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Childhood vaccinations: Pay no heed to the whack jobs on TV

Thursday, March 27, 2014 - Updated: 8:19 AM

If you recently became the parent of a healthy child, we have two things to say to you.

No. 1: Congratulations.

No. 2: Get the kid vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella.

Don't listen to any of the nonsense you might hear from pseudo-celebrities who say there might be a link between vaccinations and autism.

Get the kid vaccinated.

Don't fall for the irrational paranoia that so readily spreads on the Internet.

Get the kid vaccinated.

Recently, Kristin Cavallari, an actress and former MTV personality married to Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, appeared on the Fox Business Network and said she hadn't had her first child vaccinated and -- pregnant again -- won't have the next one vaccinated, either.

Her reasons: "books" and "studies."

As it turns out, there are no valid "studies." In 1998, a team of London researchers led by now-discredited Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a study of only 12 children who had a form of autism that -- the group concluded -- established a link with their vaccinations.

In 2011, the British Medical Journal wrote an editorial titled: "Wakefield's article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent."

"Authored by Andrew Wakefield and 12 others," the editorial said, "the paper's scientific limitations were clear when it appeared in 1998. By the time the paper was finally retracted 12 years later, few people could deny that it was fatally flawed both scientifically and ethically."

On the other hand, you've got the crusade of actress Jenny McCarthy, whose credentials include posing in Playboy and being a co-host of "The View" television program. She has a son with autism-like symptoms and will not be persuaded -- despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary -- that the child's vaccinations aren't the cause.

Dr. Wilson Woo, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, quoted on the Youbeauty website, wrote three years ago: "We can't blame specific actors or actresses, as intelligence and rationality are not necessarily considered virtues in their particular profession. But, very tangible damages can result and society can even be destroyed; in this case, one's child could die, say, from meningitis, as a result of his neighbor's stupidity."

And that is why vaccinating your kid is important beyond how it affects your family. Among those at risk for infections are those who have reduced immune systems or are pregnant.

Dennis K. Flaherty, Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Charleston, opined in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy that "the alleged autism-vaccine connection is, perhaps, the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years."

Whether you have all the shots done all at once or every month or so, just get the kid vaccinated.

-- The Daily Star of Oneonta

     

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