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How Has The Anti-Vaccine Movement Responded To Zika? They're Skeptical


With the Centers for Disease Control recently announcing in April that Zika can cause microcephaly in infants, the race to find a cure or vaccine against Zika is more imminent than ever. How could it not be, when travel advisories to countries with reported Zika cases are growing by the day? Still, some feel like a vaccine to treat Zika is not the way to go to treat the problem, especially those who are a part of the anti-vaccine movement. So how has the anti-vaccine movement responded to Zika?

Well, they're skeptical to say the least. While there isn't one spokesperson for the group, plenty of searches on the Internet bring up blog posts of those who are concerned about Zika and a possible vaccination for the virus.

First, some back story. According to the U.S. World News and Report, Zika closely resembles the rubella epidemic which disabled thousands of children in the United States in the 1960's and caused many women to seek out illegal abortions. By 1970, the vaccine for rubella, combined with the measles and mumps vaccines was released and in 2005, rubella was declared eliminated from U.S. soil. However, in 1998, a now-discredited study was published linking the MMR vaccine to autism which sparked a anti-vaccination movement.

RECIFE, BRAZIL - JANUARY 31: Alice Vitoria Gomes Bezerra, 3-months-old, who has microcephaly, is held by her mother Nadja Cristina Gomes Bezerra sits on January 31, 2016 in Recife, Brazil. In the last four months, authorities have recorded close to 4,000 cases in Brazil in which the mosquito-borne Zika virus may have led to microcephaly in infants. The ailment results in an abnormally small head in newborns and is associated with various disorders including decreased brain development. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus outbreak is likely to spread throughout nearly all the Americas. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images

But what of a vaccine now? Is there a need for one? "The adverse effects [of Zika] are sufficiently serious and tragic that we would want to vaccinate everybody," Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the Department of Preventative Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told U.S. World News and Report. Essentially, there very well could be a Zika vaccine someday soon — and people will undoubtedly protest it.

Zika's close resemblance to the rubella outbreak, could have the virus' eventual vaccine face the same kind of backlash that MMR once did so many years ago. Anti-vaccinators are already skeptical about Zika. While a some believe a vaccine to stop Zika from being transmitted is necessary, members of the anti-vaccine movement disagree. Anti-vaccination news website, Vaxxter, was skeptical about Zika when news first broke about the outbreak in January.

A Syrian child receives a vaccination against polio during a campaign organised by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in the rebel-held area of Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ABD DOUMANY (Photo credit should read ABD DOUMANY/AFP/Getty Images)ABD DOUMANY/AFP/Getty Images

In an article titled, "Are We Overhyping Zika To Market A New Vaccine?" the author questions pharmaceutical companies' intentions, writing,

... Any illness, no matter the actual threat, is an opportunity at creating a vaccine product. Pharmaceutical companies are chomping at the bit to ride the coattails of the media hyping a fear which will never develop into an actual reality.

Some members of the anti-vaccination movement believe that the TDAP vaccine — tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis — is to blame for birth defects associated with Zika, such as microcephaly. They believe this primarily started when Brazil first started vaccinating pregnant women in 2014. However, websites and experts have negated this belief, as there has not been any evidence linking the TDAP vaccine with microcephaly.

While members of the anti-vaccination movement are skeptical about Zika and all that it claims to cause, the threat of the virus still stands. Whether or not you decide to vaccinate against it, once the vaccination becomes available, is your choice.