Taking Charge of Your Health

The number of measles cases linked to the
Disneyland theme park continues to grow. Doctors weigh in and sound the alarm Vaccines are one of the greatest achievements
in the history of public health. We thought we had measles essentially licked. So why is this disease coming back from the
brink of extinction? People are deciding they’re afraid of vaccines. And that fear’s putting the nation’s health at risk. How did we get to this point, where personal
belief is more powerful than science? They get this monster shot.
Did you ever see the size of it? It’s terrible! We vaccinated our baby and something happened. When someone’s already sucked into that
myth, it’s a very difficult thing to talk them out of it. The greatest medical news in history! Dr. Jonas Salk discovers a vaccine that promises to wipe out childhood’s crippling and killing enemy – polio! In the 1950’s, the Salk vaccine
was greeted with open arms. Civics clubs had immunization parties. Polio, smallpox, diptheria – no longer a threat
in the U.S. because of vaccines. And in 2000, another watershed moment. The CDC reports the measles, practically wiped
out tonight, in the United States. But that report proved overly optimistic. Measles are back. More than 600 cases were reported in the U.S.
and another disease that looked like it was disappearing a generation ago is also making
a comeback: whooping cough. Unlike measles, its return is in part attributed
to the waning effectiveness of its vaccine, but it shows how the spread of a disease can
impact the most vulnerable. The risk of whooping cough may sound like
something from the past but it’s still very real. Today, California reported more than 4200 cases. Nine people have died, all of them infants. For San Francisco mother Mariah Bianchi, those
numbers are more than just statistics. When her son was born in August 2005, as a
nurse, she realized something was wrong. It was just like he was so lethargic. And I knew that there was just something. I’m like, I can’t keep him awake. We went to the doctor and she said, “I want
you to go to the hospital.” As soon as he got there, he went into cardiac arrest. What she didn’t realize was that the immunity
from her own whooping cough vaccine had worn off and she’d infected her newborn, who
was too young to be inoculated. And they started CPR right away, for probably
about 45 minutes or so. As a nurse I’m thinking,
“I know what that means.” Your brain is not getting oxygen. Your body is failing. And the surgeon came out, and he said,
“His chance of survival is very low.” We made the most compassionate decision you
could, but we just said, you know, “Don’t-don’t do it. Just stop.” Dylan Bianchi died 17 days after he was born. Vulnerable people, like newborns, depend on
the immunity of those around them to protect them from dangerous diseases. To keep measles from spreading, for example,
about 94% of a community needs to be vaccinated. It’s called herd immunity. In some areas, that’s a concern. Here in Marin County, California, you have pockets of people who are not vaccinating their children. There are certain schools and communities
where that rate is as high as 50%. And what I fear is that we have
an epidemic of measles, an outbreak and that we have children that are very ill or that die. The measles vaccine has been so effective, it doesn’t seem like something
we need to protect our children from. You have this, sort of, fundamental paradox of vaccines,
that they’ve become a victim of their own success. Seth Mnookin examines the fear of vaccines
in his book The Panic Virus. The current vaccine scares and controversies
that we’re still dealing with today stem from a 1998 paper that appeared in the Lancet, a very respected medical journal published out of the UK. The paper, written by Dr. Andrew Wakefield,
claimed there might be a connection between the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine
and autism. In his press conference, Andrew Wakefield
stood up and said, “Parents should not give their children the MMR vaccine, period, until
we are able to get to the bottom of this.” The MMR vaccination in combination that I think it should be suspended in favor of the single vaccines. The notion that you would take a 12 person case study and make claims about a population as a whole is ridiculous. This paper was historically bad. And what the media in the U.K. did was, they ran with that. You know, that’s a sensational story. Follow up studies of hundreds of thousands
of children could not find any evidence that the MMR vaccine causes autism. And investigations into Wakefield’s original paper revealed he distorted the data and acted unethically. He’s lost his medical license, the Lancet paper has been retracted, but he had very effectively positioned himself as a martyr and in some
odd way, every piece of evidence that comes out against Wakefield, sort of, solidifies his standing in the community that still pays attention to him. Another reason fears about vaccine safety
persisted is that complicated science proved difficult for public health institutions
to communicate. Case in point, their response when concerns were raised over a vaccine preservative called thimerosal, which contains ethyl mercury. Children are getting mercury injected into
their bodies with vaccines! That’s right, mercury, a known neurotoxin. But ethyl mercury in thimerosal is not the
same as the toxic methyl mercury, which is found in fish and accumulates in the body. Nevertheless, the Public Health Service and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended thimerosal be removed, and their messaging backfired. In 1999, health officials denied a link between
vaccines and the autism epidemic, yet urged vaccine makers to take out the mercury,
