Do unused vaccines need to be disposed of as hazardous waste?
If you drop a vaccine vial and it breaks, do you need to call in a HAZMAT team to clean it up?
Have you heard any of these anti-vaccine myths?
Would you be scared to vaccinate your kids if you had?
Vaccines and the HAZMAT Team Myth
While spilling elemental or metallic mercury, like by breaking a mercury filled glass thermometer (about 500mg of mercury), could release dangerous mercury vapors that need to be cleaned up carefully, vaccines never contained this type of elemental mercury that could vaporize like that.
And the amount of thimerosal or ethylmercury that used to be contained in vaccines, before it was removed beginning in 2000, was very small, even in multi-dose vial of vaccines.
While you should be concerned if you drop a fluorescent light bulb in front of your kids, you don’t have to be if someone drops a vaccine vial.
And that being said, you don’t have to call a HAZMAT team if you break a CFL or other mercury containing light bulb, even though they might contain about 4,000mcg of mercury. As a precaution, you just let the room air out for out 10 minutes and then you carefully clean it up.
You don’t even have to call a HAZMAT team if you break a mercury thermometer, which can contain up to about 500,000mcg of mercury! Just let the area air out and then follow instructions to carefully clean it up.
How much mercury is in a typical multi-dose vaccine vial?
But those that still contain thimerosal can contain up to 250mcg of ethylmercury per 10 dose vial. That’s about 6% of the amount of mercury that is in the light bulb (and 0.05% of the amount in the thermometer) and it is mixed with other ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about it being released as a mercury vapor.
And since you don’t have to call a HAZMAT team for the much larger quantities of metallic mercury in light bulbs and thermometers, why would you ever think you would have to for vaccine vials, which don’t even contain metallic mercury that can become a vapor that you can inhale?!?
Vaccines as Hazardous Waste
But if you don’t need a HAZMAT team, then how do you get rid of unused vaccines?
“In general, most empty vaccine vials are not considered hazardous or pharmaceutical waste and do not require disposal in a biomedical waste container. However, requirements for medical waste disposal are regulated by state environmental agencies so you should contact your immunization program or state environmental agency to ensure that your disposal procedures are in compliance with state and federal regulations.”
CDC on Vaccine Storage and Handling
Still, most can be thrown away as medical waste.
Those that contain a preservative, like thimerosal, usually need to be thrown away in a hazardous waste container and disposed of through a hazardous waste disposal company.
Hazardous waste? Wait, doesn’t that mean HAZMAT?
No, but that’s where the myth likely comes from. Remember, you’re not supposed to throw out old CFLs in the trash either.
In the real world, most unused vaccines that are expired are simply returned to the manufacturer.
While having to deal with a hazardous waste disposal company sounds like a big deal, it is important to remember that almost all vaccines are now preservative free. The flu shot may still contain thimerosal, but the great majority, at least 130 million doses, were preservative free this year.
So, few pediatricians likely have to deal with vaccines with preservatives or hazardous waste disposal companies. And hopefully they don’t have any old mercury thermometers lying around either.
The Vaccine-Friendly Plan is the latest book about vaccines that claims to offer a “safe and effective approach to immunity and health.”
What’s the problem with it?
In addition to the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any evidence in the book to support that any of its ideas are indeed safe or effective, the book pushes just about every anti-vaccine talking point out there today.
While Dr. Thomas and Jennifer Margulis talk about providing balanced information, it was right after he stated that “I realized we had poisoned a generation of children with a mercury-derived preservative called thimerosal” and then goes on to talk about how kids are overvaccinated.
So much for balanced information…
But Dr. Thomas isn’t just worried about vaccines. He is also worried about Tylenol, that the chemicals in plastics are endocrine disruptors, GMOs, flame retardants, pesticides, fluoride, artificial sweeteners, chemical dyes, and all of the other toxins that other doctors and the CDC supposedly ignore.
What about the “science” that supports his ideas?
Sure, he is quick to cherry pick studies that support the ideas he likes and label them as “important studies” among “a growing body of evidence,” but if the studies don’t, then they are “a handful of poorly designed, anecdotal studies.”
“Giving a quadruple live-virus vaccine to a toddler is a mistake. When a toddler catches an illness naturally, he does not catch all four at once. I have serious concerns about hitting the immune system of a twelve-month-old baby with four live viruses, even though they are weakened.”
