Vaccines Cause Autism

Wait... Do they?

Vaccines cause Autism. Chances are you've heard this phrase or something like it at least once in the recent past. You've seen Jenny McCarthy and a group of mothers tell emotional stories about how their child was perfectly normal before some mean doctor stuck a needle in his/her arm. These arguments pull right at your heartstrings, and have convinced thousands, especially mothers of children with autism, to stop vaccinating their children, and to fight for others to do the same. To them they are fighting for their children, and there can be no greater battle than that for a mother.

What Is The Anti-Vax Movement?

The Anti-Vax Movement, Vax being shorthand for vaccination, is a political movement that concerns itself with barring the use of vaccines to prevent disease. This is often done on the grounds that vaccines cause numerous harmful side effects, autism being a prominent one, and that they do not work as it is claimed by the medical community. This movement has grown larger and larger over the years, with numerous prominent celebrities joining the ranks and convincing mothers and fathers to stop vaccinating their children.

What Are Vaccines?

According to www.cdc.gov, vaccines are, "A product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease." This is done by exposing the immune system to a small dosage of the disease, causing it to develop a mechanism for destroying that disease. Therefore, if you are exposed to that disease in the future, there is a much smaller chance of you acquiring that disease, since your immune system is already armed to destroy that particular disease. Since they've started to be more used widely in the early 1900s, there have been thousands of studies showing the effectiveness of vaccines in providing immunity to all manners of diseases that were once a common cause of death, including Measles, Smallpox, Yellow Fever, and hundreds of other illnesses. There were earlier claims that it was thimerosol, an ingredient in vaccines containing small amounts of mercury, that was responsible for the rising levels of autism diagnosis, but thimerosol has since been removed from vaccines with no change in the autism levels. For a more extensive review of the evidence for vaccines, visit www.sciencebasedmedicine.org.
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If Vaccines are so useful, why are so many people anti-vax?

As I said, the mothers of children with autism are facing a daunting realization. When people are scared, they turn to the nearest explanation and latch onto it. Think of it like the Salem Witch Trials; when the townspeople of Salem heard horrible rumors of dead babies and magic, they pointed to witchcraft as an easy scapegoat. The mothers of the Anti-Vax movement are faced with a scary and intangible illness, and they have latched onto Vaccinations and the medical community as a scapegoat. It is basic human nature to look for someone or something to blame; to seek something to direct our anger and frustration towards. Like in the Witch Trials, the Anti-Vax community is made up of mostly good, caring people who are misinformed and misguided.

More Connections to the Salem Witch Trials

The Anti-Vax movement is lead by attractive, charismatic speakers like Jennifer McCarthy and Jim Carey, who capture the attention of concerned parents with their provocative statements and terrifying claims about government conspiracies and poisoning children. This is remarkably similar to The Salem Witch Trials, led by the charismatic pastor John Hale, who was preaching provocative non-sense about demons and possession. The people of Salem got caught up in Hale's fancy words, terrified by the prospect of something trying to kill them and their children, and awed by the pastor's commanding presence and confidence in his beliefs. This is the exact same trap that the everyday people of Anti-Vaccination Movement have fallen into. Imagine what the Salem Witch Trials could've turned into if Hale had modern methods of communication! In my eyes, The anti-vaccination movement shows exactly what would've happened, with witch hangings being substituted for allowing millions of children to die from preventable diseases. The real question is: Who is more to blame? The people of Salem, or the parents of the Anti-Vax movement? I suppose I'll have to leave that for the reader to decide for his/herself.

Bibliography

Novella, Steven, MD. "Vaccines & Autism." Science-Based Medicine. Science Based Medicine, n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2014.

McCarthy, Jenny. "In the Vaccine-Autism Debate, What Can Parents Believe?"The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 10 Jan. 2011. Web. 07 Dec. 2014.

"History of Vaccine Schedule." Welcome to the Vaccine Education Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 02 Dec. 2014. Web. 06 Dec. 2014.

Vaccine Child. Digital image. Naturesfare.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2014.

"Vaccines Are Effective." Digital Image. Vaccines.gov, n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2014.

The Salem Witch Trials. Digital image. Examiner.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2014.

Gritz, Jennie Rothenberg. "The Anti-Vaccine Movement Is Forgetting the Polio Epidemic." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 28 Oct. 2014. Web. 07 Dec. 2014.

About The Author

Thomas Schuberth is currently a 15 year old high school student at Jones College Prep. Thomas hopes to go to The California Institute of Technology where he will major in Theoretical Physics.