Thursday, March 20, 2014

Measles Are Back! Vaccine Truthers Officially a Public Health Menace

From Salon via AlterNet:

It’s back. Three years after public health officials realized that they had been preemptive in declaring that measles was eliminated in the U.S., new outbreaks of the highly infectious disease are once again cropping up in cities across the country. And it wold be a mistake, epidemiologists warn, not to take this extremely seriously.

As expected, the outbreaks have caused plenty of outrage directed against Jenny McCarthy and the crowd of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. Writing in the Daily Beast, a pediatrician using the pseudonym Russell Saunders calls it “sheer lunacy”: “Just over a dozen years ago this illness was considered eliminated in our country,” he writes, “and this year people are being hospitalized for it. All due to the hysteria about a safe, effective vaccine. All based on nothing.”

More here.

Okay, as you may know, I'm very much into the idea of questioning the conventional wisdom on all kinds of topics, especially politics and economics.  I'm also in no way opposed to questioning something that I'm told is "science," but generally my line of questioning for that is limited to whether something is actually science or just being called science--after all, we live in an era when corporations commission "scientific" studies aimed at getting precisely the conclusion they want, an era when these same corporations use their economic might to gain influence within various governmental agencies dealing with science, such as the EPA or the FDA; prudent skepticism is necessarily a wise course of action.  

But there is no real doubt about the science on vaccines.  Vaccines, of course, have side effects.  But they also stop deadly diseases in their tracks.  And autism is NOT one of those side effects.

Why anyone, anyone at all, would take the word of a former Playboy Playmate over the word of the scientific and medical communities is beyond me, but then lots of human behavior is irrational.  I mean, people deny evolution and global warming, too, in spite of the science being totally solid.  The bottom line is that Jenny McCarthy's utterly misguided crusade against vaccines is persuading enough parents to refrain from vaccinating their children such that we are now having epidemics that we shouldn't be having.  Needless to say, that's REALLY BAD.

So if you ever encounter one of these weird and dangerous vaccine "truthers" spouting their vaccine bullshit, do me, yourself, and the human race a favor: tell these people they are literally endangering society, and tell everyone within earshot that if they believe this crap, too, and spread it to others, they're essentially killing people.  Beliefs really do matter.  And, in this case, the stakes are high, life and death.  This insane "movement" has to end right now.