Friday, February 13, 2009

Vaccines don't cause Autism

The science is clear, and the legal rulings are coming faster and faster. The original study (Wakefield, 1998) was flawed and the author is being investigated for misconduct, and over the course of the following decade dozens of studies worldwide have shown conclusively that there is no link between vaccinations and autism.

Does that mean there shouldn't be concern about the number of vaccinations, their interaction with the body, and the safety and health of all people? Not at all. But this autism-vaccine scare has gone on long enough. Autism is a difficult disorder to diagnose, and the symptoms don't all show up with consistent timing and sequence. And the fact that the MMR vaccine is given at 18 months means that there is very little development time for noticing autistic tendencies. In fact, it's not until about 18 months that those tendencies start to appear.

This is obviously a post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy - just because the MMR vaccine (and many others) are given at around the same time that early autistic tendencies are noticed does not mean that one caused the other. It's clear from the research that's been conducted that there is no difference in autism numbers, regardless of vaccination status.

And the risks aren't just for the kids who don't get the vaccines. Herd immunity is critically important for public health. We need about 95-98% of the population immune to a communicable disease to keep from triggering outbreaks. Since this bogus vaccine scare started, the vaccinated numbers have dropped -- from over 97% in the late 90's to less than 85% now.

And what's happened? Outbreaks of measles, polio and other easily preventable illnesses. Not vaccinating your children is a reckless public health threat. There's no other name for it -- it's a threat and a risk for all people.

When you get vaccinated, you not only help yourself by immunizing against the disease, you also add to the blanket of protection that covers all people in your community. If everyone is vaccinated, then no one can get sick. Even if there are a few that don't vaccinate (for whatever reason), they are still protected by that greater public blanket. But poke enough holes in it, and the blanket starts to leak, and the infections, sickness and death follow quickly.

We haven't eradicated the diseases we innoculate against - we've simply put up a shield against them. And these anti-vax morons are trying to rip apart that shield and put everyone -- not just their own selfish selves -- at tremendous risk.

Please, educate yourself about the safety and security that complete vaccination creates. The risks are real, and the idea that these are "old" diseases is a fraud - they still exist, and they still kill, maim and disable. If we succumb to the irrational and fearmongering anti-vaxers, we'll end up with easily preventable, curable diseases making a "killing" on the death charts.

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