Someone actually took the time to create a web-page to track the damage being done by the likes of anti-vaccination "crusader" Jenny McCarthy.
What's the issue? Well in a nutshell, it goes like this: Ms McCarthy (famous, I think, for being on MTV) alleges, along with a few others, that childhood vaccines cause Autism. Now I have worked with children that had Autism, so I have...all be it limited...experience in how challenging this can be for a parent. I have absolutely no doubt that the parents of Autistic children feel a unique kind of frustration at not knowing how or why their children have been so afflicted. These parents truly are special folks, as raising children is hard enough, let along children with special needs.
The above noted, I'll be pretty direct in coming to the punchline: there is ZERO evidence that childhood vaccinations cause Autism. None. Zilch. Nada. Don't believe me? Believe these folks:
The Journal of Pediatrics
WebMD - Study Linking Autism to Vaccinations Was Faked
I could go on, and there is scientific-study based information from major universities, the American Pediatric Association, the World Health Organization and countless other groups that all point to one single fact: Childhood vaccinations save lives and they don't cause Autism. Period.
So why does the non-science of vaccinations causing Autism survive? It's in part because people with large public platforms, such as Ms McCarthy continue to spout their unsupported views. Part of it is the wealth of false information and pseudo-science that thrives on the Internet. Part of it is born out frustration with "the system". Part of it is a basic lack of understanding about how science (and the difference between evidence vs. opinion) works. In the end though, if this were just a case of celebrities just being eccentric then I wouldn't care all that much, however, in this case REAL HARM is being done.
Now I'm not completely naive here in that I do realize that vaccinations are powerful medicines. Heck, I am just getting over a two week minor cold brought on, maybe, by my having received a flu shot. However, two weeks of a minor cold are preferable to all that goes with full-out influenza. What's more, I don't actually know that the flu shot I got caused my cold. Cause does not equal effect. I had an Arby's brisket sandwich for the first time the day I receive the flu shot. How do I know that the sandwich didn't cause my symptoms?
In the end, we all need to make decisions in our lives based on the best possible information available to us. If you are a parent and you are wondering about getting your children vaccinated against preventable diseases, who should you believe? There is evidence to support the fact that vaccinations don't cause Autism. And there are opinions to the contrary. Chose wisely: facts vs. opinions.
Oh, and consider the source for some of those opinions.
My thanks to co-worker Sean Gowden for bringing the Anti-Vaccination website to my attention.