By now, many of you are probably aware that large technology companies are stepping forward to combat anti-vaccination misinformation. The biggest names include Pinterest, Google (who owns YouTube), and Facebook. The American Medical Association and the American Association of Pediatrics stepped forward with an open letter requesting social media companies to do more to combat false and misleading propaganda against vaccination.
The World Health Organization includes vaccine hesitancy as one of the ten biggest threats to global health in 2019. And there is a good reason for this. At the turn of the 20th century, a third of all children born died before their 5th birthday. Today, less than 4% of children born in the US will die by the age of 5. The 20th century saw the introduction and use of every recommended vaccine in use today. Certainly improvements in sanitation and water quality have a significant impact on mortality, but today, the number of people suffering from the lifelong damage caused by pertussis, polio, and other vaccinated diseases has plummeted. The systematic use of the HPV vaccine has Australia on course to wiping out genital cancers in the next 20 years, not mention genital warts.
Vaccination has provided a society where parents are not afraid of their child dying from illness, and can focus on worrying about their infants’ emotional development. This is great! And that’s why vaccines are great. Vaccines are the single best health innovation to come out of medical research–they are the most effective, safe, and cost-saving medical intervention you can provide your child.
The truth is treating disease is never as effective, safe, or cost-saving, but more than that, a vaccination is a lot less traumatizing. No one wants to watch their child’s body twisted by painful muscle spasms caused by tetanus, a ubiquitous bacteria. No one wants to watch their child turn blue and gasp for air from pertussis.
Not sure what to make of the anti-vaccine messages you’ve encountered? Here’s a video that about responding to anti-vaccination campaigns and beliefs.