Anti-Vax Face the Facts


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Myths about the MMR vaccine vary widely, claiming they cause Autism and other disorders. Despite studies disproving this myth, some American’s distrust “Big Vaccine”

Every day, your body fights to keep you alive. Around every corner, there is a chance of somebody coughing or sneezing – sending hundreds of thousands of microorganisms flying at 100 miles per hour towards you. The human body has adapted over centuries to protect yourself from these tiny creatures, and some of the biggest, baddest diseases have been defeated by pure human ingenuity – in the form of vaccines. But what if this wasn’t the case? What if, despite the years of developing these life-saving medications, you outright refuse to immunize yourself, or your loved ones?

Nearly 2.2% of American children have to live their lives this way, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Their immune system is able to be compromised by diseases which are largely preventable and have been nearly extinct in the developed world for decades. Some live this way due to religious beliefs, but the majority are at risk because of the influence of one scientific report.

On February 28th, 1998, a scientific report by Doctor Andrew J. Wakefield, which is now redacted, was published on The Lancet, a weekly general medical journal. The report concluded that the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccinations, otherwise known as MMR, caused intestinal abnormalities in children, as well as autism, using only a sample of 12 children. This report has been repeatedly refuted by several studies such as one report by Anjali Jane, MD which concluded that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and the development of an autism spectrum disorder, or ASD for short.

“In this large sample of privately insured children with older siblings, receipt of the MMR vaccine was not associated with increased risk of ASD, regardless of whether older siblings had ASD. These findings indicate no harmful association between MMR vaccine receipt and ASD even among children already at higher risk for ASD,” said Jane.

Despite this credited research, Anti-Vaccine groups have found their home on the internet where they can create an isolated community and further the narrative that there is evidence that links autism to excessive vaccinations. ‘The Age of Autism’, for example, is one such community. They claim that they expose the truth behind vaccinations, which the medicine community does not want you to know. In their one-pager about the link between vaccines and autism, ‘The Age of Autism’ defines their core beliefs, and highlights their viewpoint on the cause of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

“Vaccines are causing the autism epidemic. Exactly how that is taking place is subject to much discussion both within and without the vaccine safety community – again, vaccine injury denialists claim it never happens. But far too many parents, families, and an increasing number of independent journalists and medical professionals know the truth. Vaccines that are untested and unsafe when given individually or in combinations – whether a mercury-laden flu shot in utero, as many as nine vaccinations at 6 months, or the MMR at age 1 – are clearly implicated. Because that threatens many powerful interests and comfortable orthodoxies, confronting the vaccine-autism link is assiduously avoided,” according to ‘The Age of Autism’ from their website.

Former British doctor Andrew J. Wakefield produced a fraudulent scientific report falsely linking the MMR vaccine to autism. Courtesy of Getty Images.

The importance of most everyone being immunized is shown in a concept known as herd immunity. Herd Immunity protects people with weakened or failing immune systems, such as those with cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and certain genetic disorders by having the healthy people around them immunized against diseases. This isolates disease breakouts and protects those weaker individuals. However, with the recent drop of people being vaccinated, preventable disease outbreaks have ravaged non-vaccinated individuals, not discriminating against those who are physically unable to get vaccinations and those who choose not to immunize themselves or their children.

This infographic shows how herd immunity works to protect non-vaccinated individuals. Courtesy of the Medium.

Despite being put at a questionable medical risk, Benjamin Agnew, Junior at Lake Ridge High School, doesn’t necessarily live his life differently than his vaccinated counterparts because of herd immunity. Agnew claims that his mother suffers from a certain genetic mutation which weakens the immune system, and his mother worries Agnew suffers from the same defect. With a weakened immune system, Agnew’s body is at a slightly higher risk of getting a disease from vaccination, even though the chance of someone having a severe adverse reaction to vaccines is just one in a million.

“I’m vaccinated for most major diseases, so for things like Mumps, Rubella, Polio, and most of the stuff you get very young. Around intermediate school or middle school my mom stopped vaccinating me. She has a genetic disorder that causes her to have a detoxification level that is much lower. She’s nervous that I have this exact same thing, so she took me off, but my brother was already in high school and my sister had already graduated at that point. I’m not vaccinated for Meningitis and different STD vaccinations. In my specific case, I don’t really need to live differently, but its because I’m vaccinated for a lot of the main stuff,” said Agnew.

The Texas Department of State Health Services requires all students to have the Tdap, Polio, MMR, Hepatitis A and B, Varicella, and Meningococcal vaccines, with the only exceptions being religious, medical, or conscientious beliefs. These exemptions might be used by several Christian denominations, such as the Church of Christian Science, in order to not vaccinate their children. Christian Scientists, while not taking an official stance on vaccinations, believe that their prayers will be the main thing that cures them from any disease, not vaccines or medicines. For Islam, the Organization of Islamic Conference and the 15th annual conference of the International Fiqh Council concluded that vaccines do not pose an ideological threat to Islam. Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism similarly concluded vaccines are in accordance with their religious doctrine, according to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Symptoms of measles include a rash, fever, and cough. Measles is highly contagious, and can kill if it is not treated properly. Courtesy of the World Health Organization.

Despite the proven effectiveness of vaccinations, people still choose to not vaccinate themselves or their children, which certainly doesn’t help stop the spread of disease. Four measles cases in DFW have occurred this year, and one of these was in Tarrant County, according to Dallas News.

While the recommended two doses of the MMR vaccine is only 97% effective, immunizing yourself and your loved ones against any and all preventable diseases, according to the CDC, may very well save their life, and yours.