Minda Dentler is the first woman handcyclist to complete the Kona Ironman.  She is a polio survivor and recently made her views on vaccination clear in an article  in the May 2015 edition of the EndPolioNow Newsletter.
 
She says "If not for the anti-vaccination movement, preventable diseases wouldn’t be a risk to children in developed countries".  She also makes the excellent point that these 'anti-vaxxers' send exactly the wrong message to parents in other countries that are trying to overcome the scourge of these diseases.  So the question is: where did this 'anti-vaccination movement' come from?
 
The debate about the risks associated with vaccines really took off in February 1998 when British doctor, Andrew Wakefield, published a study in The Lancet.  In a paper authored by Wakefield and twelve others, it was claimed that their research had proved that the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine was a direct cause of autism.  This sensational claim received huge public attention.  Subsequently:
  • all of the paper's researchers (except Wakefield and one other) have repudiated the study
  • the study's lack of rigour and data tampering were exposed(one example: a vaccination date was reportedly altered from after onset of autism to just before)
  • it was reported that Wakefield applied for a grant on the basis of the study findings before the study took place
  • it was reported that GBP435,643 was paid to Wakefield for evidence in a class action
  • The Lancet retracted the article
  • Wakefield's licence to practice medicine was withdrawn by the UK's General Medical Council, and
  • hundreds of scientific studies have since been carried out on the subject, none of which replicated its findings.
The problem is that, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence, many parents believe that there is a link between vaccines (all vaccines!) and autism — indeed it would seem that Wakefield continues to make a good living in the US peddling his theories.
This parental refusal of vaccines is the issue that Minda Dentler was describing.   Vaccination rates are lower than they should be because parents:
  • do 'research' online and become scared by the scientific-sounding claims of Wakefield and his adherents
  • place greater credence in these anti-vaxxers than they do on the advice of their own medical practitioners.
Any decline in vaccination rates could prove devastating.  That's because if vaccination rates fall below a certain point — known as the 'herd immunity' level — it is not only possible for unvaccinated children to be afflicted by the disease, it's also possible for an outbreak to occur.  Those of us who saw the outbreaks of the 20th century know what that means. 
 
Those who didn't see those outbreaks need some information.  A very quick summary of the impacts of some of the vaccine-preventable diseases is attached.  Please share!
 
Some references:

Vaccine-preventable diseases — impact summary