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Anti-vaxxers have caused a 30% increase in measles cases worldwide

The World Health Organization has announced that the amount of measles cases worldwide increased 30% from 2016 to 2017. The suspected culprit? Anti-vaxxers.

God damn it, anti-vaxxers. This is why we can’t have nice things. 

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According to SBS News:

In Europe, experts blamed the problem in part on complacency and misinformation about a vaccine proven to be both effective and safe. 

Martin Friede, WHO’s director of immunisation, vaccines and biologicals told reporters that “supposed experts making accusations against the vaccine without any evidence” has had an impact on parents’ decisions.

He specifically cited medically baseless claims linking the measles vaccine to autism, which have been spread in part on social media by members of the so-called “anti-vax” movement. 

Of course, this all stems from Andrew Wakefield’s retracted and thoroughly debunked “study” that linked vaccines to autism. You know, the one with absolutely no scientific merit or value that caused Wakefield to lose his ability to practice medicine? Yeah that one. The same study that he created to make the current MMR vaccine look bad in order to pave the way for him to sell his own version of the MMR vaccine.

Sleazeballs are gonna do what sleazeballs are gonna do. 

WHO stressed that the overall global fight against measles had shown impressive results this century. In 2000, there were more than 850,000 cases reported worldwide, compared to 173,000 last year. 

That progress made the recent setbacks all the more frustrating, said WHO immunisation expert Ann Lindstrand.

“We have a safe and effective vaccine,” she told reporters. “This is not rocket science, we know what to do.”

Exactly. Vaccines have become a victim of their own success. The anti-vaxxers we see screaming in the comment sections on Facebook don’t know what Polio actually looks like. They don’t know what Smallpox looks like. Hell, kids today don’t even know what Chickenpox looks like thanks to vaccines. So it’s easy to become complacent and think that these completely preventable diseases aren’t a big deal. 

According to WHO guidelines, preventing measles outbreaks requires 95 percent coverage of the first dose of the vaccine. 

Global coverage has stalled at 85 percent for several years, but the figure is lower in poorer regions like Africa, which had a coverage rate of 70 percent in 2017. 

Herd immunity works. We’ve seen it demonstrated time and time again. 

And don’t get me wrong – vaccines aren’t perfect. An extremely minuscule amount of people who receive a vaccine have reactions to them. But the benefits outweigh the risks. 

Think about it this way: Seatbelts can give you minor injuries during a crash. Does that mean seatbelts are bad or dangerous? Would you prefer to be ejected from your vehicle into a tree? 

It comes down to trusting doctors and medical professionals to have dedicated their lives to studying medicine and helping people be healthy. You either believe that medical professionals have your best interest in mind, or you don’t. I’m reminded of the viral Facebook post made by a nurse that I shared last week:

If they think that “Big pharma” is just trying to turn a profit or poison us all… they should be allowed to believe that.
But the caveat to that is this:
Then they should NOT go to the doctor or the hospital when they get sick, looking for treatment.

Exactly. Broken arm? Heart attack? Stroke? Just use homeopathy or whatever “alternative” medicine you choose to believe in, and let us know how it works out for you. 

Cover image credit: an image of a measles virus under an electron microscope (sanofi-pasteur/Flickr)

Written by Dan Broadbent

Science Enthusiast. Atheist. Lover of cats.

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