Anti-vaxxers are a particularly dangerous bunch. Whether they are celebrities, disparaged and tragic former medical practitioners, or the President of the United States of America, anyone claiming that vaccines are unsafe to the general population is speaking the language of “alternative facts”.
Vaccines save millions of lives every single year, there's no evidence whatsoever that they harm human health, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a quack, a liar, or a conspiracy theorist. Even plenty of members of the Republican Party – the de facto political group of anti-scientific nonsense – know this.
In fact, seeing worrying signs in both Trump’s rhetoric and his meetings with prominent anti-vaxxers, a group of senior Republicans have crossed the aisle and joined forces with high-ranking Democrats in order to remind everyone that vaccines are safe and effective.
Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Gene Green (D-Texas) have penned an open letter underscoring the fact that there's no debate over the safety of inoculations.
“We write to you today to highlight the importance of immunizations, which protect Americans, especially infants and children, against outbreaks of serious and deadly infectious diseases,” it begins. “Vaccines save lives.”
“The science is clear: FDA-licensed vaccines are proven to be safe and effective, and save the lives both of those who receive them and vulnerable individuals around them,” it reads. “As Members of Congress, we have a critical role to play in supporting the availability and use of vaccines to protect Americans from deadly diseases.”
Not just content with highlighting the benefit of herd immunity – the concept that with each vaccination handed out to a community, the more resistant to disease the community gets – the lawmakers also note that certain diseases that have been eliminated from the US are already making a comeback after riding the rising tide of anti-vaxxer nonsense.
“Already this year, states and communities around the country have reported outbreaks of measles, mumps, and whooping cough,” they write. “The reasons for each outbreak vary, but we know that there are increasing trends around the country that have led to lower vaccination rates in some communities, allowing outbreaks of infectious diseases to take hold with increasing frequency.”
When politics and science cross these days, it’s often because a politician has distorted scientific facts to suit their own purposes. This time, however, it’s refreshing to see a group of politicians actually tell others to respect science.
Whatever your political beliefs may be, these lawmakers deserve your applause for crossing party lines, taking a stand, and defending science for what it is: objective, enlightening, and life-saving.