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Improving Our Response to Anti-Vaccine Sentiment

As Vaccine Awareness Week draws to a close, I thought it might be instructive to step back and look at the tactics, impact, and successes of the anti-vaccine movement. Yesterday, Orac questioned the best approach to counter the anti-vaccine movement. With today’s post, I’ll summarize two pertinent papers on the effectiveness of their tactics, and suggest some possible approaches.

There’s overwhelming evidence that vaccines have provided us with tremendous health benefits. Smallpox has been eliminated (except, apparently, for homeopathic nosodes), polio is almost gone, and occurrences of diseases like measles or rubella are now rare. In use for over a century, they are a public health triumph: diseases that terrified us a generation ago are now never seen.  Epidemiologic evidence demonstrates that vaccines have a remarkable safety record, and are exceptionally cost-effective interventions. Yet in spite of this, concerns about vaccine safety seemingly continue to mount.  And as we see time and time again, when vaccination levels drop, diseases reappear. So what’s driving anti-vaccine sentiment, and why is it successful?

The H1N1 pandemic of 2009/10 is now about a year past its peak, and is instructive as a case study on communication on  vaccine safety and efficacy. Remember the H1N1 vaccine? Judging by the anti-vaccine rhetoric of just last year, by now we should all have been rounded up by the army, given forced injections, and if the vaccine didn’t kill us right away, or make us walk backwards, we’d be immunosupressed (from the aluminum adjuvant), or have Gulf War Syndrome (from the squalene). And not only did it not work, it doubled our odds of getting H1N1.  All we needed was vitamin D and a proprietary supplement formula to avoid the flu, they said.

There’s a new paper that attempted to evaluate population-level sentiment about the vaccine, as well as the key sources of antivaccination information that circulated at the time. Neil Seeman, Alton Ing, and Carlos Rizo recently published Assessing and Responding in Real Time to Online Anti-vaccine Sentiment during a Flu Pandemic in the journal Healthcare Quarterly. The authors had two objectives: evaluate Canadian attitudes about the safety of the H1N1 vaccine during the fall of 2009; and to aggregate and quantify the vaccine-related information that was being circulated online.

Percieved Safety of the H1N1 Vaccine

The authors wanted to understand how perceptions of safety were changing during the flu season by surveying Canadians on a daily basis. They used a commercial program that redirects visitors to nonsense URLs that would be reached by random accidents in entering web addresses. URL names used had no commercial or English name. This process is similar to random-digit dialing for internet users, as any user could conceivably enter an incorrect web address and land on a tracked site. There was no intent to track users seeking vaccine information – the process would simply identify a random sampling of internet users. Users that landed on a tracked site were asked “Is the H1N1 flu vaccine safe?” and answers were restricted to “yes”, “no”, “I don’t know”, or “skip”. Basic demographic information was also collected. Only Canadian IP addresses were exposed to the survey.

Over 27,000 respondents (1,141 visitors per day) completed the survey out of 175,000 that landed on a URL, a decent response rate of 15.6%.  Response was evenly distributed from across Canada, but was predominately female (61%) and, compared to known internet user demographics, skewed towards younger Canadians, with older adults significantly underrepresented.

Here’s how vaccine safety was perceived by the survey population over time:

 

There’s no statistical analysis conducted, but it seems reasonable to assume that concerns about the vaccine’s safety were substantial, and possibly even increased slightly over time. During the survey period, 23.4% of Canadians considered the vaccine safe, compared to 41.4% who indicated it was unsafe, and 35.2% who expressed no opinion.

What Drives Perceptions of Safety?

In the second part of the paper (unrelated to the survey) the authors describe their attempts to understand information being circulated online about H1N1 vaccine safety. They identified and tracked over 17,000 Google search results based on (English language) Google searches, and then ranked them based on how frequently the information was shared via social networks like Digg, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. On a daily basis, trending articles were reported and ranked in real time in their Flu Chat Lab. The authors aggregated the most shared links overall in an appendix to the paper.

