The so-called Anti-Vaxxer movement has continued to grow despite dire warnings from scientists, doctors and government officials. Do these mavericks have the right to make choices for their children that put everyone else’s kids in danger?
Emergencies have been declared on both coasts as communities in Brooklyn and across the Pacific Northwest face measles outbreaks. This disease, once almost eradicated, is seeing a major comeback thanks to plummeting vaccination rates.
Although Anti-Vaxxers believe that vaccines can cause seizures in babies and encephalitis, there is no evidence to support that claim. In fact, the high fever associated with a measles infection is much more likely to cause infant seizures.
A certain percentage–around 95%–of the population needs to be immunized in order to provide coverage for those who cannot receive the vaccine themselves. People with cancer, HIV and other immune-compromising conditions cannot be vaccinated, so they depend on the “herd immunity” to keep them safe. Anti-Vaxxers have put these vulnerable groups in immediate danger.
Although drug companies do make money from selling vaccines, a quick crunch of the numbers reveals that they’d make a lot more if people actually got sick. The $12 MMR vaccine actually saves countless dollars each year in medical costs.
A UK-based doctor named Andrew Wakefield led the charge against the MMR vaccine, which he claimed caused autism in children. His research has since been discredited, and further studies have completely debunked the idea.
A common argument from Anti-Vaxxers is that the measles vaccine makes you contagious to others. Although people who receive the vaccine might experience a mild reaction, including a very low fever, they are not contagious. People who actually contract measles, however, are contagious for weeks even after their symptoms fade.
Another common argument against MMR vaccines is that they contain mercury. While a trace amount of mercury is used as a preservative in some flu vaccines, doctors have clarified that it is not enough to be dangerous. There is zero mercury in the measles vaccine.