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Understanding Vaccines: A Public Imperative

The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine

YJBM

vaccines, anti-vaccination, public understanding

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      Abstract

      Though once a discovery greatly celebrated by the nation, the vaccine has come under fire in recent decades from skeptics, critics, and a movement set into motion by fraudulent scientists and fueled by frustrated parents looking for answers to the autism conundrum. There is enough denialist resistance to vaccination to bring upon renewed fear of young children and infants becoming infected with diseases, the threats of which had been functionally eradicated from the United States. In more recent years, the surge in independent online journalism and blogging has invited many to rapidly share their opinions with millions of readers and, importantly, has appeared to open the door for opinion to be portrayed as fact. As a result, many parents are inundated with horror stories of vaccine dangers, all designed to eat away at them emotionally while the medical and scientific communities have mounted their characteristic response by sharing the facts, the data, and all of the reliable peer-reviewed and well-cited research to show that vaccines are safe and effective. It has become clear to me that facts are no match for emotion, but perhaps an understanding behind vaccine methodology will help parents overcome these fears of vaccinating. By helping those who doubt vaccines better understand what vaccines really are and how they work in such an incredibly engineered fashion, we may have a stronger weapon than we realize in battling the emotional arsenal that comes from the fear and skepticism of vaccinating.

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      Most cited references 6

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      Effective messages in vaccine promotion: a randomized trial.

      To test the effectiveness of messages designed to reduce vaccine misperceptions and increase vaccination rates for measles-mumps-rubella (MMR).
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        Vaccines are not associated with autism: an evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies.

        There has been enormous debate regarding the possibility of a link between childhood vaccinations and the subsequent development of autism. This has in recent times become a major public health issue with vaccine preventable diseases increasing in the community due to the fear of a 'link' between vaccinations and autism. We performed a meta-analysis to summarise available evidence from case-control and cohort studies on this topic (MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE, Google Scholar up to April, 2014). Eligible studies assessed the relationship between vaccine administration and the subsequent development of autism or autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Two reviewers extracted data on study characteristics, methods, and outcomes. Disagreement was resolved by consensus with another author. Five cohort studies involving 1,256,407 children, and five case-control studies involving 9,920 children were included in this analysis. The cohort data revealed no relationship between vaccination and autism (OR: 0.99; 95% CI: 0.92 to 1.06) or ASD (OR: 0.91; 95% CI: 0.68 to 1.20), nor was there a relationship between autism and MMR (OR: 0.84; 95% CI: 0.70 to 1.01), or thimerosal (OR: 1.00; 95% CI: 0.77 to 1.31), or mercury (Hg) (OR: 1.00; 95% CI: 0.93 to 1.07). Similarly the case-control data found no evidence for increased risk of developing autism or ASD following MMR, Hg, or thimerosal exposure when grouped by condition (OR: 0.90, 95% CI: 0.83 to 0.98; p=0.02) or grouped by exposure type (OR: 0.85, 95% CI: 0.76 to 0.95; p=0.01). Findings of this meta-analysis suggest that vaccinations are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder. Furthermore, the components of the vaccines (thimerosal or mercury) or multiple vaccines (MMR) are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder.
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          Vaccines and vaccination.

           G L Ada (2001)
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Biological & Biomedical Sciences, Immunobiology Graduate Program, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
            Author notes
            To whom all correspondence should be addressed: Ross S. Federman, Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Biological & Biomedical Sciences, Immunobiology Graduate Program, DiMaio Laboratory, Department of Genetics, SHM I-119, PO Box 208005, New Haven, CT 06520-8005; Tele: 203-785-2685; Email: Ross.federman@ 123456yale.edu .
            Journal
            Yale J Biol Med
            Yale J Biol Med
            yjbm
            YJBM
            The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine
            YJBM
            0044-0086
            1551-4056
            12 December 2014
            December 2014
            : 87
            : 4
            : 417-422
            25506276
            4257029
            yjbm874417
            Copyright ©2014, Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License, which permits for noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any digital medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not altered in any way.

            Categories
            Focus: Vaccines
            Focus: Vaccines

            Medicine

            public understanding, anti-vaccination, vaccines

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