by BEN RICHARDSON - Why the vaccination debate shouldn’t be a debate to begin with.
“Do spare me, Charles, it appears little Mary hath fallen ill with the measles, for death’s grip holds strong on the prairie. Her vision is escaping her, and her breaths are weak. What ever shall we do?”
“Silence, Caroline; the essential oils I ordered from Amazon don’t work if they hear complaining.”
Unfortunately, if a time traveler had the misfortune of stopping here and now, they’d probably have to blink twice before glaring at their machine to double check if it really read 2019 or 1819. Awkward, right? It’s because sporadic outbreaks of virtually eradicated diseases are reappearing in the United States like an annoying classmate who moved away but then came back even more annoying. At rates never experienced in a developing country, diseases like mumps, measles, chicken pox and pneumococcal disease are revamping a collaborative sequel.
Take the measles for instance. Prior to the development of the measles vaccine in 1963, almost all children contracted the measles by the time they were 15. Today, most doctors haven’t even seen a single case of measles in their entire careers--to no surprise, since the Center for Disease Control declared that the measles were eliminated from the United States in 2000 due to increased pushes to vaccinate all children.
Lo and behold, Disneyland California witnessed a measles outbreak in 2014 that infected over 50 people in the span of two weeks. The parents of the young perpetrators intentionally kept their children from the MMR vaccine , which could have prevented the whole ordeal in the first place, when the kids were a year old.
Measles Part II didn’t debut without causation. Somewhere in the timeline of modern medical progress, an ignorance-fueled anti-vaccination fad took hold among American parents. In 1998, a now discredited former doctor named Andrew Wakefield falsely claimed that the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella was linked to autism. Despite only using 12 children with an uncontrolled design, topped with a faulty conclusion he admittedly speculated, the paper blew up in the media, and MMR vaccination rates plummeted in the US and EU. Because of one man, thousands of children died because their parents were misled by a fabricated scheme.
I was rightfully curious about what scientific journals on PubMed had to say concerning vaccines and autism. It would be an understatement to mention that I stumbled across dozens of doctors who’ve conducted over 20 studies to refute Wakefield’s conclusions alone. According to the medical journal published by the American College of Physicians, Annals Internal Medicine, Dr. Anders Hviid and five other doctors conducted a nationwide cohort study in Denmark. Their goal was to “decide whether the MMR vaccine increased the risk for autism in children, subgroups of children, or time periods after vaccination”(Hviid, 2019). The study strongly supported that MMR vaccination did not “increase the risk for autism, did not trigger autism in susceptible children, and was not associated with clustering of autism cases after vaccination.” Their findings touted a 95 percent confidence interval.
Even still, vaccination skeptics on Instagram preach the same sermon, just in different tones: don’t trust the government, mothers know best, and before injecting vaccines, unscrew the lid of some common sense essential oil and inhale deeply several times. They jump to logical fallacies quicker than you can say “please stop.”
Sociologists time and time again argue that the most exceptional thing about America is our paranoia. At large, we simply adore falling for the so-called “conspiracy mentality.” The basic rationale is that a lack of control in our lives causes us to compensate with an illusion of being in control. Hence, the genesis of a conspiracy theory, like how vaccines “kill.” Paranoid minds believe they’re setting themselves apart from the “ignorant masses.” But I urge anyone who is skeptical of vaccinations to find ACTUAL evidence-based research via public online medical journals instead of public online Facebook pages run by anti-vax advocates who lack any medical certification or expertise.
While it is fun to contemplate the validity of lizard people or the Illuminati or Mandela effects or Area 51 aliens, it’s not fun, nor ethical, to stigmatize vaccinations in the same untrustworthy fashion. Countless lives lie in the balance. The repercussions of not getting vaccinated are too rooted in reality, too rooted in empirical evidence, too serious to be degraded. I rest my case.