Tag: anti-vaccine movement

Recommendations for Reporting About Vaccines

Historically, the media has played a huge role in pushing vaccine misinformation and scaring parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

“The media created the MMR hoax, and they maintained it diligently for 10 years.”

Dr. Ben Goldacre Bad Science

Even before Andy Wakefield and his MMR hoax, the media helped fuel pertussis outbreaks by pushing the flawed research of John Wilson, which led to lawsuits against DPT vaccines and a big drop in vaccination rates.

None of it was true and the lawsuits failed, but the consequence was still that many unvaccinated kids died.

Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment "Vaccines: A Bad Combination?"
Bob Sears appearing on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment “Vaccines: A Bad Combination?” is a great example of false balance.

Many others in the media have done a great job in promoting myths and fake controversies about vaccines and have used false balance in their interviews and articles to scare parents.

Fortunately, things have gotten better over the years.

Important Points for Reporting About Vaccines

Still, despite what some folks might think, health journalists aren’t going to get in trouble for reporting about vaccines.

They are going to hear about it if they do a bad job though.

“…it is important to recognise that the balance of media reporting does not necessarily reflect the balance of the argument among the involved professionals – by this is meant that equal weighting might be given by the media (and thus the lay community) to those for and against the vaccine although opponents of vaccination might be a very small number, as for example happened with both pertussis and MMR.”

David Baxter on Opposition to Vaccination and Immunisation the UK Experience – from Smallpox to MMR

Remember, the way that health journalists cover vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases can influence the behavior of people, either helping them understand that vaccines are safe and necessary, putting them on-the-fence about vaccines, or scarring them away from getting vaccinated and protected.

So be careful when reporting about vaccines, as it gives you the opportunity to correct many of myths that scare people, while educating folks about the topic you are covering.

You should also:

Are you ready to cover your next story about vaccines or the next measles outbreak?

What to Know About Reporting on Vaccines

The way that health journalists cover vaccines and vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks can influence the behavior of people, either helping them understand that vaccines are safe and necessary, putting them on-the-fence about vaccines, or scarring them away from getting vaccinated and protected.

More on Reporting about Vaccines

Money and Motivation of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

We often hear the argument that anyone who supports the ideas that vaccines work and that they are safe and necessary must be a shill for Big Pharma. And that pediatricians, even though they are among the lowest paid doctors, are making tons of money from vaccines and even getting bonuses to get kids vaccinated.

Of course, none of these myths and conspiracy theories are true.

Money and Motivation of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

But guess what motivates many of the folks in the anti-vaccine movement?

“Vaccines are a holocaust of poison on our children’s brains and immune systems.”

Claire Dwoskin

For some, it is the idea that vaccines damaged their child.

And then there’s the money.

CNN did a report several years ago on how a few groups were funding researchers and organizations that put out much of the material that scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

It wasn’t a surprise though. Many others had been saying the same things for years about:

  • the Dwoskin Family Foundation and CMSRI
  • Barry Segal and Focus for Health
  • JB Handley and Generation Rescue

But anti-vaccine experts aren’t just motivated by the money they directly get from those with deep pockets.

Selling supplements is big business for integrative, holistic, and anti-vaccine folks.
Selling supplements is big business for integrative, holistic, and anti-vaccine folks.

They have discovered many ways to turn the anti-vaccine movement into a money making industry.

Paul Thomas doesn't mention that he gets a big cut of the sales for a "free" summit that costs $197 as he promotes his anti-vaccine lecture.
Paul Thomas doesn’t mention that he gets a big cut of the sales for a “free” summit that costs $197 as he promotes his anti-vaccine lecture.

Many of these folks also get money by:

  • selling anti-vaccine books, e-books, videos, seminars, and movies
  • getting paid to speak at anti-vaccine conferences and summits, often for chiropractors or folks like Gwyneth Paltrow, pushing her GOOP
  • selling supplements and vitamins in a “wellness” store, either online or in their offices, that they claim can detox you from vaccines, protect you from toxins, and even prevent autism
  • ads on their websites and Facebook pages
  • appearing as “experts” in court, as they push the idea that everything is a vaccine injury
  • soliciting donations

Those who are health care providers can also establish integrative or holistic medical practices that don’t accept insurance and only see patients that can pay cash. In addition to selling supplements, these providers offer unproven and disproven alternative therapies, like homeopathy, integrative testing, IV therapy, and cranio-sacral therapy.

Does your holistic pediatrician accept insurance?
Does your holistic pediatrician accept insurance?

But only if you have plenty of cash handy.

Kelly Brogan, MD, for example, who believes in a paleo approach to vaccines and thinks we should co-exist with viruses and bacteria, charges up to $4,497 for your first appointment! But if that’s too much for you, for only $997, you can start living a “happy, healthier life” with her 44 day online program.

“We coexist with bacteria and viruses to a level of enmeshment that makes the perception of ‘vaccine-preventable infections’ a laughable notion.”

Kelly Brogan, MD on Where do Vaccines Fit into a Paleo Lifestyle?

And now, some doctors are even making money by selling vaccine exemptions!

Oliver argued that Sears likes to have it both ways, seeming to support science-based medicine while once in a while saying things like “vaccines don’t cause autism except when they do.”

The line inspired Oliver to fire back with this: “Don’t worry, opportunist quacks writing books that fan the flames of people’s unfounded fears don’t cause a legitimate public health hazard, except when they do.”

John Oliver takes a shot at the anti-vaccine movement and the ‘opportunistic quacks’ behind it

Mostly they just sell fear though.

But that’s all they need to get their foot in the door and keep some parents from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

What to Know About the Money and Motivation of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Although they cry Big Pharma at the drop of a hat, it should be clear that folks in the anti-vaccine movement are often motivated by money.

More on the Money and Motivation of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Those Times Alternative Medicine Got It Wrong

Anti-vaccine folks like to use the fallacy that they don’t vaccinate their kids because sometimes science and doctors have been wrong in the past.

They instead turn to alternative medicine when their kids get sick and for their preventative care.

