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Vaccination Campaign Addresses Need for Life-Saving Inoculations in Developing World

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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NEW YORK—At a small gathering in Times Square today, actor Amanda Peet teamed up with the United Nations Foundation* to launch a vaccination public service announcement. The Shot@Life ad is now airing on the square’s iconic Toshiba screen.

In the past, Peet has worked with organizations such as Every Child By Two to advocate for child immunizations in the U.S. The Shot@Life campaign, timed for Mother’s Day, is meant to highlight how Americans can help save the lives of children in developing countries by donating money for vaccinations.

“If we take all of the children [in the U.S.] who are entering kindergarten this fall, a little fewer than half of that number is how many children die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases,” Peet said, referring to measles, polio, pneumoccocal disease and rotavirus, which are the world’s leading causes of death for children younger than five years. “What moves me about this cause is the fact that we have a cure. We have the medicine—we just have to get it to the children.”

More than 50 bloggers from to the World Moms Blog network have dedicated themselves to the campaign. These Moms stand in contrast to “anti-vax” parents who mistakenly believe that vaccines cause disorders such as autism and ADHD. “I understand their concern,” said Paul Offit, a University of Pennsylviania professor and pediatrician who specializes in infectious diseases and co-invented the rotavirus vaccine. “But when studies show that vaccines aren’t associated with that concern, and people still don’t believe it, that’s what gets frustrating. It’s not scientific illiteracy, it’s scientific denialism.”

When posts on Shot@Life blogs draw comments from anti-vaxers, the community rallies behind science, as demonstrated in this blog post’s comment section.

But it’s a different debate in developing countries, said Jennifer Burden, editor and founder of the World Moms Blog. “Here in the U.S., we don’t have to worry so much, because if our child gets severe diarrhea, we can take them to the hospital and they can get an IV and survive. Whereas in remote areas or places that don’t have access to those things, a vaccine is the lowest-cost way for these kids to have a shot at life.”

In the U.S., growing pockets of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children are suspected of weakening “herd immunity” in some parts of the country. Vaccine campaigns rarely can reach every single child, but widespread vaccination breaks chains of infection. When parents resist getting their children inoculated, outbreaks of such diseases as whooping cough and measles are more likely to occur.

“When we make a choice not to vaccinate ourselves, we’re also making a choice to put others who come in contact with us at risk, including those who can’t be vaccinated,” Offit said. “We have a social responsibility for our neighbors.” Including, it seems, our neighbors in other parts of the world.

*An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Peet teamed up with the World Health Organization.

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  1. 1. Sue Blue 8:26 pm 05/11/2012

    Well, this is a breath of fresh air – finally, a pro-vaccination campaign! Vaccines are vital lifesavers in developing nations, and even here in the U.S., it’s far less costly in terms of money and suffering to get a vaccine instead of the illness. Right now, Washington State is suffering a severe pertussis epidemic; the CDC has been called in. What these parents who don’t vaccinate don’t realize is that they are putting everyone else, especially infants too young to get the vaccine, at risk. They are contributing to the suffering and possibly even death of others’ children as well as their own, all because of ignorance, science denialism, and unfounded fear.

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  2. 2. RCWhitmyer 9:18 pm 05/11/2012

    I agree Sue Blue. The faked study linking vaccines and autism, and other phoney dangers has created a major health risk. It’ll likely take a nation wide outbreak to wake people up to the real dangers of not getting vaccinated.

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  3. 3. geojellyroll 9:19 pm 05/11/2012

    “Including, it seems, our neighbors in other parts of the world.’

    No, I don’t. Glad to help out once they get their act together on population control

    The days of ‘white man’s burden’ are over. People in developing countries are not our ‘pets’ but people with brains. They are responsible for their own actions…I’m not reesponsible.

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  4. 4. RCWhitmyer 11:51 pm 05/11/2012

    “The days of ‘white man’s burden’ are over. People in developing countries are not our ‘pets’ but people with brains. They are responsible for their own actions…I’m not reesponsible.” I agree but even reesponsible people can use a helping hand from time to time.

