How the anti-vaccination movement turns a blind eye toward history

On Wednesday, Google’s home page featured a happy illustration. In a street scene, smiling adults watched children play joyfully. Two children carried a sign in honor of the occasion: “Thank you, Dr. Salk!”

On the 100th anniversary of Jonas Salk’s birth, some stopped to recognize his achievement and generosity in developing a polio vaccine and sharing it with the world. Many were happily oblivious to the day’s significance because we were born into a society almost entirely free from the threat of this deadly and crippling disease. 

Salk’s son, Peter, among the first to receive the vaccine in 1953, marked the occasion with a warning: some are forgetting the harsh reality of what epidemic disease can do. In an interview published by The Atlantic, Salk was clearly baffled by the anti-vaccination movement. And to those with a historical view, it is baffling.

In 1998, British doctor Andrew Wakefield published the results of a study claiming to prove a link between standard childhood vaccinations and autism. As word spread, parents worried about the risks of vaccinations. Some decided immunization was so risky that they would not expose their children to its supposed hazards.

But Wakefield’s findings were false. Follow-up studies failed to confirm, and Wakefield himself has been unable to reproduce his results. An investigation uncovered deliberately falsified data in his work and named his study “an elaborate fraud.” Wakefield was paid more than $600,000 by lawyers who were hoping to sue vaccine manufacturers.

No one has confirmed valid scientific evidence that immunizations are linked with autism or that their risks outweigh their benefits. Yet based on this snowball of misinformation, growing numbers of parents balk. At this point, 10 percent of American parents refuse or delay vaccinations for their children.

Now infection rates for diseases once rare in North America are climbing - particularly measles. In 2008, more than 90 percent of people who contracted measles were not vaccinated or had unknown vaccination status. And in 2013, the rate of measles in the United States was triple the yearly average. Almost all cases appeared in places where many unvaccinated people live.

According to federal statistics, since 2007, 128,000 Americans have become sick with preventable illnesses due to lack of vaccination; 1,336 have died. When the immune rate in a population drops below 95 percent, even vaccinated people are susceptible because the effect of a person’s vaccination wears down over time.

Peter Salk is wrong. We aren’t forgetting the past; we’re refusing to learn from it. The parents of young children in today’s developed countries have no memory of polio or other severe epidemics - they have the luxury of “forgetting.” What scares them is the risk of side effects they can imagine, without appreciation for the wider context that makes vaccination an obvious choice.

Worry is choosing to stay in a place of fear - even when overwhelming evidence tells you the threat has passed, that you can make a better choice or you can’t obtain the kind of control you’re trying to establish. This trend provides a striking example of how worry can cause people to make unwise, unsound and even dangerous choices for the sake of soothing themselves.

Christians are called to live differently - with wisdom, sobriety, care for the common good and trust in a God who is completely capable and has this world well in hand. These orientations toward life come from the Holy Spirit, whose influence we squeeze out when we choose worry.

What does wisdom dictate? Overwhelmingly, vaccination. What does love call for? Vaccination - not only for the sake of children, but for everyone. Worry and wisdom rarely share a bed.

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My mom told stories of her parents contracting polio. It led to her father no longer being able to practice medicine and her mother being almost house bound. Why anyone wouldn’t take a vaccine to avoid that is beyond me.

I could not agree with this more. It blows my mind the overall ignorance of people when it comes to vaccinations.  They do not realize the harm they are placing not only their child but all the kids around them. This is an article from last year about a mega church in Texas that was preaching about Faith Healing over medical doctors. While I believe in faith healing, I also believe that God brings healing through the hands of doctors and medicine. A majority of the church was unvaccinated and when a visiting missionary showed up carrying the measles virus a large number of the church came down with the virus. After this the church changed its tune begging the congregants to get vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus.  This shows the power the church has in this situation.

Ok.  I have some additions and a nit-pick. 

Starting with the nit-pick. The statistic that is mentioned concerning the rise of Measles—I would like to point out there are things that could have affected such rise like increase of immigrants, international students, as well as increase of traveling Americans and tourist in America.  When I read a stat. like that I think about what affected it and these are also contributing factors not just for the rise in Measles, but also other infectious diseases. 

    I don’t believe children should have NO vaccinations at all.  I DO believe that there are WAY too many vaccinations today.  If you ask a doctor for the basic/necessary shots they give your kid everything.  We DON’T need vaccinations for everything.  At the rate we are going kids are going to have live in sanitized bubbles because they aren’t being exposed real germs and bacteria, etc. 

I also feel like it is teaching our kids that if they get these needles they’ll always feel better, and never get sick.  (What to say that it won’t carry into adulthood in a negative way—I would like to find the stats on difference in adults with needle drug addictions back when there were less vaccination and now—not saying that it is happening just a thought.) 

It’s this idea that if we are giving kids vaccinations for everything we are unintentionally teaching them that medicine is the answer and the cure all for all things in Life and not God’s healing or protection. 

For me it is the amount of vaccinations, and all that your pumping into your kids body at once.  I really don’t believe that it is safe for kids to be pumped with 5 vaccinations at once and repeatedly with-in a 1 year period. 
Not to mention vaccines aren’t even forever you have to keep getting more.

This is very conspiracy-theorist just seems like the drug companies are the ones profiting the most out of all this (out of the newer less necessary vaccines that is).

Not all advances are good advances and not all things in this world are good for us or meant for us to use.  Fast food is convenient, delicious, and makes less dishes for you but it doesn’t mean it’s healthy or people should eat it.  Just because I have the internet doesn’t mean I should use it all day and ignore my children.

I can see what you are saying about the good of vaccines and where the inventors came from and the purpose they made them for.  But I think we are called to be discerning in what we give our children and should thoroughly research or look into (know and understand) what it is that is going into our kids, what we are teaching them (making sure they understand that our protection is ultimately from God) and what it will or will not do to our child(ren).  In so doing making the right decision for your child that is educated, and discerning.

First of all, I agree with your comments about the statistics.  There is a lot of unknown factors that could contribute to those statistics.

Second, vaccines do not keep a person from being infected by bacteria or viruses. What it does is up the response time from the adaptive immune system so that they body can respond faster to the pathogen. This keeps the person from showing symptoms.  Therefore they are still being exposed.

Third, I think it is a wild jump from giving kids vaccines in shot form to them being addicted to IV drugs. Do you have any research to back up a correlation between these two events? Is there any data on this?

Lastly, I agree our protection does come from God. I also believe that God gave us brains, intelligence, knowledge, and wisdom. God can use anything to do His work. I believe He gave us medicine, vaccine, and doctors to facilitate His healing. Could God supernaturally prevent you from getting small pox of course He could. Could God have supernaturally put a bubble around noah and all the animals, without a doubt, but God used a man to build a man made ark to protect them.

The challenge is that well-meaning and loving parents have been mislead. They are not going to be convinced of this error if they are constantly painted as ignorant. This will only entrench them in their position. They need to know that we love their children too and we are trying to care for them. Our call to be our brothers keeper should cause us to respond by speaking the truth in the context of love. Much of what I see on Facebook is very condescending to parents who with the best of intentions made a misguided decision. Facts and statistics may be far less convicting than someone expressing their love and concern.

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