Published on February 8th, 2015 | by Rayne2
22 Things Mums Who Don’t Vaccinate Shouldn’t Be Saying: Part 1
It’s Saturday here in the land of drop bears and giant fucking spiders. The weather is waiting patiently for me to tuck a $10 note into its g-string as it teases me with rain. No, seriously this humidity is all kinds of bullshit. I’m sitting around eating food that only a small percentage of my readers will understand – Cheezels and a sausage roll: the breakfast of champions. Wife and I are hanging around the house slowly melting into a pile of lesbian goo (not the good kind) because we’re waiting on new furniture to arrive.
Something on my phone catches my eye – something that makes me stop pretending to know how to build an entertainment unit that seemed like a good buy at the time:
Well hello, rationalisation for more procrastinating.
Okay, we all know my wife is building the furniture. I really shouldn’t be allowed near any sort of tool. I break shit and someone somewhere always ends up crying.
It’s me. I end up crying.
I’ve been on an anti-anti-vaxxer ragewagon again this week. They’ve been pissing me off more than usual. Firstly I had a run in with an anti-vaxxer on a friends Facebook page – said friend and I went to school with this particular person and the sheer arrogance of this particular anti-vaxxer (whom I know failed basic science) just melted my brain. Fortunately said friend has many pro-vaccine allies and the anti-vaxxer quickly backed away. Not before proclaiming that we were picking on her and that we were all sheeple. What were we picking on her with? Facts? Science? Poor darling didn’t have a chance. The thing that pissed me off the most is the anti-vaxxer in the past has stated she didn’t want to vaccinate due to that possibility of – you guessed it – her kid getting autism. She has said this out-loud in front of my fried – who is on the autism spectrum.
Cue the anti-vaxxer arguing about vaccinations causing everything from illnesses to autism to cancer to the diseases they protect against. Arguing these points on the Facebook page of a person who is on the autism spectrum. My friend, my sister from another mister is on the autistic spectrum and the anti-vaxxer doesn’t even have the cognitive ability to understand 1. How insulting her arguments were and 2. How dangerous anti-vaccine views are. By far the most ironic thing to come out of talking at (I say talking at because none of them bloody listen anyway) anti-vaxxers is the realisation that we can safely assume that a large percentage, if not all anti-vaxxers were born after the implementation of successful vaccination programmes. The very same programmes that have been so successful they have made people complacent about the dangers of disease such as measles and polio and smallpox – not because those diseases aren’t dangerous but because we don’t see them very much if at all anymore.
“We asked parents who don’t vaccinate to share some of those most annoying things people have said to them about immunizations. Here’s what they said bugs them the most (in bold) — with some suggested comebacks.”
“Oh sorry, I need to cancel that play date.” Why? Are you worried your child’s vaccine is ineffective.
I don’t even have to respond to this one. It’s all contained in this lovely clear and concise image created by the awesome folks over at Refutations of Anti-vaxxer Memes:
“Vaccines don’t cause autism, you know.” Yeah, I know, and shame on that doctor for manipulating data. Autism has nothing to do with why I don’t vaccinate though.
Even if you somehow meet an anti-vaxxer whose reason for not vaccinating isn’t due to a fear of autism and isn’t being influenced by Andrew Wakefield’s fraud filled pile of steaming shit that he tried to pass off as science, anti-vaxxers generally don’t refuse to vaccinate because they’re sociopaths that love seeing their children sick. It’s because they’ve managed to convince themselves that vaccine preventable diseases are less harmful than they are actually are. Anti-vaxxers constantly talk about how measles aren’t that bad of a disease (except it is) and how chicken pox is a right of passage for children yet they never speak of smallpox or polio because we haven’t seen those diseases for decades. Anti-vaxxers may have moved away from Andrew Wakefield but there is no mistake that Wakefield has fuelled the fire for the conspiracy to continue.
“You should be more grateful for modern medicine.” Modern medicine is a miracle. But then there’s Larium.
For those who don’t know, Lariam is a drug used to protect against and treat malaria. It does have side effects including rare but serious psychology effects. It is not to be used by those who already have mood disorders or mental illnesses and doctors know this. The rebuttal to the bolded statement is attempting to demonise medicine by highlighting the not-so-revelatory statement that drugs like all things – can have side effects or adverse reactions. This rebuttal is typically used by anti-vaxxers who think the sentence “Natural cures, not medicine” is an intelligent thing to say out loud. As most of us know, human beings are a diverse bunch. We come in all different shapes and sizes and tolerances to different drugs. Also food. I thought I would highlight the bit about the different tolerances to food for any lurking anti-vaxxers on my site. If you want to state that drugs have side effects and some people shouldn’t take them as a justification to not vaccinate, you need to recognise that food has the same properties. “Natural cures, not medicine” tell that to someone with a severe peanut allergy. Could you imagine how an anti-vaxxer would respond to someone going into anaphylactic shock because of a peanut? “Quickly help them! But not with an epi-pen, that’s medicine! Drugs are bad“.
Don’t be fooled by the anti-vaxxer article, as mentioned before while some anti-vaxxers have moved away from Jenny McCarthy and Andrew Wakefield due to the overwhelming evidence their views are incorrect that doesn’t stop other anti-vaxxers from not vaccinating their children out of fear their child will have some form of adverse reaction to the vaccine. These are the anti-vaxxers who throw the terms “VAERS database” and “vaccine package insert” around in conversation without truly understand why those things exist or how to interpret them. They conflate correlation with causation and play Pascal’s wager with their child’s health.
Just because medications can have side effects, they are clearly documented and monitored, medications are also constantly updated and research is also being done on how to provide people with a more effective and safer product. This is what clinical trials are for.
Image: A poster child for anti-vaxxer logic.
“Isn’t it illegal to not vaccinate your kids?” I think you’re thinking of bank robbery.
I’ll take “questions that never happened for $500”.
“Aren’t you worried your kids might die?” Is there a mom who would actually answer no to this? My kid’s health and safety come first — that’s where bike helmets, car seats, and toddler-proofing come in.
I find this answer particularly amusing considering preventative measures against injury such as car seats and seats belts can have consequences when you’re in an accident. If you hit another car at high-speed – your body is going to be propelled forward and stopped suddenly by the seat belt. People can and have come away with injuries ranging from bruises to broken bones. There is no question that seat belts save lives and it is law that seat belts be placed in every car that is manufactured. While it is law that seat belts are worn while in your car and while you’ll get fined if you’re caught not wearing them, that doesn’t really stop some people from declining to use them.
Of course, people can still die if they were wearing their seat belt at the time of an accident however the point of seat belts is to dramatically cut the risk of getting injured in an accident therefore cut the risk of dying from injuries. KevinMD has a great article examining anti-vaxxer rhetoric with a comparison to seat belts. Seat belts are the difference between a broken bone and going through the front windscreen of your car.
Seat belts, like vaccinations are a risk based assessment because people are diverse little snowflakes and not clones – we all react differently to our surroundings. Let’s look at the Hep B vaccine. When I was younger I wanted to fuck like a rabbit (and sometimes get paid for it) so I went and got my Hep B vaccine (I also got my HPV (Gardasil) vaccine because cervical cancer sucks – side note: these vaccines are not a substitute for STD preventatives such as condoms, gloves and dental dams, they’re to be used alongside of).
The potential side effects of the Hep B vaccine as listed by the CDC are as follows:
- Soreness where the shot was given (up to about 1 person 4)
- Temperature of 99.9°F (37.2C) or higher (up to about 1 person in 15).
A side effect is an unintended (but well documented) effect from a medication that is related to the medication as a consequence of the chemical formula of said medication. Basically my arm was sore because it was poked with a needle and if my temperature rose, it would have been because my body was adjusting to the fact a foreign substance was injected into it. Side effects for medications are well documented and reported to keep medical professionals and the public well-informed so they understand why the effect is occurring and what is causing it. Side effects are generally short lasting and harmless (source) if you do happen to experience one.
