Normally, the anti-vaccine brigade tend to be either coy or in denial of the fact that eliminating vaccines—or in fact just lowering the vaccination prevalence in the population below the critical herd immunity point—will take a toll in the lives of thousands of children dying every year, suffering complications like encephalitis from measles, and so on. Jenny McCarthy, one of the more notorious proponents of this for of mass collateral child murder, however, spoke up a bit more straightforwardly in an interview with TIME (sic censorship, below):
I do believe sadly it's going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it's their f___ing fault that the diseases are coming back. They're making a product that's s___. If you give us a safe vaccine, we'll use it. It shouldn't be polio versus autism.
It should be noted that there exists no good evidence that vaccines are in general unsafe, let alone that any cause autism—that particular scare was based on studies by a Dr. Wakefield, which were widely considered to be so poorly conducted as to be useless, even before his data were discovered to be, in all likelihood, fraudulent. It should also be noted and never forgotten that little-feared diseases like measles are actually pretty serious, as the interviewer (a Jeffrey Kluger) points out:
Measles is among the top five killers in the world of children under 5 years old, yet it kills virtually no one in the U.S. thanks to vaccines.
McCarthy replies that
If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f___ing measles.
You be her judge, keeping in mind that
- There’s no evidence that any vaccine causes autism.
- There’s no evidence that most vaccines (certainly the mainstream childhood vaccines!) are at all prone to causing any long-term complications. Certainly some children have reactions, but ours is not a perfect world: Choose X% chance of a reaction to a vaccine, or Y% chance of dying from any of a large number of diseases. Typically, X is much smaller than Y, and the consequences much less dire.
- Unvaccinated children put other children at risk. If vaccination isn’t common enough, pandemics can still spread, and because no vaccine is 100% effective, vaccines prevent pandemics by making it too difficult for diseases to spread. Additionally, some children can’t be vaccinated due to allergies or other, valid health reasons: They rely on other children’s being vaccinated for protection.
- Low vaccination rates have already re-introduced measles to the UK. The first death was in 2006. As vaccination rates sink, more deaths will follow.
- Wasting people’s time and energy testing and re-testing vaccines for safety with respect to the fictional autism risk takes resources away from useful research—like addressing the real issues with vaccines that have them, or researching the actual causes of autism.