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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

To Vax or not to Vax... It shouldn't even be a question.

In 1998 a report published in the Lancet found tentative links between the combined MMR vaccine and autism and colitis in children. This is research has since been entirely discredited. The author of the report, Andrew Wakefield has since been struck off the medical register and his his findings deemed to be fraudulent. So why then have we found ourselves in the midst of a public health crisis? In the US rates of measles are hitting highs that have not been seen since pre vaccine days and its largely thanks to vapid celebrity 'talking heads' with no medical or scientific backgrounds who have seized on vaccines as their 'platform' and those who sit in thus 'anti -vax' camp seem, sadly immune to cold, hard evidence.

Despite there being little or no scientific evidence linking the MMR vaccine to anything other than, well not contracting Measles, Mumps or Rubella it seems plenty of people seem to be eschewing them in favour of making a concerted effort to bring back diseases which  we have largely banished. This is being done under the guise that these diseases, being 'normal childhood diseases' and therefore natural (side effects -high temperature, listlessness, skin rash, possibly leading to measles encephalitis, coma and death) are better than vaccinating against these diseases (side effects - might feel a bit out sorts, slight fever, in rare cases bit of diarrhea, will be grand in a couple of days)  because they are 'unnatural' and filled with bad science and black magic (or at least that's how they tell it!)

                                                    I assume I am not the only one utterly baffled/terrified by this?
Whilst many of us would no doubt agree that there are many, many wonderful things to be said for nature and that in some arenas, for example diet, a push to minimise chemicals and synthetic material from our diets might actually be highly beneficial (and before you ask, yes I know there is a far more nuanced debate to have on this and we'll have it another time, I am not anti GMO), in terms of conventional scientifically proven medicine, natural does not necessarily equal better. There is a reason we talk about scientific advancement. There is a reason we celebrate the near eradication of formerly debilitating and life threatening diseases (Well hello there polio, don't see much of you these days. Thanks medical science!). It is because they are inherently good things. Vaccinations protect our children, they protect us. Most importantly being vaccinated protects those who can't be. Those babies who are too young, those children (and adults) with conditions which either mean they cannot be fully vaccinated or whose vaccinations are not effective due to extreme immuno-supression. Its one thing to make a claim that it is your choice, but the decision to not vaccinate does not end with you. It has repercussions for that baby in the supermarket. For that elderly person you shared a lift with. For the kid with leukemia. Your decision to not vaccinate your child based on discredited findings and anti-science chinese whispers might well cost lives. Not just of your own children but of countless children who fall pray to what is at best your gullibility and worst your rampant selfishness and hubris. Think on that and consider what your decision to put lives at risk is really based on. What do you trust more? Some celeb or tried and tested science?

I am unapologetically and unequivocally pro vaccine. I support the right of schools and other institutions to exclude those who are willfully unvaccinated to protect those who can't be. Its a shame for the children of these woefully ignorant whack jobs but ultimately it is, as the recent outbreak in the US, in which ground zero was Disneyland demonstrates, a public health issue. It is bigger than any single one of us. There are so many things in the world we can't protect our children from the mind boggles as to why we would deny our children protection from the things we can. (oh yeah, and those parents holding their 'measles parties', you're awful, awful people.)

                                                            If this is on the level I am totally on board.

I normally try and see both sides when it comes to other peoples parenting decisions but the whole vaccination issue is one on which there are no shades of grey. If you're not vaccinating your kids, you're not part of the problem. You are the problem.

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