Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Dangers of Anti-Vaccine Movement

Q&A from with Dr. Paul Offit provides some perhaps much-needed perspective on this entire vaccines issue.

Childhood inoculations protect us against deadly infectious diseases like measles, whooping cough and polio. But they are also the source of near constant conflict — most recently in the Feb. 22 Supreme Court decision which ruled in favor of a vaccine manufacturer over the family of a disabled girl. In recent years, some parents have begun to refuse vaccination for their children, influenced by fringe activists who believe it causes autism, brain damage and other ailments. Dr. Paul Offit, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, has seen the consequences: preventable childhood deaths, community outbreaks of outdated diseases and misinformed, angry parents. In conversation with TIME and in his recent book, Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All, Offit describes the origins of our squeamishness with inoculation and why we should fight against it.

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