Does Dr. Thomas understand how the immune system works or how many different things our immune systems get “hit” with each and every day? Children are exposed to a lot of live, unweakened viruses and other germs every day and fight them off just fine.
Dr. Thomas also routinely downplays the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases (they all seem to be easily treatable in his world), overstates the risks of vaccines (they all seem to be full of horrible poisons in his world), makes heavy use of anecdotes, repeatedly makes it sound like every other pediatrician is doing something wrong, and again, makes full use of anti-vaccine talking points to scare parents:
You won’t hear this from Dr. Thomas, but unless your ‘kid’ is a baby goat, don’t give him raw goat milk!
So what’s the take home message about Dr. Thomas and his book?
Despite his frequently using the word science in the book, the only “science” in The Vaccine-Friendly Plan is that it is full of pseudoscience.
You can even see this in his ideas about gluten sensitivity. Why do so many of his patients show a sensitivity to gluten? He uses an IgG food sensitivity test that most experts say is basically worthless.
Making a Case for Getting Vaccinated
Perhaps the only good thing about Dr. Paul Thomas’ book is that he makes some very good cases for why you should vaccinate your kids.
His introduction starts off with the story of the death of his three-year-old playmate in Africa. Tragically, the child died of measles.
Like many other pediatricians, he also talks about “the miracle that the Hib vaccine was when it was introduced in 1985.”
“Then in 2012 I had about twenty children in my practice with pertussis: eighteen were school age kids, and two were infants. Interestingly, fifteen of the twenty were fully immunized for pertussis, and the other five were from the small group of families in my practice who refuse all vaccines.”
His story about pertussis in his practice is also very interesting, but not for the reason that Dr. Thomas believes.
Consider that most kids are vaccinated, even in Dr. Thomas’ practice, so the fact that 25% of the kids who got pertussis are unvaccinated means a very high attack rate among unvaccinated children. So even with the problems of waning immunity with the pertussis vaccine, you are still much better off to be vaccinated and protected, even if that protection isn’t perfect.
“Since I opened my practice in 2008, not a single child has received the rotavirus vaccine. I refuse to stock it. Yet only one child in seven years has been hospitalized for severe dehydration. The unvaccinated children in my practice either are not getting rotavirus, or the illness is so mild that it requires no intervention.”
And so much for vaccine choice. How can his patients make a decision to get vaccinated if he doesn’t even have the vaccine?!?
But why don’t they get rotavirus? It is not because the vaccine doesn’t work or isn’t necessary. It is actually called being a free-rider or hiding in the herd.
Like most vaccines, the rotavirus vaccine works and helps create community immunity.
The Most Dangerous Advice in The Vaccine-Friendly Plan
Unfortunately, the dangerous advice in this book extends well beyond repeatedly telling parents to “say no thank you” to multiple vaccines and to delay others.
The advice to “decline vaccines” during pregnancy has to be right up there with the most dangerous advice in his book, but you be the judge…
“It depends on the medication, but the short answer is that it’s best to avoid all over the counter and prescription medications during pregnancy.”
Unbelievably, Dr. Thomas really seems to say that pregnant mothers should try to stop their antidepressants because “women respond differently to pregnancy hormones and some who struggle with mental health issues find the high estrogen and progesterone of pregnancy actually improve mood and mental health.”
“If bilirubin levels remain extremely high – above 20 – for over a week or two, some of the bilirubin can enter the brain, where it can cause permanent brain damage called kernicterus.”
Hopefully most parents are aware that you don’t want to wait “a week or two” to seek treatment if you baby’s jaundice level is above 20.
And hopefully most parents also understand that:
the cutoff for fever in newborns is 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, not 100.6°F (38.4°C)
co-sleeping and letting your baby sleep on your chest are not safe things to do
skipping an evaluation and antibiotics when mom is GBS positive after delivery and she develops a fever (possible chorioamnionitis) is not a safe thing for baby, especially if mom already skipped getting antibiotics during her delivery – it’s called gambling that the baby won’t develop early-onset invasive group B streptococcal disease. Several studies have found very high numbers of newborns in this situation with positive blood cultures, even though they had no symptoms.
if your pediatrician recommends that your child needs treatment for congenital hip dysplasia (which is actually now called Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip), then you should probably listen, instead of hoping it goes away on its own by wearing “your baby on your front or back with his legs splayed.”
