Another blow against anti-vaccine hysteria -- or is it?

October 24, 2007  ·  Michael Fumento  ·  Weblog

The vaccine preservative thimerosal has jumped the safety hurdle. Again. So indicates the Sept. 27, 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. But as I write in my TCS Daily piece, "again" is the problem. One huge study after another has cleared thimerosal as a cause of child developmental disorders, but there is a powerful lobby that couldn't care less.

There are over 150 anti-vaccine web sites. None will disappear as a result of the new findings. After all, who cares what a multitude of huge epidemiological studies from all over the world say when former Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy, with her 38 C IQ, claims on Oprah and in the new book she's hawking that her son got autism from a vaccine?

The major problem with this hysteria? It scares parents away from vaccination programs, even mandatory ones. And only mandatory programs can confer "herd immunity," meaning that immunization rates in the wider population are high enough (for example, 85 percent for diphtheria) to protect those not immunized.

Those who encourage parents to avoid vaccinating their kids are telling them to become free riders, relying on those parents who do vaccinate. But if enough people try to free ride, then herd immunity is lost and what follows is the return of childhood diseases we hardly think about anymore. Diseases like pertussis have made comebacks in countries as diverse as Australia, Japan, and Sweden after anti-vaccinationist scares.

Better known as "whooping cough," pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing. Pertussis cases went from fewer than 8,000 in the U.S. in 2001 to over 25,000 in 2005.

Reaching parents who have already been practically brain-washed is hard, but for the sake of our children we must do so.