Conspiracy theories and hype over vaccines

I read a lot of things both online and off, and the world is an interesting place these days as always.

I was in San Diego last week, and one of the big news items was a huge outbreak of the measles stemming from Disneyland.

Not exactly what you wanted to get from your vacation from the kids!

Over 50 cases of measles are connected with the theme park and the reason is pretty clear: unvaccinated kids at the park are bringing this disease back to life. People ask immediately, ‘Well why do the vaccinated people care? Aren’t they are supposedly covered?’

Yes…but that’s not the problem: it’s the kids under 12 years old, and the elderly that are at risk.

Kids under 12 months are too young for the MMR vaccine, and if they get sick, they can die.

If everyone gets vaccinated, then we get what is referred to as a ‘herd’ immunity where most of the people around are vaccinated, and the disease doesn’t get to the very young and very old because there is so very little exposure to the risk.

Now with larger percentages of parents not vaccinating, people from other countries visiting, etc. the walls are down, and the risk is coming back up.

Conspiracy theorists will be quick to tell you that pharmaceutical companies make a lot of money making vaccines and that taints the studies, and it’s all a big scam, but honestly, there are thousands of non-drug company studies that prove beyond a shadow of doubt, that they work.

The other big thing is around the safety of the vaccines (or not) and that is a massive debate.

As a father of a nearly three-year-old, I can tell you; we were very torn.

We read a lot of books, articles and papers.

We talked to a lot of people, both professional and regular.

We were really concerned, because here is the raw truth: There IS risk in getting vaccinated. It’s written right on the box and on the medical insert.

As a parent, that is our worst nightmare; that we would walk into a medical facility with a

happy, healthy, wonderful child and leave with a sick or dead child because of a choice we made.

That risk is real.

It happens, BUT, (and we really have to consider this) the risk is really, really low.

Like one in a million.

It’s not zero, but it’s close. If you happen to be that one, oh boy – that is awful, terrible and brutally sad.

My heart aches and hurts for that one in a million.

But here’s the thing: In a study in just one state – a little over 9,000 people got whooping cough, a disease that has pretty much been non-existent for 50 years, but is making a comeback from non-vaccination.

Ten children died. Ten. In San Diego county, 5,100 people were on the list as not having vaccines and of those; 980 people got whooping cough (in this case the report didn’t mention fatalities).

That’s a fact, and it is tragic. The trouble is that the Internet is full of people with pseudo science, opinions dressed up as facts, and yes – tragic stories of parents who lost a child due to a reaction.

By no means are their stories invalid or non-relevant, but we need to look at the big picture.

Some of the ingredients in vaccines don’t seem to make sense to us, but I have to tell you from the real science, the independent science and personal experience of having been vaccinated all my life, they are sensible.

The science is sound and it works with very low risk, not zero risk, very, very

low-risk. In the end, you have to make your own decisions.

We did our homework and got our son vaccinated. He remains a healthy, happy little boy, and I wish the same for you.

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.

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