There is a growing anti-vaccine reaction among the uninformed that threatens our overall health. Some folks "believe" that a measles (mumps and rubella) vaccine can lead to autism. Some think that the H1N1 vaccine is unsafe. Bill Maher called people who get flu shots "idiots." And then there is the hatred directed at Paul Offit, a Philadelphia pediatrician and the coinventor of a rotavirus vaccine that could save tens of thousands of lives every year.
This anti-scientific thinking -- or better yet, lack of thinking -- is causing otherwise "sane" people to become fearful and thereby avoid getting vaccinated. This is unfortunate, as it reduces the overall immunity of the herd (us) and puts everyone at greater risk.
But is there anything to all of those beliefs? No! As Wired reports: To be clear, there is no credible evidence to indicate that any of this is true. None. Twelve epidemiological studies have found no data that links the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine to autism; six studies have found no trace of an association between thimerosal (a preservative containing ethylmercury that has largely been removed from vaccines since 20011) and autism, and three other studies have found no indication that thimerosal causes even subtle neurological problems. The so-called epidemic, researchers assert, is the result of improved diagnosis, which has identified as autistic many kids who once might have been labeled mentally retarded or just plain slow. In fact, the growing body of science indicates that the autistic spectrum — which may well turn out to encompass several discrete conditions — may largely be genetic in origin. In April, the journal Nature published two studies that analyzed the genes of almost 10,000 people and identified a common genetic variant present in approximately 65 percent of autistic children.
So get your damn flu shot!