Fun with Vaccination

UPDATE (Mar. 3, 2010): If anyone’s still hanging on the edge of their seat for this one, it’s been more or less resolved. I told the person who was threatening me that I wasn’t going to back down, and they’ve so far left me alone. That was back in November, of course. They had no legal standing on this.

UPDATE (Nov. 16 2009): Currently, the caller from this interview is threatening me with legal action. I’ve modified the post with a few more “seems to be”s to cover my ass. I think I’m fully within my rights to say what I’ve said here, but since I was called by the caller’s lawyer, I’m not taking any chances.

I just got done listening to a recent segment on NPR’s Science Friday (hosted by Ira Flatow) where they discussed the anti-vaccination movement, and even after 20 minutes, I’m still quivering with rage and frustration.

Science Friday: Childhood Vaccinations

Ira’s guest is Paul Offit, who I’ll just let Wikipedia tell you about:

Paul A. Offit, MD, is a pediatrician specializing in infectious disease medicine, an internationally known expert on vaccines, immunology, and virology, the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Offit has been a member of the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Dr. Offit has published more than 120 papers in medical and scientific journals in the areas of rotavirus-specific immune responses and vaccine safety and is the co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine recently recommended for universal use in infants by the CDC.

The interview starts with Dr. Offit and Ira discussing the recent outbreaks of measles due to declining vaccination rates, and the reasoning that people who are against vaccinations give for their stance, and why they’re wrong. It’s very interesting (to me at least) and they address many of the common misconceptions, in language that anybody can understand. Or so you’d think.

The first caller is a woman who seems to be an anti-vaccinationist. She starts by asking a couple questions that are, I suppose, pretty fair to ask. But you soon discover that no matter what Dr. Offit says, this woman isn’t going to change her mind. She seems to be one of those unfortunate people who thinks that if they believe something enough, that makes it true.

Personally, I think the whole anti-vaccination movement is a bunch of conspiracy theorists who would probably latch on to UFOs or Bigfoot or something if such topics interested them. But they see Jenny McCarthy on Oprah telling a sad story about how she thinks vaccines made her kid autistic, and their conspiracy-prone minds latch onto it.

Ira does a great job refereeing this conversation between the doctor/professor and the random caller, and even points out the caller’s obvious logical faults, like how she says that no amount of evidence would change her mind on the issue. But this person’s mindset is typical of the anti-vaccination movement at large. They’re true believers: nothing will sway them.

Dr. Offit does a great job combating the woman’s irrationality too. If it were me, I’d be screaming and swearing and insulting her (as I have in this post), but Offit addresses as many of her concerns as he can, far more calmly and politely than she deserves.

I don’t know why I care so much about this issue. I’m a graphic designer, and I don’t even have any kids. But, I guess I care about humanity or something. I see the ignorant having a negative effect on society, and it infuriates me. I want to do something about it, but the best I can do is confront ignorance head-on, and try to help people to see reality, or at least nudge them in the right direction.

Those of you who know me who have kids or will have kids, if you’re thinking about not vaccinating them, you’re going to be hearing from me until you do.

UPDATE: This post has just been added to the web site Autism Street, which looks like a great resource for people concerned about autism and the anti-vaccination movement. Do’C gives me pretty high praise for my little rant here, which is greatly appreciated.

16 thoughts on “Fun with Vaccination

  1. Hi Bevans, thanks for the great post. don’t know why I care so much about this issue. I’m a graphic designer, and I don’t even have any kids. But, I guess I care about humanity or something.While I have kids, my youngest is nearly 20. I push back against vaccine denialists for personal and public reasons. The personal is that several people I care about are immuno-compromised. The public reason is caring about public health. I’d hate to see another rubella outbreak, or measles, or any other of the vaccine-preventable diseases.I’d like to see the promoters of vaccine-preventable diseases be required to establish a fund to compensate families who suffered financial or health losses from others’ failure to vaccinate. I’m talking about people such as Jenny McCarthy, Barbara Loe Fisher, Talk About Curing Autism, Age of Autism, Generation Rescue; their media stooges such as Julie Deardorff and Sharyl Attkisson; the band of venal attorneys enriching themselves on “vaccine-injury litigation”, like Clifford Shoemaker, and non-vaccinating parents like Jennifer Margulis and Chantele Paduchowski (the woman on the Science Friday interview).

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  2. You obviously have not lived with the damage and aftermath of vaccination. My child’s life was sacrificed for the sake of vaccination with known toxins in a microbial and virus laden soup (there are many other viruses in the vaccine which they cannot filter out that come from animal sources – SV40 – simian virus 40 contaminated many polio vaccines, still may, nobody really knows, and is a KNOWN CAUSE OF CANCER in humans). They do not know if vaccinations cause genetic changes in humans, none are tested for the possibility of causing cancer, and they are full of toxins like mercury, aluminum, lead, msg, and many more. They don’t even know if vaccines work.Have you aver seen a life destroyed by vaccination?????? I HAVE!!!!! My son’s immune system is so messed up it attacks his own brain cells. His traditional neurologist acknowledges that it is a result of being poisoned by vaccines. Vaccines are a grand experiment and nobody has any hypothesis what the outcome will be. Do some real research before you condemn my demand to know what is being injected into my child, what the potential outcomes are, and the choice to decide if it is healthy for him. You say you don’t have a child. Then you do not know the pain of watching your child nearly die from being not able to breathe due to asthma induced by vaccination.See the latest Dutch study of vaccinated vs unvaccinated children and their rates of chronic immune system diseases. Maybe the people you know who are immune-compromised are so because of vaccination disrupting their immune system?? You do not have to go broke providing medical care that is not covered by health insurance. You do not know the pain of watching a life destroyed for the financial gain of a few in Big Pharma. I will die to keep my child from being poisoned any further. Laura in Texas

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  3. Laura – you’re ranting without a shred of evidence. Vaccines don’t cause cancer, attack brains or asthma.Further the Dutch study you refer to is not a study, its a poll conducted by a Dutch antivaccine group.Please, calm down and start making sense.

