The Dangers of the Anti-Vaccination Movement
April 23, 2019
Vaccine hesitancy is a reluctance or refusal to be vaccinated or to have one’s children vaccinated and is considered by the World Heath Organization to be one of the top ten global health threats of 2019, most people refer to this as the Anti-Vax movement.
The Anti-Vax movement is incredibly dangerous because it completely overlooks scientific evidence. Immunizations currently prevent 2-3 million deaths very single year. The arguments that Anti-Vaxxers use are, for the most part, baseless. The widespread fear that vaccines increase risk of autism originated with a 1997 study published by Andrew Wakefield, a British surgeon. The article was published in The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, suggesting that the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine was increasing autism rates in British children.
The paper has since been completely discredited due to serious procedural errors, undisclosed financial conflicts of interest, and ethical violations. Andrew Wakefield lost his medical license and the paper was retracted from The Lancet. Nonetheless, the hypothesis was taken seriously, and several other major studies were conducted. None of them found a link between any vaccine and the likelihood of developing autism.
A child will not die from possibly having autism due to a vaccination. A child will die because they are not vaccinated.
Regardless of whether or not vaccines cause autism, our entire conversation surrounding them is completely ableist, which describes discrimination against members of the disabled community. Autism is not the worst thing to happen to a child. Autism is not a scary monster that deprives children of their livelihood. The debate about vaccination should be autism-inclusive, and that means re-evaluating the way people talk about autism and vaccines.
When making medical decisions, referring to science should be the only factor. Vaccines are vastly powerful tools that have helped countries eradicate diseases like smallpox and prevent diseases like the measles, polio, chicken pox, and many others. The sooner everyone realizes this, the sooner entirely preventable diseases can be effectively prevented.