Sunday, November 7, 2010

Anti-vaccine fears have consequences

The fears of the anti-vaccine movement are not only unsubstantiated, but they create more disastrous outcomes than the very worst of their ignorant prognostications. Case in point: my colleague had to deal with an elderly Native man having a transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke) right in the pharmacy. It was a harrowing incident for her and many in the store. Unfortunately the gentleman refused to go to the hospital even after the paramedics arrived and confirmed my colleague's diagnosis because he "felt better". What did this lead to in our store? An outpouring of congratulations to my colleague and the brave way she handled the whole situation? Frustration at a man who was generously helped by a caring health professional but then refused to take responsibility for his own health? Nope. The spreading of unsubstantiated rumors that he had been given the stroke by the flu vaccine my colleague is giving patients right now. First of all, there is absolutely no evidence linking vaccines to strokes, not even in the most ridiculous assertions of the online anti-vaccine movement. Second of all, the GUY NEVER EVEN GOT THE FLU VACCINE.

The truly ironic fact of the anti-vaccine movement is that while they are willing to accept thoroughly disproved scientific tenets they refuse to accept well documented truths. For example, North American lifestyle causes much more morbidity and premature mortality than even the most outlandish prediction of vaccine-induced adversity ever would. More importantly, acceptance of their argument and application of their solutions to this non-existent problem would cause and DOES cause even more suffering as evidenced by an incredible article in The Guardian.

Vivienne Parry does a phenomenal job documenting the consequences of the anti-vaccine movement. The most depressing aspect of this article is that anti-vaccine fears of affluent North Americans that are able to fend off infectious disease with relative ease are causing the most harm to those least able to defend themselves against infectious disease: the impoverished in developing nations. Read the article. If after reading it you still harbor animosity toward vaccines then give your head a shake. And spare the rest of us. If you want to put your own life at risk by not getting vaccinated against dangerous diseases, fine. But don't put the rest of the world at risk by spreading your virulent misinformation.

1 comment:

ZDoggMD said...

Agree 100%. Made a silly video about vaccines: