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I am writing about this because in New York, in Times Square, there is a big CBS billboard showing an anti-vaccination advert. The message is shown every hour for 18 hours a day on the 20 x 26-foot full colour big screen. Every day, more than 1.5 million people and 60,000 cars pass through Times Square. That is a lot of people getting BAD advice.
Vaccination can prevent a child from getting serious diseases that can kill or cause long-term health problems. Vaccinated babies are much less likely to suffer the devastating consequences of these diseases. To me it is a no brainer, and I always struggle to understand why people buy into the scares the media peddles in regards to vaccinations. And while in the UK it is MMR, in France it was their Hep B vaccine, and other countries have their own fears. They always have to some strange and intangible link to politics, and the feeling of a country, as much as it does the illness and the protection vaccines provide.
A vaccine works by containing a tiny part of the virus or bacteria that causes the disease. When the vaccine is given, the body's immune system reacts towards the vaccine and forms a protection (antibodies) against it. These antibodies will be ready to protect a child or adult should he or she ever come into contact with that infection.
Immunisation helps to prevent outbreaks and epidemics of these infectious diseases.
No vaccine is free from side effects. Some parents focus on the side effects of the vaccines, instead of the diseases a child is protected against. The risk of serious complications from the vaccines is always much lower than the risk if a child falls ill with one of the diseases. It is as simple as that.
In 2008 there was a big brouhaha about the MMR vaccine. Numerous papers ran scaremongering articles about the possible link between MMR and childhood autism. It had been going for almost 10 years, and culminated just before the recession hit. This was a problem on several levels. It showed an ignorance about vaccines. It showed an ignorance about how scientific papers were reviewed, and it showed ignorance on the wide scale damage that could be wrought to many children’s lives as a result of this poorly researched story. Below is the copy from the NHS regarding the MMR vaccines’ side effects:
The MMR vaccine may cause a brief reaction that can begin from a few days to three weeks after vaccination. Your child may get mild symptoms like the diseases that are being vaccinated against, eg cold, skin reaction, fever or swollen salivary glands. Your child will not be contagious. Detailed and exhaustive research over the past few years has demonstrated that there is no link between the MMR jab and Crohn's disease and autism.
And even though numerous papers and articles have since debunked the idea, people still have the fear. Which in a way is understandable, especially if you have seen such alarmist headlines, but no retraction was printed. Paper's didn't run stories about what a lot of crap they were peddling because they would lose respect.
Anyone who thinks Vaccinations are ‘bad’ for want of a more accurate word, I would point them to the eradication of Small Pox, and the global impact on the lives of billions it has had. Something that would have been unthinkable in the past. I could go on, but I think you get my position on this.
For more information about bad science…and vaccines, I recommend the brilliant Ben Goldacre: