Sunday, January 25, 2015

Just A Little Prick

The Measles, it seems, have come to Disneyland. A turn of events that's shining a light on people who don't believe in, and/or don't trust, vaccines.

"Anti-vaxxers," as they are called, are quickly on their way to becoming Public Enemy Number 1 - at least in the court of public opinion. Charged with threatening herd immunity, jeopardizing vulnerable people and ignoring science, they are seen as dangerously self-centered. For, it appears, actually acting on their distrust of an industry that's seen less positively than the Telecommunications sector, which people love to gripe about.

For all that the supposed links between vaccines and autism spectrum disorders have been discredited in the broader public eye (despite the celebrity of some of the theory's adherents), it takes more than that to actively build trust. Accordingly, you can't force people into it. In my own experience, it's fairly common for people to have faith that the people and institutions they want to do things will actually be able to accomplish them. People who, for instance, want the government to adopt a national single-payer health-care system, tend to have faith that the government can manage it. By the same token, people who want to see vaccination rates rise tend to trust that vaccine makers have created a safe and effective disease countermeasure. Whether or not this squares with or flies in the face of the facts, however, is a different issue.

I guess one heartening thing is that over the past couple of years, the vast majority of parents who do support vaccination and who do want their children and the people around them to be protected have realized that they really need to stand up and make their voices heard.
Seth Mnookin "Measles Outbreak Linked To Disneyland Hits Over 70 Cases"
People who opt-out of vaccinations for their children, also want those children to be protected - so the question becomes: "Protected from what?"

Two groups of people arguing over their competing self-interests is unlikely to resolve anything. Especially because the pro-vaccine group will effectively (whether they see it that way or not) be telling the anti-vaccine parents to place their children at risk for what those parents see as little or no benefit. What's really at stake is the perceived trustworthiness of the pharmaceutical industry - something that even industry insiders and boosters have admitted is shaky. Perhaps this means that the pro-vaccine parents should make sure that it's pharmaceutical makers, rather than anti-vaccine parents, who hear their voices.

People in the United States are quick to suspect that bug corporations are willing to cheat or injure them in the name of enhancing profitability. Those who understand their interests are best served by changing that are going to be the people with the best leverage to make it happen.

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