A rebuttal to vaccine naysayersDecember 13, 2018
Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccine and Human Immunity
By Michael Kinch
Pp 360 Pegasus Books
Gardasil, a vaccine against cervical cancer, has been under attack for some time. The concern is not against its safety. But people think that the vaccine encourages promiscuous behaviour among adolescents: “Now that teenagers know they are not going to get cervical cancer, they’re going to be more sexually active.” Gardasil is simply the latest target of vaccine fears.
The hostility to vaccines is as old as the history of the vaccine itself. Every introduction of a new vaccine met with some sort of skepticism throughout the history.
But the most significant question today is whether the anti-vaccine movement is gaining ground. One look at social media will strengthen this suspicion. Anti-vaccine messages are certainly outperforming those from pro-vaccinators with a hefty margin. In a recent report, the CDC found that
the percentage of 2-year-olds who had received no vaccinations grew to 1.3% among those born in 2015, up from 0.9% for those born in 2011. Supporters of vaccination are starting to lose, despite overwhelming evidence on the safety and efficacy of the technique.
The biggest thing is to get access to the facts. The real facts, not what you see on Facebook or Twitter, according to Michael Kinch, the author of the book – Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccine and Human Immunity.
Tracing the history of vaccines alongside the history of deadly pathogens and the role vaccines have played in human history, the book shines light on the history of vaccine hostility too.
In his book, Kinch notes that terrifying ailments that have threatened humanity since time immemorial are staging a comeback, often infecting an unwitting population that assumes they have already been protected.
Unfortunately, most of the criticism against the vaccine are centred around the unfounded notions about the link between vaccination and autism. Although all these arguments have been scoffed at with the backing of sound science and the safety of vaccines have been repeatedly underscored, negative sentiments have been winning the day. Now, these present very real dangers to our societies and our families.
Most shockingly, anti-vaccine propaganda originates often from a relatively small number of highly educated and powerful elites, and not from the inner city or rural countryside. The waves of discoveries of life-saving vaccines are contrasted with an irrational rejection by fringe elements in the public.
But Kinch is optimistic that it may not be a daunting task to dispel the ignorance of the vaccine naysayers with the objective evidence showing that other than clean water, nothing has saved more human lives than vaccines.