Believing Facebook over science

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Sometimes I think people protest or argue purely because they want to get angry about something no matter what it is. I think to myself, surely they have not looked at all of the information on hand about a particular topic and legitimately formed that point of view.

Then I realise that sometimes, people are just plain stupid.

How in 2017 are there still parents that don’t believe in vaccinating their children? Why does this debate even exist?

Over the weekend we read about anti-vaccine activists using secret Facebook groups to create backyard daycare centres to avoid No Jab, No Play laws.

With diseases like measles, mumps and whooping cough currently circulating in Australia, anyone getting involved with this lunacy is putting their children at risk of serious illness or death.

And yet the anti-vaccination crusaders continue their misinformed, unintelligent march forward.

The Sunday Telegraph last week revealed that Northern Beaches mother Heidi Street posted on ‘Vaccine Free Australia’, a group with more than 5000 members, that she was taking “expressions of interest” for vaccine-free childcare.

Ms Street says she “has a strong passion for children’s health and wellbeing”.

I’d call Heidi Street an idiot but that would be offensive to idiots.

The big concern is that there seems to be growing pockets of the community that are pushing parents to not vaccinate their children, and generally those doing the pushing are basing their arguments on myths and misconceptions.

One of the most common is that immunisation is somehow linked to increased risks of autism, diabetes and sudden unexpected death.

But these theories have been extensively investigated right around the world and dismissed time and time again.

Serious health reactions to immunisation are extremely rare.

Over many, many decades a large number of diseases have been completely destroyed thanks to immunisation.

For example, smallpox is said to have killed between 300 and 500 million people during the 20th century, but in the early 1980s it was declared eradicated from the world thanks to vaccination.

The World Health Organisation says that in 1980, before widespread vaccination, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year.

Between 2000 and 2015, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 20.3 million deaths.

Diphtheria, whooping cough, polio. The list goes on and on.

The medical evidence on offer, combined with the documented history and decades worth of studies, makes the decision around vaccination very easy for parents.

But there are seriously parents out there who would rather believe what they read on Facebook.

They would rather trawl the Internet looking at bizarre forums and crackpot websites to somehow prove that they’re onto something.

We seem to have entered a time in our world where we are determined to question authority and anyone deemed to be in a position of power.

Police have little respect, our politicians are “all liars” and the media “makes stuff up”.

They are all debates we can have at any time but it’s almost unbelievable that the scepticism has now spread to doctors and medical experts.

We’ve all heard the crackpot theories from time to time – doctors know a cure for cancer but it’s too lucrative an ‘industry’ to reveal it, that’s one of my all-time favourites.

The fear is that the wonderful work done over many decades to eradicate some diseases will be undone by a select group of mums and dads who want to believe Facebook over science.

If it wasn’t so serious, it’d be funny.

Parents who are in the anti-vaccination corner need to wake up to themselves and stop taking part in the world’s biggest game of Chinese Whispers.

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