There seems to be an endless reservoir of political rancor, which as of late guarantees that one will be showered in contemptuous verbal grapeshot—via trolling or actual dialogue—by one’s political or ideological enemies. And that’s precisely what I intend to do with the following diatribe.
Each diatribe focusing on the menacing anti-vaccine movement must always start with invective hurled at the most wretched charlatan of them all: Andrew Wakefield. Remember when the insufferable toad gave anti-vaccine presentations in Minnesota to Somali immigrants resulting in a precipitous drop in vaccination rates (from 92% to 40% between 2004 and 2014)? Remember the outbreak of measles that followed, to which the lowlife replied: “I don’t feel responsible at all”? In an interview, Wakefield was asked about his participation with regard to the presentations given to the Somali immigrants. His reply was utterly astounding:
I’ve been to Minnesota to talk to the Somali population twice. I was asked to go there to help set up a study….
Honestly, who the fuck is asking Wakefield for medical advice, let alone set up a study? He’s no longer a doctor, and for good reason. Wakefield makes reclaiming his credibility and respectability increasingly untenable—not that it had been since he began to fall in 2004—with projects such as Vaxxed and interviews with a loud, braying man who thinks chemicals in the drinking water are responsible for amphibian homosexuality.
Enough of Wakefield.
Yesterday began like any normal day: I awoke in a haze of stupefaction as my brain slowly booted up. Transient photosensitivity. Mouth agape and desertified. Painfully full bladder. Popping joints. One more ignominious day closer to obsolescence.
Fast forward to my day job. Bright fluorescent lights. Stench of rotting animals. Formalin fumes singing the nostrils. The repetition and banality of it all diminishing my grey matter. Sometime in the afternoon, I took a few moments to step away from my station to grab some coffee and sneak a few peeks at my social media pages. Huge mistake. The first article I saw filled me with concern, then rage. That rage reinvigorated my whithered brain cells as I poured over each and every line. All I needed was a microphone and some death metal.
How could science still be losing the battle against such fraudulence?!
In short, a survey released by the American Society for Microbiology and Research America indicated only 71% of Americans deemed it “very important” to vaccinate their children, an eleven point drop from ten years ago. More stultifying is the percentage of people who believe they have benefited from vaccines in the past half-century has dropped from 75% to 59%. (Fear not! I have already shat a hefty brick.)
What do you mean?! Haven’t benefited from vaccines in the last half-century? Where’s smallpox at?
Has anyone seen polio lately? Diphtheria perhaps?
That’s because vaccine work! Many of the diseases of old have been eradicated as a result of vaccines. And if the disease in question hasn’t been eradicated, its dominion has been SUBSTANTIALLY reduced.
For those who haven’t heard of Jackie Schlegel, she’s the founder of a political organization called Texans for Vaccine Choice (TFVC). The group advocates for laws in favor of vaccine exemptions and encourages voters to elect legislatures who are “pro-parent” and “pro-medical freedom.” (I’m not going to get into how fatuous this sounds.) Earlier this year, Schlegel did an interview for In Focus stating that she neither repudiates the science behind vaccinations nor is her organization anti-vaccine. Indeed, she quickly reminds the audience that she used social media to connect with other like-minded mothers and to share information and science articles, doubling down with: “our mission statement is protecting and advancing informed consent, medical privacy, and vaccine choice.”
I spent too many benumbed minutes scrolling through the TFVC Facebook page where I encountered nauseating rhetoric such as “Tyranny Tuesday,” and “Be a Voice for Vaccine Choice.” Rest assured, there are no science articles on her blog either. Upon closer inspection, it would seem that the term “vaccine choice” is just a cheap euphemism for anti-vaccine.
In the United States, an alarming nineteen states lack laws which mandate compulsory vaccination. This comes at a time when the Democratic Republic of Congo prepares to inoculate its citizens with a novel Ebola vaccine, a disease which ravaged West Africa in 2014, where I’m sure you’ll find people lining up at even the slightest prospect of being delivered from Ebola’s pitiless grasp. As of 2017, California, Mississippi, and West Virginia were and are the only states in which religious or philosophical vaccine exemptions are not allowed. Those are not enough states!
Anti-Vaxxers cannot win! When it comes to the health and safety of our society, complacency is not an option. We must continue to march for science. We must all contribute to the proliferation of science education and vaccine education. To combat the highly motivated political nincompoops and the diseases we thought we had left behind, we, too, must become politically active electing candidates who will legislate compulsory vaccination for diseases which would otherwise lead us one step towards obsolescence.