Science 0, anti-vaxxers 1 as bill stalls (Opinion)
You have to love it when dumb people call smart people dumb. When fearmongers call those with facts the fearmongers. You have to love it when people who turn their backs on science in favor of hyperbole accuse scientists of being hyperbolic. It's like when the guy who cuts you off in traffic then blows the horn and gives you the finger. We've all been there.
And that's where we are at this point in history as zealots by the hundreds ranted and raved over New Jersey's attempt to stop the decline of children going unvaccinated. The comeback of measles, a disease which used to kill 400 to 500 kids a year in the United States before the vaccine came along, was in a big way responsible for the hard stance.
Was it really such a "hard stance" though? The bill that couldn't muster enough votes in the Senate even after Sen. Declan O'Scanlon pushed for an amendment allowing daycares and private or religious schools to have their own rules simply would have clarified rules that already exist. Right now, for admission to public schools in New Jersey, you need to have your children vaccinated unless they have a bonafide medical exemption or unless it violates your religion. No major religion, not even the Muslim faith in the United States, says you cannot vaccinate your children. So along came the anti-vaxxers and the religious exemptions started being abused. They just lied. They lied and pretended their faith disallowed vaccines. (Apparently lying is okay in all these religions.) Then after they lied and gamed the system they could send their unprotected child to school. This was happening in greater and greater numbers until public health officials, seeing the writing on the wall and where this is going, decided enough. Thus, the bill.
The hysteria and misinformation surrounding people who protested this bill reminds me of flat-earthers and the ostriches whose heads won't leave the sand long enough to admit climate change is happening. Long enough to insult Greta Thunberg perhaps, but not long enough to actually listen to real scientists.
So I wondered, what research has been done as to who the anti-vaxxers are? Oh, and please spare me that this is not an anti-vaccine argument or that these protesters are not anti-vaxxers. Yes, they are. Even those protesting because they vaccinated their children and claim their children were then vaccine injured certainly became anti-vaxxers to a degree because of their experience. So before we get into the profile of an anti-vaxxer, let's talk about those injuries for a moment.
People who railed against this bill often cited the fact that there's a vaccine injury compensation fund as proof that vaccines are not safe and are in fact harmful. Okay, try to follow this if you're an anti-vaxxer. No one who doesn't share your view thinks vaccines are 100% safe any more than people think NyQuil or aspirins or minor surgery is 100% safe. Yes, there are always risks. The point though is and has always been that the extremely small risk posed by vaccines is dwarfed by the tremendous good they do. I know real science doesn't seem to matter to anti-vaxxers, but the fact is over 21 million hospitalizations and more than 700,000 deaths among children born in a 20 year period were prevented because of vaccines. Compare that with an even longer 30 year period in which only 6,600 people were compensated through that vaccine injury fund and 70% of those weren't even found to have a true causal relationship. Yes, to anti-vaxxers the numbers won't matter, but they are clear. The good vaccines do outweigh the risks in a landslide, and the more people keep lying about religion as a way to not vaccinate their children the more outbreaks of measles we will see and the more comebacks of other diseases once thought eradicated we will have.
So who are the anti-vaxxers?
According to a survey by Pew Research Center of 2,300 Americans, a person opposed to vaccines is more likely to be less educated, middle-aged, in a low income bracket, and reject other science such as climate change.
Folks earned less than $25,000 a year are 50% more likely to be anti-vaxxers.
45 to 54 year olds are 26% more likely to oppose vaccines than any other age group.
Rural residents are 28% more likely to shun vaccines.
The more education you have, the more you believe in vaccines, and the less education, the less you believe in vaccines. According to the study, 92% or college graduates believe the MMR vaccine is safe for healthy children. 85% of those with just some college feel that way, while only 77% of those with a high school degree agree. People with a high school degree as their highest education are 11% more likely to be anti-vaccine.
Anti-vaxxers are less likely to see a doctor, with 88% not having seen a doctor in the past year.
And anti-vaxxers are 30% more likely to be "not concerned at all" about climate change.
Is there any surprise to this? I wonder if flat-earth, faked-moon-landing and Tupac-is-still-alive questions were asked what those answers would have been. Congrats anti-vaxxers, you've gotten your way. And more people will be at risk because of it.
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