First, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this; I know you’re busy fund-raising and campaigning, so I’ll try to keep it brief. It’s recently become quite apparent that several of you have some serious misconceptions about our immunization program. That’s unfortunate for people seeking such a prominent position. (It’s especially disappointing that the physicians among you don’t seem to fully understand this issue, but I suppose immunizations are outside your specific fields.) I know science can be complicated, but public health is a pretty important topic. Anyway, the following are a few facts about vaccines that I hope you will find useful in your next debate.
- Vaccines do not cause autism. Numerous studies have demonstrated this, and a huge meta-analysis involving over 1.2 million children demonstrated that pretty clearly. Evidence doesn’t get any better than that.
- There was never any evidence that vaccines caused autism. The guy that started this whole autism/vaccine thing lost his license because of his fraudulent study, which has since been retracted.
- “Too many, too soon” is not a thing. Children encounter many viruses and bacteria every day, and their immune systems are not overwhelmed. (And they don’t develop autism, either.)
- There is no “alternative immunization schedule.” The guy that wrote that book didn’t bother to prove that his schedule was effective, or that it was safer than the one developed by the most knowledgeable infectious disease experts in our great nation. He just made it up.
- Spreading out immunizations does not reduce the risk of complications. All it does is extend the time period during which children are at risk for potentially fatal infections. And since the most significant risk of immunizations is driving to the office to get them, it creates some indirect risks as well.
- We shouldn’t immunize against insignificant diseases. On this point, I agree with you completely. So I’ve narrowed the list down to the diseases that cause “death or crippling” (your words, Dr. Carson). The links are from the CDC, a government organization made up of people who know more than you do about infectious diseases. You should meet them; they will work for one of you some day.
- Diphtheria kills people.
- Haemophilus influenzae type b kills people.
- Hepatitis A kills people.
- Hepatitis B kills people (slowly and painfully).
- Human papilloma virus kills people.
- Influenza kills people. (And since personal stories matter more to you than science, I’ve seen it. It sucks.)
- Measles kills people.
- Meningococcus kills people (fast).
- Mumps kills people.
- Pertussis kills people (baby people).
- Pneumococcus kills people.
- Polio kills people (and cripples them).
- Rotavirus kills people.
- Rubella kills people (before they’re born).
- Tetanus kills people.
- Varicella kills people.
- In case you’re not familiar with the CDC vaccine schedule that you think people should avoid, I just listed every one of the vaccines it recommends. All of those diseases kill people. Fortunately, they don’t kill very many people anymore–because of vaccines.
- Finally, because I know your world isn’t all about saving lives, vaccines save money, too. Lots of money. That might be a good talking point if protecting children from life-threatening diseases isn’t sufficient.
I could go into more details, and I’d be happy to speak to you personally if you’d like to hear more. But if you’d rather avoid the topic altogether, there’s a huge network of pediatricians that would be happy to tackle the vaccine questions while you tend to your more important affairs. (Really, it’s no problem; we were actually going to talk to these families anyway, because their children are our patients.)
But hopefully, this basic information has been enough to allow you to speak a little more intelligently about the topic at your next debate–especially since one of you will soon be leading our nation. And in the future, if you’re unsure about similarly complicated topics, please feel free to admit your lack of knowledge and defer to the experts. That’s what real leaders do.