you shouldn’t put your baby in direct sunlight without sunscreen for ten to fifteen minutes every day
there is no need to routinely check your baby’s vitamin D level – just give a supplement if you are exclusively breastfeeding
until polio is eradicated, the risk of getting polio is higher than zero and that all of his unvaccinated kids are at risk even if they don’t travel outside the US, like the outbreak among the Amish in 2005
children die from meningococcal disease because it is a severe and terrible disease that progresses very quickly, not because “we pediatricians – so quick to intervene in other, unnecessary ways – fail to listen to a worried mother, dismiss her concerns as “hysterical,” and send a sick child home…” In one study, “Most children had only non-specific symptoms in the first 4-6 h, but were close to death by 24 h.”
preschoolers do not need to routinely take 2,000IU of vitamin D each day – the current recommendation is 600IU if they are not getting enough from the foods they are eating and drinking and 2,000IU only if they have been diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency
about 4,200 women die of cervical cancer in the United States each year, something Dr. Thomas fails to mention when he says that “some strains of HPV can lead to slow-growing, highly treatable cancers.”
Although the whole book is dangerous, these are serious errors that can harm kids, and it is unbelievable that Penguin Random House would publish this book as a Medical/Parenting book. After all, this is the same company that published NeuroTribes!
“It took me years to realize something I still wish were not true but which you cannot ignore if you want to have a healthy baby in America today: Our government officials and a handful of well-positioned M.D.’s who advise them have ignored some of the most important peer-reviewed studies and most relevant scientific information about immunity and health, both during pregnancy and throughout infancy.”
Dr. Paul Thomas
What else has he got?
the polio vaccines didn’t eliminate polio in the US, instead, it could have been “chlorinating water in public swimming pools” – it wasn’t
rotavirus deaths in the pre-vaccine era are “inaccurate and misleading” because they are estimated numbers “based on a retrospective study that looked at morbidity associated with diarrheal disease between 1968 and 1991,” – except that Dr. Thomas looked at the wrong study. The estimates for hospitalizations and deaths in the pre-vaccine era come from a different study that looked at “Hospitalizations and Deaths from Diarrhea and Rotavirus among Children <5 Years of Age in the United States, 1993–2003.” Oops.
most flu-like illnesses are not really the flu, which “makes it impossible to distinguish influenza infections from other viruses,” unless you go to his office, where he tests kids for the flu – except that using the influenza-like illness (ILI) case definition has a high positive predictive value during flu season and many doctors and hospitals also do rapid flu testing
The Vaccine-Friendly Plan is a dangerous book that not only panders to parent’s fears about vaccines, it goes out of its way to increase those fears by pushing misinformation, telling parents to skip and delay vaccines, and giving other unsafe pediatric and parenting advice.
The only reason to pick it up is because you are looking for some confirmation bias to make you feel better about a decision to not vaccinate your child. If you read it because you were on the fence about vaccines, please consider doing a little more research.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vaccines do cause autism. It’s thimerosal. – Vaccines are not associated with autism.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vaccines aren’t tested. – Vaccines are well tested for both safety and efficacy before they are approved and are added to the immunization schedule.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
MSG is a toxic ingredient in vaccines. – MSG is an ingredient in some vaccines, but it is safe and not toxic.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many religions are against vaccines. – Very few religions actually object to immunizations, which makes it very surprising how many folks get religious vaccine exemptions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pediatricians can get up to $3 million in bonuses for vaccinating kids. – Pediatricians are not getting big bonuses, bribes, or kickbacks to vaccinate kids.
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.
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.
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.
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.
$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.
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.
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.
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…
Epigenetics explains many vaccine injuries. – No, it doesn’t.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
That vaccines have been legally called unavoidably unsafe means that they are dangerous. – Not true.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vegans don’t vaccinate their kids. – While there are few vegan vaccines, most vegans do indeed vaccinate their kids.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
DNA in vaccines can cause autism. – While highly fragmented (mostly destroyed) DNA has been found in some vaccines, it can’t cause harm.
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.
And understanding that vaccines are safe, makes getting their kids vaccinated an easy decision for most parents, as they understand that the many benefits of vaccines far outweigh any possible risks.
How Do We Know Vaccines Are Safe?
If you are on the fence about vaccines, simply saying they are safe might not be enough for you.