Those Times Alternative Medicine Got It Wrong

While it is true that science gets it wrong sometimes, these people seem to fail to consider that alternative medicine does too.

“…there’s no such thing as conventional or alternative or complementary or integrative or holistic medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t. And the best way to sort it out is by carefully evaluating scientific studies – not by visiting Internet chat rooms, reading magazine articles, or talking to friends.”

Paul Offit, MD on Do You Believe in Magic

More than that, they hardly ever get it right.

Remember the teen with osteosarcoma who died after he was treated with shark cartilage instead of chemotherapy?
Remember the teen with osteosarcoma who died after he was treated with shark cartilage instead of chemotherapy?

Need some examples?

  • Ayurvedic treatments can be contaminated with toxic metals
  • biomed treatments for autism – from restrictive diets and chelation to coffee and bleach enemas, these “cures” and treatments have not been shown to be safe, are sometimes known to be dangerous, and don’t even work
  • Cannabis Oil for kids with cancer – while marijuana-derived products might help some medical conditions, it doesn’t cure cancer
  • chiropractic neck manipulation of newborns and infants has no benefits and has caused deaths
  • chronic Lyme disease is not a recognized condition in modern medicine, but that doesn’t keep some ‘Lyme literate’ practitioners from recommending and charging patients for all sorts of unnecessary and sometimes harmful “treatments”
  • faith healing is still allowing children to die of very treatable conditions, from diabetes and appendicitis to common infections and premature babies
  • Gerson protocol – often discussed with other forms of cancer quackery this “radical nutritional program combined with purges (particularly coffee enemas)” is believed by some to cure cancer – it doesn’t
  • HIV denialism – yes, this is a thing, and tragically took the life of Christine Maggiore, her daughter, and many others who eventually died of AIDS
  • homemade baby formula – notorious for leaving out important nutrients, from iron vitamin D to enough calories for a growing baby
  • Hoxsey treatment – a natural treatment for cancer that has been around since the 1950s and has never been shown to work, except in people who never actually had cancer
  • laetrile for cancer – in the late-1970s, kids with treatable forms of cancer had parents who were convinced that this latest fad cure was better. It wasn’t.
  • naturopathy – although mostly looked at as a holistic alternative to other providers, some of these treatments include vitamin injections, hydrogen peroxide injections, and alternative cancer therapies
  • shark cartilage – this was the fad cancer cure in the 1990s that was killing kids who’s parents sought alternative cancer treatments. It didn’t work.

What’s the harm with these treatments?

Many, like Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Reiki, and Reflexology, etc., aren’t necessarily dangerous on their own. In fact, most don’t do anything at all, but they can lead people away from real treatments. And that essentially leaves people untreated.

Getting a fake treatment might not be a big deal when it is a condition that can go away on its own, like when Angelina Jolie talked about getting acupuncture when she had Bell’s Palsy, but it often leads to disastrous consequences when a life-threatening condition goes untreated.

Many people who push these alternative “treatments” often also recommend against standard treatments, like vitamin K shots for newborns, RhoGAM shots for their moms, and vaccines.

Those Times Anti-Vaccine Experts Got It Wrong

It shouldn’t be surprising that many of the folks who think that vaccines are dangerous, aren’t necessary, or that they don’t even work also believe in holistic or alternative treatments.

It also shouldn’t be surprising that they are also wrong a lot:

  • Meryl Dorey – equates vaccination with rape, something many of her followers aren’t even comfortable with
  • Mark and David Geier – this father and son pair are infamous for pushing a chemical castration treatment (Lupron) for autistic children, a treatment that led to Mark Geier losing his medical license (he’s a geneticist) in several states.
  • Jay Gordon, MD – once made the comment that “Heaven help us if we have a generation of kids who get a hepatitis B vaccine and a HPV vaccine and they think that now unprotected sex is okay…” Not surprisingly, studies have found that this doesn’t happen. In fact, teen pregnancy rates are at their lowest levels ever.
  • Suzanne Humphries, MD – a nephrologist who became a homeopath and now pushes anti-vaccine talking points, believes that vaccines don’t work and that polio never really disappeared, and that we don’t “see it anymore” because we changed its name to acute flaccid paralysis.
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr – continues to push the idea that thimerosal in vaccines is causing an autism epidemic.
  • Neil Z. Miller – a psychologist who has written many anti-vax books, gives lectures at chiropractic associations, and published his daughter’s book, Ambassadors Between Worlds, Intergalactic Gateway to a New Earth, which describes how they are both able to talk to intergalatic beings because she has been doing it for multiple lifetimes. No word yet if folks from the Pleiadians vaccinate their kids…
  • Tetyana Obukhanych, MD – the Harvard trained immunologist who believes that Immunology has no theoretical or evidence-based explanation for immunity.
  • Viera Scheibner – the micropaleontologist who thinks that getting a vaccine-preventable disease is good for kids, that vaccines are contaminated with amoebas, and that they cause SIDS and shaken baby syndrome
  • Bob Sears, MD – infamous for his alternative vaccine schedule that was never tested for safety or efficacy, he and now rallies folks against California’s new vaccine law
  • Stephanie Seneff – the MIT doctor (she has a doctorate in electrical engineering) who thinks that half of kids will have autism in eight years and that glyphosate causes everything from autism to school shootings and terrorist bombings.
  • Yehuda Shoenfeld, MD – an immunologist who heads the Zabludowicz Center for Autoimmune Diseases and is on the scientific advisory board for the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute. He is the latest to blame adjuvants for causing disease – his Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants (ASIA), which is often described as being a “basically a made-up syndrome that isn’t generally accepted.”
  • Sherri Tenpenny, DO – described as an anti-vax “expert” whose advise is “chock full of vaccine pseudoscience.” Once board certified in emergency medicine, Dr. Tenpenny now sells DVDs and supplements on her website, speaks at chiropractic health events, and provides holistic medical care. In a rant about freedom of choice in vaccination, she talks about General Robert E. Lee, Southern war hero and postwar icon of the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy,” the extinction of humanity, and about slavery and eight veils that must be pierced if you want to see what is really going on in the world – that the Illuninati and other secret organizations control us and that they are being controlled by time traveling dragons, lizards, and aliens.
  • Tim O’Shea, DC – a chiropractor, he speaks at anti-vax conferences and wrote an anti-vaccination book called The Sanctity of Human Blood: Vaccination is not Immunization. Dr. O’Shea does not believe that germs make us sick (germ theory denialism), thinks that vaccines cause peanut allergies, and he sells supplements and seminars.
  • Kelly Brogan, MD – a holistic psychiatric who recommends that patients wean off their prescribed medications and has talked about HIV denialism.
  • Erin Elizabeth – is pushing the idea that holistic practitioners are being murdered

And of course there is Andrew Wakefield – his scandal and MMR-autism fraud is well known.

