By Kavin Senapathy
The thoroughly answered question of whether vaccines cause autism isn’t really a question outside of conspiracy-theorist circles. The body of evidence shows that vaccination has eradicated smallpox and vastly reduced suffering and death from other diseases, and that vaccines don’t cause autism, cancer, dementia, or long term health problems, and that any minute risk is vastly outweighed by benefits to individuals and society.
Yet with the backing of prominent leaders like Robert DeNiro and Robert Kennedy Jr., anti-vaccine groups fuel common narratives that keep herd immunity down, directly leading to suffering and death. Now with Donald Trump embracing vaccine skeptics, the anti-vaccine movement has earned a hallowed place on the shelf next to other tinfoil hat clad schools of thought. The question of the safety of genetically engineered crops (GMOs) has been answered just as thoroughly, and the anti-GMO movement deserves its own place on the same shelf, not just for being wrong but for its role in unconscionable suffering.
The most notorious figure in anti-vaccine movement history, Andrew Wakefield—the former gastroenterologist and researcher known for a fraudulent 1998 paper linking the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism—has been thoroughly discredited time and again. Yet the effect of his antics is stubborn, with report after report of doctors and scientists combating outbreaks of preventable disease, suffering, and death in the wake of attack after attack on public confidence in vaccines. That this widespread injustice has endured and thrived is nothing short of tragic.
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