A billboard in Kansas City has sparked a years-old debate over vaccine.
A huge sign on Blue Parkway in Kansas City was put up with a picture of Nicholas Catone, the 20-month-old son of MMA fighter Nick Catone who died in May 2017. His mother, Marjorie Madison-Catone, who herself is reportedly a nurse, believes her son died because of a vaccine.
Catone posted last year on Facebook that the result of the autopsy were inconclusive but he and his wife believe their baby died from complications from Diptheria-Tetanus-Pertussis, or DTaP, vaccine, which was administered to him 17 days before his death.
The baby has now become the face for his bereaved parents’ campaign with anti-vaxxer group, “Learn the Risks,” a part of which is the Kansas City billboard that says “As a nurse I was never taught vaccines can kill until my son was a victim.”
The organization has placed about 32 such billboards around the world.
The advertising agency that leases the billboard says about 70,000 adults see the billboard every week. However, a few days after it was put up, the billboard was vandalized by someone who used red and white spray to write, “Vaccines save. Disease kills.”
There are a lot of negative misconceptions about vaccines; however defacing a billboard put up in collaboration with a deceased child’s grieving parents is not the solution to the problem.
Although some vaccines do carry risk of bad reaction, the Center for Disease Control recommends vaccines that have undergone years of research to lower risk of serious complications.
“Nationwide millions of vaccines are given daily,” said Tiffany Wilkinson, director of the Kansas City Health Department’s division of communicable disease prevention. “These vaccines have been very, very important throughout our history to reduce the spread of potentially dangerous diseases. The small and rare risks associated with vaccines are outweighed by the enormity of the diseases we’re preventing by providing these vaccines to children.”
Despite this, anti-vaccine sentiments are growing in the United States and as a result, children are at increased risk of losing their lives.
In the first six months of 2018, Europe experienced 41,000 measles cases 37 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. A total of 172 pediatric deaths have been reported as a result of the 2017-2018 flu seasons, stated the CDC, and 80 percent of such deaths occur in children who have not gotten a flu shot.
Lives can be saved with simple vaccination. However, people are still skeptical.
One of the most lasting harm to the cause of vaccines is from the disgraced British doctor Andrew Wakefield, who published a scientific paper linking, measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism in children. However, subsequent researches from many other scientists did not glean the same result, something that is vital to medical research. Nevertheless, Wakefield persisted with his faux association, resulting in his name being struck off the medical register.
However, the damage was done and uptil now, millions of people still associate autism with vaccines, including President Donald Trump.
Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes - AUTISM. Many such cases!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2014
The debunked conspiracy theory is largely to blame for last year's measles outbreak in Minnesota.
There were more measles cases in Minnesota (78) in 2017 than there were across the entire country in 2016. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 70 confirmed cases of measles that year. A severe measles viral infection can lead to hearing loss, brain damage and other long-term health issues.
In 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron made it illegal for parents not to vaccinate their kids. This came on the heels of a similar initiative in Italy, where the government ruled that before children could enroll in state-run schools, they had to be vaccinated against 12 common illnesses.
It is time the United States needs to educate itself on the benefits of vaccines. Hopefully, parents will make it a priority to get their children vaccinated. One unvaccinated child can cause an outbreak at home and abroad, should they travel.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: REUTERS/Marko Djurica