In his newest essay for TheAtlantic.com, David M. Perry, associate professor of history, takes a firm but compassionate stance in challenging the claims of anti-vaccination proponents, including celebrity Jenny McCarthy.
As the father of a child with special needs, Perry discusses the dangers and risks presented by the anti-vaccination movement and the harm that Jenny McCarthy presents by putting “the full force of her celebrity to the task of convincing parents to leave their children vulnerable.”
McCarthy, whom ABC announced would join The View
just days after Perry's article was published, claims that vaccinations caused her son’s autism and actively promotes this idea through the media.
>>Perry followed up on his Atlantic essay with a piece for CNN Opinions on July 17. Click here to read that article.
“Anti-vaccinators risk not only the lives of their own children, but also those of others who are too medically fragile to get vaccinated and must instead rely on “herd immunity," Perry writes. “Many medical conditions, especially those which compromise the immune system (which is fairly common in the world of Down syndrome), make vaccines medically inappropriate. Happily, in a population of vaccinated people, infectious but preventable diseases have trouble spreading even to the immunocompromised. But herd immunity breaks down when vaccinations are not administered to all who can medically receive them. At that point, people who chose to refuse vaccinations endanger those who had no choice.”
In his essay, Perry cites the resurgence of many dangerous, but preventable diseases such as whooping cough, measles and mumps, along with data illustrating the increase in deaths internationally from the diseases. He also reminds readers that the anti-vaccination movement stems largely from a study based on fraudulent research, which was published in 1998.
The article was later retracted by the medical journal when the data manipulation was discovered and multiple larger trials refuted the study’s conclusion. The researcher’s medical license was subsequently revoked.
Perry writes, “People with autism need support in their quest for self-advocacy and integration, not fads. Parents need communities and schools and scientifically guided medical care that they can rely on, not to be bilked by fraudsters and fear mongers. People with autism are not victims, and they do not need McCarthy's organization to "rescue" them. What they need is the same thing all persons with disability need: a pathway to inclusion.”
Click here to read the full essay on TheAtlantic.com