The anti-vaxxers shouldn’t be allowed to shut down vaccinations

Written by By Susan Tofig, Guest writer Susan Tofig is a CNN contributor, a reporter and editor at National Journal Susan Tofig is a CNN contributor, a reporter and editor at National Journal From…

The anti-vaxxers shouldn't be allowed to shut down vaccinations

Written by By Susan Tofig, Guest writer

Susan Tofig is a CNN contributor, a reporter and editor at National Journal

Susan Tofig is a CNN contributor, a reporter and editor at National Journal

From ravenous cabdrivers to a fiercely determined group of anti-vaxxers, nothing unites Americans as much as their sense of outrage at misbehavior on the part of others.

Take this week, for example. A bunch of anti-vaxxers in Kansas are taking their outrage to unusual levels. They’re showing up at vaccine clinics in droves, even attempting to block people from entering and leaving the vaccinations zones they set up outside. Kansans Against Mandatory Vaccinations has also issued a call to carry out actions outside the office of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a well-known anti-vaxxer.

Their motivation? They say the state is singling them out for having what they consider to be an incorrect perspective on the importance of vaccinations. Noting that there are no requirements that these people have to vaccinate their kids, they say the state is unfairly treating them differently from other parents.

In some cases, anti-vaxxers can be just as scary as their detractors. The anti-vaxxers at this week’s vaccine clinics have no legitimate argument about the benefits of vaccinations and, in fact, their motives are more likely to hurt their kids and families than help them. That’s because, essentially, anti-vaxxers are anti-vaccine all the time.

In fact, anti-vaxxers are anti-vaccine all the time.

The fact that anti-vaxxers are so wrong about vaccines shows how wrong their anti-vaccine message is. They’re not against vaccination, per se. In fact, they support highly effective vaccines. But they mistakenly believe vaccines are a dangerous hoax, the equivalent of telling their kids that the sky is falling and they need to go through with a drill designed to prepare them for a nuclear attack. They totally miss the point.

Vaccines are indispensable for the safety and protection of children, pregnant women and adults as a whole. If no vaccines are available, it’s impossible to protect against the deadly diseases that killed millions of Americans and our families in the last century. Vaccines will prevent pandemics, birth defects and other serious injuries, and many others people suffer, are injured and die because they have some positive benefit from the vaccination process.

To see the incredible number of things a vaccine might protect against, just look at a laundry list of diseases that would wipe out America’s population if we couldn’t vaccinate people. Some examples:

Chronic illness: 1.7 million cases of diabetes, heart disease, respiratory conditions, cancer and stroke;

High blood pressure: 3.6 million cases of hypertension;

Air pollution: 280,000 premature deaths

Over 60,000 infant deaths from measles;

Over 200,000 deaths from vaccine-preventable infection, such as polio, measles, mumps, whooping cough, rubella and mumps.

That’s more than 2 million cases of infections in a mere 60 years. Thankfully, there have been just a few of these deaths caused by vaccine-preventable infections since vaccines became available over 50 years ago.

Unwillingness to have kids vaccinated has real, dangerous consequences. A few seconds saved would go a long way.

The only way these anti-vaxxers can have a reasonable argument about having kids vaccinated is if they believe some children are more vulnerable to vaccines. In other words, their critics should stop criticizing vaccines and focus on the issues here. They can argue about whether or not vaccines should be required or available in the first place, but there’s no reason to invalidate the fact that vaccines save lives, and have saved millions of lives since childhood vaccinations became available in the 1940s.

Well-informed, thoughtful and thoughtful people see through the lies and empty threats spewed by anti-vaxxers. The reasons they’re wrong are obvious to anyone paying attention. And if others want to do something to prevent senseless, painful deaths caused by vaccine-preventable diseases, they should realize that doing so makes a lot of sense.

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