The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Why anti-vaccination beliefs could hurt more than help

3 min read
By ALEX SAKES An unfortunate discussion has resurged its prominence in the public spotlight.
Department for International Development/Flickr


An unfortunate discussion has resurged its prominence in the public spotlight.

The former host of ABC’s “The View,” Jenny McCarthy, recently came under fire, once again, for her comments during an interview last Wednesday with The Daily Beast.

“I am not anti-vaccine,” McCarthy said. “I’m in this gray zone of, I think everyone should be aware and educate yourself and ask questions. And if your kid is having a problem, ask your doctor for an alternative way of doing the shots.”

That attitude may be acceptable for McCarthy, but it certainty would not be the same answer for other parents.

McCarthy was blindsided in 2005 when her 12-year-old son was diagnosed with autism. Searching for answers for her child’s diagnosis, McCarthy was quick to promote her theory of vaccine and autism correlation in an interview with the New York Times.

However, this is a theory built more on superstition than scientific evidence.

Included in vaccinations, such as those for polio, is a mercury-containing compound called thiomersal, a popular antiseptic agent that has been in use in the medical field since the early 1930s.

In the past, skeptics believed that thiomersal causes childhood autism, but recent scientific studies have disproved such myths. No measles, mumps or rubella, also known as MMR vaccines, have contained thiomersal as a preservative since 1999, and there has been no exponential decline in autism rates since.

MMR vaccinations are among the most popular targets for anti-vaccination crusaders.

Not only are McCarthy’s actions potentially harming the well-being of her child, and those he comes in contact with, but more importantly she is spreading a dangerous and scientifically false rhetoric to all who follow her. This is a dangerous concept, as we in the U.S. live in a culture that puts such an emphasis on celebrity opinion.

Armed with only with her emotional sentiments against vaccinations, McCarthy presents no real facts.

Regarding the incline in documented cases since that same year, some might argue on the contrary. Such an increase is merely in relationship to more disorders being included in the autism spectrum today, as doctors are now more equipped to recognize autism’s popular symptoms.

Anti-vaccination fear is not simply an American phenomenon. According to the Council of Foreign Relations, in 2003, Nigeria’s civilian population had become suspicious of the polio vaccine when it was rumored that the vaccination was used to sterilize children for birth control and contained HIV.

An even more irrational report of vaccine phobia was reported in 2011, when many Pakistanis believed the U.S. was using polio vaccinations as a cover in their search for Osama bin Laden.

These rumors have only led to an increase among documented polio cases in Pakistan.

This year alone, Pakistan has had 94 counts of its citizens infected with polio and now leads the world in reported cases.

Many developing countries are finally gaining access to vaccinations for diseases that have long since been eradicated in the developed world. It is deadly to allow such things as superstition sweep the globe and harm anyone’s health.