At the latest meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), more than 80 attendees identified themselves as part of the vaccine hesitancy camp. Given what we know today about the many benefits associated with the modern medical miracle of vaccines, that’s 80 attendees too many.
While asking questions about science and data is a good, legitimate part of the scientific method, our digital world provides vocal critics, even politicians, a platform to spread spurious myths that vaccines are riskier than the diseases they prevent. Yet as we’ve seen in the Pacific Northwest – home to America’s most outspoken anti-vaccination activists – with the recent dangerous measles outbreak, it’s alarming to consider that false claims and fake news is putting communities, children and families in jeopardy.
The truth is, while misinformed advocates are ramping up the pressure, scientifically based evidence continues to mount, debunking these pervasive myths about vaccine safety. Just this week, research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine again dismisses the notion of any link between developmental disorders like autism and the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, adding to a volume of data from years of previous studies confirming the same. As the Washington Post reported:
“Researchers at Copenhagen’s Statens Serum Institut examined data for Danish children born from 1999 through the end of 2010, more than half a million people. The epidemiologists and statisticians then used population registries to link information on vaccination status to autism diagnoses, as well as to sibling history of autism and other risk factors.”
The results were compelling and undeniable:
“The findings show the vaccine does not increase the risk of autism, lending new statistical certainty to what was already medical consensus. The researchers further concluded vaccination is not likely to trigger the developmental disorder in susceptible populations and is not associated with a clustering of cases appearing after immunization,” the Post concluded.
From both an economic and public health standpoint, vaccines have the ability to shape and change the world. By nearly eradicating once-devastating diseases like polio, or helping prevent measles outbreaks in communities across the nation, vaccines are widely recognized as one of the most important advances in medical history. Any efforts to undermine this tremendous progress could threaten individuals and society for generations to come.
For more information on CDC recommendations for vaccines and immunizations, click here. And if you have questions about the data on vaccines’ impact and safety, chat with a health care professional you trust.