Love spreads

The other day I was travelling up to London on the train when an elderly gentleman fell ill. He collapsed in his seat and fell to the floor, hitting his head. Everyone around me seemed reluctant to help. No one was stepping up. There was an elderly gentleman lying on the floor, blood pouring from his head and no one was helping. So, it seemed that it was left to me. I attended the gentleman and noted that he wasn’t breathing and he had no pulse. I concluded that the best course of action was open heart surgery, right there in the train carriage. Fortunately I had just purchased a set of carving knives, I opened up his chest with the hope that I could somehow kick start his heart, unfortunately the man died in my arms. When the paramedics arrived they informed me that basic chest compressions would have more than likely saved his life. Fortunately as I’m not a qualified doctor/nurse/paramedic no criminal charges will be brought upon me.

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I’m not a doctor, although the title ‘Dr Love’ is ever so appealing, I have zero qualifications when it comes to medical procedures. I do have basic first aid training but I wouldn’t expect to be consulted on life threatening diseases or viruses. Yet there is a movement happening all over the world that is effectively doing just that.

They are taking medical advise from unqualified, ill informed or downright stupid people.

I am talking about the anti-vaccination movement.

Anti-vaccinations have been around for almost as long as the vaccinations themselves. But the movement gained extra traction in 1998 when Dr Andrew Wakefield published research in The Lancet linking the MMR vaccine to autism. Since its publication researchers have failed to reproduce Wakefield’s findings, The Lancet has retracted his publication and Wakefield was struck from the medical register and is no longer allowed to practice medicine in the UK.

Mr Wakefield’s publication, and the Daily mail headlines, caused such a stir that thousands of parents opted not to have their children vaccinated, my youngest brother being one of them. When my middle brother contracted mumps a few years ago I casually exclaimed “At least we’ve all been vaccinated”. It was then that I found out about my younger brothers lack of an inoculation. My mothers reason? Dr Wakefield’s ‘findings’ that she read about in, you guessed it, the Daily Mail. It was one of those rare double facepalm moments.

Our ability to control and eradicate deadly diseases is, I think, mankind’s greatest achievement. (Along with reaching the moon) We have successfully eradicated smallpox. Polio has all but disappeared, save for a few pockets in Africa and the middle east. And four days ago India announced that it is Polio free.

Why any parent would want to avoid vaccinations is beyond my level of comprehension. Centuries ago people were dying of smallpox, polio, measles and numerous illnesses and they had no idea why or what was causing it. They didn’t understand germ theory or how diseases spread. I’m sure They would be utterly disgusted to find that in the 21st century parents weren’t protecting their children. They would be even more horrified, I’m sure, if they knew just how easy it was.

Jenny McCarthy who is a strong voice in the anti-vaccination camp, although recently she has shifted her position, caused something of a shit storm. She validated (then) Dr Wakefield’s publication. She wrote as recently as 2011 in the Huffington post still defending Dr Wakefield’s publication. If you do have concerns about vaccinations then please, please, get you information from someone who is qualified to talk on such matters. Someone who understands immunology, microbiology, or even basic physiology.

We have developed vaccines for Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Whopping cough, Hepatitis A & B, Diphtheria, Polio, Smallpox, Meningitis, Flu, Pneumonia, Rotavirus, Chicken pox. To not vaccinate your child is not only a tragedy but it’s an insult. There are children in developing countries that are in desperate need of vaccinations and this anti vaccination movement is hurting, no, killing them.

As Penn Jillette so eloquently said

“Even if vaccination did cause autism, which it fucking doesn’t, anti vaccination would still be bullshit”

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One thought on “Love spreads

  1. The anti-vax movement is as deluded as every other group who chooses to completely ignore both the scientific method and peer review. In the case of creationists, there is no obvious victim as such (apart from the children indoctrinated to believe such tosh) but ignorance about vaccination is causing real harm to everybody. Diseases that had vanished are now making a reappearance and the immunity of those vaccinated needs a critical number for it to remain effective.

    For this reason, I thank you for writing this. If it persuades one more person to stop being a self righteous fool and gets them to vaccinate their kids, it’s a step in the right direction.

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