This post is part of a series of guest posts on GPS by the undergraduate and graduate students in my Science vs. Pseudoscience course. As part of their work for the course, each student had to demonstrate mastery of the skill of “Educating the Public about Pseudoscience.” To that end, each student has to prepare a 1,000ish word post on a particular pseudoscience topic, as well as run a booth on-campus to help reach people physically about the topic.
Paranoid Parents Producing Problems by Kiersten Durning
Generally most parents will do what they believe to be in the best interest for their children. But what happens when parents are being misinformed by the media and other sources directing them to make decisions that may not be in their child’s best interest? One of the biggest lies to be fed to society over the past few decades causing paranoia and stupid decisions, apart from Y2K, are the ideals being presented to parents that the general vaccinations they are giving their children are actually bad for them. Many parents are foolishly choosing to follow decisions swayed by unscientific media influence. This started in the 1990’s with Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s “research” claiming that vaccinations can cause autism in children, which has since then been disproven, and he was stripped of his medical license. However, to medical science’s dismay this belief still lingers in our society.
Today’s generation of young parents (who probably grew up on fast-food, soda, and Kraft Mac’ N Cheese) has taken a turn to become the generation of health fanatics when they hit adulthood. A different form of the “Blue Box Blues” took over when people learned what exactly they were putting into their bodies. Thus leading to the ever growing sensation of natural foods, falsified information of miracle treatments, and popular detoxes; parents are putting on the homeopathic blindfolds and ignoring scientific truth. Even though being highly conscious of what food your child puts in their mouth is not a bad idea, going to the extremes of “all natural” health treatment is ignoring large amounts of benefit. This is especially true when it comes to lifesaving vaccinations that have been used safely for decades. Some believe that vaccines do not really do anything or prevent diseases, but 3 million children’s lives are saved by vaccines a year. Additionally, 2 million unvaccinated children die a year from vaccine preventable diseases.
With a privileged first-world upbringing, such as in the United States, we are often ignorant to the dangers of these diseases and start to disbelieve the need for “Herd Immunity”, which is basically individuals depending on a primarily vaccinated population to protect those few who are not. Additionally, some believe that since it has been decades since many of these diseases were a problem that they are no longer a threat, when that is far from the truth. The problem with this is that just as increasing vaccinations in a diseased population can gradually help improve the health of that community, the reverse is also true, and a decrease of vaccinations in a typically vaccinated population can develop an increase in these diseases. Recently the US has gotten a taste of this with an outbreak of measles, “Two hundred and eighty-eight cases of measles were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States between Jan. 1 and May 23, 2014”.
Parents should be urged to take these recent outbreaks as a warning that the safest option for their children has been, and still is, to vaccinate their children. Disappointingly, we are regressing as a society when we are seeing outbreaks of diseases such as these when technically we dealt with them decades ago when we developed these vaccines to save lives in the first place. While we are at it how about we also go back to using candles and lamp oils as our primary light source since some forms of artificial lighting can possibly produce headaches or migraines. What is the point of living in a privileged advanced society when we push aside the luxuries given to us? Or maybe we are pushing aside the incorrect luxuries? In this case, perhaps less access and blind following to media that influences these poor paranoid decisions? But what would become of the world if the media had to only cover the truth? Parents should be advised to ask their doctors, the ones who actual treat them and not the ones on daytime television, to provide them with scientific journals if they wish to know more on the vaccinations they are giving their children.
Another argument that anti-vaccination individuals make is that supporters of vaccinations are just trying to help out “Big Pharma” or large pharmaceutical companies by pushing vaccinations, further allowing them to roll around in piles of gold like Scrooge McDuck. This is also not true since the Pediatric/VFC Vaccine Price List total is about $1550.84 total, and over 28 vaccinations that averaged at $55.39, leaving the average cost per year (for 18 years) being $86.16 per year. But what about the cost for administering the injection you say? The total documented variable cost per injection (excluding vaccine cost) averaged $11.51, calculated from the following categories: nursing time, $1.71; billing services, $2.67; nonroutine services, $1.64; registry use, $0.96; physician time, $4.05; supplies, $0.36; medical waste disposal, $0.12. So let’s go ahead and add that to our other average of $86.16 per year, which equals $97.67. If you are unwilling to pay about $100 a year on your child for something beneficial to their health, you may want to reconsider having children in the first place. Ironically some argue about the cost of vaccinations when the average amount of money spent on children for toys per year is $371.00. Priorities ?
Sadly, it will probably take more outbreaks such as the resent measles outbreak mentioned before to sway some individuals to vaccinate their children. Media will only report on information that brings in the ratings. A story about how a child receiving a vaccination today probably prevented future illness is not very interesting, but several children getting sick and possibly dying will certainly get the public’s attention, and as sad as that maybe it’s true. However that is not good enough, and the parents should not rely on false information of naturalistic or homeopathic treatment when it comes to the safety of not only their own children but other children as well. Millions of lives have been saved by vaccinations for decades now, and when something has the capability to save so many it seems unwise to ignore its benefits.