To the editor: Your article “Jessica Biel steps into vaccine debate as other celebrities fear the ‘anti-vax’ label,” was important and accurate. The problem was the use of the word “debate” in the headline. There is no debate about the efficacy and safety of vaccines.
Saying there is a vaccine debate is analogous to saying there is a flat-Earth debate. True, there are some people, ignorant of scientific facts, who may claim the Earth is flat. But that doesn’t make it a debate. The casual reader, seeing the phrase “vaccine debate,” would not be faulted for assuming there are valid arguments against the value of vaccines.
There is no vaccine debate. The science is settled. The case is closed.
Whereas claiming the Earth is flat may be innocuous, acknowledging a “debate” about vaccines can harm individuals and damage the public health. The more people think the value and safety of vaccines is debatable, the more people may remain unvaccinated, and the more likely disease will spread.
Please consider this before implying there is a debate about vaccines.
Victor M. Benson, M.D., Rancho Palos Verdes