Amy sent this open letter written by a woman to her father, who had posted anti-vaccination information on his Facebook account, thus — according to the writer — contributing to an anti-science mentality that very much affects reseachers’ ability to move forward.
From Tara C. Smith, an epidemiologist:
Know the results of this vaccine backlash? Research dollars are diverted away from real causes of autism and other conditions. And kids are dying. Just in the U.S., there have been more than 1000 vaccine-preventable deaths in the last 6 years, and over 100,000 vaccine-preventable illnesses. Freaking whooping cough has made a huge comeback in the U.S. A big reason for the resurgence of these diseases is because anti-vaccine myths and scares spread so easily between acquaintances–in person, and on social media; scares that you’re now perpetuating with your own posts. Sure, it’s a free country and you have every right to share these pictures and memes, but have you thought about the possible harm it might do to others when you click “share”?
I haven’t paid close attention to the anti-vaccination crowd, and Smith’s discussion of diverting research dollars away from important work — based on a groundswell of information carried by social media sites — makes me go “Hmmmm.”