Tag: anti-vaccine movement

Who’s Who in the Anti-Vaccine Movement – 2019 Edition

We know that there will always be some folks who won’t vaccinate their kids.

“Although many may characterize all individuals who eschew vaccines as “anti-vaccine” or “vaccine deniers,” in reality, there is a broad spectrum of individuals who choose not to have themselves or their children vaccinated.”

Tara C Smith on Vaccine Rejection and Hesitancy: A Review and Call to Action 

Who are these people?

Who’s Who in the Anti-Vaccine Movement – 2019 Edition

We used to conveniently call them anti-vaccine, but that doesn’t really work.

Well, it still does, as long as you understand who you are talking about.

The thing is, the folks who don’t vaccinate their kids exist on a spectrum, from those who just need a little extra reassurance (the worrieds) or a lot of extra reassurance (parents who are on the fence or vaccine-hesitant), to vaccine refusers (will likely vaccinate during an outbreak, etc.) and deniers who likely aren’t vaccinating their kids in any circumstance and who might try to persuade others to avoid vaccines too – the vocal vaccine deniers.

So you don’t really want to bunch them all up one big anti-vaccine group, especially when you are typically talking about the vocal vaccine deniers, many of whom believe that they have a child who was injured or damaged by a vaccine.

We are still missing some folks though…

No, I’m not talking about those who like to claim that they are pro-safe vaccines, pro-choice vaccines, or vaccine skeptics, just because they don’t want to be labeled as being anti-vaccine.

Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment "Vaccines: A Bad Combination?"
Remember when Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment “Vaccines: A Bad Combination?”

We need to talk about the:

These are the folks who push misinformation about vaccines that scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Who's to blame for low immunization rates and continuing outbreaks?
Who’s to blame for low immunization rates and continuing outbreaks?

Do you know who I’m talking about it? Have you noticed that these folks never seem to face any consequences?

Who else do we need to talk about?

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

There are also the folks who are pushing an anti-science agenda, making you think that mainstream doctors are bad and that anything holistic and natural must be good. Until the damage these folks are doing is seriously addressed, it won’t matter if we get a few anti-vaccine folks off of Amazon, Facebook and Pinterest.

Learn to be more skeptical. Do real research. Vaccinate your kids.

More on Who’s Who in the Anti-Vaccine Movement – 2019 Edition

What Will House and Senate Lawmakers Do as They Investigate Measles Outbreaks?

In addition to an increased number of State Legislators looking at what they can do to stop the increasing number of outbreaks we have been seen each year, there is now news that House lawmakers will also see what they can do.

Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Oversight and Investigations Ranking Member Brett Guthrie (R-KY) announced today that the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the current measles outbreak and response efforts on Wednesday, February 27. More information on timing, location and witnesses will be announced next week.

“Measles is a highly contagious, life-threatening virus that was previously eliminated in the United States thanks to the success of the measles vaccine,” the four bipartisan Committee leaders said.

“Unfortunately, measles cases are on the rise as a consequence of the virus’s transmission among unvaccinated groups. The reemergence of vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, presents a serious public health threat, especially for those who rely on ‘herd immunity.’ We look forward to learning more from public health officials on addressing the current outbreak, efforts to prevent the disease’s spread, and strategies to support vaccination efforts,” Pallone, Walden, DeGette and Guthrie concluded.

E&C Bipartisan Leaders Announce Subcommittee Hearing on Measles Outbreak and Response Efforts on February 27

So happened at this entitled, Confronting a Growing Public Health Threat: Measles Outbreaks in the U.S.?

This meeting doesn't mean that the Federal government is stepping in to change vaccine laws.
This meeting doesn’t mean that the Federal government is stepping in to change vaccine laws.

We heard from several witnesses, including:

  • Nancy Messonnier, MD – Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD)
  • Anthony Fauci, MD – Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

And we will hopefully learn more in an upcoming Senate hearing, Vaccines Save Lives: What Is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?, when we will hear from:

  • John Wiesman, DrPH, MPH, Secretary of Health, WA
  • Saad B. Omer, MBBS, MPH, PhD, Emory University
  • Jonathan A. McCullers, MD, Univerity of Tennessee
  • John G. Boyle, President and CEO, Immune Deficiency Foundation
  • Ethan Lindenberger, Norwalk High School

How is the Federal government addressing the current outbreaks, what efforts they are taking to prevent the disease’s spread and what strategies they are making to support vaccination efforts?

