Antivaxxers are people who think vaccinations cause health problems, most notably autism. This is despite study after study showing them to be wrong; there simply is no link between vaccines and autism. While there can be isolated reactions to vaccines, they are very rare, and the overall health benefits of vaccines vastly -- vastly -- outweigh the negatives.
But these antiscience crusaders are starting to have an effect, and it's a bad one: measles outbreaks in the U.S. are on the rise. In the first seven months of 2008 there have been seven outbreaks -- a typical year has just one -- with over 130 reports of measles infections, compared to just 42 last year in total. Of these cases, 122 children were either unvaccinated or have unknown vaccination status. That's 93%.
As it happens, there have been no deaths from these outbreaks yet, though over a dozen kids were hospitalized.
The overall vaccination rate in the U.S. probably hasn't dropped significantly, but these outbreaks are probably due to pockets of people not vaccinating their kids. Some are from home-schoolers, others due to religious reasons... but I will guarantee that a lot of this is due to the antivaxxers spread of lies, and smearing of the medical community. We've seen it before, and we'll see it again.
This part of the article is telling:
The nation once routinely saw hundreds of thousands of measles cases each year, and hundreds of deaths. But immunization campaigns were credited with dramatically reducing the numbers. The last time health officials saw this many cases was 1997, when 138 were reported.
Vaccinations work, and they save lives. Don't believe the lies. Do the research yourself. I did, and I'm convinced the antivaxxers are wrong. And in some cases, they're dead wrong.
Help stop them. Educate yourself, and talk about this with people. If you have a friend who is considering not vaccinating their kids, send them here, or here, or especially here. Give them the facts. They need it, to fight the onslaught of antiscience they are likely to find elsewhere.
Fight. Literally, kids' lives depend on it.