In A Rush?
Oh wise politician, please lecture me more about autism and vaccines
Said no one ever.
Donald Trump and his thimerosal-hitman, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., outwardly state they’re pro-vaccine but their skepticism is going to empower an internet-trolling giant of anti-vaxxers. Even if RFK Jr. acknowledges that vaccines save millions of lives, which he does, this question about vaccine safety is going to be wildly misinterpreted.
Here’s an excerpt from a recent interview with RFK Jr that made me snicker:
Do you have scientific training?
No. My background is I’m an environmental lawyer. I’m not a scientist. But I have an expertise, I would say, in reading science and spotting junk science because that’s what I do with most of my time.
Really Sherlock? Why doesn’t your junk-science-magnifying-lens go haywire from Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 crock article or the falsified claims about “government conspiracies and lying doctors”?
The real catalyst of modern vaccine-fear is now Donald Trump. By now, nearly everyone has seen these infamously tweeted words: “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!”
The rate of autism diagnoses rose but we aren’t sure if the disease incidence did. It’s a multifactorial issue and you simply can’t pinpoint one variable and claim it’s the culprit. Correlation does NOT equal causation! To illustrate this better, check out these hilarious graphs that trend the rise in autism with cell phone use, Jenny McCarthy’s popularity, and organic food sales. Both Trump and RFK Jr. must’ve slept through their internet tutorial of bio-statistics.
I won’t dive into details about the millions of children who have been studied to definitely prove that there’s no link between vaccines and autism, in response to a corrupt, debunked 1998 study. I also won’t discuss RFK Jr.’s belief that the government has some secret plot to cover up thimerosal in vaccines, even though vaccines have been thimerosal-free since 2001, with the exception of the flu shot. (See what I did in two sentences?)
For now, I’ll focus on how skepticism bolsters the opposition in any debate, scientific or not. Putin is probably tap-dancing every time he learns his buddy is questioning US intelligence reports just as I’m sure the oil industry pops bottles when people doubt global warming. Creating “Committee on Vaccine Safety” undermines decades of scientific research into vaccine efficacy and safety and incredible progress in public health while giving the anti-vaccine community leverage.
SEE! There’s a vaccine safety committee! If they were SO safe, we wouldn’t need one!
This is about to become every anti-vaxxers war cry.
Unfounded doubt can have a severe ripple effect. It takes me back to the alternative vaccine schedule popularized by pediatrician Dr. Bob Sears back in 2011. By endorsing the idea of spreading out vaccines, he indirectly gave credence to bogus claims about “massive amounts of vaccines”. The CDC-vaccine schedule has been tried and tested and we’ve plenty of evidence that deviating is dangerous – from gaps in immunity coverage to a doubled risk of febrile seizures in administering a delayed MMR shot to an older child. Whoops.
I’ll end with another famous tweet from the ultimate internet scientist, Donald Trump: “I am being proven right about massive vaccinations—the doctors lied. Save our children & their future.”
Apparently, WE all lied, not Andrew Wakefield when he hired Pinocchio to spread fear about vaccines and autism. I wonder if Trump would label him as “FAKE NEWS” if it happened today.