“Over the previous 40 years the IOM has conducted over 60 vaccine safety studies, including this comprehensive review of the immunization schedule. The IOM committee did not find any evidence of major safety concerns related to receiving on-time vaccinations according to the Recommended Immunization Schedule for children. They concluded that this should help to reassure stakeholders. Further, they noted that while the receiving on-time vaccines was not harmful, it was strongly associated with reducing vaccine-preventable diseases. ”
American Academy of Pediatrics on Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence
How do we really know vaccines are safe?
vaccines go through a long period of pre-licensure testing and evaluation when being developed to make sure they are safe and that they work before they are approved
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.
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!
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…
One or more of these three basic themes is repeated over and over again in most anti-vaccine arguments, posts, or stories:
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.
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).
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?
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.
Polio is caused by one of three wild-type polio viruses.
Of course, anti-vaccine folks like to push misinformation about polio being caused by a lot of other things, from poor hygiene and eating too much white bread to having a tonsillectomy or being exposed to pesticides, like DDT.
“Williams describes the many blind alleys and false leads of the early days of polio research, when doctors, scientists, and public health officials were convinced that the disease was transmitted by bedbugs, budgies, cats, and flies, or caused by seafood, cow’s milk, jimson weed, fruit, vegetables, and DDT…”
If the polio virus doesn’t cause polio (germ theory denialism), then you can’t really expect the polio vaccine to prevent polio, now can you?
The DDT-Polio Connection?
There actually is a bit of a connection between polio and DDT, but not the one anti-vax folks think.
No, DDT didn’t cause polio.
“Between the end of World War II and the early 1950s, researchers, municipal officials, and individuals from Georgia to California employed DDT to stop polio by killing flies, a suspected but debated actor in the disease’s transmission.”
Conis on Polio, DDT, and Disease Risk in the United States after World War II
Yes, many towns would routinely spray with DDT after a polio epidemic came to town because they didn’t yet know what did cause polio.
For example, in May 1946, “sections of the city were blanketed” with DDT as they sought to stop the source of a polio epidemic in San Antonio, which they thought might be a “tropical mosquito.”
See the connection now?
Polio first. DDT spraying after.
This idea is especially easy to see when you understand that there were many polio outbreaks and epidemics in the late 19th and early 20th century, well before DDT was discovered to be an effective insecticide in the early 1940s.
And the spraying mostly stopped before the polio outbreaks stopped.
In 1951, although he wasn’t yet sure how the polio virus spread, Dr. Sabin did know it came from “human feces derived from patients and healthy carriers,” and he declared that there was “general agreement that there is no justification for initiating emergency insect control measures in the hope of stopping a poliomyelitis epidemic.”
“It is perhaps an established epidemiological principle that epidemiological probability must be compatible with bacteriologic (or virologic) possibility, particularly when the epidemiological probabilities lend themselves to several alternative explanations.”
Albert B Sabin, MD on Transmission of Poliomyelitis Virus
And even before that, the Editorial Board for the American Journal of Public Health, in 1946, said that “While municipal cleanliness and sanitation are always highly desirable, there is no reason to believe that improved methods of sewage treatment and disposal, more rigid standards for the purification of water supplies, or the dusting of DDT over a city from aeroplanes will have any measurable effect on the incidence of infantile paralysis.”
Also remember the other big reason that we saw DDT spraying in the United States – the elimination of malaria.
“The National Malaria Eradication Program, a cooperative undertaking by state and local health agencies of 13 southeastern states and the CDC, originally proposed by Louis Laval Williams, commenced operations on July 1, 1947. By the end of 1949, over 4,650,000 housespray applications had been made.”
CDC on Elimination of Malaria in the United States (1947 — 1951)
Did the spraying of DDT to eliminate the flies that transmit malaria in the southeastern United States correlate with extra cases of polio?
There were big outbreaks in New York, Indiana, Ohio, and many other parts of the country that didn’t spray DDT to help fight malaria.
“The peak year for use in the United States was 1959 when nearly 80 million pounds were applied. From that high point, usage declined steadily to about 13 million pounds in 1971, most of it applied to cotton.”
EPA on DDT Ban Takes Effect
Did we stop spraying with DDT in the early 1950s because it was banned and is that why we stopped seeing so much polio?
The peak year for DDT use was in 1959. Surprisingly, we don’t see that peak on any anti-vaccine graphs in 1959…
What was the peak year for polio cases? It wasn’t 1959 or 1960, as you would expect if there was a link between DDT and polio.
Although the use of DDT decreased after 1959, it was used until it was “banned” in 1972, and even then, there were exceptions for public health uses.
The polio virus causes polio.
