One of the negative ramifications of growing up in the internet age is the false sense of intelligence we all have developed. There is no more healthy debating on any given subject. You’ll find most of these conversations ending in “but I saw this on the internet so it has to be true”. Unfortunately, this new way of thinking has placed a generation of children at risk against very easliy treated diseases.
To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry have tossed their opinion in the this forum. It surely doesn’t help matters when you have the likes of Barbie inspired Jenny McCarthy trying to sell the merits of an anti-vaccination movement stating that vaccines cause autism. Only to backtrack her stance saying she was misbranded and misunderstood. The damage is done when someone with her media presence speaks out against vaccines. This plants a seed of doubt in any parent that is sitting on the fence.
Far worse than the Barbie effect was the 1998 publication of a fraudulent research paper in the medical journal The Lancet by Andrew Wakefield. This paper single handedly lent support to the false notion that colitis and autism spectrum disorders are linked to the combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR). The author had multiple conflicts of interests, had manipulated evidence, and had broken other ethical codes. The paper was retracted in 2010 but once again the inevitable damage was done by allowing it to stay published for 12 years.
The fact of the matter is that there is no scientific evidence that links vaccines to autism. In contrast, smallpox has been eradicated by vaccines, saving aproximately 5 million lives annually. Polio could be next. Over 80% of the world’s children are now being immunized against the polio virus, and the annual number of cases has been cut from 400,000 in 1980 to 90,000 in the mid-1990’s. Besides these two, vaccines have also brought seven other diseases under control according to UNICEF.
Any parent voluntarily choosing not to immunize their child is irresponsible. Their utter disregard for public safety should be treated criminally. The other option will only penalize the child by not allowing them to attend school. There is no moral nor religious reason that can justify endangering the health of child, especially when their exists an easy remedy. We are their gaurdians and our mission should be soley based on their well being.