The problem with anti-vaxxers

Vogt for Pedro

Rachel Vogt, Staff Writer

Some people want to see the world burn. People like anti-vaxxers who don’t believe people should be vaccinated for various reasons fall under this category.

I think we should initially educate ourselves on when and where the anti-vaccine movement started. There has of course been criticism of vaccinations and the vaccination methods since they came into use by the Chinese as early as 1,000 C.E.

However, the more commonly known “start” of the practical use of vaccinations came in the year 1769 with Edward Jenner’s method to protect against smallpox. His method involved taking material from a blister of someone infected with cowpox and inoculating it into another person’s skin; this was called arm-to-arm inoculation.

Jenner’s method underwent medical and technological advances over the next 200 years, and eventually resulted in the eradication of smallpox.

The next monumental vaccination in history was Louis Pasteur’s 1885 rabies vaccine. Developments with the vaccine quickly followed with the study of bacteriology.

In the 1930’s, there were many more vaccines developed against diphtheria, tetanus, anthrax, cholera, plague, typhoid and tuberculosis among others.

The middle of the 20th century was an active time for research and development.

Methods for growing viruses in the laboratory led to rapid discoveries and innovations, including the creation of vaccines for polio. Researches also target other common childhood diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella. Vaccines for these diseases reduced the disease burden greatly.

The main argument that anti-vaxxers use to support their opinions about not vaccinating themselves and their offspring comes from a paper written by Andrew Wakefield that was published on February 28 1998 in The Lancet.

Wakefield made claims that the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination caused autistic enterocolitis, which raised the possibility of a link between a novel from of bowel disease, autism, and the MMR vaccine.

The paper was instantly controversial, and was followed up by many other studies conducted specifically by doctors in Japan.

The Japanese studies found that there was no casual relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism in groups of children given the triple MMR vaccine and children who received individual measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations.

This published paper discredited Wakefield and other contributing authors due to unethical behavior, misconduct, and fraud. His paper was deemed fraudulent after other researchers were unable to reproduce Wakefield’s findings or confirm his hypothesis of an association between the MMR vaccine and autism, or autism and gastrointestinal disease.

During Wakefield’s studies, it was found that children with autism were subjected to unnecessary invasive medical procedures such as colonoscopies and lumbar punctures, and that Wakefield had acted without the required ethical approval from an institutional review board.

On January 28 2010, a five-member panel of the General Medical Council found three dozen charges proved, including four counts of dishonesty and 12 counts that involved the abuse of developmentally delayed children. The panel then ruled that Wakefield had “failed in his duties as a responsible consultant,” acted both against the interest of his patients, and “dishonestly and irresponsibly” in his public research.

The Lancet fully retracted the 1998 publication on the basis of the GMC’s findings, noting that elements of the manuscript had been falsified.

This ultimately led to the revocation of his license to practice medicine.

To me, that makes the argument that vaccines cause autism invalid.

Another argument that is commonly used is “well if we don’t have polio anymore, then why should I get a vaccination for it?”

This ties into the argument about herd immunity and why it is essential. If people do not all get vaccinated, herd immunity is not put into effect, and they are less effective.

In my opinion, it is selfish to not want to vaccinate yourself and your children. You are not only putting yourself at risk, but you are also putting the people you come into contact with on a day-to-day basis at risk as well.

There is plenty of research to support why vaccinations are important to society, and vaccines wouldn’t exist if they didn’t work.