Despite years of studies from around the world that confirm the efficacy and safety of vaccines, many parents are still hesitant to vaccinate their children. Now three new studies have uncovered intriguing results on the support among the general public for the theory that vaccines cause adverse effects, particularly autism.
The “vaccines cause autism” theory gained support nearly sixteen years ago when now discredited British doctor Andrew Wakefield published a study that linked the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) to autism. Celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy jumped on the anti-vaccine bandwagon, propagating the “vaccines cause autism” myth along with other anti-vaccine messages.
However, the anti-vaccine movement began as far back as 1802 after the advent of the first vaccine, the smallpox vaccine, when vaccine inventor Dr. Edward Jenner was ridiculed by the media over fears that the smallpox vaccine would turn people into cows.
Despite overwhelming evidence that vaccines do not cause autism or other health problems such as asthma or diabetes, many parents remain reluctant to vaccinate their children, believing the popular media over scientific evidence. As a result, major outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases have been increasing.
Additionally, research indicates that pro-vaccination messages are ineffective, especially among parents inclined to believe the popular media and anti-vaccine conspiracy theories.
States Brian Deer, the journalist who uncovered the problems and unethical behavior with the Wakefield study:
“The recent research suggesting that lecturing parents, showing them cards, or presenting them with information in focus groups, is unsurprising. Whatever the safety profile of various vaccines may be, parents who choose to disregard medical advice are, in general, parents to whom it is important to believe that they are smarter than doctors. This is largely an issue of self perception, unrelated to any knowledge of vaccine efficacy or safety.”
Based on the studies that indicate current pro-vaccine messages are ineffective and that a significant proportion of the general population believes anti-vaccine theories, the researchers recommend an urgent reassessment of the psychology behind vaccine fears.
Vaccines save lives, but only if parents choose to vaccinate.
Anti-Vaccine Conspiracy Theories May Have Detrimental Consequences for Children’s Health: http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/news/2014/02/antivaccine-conspiracy-theories-may-have-detrimental-consequences-for-childrens-health.aspx
Evidence Supports It, So Why Are Parents Still Reluctant to Vaccinate Their Children?: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/274619.php
Colored Syringes: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/492716