Tag: vaccine hesitancy

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

What Makes Someone Anti-Vaccine?

Few people like to call themselves anti-vaccine.

Even Jessica Biel says that she isn't anti-vaccine...
Even Jessica Biel says that she isn’t anti-vaccine…

They instead choose other labels for themselves, such as pro-safe vaccine, pro-vaccine choice, pro-informed consent, or that they are a vaccine skeptic.

What Makes Someone Anti-Vaccine?

Don’t be fooled though.

Most people think that Jessica Biel is anti-vaccine.

Most of these folks are clearly anti-vaccine.

Do you think Jenny McCarthy is anti-vaccine?
Do you think Jenny McCarthy is anti-vaccine?

How can you tell?

Folks who are anti-vax push myths and misinformation about vaccines.

Whether it is because they believe that vaccines aren’t safe, aren’t necessary, or that they don’t work, they work to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

“You don’t have to dig far to know that vaccines have caused tremendous harm. Have they had benefits? Absolutely. Which is why I remain somewhat on the neutral side in saying that I am not anti-vaccine,” said Dr. Paul Thomas. “I’m pro-safe vaccines. I’ve progressed along to the point where I now don’t believe there is such a thing.”

Still not sure of the differences?

Does that sound like he isn't anti-vaccine?
Does that sound like he isn’t anti-vax?

You can typically tell if someone is anti-vaccine by how they answer common questions about vaccines. Ask about shedding, MTHFR, or SV40, etc.

Even Jim Carrey said that he wasn't anti-vaccine!
Even Jim Carrey said that he wasn’t anti-vax!

Remember when Kat Von D said she was going to raise her baby without vaccinations?

“Just to set the record straight from the beginning, I just want to say I am not anti-Semitic, and I am not an anti-vaxxer.

Kat Von D

Does that mean she is now vaccinating her kid?

“What I am is a first-time mother. I am one of those moms that reads everything. Anything that is going in my baby or on my baby, I research like a complete and total nerd. After doing a bunch of research and reading the ingredients, naturally I experienced some hesitancy.”

Kat Von D

Nope.

“Since then, we have decided as parents to consult with our pediatrician and just let him educate us and guide us. But, unlike before, I have learned my lesson and I am choosing not to make our decision or any of our baby’ s health records public.”

Kat Von D

Hopefully she chose a pediatrician who isn’t anti-vaccine…

Celebrities Who Say They Aren’t Anti-Vaccine

Who else has said that they aren’t anti-vax?

  • Robert “I’m not anti-vaccine. I want safe vaccines.” DeNiro
  • Mayim “we are a non-vaccinating family… but I’m not anti” Bailik
  • Jenna “I’m not anti-vax” Elfman
  • Kirstie “I’m not ANTI vaccines but we MUST take responsibility 4 choosing which ones WE give OUR children & ourselves. They aren’t ALL harmless” Alley

Anyone else?

More on What Makes Someone Anti-Vaccine?

The VACCINES Act

A lot of folks have been saying that new Federal vaccines laws were coming.

Instead, we have just been seeing more and more cases of measles.

The VACCINES Act

Well, we might finally be getting a new Federal vaccine law, but it isn’t the kind of law that will force people to get vaccinated that anti-vaccine folks have been warning us about.

Rep. Schrier with the AAP Executive Committee, who urge passage of the VACCINES Act and federal funding for vaccine hesitancy surveillance at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rep. Schrier with the AAP Executive Committee, who urge passage of the VACCINES Act and federal funding for vaccine hesitancy surveillance at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Instead, the Vaccine Awareness Campaign to Champion Immunization Nationally and Enhance Safety (VACCINES) Act, which was recently introduced by Representative Kim Schrier (D-Wash.) will simply help to increase public awareness of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

“Vaccines were one of the greatest medical accomplishments of the 20th century and have been proven safe and effective at preventing diseases that once killed or greatly harmed people around the world.

As a pediatrician, I understand that parents want to do what they think is best for their children and some do not vaccinate because of unfounded fears. We are now seeing outbreaks of diseases like measles, which was considered eliminated 19 years ago, in part because of an anti-vaccine campaigns around the country. This bill will make sure that parents have access to facts about vaccines, so they can make an informed decision.”

