The anti-vaccination movement picked up serious steam over the last decade. With big names like Jenny McCarthy leading the way, and websites telling parents that vaccinations lead to autism in children, more and more people made the decision to resist vaccinations or at least change the rate at which they did those vaccinations. This trend troubled many scientists, public health professionals, and doctors. They feared that a movement against vaccinating children could lead to disaster, bringing back old diseases and causing new epidemics at the same time. While there is still a strong anti-vaccination movement out there today, with notable spokespeople like Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, vaccine rates are back on the rise in the US.
The Strange Trajectory of the Anti-Vax Movement
The movement against vaccinations has taken an odd trajectory over the last few years. Importantly, it was fueled mostly by people like Jenny McCarthy, who got outsized press for holding opinions about vaccinations. McCarthy operated websites, gave interviews, and even produced a book preaching about the ills of vaccinations after her son was diagnosed with a disease. The movement was bolstered, it seems, by a report from a British doctor that purported to link autism in children to vaccinations.
The movement lost steam, however, when the doctor who made that report was found to be paid by anti-vaccination interests. He was discredited, stripped of his certifications, and forced to publish a retraction for his study. With this, the uneasy ground on which the anti-vax movement rested was cracked even further. Likewise, as the anti-vax movement picked up more steam, it also picked up more opponents. Popular media covered the frenzy, noting its public health risks and some of the unsubstantiated sicnece behind it. This all became quite important over time.
Push Back from Parents Across the Country
As the anti-vax movement grew in popularity, it attracted many high-profile detractors. These individuals were able to shine a light on some of the issues with the movement. In addition to discrediting the movement to an extent, it also helped to provide a public platform for information on vaccinations. As a result, it looks as if the trends in America are starting to reverse. For a few years, vaccinations were down. Concerned parents stopped taking their kids to the doctor because of worries of autism. This is shifting, especially in the urban areas that are more densely populated.
Vaccine Rates Climbing in California
Some public health officials believe that the rising vaccine rates in places like California are due in part to the attention given to outbreaks of diseases like measles. The state’s health statistics service announced that almost 93-percent of all kindergartners were up to date on their shots. This represented almost a three-percent increase over a single year. While the percentages may not seem significant, in a state as large as California, that represents hundreds of thousands of children getting the shots they need to potentially avoid disease.
Officials also found the geographic data encouraging. The increases weren’t just limited to single counties. In fact, 49 of 58 counties statewide reported increases in vaccine rates. A report from Time Magazine found that these trends weren’t just limited to California. Across the country, parents began to see the efficacy of vaccinating their children. National vaccine rates increased for a host of diseases, including measles, mumps, and whooping cough.
Vaccination appears to be back on the rise. After a long period with anti-vax forces taking the lead in media and popular culture, health officials seem to have found an argument that works for parents. Across the country, the anti-vax movement appears to have lost steam.
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