John Oliver and his team of writers at Last Week Tonight wear suits, but they’d be better off in lab coats and goggles, given how they precisely dissect cultural issues week after week. On the most recent episode, Oliver et. al took their scalpels to vaccines, dedicating the entire show’s 27-minute duration to the topic. In the piece, he explained why some parents are so hesitant about vaccination, before explaining why those parents need to realize how important it is to vaccinate their kid. It was a masterfully executed segment.
Very reasonably, Oliver explained how in the past, a new vaccine, such as the polio vaccination, was celebrated as a huge live saving breakthrough. And why, today, vaccinations are met with much more skepticism, especially by parents. Oliver then pointed to the very real ways that this skeptical view of vaccinations is already starting to affect kids, pointing to such recent examples as the measles outbreak amongst a Somali population in Minnesota, which stemmed from refusal to vaccinate and resulted in more cases of the disease in Minnesota than in all of the United States in 2016.
After tracing the origins of the anti-vax movement to a study in the ’90s that linked vaccination to autism and explaining that said study was a complete sham that resulted in the doctor responsible for it losing his license, Oliver explained how it’s pretty rare to find a parent who is “anti-vaccine.” However, Oliver explained, there are parents who now proclaim themselves to be “pro-safe vaccine,” which, according to the host, is just a fancy way of saying “anti-vaccine.” Some of these detractors point to the “mercury” that makes the vaccines dangerous, but there has been no link that that harms people in any way. Explaining how some have tried to implement a process of stringing out vaccines over a long period of time to protect kids, Oliver pointed out that all these people are doing is “finding the middle ground between sense and nonsense.”
All in all, Oliver and his team created an intelligent, incisive segment that explained a very urgent issue. Oliver concluded that the reason certain parents are resistant to vaccines is because “parenthood is fucking terrifying,” but once again insists that vaccination is the only choice to ensure the healthiest life possible for kids. The first half of that sentence contains a sentiment on which all mothers and fathers can agree; let’s hope his segment gets more people nodding their heads about the second half.