Fringe conspiracy-theorist terrorists, called ‘anti-vaxxers’ are multiplying so fast that some counties, cities, and states have vaccination rates below community or ‘herd’ immunity levels across the U.S. With more parents buying into the conspiracy that vaccines contain toxins, cause autism, and are unsafe, children, the elderly, and immunocompromised are suffering. These people need to be called out for what they are; anti-vaxxers are terrorists that kill and harm our children.
Even if you oppose anti-vaxxers, you might think it’s too extreme to use the “terrorist” label in this case. I do not. Though there is no single agreed-upon definition of terrorism, most agree that it consists of using fear as a tool to achieve political or social change while disregarding harm done to others in the process. I think anti-vaxxers meet every part of that definition.
In 1998 the anti-vaccine movement gained traction when a now discredited and disbarred physician, Andrew Wakefield published a study suggesting a link between vaccines and autism. The study published in Lancet in 1998 became the foundation for the modern-day anti-vaccine movement.
The Lancet retracted his study in 2010, and the UK General Medical Council disbarred him following an extensive investigation. The investigation found that Wakefield accepted money to work as an expert in MMR litigation.
To help the attorneys build a case against the vaccine manufacturers, Wakefield studied children without approval and under false/misleading pretenses. His study never received approval by an ethics committee and lacked proper controls.
After a lengthy review of the paper and discrepancies, the Medical Council determined Wakefield’s paper was not truthful. He fabricated the entire study to help an attorney pursue litigation against the MMR. The Medical Council removed him as a member, stripped his license, and barred him from ever practicing again.
However, between 1998-2010, the study remained active online and in the Lancet archives. Vaccine hesitant parents read the study and believed Wakefield’s conclusion that the MMR caused autism. As a result, parents stopped vaccinating their children.
After he published his article in 1998, whooping cough and measles outbreaks became more common around the United States. In 1998, the CDC reported 7,405 cases of pertussis. By 2004, the CDC documented over 25,000 cases of the bacteria.
Chart of reported cases of whooping cough from 1998-2017 (source CDC).
Since 1998 the fewest reported cases was in 2010 with 10, 454 and the peak in 2012 with 48,277 cases. While some populations increased their vaccination rates during that time, other groups have seen declines.
Before 2010 (when the UK disbarred Wakefield), the vaccination rates in the US were at an all-time low. The CDC reported only 44% of all children had received all recommended vaccinations. After the Lancet retracted his study in 2010, vaccination rates improved steadily to 70.7% in 2016.
While the increase is impressive, not enough of US children are vaccinated to prevent the spread of multiple diseases.
Even though Wakefield is a medical laughing stock, conspiracy theorists continue to push his paper as evidence that vaccines are toxic. The rise of the social media giant, Facebook, has enabled a new generation of pro-disease parents to share misleading information and spread their propaganda.
New quacks and bad doctors have thrived on the easy access to billions of people to influence and manipulate with their unproven beliefs about vaccines. Large Facebook groups like Stop Mandatory Vaccination house over 150,000 people that work together to spread false and misleading information.
These parents refuse to believe that vaccines are safe and effective. Instead, they hold on to the notion that ‘toxins’ in the vaccines cause ‘vaccine injuries’ to children. The same people attempt to link the deaths of infants to vaccines.
Even though vaccine reactions are generally mild, they wrongly believe that vaccines cause autism, increase Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, heavy metal poisoning, and brain damage.
The anti-vaccine movement has become a terrorist organization on social media. They flood pages that promote vaccination and vaccine safety to share fake news links and their ‘beliefs’ about vaccines.
Anti-vaxxers show up in groups unrelated to vaccines to spread their propaganda that children are dying and ‘damaged’ from vaccines.
With over 2 billion users on Facebook, a fringe movement that started in 1998 and should have died in 2010, is alive and thriving. Anti-vaccine terrorists use fear-mongering and false information to influence vulnerable and gullible parents.