An adverse reaction on the other hand unintended severe reaction to a medication including: allergic reactions to the vaccine or a negative side effect severe enough to need hospitalisation (source). Anti-vaxxers like to correlate conditions or illnesses ranging from cancer to autism to ADHD or even diabetes as an adverse reaction to vaccinations. However the Burden of Proof is on them to prove that any illness or condition is an adverse reaction caused or linked to vaccinations. Adverse reactions are quite rare.
Personally I was completely fine with the thought of a sore arm vs the potential of having fucking cervical cancer. I’m fairly pro-reducing the risk of diseases, unfortunately this thought doesn’t comfort anti-vaxxers for three main reasons:
1. They deny herd immunity exists. This undermines the work that vaccines do. By denying herd immunity created by the use of vaccinations, the anti-vaxxer movement is denying their effectiveness in creating a protective barrier around the community.
2. They deny that vaccine preventable diseases are harmful. This is most often seen in the cases of measles and whopping cough, especially in light of the outbreaks in the US and Australia. If you deny how harmful the diseases are, you downplay the need for vaccinations which has created the idea that vaccinations are unnecessary because the diseases are harmless.
3. Vaccines “shed” the viruses they are created from and that’s how people get ill. Not because anti-vaxxers are lowering herd immunity but because vaccinated children are passing on the viruses from the vaccines they have received. This is warped science used as a tactic to scare people away from vaccinations. It is pure propaganda against vaccines being used in an attempt to create evidence that it’s vaccines causing outbreaks of vaccine preventative diseases – not the fact our herd immunity is in the toilet in some regions. Anti-vaxxer ideology is a glorified attempt at shifting the blame for the re-occurrences of diseases from their choice not to vaccinate to the vaccinations themselves.
How not to use logic.
“So do you home school too?” Sorry, WHAT?
This is an interesting question. If we are to assume some anti-vaxxers believe viruses in vaccinations shed, wouldn’t they rather home school their children rather than risk their children being around the vaccinated children whom they believe are spreading illnesses? Unless of course they also believe that vaccine preventable diseases aren’t as bad as we know they are. I can’t keep up with anti-vaxxer thought patterns.
“Ah, so you’re behind this recent measles outbreak!” Yes, I am the all-powerful one.
I agree with this statement. If you don’t vaccinate your children, you are directly responsible for assisting in lowering the herd immunity of the community which increases the risk of vaccine preventable diseases making a come back. You are part of the problem. Ironically anti-vaxxers don’t vaccinate because of the fear of their children getting sick from vaccines which lowers the herd immunity of the community which increases the risk of diseases returning which increases their chances of getting sick. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“Why are you so willing to put others at risk?” How is my perfectly healthy child putting anyone at risk?
See the above answer.
“Never seen a real case of measles, have you? Keep it up and you will!”Actually, had measles as a kid — and here I am, alive and kicking. With a great immune system, to boot. Go figure.
“I survived therefore fuck everyone else” That’s rude, it’s more like “I survived therefore everyone else can as well”. In 2013, globally there were 145 700 deaths from measles, mostly children under the age of 5 largely in regions that have poor vaccination rates, children to young to be vaccinated or children who medically can not be vaccinated. Between 2000-2013, it is estimated that measles vaccination prevented 15.6 million deaths, decreasing death by the disease by 75% from an estimated 544 200 in 2000 to 145 700 in 2013 (source).
To put measles in perspective for an area such as the United States. In 1912, measles became a notifiable disease in the United States. In the first decade of reporting, an average of 6,000 measles-related deaths were reported each year in the United States alone. In the United States prior to the creation of the measles vaccination, there were approximately three to four million cases, and an average of 450-500 deaths annually from the disease (source). Due to the massive measles vaccination program, only two people in the U.S. have died from the measles in 2009, and in 2010 another two deaths were recorded. In the year 2000 it was declared that measles was eliminated in the United States due to the effectiveness of the vaccination program – unfortunately due to the lowering herd immunity from pockets of anti-vaxxers, measles is making a come back.
Yet another failing of the anti-vaccination movement is the inability to see that vaccinations are the reason for the decrease in measles rates.
“You know Jenny McCarthy is just a Playboy Bunny and not a doctor, right?” Jenny who?