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  5. 5. Mr. Peabody II 1:41 am 05/12/2012

    I’m glad this is being done.

    I’m also fairly certain that there is a link between autism and unnecessary and excessive vaccinations given to children too early in their lives.

    Pushing unsafe vaccination practices on third-world populations — who make no attempt to slow population growth — will ultimately expose this connection. It will also slow their population contributions.

    …And then I will have the pleasure of seeing all those who believed statistics (inductive reasoning), rather than scientific evidence (deductive reasoning), suffer the guilt of knowing they supported practices that severely injured millions of children all over the world!

    And you will deserve that guilt! (If you will admit it to yourselves!)

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  6. 6. Alice_Robertson 1:02 am 05/13/2012

    Sigh…this writer seems to be more into PR than truth. Surely, a writer for a science magazine could do much better than this? Science denialism is what you are promoting….because anyone who studies science and clinical trials could not completely rely on these trials. Once there is money made available on a level playing field you will not feel this kind of persuasiveness your readers applauded. There is evidence based trials that cannot afford actors to promote them…nor millionaire doctors who were compensated a whole lot of money via vaccines.

    Denialism? Hmm…is that what moms with truly autistic children are doing?

    I think in theory most moms would vaccinate, but when they realize many doctors were educated by BigPharma…and they are asked to sign a waiver (what completely safe product asks you to sign away your rights while warning you of adverse affects?), then they read about flu shots with mercury (yes…the supposedly safe levels of Mercury that was pulled from many shots when the so-called denialists screamed loudly…dentists started to change gears on mercury in fillings..aluminum in shots, antibiotics, etc….weaker shots that need multiple boosters to be effective while wearing down immune systems and affecting the brains of children…odd the writer didn’t touch on the research about that…hmmm…).

    Scientific America and the biased writer of this piece may very well have portrayed the tainted research they want us to believe about the tainted shots.

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  7. 7. worriedscientist 4:01 am 05/13/2012

    “When posts on Shot@Life blogs draw comments from anti-vaxers, the community rallies behind science, as demonstrated in this blog post’s comment section.”

    Well this sounds much more like organized propaganda campaign than science. A for the efficacy of vaccines there is a role for them for sure against deadly diseases, like small pox, TBC, or polio. But using mass vaccination against chicken pox, or whooping cough, or HPV, give me a break. By the way, anyone who calls the underpinning of the huge strictly profit driven propaganda campaign for HPV vaccination of pre puberty girls (not to mention boys) science based without even noticing that NO TRIALS have been conducted for side effects with this age group is not only ignorant but dangerously ignorant.

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  8. 8. maryo 12:54 pm 05/15/2012

    An Italian court just ruled vaccines did cause Autism. Why, because they most certainly do. The vaccine myth and Santa Claus have a LOT in common. Both let you live in a fantasy land. It’s time for Amanda Peet to educate herself. She is promoting BIG pharma’s agenda of getting lifelong sick, dependent customers. As vaccination rates increase, so do chronic disease rates, so do autism rates. We are injecting toxic poisons, diseased animal tissues with damaged DNA, genetically modified ingredients, and aborted fetal tissue into ourselves. Common sense tells you that isn’t good. Former Merck researchers directly link our high cancer rates to vaccines! Yes, you read that right, go research that. Vaccines are a sham. If you are injected with a vaccine, you get all the poisons but your body doesn’t make any antibodies and you aren’t protected against anything. That happens all the time. Whooping Cough epidemics prove that vaccines are causing viruses to mutate into stronger ones. The virus has become stronger than ever, 90% of kids who contract whooping cough are immunized. These shots are not effective, there is NO HERD IMMUNITY! Please take the time to educate yourself, when presented with facts from science, people can see through the scam of vaccines. DO the research yourselves folks, this “actress” hasn’t educated herself. If she had, she most certainly wouldn’t be promoting this agenda. Shame on her, she will understand one day what she has done. Poor thing.

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