“And, unfortunately, the anti-vax movement in certain segments of the population, certainly not generalized, is just growing, and it’s getting worse. And it’s based fundamentally on misinformation.

You don’t want to denigrate people who make those kinds of decisions and essentially attack them. That doesn’t work. You have got to understand they have these beliefs. And the way you try and get them to understand the importance of getting vaccinated is talk about the facts, talk about the evidence. Don’t attack them.”

Dr. Fauci on the PBS Newshour

Just as importantly, we will hopefully hear more ideas on how to address the misinformation about vaccines that scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

And what can be done about the alternative, non-evidence based practitioners that influence the decisions parents make about vaccines and other health care decisions.

More on Confronting Measles Outbreaks

Updated on March 3, 2019

The Fatal Flaw in the Anti-Vaccine Movement

There are a ton of flaws in the “logic” of the anti-vaccine movement.

Just consider how many theories they have for why vaccines are associated with autism…

  1. It’s the MMR vaccine – the Andrew Wakefield theory
  2. It’s thimerosal – but MMR never contained thimerosal…
  3. It’s glyphosate – the Stephanie Seneff theory
  4. It’s the vaccines you get while you are pregnant
  5. It’s the vaccines you get as an infant – but you don’t get MMR until you are 12 months old
  6. It’s the vaccines you get as a toddler – but what about the kids who get diagnosed as infants?
  7. It’s just something about vaccines – but what about the autistic kids who are unvaccinated and whose parents weren’t recently vaccinated?

It’s fairly easy to see that these folks just want to blame vaccines

The Fatal Flaw in the Anti-Vaccine Movement

That’s not necessarily the fatal flaw in the anti-vaccine movement though.

Is it that all of their ideas and theories are so easy to refute?

There are hundreds of these types of arguments that anti-vaccine folks use to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Of course, none are true.

That it only takes a few minutes of research to prove that they aren’t true isn’t the fatal flaw in the anti-vaccine movement though.

As more people are vaccinated and diseases disappear, they forget how bad those diseases are, skip or delay getting their vaccines, and trigger outbreaks.
As more people are vaccinated and diseases disappear, they forget how bad those diseases are, skip or delay getting their vaccines, and trigger outbreaks. Photo by WHO

The fatal flaw is that when enough folks listen to them and immunization rates drop, we get outbreaks.

“I also warn them not to share their fears with their neighbors, because if too many people avoid the MMR, we’ll likely see the diseases increase significantly.”

Dr. Bob Sears in The Vaccine Book

Ironically, Dr. Bob obviously knew this would happen, warning folks not to tell anyone – in his book that likely increased fears about vaccines!

Although Wakefield and others were factors, remember that Dr. Bob‘s book about vaccines was published in 2007…

And what happens once we start to see a lot more outbreaks?

In addition to a lot of unvaccinated kids getting sick, folks line up to get their kids vaccinated and protected.

Even Dr. Jay is advocating for older (I’m going to assume he means 6 months) unvaccinated children to get an MMR to help stop the outbreaks.

This is a cycle that experts have talked about for some time.

It’s the reason that the anti-vaccine movement, which has been around for hundreds of years, can never really win. They will never take us back to the pre-vaccine era.

Yes, a woman died when she got caught up in a 2015 measles outbreak in Washington.
Yes, a woman died when she got caught up in a 2015 measles outbreak in Washington.

Anytime their ideas take hold a little too much, nature fights back. Diseases, especially measles which is extremely contagious, come back. And we have to work to control the outbreaks.

But that more kids eventually get vaccinated in outbreaks isn’t the only fatal flaw in the anti-vaccine movement.

Tragically, the other fatal flaw in the anti-vaccine movement is that since these are life-threatening diseases, people end up dying from vaccine-preventable diseases. And the risk of that happening goes way up during a large outbreak.

Vaccines aren’t perfect, but they are safe, with few risks. They are also very necessary.

