As some of you might know vaccination has been in the news quite a bit lately. If you didn’t I’ll tell you why in a bit. Firstly I’ll do the fastest explanation I can as to how vaccination works. In fact the picture below does an awesome job.
Then vaccinations can eradicate certain diseases as long as a certain percentage of the population is vaccinated against that disease. This is what happened with smallpox (something I am extremely glad to see). The more infectious the disease the higher the percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated. You may have also heard of herd immunity. That’s when a large proportion of the population is immunised against a disease and this then protects those who have not been immunised. So that’s the basics!
So why has it been in the news?
The Tribeca film festival wanted to show a film called Vaxxed. It’s directed by Andrew Wakefield. He completed some now discredited research on the non link between Autism and vaccinations. Wakefield was also stripped from his medical license. His work caused a decrease in vaccinations and therefore the increase in diseases such as mumps and measles. The Tribeca film festival is the brain child of the actor Robert De Niro. This is what Robert De Niro had to say about vaccination:
“I believe it’s much more complicated than that. It’s much more complicated than that. There is a link. They’re saying there isn’t, but there are certain things.
The obvious one is thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, but there are other things. I don’t know. I’m not a scientist, but I know because I’ve seen so much reaction about…about…let’s just find out the truth. Let’s just find out the truth. I’m not antivaccine, as I say, but I’m pro-safe vaccine.
Some people who cannot take the vaccine, and they have to be found out and warned. You give a kid a bunch of shots, and then something happens. Some parents are even in this documentary saying, “I knew I shouldn’t have done it. I talked to the doctor. He’s the doctor. I should listen. I didn’t. The next day…” Can you imagine how the parent feels?”
Here is my concern, Robert De Niro is someone who a lot of people know about. He is also not a doctor. He is also not a scientist. Unfortunately many people around the world will listen to him and not look at the real science of vaccination. If people aren’t vaccinated then some of these awful diseases could make a reappearance. In the end my opinion is that a small pin prick with the microscopic chance of something going wrong is far better than getting the disease you are protecting yourself against (That’s the offer that I couldn’t refuse). So here is my response to Robert De Niro.
An Open Letter to Robert De Niro
I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse. You see, we (being the scientific community) feel that vaccination is going to be a big factor in eradicating illness. We’re hoping that you’ll sign a contract agreeing to not speak of topics you clearly don’t fully understand. Perhaps convince some of your friends in the movies to do the same. We’re counting on you, Robert.