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False claims against vaccinations pose a massive threat to public health

Nick Valenzuela, Staff Writer

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For quite some time, there has been a belief among uneducated groups of society that vaccines cause more harm than good.

Most recently, there has been controversy that the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine causes autism in children given the vaccine at young ages.

This bogus, completely groundless idea was spread when former British doctor Andrew Wakefield published a study about MMR vaccines and behavioral problems in children. His test group was comprised of a whopping 12 children.

Following the study, he quickly escalated his accusations, claiming his research showed that the vaccination caused autism in the children he studied.

As is customary of American society, many latched on to the idea like fodder as it gave them something to blame for why their child had behavioral problems or autism.

Back to reality, Wakefield’s initial study and subsequent claims have since been discredited and his right to practice medicine revoked, but the damage the ripples of his claims caused is still being fixed.

Celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey support the false claims, which in turn has led to countless fans receiving false information, furthering the spread of ignorance and leaving hundreds of children unvaccinated.

Because of these celebrities abusing their prominence, the fears are now experiencing a resurgence.

So why should our society care?

These people’s kids don’t get the vaccines, they might contract one or two of those diseases, but that doesn’t really affect the rest of us right?

Wrong.

Many people in the world rely on something called herd immunity to keep them safe.

There are those out there who medically can not receive vaccines because, for some reason or another, they are immunocompromised. That is to say, their immune systems are weak, which means getting a vaccine can be dangerous if their body can’t elicit an immune response.

So instead, these people rely on those around them being vaccinated so we don’t catch a disease and pass it on to them.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States is in the midst of the worst measles outbreak in 20 years.

Typically, “the US averages about 60 cases of measles a year,” according to Mayo Clinic.

In 2014, according to the CDC, 288 cases of measles were reported between Jan. 1 and May 23.

Measles is extremely easy to prevent through getting a simple vaccine. However, because of the spread of the already-discredited claims, parents aren’t getting their children vaccinated.

This should not be a problem, people, but it is, and the fear of vaccination almost certainly won’t stop there.

How long until we start to see a spike in meningitis or human papillomavirus infections?

Meningitis infection can result in swelling of the brain and HPV complications can cause cervical cancer.

Both can typically be prevented by receiving proper vaccination, but a generalized fear of vaccination in American society could result in unnecessary infections and needless deaths all because people chose to buy in to misleading information.

Vaccination is extremely important, and so is the eradication of ignorance.

Anything that features as bold a claim as a vaccine causing a genetic disorder needs to be looked into further.

Both sides of an argument need to be considered to make an informed decision, especially when the health of hundreds if not thousands of children and kids are on the line.

A simple search on Google will present all of the information that is needed to make an informed decision on the safety of MMR vaccinations and the importance of vaccination in general.

Get yourselves and your children vaccinated and protect those in the herd who can’t.

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False claims against vaccinations pose a massive threat to public health