Here are the results. Round up the usual suspects:

  1. YouTube video: Convenience store clerk touting Vitamin C and fish oil
  2. YouTube video: “Girl gets ‘Flu’ shot & now can only walk backwards”
  3. Mercola article: “Critical Alert: The Swine Flu Pandemic – Fact or Ficton?”
  4. Atlantic article: “Does the Vaccine Matter?”
  5. Prison Planet article: “CDC warns neurologists to watch for nerve disease following swine flu shots”
  6. Informationisbeautiful.net: “Is the H1N1 swine flu vaccine safe? What if I’m pregnant?”
  7. Mercola article: “Swine Flu – One of the Most Massive Cover-ups in American History”
  8. Flu.gov article: Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Anne Schuchat dispels myths about the H1N1 flu virus on The Doctors
  9. Mercola article: “Warning: Swine Flu Shot Linked to Killer Nerve Disease”
  10. Mercola article: “Alert: Special Swine Flu Update”
  11. Newscientist.com article: “Swine Flu: Eight Myths That Could Endanger Your Life”
  12. CDC.gov article: CDC’s Questions and Answers: “Vaccine against 2009 H1N1 Influenza Virus”
  13. Mercola article: “Squalene: The Swine Flu Vaccine’s Dirty Little Secret Exposed”
  14. Mercola article: “Flu Vaccine Exposed”
  15. Mercola article: “CBS Reveals That Swine Flu Cases Seriously Overestimated”
  16. Natural News article: “Ten Swine Flu Lies Told by the Mainstream Media”
  17. Mercola article: “Expert Pediatrician Exposes Vaccine Myths”
  18. WebMD article: “Swine Flu FAQ”
  19. Natural News article: “”Vaccine Revolt! Swine Flu Vaccine Support Crumbles”
  20. “Fact sheet” from the Arizona government’s news release on H1N1

Not very inspiring, is it?

Now there’s inadequate information in the paper to evaluate how accurately the survey method used tracked actual sites shared. But based on the methodology used, articles questioning the safety of the H1N1 vaccine were circulated widely, and anti-vaccine articles and sources dominated.

Are the anti-vaccine tactics effective?

If we accept that decisions to vaccinate are based on an evaluation of the risks of both commission and omission, then we should ask if exposure to anti-vaccine information has a meaningful impact on perceptions of the safety of vaccines. There is some literature that has studied this question. An interesting paper published earlier this year by Betsch and colleagues set out to prospectively measure the impact of anti-vaccination websites. They recruited 517 internet users (from sites for parents or those interested in medical information) and compared risk judgment and vaccination intentions before and after viewing different websites. (The evaluation was in German and used German websites. ) Users were directed to view a vaccine-critical website, or a neutral website, and then evaluated again.  The authors found that viewing anti-vaccine material for only five to ten minutes increased the perception of risk of vaccination, and decreased the perception of risk of omitting vaccines, compared to viewing neutral websites. It also lowered vaccination intentions.

Overwhelmingly, policy analyses of the anti-vaccine movement have centered on the need to address fears by providing reliable, accurate understandable information. But if H1N1 taught us anything, it’s that traditional public health advocacy and messaging is probably insufficient to deal with anti-vaccine tactics used today. We believe that providing the facts alone will be effective, but this tactic is probably ineffective when responding to unfounded fears. Providing factual information, and correcting misinformation needs to be at the core of our advocacy, but it alone does not address the strategies used by anti-vaccine advocates.  It’s the reality we need to accept if we’re going to effectively counter these messages.

Conclusion

One of the biggest drivers of health behaviors is risk perceptions. Anti-vaccine information effectively shapes this, and science advocates need more effective responses. The opportunity to get a real-time understanding of popular anti-vaccine sentiment could help us improve our responsiveness. But unless we focus on prospectively influencing the key factors that drive decisions about vaccination, we’ll continue to struggle.

