Most of you will have heard of the MMR vaccine controversy. A man, Dr. Wakefield, suggested that the MMR vaccination increased the likelihood of autism in infants and children. People stopped vaccinating their kids, which resulted in a few thousand cases and a few deaths. All of them could have been avoided, had it not been for Dr. Wakefield.
As we know, people don’t learn from their mistakes, the deep-rooted fear still possesses them. In a previous blog entry, I talked about my homeopath/M.D. aunt, among other things. She’s a lot of things I could make fun of, but one of the things that makes me sad is that she also opposes vaccines. She went to Kenya without a single vaccination, even though yellow fever is a deadly disease. Her whole family is the same, they all oppose vaccinations.
Recently, I talked to a friend of mine. She’s also against vaccinations, because they can “harm your immune system”.
Let’s look at anti-vaccers claims:
Vaccines are not effective, vaccines are not safe, vaccines are not moral or vaccines are against my religion.
We can dismiss the last two claims out of hand. If you don’t want to use them due to your religion then your religion is pretty fucked up.
I also reject the case for personal liberty. If your idiocy is putting other people at risk, you have no say. Period. Your rights should be stripped away to protect the rest of the population.
So we’re left with two questions:
1) Are vaccines effective?
2) Are vaccines safe?
The efficacy-question is easily answered: Vaccines are among the few things to come out of the pharma-industry that are so very obviously effective that we shouldn’t even have to think about this.
Forbes recently posted a short article on the topic. The following info-graphic was compiled from a recent article, linked in the Forbes-post.
Smallpox was once one of the most prolific killers, with an estimated 300-500 million killed just from Smallpox alone. And now, it’s virtually eradicated.
Thanks to vaccines? I think the above is ample evidence to that extent, but there’s more. The following graphic (Wikipedia) was compiled for the prevalence of rubella, but it could equally have been compiled for any other vaccine. It always follows the same path: A vaccine is introduced and given, the prevalence of the disease goes down.
So on to the second argument: Safety.
When I was a baby, I was immunized against MMR. The batch I received was tainted, I fell ill. I could have died, but was given medication and survived. But even in the best of circumstances, people can have adverse reactions to the immunizations.
Here’s the deal though: These reactions are incredibly unlikely to happen.
A paper from a few years ago discussed this and came up with the following conclusion: “[T]he expressed doubts about the safety of vaccines are unjustified.”
That’s it really. Vaccines are an effective and safe way to counter several potentially deadly diseases. To eradicate these diseases, we all need to take the vaccines. If you don’t immunize yourself, you not only put yourself at risk but also the rest of the population, by allowing the disease to survive.
I don’t think any argument can be made that vaccinations are dangerous or ineffective. If you think there is, please, I need a laugh right about now.