A great debate has recently flared in the media over the last several months. It is over vaccinations and whether parents have the right to refuse them for their children. Perhaps calling it a debate is overstated, since there appears to be no anti-vaccine voices in the current media blitz.
There are daily reports, reminders, articles and statements for the advocacy of vaccines. The pervasiveness with which the message has been distributed and the tone of the message, make it appear to be an orchestrated media campaign.
Articles have been written and published demanding that parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are not only irresponsible toward them, but also to the children of the community at large, therefore it should be considered a form of abuse punishable by arrest. One such article published January, 2015 in USA Today, by Alex Berezow, likens the “anti-vax” parents’ irresponsibility to the community, to that of drunk drivers. He suggests these parents be arrested. Another article by Dan Diamond, published by Forbes Magazine, advocates the civil suit of parents who choose not to vaccinate. In this article he also states that 1 in 5000 unvaccinated children will die from measles annually. An article in the Los Angeles Times by Michael Hiltzik is titled, “Rich, Educated, and Stupid Parents Driving the Vaccine Crisis.” The message has clear intent: To frighten and intimidate parents to vaccinate their children and to rally the masses to put peer pressure on these parents to do what is right for the herd. There is no legal precedent to have a parent arrested for choosing to not vaccinate his or her children.
The Center For Disease Control (CDC) states that 105 children died in 2013 from flu related complications. Approximately 94 of them were not vaccinated. The CDC also admitted that the 2013 flu vaccine had a 60% effective rate. The CDC reports that, depending on the vaccine, 90 to 95% of all children in the US are vaccinated. (There is a margin of error of + or – 3%) According to childstats.gov, there were 73.6 million children in the US in 2013.
There are potential risks and side effects to vaccines. According to the CDC, Gillian-Barre Syndrome, (GBS) an auto immune disorder, has been associated with the flu vaccine in very rare cases. They say one in one million people who receive the flu shot will get GBS, however they also admit the collection of data regarding GBS for 2009 is still being analyzed. Another concern surrounding the flu shot is the preservative, Thimerosol. Thimerosol contains trace amounts of mercury. Each flu vaccine contains 50 micrograms of mercury. Immunize.org states there is no evidence to support the trace amounts of mercury in Thimerosol has shown to cause harm to those who get the vaccine. Preservative-free flu shots are available in limited quantities.
A 1998 study conducted by a British physician, Andrew Wakefield, sought to connect vaccinations to autism. Twelve years later, it was revealed that Wakefield had been receiving funds that have been construed as a conflict of interest, thus rendering his results devalued. This has lead a charge to the recent push that all vaccines are safe. There is still much concern among parents over the load of vaccinations scheduled while an infant’s immune system is still developing.
Another clue this appears to be an orchestrated media campaign is the generalized, “Vaccinate your children” message. By posing the message this way, all vaccines are weighted with the same importance. That is irresponsible. Physicians providing his or her patients with efficacy ranges for each vaccine and weighing illnesses by it’s danger, is responsible.
With the staggeringly low percentage of unvaccinated children, and the negligible percentage of child death due to flu, with no statistics being gathered on the number of deaths due to measles, one has to ask, who is creating the current debate? It is clear that vaccinations are administered and appear to be successful. Where, exactly, is the controversy then?