Anti-Vaxxer Movement Cites Distrust of Pharma Industry as Big Reason to Skip Shots

loaded needle and syringe

Over the past few years, there seems to be a growing number of people in the United States who, for a myriad of reasons, opt out of vaccinating their children against common pathogens that often have deadly effects – like the measles.

A core reason that some anti-vaxxers, as they’ve become known, have given for refusing to support vaccine use in their lives is a deep distrust of the pharmaceutical industry. This morning, USA Today reported that a significant number of the anti-vaccination proponents claim that there are dangerous side effects to vaccines and the government is shielding the drugmakers from liability due to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The federal program requires that anyone who claims a vaccine has caused any kind of injury must file a claim through this program.

One of those who distrusts the industry is the head of an advocacy group in the state of Washington, one of the more popular areas for anti-vaxxers. Bernadette Pajer said drug companies have a “pretty poor record over all” in the areas of safety and transparency USA Today reported.

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Since 2001, the percentage of children in the United States who do not receive any vaccines has quadrupled. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said about 1.3 percent of children who were born in 2015 do not receive vaccinations. That number grew from .3 percent in 2001.

A survey released earlier this month indicates that there is a high level of skepticism and distrust for the pharmaceutical industry. The survey, conducted by PatientView, the majority of people tend to hold a negative or indifferent view of the pharmaceutical industry’s reputation. The results show that 41 percent of people surveyed said that the pharma industry has an “Excellent” or “Good” corporate reputation. When it comes to developing beneficial medications, the number of positive responses jumped a bit. The survey showed that 53 percent believed the industry was Excellent” or “Good” at making high-quality products. Although, that was lower than the 57 percent the industry scored in 2017.

Pajer became concerned about vaccine side effects after her son developed severe allergies to food ingredients in the vaccines, USA Today said.

In particular, Pajer pointed to Merck and its vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. Pajer raised concern due to the company’s ongoing legal battle with a whistleblower who alleges in court that the company has overstated the efficacy of the vaccines. Also, Pajer claims that there is a risk the rubella portion of the vaccine can cause arthritis and that Merck is withholding data showing that risk. The lawsuit, filed in 2010 by two former Merck virologists, claims that Merck faked the efficacy of the vaccine, which was initially approved in the early 1970s.

As the anti-vaccination movement grows, so too do the number of cases of previously controlled illnesses such as the measles. This year there have been 626 confirmed cases of the measles, according to the CDC. The disease had been considered almost eradicated nearly 20 years ago. Outbreaks of the measles have surged across multiple communities in the U.S., including New York, where the outbreak has been severe. Earlier this month, New York City officials issued a mandate requiring that residents in parts of Brooklyn receive MMR vaccinations or face a fine of $1,000. Receiving both recommended doses of the MMR vaccine results in a 97 percent effectiveness in preventing the measles, the CDC said.

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