11 01 2009

I doubt it’ll be much longer before I run into something that sets me off on a rant about antivaxxers, so I think I figured I’d post something about what I think of them beforehand.

It goes without saying that I’m pro vaccination. The science is solidly behind vaccination, and antivaxxers can’t present any quality evidence for their claims whatsoever. They move the goalpost to something new each time scientists refute their claims, and try to always have something new that scientists haven’t had a chance to refute yet. It’s like a long, drawn out Gish Gallop.

So, with that said, antivaxxers are some of the worst and most disgusting pseudoscientists, quacks, and cranks that exist. There are more absurd ones, but few are as dangerous or as damaging to others.

They put their children at grave risk for contracting deadly illnesses that are very easily prevented. These are illnesses that can and do kill even when you receive the best treatment available. They are among the most deadly illnesses ever to infect the human race, and with a vaccine, you are almost certain never to be infected by it. We’re talking about a risk to children here. It’s not just a matter of harming themselves, they also hurt their children.

And it doesn’t stop there, either. They put others at risk as well. Vaccines create what is called herd immunity. This means that there are enough people immune to the disease that it cannot sustain an outbreak. One of the great triumphs of medicine in America has been an almost completely successful campaign to vaccinate everyone who can safely receive a vaccine. It prevents people who cannot get vaccines from getting infected. That means it’s protecting people who are immunocompromised, babies who are too young to receive all of their vaccines, and…yep, the parasitic scum who refuse to vaccinate their children.

But herd immunity only works when enough of the population is vaccinated. As you reach a certain critical mass of unvaccinated, outbreaks can sustain themselves. The diseases start spreading again, and you have a health crisis on your hands. People who are immunocompromised are infected because they can’t get vaccines to protect them, and they are now exposed to the diseases. And even people who are vaccinated can get infected. Vaccines are very effective, but they are not 100% effective. Even those who do everything right are put at risk by antivaxxers. If you’re a parent and aren’t worried about what others do with their children, or at least not enough to actively fight the antivax movement, consider this fact: they put your kids at risk too.

And in some places, herd immunity is getting shaky. In the UK, the rate of new measles vaccinations is, according to some estimates, below the % threshold at which herd immunity collapses. It would take years before this unvaccinated segment made up a large enough portion of the population to collapse herd immunity, but it could happen. If antivaccinationist claims aren’t countered at every turn, it damn well might happen.

I won’t go into a detailed description of what happens if herd immunity breaks, because I really don’t feel like depressing myself right now. Antivaccinationism is about as close to evil as mere ignorance gets, and it has the consequences to match. I’ll stop here, bceause just writing about this leaves me really just wanting to swear about and insult antivaxxers.