Tag: hiding in the herd

Is It Rational to Be Anti-Vaccine?

Why do some people think that they are making a rational decision when they skip or delay their children’s vaccines?

Are parents making a rational decision when they skip or delay their children's vaccines?
Are parents really making a rational decision when they skip or delay their children’s vaccines?

Is it because they “know” that they are right?

Or because others reinforce their beliefs?

Is It Rational to Be Anti-Vaccine?

Whatever the reason, we should be clear that skipping or delaying vaccines, leaving your child at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease and putting others at risk, is really not a rational decision.

“It is not the case, of course, that people make decisions about vaccination based solely on rational, evidenced-based, scientific perspectives.”

Timothy Caulfield et al on Injecting doubt: responding to the naturopathic anti-vaccination rhetoric

Instead, people often seem to skip or delay vaccines after fear helps a number of cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies take hold and change their perception of risk into something that is much different from reality. That fear is stoked by misinformation and propaganda they see on the Internet or hear from friends and family.

Or they become influenced by the idea that their child has been damaged or injured by a vaccine, even though in the great majority of cases, it has been shown that vaccines do not cause those problems.

“Well, if you’re going to inform yourself about vaccines, I think anybody who’s truly informed will realize that getting a vaccine is much better than not getting one. If you’re choosing not to vaccinate your child, it’s because you’re getting, frankly, bad information about vaccines.”

Paul Offit, MD

So call it what you want, but no, in general, it is not rational to be anti-vaccine, especially considering that:

Do you know what the biggest clue that it isn’t a rational decision in most cases?

Changing Your Mind About Vaccines

When a rational person is given new evidence or information that not only challenges their worldview, but blows it out of the water, what do they do?

They change their mind.

“It is irrational to hold any view so tightly that you aren’t willing to admit the possibility that you might be wrong.”

What would it take to convince you that you were wrong?

When do anti-vax folks change their minds?

“I don’t feel I’m putting my child at risk. There’s nothing that’s going to change my mind on this on that specific vaccination.”

More often than not, it is after one of their kids gets sick or there is a disease outbreak nearby.

Instead of changing their minds in the midst of disease outbreaks and immunization mandates, some parents decide to break the law

If you are not vaccinating and protecting your kids, what would it take to get you to change your mind about vaccines?

Do you need to see double blind placebo controlled studies, studies with saline placebos, studies with vaccines tested together, or long term safety studies?

Do you need to remind yourself what the pre-vaccine era was like? Or understand what will happen if too many people stop vaccinating their kids?

Don't wait until it's too late to vaccinate your child.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to vaccinate your child.

Whatever it takes, hopefully you don’t wait too long and regret your decision.

Of course, no one wants to intentionally harm their children. But you can’t do what’s right and make a rational decision if you are relying on bad information and advice.

More on the Idea of Rational Anti-Vaccine Beliefs

Bob Sears Was Right

Are you surprised that I think Bob Sears was right about something?

This quote about measles returning was eventually removed from the first edition of his vaccine book that was published in 2007.
This quote about measles returning was eventually removed from the first edition of his vaccine book that was published in 2007.

You shouldn’t be…

Bob Sears Was Right

Unfortunately, one of the few things he was right about is the only thing most folks didn’t seem to hear.

“With the growing mistrust of vaccinations in our country, more and more parents are saying no to vaccines. They’re refusing all vaccines altogether. And I think if more and more parents keep making those decisions, we’re going to run into a lot of trouble with these diseases. Illnesses that are very rare right now, that most parents don’t have to fear, could escalate and could start killing babies left and right if fewer and fewer parents are vaccinating.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

He repeatedly warned that measles and other diseases would come back if parents didn’t vaccinate their kids.

“As parents’ fears of vaccines grow, I think we may see fewer and fewer parents decide to vaccinate. And then we could see what used to be very rare illnesses become more common. We might see measles escalate. We might see diphtheria come back into the United States. God forbid, we might see polio come back. Then children are going to start dying. And then a lot of those parents that had chosen not to vaccinate might change their mind, and they might start vaccinating again, and then new parents might be more inclined to vaccinate their babies if we see these diseases come back.

Now, I hope and pray that doesn’t happen. I hope that we can maintain adequate herd immunity in our country so we don’t see these diseases return. But that worry of diseases coming back into our country, and the worry of diseases running rampant and killing a lot of babies, I don’t think that supersedes the parents’ basic right to choose what they want to do for their children. And if parents want to accept the disease risk because they don’t trust the vaccines, I think they have the right to make that choice.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

Were you surprised when they did?

“Why is it that every time there are a few cases of measles, everyone panics? I just don’t get it.”

Bob Sears

And predictably, folks like Sears have downplayed their return.

“This measles outbreak does not pose a great risk to a healthy child. And quite frankly I don’t think it poses any risk to a healthy child.”

