It is truly a sad time in our country. The lack of respect for science is appalling and for some deadly. Whether you read about the child who died because the parents listened to an herbalist and took their child off of insulin or commentators that say all supplements are unproven and dangerous, the truth seems more elusive than ever. We are morphing from the information age into the disinformation age. Nowhere is this more apparent than the anti-vax movement.
Lawmakers in Arizona are trying to pass three bills that would make it easier for parents to opt out of getting life-saving vaccinations for their children and even encouraging them to do so. Anti-vaccine advocates there are winning the debate with false narratives just as they did in Washington where almost 70 people have been diagnosed with measles. The false narratives run the gamut from autism risk to measles might reduce your cancer risk. Both statements are proven false beyond a shadow of a doubt. One of the most absurd commentaries is that the real reason diseases like polio and measles are low is that they were already running out of steam when the vaccines were introduced and that the vaccines do not really stop the diseases they claim to eliminate.
The United States has had zero cases of polio since 1979, so most people alive today have no frame of reference regarding the dangers of polio and measles, especially those with infants. So it is easy to understand that a lot of people might be confused about the claims coming out of the anti-vaccine movement. Is it true that there can be side effects from vaccines? Absolutely there are side effects. But the incidence of side effects is extremely low. Whereas a disease like measles can spread like wildfire. It used to kill 2.6 million people a year. That is what has been happening in Madagascar where vaccination is rare. Over sixty thousand are infected, over 1000 people are dead, mostly children with two thirds of the deaths occurring in 2019. Deaths are occurring in Europe as well. Measles cases are at their highest in 20 years, with 60,000 cases and 72 deaths. Many of those are in Italy, where anti-vaccine groups got their politicians to enact a law to end compulsory vaccines, like what they are doing in Arizona. It has since been repealed. Hopefully Arizona and the rest of the country will come to their senses. The anti-vaccine movement does not meet the logic test. It is sad that it has taken death and suffering to prove that point.