It shouldn’t take an outbreak to convince you to vaccinate your kids.

More on The Fatal Flaw in the Anti-Vaccine Movement

When You Ask for Vaccine Advice in an Anti-Vaccine Facebook Group…

Can you guess what happens when you ask for advice about vaccines in an anti-vaccine Facebook Group?

Meningitis is not a side effect of vaccines.

What could go wrong?

When You Ask for Vaccine Advice in an Anti-Vaccine Facebook Group…

While most of us are used to hearing about meningococcal meningitis being a big risk for teens and young adults, it is important to realize that rates of disease are also high for infants, with a second peak during adolescence.

The highest rates of meningococcal disease occurs during infancy and adolescence.

So why don’t we routinely vaccinate infants against meningococcal disease?

Many countries do, including Australia and the UK, and in the United States, high risk infants are vaccinated against meningococcal disease.

If you were on the fence but were advised by your paediatrician (Australian spelling) to get vaccinated and protected because a child in your town had just died, would you get vaccinated?

Or would you listen to folks in an anti-vaccine Facebook group who tried to convince you that meningitis was actually a side effect of getting vaccinated?

Folks who insist that deaths from vaccine-preventable disease aren’t real and that instead, they are actually vaccine-injuries?

We know what happens when you ask for vaccine advice in an anti-vaccine Facebook group. The members push their propaganda to scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids.

Don’t listen to them. Vaccines are safe and necessary.

More on When You Ask for Vaccine Advice in an Anti-Vaccine Facebook Group…

But Did Anyone Die?

Anti-vaccine folks don’t seem to like that they are getting more attention these days.

Why are they getting more attention?

More unvaccinated folks are getting sick.

But Did Anyone Die?

Is that really such a big deal though?

Hillary Simpson doesn't think measles outbreaks are a big deal because she doesn't think that anyone has died....
Hillary Simpson doesn’t think measles outbreaks are a big deal because she doesn’t think that anyone has died….

It’s not like anyone has died in all of these outbreaks, is it?

Actually, they have…

Most anti-vaccine folks conveniently seem to not be aware of her, but an immunocompromised woman died after she was exposed to measles during a 2015 outbreak in Clallam County, Washington.

“New details about the first confirmed measles death in the U.S. since 2003 show that the victim, a 28-year-old woman with underlying health problems, was likely exposed to the virus at a Port Angeles tribal health clinic.

Nearly three dozen other people also were potentially exposed to the highly contagious germ on Jan. 29, 2015, at the Lower Elwha Health Clinic by a 52-year-old man who became the first case of measles confirmed in Clallam County in two decades.”

Fatal measles case linked to exposure at tribal clinic, records show

So yes, someone did die during the recent measles outbreaks.

A 28-year-old woman died in Clallam County, Washington.

Not everyone is all better.

And during the 2013 measles outbreak in Brooklyn, a pregnant woman with measles was hospitalized and had a miscarriage.

But it isn’t just measles…

There are also deadly outbreaks of hepatitis A and as everyone knows, pediatric flu deaths are mostly in kids who are unvaccinated.

So, did anyone die?

Yes, tragically people have died because of the anti-vaccine movement.

And tragically, unless folks stop believing this kind of anti-vaccine propaganda and start vaccinating and protecting their kids, even more people will die unnecessarily.

More on Vaccine Preventable Disease Deaths

Seven New Year’s Vaccine Resolutions for 2019

If you’re making New Year’s resolutions, here’s one for the top of your list:

  1. I won’t complain about my kids being kept out of school during an outbreak, if I intentionally didn’t vaccinate them.

Yes, apparently that was a thing this past year…

Not surprisingly, parents lost their challenge to get their unvaccinated kids back into their Waldorf school during a chicken pox outbreak.
Not surprisingly, parents lost their challenge to get their unvaccinated kids back into their Waldorf school during a chicken pox outbreak.

It is an important reminder that there are consequences if you choose to not vaccine your kids.

In addition to the risk of getting a vaccine-preventable disease, the risk of getting a vaccine-preventable disease and getting someone else sick, there is the chance that your kids will be quarantined and kept out of daycare or school until the outbreak is over.