Are these folks ever right?

Only if you buy into their anti-vaccine talking points.

What to Know About When Alternative Medicine Was Wrong

Alternative medicine is rarely right, and that can have life-threatening consequences when it leads folks to reject traditional treatments when they are really sick.

More on When Alternative Medicine Was Wrong

Anti-Vaccine Websites

Anti-vaccine websites are usually easy to spot.

They are typically filled with vaccine injury stories and articles about how vaccines are filled with poison (they aren’t), don’t really work (they do), and aren’t even needed (they certainly are).

And many will try to sell you fake vaccine detox kits and autism cures at the same time they are making you terrified about vaccines.

Anti-Vaccine Websites

All of the organizations that help autistic people agree that there is no association between vaccines and autism.
Most of these sites continue to push the idea that vaccines are connected to autism, even though all studies, and all major autism associations that actually help autistic kids say they aren’t.

Tragically, the pseudo-scientific arguments on many anti-vaccine websites can sometimes be persuasive, especially if you don’t understand that they are mostly the same old arguments that the anti-vaccine movement has been using for over 200 years to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Sites that are considered anti-vaccine by most people and that push propaganda and myths include:

  • Age of Autism
  • Child Health Safety (The facts about vaccine safety your government wont give you)
  • The Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute
  • Collective Evolution
  • Cure Zone (educating instead of medicating)
  • David Avocado Wolfe
  • Fearless Parent
  • Focus for Health
  • GreenMedInfo (the science of natural healing)
  • The Healthy Home Economist
  • Immunity Education Group
  • Immunity Resource Foundation
  • InfoWars
  • International Medical Council on Vaccination
  • Kelly Brogan, MD
  • Lew Rockwell
  • Living Whole
  • Mercola
  • Modern Alternative Mama
  • Moms Across America
  • National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC)
  • Natural News
  • Medical Academy of Pediatric Specials Needs
  • Physicians for Informed Consent
  • safeMinds
  • SaneVax
  • Talk About Curing Autism (TACA)
  • The Thinking Moms’ Revolution
  • Thinktwice Global Vaccine Institute
  • Vaccination Information Network
  • Vaccination Liberation
  • Vaccine Awareness Network
  • Vactruth
  • Vaxxter
  • Weston A. Price Foundation
  • WHALE
  • World Mercury Project

If you were influenced about vaccines from one or more of these websites, consider doing a little more research.

Get educated and understand that vaccines are safe and necessary, with few risks and many benefits. Learn to think critically, be more skeptical about the things you see and read about vaccines, and overcome your biases.

What to Know About Anti-Vaccine Websites

Anti-vaccine websites use misinformation about vaccines, pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, propaganda, and a lot of fear to scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids.

More on Anti-Vaccine Websites

We Don’t Know How To Talk About Vaccines

There is a dirty little secret about vaccines that people don’t seem to like to talk about.

No, it’s not about toxins or autism.

“Our systematic review did not reveal any convincing evidence on effective interventions to address parental vaccine hesitancy and refusal. We found a large number of studies that evaluated interventions for increasing immunization coverage rates such as the use of reminder/recall systems, parent, community-wide, and provider-based education and incentives as well as the effect of government and school immunization policies.

However, very few intervention studies measured outcomes linked to vaccine refusal such as vaccination rates in refusing parents, intent to vaccinate, or change in attitudes toward vaccines.

Most of the studies included in the analysis were observational studies that were either under-powered or provided indirect evidence.”

Sadaf et al on A systematic review of interventions for reducing parental vaccine refusal and vaccine hesitancy

It’s that we don’t really know how to talk about vaccines to vaccine hesitant parents, at least not in a way that we know will consistently get them to vaccinate and protect their kids.

Understanding Studies About Vaccine Hesitancy

Sure, a lot of studies have been done about talking to vaccine hesitant parents.

We have all seen the headlines:

  • Study: You Can’t Change an Anti-Vaxxer’s Mind
  • Pro-vaccine messages can boost belief in MMR myths, study shows
  • UWA study shows attacking alternative medicines is not the answer to get parents to vaccinate kids
  • Training Doctors To Talk About Vaccines Fails To Sway Parents

Does that mean that you shouldn’t try to talk to vaccine hesitant parents?

Of course not.

“How providers initiate and pursue vaccine recommendations is associated with parental vaccine acceptance.”

Opel et al on The Architecture of Provider-Parent Vaccine Discussions at Health Supervision Visits

Just understand that these headlines are usually about small studies, which if they were about treating a child with asthma or strep throat,  likely wouldn’t change how you do things.

Why do anti-vaccine websites still post misinformation about fake recommendations to stop breastfeeding?
Why do people continue to believe misinformation about fake recommendations to stop breastfeeding?

In one study that concluded that “physician-targeted communication intervention did not reduce maternal vaccine hesitancy or improve physician self-efficacy,” the physicians got a total of 45 minutes of training!

So they shouldn’t have so much influence about how you might talk to parents about vaccines that you throw up your hands at the thought of talking to a vaccine hesitant parent and won’t even think about learning how to use the CASE method, why presumptive language might work, or about vaccination-focused motivational interviewing techniques.

