As the elected president of the Fort Wayne Medical Society, I represent the 975 physicians in Allen County whose mission is to promote the health, well-being and safety of all providers, their families and our community in a commercial-free and unbiased manner across hospital networks and specialties.
With public health as one of our focuses, I was extremely dismayed by the promotion of dangerous, unscientific, and biased opinions on vaccination by WANE-TV on a May 2 broadcast.
Over the years, I have met people both inside and out of the medical field who are skeptical of, or downright opposed to, vaccines. However, I have yet to meet a physician with those opinions. To claim there is a growing number of medical professionals who are anti-vaccine makes it sound as if physicians are abandoning their medical training to accept media hype, which is just not true.
Every study to date shows vaccines are safe and do not cause autism. Even the anti-vaccine league's own study failed to demonstrate a link, but the authors stated they did not believe their own evidence.
The one person who was out for monetary gain regarding vaccines was the British physician Andrew Wakefield, who first proposed a connection between vaccines and autism for significant personal investment.
His study design was terrible, he was cited for abuses of autistic children, his paper was rejected, his evidence completely discredited, his license revoked, and he is now known for committing the worst medical fraud in the past 100 years.
This is the legacy the anti-vaccine movement is following; this is their founder.
The “evidence” I frequently find cited to support anti-vaccine rhetoric is Facebook posts, personal blogs and theoretical opinion books written without the support of hard science and controlled studies. The studies that have claimed to reveal vaccine harm have been caught deliberately manipulating data to falsify their outcomes and do not stand up to independent verification.
The evidence regarding the safety, efficacy and lifesaving work of vaccines is insurmountable. Arguing against vaccines is as absurd as arguing the Earth is flat – yet we have people who now take that radical, science-defying position.
Americans are allowing Orwellian groupthink and social media to discredit hard science, and this is causing legitimate, measurable harm. Vaccine-preventable diseases are returning and causing devastating consequences to individuals and our communities.
Physicians are scientists and healers who study the laws of nature and use the best evidence to treat our patients. As better techniques, studies and facts emerge, we change our practice accordingly.
We no longer recommend aspirin as readily; no longer prescribe opioids freely; no longer endorse nicotine as a safe way to erase hunger and fatigue; and we no longer recommend long beach vacations to “balance the humors” (which is perhaps too bad). The point is, as science evolves our practices also change.
If there were any credible evidence that vaccination was harmful, you would witness the entire medical community turn on a dime. But such evidence does not exist. We continue to champion the safety and efficacy of vaccines to protect the lives of our patients, loved ones and communities.
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Dr. Ryan Singerman is president of the Fort Wayne Medical Society.