More evidence that anti-vaccine beliefs kill

Vaccines save lives. In fact, they arguably save more lives than any other medical intervention devised by human beings. Unfortunately, the converse is also true. Anti-vaccine beliefs and the vaccine refusal that results from them kill. They leave children vulnerable to preventable diseases, and, sadly, here’s yet more evidence that this is true:

At least 30 children have died in eastern At least 30 children have died in eastern Zimbabwe where members of the Johanne Marange Apostolic Faith church have refused to allow their children to be vaccinated against the deadly communicable disease.
World Health Organization Country Representative Custodia Mandhlate said it is tragic that children are dying of a preventable disease. The outbreak is also affecting other provinces with 340 cases of measles reported.

Health Minister Henry Madzorera told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira his ministry has been frustrated by the denial of access to children for vaccination by members of the Apostolic Faith Church and other religious sects. where members of the Johanne Marange Apostolic Faith church have refused to allow their children to be vaccinated against the deadly communicable disease.

World Health Organization Country Representative Custodia Mandhlate said it is tragic that children are dying of a preventable disease. The outbreak is also affecting other provinces with 340 cases of measles reported.

Health Minister Henry Madzorera told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira his ministry has been frustrated by the denial of access to children for vaccination by members of the Apostolic Faith Church and other religious sects.

Here’s more information:

CHILDREN are dying of measles in a remote part of eastern Zimbabwe, where a religious sect insists on using only holy water to treat the contagious disease.

Thirty people, many children, have already died, according to reports. Parents are locking sick children in huts or whisking them into the hills to avoid detection by health officials working in the Nzvimbe area, 70km from the border city of Mutare.

The families are members of the Johanne Marange Apostolic Church. The church’s leaders do not allow vaccination or allow followers to seek medical treatment.

Officials fear the death toll from measles in Nzvimbe could be much higher because the Vapostori – as they’re known locally – are “fast-tracking” burials, according to one report. Many are dying at home.

While it is true that fatality rates due to the measles are much higher in Africa than they are in developed nations, children still die of the measles in outbreaks in the west, hundreds in the last decade. Moreover, neighboring communities realize that these pockets of unvaccinated children are endangering their own children:

By digging in, church members are posing a threat to their neighbours, who this week blasted them for ignorantly “harbouring and causing the spreading of the dangerous measles disease.”

“Since my birth in 1929, I have not seen such a catastrophe. These people should be arrested for resisting treatment and putting the health of our children in danger.

“These apostolic elements are a danger to our community because they are the conduits through which this dangerous measles disease is spreading.

“The most painful thing is that many of the victims are children and women, yet we all know that denying them treatment is a violation of their fundamental rights and unpardonable transgression,” said Mr Machona Bumhira.

Mr Bumhira’s bitter sentiments were echoed by Mrs Susan Chidhakwa, who said the Government must engage and persuade sect leaders Messers Noah Taguta and Clemence Momberume to encourage their church members to take treatment.

In this case, anti-vaccine beliefs killing children derive from irrational religious beliefs, but the anti-vaccine movement in the U.S. is arguably no more rational than it is in Zimbabwe. Although most of the time (but not always), anti-vaccine activists in the U.S. don’t invoke their religion as a reason for not vaccinating, they do exhibit a cult-like irrational groupthink and resistance to science every bit as strong as that of a fundamentalist religion like what is preached by the Johanne Marange Apostolic Church. Just read Age of Autism for a while, and you will see, particularly in its tendency to view those who try to refute its message as sufficiently evil that they eat babies. Vaccines are viewed as toxic “contamination” of one’s purity of essence, bringing the “evils” of autism and a wide variety of diseases and vaguely defined conditions. Those who promote vaccination must be shunned! Moreover, if children die, so what? Better that than becoming autistic! Never mind that there is zero reliable, convincing scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism.

Moreover, if you want an example of the callous attitude of some anti-vaccinationists, get a load of what anti-vaccine loon (and if anyone qualifies to be called a loon, she does) Sheri Tenpenny posted on Facebook last night:

Study these numbers. We’ve had SARS, Bird flu and Swine flu. On average, approx. 190 children/year die from the flu. Considering there are about 62M kids under the 14 years of age in the US, this is NOT “statistically signficant” and should not even make the radar screen. See how they manipulate parents into vaccinations?

Next year, PLEASE do not be afraid of the flu. Ever person here should pass this on to at least 25 people! Please pass this to at least 25 friends.

That’s right. To her 190 dead children are not “statistically significant.” Can you imagine how Tenpenny and her ilk would descend upon me if I said that one case in a million of severe adverse reactions to vaccination is “statistically insignificant”? (I’ve never said that, of course.) Tenpenny would howl with outrage at my “insensitivity” and “callousness.” Yet, here she says that 190 dead children are not “statistically significant” and that vaccination against H1N1 that could decrease that number significantly is not worth it.

The bottom line, as illustrated in Zimbabwe and in many other outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease around the world, is that vaccine refusal leads to disease and death. The anti-vaccine movement, if it gets its way, will usher in a return to the bad old days, when diseases currently preventable with vaccines used to cause untold suffering and death. They don’t care; to them such collateral damage is acceptable and they rationalize their role in bringing back such diseases by blaming it all on the pharmaceutical companies, just as Jenny McCarthy did.