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  4. I don’t know why I care so much about this issue. I’m a graphic designer, and I don’t even have any kids. But, I guess I care about humanity or something. I see the ignorant having a negative effect on society, and it infuriates me. I want to do something about it, but the best I can do is confront ignorance head-on, and try to help people to see reality, or at least nudge them in the right direction.Extremely well put, sir. I did not have time to listen, and I appreciate this thoughtful writeup and commentary.

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  5. “Those of you who know me who have kids or will have kids, if you’re thinking about not vaccinating them, you’re going to be hearing from me until you do.”So Bevan, I assume that you have already gone in for your adult pertussis booster, to help keep herd immunity alive and well…and you’re going to get in line for all of the other adult-recommended vaccinations, aren’t you? After all, it’s not just children who are expected to do their part in service to society through vaccinations and put themselves at risk for vaccine-related adverse events (which do happen). If you’re not doing your part by getting all of your adult-recommended vaccinations, then who are you going to be “hearing from”?

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  6. “After all, it’s not just children who are expected to do their part in service to society through vaccinations and put themselves at risk for vaccine-related adverse events (which do happen).”That’s a good point merrybees. I’ll have to remember to mention pertussis to my doctor when I go in for my flu vaccination in about a month. I think I’m due for a tetanus (although not communicable) booster too. Accepting the extremely minute risk of a serious adverse event from a vaccine is a very small contribution on my part for conferred health benefit to the rest of society (children and adults alike). I think the majority of civilized society is willing to do their part.

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  7. I remember my last tetanus booster. The only adverse effect was that I had great difficulty sitting down for a week. That would have been OK except that we were driving to Scotland the next day!More seriously, I am concerned with the source of the misinformation that Laura so obviously believes. I suspect that whoever told her all that nonsense is probably the same person who is helping her “to go broke providing medical care that is not covered by health insurance.”

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  8. Mike Stanton wrote, I am concerned with the source of the misinformation that Laura so obviously believes.The “msg in vaccines” idea is from Sherry Tenpenny, and has been rebroadcast by Joe Mercola.Sherry Tenpenny runs a company called he is also the president of New Medical Awareness Seminars, LLC, which seems to include New Media Press (NMA). The purpose is to sell Tenpenny’s books, multi-media presentations, and “supplements”.

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  9. I assume that you have already gone in for your adult pertussis booster, to help keep herd immunity alive and well…and you’re going to get in line for all of the other adult-recommended vaccinations, aren’t you?To be honest, I didn’t realize there were any vaccines for adults, beyond a few for STDs and flu and stuff. I’ll have to do some more research on those and figure out what I should be getting. Although I’ve gotta wonder, if I’ve missed hearing about them, then a lot of others have too, and the herd immunity effect may not work very well with such limited numbers.Also, I’ll probably have to wait until I can afford health care, unless the shots are free. That may be a reason why I haven’t yet received these shots: I haven’t been to see my doctor in at least a year. How often are these shots given? Maybe I’ve already received them. Maybe I should be paying attention to my own health too. :)Also, thanks to everyone for the interesting comments. I’ve only had this blog running for about a month, and it’s great to see some feedback.

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  10. So going by the chart, for your gender and likely age (assuming no special medical, occupational, or lifestyle risk factors)…The CDC says:1 Tdap booster every 10 yearsMaybe MMR (depending on your status), see footnote 31 flu shot annuallyThat seems to be about it.

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  11. Thank goodness for people who go out of their way to stick up for public health, including vaccines, and thank you, Bevans, for speaking out. A lot of bad public policy has been made because the only squeaky wheels were the ones with narrow and uninformed interests. Reasonable people who take the time to pay attention to issues that *don’t* affect them directly are the way we get away from that.The caller educated listeners, but not in the way she probably thought.

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  12. Thanks from me, too. Keep up the good work. Spread the pro-vaccine and pro-true-information attitude the way the antivaccine dimwits are spreading disease, death and disability by promoting epidemics and outbreaks of vaccine preventable disease.

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  13. Laura wrote:”His traditional neurologist acknowledges that it is a result of being poisoned by vaccines.”Now then Laura,you really shouldn’t be telling lies. No respectable neurologist would spout such nonsense, so best to assume Laura ‘invented’ that bit. DoC, highly doubtful that Laura can be an effective parent for her son, given the set of bizarre beliefs she’s got. Sooner or later that will manifest as off the wall therapy and probably dangerous to boot, poor kid. Anything that might be helpful wouldn’t be a good fit with her conspiracy theory so the poor kid is doomed from the start, most likely.I’d never really thought too much about it before, but having read what Laura has to say and seen the ‘mothering’ site that Chantel inhabits, realistically, these parents are a menace to their children in all sorts of ways. You can’t really assume that they’re essentially benign except for this little glitch of ant-vax conspiracy thinking. That doesn’t make a lot of sense, particularly, when you read what they are doing to their kids- chelation, supplements, HBOT etc.

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