We Need To Stop Giving The Anti-Vaccine Movement A Platform

September 26th 2014

State Farm recently caused a stir by pulling its advertisements featuring actor Rob Schneider, due to his anti-vaccine views. Much debate has ensued regarding Schneider's right to free of speech, as well as State Farm's right to business-savvy decisions, but the more pressing question is how in the world is the anti-vaccine movement still prevailing? Granted, for as long as there have been scientific claims, there have been dissenters. Jon Stewart's excoriation of Congress' medieval views on climate change last week typifies this. But unlike climate change deniers, anti-vaccine proponents are not getting paid big money by corporations for their opinion. In fact, their ignorance merely puts children at risk, since the immediate and apparent dangers of not getting vaccinated have been proven time and time again.

Anti Vaccine

The recent rise in outbreaks of infectious diseases such as whooping cough and the measles, both of which are preventable by vaccinations, are testament to their necessity. But why are so many people still against them? It all boils down to the theory that vaccines cause autism, which started with a study published in 1998 by The Lancet, a medical journal, which linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. This study, however, was discredited by the scientific community at large and was eventually retracted, with The Lancet stating that "several elements" of the study were "incorrect." Not to be deterred, however, the anti-vaccine movement found another way to support their views: by claiming that the mercury-based preservative thimerosal in vaccines caused brain damage. This theory has no scientific base, and is also a moot point, considering no vaccines, except certain formulations of the flu-vaccine in multi-dose vials, use this preservative anymore. Even if they did, however, studies still show that there is no discernible link between low levels of mercury, that would be in thimerosal, and autism. 

It's mind-boggling to me that these folks, who claim to be so fastidious when it comes to proven scientific facts, are unable to turn that critical eye towards their own misinformation. How can they utter the words "well, that's just a theory" about vaccines and not recognize the irony and hypocrisy, as they stand by their own conspiracy theory. One of the most disturbing facts is that these anti-vaccine supporters are often wealthy people, such as celebrities like Rob Schneider and Jenny McCarthy, who have the money and power to voice their faulty theories to millions of people. By doing so, they are putting their audience members, who may be unaware of the hazards of the anti-vaccine movement, at risk of joining their cause, and, consequently, endangering their children.

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