The bottom line is that no matter what the headlines say, we just haven’t found the best way to talk to vaccine-hesitant parents and help them overcome their cognitive biases. And until more studies are done, none of the existing studies about anti-vaccine myth-busting should likely overly influence how you do things.

“Physicians should aim for both parental satisfaction and a positive decision to vaccinate. Researchers must continue to develop conceptually clear, evidence-informed, and practically implementable approaches to parental vaccine hesitancy, and agencies need to commit to supporting the evidence base. Billions of dollars fund the research and development of vaccines to ensure their efficacy and safety. There needs to be a proportional commitment to the “R&D” of vaccine acceptance because vaccines are only effective if people willingly take them up.”

Leask et al on Physician Communication With Vaccine-Hesitant Parents: The Start, Not the End, of the Story

If you spend any time talking to vaccine hesitant parents, especially those who are on the fence, you quickly learn that many are eager to get good information about vaccines and all want to do what is best for their kids.

It’s just hard for many of them to do what is best when their decisions are getting influenced by vaccine scare videos and many of the 100s of myths about vaccines that are out there.

“…while the drivers of vaccine hesitancy are well documented, effective intervention strategies for addressing the issue are sorely lacking. Here, we argue that this may be because existing strategies have been guided more by intuition than by insights from psychology and by the erroneous assumption that humans act rationally.”

Rossen et al on Going with the Grain of Cognition: Applying Insights from Psychology to Build Support for Childhood Vaccination

So while we need more studies on the best ways to talk to vaccine hesitant parents, don’t dismiss all of the ways that might be effective, such as:

It is also important to become familiar with the myths and anti-vaccine talking points that may be scaring your patients away from getting vaccinated on time.

Why is this important?

If a parent is concerned about glyphosate, you might not sound too convincing telling them not to worry if you don’t even know what glyphosate is.

What to Know About Vaccine Hesitancy Studies

While we learn better ways to talk about vaccines, so that vaccine-hesitant parents can more easily understand that vaccines are safe and necessary, don’t dismiss current strategies because of small studies and attention grabbing headlines.

More on Vaccine Hesitancy Studies

 

100 Myths About Vaccines

Are there really 100 myths about vaccines that folks push to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids?

To make a long story short - flu vaccines don't contain a vaginal spermicide.
That flu vaccines contain a vaginal spermicide is a new myth being pushed by anti-vaccine folks.

Let’s see…

Actually, when you start to think about it, there are hundreds, as the modern anti-vaccine movement moves the goalposts and continuously comes up with new anti-vaccine talking points.

