Separating Science from Fiction

The Atlantic recently published a story on the dangers of anti-vaccine rhetoric, “Destabilizing the Jenny McCarthy Public-Health Industrial Complex.” The article describes the hysteria around the alleged link between autism and vaccines, which has since been scientifically discredited. The public campaign created fear among parents, some of whom chose not to vaccinate their children.

As the author states, “Anti-vaccinators risk not only the lives of their own children, but also those of others who are too medically fragile to get vaccinated and must instead rely on ‘herd immunity.’” In fact, diseases that can be prevented through the use of vaccines are reappearing due to the anti-vaccine movement – including pertussis (whooping cough), measles, and mumps in the U.S. and the U.K.

The article emphasizes the importance of remembering this story as it is a good example of how misinformation that is widely disseminated can have a devastating impact on public health. By the time the scientific community showed that there was absolutely no link between autism and vaccines, the resulting damage and harm was widespread and in some cases irreversible. For more information on CDC recommendations for childhood vaccines, please visit this link.

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