The vaccination debate has raged like an inferno. From the moment that Andrew Wakefield published his many times-over discredited paper over the dangers of vaccines in relation to autism, we have had this debate ad nauseam over the safety of vaccines.
We are seeing that the anti-vaccination movement is winning in 2019. Measles has been found in 107 people across 21 states this year already, and the World Health Organization has announced that measles cases are up 50%. Fifty percent. That is devastating and a disaster.
But it was preventable.
Yes, vaccinations are the remedy necessary for this disaster. However, that doesn't address the root cause of anti-vaccination movements. What might that be? A bunch of potential explanations regarding this phenomenon come to mind.
For one, much of the world has prided itself on being skeptical of authority. Tennessee Republican Congressman Mark Green, for example, accused the CDC of fraudulently handling data related to vaccinations. Many nations also possess significant numbers of people practicing homeopathy and "alternative medicine" (read: magic). Practicing alternative medicine, regardless of how false it is, stems from a place of skepticism in physicians, and anti-vaxxers are no different.
People also fall prey to misinformation and manipulation.
Just take the prominent celebrities who have endorsed the positions of the anti-vaccination movement: Jenny McCarthy, Donald Trump, and other individuals with broad platforms to amplify their views on medicine. And people are willing to accept those conclusions because of their social status and affluence, regardless of whether or not those views are consistent with the medical community at large.
And yet, some of it is purely pseudoscience or predicated on things other than research that are genuinely believed. For example, the idea of "natural immunity" or exposing yourself or others to a disease to build up the antibodies. This is an idea that people might seem comfortable with in theory, but then they forget that you endure the symptoms of that disease.
Some of the other common genuine beliefs and mostly ignorant misconceptions of vaccines could include the supposed correlation between vaccines and sudden infant death syndrome, MS, and, of course, autism. It should be noted that these have been refuted ad nauseam by the medical and scientific community in general. There is no mechanism this could follow, no etiology. It is pure balderdash.
There are other discredited reasons for vaccinations being rejected, many of which are religious in nature. An example of this is the idea that aborted fetal cells are within vaccines, or that you are "playing God" by vaccinating yourself.
While I cannot discuss playing God in a scientific fashion, I can tell you the first claim is just not true. Cultivating attenuated versions of a disease in a culture derived from fetal cells is not the same as vaccines containing aborted fetal cells.
At the end of the day, the anti-vaccination movement has myriad causes. It is overwhelming us as a society to the point where once near-extinct diseases have made a resurgence. I get that we need to protect ourselves and society at large and that authorities that were once believed were not actually being accurate or truthful.
You are not Ralph Nader. You do not have some evidence of a grand conspiracy implicating our doctors, researchers, and pharmaceutical companies with manipulation. Ask yourself how credible your own sources are, rather than debasing the authority one may appeal to.
We all need to dig into our biases and discern the reasons for our beliefs. Not only because it is wise to challenge yourself, but because a public health disaster could be averted as a result.
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