Faith Is No Excuse for Avoiding Vaccinations

One year ago Denver Post reporter Michael Booth found that nearly half of children in the United States are under-vaccinated. A massive study of 320,000 children ages two to seven also revealed that the number of parents refusing or waiting to vaccinate their children has steadily increased since 2004. 


Booth was featured on a recent episode of On Point Radio, discussing Colorado's recent pushback against the anti-vaccine movement. The state is particularly interested in the parents of children who are refusing vaccinations for whooping cough and measles, two diseases thought to have been conquered though have recently seen a disturbing uptick—Booth reports that 5-6% of children are coming into school without proper vaccinations. 

When mentioning vaccinations, first to mind is often the controversy over their role in causing autism, as most famously declared by Andrew Wakefield. Booth notes that his work has been discredited time and again, although doctors often hear it used as an excuse as to why parents still refuse to vaccinate. 

During the show, On Point host Tom Ashbrook points out the myriad reasons that parents are opting out. While there is certainly an argument for over-vaccination, the most disturbing trend is not receiving the shots for religious reasons.

Twenty-one members of the Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas were infected with measles last year, a disease that was thought to have been eliminated in the United States over a decade ago. In 2010, founder Kenneth Copeland spoke out against vaccinations.

You don't take the word of the guy that's trying to give the shot about what's good and what isn't.

His sentiment that God is the only one who makes such a decision is shared by his daughter, Terri, currently the church's pastor. 

So I'm going to tell you what the facts are, and the facts are the facts, but then we know the truth. That always overcomes facts.

Eventually, notes Ashbrook, Terri said her church would offer vaccinations. Yet she added that if the parishioners do not 'have faith' in the process, they should follow their beliefs more than anything else. 

As Paul Offit, chief of the division of infectious diseases and the director of the vaccine education center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, notes, there were 200 cases of the measles across the country in 2013. This is much lower than the 4-5 million cases annually reported before immunizations began, but the fact that any are occurring is troublesome.

Offit notes that while no deaths occurred from measles last year, it might take 600 cases for that to happen, which unfortunately might be what it takes to get people back into the doctor's office again.

Thus an interesting paradigm has emerged. While a portion of our society is paranoid about germs, you have a growing contingent of people convinced that 'we need to build our natural immunities through exposure,' opting out of vaccinations and hand sanitizers, for example. 

This last trend was put to the test in 2005 by the US Army, a known breeding ground for germs. Over a thirteen-week period, two test battalions were used in seeing the effectiveness of Purell. The results were 40% less respiratory illness, 48% less gastrointestinal illness and 44% less lost training time. The military became one of Purell's biggest customers and has seen remarkable results, as have hospitals and doctors who make use of such products, as noted by Atul Gawande

This is where feelings and fact clash. The anti-vaccine movement makes sound arguments: too many drugs might very well cause more harm than good. Yet, when it comes to reliable vaccinations like those for measles, the cost is too high to throw ourselves back decades.

Like most mindsets that oppose regulations, the anti-vaccine movement is fueled by the dislike of a failed health care system that too often is filled with doctors prescribing pills instead of taking a holistic approach to health, combined with a growing distrust of our government and its overall effectiveness.

It is healthy to question sanctions from on high. Justifying not getting vaccinated based on feelings or faith is not healthy, however. Allowing children to become infected with preventable diseases based on bunk science or, worse, believing a deity knows more about medicine than your doctor, is simply, and tragically, ignorant.

Image: JPC-PROD/shutterstock.com

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Space toilets: How astronauts boldly go where few have gone before

A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.

Videos
  • When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
  • Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
  • Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less