Tag: advocacy

Who is Riko Muranaka?

It’s a shame that you are probably very familiar with Andy Wakefield, Bob Sears, and Del Bigtree, but have never heard of Riko Muranaka.

Do you know any vaccine advocates?

Who is Riko Muranaka?

Riko Muranaka is a doctor and a journalist and was one of the few to push back against all of the negative articles in the Japanese media following the decision of Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to stop formally recommending that girls get vaccinated and protected with the HPV vaccine.

“We can’t afford to sit back and allow a similar situation to develop in which unscientific claims jeopardize lives around the world. The Japanese government should reinstate its proactive recommendation for the HPV vaccine and set a positive example before irrational fear of the vaccine gains further momentum in other countries.”

Riko Muranaka on Stopping the Spread of Japan’s Antivaccine Panic

Not only that, it was her investigation that led to the discovery that the initial report that led to the HPV scare by neurologist Shuichi Ikeda was misleading and inappropriate.

“Evidence she used against Japanese neurologist Shuichi Ikeda revealed that only a single mouse had been vaccinated and the brain section showing damage did not belong to this mouse.”

The EU battle strategy against fake news, fighting the 4Ds that lead to doubt: CORDIS attends the 11th World Conference of Science Journalists

So where does that leave Riko Muranaka?

In 2017, she received the John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science “for promoting science and evidence on a matter of public interest, despite facing difficulty or hostility in doing so.” 

What kind of difficulty and hostility has she faced?

“Because of her science-based reporting on this topic, Dr. Muranaka experienced massive hostility. Unlike before, she became unable to publish in Japanese media. Her family was threatened, and she was sued by an anti-vaccination doctor.”

How Japan was taken by an anti-vax tsunami

Unbelievably, Ikeda sued Dr. Muranaka for defamation and won, even though the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare censured Ikeda for misrepresenting his research. The case is currently on appeal.

And tragically, although HPV vaccines are still available in Japan, after all, they were never banned, they still don’t have a proactive recommendation.

Riko Muranaka still has work to do to get HPV vaccination rates back up in Japan, but she did help to make sure that “Japan’s antivaccine panic” didn’t spread anywhere else.

More on Riko Muranaka

Vaccine Op-Eds

The Editorial Boards of the leading newspapers in the United States are making sure we know their views about vaccines and vaccine hesitancy.

One of the first vaccine op-eds appeared in The New York Times.

It started with The New York Times, but certainly didn’t end there.

Vaccine Op-Eds

In addition to two hearings before Congress, many other major newspapers have published vaccine editorials of their own.

“It’s no mystery how we got here. On the internet, anti-vaccine propaganda has outpaced pro-vaccine public health information. The anti-vaxxers, as they are colloquially known, have hundreds of websites promoting their message, a roster of tech- and media-savvy influencers and an aggressive political arm that includes at least a dozen political action committees. Defense against this onslaught has been meager. The C.D.C., the nation’s leading public health agency, has a website with accurate information, but no loud public voice. The United States Surgeon General’s office has been mum. So has the White House — and not just under the current administration. That leaves just a handful of academics who get bombarded with vitriol, including outright threats, every time they try to counter pseudoscience with fact.”

The New York Times on How to Inoculate Against Anti-Vaxxers

“The wretched pox is getting closer. We hope you and yours are vaccinated.”

Chicago Tribune on Major new study adds to our plea: Vaccinate your children against measles

“But a child with fragile health, whose doctor advises to delay vaccines for health reasons, could be in extreme danger in Washington state because so many parents use philosophical exemptions. Vulnerable children are much more likely to be exposed to measles than they should be because Washington allows parents to skip required immunizations based solely on their personal beliefs.”

The Seattle Times on End philosophical vaccine exemption

“We can get kids vaccinated, or we can be in danger together.”

Chicago Sun-Times on Measles, anti-vaccine myths and some advice for Illinois

“Treating a disease like measles and stopping its spread is an expensive proposition. Not to mention, it endangers those who can’t get vaccinated, including vulnerable newborns.”

The Baltimore Sun on It’s about time for a backlash against anti-vaxers

“Recent outbreaks underscore the risks of allowing nonmedical exemptions.”

USA Today on Measles outbreaks underscore risks of allowing nonmedical vaccination exemptions

“The point is, people who do not get vaccinated are threatening the whole population, and DeFoor’s letter is a reminder that failing to get vaccinated can have lifelong consequences.”

The Gainesville Sun on Anti-vaccine myths are dangerous

“The best solution, however, is for parents who are tempted to claim a religious exemption to look at the facts. If your fear of vaccines is based on information repeated in social media or by an anti-vaccine group, you need to try again. Look at medical studies or talk to your doctor.

The measles vaccine can save your child’s life, and it can save the lives of those who are medically unable to take the vaccine.”

Tuscaloosa News on Measles vaccine a must for your child and others

“This isn’t one of those scary epidemics in which the cause and solution are unclear. The cause is a reckless embrace of myth over scientific fact. The solution is vaccination.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Measles is back, thanks to misinformation and loopholes in vaccination rules.

“Yet the distrust of anti-vaxxer parents is a threat to everyone’s children and not just their own.”

