Vaccination: Is there really something to debate?

MMR vaccine

There has been a lot of controversy about vaccines over the past few weeks. Some people believe vaccinations can lead to adverse health problems such as autism. According to a recent poll, 20% of Ontarians believe some vaccines can trigger autism.

Are vaccines bad for our health? Is there any truth to the arguments being made by the anti-vaccination movement? Let’s take a look at the evidence.

Most medical research has concluded that vaccines have historically been the most effective way to fight and eliminate infectious diseases. They have played a key role in reducing deaths from measles, mumps, polio and rubella. Vaccines also eliminated smallpox in the late 1970s.

According to the World Health Organization, vaccinations have cut the measles death rate dramatically over the last 50 years. In 1980 2.6 million people died of measles. Today, that number has dropped to only 145,700 today.

In 1958, there were over 750,000 cases of measles in the United States that caused 552 deaths. After the introduction of a measles vaccine in 1963, the number of measles cases and deaths have dropped significantly. In 2008 there were only 64 cases of measles, and none of them died.

Vaccination is a quick, five minute medical procedure involving a needle injection that protects you against measles and other deadly viruses for life. Who can argue against something so simple and so effective?

The overwhelming majority of senior officials in healthcare and government throughout Canada and the world support vaccinations. This includes politicians, health officials, doctors, senior bureaucrats in health departments.

If the evidence supporting vaccines is rock solid, why do people campaign against vaccinations? Celebrity Jenny McCarthy, whose son has autism, gave the anti-vaccine movement life after she went on the Larry King Show in 2008 and stated her belief that vaccines can cause autism. She and many other anti-vaccination activists refer to a study published by medical researcher Andrew Wakefield linking vaccines and autism. But most of his research has been widely discredited. The only documented side effects from vaccines only appear in about 1 or 2 cases per million. That’s only a .0001% rate.

It was a vaccine that eliminated smallpox from the earth. Vaccines are slowly getting rid of polio. Let’s not mess with success. Let’s keep the vaccines going. Many of our patients and clients have compromised immune systems, and they depend on us keeping dangerous viruses as far away as possible.

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