As I mentioned previously, some anti-vaxxers may have moved away from worshipping Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy but that doesn’t negate the fact they have been the fuel in the fire that is the anti-vaccination movement. They have still been and still continue to be a large influence on the continuation of the cult.
“So how many times have your kids had measles?” None. Yours?
Unvaccinated children may never get measles, mainly because massive immunisation programs designed to prevent the disease have eradicated measles in Western countries. That and also unvaccinated children tend to leech off the herd immunity of the community.
“I think people who don’t vaccinate are so irresponsible.” If you think spending hours doing research, reading books, and questioning doctors on vaccines is irresponsible, then I guess you’re right.
It is when you don’t understand science, cherry pick data, don’t have the training to read a scientific study nor do you understand that not all studies are created equal. Especially when anti-vaxxers have a tendency to only read or absorb information that confirms the conclusion they have already come to.
“Isn’t not vaccinating like child abuse?” Refusing to assault my child with needle after needle and pump her full of toxins? Yes, it’s exactly like that.
What a loaded answer. Vaccinations aren’t “toxins”, it would help if anti-vaxxers knew what toxins actually were and how vaccinations actually worked. Botulinum toxin (Botox) is a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum yet Jenny McCarthy seems to think it appropriate to inject her face with it – why? Because it has been manufactured under controlled conditions and extensively studied to make sure a safe and effective product. If anti-vaxxers had even a basic understanding of how chemistry and chemicals worked, they wouldn’t consistently peddle the “vaccine ingredients are bad” line.
“You don’t vaccinate? Keep your kids away from mine! I don’t want them to get pneumonia!” Er, you do know that unvaccinated doesn’t equal ‘sick with some disease right this minute,’ right?
But they do have this nasty habit of lowering the communities herd immunity which increases the risk of diseases and being unvaccinated against those diseases means more of a risk of them catching those diseases. No-one wants to be around children with an increase risk of spreading disease especially parents with infants who are too young to be vaccinated or immunocompromised people or elderly adults.
“Not vaccinating is just as bad as being racist.” And those two things are related … how?
Being racist is harmful towards the person or community you are being racist towards – especially if the racism leads to violence or discrimination however this statement is an odd comparison. Making the choice not to vaccinate puts you pretty low on my “people I want to associate with” list though.
“Don’t be so paranoid! The government isn’t out to get you or your kids.” Nice talking to you, I’ve got to go adjust my tinfoil hat.
I believe the rebuttal was meant to come across as sarcastic in regards what I would assume is a conversation around mandatory vaccinations but I just can’t tell. Is the anti-vaxxer being sarcastic or are they dismissing the idea the government isn’t trying to implement mandatory vaccinations?
I love talking mandatory vaccinations (for those who can get them) with anti-vaxxers because most of them are completely opposed to the idea under the grounds of “personal choice” and “freedom”. In anti-vaxxer land if the government implement mandatory vaccinations, it infringes on their personal choice not to vaccinate their child. Fucking ironic.
Yeah the “personal choice” mantra doesn’t work if you are making a choice for someone else – namely your child.
“Seriously, have you done your research?” Nah, I read some tea leaves and consulted with my spirit animal.
We can tell.
“Please credibly cite which ‘harmful things’ are in vaccines and what makes them harmful.” Please credibly cite what’s in a vaccine.
They make it so damn easy. The Centre for Disease Control has it on their website. You can download the PDF here. When I hear anti-vaxxers says “Please credibly cite what’s in a vaccine” I automatically hear “Please credibly cite what’s in a vaccine in a way in which I can understand because all of those chemical names sound scary as hell and are hard to pronounce”.
“If the government finds out, won’t your children be taken away from you?” That’s what we’re hoping. Have a nice day!
Again, I’ll take “questions that never happened for $500”.
“People who don’t vaccinate their kids are selfish.” How so? We’re generously leaving more vaccines for you! Enjoy.
I agree vehemently with this sentiment. Anti-vaxxers are incredibility selfish – not only have they made a dangerous choice for their children, they have made a dangerous choice for the children around them and the wider community – some of whom cannot be protected by using vaccines. The amazing thing is, these are the same people who will demand that science save their children if their children were in need of urgent medical care.
