6 Head-Scratching Reasons Moms Give for Not Vaccinating

baby vaccineIn all the yelling about whether or not to vaccinate, and all the finger-pointing as to who is more to blame for the current measles outbreak, right-wingers who distrust government intervention or left-wingers who distrust anything not completely organic, little things like facts tend to get lost in the shuffle. (For those playing along at home, California has the highest number of unvaccinated kids, and Mississippi, the lowest.) 

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Those who choose not to vaccinate their children genuinely believe that they have perfectly good reasons for not doing so. But sometimes that reason comes down to a story they once heard from a friend about a friend’s cousin, or some article they read by some scientist. Unfortunately, in this age of instant information (and misinformation), some article by some scientist very easily might be about as credible as that friend’s cousin, once everyone with an agenda has gotten through playing telephone with it.

Here we sift through some of the more popular and widely held convictions from parents on why not to vaccinate, and the real science behind the myths.

1. That study by that doctor, you know the one, who proved that vaccines cause autism. Anyone who doesn’t believe it is an anti-science, climate-change denying, evolutionist nut and/or a GMO-loving shill in the pocket of big Pharma.

“That” study is the Wakefield Study, conducted in 1998 and based on observations of just 12 English children. The study asserted that all of the subjects began demonstrating autism-like symptoms immediately following their MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccination. Consequently, a British medical group found Dr. Wakefield guilty of dishonesty and misconduct, accusing him of falsifying his results and obscuring the fact that for many children the symptoms began long after or, in some cases, even before the shot.

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The medical journal that had initially published the study retracted it, with the support of 10 of Wakefield’s co-authors. The New York Times called the study a fraud. The British Journal of Medicine called it an elaborate fraud. Wakefield has since been stripped of his medical license. Meanwhile, 107 other, independent studies have debunked it.

2. Europe has a much less aggressive vaccination scheduled and they’re doing perfectly fine with it.

Actually, it’s not, and they’re not. The only difference between vaccination schedules in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland -- the countries most often cited -- and the US is the absence of an early chicken pox and Hepatitis vaccine. It does not apply to the MMR.

As for the doing fine part, Germany is currently suffering from a measles outbreak about 10 times worse than the US, with doctors speculating that the affected children are ones who were either vaccinated too late for the medicine to be effective or skipped their required second dose. The majority of the stricken adults are those born between 1970 and 1990, when vaccinations were not as strictly mandated.

3. The Amish don’t vaccinate, and they don’t get measles or autism.

Actually, the Amish do vaccinate. Those who don’t do get measles. And some do get autism. (This study cites a rate of 1 in 91 children, which is far different from the 1 in 10,000 number touted by supporters.)

4. The current president, Barack Obama, said that vaccines cause autism.

It was, in fact, Senator Barack Obama who was responding to a question about the connection between autism and vaccines in 2008 and said, “The science is right now inconclusive, but we have to research it.”

President Obama said in 2015, “The science is, you know, pretty indisputable. We’ve looked at this again and again. There is every reason to get vaccinated, but there aren’t reasons to not.”

Same first letter, same number of syllables, totally different word.

5. The former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that vaccines cause autism.

Also in 2008 (what a coincidence!), then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said, “I am committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines.”

On February 2, however, the politician and grandmother tweeted:

6. Measles is a common childhood disease that everyone once used to get, and we all survived.

In 1980, before widespread vaccination, measles killed 2.6 million people a year. In 2013, even with 84 percent of the world’s children vaccinated, the disease still killed 145,700.

What are your reasons for vaccinating ... or not?

 

Image via shutterstock

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