In three states there are currently measles outbreaks that officials and medical professionals are working to get under control. That is, to put it lightly, pretty much a nightmare. Of course, it’s a mostly avoidable nightmare thanks to vaccines, but we live in 2019 and so thanks to the anti-vaxx movement, it’s a nightmare that’s very real.
For the life of me, I will never understand how the anti-vaxxer crowd got so big. I mean, for starters, you’d think by their very lifestyle they’d be a population under threat of constant decline. But apparently all anti-vaxxer memes about babies dying before they’re five aren’t quite working out because the anti-vaxx movement isn’t going away on its own.
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It’s because the anti-vaccination people are sticking around that we have to educate them as much and as often as possible. The New York Times reported today on a study conducted on over half a million Dutch children, and published in the Annals of Internal medicine. In what will likely not be a shock to any readers of this particular website, the study found there is no link between the measles vaccine and Autism.
In emphatic language, the researchers, who followed 657,461 Danish children born between 1999 and 2010,stated in the Annals of Internal Medicine: “The study strongly supports that MMR vaccination does not increase the risk for autism, does not trigger autism in susceptible children, and is not associated with clustering of autism cases after vaccination.” (The New York Times)
There were children within the test group that were at some point diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. However, there was no increase in autism diagnoses among those who were vaccinated, or unvaccinated.
In time, 6,517 children received a diagnosis of autism. These researchers found no greater proportional incidence of the diagnosis between the vaccinated and unvaccinated children. This conclusion echoes a finding in their 2002 study of 537,303 Danish children, published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
In other words, and again this will shock virtually no one reading this: autism and vaccines aren’t related. At all. Autism isn’t something you catch. It’s not a cold. That’s not how it works.
The thing is, we better start getting really good at communicating to people how important it is to be vaccinated. Measles outbreaks are increasing in frequency. The doctor who lead this particular study noted an absolutely frightening estimation. If vaccination coverage dips just five percent, it will increase by threefold the number of measles outbreaks.
U.S. researchers concluded that even a 5 percent reduction in vaccination coverage would triple measles cases, with significant health economic costs. A main reason that parents avoid or are concerned about childhood vaccinations has been the perceived link to autism.
That last part is absolutely key. Dan reported on a story last week about one of the patients at the center of the Vancouver outbreak having a dad that was worried about his kid being diagnosed with autism, and that’s why they didn’t vaccinate. So, in case you missed it, that means we’ve got data to show there is no link between vaccinations and autism, but we’ve got anecdotal, direct evidence of a link between anti-vaccination and an outbreak of an infectious disease.
I’m not one to leave you all on a completely down note, so in the interest of leaving with some hope — lets’ all remember the story of Ethan Lindenberger. If you’ll recall, Ethan was a kid with an anti-vaxxer for a mom and he turned to Reddit for guidance and information on vaccines. After the Reddit community hooked him with the information and knowledge he needed, Ethan wanted to get himself vaccinated even without his mother’s permission.
Ethan’s state doesn’t allow minors to vaccinate without parents — something that clearly needs addressing in the future. But his story is one that shows us people can be led to water, and even drink. Hopefully there are more Ethans out there, and maybe a PSA campaign is in order.
If we can save Ethan from an anti-vaxxer life, we can save many more just like him.
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook and Instagram, but not Twitter because he has a potty mouth.