Anti Vaxxers Are An Uneducated Danger

  *** DISCLAIMER: Please be aware that the opinions in this piece do not reflect the official stance and views of Her Campus, Her Campus Oklahoma nor The University of Oklahoma.*** 

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In the U.S., for the most part, measles, mumps, and other preventable infectious viruses have been eradicated. That is due, largely to vaccines and herd immunity—however, there is a growing population of Americans (including Oklahoma’s republican governor candidate, Kevin Stitt) that are fighting vaccines. They have coined themselves as “Anti Vaxxers.” Their fear of vaccines are based in myths and pseudo science. They are a danger not only to themselves and their own children, but to the general public at large.


Their biggest “claim” is that vaccines are linked to autism. Specifically that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism. The myth originated from one disgraced Doctor Andrew Wakefield, who in 1998 published a study in the Lancet claiming that the MMR vaccine was linked with a rise in a “new syndrome” of autism and bowel disease. The study Wakefield published was retracted completely in 2010 and he was stripped of his medical license in the UK after disturbing facts of fraud came to light. Wakefield was found falsifying data, he had no control group, a small test subject group (12 children, only one of which was diagnosed on the autism spectrum), and he was found to be working for a company that was in the process of developing a new MMR vaccine, that Wakefield would’ve benefited financially from.


The reason this mythical link between autism and the MMR vaccine took off is because parents often look for something to blame, for the often difficult to digest, autism spectrum diagnosis. That and the amplification of the myth via celebrities with little to no credibility. In this case it was Jenny McCarthy, she blamed her son Evan’s autism diagnosis on vaccines, under the impression that Andrew Wakefield was correct. However, when other studies started being conducted, not a single one could even come close to duplicating his original results. As time has passed the link between vaccines and autism has been discredited on several occasions. The CDC has published several studies and conclusive evidence that vaccines DO NOT cause autism.


There is also a smaller, less addressed issue, that blaming autism on vaccines is equivalent to saying, you’d rather have a potentially dead child over a child on the autism spectrum. It teaches parents, teachers, typically level headed people, etc., that autism is comparable to the long term effects of preventable illnesses, and that measles and mumps, which could potentially kill, are preferable to an autism spectrum diagnosis. That is dangerous, offensive and near sighted.


The next major claim is that vaccines contain mercury—which yes, would be dangerous, if not regulated, but it is. In 1999 the FDA removed thimerosal from all childhood vaccines except some multi dose flu vaccines. Thimerosal contains mercury and was used as a preservative in vaccines, however that is no longer the case. The amount of mercury that used to be contained in vaccines has been proven not to be a danger to children time and time again, but the FDA decided to remove as much as possible anyway. This was to reduce the build up of trace amounts of mercury in the body over a lifetime.


Finally, a lot of anti vaxxers argue their “right to choose.” If you are putting your child out into the world knowing that they may incubate, spread, and infect others with a deadly disease, you have taken the choice from other educated people to live. You are a danger to everyone that decides to protect themselves, their children, and a danger to those who are too weak to be vaccinated (the sick, infants that are too young for certain vaccines, the elderly, etc.) You do not have the “right to choose” to trust Cheryl the Yogi from Facebook over thousands of medical professionals and irrefutable data. You do not have the “right to choose” putting everyone else in danger.


Protect yourself and everyone else by getting vaccinated.