As anyone who knows me can tell you, I’m not one to gloat.
But I just couldn’t help myself this week when, reading through The Daily, I found a little bit of vindication.
See, a few weeks ago, I hammered out an (admittedly) hurried, almost angry rant about society’s view on vaccinations. I wondered out loud how far we’ve come as a society – at least here in the first world – that we can now debate their value, something we wouldn’t have dreamed of 40 years ago in this country. Or last week in Honduras.
Funny thing is, I thought I’d found one of those increasingly rare topics we could all agree on. I couldn’t have been more wrong. That blog post incited far more of a backlash than some of my worst political jokes. While most of the responses remained calm and reasoned, the flood of emails, phone calls and online postings blindsided me. And staring into my nearly one-year-old daughter’s eyes, I started to doubt myself.
So seeing a story this week that reported a whopping 86 percent of Americans still support vaccinations picked me back up. The new survey, by Harris International for the Center for Health and Risk Communication at George Mason University, showed even more support – 91 percent – for a child’s right to vaccination. Not only that, but 89 percent supported the federal Vaccines for Children Program and 86 percent definitely believe the benefits of immunizing children outweigh the costs.
And that’s really what it comes down to. Nothing is foolproof or completely risk-free. For every 100 cases of a seatbelt saving a driver’s life, you’ll find one where it didn’t. Or worse, when it made things worse. That doesn't mean we should stop wearing them.
Frustratingly, though, the public fear of vaccination-induced autism persists despite the complete dismantling of Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s study.
Funny thing is, the vocal anti-vaccine crowd needs the vaccinated majority to keep their children healthy. As we saw with recent pertussis and measles outbreaks in California, all it takes is a single unvaccinated parent or child to reignite another epidemic.
It’s ironic – or maybe just tragic – that our scientific advancement has allowed the luxury and comfort to question it to begin with.