We know that historically, the media has done a very good job of scaring parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.
From pushing vaccine misinformation and vaccine scare stories to providing false balance about vaccine stories, many in the media have promoted myths and fake controversies when reporting about vaccines.
Things have been getting better though.
Is the TODAY Show Stoking Vaccine Fears?
Or have they…
Do you see what’s wrong with the TODAY Show story about Jessica Biel?
Are they really asking whether or not vaccines are safe?!?
Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that the TODAY show has scared parents away from vaccines. After all, they are the ones who aired excerpts of Vaccine Roulette, the show which many people credit with starting the modern anti-vaccine movement.
Six degrees of separation? The idea that most people are connected by six or fewer degrees of separation.
Six Degrees of Anti-Vaccine Separation
Not surprisingly, you don’t have to beyond a few degrees to see the connection between many anti-vaccine folks.
“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
Especially the vocal anti-vaccine folks.
Few folks likely remember, but in 2000, just after Andrew Wakefield released his now retracted study, Dr. Jay Gordon and Cindy Crawford appeared on Good Morning America to discuss vaccines and how she had decided to delay vaccinating her baby.
After the segment, Dr. Gordon stated:
They edited the segment to make me sound like a vaccination proponent. We also have to understand the impact of a person as well-known as Cindy Crawford delaying vaccines for over six months.
So while a lot of folks like to give credit to Bob Sears and Jenny McCarthy for starting the modern anti-vaccine movement, Dr. Jay and Cindy Crawford were on the scene far earlier.
Dr. Jay had even been featured in the LA Times before Wakefield published his paper!
Speaking of Jenny McCarthy, it is interesting to note that Jay Gordon was her pediatrician!
“Right before his MMR shot, I said to the doctor, I have a very bad feeling about this shot. This is the autism shot, isn’t it? And he said, “No, that is ridiculous. It is a mother’s desperate attempt to blame something on autism.” And he swore at me. . . . And not soon thereafter, I noticed that change in the pictures: Boom! Soul, gone from his eyes.”
Well, Dr. Jay is almost certainly not the pediatrician that swore at her after giving her child an MMR vaccine.
“Yes, there have been cases of Disney spread from Measlesland. I will give MMRs to kids 3 yrs+ if parents are worried.”
“Would any scientist give SIX vaccines at once to a baby? Asking for trouble. One at a time makes so much more sense.”
It probably makes even more sense if it is your pediatrician saying it…
“My name is Brittney Kara and my husband and I are parents who have chosen not to continue vaccinating our children. After thoroughly investigating and carefully weighing the risks and benefits of each vaccine, we have concluded that the current vaccines are not safe for our children and that they are not required for the optimum health of our children.”
Especially when you have a pediatrician who has said “I think that the public health benefits to vaccinating are grossly overstated” and who recommends that parents “Wait until a child is clearly developmentally “solid” before vaccinating because we just don’t know which children will react badly to immunizations.”
“I began researching vaccines in 2007 when I was pregnant with our first child. Dr. Jay Gordon was my pediatrician growing up and since I have always held him in a high regard he was the first person I turned to. He was very cautious about the current CDC schedule and his research inspired me to start my own. I began following the work of Dr. Russell Blaylock, Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, and Dr. Suzanne Humphries, among others.”
What about Alicia Silverstone and Mayim Bialik?
How many celebrities got their ideas about vaccines from Jay Gordon?
And how the anti-vaccine movement is using social media to persuade parents to skip their child’s vaccines, leaving them unprotected.
So how do they do it?
What Are the Greatest Tricks Anti-Vaccine Folks Use to Persuade Parents to Skip Vaccines?
If you want to understand the anti-vaccine movement, the first thing to know is that they have been around for centuries. That they are using social media is of course new, but their messages are basically the same.
vaccines aren’t necessary because diseases are mild
vaccines don’t even work
And you need all three elements, after all, even if you thought that vaccines were sometimes dangerous, you might want to vaccinate your kids if you thought that vaccines could stop an even more dangerous vaccine-preventable disease, right?
That’s why they keep all of your fear focused on the vaccines!
It is this fear that allows several cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies to take hold and change your perception of risk into something that is much different from reality.
And that’s maybe the ultimate trick – making you think that the risks of vaccines are greater than the risks of catching a vaccine-preventable disease or even greater than the risks of having a vaccine-preventable disease.
“Thank you Chairman Alexander, Senator Murray, and distinguished committee members for the opportunity to speak today. Good morning, everyone. My name is Ethan Lindenberger and I am a senior at Norwalk High School. My mother is an anti-vaccine advocate that believes vaccines cause autism, brain damage, and do not benefit the health and safety of society despite the fact such opinions have been debunked numerous times by the scientific community. I went my entire life without vaccinations against diseases such as measles, chicken pox, or even polio. However, in December of 2018, I began catching up on my missed immunizations despite my mother’s disapproval, eventually leading to an international story centered around my decisions and public disagreement with my mother’s views.”
Testimony of Ethan Lindenberger Student at Norwalk High school Before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee March 5th, 2019
Should kids really have to hope that they grow up without getting a vaccine-preventable disease so that they can get themselves vaccinated?
“I have discovered along the way that it is easy for parents to be misinformed. It is a real challenge to be well informed.”
Suzanne Walther on A Parent’s Decision on Immunization: Making the Right Choice
internal organ dysfunction or failure – yellow fever vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease (YEL-AVD)
About 1 in 55,000 for severe allergic reactions, 1 in 125,000 for severe nervous system reactions, and 1 in 250,000 for life-threatening severe illness with organ failure.
And the risks are likely higher if you are older than age 60 years, although YEL-AND and YEL-AVD are not reported to happen with booster doses of the yellow fever vaccine.
“People aged ≥60 years may be at increased risk for serious adverse events (serious disease or, very rarely, death) following vaccination, compared with younger persons. This is particularly true if they are receiving their first yellow fever vaccination. Travelers aged ≥60 years should discuss with their healthcare provider the risks and benefits of the vaccine given their travel plans.”
Yellow Fever Frequently Asked Questions
Why would you get the yellow fever vaccine if you were older than aged 60 years and you knew there was a higher risk of severe side effects?
Yellow fever itself is a life threatening disease without a cure and a case fatality rate of up to 50%, and again, YEL-AVD is not common, occurring in about 0.4/100,000 doses.
So you would typically want to get vaccinated if you were traveling to an area where yellow fever was a risk.
“Since January 2018, 10 travel-related cases of yellow fever, including four deaths, have been reported in international travelers returning from Brazil. None of the 10 travelers had received yellow fever vaccination.”
Fatal Yellow Fever in Travelers to Brazil, 2018
In addition to outbreaks, yellow fever is still endemic in forty-seven countries in Africa and Central and South America, leading to 170,000 severe cases and 60,000 deaths in recent years, including some deaths in unvaccinated travelers returning from these areas. Did you read about these deaths in the paper?