Individuals that would otherwise vaccinate fall prey to their nonsense by reading their articles, books, and watching biased documentaries about the dangers of vaccines.
This terrorist organization and the cult has grown so large the World Health Organization declared anti-vaxxers at Top 10 public health threat to the world.
The evidence for their destruction is all over the news. Currently, five areas of the country are in the middle of measles outbreaks. Through February 7, the CDC reported 101 cases of the measles. Due to the outbreaks, 2019 will likely outpace outbreak numbers in the past five years.
While anti-vaxxers in the United States and Europe willingly deny vaccines, other parts of the world are dealing with epidemics of the measles due to lack of vaccines.
On the island of Madagascar, one of the poorest African countries, almost 1,000 children have died from the measles since October 2018.Thus far the island has been unable to standardize a vaccination schedule for the measles. The lack of program by the government left more than 43% of the population unvaccinated in 2017. A world emergency effort to help the country has vaccinated nearly 22 million citizens.
Countries like Madagascar haven’t had the luxury to ‘deny’ a vaccine. Their citizens haven’t had access, and now their children are dying. In the developed world like The United States and Europe, parents willingly deny their children vaccines based on fear and false ‘beliefs.’
These people believe a coordinated conspiracy between ‘Big Pharma’ and the government is working to keep our children sick through vaccines and medications. However, they fail to realize that ‘Big Pharma’ would make far more profits by allowing children to contract these diseases.
The overall profits in vaccines are negligible compared to the gains made by selling pharmaceutical drugs. Because vaccines are effective and safe, the government offers free vaccines to millions of people every year.
The Vaccines for Children program provides free vaccines to all children that are uninsured, underinsured or qualify for Medicaid. Because vaccines are necessary for children, the pharmaceutical companies sell the vaccines to the CDC at a discounted price.
Programs like these are evidence that profit is not the goal for the vaccine maker or the government.
No, the truth is that the two entities work together to vaccinate children for free because vaccines save lives.
None of this matters to the anti-vaxxers and the charlatans that promote the anti-vaccine agenda. Leaders against vaccines are motivated by financial greed.
Naturopaths, chiropractors, supplement companies, and homeopathic providers want people to believe vaccines don’t work because they want to sell a product.
They push supplements, vitamins, and expensive treatments that promise immunity to the diseases. These same people downplay the diseases by calling them benign and harmless. The charlatans always profit off people opting out of vaccines. Every new convert to the anti-vaccine cult is a new paying customer.
‘Big Alternative Health‘ is an over $17 billion industry that sells unproven and unregulated products. If anti-vaxxers were logical and intelligent enough to look at the facts, they would see that the real conspiracy is that these charlatans are lying to them for a massive payday.
As parents and advocates, we must speak out and stop the spread of these charlatans from profiting off fear and propaganda. Our children’s lives are at stake. We need to fight back against the anti-vaccine terrorist.
Last year anti-vaxxers caused 80,000 people in Europe to contract the measles, and 72 died. The wild measles ravaging Europe has traveled to the United States. The CDC reports that all current measles outbreaks are tied to Eastern Europe. As the measles spreads, outbreaks are likely to start all over the country.
Do not let these terrorists brainwash you to believe these illnesses are no big deal. These diseases are a huge issue!
In 2017, 110,000 people died from the measles.
110,000 people that could have survived had they had proper access to the vaccine or given their child the vaccine.
Between 2000-2017, the WHO estimates 21 million deaths have been prevented due to the vaccine.
Do not show your privilege by denying your child access to necessary and life-saving vaccines. People in impoverished countries are dying because they lack access to vaccines that are readily available here.
Please educate yourself properly on vaccine safety. Talk your child’s pediatrician, visit the CDC, and the World Health Organization.
We can stop vaccine-preventable diseases from harming and killing our children.
Our choice as parents must be to vaccinate our children.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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