“What? Your child didn’t get a flu shot? Now mine’s going to get meningitis.” Uh, riiiiight — and your obvious knowledge explains why you do vaccinate”.
The arrogance of anti-vaxxers ignorance amazes me. I wonder what type of people this anti-vaxxer is talking to because meningitis can mimic the flu in terms of symptoms but it much more severe especially to infants.
“Your kids deserve to die.” And you are a lovely person.”
I wouldn’t wish a child to die just because they’re parents made a dangerous choice for their child, that’s not right.
Scott from Skeptic North has done a fantastic article dismantling the common tactics and tropes that anti-vaxxers use in trying to rationalise their position. Largely vaccines are a product of their own success, most anti-vaxxers aren’t old enough to fear polio or experience measles or need to be thankful their child didn’t die from mumps and most children don’t get pertussis anymore. That’s by far one of the largest reasons why the anti-vaxxer movement has been able to flourish in recent years. Vaccinations work and because vaccinations work, absolutely nothing happens. People go on with their lives blissfully unaware there was a danger to begin with. Parents go on with their lives and don’t stop to think that their children have been saved from meningitis caused by Hib or from pneumonia caused by pneumococcus or that their children will never have to endure paralysis caused by polio or experience measles.
Despite the prevalence of dedicated science degrees at universities around the world, free science education from website such as socratic, coursera.org, edX , Bozeman science, pHet interaction simulations and Khan academy and even basic high-school science – another reason the anti-vaxxer movement has continued to flourish in recent years is not only due to the large number of parents who are wilfully scientifically illiterate, but also because of the people who stand to profit from its continuation. For example, even though we can prove thimerosal (which was at one point thought to be the cause of autism) at the level contained in vaccines never caused autism, the financial incentives of those interested in keeping the conspiracy alive means the anti-vaccination movement might be around for a little while longer.
As discussed in Paul Offit’s book “Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases” which follows the life and achievements of Maurice Hilleman (who developed eight of the 14 vaccines used in the current vaccination schedule), five studies performed on three continents clearly showed the incidences of autism were the same in children regardless of whether the vaccine contained thimerosal. The conclusion met by The Institute of Medicine, an independent organization within the National Academy of Sciences was that thimerosal did not cause or was linked to autism (A. Hviid, M. Stellfeld, J. Wohlfahrt, and M. Melbye (2003); Andrews, E. Miller, A. Grant, et al., (2004); J. Heron, J. Golding, and ALSPAC Study Team, (2004); S. Parker, B. Schwartz, J. Todd, and L. K. Pickering, (2004); Verstraeten, R. L. Davis, F. DeStefano, et al.(2003).
The best study that has been conducted to date in regards to vaccines, thimerosal and autism, studied the rates of autism in infants vaccinated between the years 1987 and 1998, when the quantity of thimerosal in vaccines varied (E. Fombonne, R. Zakarian, A. Bennett, et al, 2006). In Canada during 1987 and 1991, vaccinated babies in Montreal received 125 micrograms of thimerosal; between 1992 and 1995, they received 225 micrograms; and after 1996 they received 0 micrograms. If thimerosal caused autism, the study should have shown the incidences of autism should have been higher in children born between 1987 and 1995 when there was thimerosal in vaccines rather than in those born after thimerosal was no longer used. However the opposite was found, the incidence of autism was higher in babies born in years after thimerosal was no longer used. The findings were replicated in Denmark, a country that had abandoned thimerosal in 1991 with the increase in autism being found several years later after thimerosal had already been discontinued. The rise in autism rates can most likely be accounted for due to a broadening of the definition of the condition to include autistic spectrum disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder alongside broader diagnostic criteria and an increased awareness of the condition within the medical community making diagnosis and support easier to obtain.
