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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Real Threat

In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.

Dr. Peter Hotez at The Verge:
Though most parents in the United States do vaccinate their children, there are pockets where it has become increasingly common to refuse. For example, between 2003 and 2016, there was a 19-fold increase in vaccine refusal in Texas and a political action committee in the state is raising money to help parents apply for exemption. Vaccine skeptics have hosted an anti-vaccine march on Washington and Trump himself has falsely suggested that vaccines cause autism.
When enough people aren’t vaccinated, we lose “herd immunity” and the entire community is at risk. Using the examples of measles again, a single infected person can infect more than a dozen people who haven’t been vaccinated — many of whom are children or who have compromised immune systems. Last year, a JAMA Pediatrics study suggested that a 5 percent reduction in vaccination coverage is enough to risk a big outbreak. “This is a terrible self-inflicted wound and a lot of that is coming from the activities of political action committees using Tea Party language like ‘medical freedom’ and ‘vaccine choice,’’ says Hotez. “And so it’s incredibly disingenuous of those same individuals to worry about diseases that immigrants are bringing in.” Ultimately, the greater harm doesn’t come from refugees or asylum-seekers outside our borders, but from the anti-vaxxers, already right here in the US, who could make us all vulnerable.