It's hard to know if you're doing the right thing as a parent. So many parents struggle with this, especially as it pertains to vaccines. Anti-vaxx rhetoric has reached a fever pitch, thanks in no small part to a debunked study by a disgraced former doctor. It's so unfortunate, because that rhetoric has has a drastic effect on vaccine rates in this country. Despite decades and decades of reputable medical and scientific research proving that vaccines are safe and effective, there are people who choose to cling to the myths about the dangers of vaccines. This is not to say that vaccines no not have some risks.
As with any medicine or inoculation, there are side effects and in very rare cases, these can be serious. Anti-vaccine groups exploit those incredibly rare cases, and hype them up as some sort of norm, even if no link has been found. This certainly seems to be the case when it comes to anti-vaxx billboards that have been popping up around the country, and it's really very sad, and really problematic.
BIG NEWS: FIVE BILLBOARDS GO UP HONORING NICHOLAS CATONE— Learn The Risk (@learntherisk) September 25, 2018
Nothing will ever bring Nicholas back, but we can make sure he didn't die in vain. Nicholas will save lives. He's a true hero.https://t.co/o57tIUDpoH #LearnTheRisk #FlyHighNicholas #vaccineVICTIM #SIDs pic.twitter.com/LNXzVEEBuD
The group behind the billboards, Learn the Risk, is an anti-vaxx group that says they're trying to educate people about the dangers and toxins in vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs. The billboards show a picture a little boy named Nicholas, who tragically died of SIDS in 2017. Nicholas's dad, UFC fighter Nick Catone, blamed the DTaP vaccine his son got three weeks before he died (an autopsy revealed the cause of death to be SIDS). Since Nicholas's death, Catone has partnered with the anti-vaxx group to spread their dangerous message.
We cannot imagine the pain of losing a child, and our hearts go out to the Catone family. But using Nicholas's death to spread anti-vaxx rhetoric is incredibly problematic. According to the CDC, vaccine injuries and death are very, very rare. Yes, vaccines can have side effects. But for the vast majority of people, those side effects are very mild, and resolve within a few days to a week after the vaccine is administered
. The World Health Organization states that there is absolutely no connection between the DTaP vaccine and SIDS. Correlation does not equal causation, but unfortunately, scared and bereaved parents will look to every possible explanation for a reason their child died so suddenly. But that doesn't negate the fact that vaccines are safe, and the best defense we have in the fight to keep our kids healthy.