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Belief Listing Project: Vaccination

July 29th, 2011
current_beliefs, vaccination  [html]
Vaccinations were one of the big successes of the 20th century: eradication of smallpox, near elimination of measles, mumps, and german measles in the united states, and polio down to about 1000 cases a year world wide. Not quite everyone has to be vaccinated: a society is unlikely to sustain an epidemic if around 85% of people are vaccinated against it. Which means that we are prone to a dangerous cycle: some preliminary results put a successful vaccine in question, some people stop getting their kids vaccinated, nothing happens until the fraction of vaccinated kids in some area is dangerously low, the disease catches and spreads, vaccination rates go back up, the original study is later found to be unreplicable (studies).

This is not only harmful to kids whose parents believe their friends and don't get them vaccinated; it also hurts people who have immune disorders or other medical conditions that mean they can't be vaccinated.

This cycle begins with people deciding not to have their kids vaccinated because of a study they aren't in a good position to evaluate, and it continues as people talk their friends into doing the same. We should work to break this cycle. If a study really does mean we should suspend use of a vaccine, the cdc will say so and it will be big news. So if that hasn't happend, and someone is trying to get you and other people to keep your children unvaccinated, get them to stop.

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