Vaccination studies suggest low risk, high health benefit

The outcry over vaccinations is overblown--and dangerous

Geoffrey Young, Reporter

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A week before Christmas, a single confirmed case of the measles was reported to have come from the happiest place on earth. Since then, the number of measle cases in the US has climbed dramatically. According to California’s Public Health Department reported that 39 of the 123 infected individuals appear to have links to Disneyland, while an additional 46 people are presumed to have contracted the virus on location.

Despite the bad publicity Disneyland is dealing with right now, it cannot be any worse than the backlash potential Republican presidential candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, has gathered from his remarks on vaccinations.

“All I can say is we vaccinated ours” […] “”parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that’s the balance that the government has to decide.”

What a conundrum. Popular opinion says Christie should be in favor of mandatory vaccinations for public safety’s sake, or support voluntary vaccinations for the right of choice despite the potential cause of outbreaks. It’s a double-edged sword, but what is the right choice?

Let’s look at another Republican presidential candidate’s opinion. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul said:

“I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.”

Or cue Michele Bachman and her accusations following a 2011 CNN/Tea Party Express debate:

“There’s a woman who came up crying to me tonight after the debate. She said her daughter was given that [HPV] vaccine. She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine. There are very dangerous consequences. It’s not good enough to take, quote, ‘a mulligan’ where you want a do-over, not when you have little children’s lives at risk.”

It would appear that many in the Republican Party are uncertain on how reliable low-risk vaccines are at preventing susceptible children from getting sick. However, none of them has been able to prove that there is any correlation between vaccinations and mental retardation.

I checked Sen. Rand Paul’s accusations with a nonpartisan fact checking source, factcheck.org, which reported,

“The senator’s office was unable to provide a single example of a vaccine causing a mental disorder; nor did his office provide any information on the specific type or types of mental disorders or vaccines that caused disorders to which Paul was referring.”

Later, a citation from the Institution of Health from August of 2011:

“Vaccines offer the promise of protection against a variety of infectious diseases. Despite much media attention and strong opinions from many quarters, vaccines remain one of the greatest tools in the public health arsenal. Certainly, some vaccines result in adverse effects that must be acknowledged. But the latest evidence shows that few adverse effects are caused by the vaccines reviewed in this report.”

The article lists a few minor consequences as a result of certain vaccinations providing the excellent example of the measles vaccination. Though rare, some may contract the measles as a result of receiving the vaccine – go figure. The same goes for chicken pox.

Although there is a small risk, get vaccinated. Vaccines are a lot like household disinfectant wipes; there is still that .1 percent chance of a defect, but it “kills 99.9 percent of germs.”

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