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Anti-vaccination movements and science-based medicine

Srdja Janković
Srdja Janković

University Children's Hospital, Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia


In spite of great achievements in prevention, elimination, and even eradication of infectious diseases, active immunization, as a method of prophylaxis, has been a subject of bitter dispute since its very beginnings. The value of active immunization is also being increasingly contested today, which is a seeming paradox in the light of long-standing (in some cases, more than centennial) positive experiences in the application
of immunization; steady progress of science-based medicine and immunology that has led, and still leads, to numerous improvements in design, production, application and quality control of vaccines; impressive sum of research data and meticulously recorded facts that testify in favor of a high level of efficacy and safety of widely used vaccines; and, last but not least, total number of prevented cases of disease and human lives saved that, even by low estimates, must be counted in millions worldwide. Contrary to all
this, ever stronger and more aggressive anti-vaccination movements strive, by various means, to support the thesis that serious adverse effects of vaccines are sufficiently frequent to make active immunization more hazardous than the very diseases it is intended to prevent. A cause of particular concern, apart from the acceptance of anti-vaccinal views by a significant portion of the general public and the decline in numbers of immunized persons in many communities, with consequent threat of return of some of the deadliest epidemic diseases that mankind had faced in the past, is a great number of medical doctors and other healthcare workers who are affiliated with, or give support to, anti-vaccination movements, in spite of the reality that (with certain reservations) most of the widespread anti-vaccinal claims are not only contrary to established and accepted facts of immunology and unsupported by scientific research, but indeed deprived of any rational grounds.


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