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Health

Mark Zuckerberg vaccinated his daughter, internet goes wild

Wikimedia: Brian Solis

Mark Zuckerberg took his daughter to the doctor to get a routine round of vaccinations and the internet went wild. Some people congratulated Mr. Zuckerberg on his responsible parenting, others on the style his daughter was sporting (it is a fun snowsuit type thing), but a loud contingent of anti-vaccination folks went ballistic. The argument online is everything that’s right and wrong about the ludicrous debate around vaccines.

Let’s keep in mind this started with this post:

Doctor's visit -- time for vaccines!

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, January 8, 2016

It seems pretty harmless. No pontificating. No politics. Just a regular, everyday photo of a father and a child doing what they do.

Initially, the 47 million plus followers of the founder of Facebook responded pretty straightforward. Lots of likes, lots of “what a cutie” type comments and then a prophetic comment appeared:

Mark Zuckerberg Vaccination-BODY-01.JPG

This is when anti-vaccination folks started to vent their fury, attacking Mr. Zuckerberg. These people wrongly believe that there is a link between vaccinations and autism. They get this idea from a widely discredited study. Despite this study being debunked over and over again, there is a vehement group of (mostly) Americans who still believe it and protest any move to make vaccinating a child mandatory.

It has gotten so ridiculous, even Jimmy Kimmel has done his (comedic) best to get anti-vaccination advocates to listen to reason (i.e. qualified medical doctors).

This movement of people who actively ignore any actual medical advice is being blamed for resurgences of otherwise preventable diseases in the US. For instance, a lot of experts trace the worst measles outbreak in the last 20 years to parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids.

In the case of Mr. Zuckerberg, the internet showed that alongside all the trolls and anti-vaccine folks, there is a wide range of people who support his activity and sound reasonable.

Some of the commentators on the post specifically took on the anti-vaccine folks:

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And some thank Zuckerberg for this act of responsible parenting.

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This commenter started an important thread that points out the true dangers of the anti-vaccination movement. This group is putting their own children at risk by not vaccinating them, which is horrible. Even worse--they are putting other children at risk.

For example:

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This mother brings up a solid example about how important it is for all kids to get vaccinated. If other children are unable (for medical reasons) to get vaccinated, they rely on the people around them to get vaccinated so they’re not exposed to the disease. This is called relying on herd immunization.

Ironically, herd immunization has actually helped propel the myths of the anti-vaccine movement. Parents who have not vaccinated their kids over the past decade or so have pointed to the lack of outbreaks as “proof” that vaccines are unnecessary. What they don’t seem to realize is that the only reason their children are not getting sick is because other responsible parents ARE vaccinating THEIR kids, thus keeping the unvaccinated children safe from exposure. Herd immunization is necessary to protect those in a community that cannot get vaccinated for legitimate reasons. But when members of the “herd” start rejecting vaccines, this blanket protection fails and diseases are at risk of flaring up.

Vaccines have saved millions of lives. Vaccines have allowed humanity to come close to eradicating its second disease ever: Polio. Historically, the challenge across the planet has been to GET vaccines to those in need, not to convince those in nations where they are readily available to actually use them.

Now it seems that small acts of parenting from community leaders like Mark Zuckerberg are among the most powerful tools to remind all parents that keeping their child healthy is a key to keeping communities healthy and thus the world healthy.

In the face of those blasting Mark Zuckerberg it is nice to see rational commenters coming to his support.

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And while some commenters were right in their belief that this entire thing is ridiculous:

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It does seem like the right thing to take from this is to be a responsible global citizen. It’s time for all parents to be a little bit like Mark:

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The world is spreading vaccines to every corner of the planet. Let’s not lose sight of the importance of maintaining this habit in the most developed places.

Go to TAKE ACTION NOW to call on US President Obama to ensure that every child has access to vaccines.