Or at least why did we start seeing so many more cases in the late 18th through the mid 19th century, until it was controlled with our polio vaccines?
“…contrary to the prevailing “disease of development” hypothesis, our analyses demonstrate that polio’s historical expansion was straightforwardly explained by demographic trends rather than improvements in sanitation and hygiene…”
Martinez-Baker et all on Unraveling the Transmission Ecology of Polio
One rather simple and elegant explanation is that we started to get too clean, the “disease of development” hypothesis.
Improved hygiene and sanitation helped delay when kids would get polio. Remember, polio is spread by contaminated food and water through fecal-oral transmission.
So instead of routinely getting it when they were newborn babies or young infants, when they still had some protection from maternal antibodies, they got it later when they had no immunity. So polio essentially changed from an endemic disease, or something that everything got, to an epidemic form.
How do they push misinformation and myths about vaccines to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids?
Slogans of the Anti-Vaccine Movement
In addition to their celebrities and a relative handful of ‘experts,’ the modern antivaccine movement makes effective use of very catchy slogans to scare people away from getting educated about vaccines and vaccinating their kids.
If there is a RISK, there must be a CHOICE.
This is one of the more recent and also one of the more powerful slogans that we have seen. It implies that the choice over skipping or delaying vaccines is being taken away and that the only risk comes from the vaccines themselves.
But like most slogans used as propaganda tools, there is little behind it.
Parents nearly always have a choice on whether or not to vaccinate their kids, even if they live in a state without non-medical exceptions.
Vaccine mandates are laws that say you must be fully vaccinated to attend school. Instead of homeschooling their intentionally unvaccinated kids, some parents think that they must have even more choices though.
In addition to overestimating the risks from vaccines, these folks greatly underestimate the risks of getting a vaccine-preventable disease from skipping vaccines, both to their own kids and to the rest of us in the community.
They are simply increasing our risk and limiting our choices to keep our own kids safe and healthy.
You can always get Vaccinated, but you can never get Unvaccinated.
This slogan is likely a surprise to all of the folks who push (sell) regimens that claim to detox kids of their vaccines, or more specifically, all of the “toxins, poisons, and chemicals” that were supposedly in the vaccines they got.
It is also a sad reminder to all of those families who skipped or delayed a vaccine a little too long – long enough for their child to get a life-threatening vaccine-preventable disease.
This slogan really just highlights the fact that anti-vaccine do not really understand the risks of delaying or skipping vaccines. That’s despite the fact that studies have shown that following a non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedule simply puts kids at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases, without any benefits of fewer side effects.
And for the record, you can get unvaccinated. It is one of the reasons that herd immunity is so important. Just ask the parents of any child who has had to have chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant and is now immunosuppressed.
Green Our Vaccines.
Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey led the “Green Our Vaccines” rally back in 2008.
Although they always claimed they were not anti-vaccine, they helped pushed the idea that vaccines were full of toxins.
Today’s vaccines have fewer antigens than ever too, even though kids get more vaccines than they used to. But certainly not more than they can easily and safely handle.
Vaccination is not Immunization.
This idea is pushed by a chiropractor, who also talks about “pure blood.”
If you believe that vaccination is not immunization, then how did vaccines help eradicate smallpox and how are they helping to eliminate and control other vaccine preventable diseases, like polio, measles, and rubella, etc.
And that’s the whole point. Many anti-vaccine folks don’t really believe that vaccines work. That helps them justify their decision to skip or delay vaccinating their kids.
Even if you thought that vaccines had too many side effects, if you also admitted that they worked to protect your kids, then your anti-vaccine views would likely produce a high level of cognitive dissonance. So instead you cling to these types of slogans. And if your kid does get a vaccine-preventable disease, you’ll still feel okay, because you will blame it on shedding from someone who just got vaccinated.
I’m not anti-vaccine, I’m pro-safe vaccine
The problem with this slogan, and in general, using it as an anti-vaccine argument, is that vaccines are safe. They are not 100% safe, but no one claims that they are.
Serious side effects from vaccines are very rare though.
People who rally against already safe vaccines, claiming that they say are full of ‘toxins’ and wanting even safer vaccines before they will vaccinate their kids, are not really pro-vaccine.
Neither are any of the folks who push these slogans, all of which are pure anti-vaccine propaganda.
What to Know About the Slogans of the Anti-Vaccine Movement
Catchy slogans are one of the ways that the anti-vaccine movement uses to push misinformation about vaccines.