Six More New Year’s Vaccine Resolutions for 2019

Need some more?

  1. I will not travel out of the country without getting caught up on my vaccines. Remember, most outbreaks are started when an intentionally unvaccinated person travels out of the country, gets exposed to a vaccine-preventable disease, comes home while they are still in the incubation period and not showing symptoms, and then eventually get sick, exposing others.
  2. I won’t let a small, yet vocal anti-vaccine minority scare me into a poor decision about my child’s vaccines
  3. I will not lie to get a religious vaccine exemption. Is your religion really against vaccinating and protecting your child?
  4. I will avoid anti-vaccine echo chambers when doing my research about vaccines.
  5. I will learn about the cognitive biases that might me keeping me from vaccinating and protecting my kids.
  6. I will not repeat an anti-vaccine point that has already been refuted a thousand times.

Vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary.

This year, resolve to make the right choice and get your kids vaccinated and protected.

More on Seven New Year’s Vaccine Resolutions for 2019

How Are Australia’s New Vaccine Laws Working?

Have you heard about the No Jab, No Play / Pay laws in Australia?

Did Australia's new vaccine laws prompt anti-vaccine folks to put up these billboards that eventually got vandalized?
Did Australia’s new vaccine laws prompt anti-vaccine folks to put up these billboards that eventually got vandalized?

Unlike the No Pass, No Play rules that we have in Texas, in which kids can’t participate in extracurricular activities unless they pass all of their classes, No Jab, No Play / Pay has to do with getting kids vaccinated.

They were enacted in 2016 due to an increase in outbreaks of vaccine preventable disease, a rise in the spread of anti-vaccine misinformation, and more parents choosing to delay or skip their child’s vaccines. As in the United States, the real problem has been clusters of unvaccinated children in certain regions of the country, as the great majority of people in Australia vaccinate their kids.

How Are Australia’s New Vaccine Laws Working?

As expected, Australia’s new vaccine laws have been a success.

On the national level, No Jab, No Pay has meant that children need to be fully immunized “as a requirement for parents to be eligible to receive the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement, Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate.”

Five-year-olds in Victoria are now better protected against diseases prevented by vaccination than in any other state in Australia, new data shows.

Victoria Leads The Nation When It Comes To Vaccination Rates

But it is only in New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria that children need to be immunized to attend childcare – No Jab, No Play. Additionally, children need to be immunized to attend kindergarten in Queensland and Victoria.

An increase in vaccination rates, by 2 to 5%, has been seen nationwide though.

What about the idea that No Jab, No Play has lead to a drop in preschool enrollments?

KATHARINA GORKA, NON-VACCINATING PARENT: I don’t think it is fair, to be honest. It makes me feel like we are a bit excluded from society, yeah.
PETER MCCUTCHEON: Did you ever think, “I’ll get my son vaccinated so I get around this pre-school problem”?
KATHARINA GORKA: No, I never thought about that.
PETER MCCUTCHEON: Why not?
KATHARINA GORKA: Because I have a set opinion on vaccinations and that is not going to change.

Some pre-schools experience drop in enrolments over ‘no jab, no play’ policy

The law about attending daycare and kindergarten just came into effect in New South Wales, in 2018, but has been in effect since 2016 in Victoria.

We will have to wait a few more months for the 2018 numbers, but preschool enrollment in Victoria was way up after they instituted their strict vaccine requirements!

In Australia during 2017, 339,243 children aged 4 or 5 were enrolled in a preschool program, representing an increase of 2.6% on the previous year’s figure. The largest growth rates were in the Australian Capital Territory (6%) and Victoria (5%).

Australian Bureau of Statistics on Preschool Education, Australia, 2017

Maybe folks just don’t want to go to care centers that had been pandering to anti-vaccine parents

Still, some vaccine advocates don’t think that No Jab, No Play / Pay laws are a good idea for Australia. Many also don’t think that it is a good idea that some Australian doctors are starting to refuse to see unvaccinated children, a practice that seems to have been exported from the United States.

Others don’t see alternatives, as they feel that they have been trying for a long time to educate parents that vaccines are safe and necessary, and this is one of the few ways that can reliably improve vaccination rates.

More on Australia’s New Vaccine Laws