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The truth behind anti-vaccination

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The truth behind anti-vaccination

An infographic of the measles disease and how it affects children across the globe

An infographic of the measles disease and how it affects children across the globe

CDC.gov

An infographic of the measles disease and how it affects children across the globe

CDC.gov

CDC.gov

An infographic of the measles disease and how it affects children across the globe

Nic Sloan, Co-Editor

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Vaccines have been one of the most of amazing miracles of modern medicine and have prevented deadly diseases from wiping out billions, yet there have been 15 outbreaks of measles, a disease easily preventable by vaccines, reported in 2018 alone. These outbreaks are due to the rising levels of anti-vaccination parents. So why would people not want to prevent their children from catching a deadly disease? Turns out anti-vaccination groups have been around for a long time.

   There are signs of them early as the 18th century, when an Italian doctor did not properly quarantine his patients, causing health risks to other citizens. Controversy around the smallpox vaccine arose in 1796 when clergymen claimed smallpox to be God’s punishment, and that humans should not interfere with its processes.

  The Vaccination Act of 1853 called for mandatory vaccination of children up to 3 months old, and was met with rebellion, most significantly the Anti-Vaccination League. Around 1879 anti-vax movement spread to the States. Since then, hundreds of anti-vaccination protests, riots, and movements have filled the nation.

  The reasoning behind anti-vaccination follows many different backgrounds, but the more recent controversy is surrounding the connection between the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and vaccines. This rumored connection started when a 1998 publication of a research study in The Lancet showed a correlation between the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine and ASD. It later gained ground in 2007 when celebrity Jenny McCarthy announced her son had autism and blamed it on vaccination.

  However, there’s also a plethora of evidence to debunk this rumored connection. Most significantly, the same report that caused the entire MMR vaccine controversy was proved to be fraudulent, and the doctor who wrote it had his medical license revoked.

  In the early 1990’s routine vaccination was increasing. At the same time, ASD diagnoses were also increasing. Anti-vaccinationists blamed the rising levels on a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal found in vaccines, MMR vaccines specifically. However, since 2002 thimerosal can only be found in a select few flu vaccines and is no longer present in other vaccines. Despite this removal of thimerosal, ASD levels continue to rise. Since then there have been dozens of independent medical studies proving there is no connection between thimerosal and ASD.

  Since the thimerosal-autism connection was debunked, anti-vaccinationists have blamed miscellaneous toxins in vaccines to ASD. However, there is no real scientific evidence to support these claims. For the past decade there have been dozens of medical and scientific studies released showing no connection whatsoever between vaccines and ASD. In fact, quite the opposite has arisen out of these studies. A meta-analysis conducted around 2014 found that instead of immunization causing ASD, it actually showed signs of decreasing risks of ASD, especially in the MMR vaccine.

  But what exactly are the risks of not vaccinating your children? For one, practically extinct diseases are making an unwelcome reappearance. Diseases such as measles, polio, whooping cough, tetanus, and plenty more are all extremely fatal diseases that have been nearly eradicated thanks to vaccination. But those who aren’t vaccinated hold no “natural immunity,” which is what many anti-vaccinationists claim we as humans do have to protect ourselves. Truth is, without vaccines we are extremely weak in the face of these deadly diseases

  One example can be found in a 2014 outbreak of measles, in which over 270,000 cases of measles were reported across the world. And over 140,000 of those outbreaks ended fatally, especially in children under the age of five. But if the individuals involved in those cases had been vaccinated, their chances of catching a severe case of measles would have been less than one percent, and even if they did miraculously contract measles, their chance of it being fatal would have been 0.2 percent. And that doesn’t even take the immune system benefit of vaccination into consideration. When vaccinated for measles, for example, a person is not only protected against measles, but has a stronger immunity to all other infectious diseases as well.

  So with all this presented evidence, immunization would obviously be the right choice, right? Turns out there’s another side to the story that deserves to be told. One of Skyline’s teachers Julie Duffield has a particularly interesting story regarding this. “My oldest has brain damage from his vaccines, and he still has the measles virus in his system,” Duffield said. “Surprisingly, when this happened we were very pro vaccine, but suddenly just because he reacted, we were treated like we were the worst people in society… even our own family wouldn’t talk to us.”

  A lot of prejudice has formed against those in the community who have had negative effects from vaccines. “It wasn’t even our fault that he got brain damage, and weren’t running around telling everybody that we were against vaccines… We had doctors kick us out of their office because of it.” Duffield said. “I have a degree in chemistry and math, and I did a lot of cancer research at BYU, so I used to be very a respected scientist, then this happened and all of a sudden I was an ‘idiot mom.’”

  Despite the clear evidence that vaccines certainly prevent deadly diseases, they aren’t necessarily perfect. Some immunization companies choose to include harmful ingredients in their vaccines. These mostly consist of mercury-based preservatives, which can have both long and short term effects. As Duffield puts it, “I am absolutely not anti-vaccine, we always say ‘green our vaccines,’ make sure they don’t have the stuff used in antifreeze… butylene glycol, ethylene glycol, and more. And some companies do better than others, so it’s really important to do your research before vaccinating your kids.”

  Overall, based on current evidence, it is clear that there is no connection between vaccination and Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, that doesn’t mean that vaccines still don’t have the potential to cause other harm. While there are always extreme case scenarios where there may be adverse reactions, overall, vaccines are still the safest option to prevent deadly diseases.

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The truth behind anti-vaccination