By Seanna Watson

The first vaccine, a preventive treatment for smallpox, was developed in the late 1700s. Over the years, vaccines have revolutionized medicine, saving millions of lives . Yet in the past few years, we have seen an increase of people who are opposed to vaccines.

The rate of philosophical exe mptions for children in alternative public schools both in Ottawa and in Toronto is alarmingly high (over 10 percent in some cases). This decrease in herd immunity presents a serious risk to people who are immunocompromised, or those too young to receive vaccines themselves.

Meanwhile, a group of Ontario parents has launched a lawsuit, challenging the requirement that in order to qualify for conscientious objection to vaccines, they must sign a form to acknowledge that they are accepting responsibility for putting their child’s “health and even life at risk.”

National Geographic Magazine discusses the Catch-22 of vaccines — the better they work, the more we are inclined to forget about how important they are.

Some anti-vaccination activists have adopted a new strategy that is similar to political propaganda campaigns — find out more about “ firehosing ” and how to combat it .

Many anti-vaxxers claim that measles is a benign disease, and that it is beneficial to acquire “natural immunity” (i.e., as opposed to the “artificial immunity” that results from vaccines). But the results of a recent study show that the measles virus can actually damage the body’s entire immune system , with effects lasting up to five years in some cases!

While Facebook claims to be clamping down on anti-vaccine ads, the same cannot be said for Google and Twitter , both of which have allowed ads saying “Don’t get vaccinated” and “Vaccines aren’t safe.”

A few years ago, CFIC reported on the tragic case of Ezekiel Stephan , whose death (after his parents had attempted to treat him with various natural remedies including those sold by the family business) was likely the result of a vaccine-preventable illness. Ezekiel Stephan’s father is now speaking out against the Canadian Medical Association .

While people worry about Ebola, a much more serious threat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is measles. This disease has killed nearly 5,000 people in 2019 — more than twice the number who have died of Ebola in the last 15 months. Meanwhile, in Samoa, where the measles vaccination rate is estimated at between 28 and 40 percent, a measles outbreak has killed 22 people , nearly all children under five.

This article appears in the December 2019 version of Critical Links.