 

 

Posted in: Science and the Media, Vaccines

Leave a Comment (39) ↓

39 thoughts on “Improving Our Response to Anti-Vaccine Sentiment

  1. nory says:

    Excellent article!
    Health education and especially counteracting preconceived and/or irrational beliefs it really takes more then providing scientifically correct data. As an active health educator for more then 20 year (in a eastern European country) I understood that fear is a forceful agent and statistics, figures or referring to scientific studies are of little help in counteracting its effects on people who don’t understand the basics of how science works. That is probably one of the main reasons why governments and professional health educators can’t keep up with the public’s irrational reaction to the scare propaganda that goes on for so long around already classic themes as vaccines, additives, bigpharma etc. That is why apparently so many people with cancer or other severe diseases are tragically choosing oversimplistic cancer cures or panacea instead of well researched medications. In a small study that I’ve done during my PhD research I’ve found out that more than 13% of the respondents (Internet users) believed that people should refuse any conventional treatment when ill. So if we want to be more efficient, we need to find the right methods to deal with fear as far as health and disease is concerned.
    Another common sens observation that we often seem to forget is that any educational campaign that leaves the impression of a war against people (persons) is counterproductive. So, I think we need to be more considerate with how people feel when confronted with information that undermines long cherished believes, if we really want to help them not just to show them the we are right. An efficient strategy perhaps would imply understanding the opponents’ position, the emotional and psychological implications.
    Once again, thanks for this extremely insightful entry.

  2. kirkmc says:

    I live in France, and the H1N1 vaccine caused a huge outpouring of fear and a great deal of wacko reporting, even in the mainstream press. So this year’s flu vaccine has been released, and it includes the H1N1 vaccine, and I haven’t seen the slightest article about it being dangerous, or any comments from the “doctor” who said, on TV, that it would kill 60,000 French people. Odd, isn’t it?

  3. arclight says:

    We have the facts on our side, so the problem is one of rhetoric & risk communication. Too often the appeal to follow the science seems to be an argument from authority. My response is to ask how one knows what is true – reframing it as a question to try to start a dialogue rather than a confrontation.

    Most of those suspicious of vaccines aren’t True Believers, they have genuine concerns for their health and the health of their kids, and they don’t have a good feel for the risks involved with vaccines. Risk perception is a fascinating topic, and it goes far beyond just understanding the probability & consequences of bad outcomes resulting from a decision. In order to put risks in perspective, one first has to understand and address those issues of risk perception that anti-vaccination groups exploit to their advantage.

    Simply telling people the facts will not be as helpful as asking them basic questions and letting them discover the facts. This takes more patience, tact and compassion than we show with the True Believers, but nobody ever said public engagement was easy.

  4. gretemike says:

    “Epidemiologic evidence demonstrates that vaccines have a remarkable safety record, and are exceptionally cost-effective interventions. Yet in spite of this, concerns about vaccine safety seemingly continue to mount. And as we see time and time again, when vaccination levels drop, diseases reappear. So what’s driving anti-vaccine sentiment, and why is it successful?”

    Remarkable safety record, cost-effective and yet their use requires special laws to protect the vaccine manufacturers and a special fund to compensate victims.

    In considering what is driving anti-vaccine sentiment, never forget to give the lawyers their due.

  5. MKirschMD says:

    The anti-vaccine crowd makes some noise, but they are a fringe element. Fortunately, their hysteria is not as contagious as the diseases that these vaccines are saving us from.

  6. gretemike says:

    Doctor Kirsch, consider the example of Andrew Wakefield who came frighteningly close to discrediting the MMR vaccine via a bogus study that was actually accepted by The Lancet. I’m not certain whether I am prepared to accept that “they are a fringe element.”

    And while I’m on the subject let’s not forget that Wakefield was originally bankrolled by some pretty devious legal interests who wanted to use his studies as a basis for suing the vaccine manufacturers. When it comes to questions of vaccine safety, I suspect that underhanded legal interests deserve a lot of the credit.

  7. David Gorski says:

    The anti-vaccine crowd makes some noise, but they are a fringe element. Fortunately, their hysteria is not as contagious as the diseases that these vaccines are saving us from.

    I beg to differ here.

    gretemike is correct. Consider the example of Andrew Wakefield. With the help of the credulous and sensationalistic U.K. press, Wakefield produced a scare that led MMR uptake rates to plunge from the 90+% range (which is enough for herd immunity) to as low as 50% in some parts of London and 70% in large swaths of the country. Herd immunity plummeted. Measles, which had been declared to be under control and no longer endemic in the U.K. in the mid-1990s, came roaring back with a vengeance, to the point where in 2008 U.K. health authorities were forced to declare measles as being endemic in the U.K. again.

