John Oliver Just Put The Smack-Down On Anti-Vaxxers
Let's start at the top.
In the late 1990's, a doctor named Andrew Wakefield published a study in the English medical journal The Lancet claimed that the measles, mumps rubella vaccine (MMR) is causally linked to autism. Wakefield's findings made international news, and an anti-vaccine movement fueled by hysteria was born.
Wakefield's conclusions were wrong. The study was fraudulent. The paper has since been retracted by The Lancet which cited poor science and a financial conflict of interest. Wakefield lost his license to practice medicine.
But certain genies are disinclined to re-enter their bottles -- especially those concerning the welfare of our children and a simple conspiracy theory.
Many other studies were attempted to support Wakefield's work and find a link between vaccines and autism. One Dutch study even included a half million children and found absolutely no evidence of any link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Of course no amount of disconfirmation is enough. The movement became known as the anti-vaxxer movement. Some notable celebrities were part of it, and their reputations have never really recovered.
To this day, about 10 percent or American parents delay or skip vaccinations because they fear that there could be a possibility that too many shots grouped together could cause the onset of autism. About 1 percent of parents in the United States refuse to get their children vaccinated at all. This refusal to accept modern medical science led to multiple outbreaks of measles in recent years.
This week on his HBO show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver took on the raging debate over whether childhood vaccines could cause autism and why there are some doctors who still prey on these unwarranted fears.
"Opportunistic quacks writing books that fan the flames of people's unfounded fears don't cause a legit public health hazard, except when they do," said Oliver.
Oliver was referring to Doctor Robert Sears who has written a book encouraging parents to space the vaccines out over a number of years. This plays into the fears churned up by Wakefield and the now completely discredited anti-vaccine campaign.
Sears is preying on the fear of parents. His method does not work. The CDC reports that children are at high risk of contracting a very serious disease during the time that they wait to get vaccines done.
"Infants and young children who follow immunization schedules that spread out shots ... are at risk of developing diseases during the time that shots are delayed," according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination guidelines.
Despite the fully discrediting of anti-vaccine campaign there are still parents out there who do not follow the science. There are 11 states where the number of unvaccinated kids is on the rise. This is dangerous territory because the diseases that these vaccines are preventing are very dangerous. Measles killed over 130,000 children worldwide in 2015. A problem that had been solved is once again threatening the lives of innocent children.
Oliver stated that he plans to get his 19 month-old child vaccinated on time because it is the only responsible thing to do.