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Big Picture Science: Antivaxxers (and updates)
I do a roughly monthly segment with astronomer Seth Shostak on Big Picture Science, a radio show/podcast done by The SETI Institute. This month, Seth and I talked about the American Airlines dustup when they were planning to run an interview with reality-impaired antivaxxer Meryl Dorey. This story is a great victory for reality, and I've already written about the back story.
Never forget: this antivax issue is more than important: it is literally life and death. Because of lowering vaccine rates, pertussis outbreaks are so prevalent health officials in the state of Washington have declared it to be an epidemic. The governor has had to dip into emergency funds to the tune of $90,000 to finance an information campaign to get the word out.
But the money is secondary to the idea that babies and people with immune deficiencies are at risk of dying from a disease that is essentially totally preventable if everyone got their vaccinations and boosters.
I cannot state that any more simply. The antivax crowd says vaccines cause autism, vaccines cause neurological problems, vaccines hurt your immune system. None of that is true. The real danger is when people believe the antivax propaganda. Infants too young to be vaccinated themselves rely on herd immunity -- if enough people are vaccinated the disease has no place to live. And when we as a community don't vaccinate, people get sick, and some people -- including those infants, usually just a few weeks old -- die.
Talk to your board-certified doctor, and if they say it's OK, get vaccinated. You may save more than one life doing so.