Since writing about the increasing numbers of vaccinations earlier this month, it has been easy to feel like the score is tipping in public health's direction. More vaccinations mean fewer people are getting preventable diseases - and that is something that we at ACSH can celebrate.
However, this is not the time to get complacent about the controversies surrounding vaccination. 2016 was a year filled with the fervor of the anti-vaxxer movement and their zeal for stopping this public health measure from saving the lives of their children looks like it is ramping up as we head into 2017.
This year saw the release of Andrew Wakefield's movie VAXXED (thankfully only a handful of people actually went to see it) that is anti-vaccine propaganda at its best. Andrew Wakefield, the author of the now retracted paper that originally linked vaccines to autism, remains the driving force behind the movement. The movie gained more publicity when Robert DeNiro wisely decided to pull it from the Tribeca film festival (upon the pressure of the other filmmakers involved in the festival) - which was followed, disappointingly, by his very public questioning of that decision.
Perhaps most concerning for the future of vaccines and the diseases that they prevent, however, are the more recent, willing audiences that Andrew Wakefield and his group have had, listening to his anti-science message and lending support to his cause.
The first of these willing ears is Donald Trump who met with Andrew Wakefield in August. The meeting is not surprising following a trail of anti-vaccine comments and tweets from Donald Trump, going back to 2007 and continuing up to the present. Here is a small subset of those which make clear his feelings on the issue of vaccinations and autism.
Having this baseline philosophy makes Donald Trump ripe for the picking by Andrew Wakefield. After the meeting in August, Jennifer Larson, who was at the meeting, documented part of the interactions - published in the 'age of autism' website - a group firmly planted in the falsehood that vaccines cause autism.
Now that Trump won, we can all feel safe in sharing that Mr Trump met with autism advocates in August. He gave us 45 minutes and was extremely educated on our issues. Mark stated " You can't make America great with all these sick children and more coming". Trump shook his head and agreed. He heard my son's vaccine injury story. Andy told him about Thompson and gave him Vaxxed. Dr Gary ended the meeting by saying "Donald, you are the only one who can fix this". He said " I will". We left hopeful. Lots of work left to do.
Also concerning is the alliance that is forming between anti-vaxxers and pediatric chiropractors. As we wrote in June, over 2 million children reportedly received a manipulation during the year of 2007, and the field has only grown since then. That statistic means that pediatric chiropractors, who are considered to be trusted health professionals by their patients, have access to a lot of children and their parents. If they, as a group, take up the anti-vaccination cause, they could certainly become a force in the anti-vax movement - as if cracking babies spines were not harmful enough.
If there were any question about the severity of people not vaccinating, you can look to a report published this past week by the Wall Street Journal with the title "5 Things to Know About Mumps." Mumps? In the Wall Street Journal?!?! The reason why they are publishing this information is that 2016 has seen more mumps cases than any year in the past decade. There is only one reason for that when we have a very effective vaccine for mumps - people not getting the vaccine.
So, with the anti-vax movement linking up with both Donald Trump and pediatric chiropractors there is cause for concern and much more work to be done ahead.
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