There's been a lot of debate over the last several years about vaccinating children. In the last year it's picked up steam because Jenny McCarthy thinks vaccines gave her kid autism and then she cured it.
Some people think that the vaccines cause autism. This despite the fact that the one and only study that supported that was done by a guy with major conflicts of interest, was proven to be horribly flawed, and finally the guy who did the study admitted he'd faked it all.
Every other study has proven there is no correlation between vaccines and autism. After baseless pressure caused the chemicals in doubt to be removed from vaccines the autism rate didn't so much as quiver. There is zero evidence supporting their cause and a mountain against but still they push on with their lies.
Recently measles has been making a comeback. This is due entirely to the anti-vax movement. There have been minor outbreaks all over the world, including the United States, and people have died.
If they were only putting their own kids at risk it wouldn't be so much of a problem. But there are people who can't get vaccinated for legitimate health reasons and small children who need to reach a certain age first. Keeping those who can be vaccinated disease free creates a herd immunity. That means that if we're not acting as walking virus incubators then we won't infect others. And if most of the population is immunized then those who aren't won't be exposed.
The movement is strongest in the United States, but it has proven strong in Australia as well. That is until a 4 week old child died of whooping cough. I'm not as good of a writer or as solid on my fact as the Phil Plait. So I send you to his post on the subject. He also has the video of the parents going on TV to tell the nation how their kid died because of others beliefs in nonsense. [link]
Oprah has now given Jenny McCarthy her own talk show to continue spreading her lies to stay at home mothers. [link]
Someone has been keeping track of the number of illnesses and deaths have been caused by failure to vaccinate at Jenny McCarthy Body Count.
But finally, some facts. To arm yourself for debate and to counter people who spread the lies you should keep http://antiantivax.jottit.com/ handy. It's a quick reference to the myths and the facts in the debate.
But, most of all, remember that for valid health information you want to talk to doctors, not people whose sole qualification is that 10 years ago she looked good naked.