The Guardian view on vaccination: a duty of public health

“The anti-vaxxers’ hypothesis rests largely on the shoulders of bunk science that has been discredited and disproven by a number of sources. But this hasn’t stopped their ideas from taking hold.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Preventable problems: Anti-vaxxers rely on bunk science

“We identify with parents’ desire to protect their children. But shunning proven vaccinations is making families and communities less healthy, not more so. We urge lawmakers to champion educational efforts to help parents understand that lesson before a major outbreak strikes here.”

Austin American Statesman on Austin’s anti-vaccination rate is nothing to brag about

After reading these Op-Eds, it is even more amazing to realize how far we have come from when the media used to be part of the problem.

Whatever you think about Andrew Wakefield, the real villains of the MMR scandal are the media.”

Ben Goldacre on The MMR story that wasn’t

It’s nice that they are advocating for vaccines and our children now.

More on Vaccine Op-Eds

Who Is Ethan Lindenberger?

As most folks know, Ethan Lindenberger is the Ohio teen who got himself vaccinated over the objections of his mother, who had always believed that vaccines are dangerous.

He recently testified in Washington, D.C. before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing, Vaccines Save Lives: What Is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?

Who Is Ethan Lindenberger?

Not surprisingly, Ethan Lindenberger is getting a lot of attention lately.

Unfortunately, not all of it has been good.

Of course there are conspiracy theories about Ethan Linderberger and his mother…

Along the way to getting vaccinated and a trip to Capitol Hill, he has been attacked on social media from anti-vaccine folks who must see him as some kind of threat.

I remember speaking with my mother about vaccines, and at one point in our discussion she claimed a link existed between vaccines and autism. In response, I presented evidence from the CDC which claimed directly in large bold letters, “There is no link between vaccines and autism.” Within the same article from the CDC on their official website, extensive evidence and studies from the institute of medicine (IOM) were cited. Most would assume when confronted with such strong proof, there would be serious consideration that your views are incorrect. This was not the case for my mother, as her only response was, “that’s what they want you to think.”

Ethan Lindenberger

Now that she sees that “they” have made up conspiracy theories about her own son, will Ethan’s mother understand how the anti-vaccine movement works?

“Conversations like these were what reaffirmed the evidence in defense of vaccinations and proved to me, at least on an anecdotal level, that anti-vaccine beliefs are deeply rooted in misinformation. Despite this, a necessary clarification must be made when discussing this misinformation: anti-vaccine individuals do not root their opinions in malice, but rather a true concern for themselves and other people. Although it may not seem to be true because of the serious implications of choosing not to vaccinate, the entire anti-vaccine movement has gained so much traction because of this fear and concern that vaccines are dangerous.”

Ethan Lindenberger

Who is scaring everyone about vaccines and creating all of this misinformation?

In his testimony, Ethan identified some people that will be familiar to everyone who works to combat anti-vaccine misinformation, including Bob Sears, Del Bigtree, and Larry Cook.

“My story highlights this misinformation and how it spreads. Between social media platforms, to using a parent’s love as a tool, these lies cause people to distrust in vaccination, furthering the impact of a preventable disease outbreak and even contributing to the cause of diseases spreading. This needs to change and I only hope my story contributes to such advancements.”

Ethan Lindenberger

We are lucky that Ethan told his story.

It’s an important story and hopefully everyone who is thinking about skipping or delaying their child’s vaccines will listen to it.

More on Ethan Lindenberger

Choose to Stop Spreading Anti-Vaccine Propaganda

You have a choice.

Right now.

You can continue to share and spread anti-vaccine propaganda, helping scare other folks away from vaccinating and protecting their kids, or you can stop.

Choose to Stop Spreading Anti-Vaccine Propaganda

Why is the above meme anti-vaccine propaganda?

For one thing, there aren’t 200 vaccines in the pipeline!

There are actually very few new vaccines being developed that have any chance of making it onto the immunization schedule anytime soon. Many of the so-called vaccines in the pipeline are either not for infectious diseases (many are therapeutic vaccines for cancer!) or are for the same disease.

Even more importantly though, removing non-medical vaccine exemptions, which are often abused, doesn’t force anyone to vaccinate their kids.

Vaccine mandates are laws about getting vaccinated to attend daycare and school, etc. You still have a choice if you don’t want to get vaccinated.

What’s the problem that some folks have?

They don’t like their choices!

They want to be able to skip or delay their child’s vaccines and be able to send them to daycare or school.

“…the increased risk of disease in the pediatric population, in part because of increasing rates of vaccine refusal and in some circumstances more rapid loss of immunity, increases potential exposure of immunodeficient children.”

Medical Advisory Committee of the Immune Deficiency Foundation

And they want to take away everyone else’s choice to decrease their risk of getting a vaccine-preventable disease.

You don’t have a right to do that though!

Are you still spreading anti-vaccine propaganda?

Then you are part of the problem. You just don’t realize it yet.

And you are the reason that rates of vaccine-preventable diseases are going up and why Legislators are having to tighten the rules to prevent exemption abuse.

More on Choosing to Stop Spreading Anti-Vaccine Propaganda