    Decades of progress, erased in just a few years! It’ll take at least a decade to get back to where the U.K. was in the mid-1990s with respect to measles. All thanks to the anti-vaccine movement. Two years ago, Jenny McCarthy appeared to be on the verge of replicating Wakefield’s “achievement” here in the U.S. Fortunately, for now at least, she appears to have failed. Over the last year, I even perceive that she appears to have backed away a bit from the anti-vaccine movement, most likely to plumb the more lucrative territory of getting her own Oprah-bankrolled talk show.

    So, while it is true that the anti-vaccine movement is largely fringe, it has a huge impact and is becoming more mainstream. Indeed, when I attended TAM, which should be a bastion of critical thought and science, I was disturbed to encounter anti-vaccine sentiment even among self-proclaimed skeptics. It was only a handful, but that there were any attendees there at all who bought into anti-vaccine views was disturbing to me.

  8. Th1Th2 says:

    David Gorski,

    Was there any small pox epidemic recorded in the United States after it stopped vaccinating the people for 9 years despite the presence continued global threat, that is, prior to global eradication in 1980?

  9. anniekey says:

    Great article, and I definitely don’t think we’re there yet. Having dealt with a few of these people in clinical settings, I can say that I always get incredibly frustrated dealing with anti-vax parents. But I also feel that as a medical trainee, I have no good framework for dealing with the issue, and have never been presented with one other than “explain the side effects, and then explain how terrible the vaccine-preventable illnesses are”.

    I really don’t see more or better information as being the defining factor for a parent’s decision to vaccinate. I can tell a parent that X number of studies show that there is no link between vaccines and autism and that vaccines are safe, but because they heard from a friend of a friend that little Johnny was diagnosed with autism after having his MMR that trumps any RCTs I can throw at them. Similarly I find that statistics don’t work either, because a drastic decrease in the number of cases of Hib is a tough sell to someone who is convinced that their kid won’t get sick since they’re at home with mom instead of at daycare. Talking about how horrible vaccine-preventable illnesses are also doesn’t work because then the parent will assume I’m trying to scare them into compliance. At the root I feel like a lot of this has to do with the poor quality of science education at the secondary school level, and a general distrust of experts, both of which allow the anti-vax lobby to thrive. They’re really good at appeals to emotion and seem to hit a nerve with people, and I think we need to figure out a way to be more like that, because right now a lot of the time our attempts at helping/convincing are seen as narrow-minded condescension on the part of the ‘medical lobby’.

  10. deceptionisdeception says:

    Why do you need to improve your response to antivaccine sentiment? Surely it’s none of your business? Why do you feel entitled to attack people whose choices differ from your own? Would you also provide published evidence of the relative contributions of sanitation, welfare state, medical treatments and other factors, to the decline in infectious disease? Thanks

  11. FreeSpeaker says:

    Based on that list of articles, it appears that a change of focus. Away from AoA, Handley, et al, and a laser like focus on Jo$eph Mercola.

    He has way too much influence that has gone unchallenged for too long.

  12. rtcontracting says:

    Science and statistics doesn’t reach the majority of the public. The average person doesn’t understand how science works.

    The anti-vaxers have been very effective at using youtube as a tool to spread their misinformation. I think that people that understand the value of vaccination need to be reaching people via internet videos.

    What doesn’t work is some scientist or doctor talking about p-values. What does work is a parent talking about their child.

    Some examples of this are:

    http://www.familiesfightingflu.org/?page_id=9

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWb9LOst8m0

    This type of information hits home with parents and moves the focus from the risks of vaccination to the risks of vaccine preventable disease.

  13. Chris says:

    deceptionisdeception:

    Surely it’s none of your business? Why do you feel entitled to attack people whose choices differ from your own?

    It is my business when I have a medically fragile child who depends on herd immunity (which I did for a while). Please tell us exactly why how you would have protected these boys if they were your children. Would you care if your child needs depended on everyone else being immunized?

    Also, every parent of a child under a year old depends on herd immunity to protect that child from measles, mumps, chicken pox and pertussis (they don’t get maximum immunity until they complete a four vaccine DTaP series). Have you ever had a child under a year old? I have had to deal with a six-month old with chicken pox. It was not mild, and it was over two weeks of pure sleepless misery.