just to be safe. What the American Academy of Pediatrics said is, “We are recommending this step so we can make safe vaccines even safer.” As a parent, if you tell me something’s
safe, I don’t think that’s on a sliding scale. I assume that, if you say it’s safe, it
is safe for my child. It’s not safe, safer, safest. There are almost two languages here. There’s the language of science, and then there’s English. And, in the language of science,
you have these signifiers like, “to the best of our knowledge,” “as far as we know.” Based on the available scientific evidence Because you can’t say anything with 100% –
You can’t prove a negative. And so, when scientists speak in their language
and the rest of us translate that into English, it sounds like they’re saying something
very different than they’re saying. Based on what we know right now, we don’t
think that there is an association. But that’s not saying with 100% certainty
there isn’t one. That is saying, that based on the evidence
we have right now, we don’t think there is one. Either because the reporter doesn’t understand
what’s actually going on, or because they’re looking to generate a story, they then take
that and make it seem as if the scientist is saying, “I think there’s a possibility that vaccines do cause autism” when, in fact, that’s not it at all. News organizations should exercise judgment
about what goes out over their air. Brendan Nyhan is a professor at Dartmouth
College who studies how misinformation spreads, and the role of the media. What’s particularly important is to think
about the overall scientific consensus. Where is the weight of the evidence? And is our reporting reflecting that or not? That’s what’s often gone astray in the
vaccine debate. It’s time for everyone to redirect the questions
toward finding the cause of autism. It is not, however, vaccinations. Controversial subject, Nancy. Not controversial subject! Well, controversial for parents who still believe. It is not controversial, Matt.
It is time for kids to get their vaccines. Everyday people can’t be fact checkers
for every story about vaccines. And when journalists don’t give people the weight
of the scientific evidence, they’re letting them down. She got her vaccinations, she ran a low grade fever, she had a little rash, and then she stopped talking. A false sense of balance was also created when scientific evidence was equated with people’s personal experiences. Reporting fell into this, on the one hand,
on the other hand fallacy, this notion that if you have two sides
that are disagreeing, that means that you should present
both of them with equal weight. We vaccinated our baby and something happened. Jenny McCarthy has had more to do with popularizing
the notion that vaccines are dangerous than any other single person in the United States. We begin of course with Jenny McCarthy, the
actress and entertainment personality. Her son Evan has autism. She’s very smart, she’s telegenic. Look it, it’s plain and simple. It’s bullshit! When I look at clips of her, it’s a completely unfair fight. My science is named Evan. He’s at home.
That’s my science. Jenny McCarthy has said many times, and oftentimes
very loudly, that her child is her scientific fact. Any scientist or any science reporter who’s
familiar with how science works would say that “No, any one person is an anecdote,
and the plural of anecdote is not data.” You know? It’s just a story. But stories are powerful. While vaccination rates are high nationwide,
there are some religious and ethnic enclaves and communities where well-educated, upper middle class people live where vaccine hesitancy runs strong. I was interviewing an epidemiologist and he
said, “Oh yeah, we completely know where we’re going to have communities that have issues
with vaccine uptake. We take a map and stick a pin wherever there’s
a Whole Foods and draw a circle around it, that’s where we’re going to have problems.” He was obviously being facetious. Exasperated health officials are trying to come up with new ways to communicate with the public. Brendan Nyhan conducted a study and watched
how hesitant parents reacted when they were shown information from the CDC web site stating
there’s no evidence the MMR vaccine causes autism. The good news was, it did cause parents to
be less likely to believe in the myth that the MMR vaccine causes autism. The bad news is, however, that it made them
less likely to say they would vaccinate a child, which is precisely the opposite of what we
would hope to see. What we found is that telling people the correct
information wasn’t actually effective. That may mean we’ve reached the point where
public health officials in the media can’t even talk about vaccine safety without it backfiring. But fears generated by the latest measles
outbreak may help people understand more clearly the value of vaccines — and what’s at stake. What does it take? How many times do you have to tell people or talk about it? We all have a role in helping each other to
protect each other. A vaccine preventable disease
should not have killed my son.

9 thoughts on “Why the Measles Vaccine is Falsely Blamed for Autism | Retro Report

  1. For the people who lose their children because they can't be vaccinated my heart fully goes out to..for all the rest..NOPE! You brought that upon your own child with your stupidity! Let them die!

  2. I will get any vaccine made available to me without hesitation because I know it is best for me and the community. For work I got the HEP B. & Flu vaccine. But many of my coworkers did not.

    They are nurses.

  3. Hearing those babies with whooping cough gives me chills. Breaks my heart to see them choking please vaccinate

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