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A school nurse administers a influenza vaccine to a patient's arm on December 13, 2010.
There’s a battle being waged between science and fear. And, according to Dr. Paul Offit, cooler heads are not prevailing. Since the first inoculation of an eight year old boy at the end of the 18th Century, vaccines have saved countless lives. They had virtually eliminated measles, mumps, bacterial meningitis, whooping cough and other diseases - until recently. Now, there’s a growing movement in the U.S. against vaccination, driven by parents who believe vaccines are more dangerous than the diseases they prevent. As a result, we’re seeing a resurgence of once-preventable illnesses. Take California, for example, where a recent outbreak of whooping cough killed at least nine children, despite an effective vaccine that’s been around since the 1940s. In his new book, Deadly Choices, Offit, vigorously defends the importance of vaccines and boldly states that they do not cause autism or any of the conditions that have been blamed on them. Yesterday, an influential British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines was exposed as an “elaborate fraud.” But are committed anti-vaxxers like Jenny McCarthy listening? Who’s putting us more at risk – doctors with needles or parents skipping shots?
Dr. A. Paul Offit, M.D., author of Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All (Basic Books); Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq, recommended for universal use in infants by the CDC