks have become all but negligible. However, for one reason or another, there are still groups of people who want nothing more than to rid the world of vaccines and immunization as a whole. They make allegations (which are almost always entirely incorrect) that getting vaccinated causes a whole array of health-related issues, such as vaccines acting as a cause for autism, mercury poisoning via Thimerosal, or vaccines getting intentionally contaminated.

The most common qualm people have with vaccines is the initial claim that vaccinated people will be more prone to developing autism (A cognitive disorder that hampers ones’ ability to interpret nuanced social interactions and from that their ability to communicate and speak). Most allegations of the link between autism and vaccines come from a fraudulent article published in The Lancet by one Andrew Wakefield who stated through falsified data and faulty tests that there is a definitive statistical link between autism and the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine. The overlying issue with sourcing this as a credible study and placing trust in it is that the study was completely fraudulent. Wakefield’s experiment and studies were incorrectly set up and the statistical tests he ran were not fitting for the size of the experimental group. He had a total of 12 children to base his entire study on, and when other scientists tried to re-create his experiment for peer-review and testing, they could not get the same results. Wakefield has publicly stated his distrust for the MMR vaccine. It makes sense that he would produce a fraudulent study to try to discredit the vaccine from being effective.

“What precipitated this crisis was the removal of the single vaccine, the removal of choice, and that is what has caused the furore—because the doctors, the gurus, are treating the public as though they are some kind of moronic mass who cannot make an informed decision for themselves.”Andrew Wakefield

So when events occur like the Measles outbreak in Disneyland earlier this year, it should be expected that people on the side of anti-vaccination would lose traction. Unfortunately as of this time, that is not the case.

The biggest problem with the Anti-Vaccination movement’s ability to thrive is that herd immunity (the ability for the few people who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons to still be safe from a disease because the majority of the population is immune) is becoming less and less optimal, making those who cannot get vaccinated much more prone to infection.

It would be pertinent to reiterate that science has come a very long way and has made tremendous leaps and bounds in the advancement of public health safety. Vaccines are listed among the top 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, as well as many other health safety achievements made possible due to germ theory and immunization. So with all these health benefits and safety regulations, why do people still resist and even oppose immunization? It makes no sense from an objective point of view since the health risks have been thoroughly debunked. Unfortunately this seems like an enigma that will take too long to fully comprehend before it has extreme negative impacts on society, and those who are unable to be immunized will remain at tremendous risk.

Header photo by Sanofl Pasteur (flickr creative commons license)

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