Vaccination saves lives

Staff Editorial

In light of the recent measles outbreak, many Americans are left wondering how this practically nonexistent disease has suddenly reemerged. To vax or not to vax? That is the question. We here at The Brookhaven Courier say: “Go get your shots, please.” Essentially, this outbreak is part of the increasing anti-vaccine movement, fueled, in large part, by a discredited, retracted study.

In 1998, British medical journal, The Lancet, published a now discredited study written by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and a dozen co-authors. According to Wakefield, the results of his study suggested a link between childhood immunizations, specifically the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine, and chronic health conditions, primarily autism.

Following Wakefield’s article, Great Britain experienced a measles outbreak in 2008 and 2009. The United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency attributed the measles eruption to a large decrease in the number of children receiving the MMR vaccine.

What many people do not know is that shortly after the paper’s publication, many medical professionals set out to fact-check Wakefield. What they found was there is “no epidemiological evidence for a causal association” between the MMR vaccine and autism, according to an article also published in The Lancet.

Even more disturbing, Wakefield’s data, which was based on a control group of only 12 participants, was found to be heavily peppered with false information.

Upon discovering Wakefield’s study to be fraudulent, The Lancet completely retracted the paper in 2010. Wakefield and his colleagues were found guilty of ethical violations and Wakefield’s license was revoked.

The remaining arguments seem to be based on various claims of religious and constitutional freedoms, misconceptions about delaying vaccinations and Jenny McCarthy’s outrageous assertion last year. Yep, Jenny McCarthy.

In a Huffington Post blog on the subject, McCarthy said:

“Almost all kids get vaccines — injected toxins — very early in life, and our own government clearly acknowledges vaccines cause brain damage in certain vulnerable kids.”

The link provided by the e-cig-pushing Playboy Playmate provided to back up her claim the government “clearly” acknowledges vaccines cause brain damage, directs visitors to a friendly “Page Not Found” notice on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.

The fact of the matter is this: There simply is not enough – if any – evidence to suggest that immunizations cause significant health problems.

In an interview earlier this month with CNN, Emmy Award-winning chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta dispelled the belief vaccines cause mental disorders.

“One of the old adages is that a correlation does not equal causation,” Gupta said. “That maybe kids who have had mental disorders that have also received vaccines around that time in life, that just because those two things happen around the same time, does not make one causing the other.“

The majority of medical professionals agree herd immunity, or the mass immunizations of a population, helps to keep the majority safe from infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the measles is an airborne virus that can survive in the air or on surfaces for up to two hours; and according to an article by Michaeleen Doucleff for npr.org, the disease is roughly nine times more contagious than Ebola.

To put the numbers into perspective, for every person infected with the measles, approximately 18 more will contract it.

Possibly the most disturbing piece of information in this whole debate is that the measles was declared “eliminated” in the U.S. in 2000, according to cdc.gov – and there were more cases of measles in January 2015 than in all of 2012, according to newsweek. com.

According to the CDC’s website, “Measles elimination is defined as the absence of a continuous disease transmission for 12 months or more in a specific geographic area.”

The measles strain from the Disneyland outbreak earlier this year, affecting 26 people altogether, is identical to the virus terrorizing the Philippines, where the disease infected roughly 53,000 people last year, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In this land of the free, it has become life-threatening to walk on campus, visit a movie theater or visit a grocery store. Simply breathing at “The Happiest Place on Earth” should not be one more danger to add to the list.