Shirts promoting vaccinations for children are causing a stir online among so-called “anti-vaxxers,” those who believe vaccinations for diseases ranging from mumps to polio can cause serious, lifelong health issues.
The baseball-style tee simply reads “Vaccines Cause Adults.”
CureGear, the startup behind the shirt, is the brainchild of 26-year-old Jessie Frenkel, a grad student at Colorado State University. She started the online store to sell clothes and jewelry that raise awareness of disease research.
However, when she first posted about the shirt on Oct. 17 to her Facebook page she received a strong response from anti-vaxxers. “What a disgusting mockery of people who have been injured by vaccines. You will NEVER see my business!” writes Emily Novac.
For all the negative comments and links to studies purporting vaccines are behind a slew of diseases, many of the comments are in support of Frenkel and CureGear.
“It’s like every person here that opposes vaccination is trying to speak with the manager. If this comment section is an indictment of anything it’s the American grasp of the scientific method not vaccines. CureGear, the shirt is rad,” writes Mike Flores.
The controversy over vaccinations for young children goes back decades, with some suggesting vaccines can cause debilitating developmental disorders like autism.
A Michigan woman spent five days in jail this month after violating a court order to have her child vaccinated. She plans to go back to court to try to prevent her son from getting any more injections.
“I remember one of my professors telling me that as scientists it is our duty to educate others about what we know, and so many people have done a great job doing that!” Frenkel told WSFA in an interview.
Despite the controversy, Frenkel has already brought in $11,442 after setting a Kickstarter goal of just $8,000. She hopes that CureGear will not only raise awareness for diseases but also encourage young women to seek careers in science.
But can vaccinations really cause conditions like autism? A movement of Americans thinks so. Celebrities like TV host and model Jenny McCarthy are leading the charge with allegations that vaccination is what is causing an “epidemic” of autism cases in young children.
“We firmly believe the cause of the epidemic of autism is due to a vaccine injury and/or other environmental exposures,” McCarthy told Frontline in an interview. McCarthy, whose son has autism, is the author of three books on the subject but holds no scientific degrees.
A lightning rod for the movement was a 1998 study by Andrew Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist, that suggested the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella could cause autism in infants. The study has since been widely discredited. The journal that originally published it, Lancet, retracted the study in 2010.
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