• July 1, 2015

'Anti-vaccination’ movement is illogical - The Breeze: Opinion

The war room 'Anti-vaccination’ movement is illogical

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Posted: Sunday, March 30, 2014 8:41 pm

Just recently, Croatia’s highest court decided to keep a law passed in 1999 that made vaccination of children mandatory. This comes as a very controversial decision for all the wrong reasons.

For the past few years, a virulent strain of lunacy and ignorance known as the “anti-vaccination” movement has attempted to persuade parents all across the world — although primarily in the United States — that vaccines prescribed by medical professionals and the government are actually harmful to children and should not be administered to them.

Using pseudoscience and in some cases outright fraud, these human vultures have, sometimes successfully, attempted to convince parents that vaccines are everything from poison to a government plot to keep children sick. All the while, some people have the gall to take advantage of a misinformed parent seeking to keep their child healthy by selling them holistic “medicines” that don’t actually help anyone but the people selling them.

To anyone with a basic understanding of medicine and a desire to help benefit society, these people should be regarded as dangerous not only to their children, but to others as well. This is why the United States should take measured steps to ensure that proper information about vaccines is given to parents to dissuade them from being convinced by conspiracy theorists and the scientifically illiterate.

When it comes to vaccination, it protects not only the person being vaccinated but other people as well. Scientists have coined the term “herd immunity” to describe the decreased likelihood of someone contracting a disease because of the immunity of those living around them. Because of vaccination, people who aren’t able to obtain or afford getting a vaccination are able to reap the benefits of others being vaccinated. When parents refuse to get their children vaccinated, it not only puts their own children at risk for disease, but increases the risk of others around them getting infected. This has led to a resurgence of diseases like measles, which was declared destroyed in the U.S. in 2000 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other easily preventable diseases affecting our nation’s children.

So, should we quickly put together a law like Croatia and force people to comply with vaccination? To me, that would be implementing far too heavy a measure for a problem that could be solved in a much easier way. Tackling the misinformation head on is one of the best methods you can use to persuade parents that these conspiracy theories have it wrong. Simply dismissing these theories out of hand is easy due to their absurdity. However, one must recognize that the people conjuring up these theories about vaccines are usually scared parents who simply want what is best for their children. Assuaging their fears and misconceived notions regarding these matters will not only educate them, it could potentially save a child’s life.

Whenever there is the ability to create fear and ambiguity, conspiracy theorists and con-artists will be there to prey on the misinformed and feed them lies and half-truths. It is our job as a society to ensure that we don’t fall into their traps, and educate each other with scientifically verified information.

Kevan Hulligan is a junior political science major. Contact Kevan at hulligkx@dukes.jmu.edu.