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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

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Innocuous inoculation

Many of us are familiar with Jenny McCarthy’s antics: famous for some reason, the (actress? singer? model? What does she do? Why do we listen to her?) mom became staunchly against vaccines following her son’s diagnosis with autism.

Or, as she puts it, “I am not anti-vaccine.” Rather, if given the choice between autism and measles, she would “stand in line for the fucking measles.”

Despite the fact that absolutely no one is making anyone choose between protecting children against debilitating diseases and forcing them into the autism spectrum, thousands of people are falling in line behind McCarthy, and their excuses for denying modern medicine are beyond creative.

First there’s McCarthy, whose son started presenting symptoms of autism a few months after his measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shot. Or maybe immediately.

Jenny’s a little unclear on this point.

The only study that ever supported the vaccines-cause-autism panic was written by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and published in 1998 by The Lancet, a British medical journal.
Since then, The Lancet has retracted the article and Wakefield’s medical license was revoked. 

With that track record, the idea that vaccinations cause autism has even less support than the idea that global warming is a hoax.

Following in McCarthy’s wake, parents and commentators alike have noted the harsh mix of chemicals used to make vaccines. Writers for this very newspaper have panicked over the “trace amounts of mercury” present in vaccines.

But the type of mercury found in vaccines is actually less harmful than the kind of mercury found in fish.

The amount of other “toxins” present in vaccines is similarly innocuous.

And to put the cherry on top of this inane sundae is Michele Bachmann, whose insistence that the HPV vaccination causes “mental retardation” was the unsubstantiated claim that launched a thousand unsubstantiated claims.

Full disclosure, I am up-to-date on all my vaccines, including a few extra in preparation to study abroad. I opted for the HPV vaccine, too.

So maybe I’m biased, considering I’ve personally enjoyed never getting the measles, the mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, hepatitis B or cervical cancer.

You know who wasn’t so lucky?

The 34 people who contracted measles in West Lafayette after an unvaccinated girl’s trip to Romania where she picked up the virus.

The record-worthy nearly 300 people who have already come down with that virus this year.

The 10 children who died from whooping cough in California in 2010 and the 800 cases in that state in the past two weeks.

These are ailments most of us haven’t thought about since our desktop tenure on the Oregon Trail.

Thanks to anti-vaccination nonsense, people are actually dying of viruses once thought to be nearly extinct.

Stop listening to Jenny McCarthy, and start listening to actual, licensed medical professionals.

Vaccinations save lives.

casefarr@indiana.edu

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