Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Don't be an April fool - get (your kids) vaccinated

If there’s one thing that irks me as much as Homeopathy, it’s the anti-vaccination crowd. Therefore, I think that posts like the recent “Dear parents, you are being lied to” at Violent metaphors, deserve as much publicity as they can get. It's a well structured piece, heavily laden with links for further reading, with a heartfelt plea:

In only one respect is my message the same as the anti-vaccine activists: Educate yourself. But while they mean “Read all these websites that support our position”, I suggest you should learn what the scientific community says. Learn how the immune system works. Go read about the history of disease before vaccines, and talk to older people who grew up when polio, measles, and other diseases couldn’t be prevented. Go read about how vaccines are developed, and how they work…

As Professor Simon Foote wrote around a year ago, Parents have a moral obligation to children. Make no mistake about it, failing to vaccinate puts both your children and the children of others at risk. (And not just children.) As the Jenny McCarthy body count reports, preventable deaths in the US alone have exceeded 1300 since 2007, with 100 times that number of preventable illnesses. Whilst not the sole cause, anti-vaxxers must take a share of the responsibility for this.

Like Jennifer Raff at Violent metaphors, I’m sure that some of those opposing vaccination and/or advocating “parental choice” are doing so with the best of intentions. However, good intentions are no defence against disease and anti-vaxxers across the spectrum should take a long, hard look at themselves and ask whether their reasons for opposing the overwhelming global medical and scientific consensus are worth endangering even one life.

If you're not sure, I highly recommend reading the whole article. And if that’s too tame for your tastes, there is also the classic “Angry scientist finds an uneducated internet comment and delivers an epic response…”, which has a slightly less nuanced (but also informative) correction of some anti-vaxxer lies.

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