Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

The anti-vaccination movement—rotten to the core

Posted in White Coat Underground by Skepdude on February 8, 2009

The movement against vaccination is old—very old. All medical interventions require scrutiny. Like any medical intervention, vaccines require systematic investigation before deployment, and monitoring during their use. Still, vaccines have done more for public health than most Westerners under the age of fifty can imagine.

Inoculation and vaccination have been vilified in many ways, from interfering with the will of God, to being a vast conspiracy to infect [insert ethnic group here] with [insert disease here], to a cause of autism.

There have been “bad” vaccines, and when this has happened, even if the vaccine wasn’t clearly the cause of a problem, it was withdrawn. Other vaccines no longer have a favorable risk-benefit ratio, such as smallpox, and are no longer widely used. But the vaccines in regular use have been tested, retested, and tested again, and found to be very safe.

The modern anti-vaccine movement (or “infectious disease promotion movement”) was birthed in 1998 when Andrew Wakefield published a study in the Lancet, a prestigious medical journal. Based on observations of only twelve patients, Wakefield claimed that the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) somehow caused autism, via some type of colitis. This study led directly to a resurgence of epidemic measles in the UK, and fueled the American anti-vaccine movement, led by such brainless ideologues as Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Jenny McCarthy.



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