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Dangerous Skepticism

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Ginger Hastings Chapman, a Polio survivor, spoke up when she read the comments of anti-vaccination fear mongers. Here is her moving testimony:

We were living in rural Oregon in 1955 and my parents decided to wait until the polio vaccination came to the school there as the shots would be free. The vaccine was due to arrive the 3rd week in October. I contracted polio on Oct. 3.(54 years ago last week) I spent 9 months in the hospital, 6 months in an iron lung, had to learn to walk, talk, breathe again-that took 7 yrs of physical, occupational and speech therapy. Lived a fairly normal life, married, had 2 kids, worked full time and went to school full time. Then in 1990, I noticed weakness on my left side. By 1999 I was in a wheelchair again with post-polio syndrome, We are the first generation to live long enough for PPS to occur-about 40 yrs after the original disease. In 2004 I "crashed"-nearly died-and am now on a ventilator for life. Sweet Victor, my second husband, married me even knowing I now have a much shorter life span than I ever planned. Not how I wanted my life to be, but we cope. So--do I believe in vaccinations? You betcha.
--Ginger Hastings Chapman

One of the more vocal anti-vaccination crowd, Michael Lee, immediately expressed his skepticism that the benefits of seasonal flu vaccine and H1N1 vaccine merit the risks he perceives. His comment provides us with a highly visible example of the dangers of ill-informed skepticism. Among other debunked scare claims, Lee mentioned Autism rates, saying they have "skyrocked" and offering the opinion that vaccination programs are the cause. As luck would have it, Paul A. Offit, the chief of the infectious diseases division of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the author of "Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine and the Search for a Cure" published an op-ed article in the New York Times today ENDORSING VACCINATION.

The accidental juxtaposition of these two opinions, Lee's superficial doubts and Offit's expert research, demonstrates the dangers of failing to read critically when you browse the internet. Not all opinions are of equal merit.

The danger of not vaccinating is clear. Offit reports, "Since April, more than a million Americans have caught H1N1 flu, more than 10,000 have been hospitalized, and about 1,000 have died, including 76 children. And it's only the beginning of October. Yet, in a new survey, 41 percent of adults said they will not get vaccinated."

Ill-informed skepticism may be hazardous to your health and to the health of those you love.
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Richmond Shreve is a retired business executive whose careers began in electronics (USN) and broadcasting in the 1960s. Over the years he has maintained a hobby interest in amateur radio, and the audio-visual arts while working in sales and (more...)

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