Fredrickson: Be better than Boulder, get vaccinated

Michelle Fredrickson

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

Boulder has, for several years now, held the dubious distinction of being the least vaccinated city in the country.

Ad

Fort Collins, let’s be better than Boulder. Get vaccinated.

Vaccinations are one of those scientific consensuses that should not be controversial at all, but have somehow become politicized by those among us who seem to be impervious to fact.

A new five-year study released last week from the University of Colorado, Boulder, found that anti-vaccination rhetoric on social media in Fort Collins is very high. Nearly 60 percent of tweets about vaccines in Fort Collins are anti-vaccine.

The anti-vaccination movement has been spreading since Trump’s election, as it has spurred an anti-science rhetoric.

This is deeply troubling because of the health implications of an unvaccinated population. But this is important for more than health reasons. 

We at CSU absolutely must be better than CU in every way we possibly can. And this does not mean we should strive to have more people unvaccinated than they do. They are showing a dearth of scientific knowledge – we, the Rams, should counter that and become the most vaccinated city in Colorado. It’s the only reasonable thing to do, if our students have any pride in CSU at all.

We’ve got to show the Buffs that, unlike Boulder, we Rams refuse to bend to rhetoric with no basis in fact.

That’s what it is – a movement with no basis in fact. The anti-vaccine argument is completely ridiculous. I have absolutely no sympathy for the opinions of the so-called ‘anti-vaxxers’ because, much like people who don’t believe in climate change,  their concerns are not rooted in fact even a little bit.

A little history for those who don’t know the background of the anti-vaxxer movement: In 1998, a physician named Andrew Wakefield published a series of case studies in the medical journal “The Lancet” that linked autism with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

This raised a lot of eyebrows in the scientific community, and they found that his results were not reproducible, which means the association he observed was not a real association. Furthermore, investigation showed Wakefield had fabricated his data. So his observations weren’t even based on something that really happened.

Ad

The Lancet retracted the article, and Wakefield lost his medical license.

Since this debacle, countless thorough epidemiological studies have shown conclusively that there is absolutely no support for a link between vaccinations and autism. Studies have also supported the safety of the chemicals contained within the vaccinations. Despite the vast scientific consensus on the issue, it has somehow become politicized.

It really is important for every person who can be vaccinated to become vaccinated – there is a concept called ‘herd immunity.’ This means that the more people who are immunized protect those who cannot be immunized by creating an environment where the pathogen cannot spread. The people herd immunity protects are those who cannot be vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons, like chemotherapy or an immune system condition.

If everybody capable of receiving a vaccine gets one, it helps protect those who legitimately cannot get vaccinated. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.

Overall, the Poudre school district is doing well on vaccinations, recording almost 95 percent up-to-date. This compares to Boulder Valley school district, which records 86 percent up to date.

But this shouldn’t make us complacent. The fact that the Boulder study found Fort Collins to be a hotbed for anti-vaccine sentiment should raise some alarms. In order to stay ahead of Boulder, we have to respond to this study and get vaccinated.

So if you are missing any vaccines, even just a flu shot, go get vaccinated today. Let’s show the Buffs that we’re more committed to listening to science than they are.

Michelle Fredrickson can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online at @mfredrickson42