Opinion Piece Explores Potential Reasons For Prevalence Of Vaccine Hesitancy
The Guardian: As Ebola kills in Africa, in the west lies over vaccines beguile the complacent
Mark Honigsbaum, medical historian and author
“…[F]rom New York’s Brooklyn to Camden in north London to Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, vaccines are in retreat, shunned by populations who seemingly have little sense of the risks they are running with their own or other people’s lives. Why this should be so is one of the conundrums of our age. Is it all the fault of social media and anti-vax propaganda that has taken root on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube? Or has society grown complacent about the risks that infectious diseases posed to previous generations, when it was common for children to be paralyzed by polio or rendered deaf or brain-damaged by measles? … Although it is difficult to gauge the impact of Facebook and Google on all this, the suspicion is that social media has skewed the game in favor of anti-vaxxers. But surely that is only part of the story. … What is surprising and demands more explanation is the persistence of these fears in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that vaccination is a boon to health and, for the most part, safe. Perhaps the phenomenon is best explained by our own hubris. With no experience of the childhood diseases that shortened or blighted our grandparents’ lives, much less tropical diseases such as Ebola and malaria, we have forgotten that it is only because of vaccines and other medical advances that we no longer need fear infectious disease…” (4/14).