Actor Robert De Niro recently revived the anti-vaccine conspiracy, suggesting that people should see the movie Vaxxer, an anti-vaccination documentary that was eventually pulled from the Tribeca Film Festival.
“I, as a parent with a child who has autism, am concerned,” De Niro said on NBC’s “Today Show” Wednesday. “I want to know the truth, and I’m not anti-vaccine, I want safe vaccines.”
The problem is that vaccines are already safe, and for De Niro to have suggested otherwise simply flies in the face of solid science and research. Here are seven reasons why anti-vaxxers are moronic.
1. The research is solid: vaccines are safe. A review of over 20,000 scientific titles and over 67 papers on vaccine safety concluded that vaccines are in fact safe, according to CNN. The research suggests that any side effects in vaccines “are incredibly rare” and there was no established link between vaccines and leukemia. According to WebMD, researchers have to prove to the Federal Drug Administration that their vaccines are safe in order to be approved. Health officials also monitor vaccines so that if there are any signs of danger in a vaccine, the officials “might change the vaccine’s label, send out safety alerts, or revoke a vaccine’s license.”
2. There are no dangerous ingredients in vaccines. As WebMD makes clear, “Some vaccines have aluminum and formaldehyde, but people, including babies, are used to these substances. In fact, babies can get more aluminum from breast milk than from vaccines.”
3. There is no established link between autism and vaccines. The myth that vaccines cause autism started from a study that was later retracted and the author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, had his medical license revoked as a result.
Fiona Godlee, editor-in-chief of BMJ, a British medical journal, told CNN that the study was “a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data.” BMJ concluded that Wakefield “misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study.”
The Centers for Disease Control conducted a study in 2013 that examined the levels of antigens, which the CDC defines as “substances in vaccines that cause the body’s immune system to produce disease-fighting antibodies,” and found no disparity in the antigen levels in children with autism and those without autism in the first two years of their lives.
The CDC has also conducted and funded nine studies since 2003 and concluded that there was no causal relationship between thimerosa, “a mercury-based preservative used to prevent contamination of multidose vials of vaccines,” and autism. There is zero evidence to support anti-vaxxers’ assertions that there may be a link between vaccines and autism.
4. Vaccines have eradicated or nearly eradicated numerous diseases in the U.S. Here is a list of the diseases that have drastically decreased in the country, via Forbes:
- H. influenza, which is “bacteria that can cause deadly meningitis.”
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Pneumoccal Disease (which can result in pneumonia).
- Congenital Rubella
5. The anti-vaxxer movement has resulted in the following diseases making a comeback. According to Time magazine, the fact that certain kids weren’t getting vaccinated resulted in outbreaks of measles, mumps, whooping cough and the chicken pox throughout the country. Spreading falsehoods and propaganda has consequences.
6. There can be side effects of vaccines, but nothing deadly. Most side effects are benign, such as swelling or a mild fever. Any side effects that are more severe, such as “a severe allergic reaction, seizures, hearing loss, or severe pain” are unlikely to the point where researchers aren’t convinced they are related to vaccines, according to WebMD.
7. Most anti-vaxxers are leftists. Enough said.