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Digging Deeper: The Vaccination Debate

Eau Claire (WQOW) – As the number of measles cases in the United States continue to rise, with 704 confirmed cases in 22 states, social media giants are fighting back against the claim vaccinations are dangerous for your children.

Olivia Anderson, a mother of one from Eau Claire, is surrounded by loved ones with anti-vaxxing views, but she chose to ignore those beliefs, find the facts and vaccinate her son, Gabriel.

“It’s definitely a priority that he is well taken care of and healthy and happy,” Anderson said.

Up until her son was born, Anderson struggled to decide if vaccines were safe for her child, because she was surrounded by people telling her vaccinations are dangerous.

“Sometimes it can be hard to know what to do,” Anderson said. “I think that’s definitely why I spent so much time and so many hours doing my research and talking to people and doctors and other parents and my own family.”

So what are the facts?

The measles vaccine came to the U.S. in 1963. Before then, health officials report that somewhere between four to five million people caught measles every year. Each year, an average of 500 people lost their lives.

Chetna Mangat, a pediatrician at Mayo Clinic Health System, helped investigate a measles outbreak in India in 2003.

She knows vaccines save lives.

“The good thing is that we have a vaccine which is very efficacious,” Mangat said. “If somebody gets one dose, it’s 93 percent effective. Two doses, which we recommend, one at one year of age, and the second dose anywhere between four to six years, then it’s 97 percent effective. So, the only way we can prevent the measles is the vaccination.”

The claim that vaccinations are dangerous for your children is growing, along with the number of measles cases in the U.S., which just hit an all-time high, since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000.

A Netflix documentary called “Vaxxed,” defends Andrew Wakefield, former doctor and the man behind the Measles-Mumps-Rebella vaccine and its link to autism. That study was debunked, and Wakefield lost his medical licence.

“There is no correlation between the measles and the autism and the CDC has done the studies on that,” Mangat said.

In fact, 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with autism, and even more myths persist.

“People just get a misconception that we don’t see this disease here, then why should we vaccinate? We should understand, we don’t have that disease just because everybody else is vaccinated,” Mangat said.

Mangat said social media is also fueling the fire.

Anderson agrees.

“It is a struggle to find the research that isn’t one way or the other, that isn’t a mommy blog, that isn’t Facebook,” Anderson said.

Social media companies are cracking down on anti-vaccination propaganda. Facebook is banning certain content and ads. Instagram is banning certain hashtags. Finally, GoFundMe will not stand for anti-vaxxer campaigns.

“So I say again, vaccinate your kids so we can prevent this disaster,” Mangat said.

New 18 reached out to several anti-vaxxers, but nobody was willing to go on camera. However, they did provide links to information they thought supported their beliefs.

Web Exclusive: The Vaccination Debate myths debunked

Mangat said there can be potential side effects to giving your child a vaccine, but overall, she said they are highly effective and those side effects are minimal.

Shannon Hoyt

Shannon Hoyt started out as an intern in August 2017, moving to a full-time multi-media journalist and weekend anchor before becoming Daybreak anchor and now our 6 and 10 p.m. co-anchor.

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