Although they’re a lot more outlandish misconceptions regarding vaccinations these days they all started somewhere. This idea originated in the 1950’s but grew in the 1980’s due to infantile autism being redefined as a developmental neurological disorder. Many parents were filled with guilt and confusion, wondering how their child developed autism. Upset about their children’s diagnoses, these parents were looking for someone or something to blame, and it wasn’t long before people started pointing their fingers at vaccinations and the government.
Now that was back in the 50’s, but another incident a bit later perpetuated the entire situation. In 1997, English doctor Andrew Wakefield published an article in The Lancet elaborating on how the MMR vaccine is linked to autism. His article added fuel to the fire surrounding the misconception considering that the UK’s immunization rates were slowly recovering due to misinformation like the article he posted. As a result of Wakefield’s article, many millennials in the United States specifically decided to “protect” their kids from immunization.
Since then the misconception between vaccinations and autism has grown an astonishing amount. Multiple organizations with an emphasis on supporting anti vaccination ideologies. Organizations such as Informed Consent Action Network, have been accumulating large sums of money through donations. Their influence and the support they’ve received is nothing short of blasphemous. The establishment of organizations like these have led to the misconceptions having influence in modern day politics.
The Misconception in Politics
With the discovery of the COVID vaccine, the ongoing misconception has been perpetuated. Although autism isn’t a specific concern with the COVID vaccine, as a result of misconceptions from previous vaccines a large segment of the population is skeptical of all vaccines. This is due to the strong negative connotation associated with vaccinations in general. Different politicians have taken advantage of the myth in order to gain political power. This is exactly the reason this myth is detrimental to our country.
Politicians, people who supposedly have our best interest in mind capitalizing off of an already dangerous myth for the purpose of political traction. If important figures keep spouting this false rhetoric for personal purposes our country doesn’t stand a chance. We live in an age where science is discredited due to personal assumptions, regardless of the evidence. With various political figures airing the ant-vax fire, overall COVID vaccination numbers weren’t what the United States was expecting. According to the COVID data tracker provided by the CDC only 81.4% of Americans received the first dose. That leaves 60 million unvaccinated Americans. Faith in the COVID vaccine decreased as well with only 69% of Americans who received the primary series of vaccines.