Jay Gordon on Doctor explains why he lets kids avoid the measles vaccine

Were you expecting them to start recommending that kids get vaccinated and protected?

Larry Palevsky spoke at an anti-vax rally in New York during their record setting measles outbreak.

Ironically, folks like Bob Sears thought they were helping to get more kids vaccinated by pushing their non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedules, but in reality, all they did was scare parents even more.

To be fair, Bob Sears wasn’t the only person to predict the return of vaccine-preventable diseases.

“I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it’s their f*cking fault that the diseases are coming back. They’re making a product that’s sh*t. If you give us a safe vaccine, we’ll use it. It shouldn’t be polio versus autism.”

Jenny McCarthy on Autism and Vaccines

Nor the only person folks blame…

But he may have been one of the first to predict what would happen if parents actually listened to what he was saying…

More on Bob Sears and the Return of Measles

How Jay Gordon On Bill Maher Helps Explain Our Anti-Vaccine Problems

Jay Gordon has been on TV a lot in his career.

“Parents from around Southern California choose Gordon for his outspoken and controversial stance on vaccinations, driving from as far away as Santa Barbara and Long Beach.

They know he will lend a sympathetic ear to their concerns about the possible adverse side effects of childhood vaccinations — even though several large scientific studies have failed to find a connection.

His openness to alternative approaches has earned him an avid following. With thousands of patients, his practice is so busy that he no longer accepts new patients.”

Los Angeles Times on Doctor Contrarian

Often described as a celebrity pediatrician, partly because he sees many of the kids of Hollywood celebrities, the Los Angeles Times once named him Doctor Contrarian.

How Jay Gordon On Bill Maher Helps Explain Our Anti-Vaccine Problems

Jay Gordon has become a bit of a celebrity in his own right too, with appearances on Good Morning America, with Cindy Crawford, the Ricki Lake Show, the Doctors, and he was even a regular on ABC TV’s Home Show back in the 1990s.

#SaidNoDoctor, except Dr. Jay Gordon, who made this statement about the HPV vaccine on the Ricki Lake Show.
#SaidNoDoctor, except Dr. Jay Gordon, who made this statement about the HPV vaccine on the Ricki Lake Show. How many kids ended up getting HPV because their parents listened?

Although he claims he is not anti-vaccine, Jay Gordon has made many other statements over the years that had vaccine advocates shaking their heads.

His main idea is that vaccines should be given on a slower schedule, just one or two at a time and that some shouldn’t be given until kids are “developmentally solid.”

Jay Gordon has no proof or evidence to back up any of his statements.
To clarify my statement, a severe reaction isn’t a reason to stop vaccinating a child all together.

Of course, giving vaccines later just leaves these kids at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease while they are waiting, without any extra benefit of fewer side effects.

Sure, we would see fewer reactions associated with vaccines, because the same conditions would be occurring, but the kids would not have gotten a vaccine to be associated with it.

Jay Gordon has been at the front lines of taking care of parents who don't want to vaccinate their kids.
His “front lines” are parents in Southern California who don’t want to vaccinate their kids…

Is Jay Gordon an expert on vaccines?

Jay Gordon dismisses the statements of a true vaccine expert.
Jay Gordon lists all of the credentials of Dr. Hotez, none of which he has, and then tells him he is wrong!

It should be clear that he is not.

“I talk much more quietly, because I have no proof.”

Jay Gordon

Talking on TV is not exactly talking quietly…

But let’s take a quick look at some of his statements on Real Time with Bill Maher to help those who might think that he is.

B. Maher: I’m just saying vaccines, like every medicine, has side effects… So let’s not deny that or pretend it doesn’t happen. Which ones? How much? How do we manage this? This is not crazy talk.

Jay Gordon: We don’t do it the way we should do it. Manufacturers don’t put… We don’t manufacture vaccines as well as we could. We have a schedule that is invariable for every single child, one size doesn’t really fit all. The polio vaccine that I would get as a 180 lb. man is the same that I give to a 12 lb. baby. We could do it a lot better. I don’t want to bring polio back. I don’t want to bring measles back. Measles is a nasty illness.

No one denies that vaccines have side effects. The thing is, vaccines do not cause each and every thing that anti-vax folks claim that they do. They don’t cause autism, SIDS, most non-febrile seizures, eczema, diabetes, MS, ADHD, asthma, cancer, food allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, or POTS, etc.

What about Jay’s comments?

Interestingly, Jay has often said that measles isn’t that bad…

“This measles outbreak does not pose a great risk to a healthy child. And quite frankly I don’t think it poses any risk to a healthy child.”

Jay Gordon on Doctor explains why he lets kids avoid the measles vaccine

Healthy kids can just die with measles though. And healthy kids are at later risk to develop SSPE, which is fatal.