100 Myths About Vaccines

  1. My intentionally unvaccinated kids don’t put your kids at risk. – Of course they do, because some kids are too young to be vaccinated or fully vaccinated, some kids can’t be vaccinated, including those with immune system problems, and vaccines don’t work 100% of the time.
  2. Vaccines do cause autism. It’s the MMR vaccine. – Of all the competing theories of how vaccines are associated with autism (even though they aren’t), Wakefield‘s theory that it is the combined MMR vaccine was the first.
  3. Recently vaccinated kids shed virus for weeks or months and can infect unvaccinated kids. – While shedding is real for some live vaccines, like oral polio and rotavirus, it is rarely a problem.
  4. Vaccines don’t even work. – While some folks are worried about risks and side effects, others don’t even believe that vaccines work – ever. That’s understandable though, as it explains how they deal with the cognitive dissonance of leaving their kids unprotected from potentially life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases. So instead of vaccines eradicating or controlling diseases, they come up with theories about improved sanitation and better nutrition doing all of the work. But of course, we know that vaccines work.
  5. It’s good to get measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases. – While some people think that getting measles and polio was once a welcome rite of passage for kids, they seem to forget that vaccine-preventable diseases are life-threatening and can leave survivors with serious disabilities.
  6. The shingles vaccine causes shingles. – The shingles vaccine won’t cause you to develop shingles, but if you got it and never had chicken pox, then like the chicken pox vaccine, it is thought that the shingles vaccine could theoretically cause a latent infection that reactivates = shingles.
  7. Vaccines do cause autism. It’s thimerosal. – Vaccines are not associated with autism.
  8. Getting too many vaccines too soon can overwhelm an infant’s immature immune system. Not true. Considering all of the germs that they are challenged with on a daily basis, it is easy to see that an infant’s immune system can handle all of the vaccines on the immunization and much more.
  9. Package inserts for vaccines admit that they cause autism. – While Tripedia, a DTaP vaccine that was discontinued in 2011, did list autism in the adverse reactions section part of the package insert, it also stated that “it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequencies or to establish a causal relationship.”
  10. Vaccines aren’t safe because the package insert says that they aren’t evaluated for mutagenicity, carcinogenicity and impairment of fertility. – All necessary pre-clinical or nonclinical testing is done on vaccines and their components.
  11. Big Pharma, or the pharmaceutical industry, is the one making all of the decisions about vaccines, including what goes in them, when you should get them, and deciding if they are really safe. – Of course there is no world-wide conspiracy about vaccines led by the pharmaceutical industry that involves doctors, health departments, the CDC, and the WHO, etc.
  12. Vaccines still contain mercury. The Kennedy Vaccine Gambit
  13. Antifreeze is a toxic ingredient in vaccines. – Antifreeze (ethylene glycol) is not, and has never been an ingredient in vaccines. Some vaccines do contain a similar sounding ingredient, 2-phenoxyethanol, but it isn’t antifreeze. Saying that some vaccines contain an ingredient that sounds like antifreeze isn’t as scary though.
  14. Alternative immunization schedules are better. The Bob Sears Snare
  15. Vaccines contain aborted fetal tissue. – While some vaccines are made with fetal embryo fibroblast cells from cell lines that are derived (the original cells have been copied over and over again) from two electively terminated pregnancies in the 1960s, the cells are removed from the final vaccine and no aborted fetal tissue is in any vaccine.
  16. Many people don’t vaccinate. – There is a very vocal minority of people who do their best to push misinformation and conspiracy theories about vaccines and vaccine dangers, but except for pockets of susceptibles and clusters of unvaccinated kids and adults, most people are vaccinated.
  17. The CDC says that you should stop breastfeeding to boost vaccine efficacy. – They have never said that. Neither has the WHO or any other group of experts. This myth about breastfeeding relates to a study done that suggested that delaying breastfeeding for an hour after getting the rotavirus vaccine might help it work better in developing countries.
  18. Vaccines aren’t tested. – Vaccines are well tested for both safety and efficacy before they are approved and are added to the immunization schedule.
  19. Herd immunity isn’t real. – Understanding just how wrong anti-vaccine folks are about herd immunity will help you go a long way towards understanding how they get most things about vaccines wrong. Herd immunity from vaccines is real.
  20. Vaccines are contaminated with brain-eating ameobas. – Viera Scheibner is a micropaleontologist who claims that that it is ‘well-established’ that vaccines are contaminated with amoebas. They aren’t.
  21. I have a link arsenal from Pubmed that show vaccines are dangerous. – PubMed is simply an index of articles in medical journals. Any medical journals, even they predatory, pay to publish medical journals. Being in Pubmed doesn’t mean that it is a good study. And cherry picking articles and abstracts from Pubmed doesn’t mean that you have done your research about vaccines or that you have found any proof that vaccines aren’t safe. It probably just means that you need to do a little more research.
  22. The vaccine schedule has ballooned since 1983 and kids now get too many shots! – While the vaccine schedule has certainly grown over time, that is simply because kids today are protected from many more diseases. While kids got fewer vaccines in 1983, that was also the pre-vaccine era for Hib, hepatitis B, pneumococcal disease, meningococcal disease, rotavirus, hepatitis A, HPV, and chicken pox, etc.
  23. Package inserts for vaccines admit that they cause SIDS. – Tripedia, a DTaP vaccine that was discontinued in 2011, does list SIDS in the adverse reactions section part of the package insert, but also states that “it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequencies or to establish a causal relationship.”
  24. The US has higher infant mortality rates than other industrialized countries because we give more vaccines. – Higher infant mortality rate in the US than some other industrialized countries are thought to be because we use different methods to calculate the infant mortality rate. They are also at the lowest level ever.
  25. MSG is a toxic ingredient in vaccines. – MSG is an ingredient in some vaccines, but it is safe and not toxic.
  26. Since adults don’t get vaccines or boosters, there can’t be herd immunity. – Most adults either already have natural immunity or have already been vaccinated, so this isn’t true. There are actually very few booster shots that adults need, but seniors do need a few extra vaccines.
  27. Sick people can just stay home, so it doesn’t matter if they are vaccinated. – That’s kind of how quarantines work, but the main problem with this theory is that with many diseases, including some that are the most contagious, you can actually be contagious even before you show symptoms and you know you are sick. That’s why they often talk about people being at school, on the train, shopping at Walmart, or even at the beach when they have measles and have exposed others in an outbreak.
  28. The media just scares people about outbreaks. – The media, with their vaccine scare stories, did once influence a lot of parents about vaccines, but it was more to make them afraid to get their kids vaccinated and protected. Alerting people of an outbreak in their area isn’t a scare tactic or hype. It is one of the ways to help control outbreaks, so that folks know when a disease is present in their community.
  29. Vaccinations are not immunizations. – While kind of catchy, like other anti-vaccine slogans, it is meaningless. Vaccines work.
  30. There is no Pharma liability. You can’t sue if a child is injured by a vaccine. – You can sue, you just have to go through Vaccine Court first.
  31. Many religions are against vaccines. – Very few religions actually object to immunizations, which makes it very surprising how many folks get religious vaccine exemptions.
  32. Measles and other vaccine preventable diseases aren’t that serious anymore. – They, of course, can still be life-threatening, even in this day of modern medicine.
  33. Over 99% of vaccine side effects from vaccines are not reported by doctors to VAERS. – That’s not really true. Although most common side effects probably are underreported, more moderate and serious side effects are reported. For example, one study found that while a rash after measles, a known mild, side effect, was not commonly reported, vaccine-associated polio was often reported to VAERS. It is also imported to keep in mind that VAERS isn’t the only way that the safety of vaccines is monitored.
