Fight the Anti-Vaccine Rhetoric With Science


Crossposted from

They are motivated by shared concern for their children and community. They know that vaccines prevent many childhood diseases and that by maintaining high vaccination rates in their community, they maintain herd immunity. Perhaps they’ve seen the comparison of morbidity rates in the pre- and post-vaccine era and understand the significant impact vaccines have made in preventing the worst childhood diseases. They may have been worried about the outbreak of measles among families who took their children to Disneyland earlier this year, which hit unvaccinated people the hardest. Regardless of how they came to this decision, the vast majority of parents understand that the risks of vaccines are low relative to their tremendous benefits.

This is good news for the health of our communities. It’s crucial that we continue to keep talking about immunization, because vaccine opponents are relentless — see the comments on my piece here for many examples of the bad science and provocative rhetoric they employ.

Speaking up is the most important step, letting parents know that their decision to vaccinate is the safest and most common way people protect their children. The anti-vaccine minority is disproportionately loud, partly because vaccines are so safe, effective and ubiquitous that they become part of the background landscape of parenting. Fortunately, in reaction to harmful pseudoscientific scaremongering and events like the Disneyland outbreak, people are motivated to speak out in favor of vaccines.

It matters how we talk about vaccines, too. That’s where the most room for improvement lies in 2015. Writers want the discussion to be dramatic and too often try to paint “anti-vaxxers” as demonic or vile. Or they try to use the vaccine debate as a weapon in the larger culture —> Read More