Last week PBS aired a NOVA special on vaccinations: Vaccines—Calling the Shots
Diseases that were largely eradicated in the United States a generation ago—including whooping cough, measles, mumps—are returning, in part because nervous parents are skipping their children’s shots. Vaccines – Calling the Shots, a new NOVA special, takes viewers around the world to track epidemics, explore the science behind vaccinations, and shed light on the risks of opting out.
Like most NOVA specials, it focuses on the science behind vaccinations: How were they developed? How effective are they? How safe are they? And—perhaps most importantly—what happens when large numbers of parents refuse to vaccinate their children?
The program first aired last year, produced no doubt because of the increasing number of outbreaks of preventable diseases, like measles and whooping cough.
Related post: Back to school: Childhood immunizations
I think NOVA explains very well the recent trend of parents “opting out” of routine childhood vaccinations. The idea that one vaccine, the MMR or measles/mumps/rubella, was causing autism was put forth almost 20 years ago in a medical journal using fraudulent research.
Despite this fraud coming to light and the researcher being ousted from the medical community, the damage was done. Fear of vaccinations took hold and it’s been very difficult to eradicate.
No vaccine or drug is 100% safe and effective, but over time the benefits of routine childhood immunizations have proven to outweigh the risks.
Besides watching the NOVA special, you can browse the resources listed in my previous post for more information: Be informed – 100 vaccination resources