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The Great Vaccination Debate

By Osmond Ekwueme

With the medical community thrown into bewilderment over the political interference of politicians about the utility of vaccination, medical experts must begin to react. Recently, two top contenders for the Republican presidential nomination appeared to question whether child vaccinations should be mandatory — injecting politics into an emotional issue that has taken on new resonance with a recent outbreak of measles in the United States.

Is it appropriate to vaccinate or not?

This is a question being thrown around in the media and political shows in one of the greatest, most advanced countries in the face of the world, USA….as if this was still pre1960. A colleague of mine asked: Wasn’t this question rationally decided more than 60 years ago, and everyone agreed that public health and preventing disease was important? Well, it seems with politicians, nothing is ever definitely and rationally decided. It explains why some politicians still hate social security and want to eliminate EPA. The incessant drumbeat by these politicians undermines the respect for scientific studies on many subjects and is the most cause of this vaccination crisis. Once again, ideology trumps reason. I hope this will wake up enough rational people.

The recent measles outbreak goes to show that some penalties or incentives to vaccinate are necessary to have  a sufficient portion of the population be vaccinated in order for “herd immunity” to be effective. That allows for the best protection for those too young or who cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons. Just remember that if you choose to not vaccinate your children, whether or not they are affected as a child, you increase the risks of serious health conditions in their teen and adult years…or maybe you can just pray on it.

Unvaccinated children are a serious risk to public health, exposing the immune suppressed babies and senior citizens to a potentially life-threatening disease. Vaccinating your children isn’t a freedom of choice issue; it is a public health issue. When your kids aren’t vaccinated against communicable diseases like measles, they are endangering everyone around them. When I was a child vaccinations were a normal part of life and expected before entering school or while in school. It was not optional and should not be today for the good of us all. Here is something else to contemplate anti-vaxxers, most of you have been vaccinated, so why wouldn’t you want to protect your children the way your parents protected you? Really, you  are a danger to your own children and a danger to society.

It is incomprehensible to me that we can mandate auto insurance before you register a car or drive it, but allow some parents to optionalize vaccinations for their children. The coercive power of government should be spent on making people safe.

Honestly, I can’t figure out how it is we came to the idea that everyone’s opinion on every subject is somehow valid. It is not and if you don’t know what you are talking about, you don’t hold a valid opinion on the subject. But somehow people who cannot tell you the difference between an antigen and an antibody feel they are fully qualified to render an opinion on the subject of vaccines. It just baffles me to no end, when people who have zero education and experience in immunology equate their opinion with that of  immunologists who spent years of their lives studying the subject at a very high level. Pick a subject: value of vaccines, science of global warming, value of fluoride and chlorine in our water supply, astrophysics, biology….you will find a whole crowd of indescribable people who will tell you their opinion on the subject all day long.

The whole thing is insane. Determining such important policies of  Public Health should not be decided by politicians and an uninformed public. Until fairly recently vaccines were mandatory for all children enrolled in school unless for genuine medical reasons.  Short of allergy, age and a compromised immune system, there is no valid reason not to vaccinate. This ant-vaxxers nonsense arose out of the proven faked study done by one Dr. Andrew Wakefield in Great Britain, for a law firm suing vaccine companies linking autism to vaccination. That study was proven to be falsified and Dr. Wakefield had his license taken away to practice medicine. The reason that autism isn’t diagnosed until after vaccines is because autism isn’t usually noticed until around 5 years old. Yes, indeed believing that “vaccines come before an autism diagnosis, therefore vaccines cause autism” is as utterly absurd as believing “diapers come before an autism diagnosis, therefore diapers cause autism”. They don’t understand science and they rely on discredited “studies”. Anecdotal stories and beliefs are not empirical scientific studies.

When you are getting your medical advice from politicians and TV celebrities, you need something better than random confirmation bias with a heavy dose of cognitive dissonance. There is no debate !! If people do not want to believe in science in the first place, then they should not be able to rely on science when they are sick. It is telling that even when it comes to flirting with a measles epidemic, some people are weak on the social responsibility angle and strong on the individual choice angle. Getting vaccinated isn’t just about you, it is a public health issue.

Osmond Ekwueme MD, PhD.
Medical Professional and Policy Analyst, WI. USA

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