  34. Many experts are against vaccines. – The so-called experts of the anti-vaccine movement are mostly doctors who are practicing way out of their field of expertise, including many who are not medical doctors, or whose ideas are not supported by the great majority of real experts on vaccines, infectious disease, and immunology.
  35. Vaccinated kids cause most outbreaks. – Not true. Although vaccines don’t always work 100% of the time and so vaccinated kids sometimes get caught up in outbreaks, they are not the cause of most outbreaks.
  36. Infants have an immature immune system and are too young to be vaccinated. – Not true. Although a baby’s immune system is immature, as compared to older kids and adults, vaccines work well to help protect them as their immune system continues to develop and mature.
  37. Vaccines cause shaken baby syndrome. – Vaccines do not cause shaken baby syndrome.
  38. The chicken pox vaccine has caused an epidemic of shingles. – Not true. It has been shown that the rise in shingles cases started before we started routinely giving chicken pox vaccines, did not continue to increase after we started routinely giving chicken pox vaccines, and also increased in countries that don’t give the chicken pox vaccines.
  39. The United States gives more vaccines than any other country. – While there would be nothing wrong with that, as it would mean we were protecting our kids from more vaccine-preventable diseases, if you take any time to look at the immunization schedules from other countries, you can see it isn’t true.
  40. Pediatricians can get up to $3 million in bonuses for vaccinating kids. – Pediatricians are not getting big bonuses, bribes, or kickbacks to vaccinate kids.
  41. Glyphosate is contaminating our vaccines and will help make 50% kids autistic by 2025. – Glyphosate is not in vaccines and Stephanie Seneff‘s theory that 1/2 of kids will be autistic in 8 years doesn’t make much sense either.
  42. Formaldehyde is a toxic ingredient in vaccines. – While formaldehyde is an ingredient in vaccines, it is also naturally found in all of our bodies and in some foods. The formaldehyde in vaccines is not toxic.
  43. Vaccines aren’t tested together. – Yes, they are. Pediarix (combo vaccine with DTaP, hepB, and IPV) was tested with Hib and Prevnar and the hepatitis A vaccine was tested together with DTaP, IPV, Hib, and hepatitis B. Most vaccination combinations have been tested together, including the flu shot.
  44. I’m not anti-vaccine, I’m pro-safe vaccine. – You can call yourself whatever you want, either pro-safe vaccine or pro-vaccine choice, but if you push anti-vaccine propaganda, then you are anti-vaccine.
  45. It can be safer to wait to get vaccinated. The Jay Gordon Maneuver
  46. $3.5 billion in vaccine court payouts prove that vaccine injuries are real. – No one says that vaccines are 100% safe or that vaccine injuries aren’t real. It is also important to keep in mind that the $3.5 billion in vaccine court payouts have been since 1988, during which billions of doses of vaccines have been given.
  47. Vaccines cause resistance in viruses and bacteria. – Not true. Vaccines are not causing an increase in vaccine-resistant bacteria or viruses and can actually help us fight the growing problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  48. Unvaccinated kids are healthier. – A large study has shown that unvaccinated kids are not healthier than those who are vaccinated, they just get more vaccine-preventable diseases.
  49. People never used to worry about measles. – A Brady Bunch episode about measles doesn’t mean that people weren’t worried about measles in the old days. There are plenty of newspaper headlines describing how measles epidemic once closed entire school districts for weeks at a time. When a measles epidemic hit New York City in 1951, a headline on the front page of the New York Times read “City in Grip of Measles Epidemic; Unusually Severe Siege Forecast.” And remember when Lassie had to save Timmy when he had measles? Sounds like they were worried…
  50. Epigenetics explains many vaccine injuries. – No, it doesn’t.
  51. The one-size-fits-all immunization schedule makes kids sick. – Vaccines are not given using any kind of one-size-fits-all policy. Flexibility of when some vaccines can be given and the existence of contraindications and medical exemptions make that clear to most people.
  52. Herd immunity doesn’t apply to vaccines. – Uh. Yes it does.
  53. Doctors don’t learn anything about vaccines. – Doctors learn a lot about vaccines and vaccine-preventable disease. What they do need to learn more about are the latest anti-vaccine talking points, so that they can readily address your concerns about vaccines and things that you might have read or heard that have scared you about vaccines.
  54. The American Academy of Pediatrics “recommends that parents use the availability of HPV vaccines to usher in a discussion on human sexuality in a way consistent with their culture and values at a time when they determine their child is ready to receive that information.” It’s a fringe group of pediatricians, the American College of Pediatricians who said this, not the AAP, who recommends that all kids get vaccinated and protected with the HPV vaccines.
  55. Vaccines are made for adults, not kids. – Vaccines are made for both kids and adults. Some vaccines even have different formulations for kids than for adults, including hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and flu shots, etc. And think about how the DTaP (kids) and Tdap (teens and adults) shots are different, but protect against the same diseases. But vaccines work locally, where the shot was given, which is why it doesn’t really matter that kids or adults of different sizes get the same dose.
  56. The HPV vaccine just encourages kids to have sex. – Studies have confirmed that HPV vaccines are safe and they don’t encourage kids to unprotected sex, one of many HPV vaccine myths.
  57. Aluminum replaced thimerosal as the latest toxic ingredient in vaccines. – Aluminum in vaccines is not toxic and as an adjuvant, it did not replace the thimerosal, a preservative, in any vaccines.
  58. Hepatitis B is a STD vaccine, so newborn babies don’t need it. – Tragically, many infants still get perinatal hepatitis B infections because of missed opportunities to get vaccinated and when they are exposed in non-high risk situations. Don’t skip your baby’s hepatitis B shot.
  59. Correlation equals causation. – Many people think that their child is vaccine injured because they showed symptoms right around the time they received a vaccine. They correlate getting the vaccine with causing the vaccine injury. The correct phrase isn’t correlation equals causation though, it is “correlation does not imply causation. Just because two things seem to be related by time doesn’t mean that one caused the other.
  60. SV40 contamination of vaccines causes cancer. – While the SV40 virus did contaminate some early vaccines, it has been shown that this contamination did not cause cancer.
  61. Dr. Julie Gerberding, the first woman to lead the CDC, admitted that vaccines cause autism during an interview with Sanjay Gupta on CNN. – While discussing the Hannah Polling decision, Dr. Julie Gerberding did not say that vaccines can cause autism. She even went out of her way to mention all of the studies that “have concluded that there really is no association between vaccines and autism.”
  62. Vaccines don’t work to get rid of any diseases. They just make the diseases disappear by changing their names. – This has to be one of the silliest myths about vaccines. Yes, some folks believe that smallpox wasn’t eradicated. It was instead renamed to monkeypox. Polio became acute flaccid paralysis. And measles became roseola. Of course, that didn’t happen because vaccines do work.
  63. The first deaf Miss America suffered a vaccine injury. – Not true. While they initially blamed her being deaf on the DTP vaccine, it turns out that she had a reaction to the antibiotic Gentamycin that she was receiving for a Hib infection, a now vaccine-preventable disease.
  64. Diane Harper was a lead researcher for the HPV vaccine who came out against the HPV vaccines. – Diane Harper‘s comments about the HPV vaccine have been overblown and mischaracterized. She supports the HPV vaccines and believes that they are safe.
  65. Vaccines don’t work against pertactin-negative pertussis bacteria. – While we are finding more pertactin-negative pertussis bacteria, this doesn’t seem to be why we are seeing more pertussis or whooping cough. Pertussis vaccines work against other components of the pertussis bacteria besides pertactin and pertussis vaccines continue to be effective against pertactin-negative Bordetella pertussis bacteria.
  66. There are graphs and charts that prove that vaccines didn’t save us and that vaccines don’t work – Those mortality graphs are pure propaganda and do not show how cases of vaccine preventable diseases (morbidity) were not affected by overall improvements in mortality rates in the early 20th century (a lot of people still got sick even as more of them survived) or how the effects of improved sanitation, nutrition, and health care peaked by the 1940s (for example, they use death rates instead of just absolute numbers of deaths to hide the fact that measles killed about 400 people each year in 1960).  Vaccines work.
