Remember the fearful times when vaccines were linked to negative side effects or autism, sparking a great deal of fear in the minds of parents alike? Probably not, of course, because great deals of us are habituated to the fact that immunization is one of those scientific bulwarks against dilapidating diseases. Sadly there are a select group of people who are fearful of a myth that links autism to measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. It was unfortunate that this fallacious concept was introduced in a British scientific journal, for it has taken over a decade to erase the negative concept of vaccines from the minds of the concerned parent. Apart from this, of course, there are groups who even believe that natural immunization through infection is a healthier alternative to the dastardly vaccine, although essentially there is absolutely no difference in the resulting outcome. In other words, if your child were to survive measles, he/she would likely have memory B lymphocytes and antibodies that constitute immunity to the disease. At the same time, however, why go through a cycle of falling ill and risking death when a vaccination empowers you with the same fundamental biological immune factor? The lack of scientific education in these matters is perhaps a concept that takes most flack for this, or perhaps it is that unnerving tendency to link everything to science that an audience of disbelief begins to emerge. To a person who may not have spent his/her life studying science, it is not unreasonable to assume that he/she will find that science should not be the sole explanation for worldly phenomena. I suppose this is the key misconception, because it doesn’t seem to me that science attempts to explain our origins, but rather seeks to logically make sense of the world of natural phenomena around us.
Recently, California has joined both Washington and Vermont in implementing stricter vaccination controls for individuals. It is now much harder for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children, and any exemption is conditional to them receiving factual information about vaccinations themselves. “Receiving” factual information could subject someone to a very long bureaucratic process that may involve weeks of education before an exemption, and essentially this is main precept behind the law: deterrence. While the law is well intentioned, it makes you wonder whether a more forceful approach will compel individuals to be more scientifically open minded. If anything, couldn’t this further polarize those who are in disbelief? http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=us-sta