Last week, I covered the anti-vaxxer movement and how scientific evidence backs the efficiency of vaccinations and their direct link to decreasing the occurrence of several diseases.
I learned a lot about anti-vaxxers when my story aired – including that not one of those in opposition could provide any scientific evidence accepted by the community to counter my points. Now, I’m doubling down to shred the counter-claims of the anti-vaxxer crowd.
The first comes from those who say vaccines are a Big Pharma plot to get rich. But vaccines are cheap, one dose shots that keep people healthy - if vaccinations were just another way for companies to get rich, wouldn’t they want to keep us all sick?
The vaccines I’m talking about have saved lives. The World Health Organization notes 3 million lives are saved yearly and another 1.5 million could be saved with more effective programmes in place.
Anti-vaxxers also claimed that the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reported that autism does result from vaccines which is completely false. The proof can be found on their website. As for the suggestion that the Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR) shot contains mercury which some say is what’s causing autism, also false. Thimersal, the mercury containing substance used in some vaccines to prevent the growth of bacteria, was never a component of the MMR vaccine and was removed from all childhood vaccines in the United States in 2001.
My favourite rebuttal was that I MUST watch the movie “Vaxxed” directed by Andrew Wakefield. He’s the kooky doctor that published a paper (later retracted) claiming autism and irritable bowel syndrome were caused by vaccinations. He had his medical license revoked and was barred from practicing medicine in the UK. Of the 12 researchers that contributed to the paper, ten retracted, one wasn’t found guilty and the other, John Walker-Smith, had his license revoked too. He appealed his case and won, which some anti-vaxxers mistake for validation of his research. It isn’t – legal rulings aren’t science. The only thing his case shows is that Walker-Smith wasn’t guilty of using interventions on kids for research purposes because he was actually treating kids.
The documentary also details “whistleblowing” by some employees at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. One allegation is that African-American boys are more likely to have autism when vaccinated between 24 and 36 months. But, one whistleblower turned data over to a scientist named Dr. Brian S Hooker who then published his findings in the journal Translational Degeneration – which was, you guessed it, later retracted.
Sorry anti-vaxxers, two retracted papers and some blogs written by conspiracy theorists just don’t stack up against hundreds of peer reviewed scientific studies using different methodologies that all conclude that vaccines result in a decrease in the occurrence of diseases.