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To the editor:
I have often spoken out about “whackadoo” ideas and the recent upsurge of the anti vaccine movement seems misinformed or just plain crazy [and thanks to social media there is a lot of that going around].
The truth is that “vaccinations are one of the most important measures of preventive medicine to protect the population from diseases and infections. They are a public health victory that has contributed to decreasing rates of common childhood diseases, have even wiped out some diseases that were common in years past, such as small pox,” nearly eliminating malaria and polio.
For the modern anti vazzers, the target vaccine is the MMR [measles, mumps and rubella] which they believe causes autism.
Before the vaccine nearly everyone in the United States got measles and hundreds died from it each year. This movement rejuvenated by a paper presented by Andrew Wakefield, a flawed and unethical claim about the connection between vaccines and autism. Turns out that Wakefield, since stripped of his license to practice medicine, was in the pay of litigants against vaccine manufacturers, a fact he failed to mention to his co-workers and medical authorities.
The leading anti vaccine activist in this country is Jenny McCarthy who blamed the MMR vaccine for her son’s autism.* Her medical creds are a little weak, actually a lot weak, as she started her career in 1993 as a nude model for Playboy magazine becoming “Playmate of the Month, October 1993.”
In truth vaccines are a safe, effective, and inexpensive way to prevent infectious diseases. If nothing else going to your pharmacy, medical clinic or local public health office is a whole lot cheaper than a hospital stay for complication like encephalitis.
Sorry, Jenny, I believe that the Center For Disease Control and the World Health Organization have greater expertise over the safety and efficacy of vaccines that a “Playmate of the Month.” While her 38-24-34 measurements qualified her as a Playboy model, it did not make her an expert in disease control.
*Medical experts say her son’s symptoms are more consistent with Landau-Kleffner syndrome than autism.
Mary Kathryn Gepner