Anti-Vaxxers: We know them, we read about them on the internet, and, unfortunately, they walk among us mostly undetected unless the subject of vaccinations arise.
I want to preface this article by saying I love liberty and justice—I really do. I tend to believe that, to a degree, no one really has any business telling someone else how to live their life—unless their actions affect someone else. This mindset can be applied to everything from gay marriage to abortion. At the end of the day, I typically disavow any legislation or regulation that would increase the likelihood of the U.S. becoming any more of a nanny-state.
That being said, hear me loud and clear when I say that anti-vaccination mindset has no place in the discussion surrounding vaccinations.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. needs approximately 92 – 95% of the population to be vaccinated to protect those in our communities who cannot be vaccinated against completely preventable diseases. This would include children too young to be vaccinated, or those with compromised immune systems. This is called “herd immunity,” and it prevents the major communicable disease outbreaks that once plagued the United States and still plague the developing and undeveloped world.
Now let’s take a little trip down memory lane. In 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist, published a study linking the MMR vaccine to autism. Just like that, the modern anti-vaccination movement was born. The British Medical Journal, along with many researchers and doctors, have since proven that there is no correlation between that vaccination or any other common vaccination and autism. In 2010, the article’s publisher retracted the article and dismissed its findings. Yet, that did not stop an entire generation from completely wrecking our herd immunity as a nation and around the world.
I wish I could tell you that since 2010—when the news broke that the conclusions drawn by Dr. Wakefield were false—people have returned to their senses and began vaccinating their children again. Yet I can’t do that, because there are more and more cases of previously diminished diseases such as measles in every year since. In 2014 alone, seven states and the District of Columbia reported vaccination percentages below 90-percent.
The biggest issue at play here is not that someone might become autistic after receiving a vaccine. In fact, Autism Speaks (an organization dedicated to advocacy for those with autism) has clearly denounced any link between vaccination and autism.
What is most concerning issue is the anti-vaccination movement is more afraid their child might become autistic than they are their child or someone else dying from a deadly but preventable disease.
No one has the right to put someone else or their own child at risk because they’re too stubborn or ignorant to vaccinate.