    Now about that sanitation question: Why did measles return to both Japan and the UK in the decade? Was there are severe decline in “contributions of sanitation, welfare state, medical treatments” in both of those countries?

  14. windriven says:

    @deception

    Your question lacks logic. The suggestion that the usefulness of sanitation, etc. in reducing disease transmission in some way diminishes the importance of vaccination is a non sequitur.

  15. nory says:

    The H1N1 pandemic would be a good case to analyze.

    Here is a quote from the second public hearing that took place in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

    “… and the Polish government set aside resources to buy appropriate numbers of vaccines but the conditions of purchase for vaccines proposed by producers were dubious for us, vaccines were to be purchased only by governments and not available directly to individuals, and to units of health care system, the producers of the vaccine expected that Polish government would take full responsibility for any undesirable side effects offering sale at the risk and on the responsibility of the purchaser.”

    Here you can find the summary and some excerpts from the hearings:
    http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/NewsManager/EMB_NewsManagerView.asp?ID=5415

    And this is the link to the Polish Minister’s address I quoted from

    http://assembly.coe.int/CommitteeDocs/2010/20100329_MinisterKopaczAddress.pdf

  16. nory says:

    “The participants also regretted that the WHO had not accepted the invitation to participate in this second hearing.”

    No wonder the antiwax sentiments are high in Europe.

  17. Scott says:

    Why do you need to improve your response to antivaccine sentiment? Surely it’s none of your business? Why do you feel entitled to attack people whose choices differ from your own?

    We don’t “attack” those whose choices differ from our own. We attempt to educate those who have been deceived by charlatans. And the need for such is driven by the fact that antivaccinationism poses a severe risk to childrens’ well-being. This is NOT a matter of “choice,” when there is only one option that can be rationally supported and the other “choice” leads to the death and injury of innocents for no reason.

    Would you also provide published evidence of the relative contributions of sanitation, welfare state, medical treatments and other factors, to the decline in infectious disease? Thanks

    The UK post-Wakefield is an excellent demonstration of how irrelevant this question is. Did sanitation or medical care get worse after Wakefield? Did the welfare state change dramatically? No. Just vaccination. And we see the results today.

    A very compelling natural experiment demonstrating just how much of the reduction in these diseases is from vaccination, and how little has to do with ANYTHING else.

  18. Th1Th2 says:

    Scott, are you is prosetelysing cause I have heard of that before?

    John 3:16 (New International Version)

     16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

    Millions of people have been killed in the name of God. But don’t worry Modern Medicine is not too far behind. At least 700,000 sheople die every year for just being devout patients.

    2 damaged kids had been customers for life and until death. They were in a vicious cycle of unhealthiness and sickness that it was hard to get out from the moment they were in. But to qualify a recruit (unvaccinated) must receive the sacrament of baptism, the vaccine.

    Smart people know that the infection-promoting nature of natural exposure to infection and deliberate inoculation is NOT a matter of choice. Those who propagate the teachings of either two should deserve any possible infection known to man and suffer the consequences. But please, DO NOT infect the innocent and the naive.

  19. Th1Th2 says:

    Chris,

    “It is my business when I have a medically fragile child who depends on herd immunity (which I did for a while).”

    Why don’t you stay in the hospital? You can find the ‘herd’ you’re looking for mostly occupying every hospital rooms.

  20. Zetetic says:

    @ deceptionisdeception & Th1Th2:

    If you, in fact, do not/would not immunize your children, are you ready for a wrongful death or negligence lawsuit from the parent of a child who, for whatever medical reasons, cannot be immunized? This is the question I’m going to start asking every parent I encounter who is anti-vax. I know provider in my organization who already asks this question.

  21. Sid Offit says:

    @David

    Roaring back with a vengeance? Scary, sounds like a Judas Priest album.

  22. Calli Arcale says:

    Chris:

    Now about that sanitation question: Why did measles return to both Japan and the UK in the decade? Was there are severe decline in “contributions of sanitation, welfare state, medical treatments” in both of those countries?

