Most of us would be apprehensive about Donald Trump doling out medical diagnoses, but when he lent his voice to anti-vaccination movement attributing childhood vaccination with increased incidence of autism, many people were listening. The problem is that the science behind the assertion that he’s championing has been since debunked. Model / actress Jenny McCarthy is widely credited with perpetuating the cause despite the cited research being shown fraudulent.
I’m a Rotarian, and the primary cause that our organization focuses on is Polio eradication. We hear story after story of the horrors of Polio and how the Polio vaccination improved the lives of tens of thousands of people. It’s a priority of the Gates Foundation and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative as well,. It’s a priority to these organizations because of the extraordinary long-term health benefits of vaccination and the increased incidence of disability and mortality without.
So, why does it matter that Donald Trump or Jenny McCarthy intimate a causal link between vaccines and autism? Because they influence people to make unsound decisions. These decisions affect the health of children and could even result in death.
The point I wanted to make is simply that your influence increases proportional to your reach. As we get caught up the minutia of online social interaction, it’s easy to underestimate the extent that we can influence people’s viewpoint or actions. It’s important to understand the power of every post, tweet, pin and statement.
Sadly, Donald Trump’s celebrity gives him an outlet to share views like this – and kids will probably die because he used championed such an ill-conceived cause.