Big Data helps support vaccination policies

Posted by Justin Hesser on January 23, 2014

In many public debates, there's a certain fallacy of balance. Two sides are presented as though they're equally valid, and the answer is presumed to lie somewhere in the middle. Television, especially, exacerbates this notion: when you give both sides of an argument equal time and platform, regardless of their factual basis, it presents them as equally legitimate. 

Such is the current problem with the vaccination debate. Thanks to a few high-profile naysayers, the notion that inoculation is bad for children has gained a firm toehold in our national discussion. Even some notable celebrities have gone on record stressing the link between vaccines and the incidence of autism.

Thanks to Big Data, however, those arguments can be squashed much more easily. Using custom database software, physicians can directly model the negative effects of not having children vaccinated, and accurately estimate the number of preventable deaths that are caused by an unwillingness to seek this type of medical treatment. They can likewise dispute the claims that there exists any connection to autism. In fact, the website of the Mayo Clinic now bluntly dispels that. 

"Vaccines do not cause autism. Despite much controversy on the topic, researchers haven't found a connection between autism and childhood vaccines. In fact, the original study that ignited the debate years ago has been retracted. Although signs of autism may appear at about the same time children receive certain vaccines — such as the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine — this is simply a coincidence," explains the site. 

This knowledge goes much further than a debate on television. A more thorough understanding of the benefits of vaccinations has been proven to save lives, and Big Data is helping to make that happen.