And if he doesn’t understand that vaccines aren’t given based on the weight of the child or adult, then he is clearly not a vaccine expert.

Jay Gordon believes that his middle of the road approach gets more kids vaccinated.
If you are scaring parents away from getting vaccinated, then giving vaccines on an alternative schedule may mean that you are anti-vaccine…

If he doesn’t understand the consequences of his slow vaccine schedule, especially if more parents actually started listening to him, then he is clearly not a vaccine expert.

Mostly, he seems to be an expert on pandering to parents who already have fears of vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Jay Gordon's middle of the road approach only works because his kids can still hide in the herd, getting protected from everyone else who vaccinates and protects their kids.
The kids that are vaccinated at “a different pace and thought process” are simply hiding in the herd. They don’t get sick because the rest of us are vaccinated and protected, but that system breaks down if more people start listening to Dr. Jay.

And what he has never understood, even if he does get some of these parents to vaccinate on a slower schedule, his rhetoric likely gets many more parents started on the road to thinking vaccines are harmful or not necessary.

Jay Gordon has been wrong before, as you can see in the way he has changed his stance on the HPV vaccine, which he says he now gives, and he is wrong now.

Why is Jay Gordon still in the AAP?

And his advise is indeed contrary to that of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which makes you wonder why he is still allowed to be a member.

“There is no ‘alternative’ immunization schedule. Delaying vaccines only leaves a chil​d at risk of disease for a longer period of time; it does not make vaccinating safer. 

Vaccines work, plain and simple. Vaccines are one of the safest, most effective and most important medical innovations of our time. Pediatricians partner with parents to provide what is best for their child, and what is best is for children to be fully vaccinated.”

Karen Remley, MD, MBA, MPH, FAAP, Executive Director, American Academy of Pediatrics​

Maybe its time that Doctor Contrarian stopped thinking everyone else is wrong and he takes a long and hard look at his own views on vaccines.

“Nothing I do is free. I feel like I should give you a little bit of a discussion before I recommend Tylenol, because of the impact on the liver. A discussion about ibuprofen, because of the impact on the kidneys. And when someone gets antibiotics from me, I talk to them. You know, there could be a yeast infection. You could get diarrhea and a rash. Sorry about the diarrhea and the rash. But with vaccines, the discussion is closed.”

Jay Gordon

Health care providers are hopefully all giving their patients a vaccine information sheet and informed consent, so the discussion is certainly not closed when they give kids vaccines.

Does Jay discuss the potential risks of delaying or skipping vaccines?

Will he say sorry about the rotavirus, measles, tetanus, and diphtheria?

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are very necessary.

Although he thinks he is taking the middle road, Jay Gordon simply helps fuel the modern anti-vaccine movement.

To be sure though, along the way, he certainly has been in the middle of things…

Jay Gordon was named Doctor Contrarian way back in 1997.
March 1997 article in the LA Times describing how media savvy “skeptics” were attacking vaccines.

From his appearance on Good Morning America in 2000 to discuss why Cindy Crawford wasn’t vaccinating her baby, just as Wakefield was getting started, to testifying against SB277, California’s vaccine law, that didn’t work because doctors simply started writing unnecessary medical exemptions, he has been there. And let’s not forget that he was Jenny McCarthy‘s pediatrician!

“I’m just saying, ‘we don’t know shit,’ that’s why when doctors, when you get a diagnosis, the other doctor gives you another one. They say, right away, get a second opinion.”

Bill Maher

Bill Maher was right about one thing, if you are going to Jay Gordon for advice about vaccines – get a second opinion.

More on Jay Gordon and Bill Maher

What Makes Your Healthy Unvaccinated Child a Threat?

Folks who intentionally skip or delay their child’s vaccines and try to get away with hiding in the herd always seem to wonder why we consider their kids to be a threat to everyone else.

What happens when she grows up and learns who really kept her out of school?
What happens when she grows up and learns who really kept her out of school?

How can a healthy child be a threat?

What Makes Your Healthy Unvaccinated Child a Threat?

Of course, kids that are truly healthy aren’t a threat, as long as they stay healthy.

What would turn them into a threat to others?

A healthy child who got measles, chicken pox, or other vaccine-preventable disease and exposed others, putting them at risk, including those who are

  • too young to be vaccinated
  • too young to be fully vaccinated
  • unable to be vaccinated because they have a true medical exemption
  • susceptible because their vaccine didn’t work

And which kids, even if they are healthy, are most at risk to get measles, chickenpox, or other vaccine preventable diseases?

That’s right.

Kids who are unvaccinated and unprotected!

If you intentionally choose to not vaccinate your kids, that shouldn’t mean that others have to lose their choice to send their own kids to school without worrying that they will be exposed to a vaccine-preventable disease.

More On Unvaccinated Kids