McCarthy Promotes Dangerous Vaccination Myth

VaccineAmerican lives are being endangered as anti-vaccination movements gains popularity. Over the years, it seems that the topic of vaccines are seeped in controversy, causing many to forgo getting their vaccinations. As a matter of fact, when the study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield in 1998 first came out, stating that measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines could cause autism, there was a steep decline in MMR vaccination compliance as panic overtook the public.  Even now, despite the fact that “idea is unsupported by scientific evidence, denounced by the entire medical world and ascribing to it could be deadly,” the belief that vaccines can cause autism runs rampant, as influential people like Jenny McCarthy continue to support and promote this claim. However, what McCarthy and supporters of the anti-vaccination seem to ignore is the fact that the cost of decrease in vaccination is the increase risk of getting sick and the potential for an outbreak to happen. While McCarthy is entitled to her opinions, vaccination is one topic that affects not just the individual but also the entire population, thus making vaccines everyone’s business, not just her own. McCarthy’s support on the vaccine-autism controversy will only continue to encourage people to forgo vaccinations, eventually leading the nation to a higher body count.

Dr. Wakefield first started the vaccine-autism controversy in 1998, when his study on 12 children, “five [of which] showed developmental problems before receiving the MMR vaccine and three never had autism,” showed results that vaccines could cause autism. However, what the public did not know at the time was that the study was a fraud. A law firm, one that was looking to sue vaccine manufacturers, had paid Dr. Wakefield “more than 435,000 pounds ($674,000)” to create and falsify data so that the research would produce results that showed causation and correlation between vaccines and autism. Despite the fact that there were glaring critical flaws in his research, it took six years, making it the year 2004, before this was discovered. By the time Wakefield’s medical license was stripped from him and his study retracted, it was too late; the damage was already done. In the wake of Wakefield’s publication, vaccination rates dropped sharply, “falling as low as 80% by 2004,” as well as an outbreak of measles in London. In fact, there were “more cases of measles [being] reported in 2008 than in any other year since 1997.” According to the CDC, “more than 90% of those infected had not been vaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown.”

Nonetheless, in spite of the fact that Wakefield’s study was discredited and that many studies have been conducted to show no link between vaccines and autism, the controversy still remains strong. It also doesn’t help that McCarthy continues to support the idea, adding fuel to the proverbial fire that is parental fears. As a matter of fact, people like Tom McCarthy, Katrina vanden Heuvel, and David Perry believe that McCarthy and her beliefs are dangerous. McCarthy, with her history of being an American model, comedic actress, author, and activist, she has the eyes and ears of the public. More recently, she was added on as a co-host on The View, an ABC talk show that “focuses on a panel of five female co-hosts, who discuss a variety of social and political issues,” allowing her access to a wider group of audience, most of which are for her to promote her beliefs to. Besides being a celebrity, she is also a mother with a child diagnosed with autism, giving her an incredible amount of ethos, that is, credibility through character and authority. In other words, she can get the public to listen to her because of her celebrity status and furthermore, get parents to listen to her because of her motherhood status, as well as playing off of the natural fear and desperation that parents have when in regards to their children’s safety and health. In fact, in a survey done by the University of Michigan, a quarter of parents said they trust the information provided by celebrities about the safety of vaccines.

However, despite all her popularity, one cannot claim McCarthy as an expert on either vaccines or autism. If she had only done her homework, she would find plenty studies that disprove her belief and though researchers don’t know what exactly causes autism, the one thing they DO know about autism is that vaccines aren’t to blame. What concern parents should do, instead of listening to McCarthy’s unsupported claims, is listen to the REAL experts: these of the medical field, people who actually specialize in the field, people like Dr. Matthew Murray. Dr. Murray would be more knowledgeable in this issue and thus hold more credibility then McCarthy, or at least he should. Isn’t it just common sense that one should trust doctors, not stars, on topics such as vaccines? This is a valid concern, as it seems that a quarter of the public would readily accept the information provided by a celebrity faster than that of a medical experts.  Use your common sense and take a moment to think about it: If you were sick, whom would you go to? A doctor or a celebrity? That’s right, the answer is, obviously, a doctor. You know why? It’s because a doctor is the expert on all things medical. Unless the celebrity has documented proof that they’ve gone through medical school and earned a medical degree, I’d always choose a medical expert over a celebrity any day, hands down.

Furthermore, something McCarthy fails to mention is the true cost of not vaccinating: the revival of a dead disease. Look back at the aftermath of Wakefield’s publication, the decrease in vaccinations lead to an outbreak of measles in London. In fact, Wakefield’s lie to society is more costly than just an outbreak of measles; there are the financial and social aspects to consider as well. In the present day, what is happening in Syria is a similar case. Due to the country’s deteriorating health situation, Syria faces it’s “first outbreak of the [polio] disease in 14 years.” While this could have been prevented by vaccination, they did not have access to it. In fact, Europe is at risk once more as Syrian refugees fleeing the country’s civil war inadvertently brings polio back to them. This is what happens if one doesn’t vaccinate. Not only is there mass panic as a dead disease comes back from the dead, the outbreak that would inevitably follow would claim many lives before a new vaccination could be made to combat the disease.

This just goes to show, vaccines are everybody’s business. If one person decides not to get vaccinated, it doesn’t just affect that one individual, it affects us all. With the exception of these who are allergic to the vaccines, please keep in mind that to not vaccinate is to revive a dead disease, as well as cause outbreaks of diseases. Neither of these two options is acceptable. Both options have the potential to cause a lot of deaths. Vaccinations prevent diseases from happening, not cause autism like McCarthy claims. In fact, the whole myth about vaccination causing autism was founded upon a fraud. That should say something about the validity of such a claim, does it not?

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