Imagine this scenario: You’re a dedicated civil-servant. You go to work daily and come home to a beautiful family. In this family, you have a two-year-old child who has an autoimmune disorder and could not be vaccinated as a result.
You spent countless weeks interviewing and researching the best childcare facilities in your area to eventually find the one that will take the best care of your child. Everything seems perfect—until you pick up your child one day and find out that a child other than yours at that day care was unvaccinated.
Even more appalling is that this child had not had any medical exemptions preventing them from being vaccinated. Instead, the parents of the child opted out due to misinformation on the internet.
You might be thinking that this is not a common occurrence, but unfortunately due to social media, the anti-vaccination movement is growing exponentially. Although many social media websites have fought the spreading of misinformation, it has not stopped the growth of the anti-vaccination movement.
The history of this movement is not recent. In fact, it dates clear back to the late ‘90s when a doctor by the name of Dr. Andrew Wakefield falsified a study connecting vaccinations to autism.
Although it has been disproven by multiple scientists in multiple studies by the CDC and other health organizations, people are holding true to this study.
But why would people believe a falsified study?
The answer is simple: People are easily persuaded by fear. This is the main tactic of many Anti-Vaccination groups on Facebook. Groups such as “Stop Mandatory Vaccination” and “Erin at Health Nut News” are wildly popular as they focus on fear tactics rather than studies proving elsewise.
They claim to have evidence about the dangers of vaccines, but they all come from people without medical experience or people who have lost credibility in the medical community.
These groups claim that vaccinations are a ploy by the government and Big Pharma companies to poison and debilitate babies.
They claim that salts in vaccines, such as thimerosal, are terrible for you when in fact these “salts” are actually already in your body and leave no harm to you. These salts in vaccines are adjuvants to make the vaccines work.
To put the cherry on top, they will even go as far to claim that there are traces of fetal remains in vaccines. This claim is far from the truth and, again, has been debunked many different times.
This fear mongering needs to stop immediately. Stop spreading false information and leave the medicine to the actual people who study it. Medical personnel do not spend years in college to be told by a blogger mom that their degree in medicine is subpar to their research on the internet.
If you choose to not vaccinate yourself or your children, you need to rethink your stance immediately. You are choosing to put your child at risk for diseases that should not exist in the United States anymore like polio, measles and rubella.
You may think listening to the propaganda is the right thing, but as someone going into a health field, I cannot sit by and let people be scared of something that will help them. I cannot let someone harm a child due to the ignorance of others. That is the biggest travesty I could ever allow myself to do.
I can no longer hold silent about this issue as I have many friends from high school beginning to jump on the bandwagon. They share posts from many of these fear-induced pages on Facebook and it is making me sad. It is time to put an end to the anti-vaccination movement, and it needs to start here— right now.
Your fellow pro-vaccination ally
Alli Snider is a second-year PP2 student in the PharmD program.