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The East Texan

Sweeping the Vacci-Nation

Joseph Alderman, News Editor

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Ever since former doctor Andrew Wakefield co-authored a 1998 paper claiming a connection between MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccinations and autism, there has been an ever-growing movement of people opposing the practice. Despite the fact that Wakefield has now been publicly revealed as a fraud for this work and stripped of his medical license, his paper is still the primary document in the anti-vaccination argument. Now, 17 years later, we’re still seeing the consequences of Wakefield’s now-debunked paper, with a measles outbreak in Disneyland now working its way across the country and public officials politicizing the issue of vaccinations.

In the last week, two potential candidates for the 2016 presidential election have made statement supporting a parent’s choice in vaccinating, New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Kentucky senator Rand Paul. Typically, I am in support of freedom of choice, but we absolutely should not be supporting peoples’ decisions to endanger the lives of themselves, their children and everyone around them. These vaccines have over 50 years of safe, recorded use behind them that we’re suddenly throwing out the window because a fraud doctor and a c-list celebrity from the ‘90s (Jenny McCarthy) convinced enough uneducated people they were responsible for an epidemic that didn’t actually exist.

The general scientific consensus is that the increase in autism diagnoses in the last few decades can largely be blamed on changes to the diagnostic criteria of autism, not necessarily an increasing prevalence in the condition. What increase can’t be explained by this is being well researched, and none have found any link connecting vaccines to autism. Therefore, anti-vaccinationists (not sure if that’s a word) are resurrecting near-extinct diseases for absolutely no real reason. Politicians shouldn’t be catering to this dangerous mindset for the sake of winning a few votes or earning a few thousand dollars from interest groups.

I’m sure most of the people who read this are vaccinated and have every intention to do so with their own children. Currently, with the exception of those who refuse to do so for religious purposes, almost all of us should have been required to vaccinate for spinal meningitis simply to be here. Personally, I feel that even if there were more of a known risk involved with vaccinating, the ends still justify the means. There are whole generations still alive who live with the consequences of diseases like measles, such as permanent loss of hearing or nervous system diseases, not to mention lost loved ones. In 2000, the CDC declared measles eliminated in the United States. Yet here we are, with one confirmed case of measles in our state and dozens more across the country, waiting to strike at every poor fool who let it happen. As for me, there is one major immunization I don’t have due to an allergy, so if you are anti-vaccine, stay the hell away.

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Sweeping the Vacci-Nation