Letter: Anti-vaxxer ads spread fake news

Thursday, September 14, 2017
Anti-vaxxer adsspread fake news

As I was reading the Monitor online recently, I noticed a prominent ad from the “National Vaccine Information Center.” On clicking through, I realized this is an anti-vaxxer website. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, the anti-vaccination information and advertisements being spread by the Monitor amounts to fake news.

The myth that vaccinations are harmful to children has been thoroughly debunked and is dangerous. One of the major myths, that vaccines cause autism, has persisted for years due to a 1998 study that was later found to be fraudulent.

Vaccines prevent disease. When people stop getting vaccinations, those diseases can make a comeback. Polio used to be a common and dreaded disease that caused severe injury and death. My 94-year-old mother has vivid memories of one summer in Rhode Island when there was a polio epidemic. She remembers seeing many little white coffins passing her house.

My uncle had tetanus, or “lockjaw” as they called it back then. He survived but could never fully open his mouth again and was 4-F when it came time to enlist for World War II. My sister did not survive meningitis in 1976, before there was a meningitis vaccine.

I have traveled in countries in Africa that hadn’t vaccinated against polio next door to ones that had. The contrast was stark: In the country without vaccinations, many people, often reduced to begging, had significant post-polio-related disabilities such as shortening and atrophy of limbs. The country with vaccinations did not.

Thank vaccines that we no longer have epidemics of polio, whooping cough, measles, smallpox, tetanus and more.

I hope the Monitor will stop running these ads and be more careful about spreading fake and harmful information.