A flourishing anti-vaccination movement based on bad science and distrust of Big Pharma is pressing the rewind button on decades of advances in reducing child illness, writes Amy Wallace. Parents who believe—despite the lack of credible evidence—that vaccines harm children are endangering other people's children as well as their own, Wallace writes in Wired. That's because vaccines don't always take, and skipping shots diminishes the "herd immunity" mass vaccination campaigns rely on.
The rates of some children's diseases are approaching pre-vaccination levels in some parts of the US, Wallace notes. Pediatrician Paul Offit has become a main target of the anti-vaccination movement, and has received death threats because of his assertion that vaccines do not cause autism. "I used to say that the tide would turn when children started to die. Well, children have started to die,” Offit says, listing deaths from meningitis among unvaccinated children. “So now I’ve changed it to ‘when enough children start to die.’ Because obviously, we’re not there yet.”