That being said, there are profits to be made by personal injury lawyers, alternative medicine quacks and peddlers of pseudoscience – all with a keen interest in keeping the vaccine-autism “conspiracy” alive, after all there are supplements and quack treatments and desperate overwhelmed parents to prey on. Chelation therapy, chemical castration, diet supplements, bleach enemas, acupuncture, hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy, fad diets, chiropractic adjustments, urine therapies have all been promoted as ways to “treat” autism. Keeping the anti-vaxxer movement alive means more profits for the alternative medicine industry as more and more people are scared away from medicine.
I used to think that anti-vaxxers were scared parents who have been seduced by pseudoscience and misinformation. I’m going to amend that thought a little. Anti-vaxxers were once scared parents who have been seduced by pseudoscience and misinformation, however thanks to the anti-vaxxer cult, they have morphed into arrogant elitist narcissistic entitled anti-science (except when it suits them) human shaped personifications of the Dunning Kruger effect. I used to be sympathetic to anti-vaxxers and sincerely want to help them understand the ramifications of their actions – not anymore. Now, now I meet them with scorn and distaste.
The thing that tipped me over the edge is this pile of kitty litter:
The book in the image has been created by author Stephanie Messenger – an anti-vaxxer whose idea of parenting is purposely infecting children with preventable diseases. The same anti-vaxxer who was the ringleader behind anti-vaxxer Dr Tenpenny’s tour of Australia, you know the one – the one that has been cancelled due to the Australian public asserting our right to not give dangerous ideas a pulpit for promotion.
Does the title of the book ring a bell? It should, it is a play on the Roald Dahl classic “George’s Marvelous Medicine”. Messenger seems to be mocking Roald Dahl which is disgusting. What makes it worse is when you realise that not only is the book mocking Roald Dahl’s work but also the fact he had a daughter who died from the very disease Messenger is promoting.
“Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.
“Are you feeling all right?” I asked her.
“I feel all sleepy,” she said.
In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.”
To openly mock the suffering of another human being and to dismiss the loss Roald Dahl had experienced in the pursuit of selling a book that makes light of the dangers of disease is nothing less than appalling. For people like Stephanie Messenger to create propaganda full of misinformation about dangerous diseases means she has to actively dismiss each and every child who has ever suffered or died from those diseases.
That is fucking heartless.
Ultimately a wilful misunderstanding of science, how dosages work, how correlation doesn’t imply causation and a lack of basic understanding of chemistry have all combined into a massive pot labelled “anti-vaccination movement”. A small but vocal movement consisting of arrogant parents who believe parental “instinct” is far better than years of medical training (except when they need to go to the hospital) armed with an inability to entertain the idea they have been duped by their own misunderstanding of science.
Anti-vaxxer logic in regards to science looks a lot like faith-based versions of logic:
So what to do about anti-vaxxers and the wilful ignorance they carry around like a badge of honor? We can educate them with facts about vaccinations but mostly they don’t listen. We could enforce a criteria they must met before they speak about vaccinations.
So I present to you 22 Things We Should Be Saying to Mums Who Don’t Vaccinate.
Oh by the way, this bullshit:
A. Hviid, M. Stellfeld, J. Wohlfahrt, and M. Melbye, “Association between Thimerosal-Containing Vaccine and Autism,” Journal of the American Medical Association 290 (2003): 1763–66; T.
Andrews, E. Miller, A. Grant, et al., “Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Developmental Disorders: A Retrospective Cohort Study in the United Kingdom Does Not Show a Causal Association,” Pediatrics, 114 (2004):584–91.
E. Fombonne, R. Zakarian, A. Bennett, et al., “Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Prevalence and Links with Immunization,” Pediatrics 118 (2006): 139–50.
J. Heron, J. Golding, and ALSPAC Study Team, “Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Developmental Disorders: A Prospective Cohort Study in the United Kingdom Does Not Show a Causal Association,” Pediatrics 114 (2004): 577–83; N.
S. Parker, B. Schwartz, J. Todd, and L. K. Pickering, “Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines and Autistic Spectrum Disorder: A Critical Review of Published Original Data,” Pediatrics 114 (2004): 793–804.
Verstraeten, R. L. Davis, F. DeStefano, et al., “Safety of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: A Two-Phased Study of Computerized Health Maintenance Organization Databases,”Pediatrics 112 (2003): 1039–48.