  67. Johns Hopkins warns cancer patients to avoid children who were recently vaccinated. – They did once, but Johns Hopkins and other hospitals updated their instructions as new information became available. Hospitals no longer warn patients about restricting exposure to people who have recently been vaccinated.
  68. Andrew Wakefield was proven right. – Wakefield has not been proven right. Studies have never confirmed his findings. He is still not allowed to practice medicine in the UK.
  69. The shocking revelations of the CDC Whistleblower proves that vaccines cause autism. – What was supposed to be the biggest anti-vaccine conspiracy story of all time, the CDC Whistleblower, must have been the biggest let down for the anti-vaccine movement. He didn’t really blow the whistle on anything or anyone and didn’t even appear in Vaxxed, the CDC Whistleblower movie! While being secretly recorded, he basically complained about the way his coauthors of a study on vaccines and autism dealt with some data that he felt was statistically significant.
  70. The Leicester Method proves that good sanitation and quarantines – not the smallpox vaccine – eradicated smallpox. – In addition to quarantines, they used vaccines in Leicester. They just didn’t use universal vaccination. They used ring vaccination – making sure all of the contacts of the person with smallpox got a smallpox vaccine. The Leicester Method of dealing with smallpox does not support the idea that smallpox was eradicated solely with good sanitation and quarantining folks with smallpox.
  71. That vaccines have been legally called unavoidably unsafe means that they are dangerous. – Not true.
  72. Vaccinating a child is like taking a child out of their perfectly functioning carseat and strapping them into a seat with dental floss. – Actually, the proper analogy would be that vaccinating a child is like protecting them with an age appropriate car seat. Skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines is like driving them around without a car seat or seat belts, so that they are unprotected if you get in a car accident.
  73. The HPV vaccine isn’t safe, isn’t even necessary, and is probably the most dangerous vaccine every made. – Of course this is not true. Fortunately, more and more parents are coming to understand that the over-the-top anti-vaccine rhetoric about the HPV vaccine isn’t true. The HPV vaccines are safe and necessary and they work to prevent cancer.
  74. Parents are losing their choice about vaccines and are being forced to vaccinate their kids. – While slogans about choice are catchy, new vaccine laws and mandates do not force anyone to get vaccinated.
  75. Vaccines cause ADHD. – Yes, you can add ADHD to the long list of so-called vaccine-induced diseases, but like the others, it isn’t true. Vaccines do not cause ADHD.
  76. Polio epidemics were caused by spraying of the pesticide DDT. – The only connection between DDT and polio is that some folks were so scared of polio, that once an outbreak came to town, because they didn’t know what caused it yet, they sprayed with DDT thinking it might be spread by mosquitoes. So polio first and then DDT spraying.
  77. You should skip or delay vaccinating your premature baby. – Except in some situations when preterm babies weigh less than 2000g and mom is known to be hepatitis B negative, your preterm baby should be vaccinated according to the standard immunization schedule.
  78. There are no double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials for vaccines. – Placebos are used in many vaccine trials and there are many double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials for vaccines.
  79. Homeopathic vaccines are a safe and effective alternative to real vaccines. – While they might not cause many side effects, homeopathic vaccines or nosodes aren’t going to do much else either. They certainly aren’t going to protect your child from any vaccine-preventable diseases.
  80. You should follow a Paleo vaccine schedule. – Like other non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedules, the Paleo vaccine schedule is a made-up alternative to the standard immunization schedule and will leave your kids unprotected from vaccine-preventative diseases.
  81. People who are anti-vaccine don’t hurt autistic families. – While I’m sure they tell themselves that, in addition to pushing the idea that autistic kids are damaged by vaccines, there are many other ways that the anti-vaccine movement hurts autistic families.
  82. Vegans don’t vaccinate their kids. – While there are few vegan vaccines, most vegans do indeed vaccinate their kids.
  83. The measles vaccine doesn’t protect against all measles strains. – All currently used measles containing vaccines, including the MMR vaccine, do actually protect against all measles strains. There is only one main type of measles virus, despite the many small changes in the virus that can help us identify different strains and genotypes.
  84. There are over 100 vaccine/autism research papers that prove that vaccines cause autism. – No matter how high the count of research papers gets to, they still don’t support a link between vaccines and autism.
  85. The anti-vaccine movement is supported by science and research. – The beliefs of the anti-vaccine movement, from germ theory denialism to ideas about detoxing and chemtrails, are only supported by pseudoscience and conspiracy theories.
  86. A tetanus shot won’t help after you have already been cut, stabbed, or bitten. – Well, if you are fully vaccinated, you might not even need a tetanus shot after a cut, because you are already protected. If you are unvaccinated or if it has been more than 5 years since your last shot, a tetanus shot and tetanus immune globulin will indeed work to protect against tetanus spores germinating, growing and producing their exotoxin that produces the symptoms of tetanus.
  87. Vaccine immunity isn’t long lasting. – While that is true for some vaccines, vaccines do protect you during critical times, in most cases they do provide long lasting protection.
  88. Immigrants and refugees are spreading disease in the United States and are putting us at risk for a new pandemic disease outbreak. – Immigrants and refugees are not spreading disease in the United States.
  89. Parents have to pay the Vaccine Excise Tax to fund the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund. – The Vaccine Excise Tax is actually a tax that the U.S. Department of the Treasury collects from vaccine manufacturers.
  90. Pediatricians are just vaccine pushers. – If that were true, then how come pediatricians don’t push all of the FDA approved vaccines on kids, such as the adenovirus vaccine, BCG vaccine, typhoid vaccine, or yellow fever vaccine?
  91. Chiropractors aren’t anti-vaccine. – Maybe some aren’t, but most chiropractors seem to believe in germ theory denialism, push anti-vaccine talking points, and don’t vaccinate their own kids.
  92. There are 300 new vaccines in the pipeline. – While new vaccines are always being researched and developed, we are not getting 300 new vaccines anytime soon. At least 1/3 of those are therapeutic vaccines for cancer. And 1/4 are for the same four infectious diseases – HIV, flu, RSV, and Ebola. So no, we aren’t getting 300 new vaccines.
  93. Most celebrities don’t vaccinate their kids. – While anti-vaccine celebrities seem to make the news a lot, there are many celebrities who advocate for vaccines.
  94. Breastfeeding is better than vaccines at preventing infections. – While breastfeeding is great and has a lot of benefits, including providing some passive immunity, it won’t protect your child from most vaccine-preventable diseases. Breastmilk contains IgA antibodies, and not the IgG antibodies that vaccines trigger in our bodies and which do cross the placenta and protect our babies for a short time. Breastmilk can help protect a child against some viruses and bacteria that cause diarrhea and respiratory infections, but it is not better than vaccines at preventing vaccine-preventable diseases.
  95. Ingredients in vaccines are toxic because they are injected directly into a child’s bloodstream and aren’t ingested and filtered by the body’s natural defenses. – The ingested vs injected argument comes up a lot, but doesn’t make much sense. For one thing, vaccines aren’t injected into the bloodstream.
  96. I used Google University to research vaccines, just like other medical professionals use google to look up medical information. – While it is true that many medical professionals are likely turning to the internet more than textbooks when they need to look something up, they are often using online medical textbooks or other reputable sites. They aren’t cherry picking information from sites that simply confirm their biases against vaccines.
  97. Vaccines aren’t tested for use in pregnancy. – They are and pregnant women should get a seasonal flu vaccine and a Tdap vaccine each and every pregnancy.
  98. DNA in vaccines can cause autism. – While highly fragmented (mostly destroyed) DNA has been found in some vaccines, it can’t cause harm.
  99. The Amish don’t get autism. – The Amish do get autism. They also do vaccinate – sometimes. They also get vaccine-preventable diseases as we saw in the large Ohio measles outbreak of 2014.
  100. The flu shot contains a vaginal spermicide. – It doesn’t.