Rep. Kim Schrier

The VACCINES Act will:

While I’m pretty sure the CDC could already do all of these things already without a new law, hopefully it will provide the extra funding and resources to actually get it done.

Tell your U.S. representative to consider co-sponsoring the VACCINES Act and help get this bill passed.

More on the VACCINES Act

Is Ocular Palsy a Vaccine Injury?

Now why would anyone think that an ocular palsy could be caused by vaccines?

There is no real evidence that a cranial nerve six palsy, which causes strabismus or esotropia, is a common vaccine injury, even though Dr. Bob focused on it recently.

Is Ocular Palsy a Vaccine Injury?

What is Dr. Bob’s evidence?

A vaccine injury story from a vaccine hesitant mom who was giving her child one vaccine at a time and who became cross-eyed five days after getting the MMR vaccine.

“It is an absolutely, 100% well known vaccine reaction to live virus vaccines as you eventually discovered, it’s called ocular palsy.”

Bob Sears

Is that true?

Not exactly.

It is true that there are a handful of case reports of toddlers developing a cranial nerve six palsy after a live virus vaccine, but that doesn’t make it an “absolutely, 100% well-known vaccine reaction.”

Why not?

The story Dr. Bob tells could be published as a case report. But that wouldn’t be proof that it was caused by the MMR vaccine, as other causes weren’t ruled out, and it is easy to overlook that the child had just had a double ear infection.

“Benign isolated 6th nerve palsy of childhood is rare, and recurrences are rarer. By definition, it is not due to a threatening cause, such as an underlying intracranial lesion, and recovery is expected. This condition typically occurs following viral illnesses, infections, and immunization involving attenuated live vaccinations. In general, prognosis for benign recurrent 6th nerve palsy is excellent, and majority of patients recover full muscle function.”

Gonçalves et al on Benign Recurrent Sixth Nerve Palsy in a Child

Could the child that Dr. Bob talks about have had a viral infection causing their sixth nerve palsy?

Sure. The child even had a double ear infection the previous month.

Considering that in most of the case reports, the children developed symptoms later, between 7 or 21 days to as late as 6 weeks to 6 months after their vaccine, then the previous ear infection starts to look like a more likely cause, not the MMR vaccine.

“A previously healthy four-year-old girl was presented to our emergency room with complaints of binocular horizontal diplopia of sudden onset and strabismus.”

Gonçalves et al on Benign Recurrent Sixth Nerve Palsy in a Child

What’s different about the four-year-old girl discussed above and the child Dr. Bob talks about?

“One week prior to the event, the child had a history of fever and productive cough, and she was under treatment with amoxicillin. There was no history of live attenuated vaccine administration in the previous days.”

Gonçalves et al on Benign Recurrent Sixth Nerve Palsy in a Child

This child wasn’t recently vaccinated.

There are also case reports of children developing recurrent 6th nerve palsy without any obvious trigger – no immunization and no recent infection.

And cases from the 1950s and 60s and earlier, before we had an MMR vaccine.

“This syndrome is not a new entity, and experienced clinicians recall cases in which the combination of only fever and VI nerve palsy cautioned them against other diagnostic measures. Sir Charles Symonds, in a discussion recorded in the proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, makes reference to his observations of patients in whom VI nerve palsy followed febrile illness and was of no consequence. In the same discussion he also mentions instances in which VI nerve palsy followed otitis media, and yet there was no pain and little constitutional disturbance. The palsy he considered to be the result of an aseptic thrombosis of the inferior petrosal sinus, adjacent to the VI nerve as it passes through Dorello’s canal.”

Knox et al on Benign VI Nerve Palsies in Children

Also consider that if a live attenuated vaccine is causing such a vaccine injury, then wouldn’t you expect kids with natural measles infections to develop these 6th nerve palsies at equal, or more likely, greater rates.

What about those case reports from the 1950s and 60s and earlier? No, those early case reports weren’t about kids with measles.

The bottom line is that if you want to consider this type of ocular palsy a vaccine injury, you should also explore the possibility that it was caused by an infection or by chance. And the only folks who would say 100% that these incidents are a vaccine injury, when there is just as much, if not more, evidence saying they aren’t, are those who think that everything is a vaccine injury

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