Get educated about vaccines so you don’t get taken in by any of these myths.

Vaccines work. Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are necessary.

More On Vaccine Myths

 

The 3 Components of Anti-Vaccine Propaganda

Can you recognize anti-vaccine propaganda?

This anti-vaccination caricature envelope was likely issued by the Anti-Vaccination Society in 1879.
This anti-vaccination caricature envelope was likely issued by the Anti-Vaccination Society in 1879.

Do you know how some folks scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids?

“Recognizing disingenuous claims made by the anti-vaccination movement is essential in order to critically evaluate the information and misinformation encountered online.”

Anna Kata Anti-vaccine activists, Web 2.0, and the postmodern paradigm – An overview of tactics and tropes used online by the anti-vaccination movement

No, it’s not just about saying vaccines are full of toxins and poison. The problem with that strategy, is that while parents would be afraid of vaccines, they would also still be afraid of their kids getting sick if they were intentionally not vaccinated and caught a vaccine-preventable disease.

John Birch (B) and the other anti-vaccine heroes of the day on their way to fight the vaccination monster.
Anti-vaccine propaganda hasn’t changed much since vaccines were depicted as a monster in the early 19th century.

How do they help reduce this cognitive dissonance?

That’s easy.

They make it sound like vaccine preventable diseases really aren’t that bad, which isn’t hard to do, since few people actually remember what they are like since vaccines work so well. In fact, they might even try and make you believe it is good to get these diseases.

Lastly, they push the idea that vaccines don’t even work. They even have graphs!

Throw in some a lot of vaccine injury stories, a few conspiracy theories about doctors and Big Pharma, some cherry picking of quotes and evidence, and maybe say something about package inserts,  and you have the basis for most anti-vaccine talking points.

So the basic idea (of anti-vaccine propaganda) is that you shouldn’t vaccinate your kids, but you also shouldn’t be concerned that you aren’t vaccinating your kids because vaccines don’t work anyway, and measles, polio, and smallpox, etc., are basically just a mini-vacation from school

Even mild smallpox, as depicted on this WHO Smallpox Recognition Card, included flu like symptoms, a few weeks of pustules, and then waiting for the lesions to scab over...
Even the mildest cases of smallpox (no other complications), as depicted on this WHO Smallpox Recognition Card, included flu like symptoms, a few weeks of pustules all over your body, and then a few more weeks of waiting for the lesions to scab over, which left you with pitted scars…

Think you can recognize anti-vaccine propaganda now?

The 3 Components of Anti-Vaccine Propaganda

Do you see how anti-vaccine propaganda works?

One or more of these three basic themes is repeated over and over again in most anti-vaccine arguments, posts, or stories:

  1. Make you think vaccines are dangerous by overstating the side effects and risks of getting vaccinated. And never mentioning any of the many benefits of vaccines.
  2. Make you think it’s no big deal to get measles or polio, by underestimating the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases and overstating the benefits of natural immunity over the protection you can get from vaccines. And never ever mention that the reason you aren’t likely to get polio is because most people are vaccinated (hiding in the herd strategy).
  3. Make you think that vaccines don’t even work. They even push the false idea that there are still big outbreaks of measles in China, that the smallpox vaccine didn’t eradicate smallpox, that herd immunity isn’t real, that DDT caused polio, and that vaccine-preventable diseases have never been controlled or eradicated – we just changed the names to something else. After seeing the smallpox photo above, do you really think that anyone would fail to recognize a kid with smallpox?

Don’t be fooled.

Get educated about vaccines.

What to Know About Anti-Vaccine Propaganda

Anti-vaccine groups use standard propaganda methods to manipulate folks into thinking that vaccines are dangerous and don’t work and that your child would be better off getting sick with a vaccine-preventable disease, like polio or measles.

More About Anti-Vaccine Propaganda