    There’s a flip side to that. Why is it that, in countries without good sanitation but with polio vaccination campaigns, polio rates have gone down? I’m talking countries with sanitation so poor they’re still battling cholera on a daily basis. Polio is transmitted basically the same way as cholera; why is it that if these people get vaccinated against polio, they continue to suffer cholera but polio goes away, if sanitation is really the answer?

    I found this link:
    http://www.tcd.ie/Economics/Development_Studies/link.php?id=86
    By 2004, there were only nine countries in Africa that still had polio virus outbreaks. However, a resolution made by Health Ministers in September 2004 stating that national governments, the WHO, the UN and countless NGOs and CSOs would combine efforts and work in order to eradicate the disease. The issue of polio was also included at an African Union summit in January 2005.

    This commitment showed great results as within one year of the reaffirmation of Health Ministers of their commitment to polio eradication. There were only 819 cases reported in Africa in 2005, with ninety-four per cent of these cases occurring in one country, Nigeria. Since then, however, a new vaccination process saw case numbers drop by seventy-five per cent in a one year period between 2006 and 2007.

    Given the general conditions in Africa, it seems highly unlikely that such a significant gain in sanitation was made in the space of one year, and it is noteworthy that of all the cases which occurred in Africa in 2005, 94% were in Nigeria, a nation which was at the time in the grip of a completely different antivax hysteria. Can one seriously argue that Nigeria’s sanitiation in 2005 was really that much worse than, say, Uganda, which was not suffering a polio outbreak?

    The sanitation argument (that vaccines didn’t save us, sanitation did) becomes convincing in the US because, for the most part, the hygiene advances came before the vaccine. That is not the case in impoverished countries, which lacked the infrastructure for these advances. It is much harder to argue that sanitation really stopped polio in countries which still largely lack water treatment facilities. Case in point: Cameroon today is suffering its worst cholera epidemic in decades, and cholera epidemics are usually good indicators of poor sanitation and/or insufficient access to clean water supplies. If they don’t have good sanitation, how’d they get rid of polio? Answer: they vaccinate.

  23. Th1Th2 says:

    Zetetic,

    “If you, in fact, do not/would not immunize your children, are you ready for a wrongful death or negligence lawsuit from the parent of a child who, for whatever medical reasons, cannot be immunized? This is the question I’m going to start asking every parent I encounter who is anti-vax. I know provider in my organization who already asks this question.”

    Argumentum ad ignorantiam.

  24. windriven says:

    @zetetic

    Please, don’t feed the animals.

  25. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    @zetetic

    Echoing windriven. Th1Th2 provides no concrete arguments, defines no terms, fails to clearly explain his/her premises (let alone conclusions) and offers only misleading negative arguments and coy non sequiters when asked for clarification, a specific positive argument or an attempt to arrive at a concrete, mutually-agreed upon understanding of a topic. The best summary I can give is that they believe:

    * bypassing the primary method of a pathogen gaining access to the body (i.e. lungs for influenza) produces some sort of unreliable, possibly dangerous response that doesn’t provide immunity, thus vaccination is worthless.
    * vaccinating with an antigen is worthless since it is not the actual pathogen
    * vaccination somehow pollutes the body and we’d all live forever in perfect health if only we never got vaccinated for anything

    These points pretty much speak for themselves, but there’s probably a couple wrinkles when it comes to acquired versus innate immunity and there’s no awareness of relative risk or the tension between individual versus population health approaches.

    You’re chasing a moving set of goalposts that are deliberately kept obscured. There’s a great example of the futility of this in the comments of the following post:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=5219&cpage=2

  26. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Oops, I should probably add that Th1Th2 also believes the innate immune system is somehow perfect and can present all disease if only it is never bypassed by injection. Apparently in his/her experience, the skin is never scraped and somehow flossing/sexual intercourse/paper cuts don’t cause microcuts in the gums/genitals/skin.

  27. WilliamLawrenceUtridge,

    Don’t forget pooping. Th1Th2 thinks the only way we can be contaminated by pooping happens after we don’t wash our hands. Microcuts in the rectum and anus don’t exist.

    Also, all disease is transmitted by people with symptoms. Asymptomatic people aren’t really asymptomatic, they are under the weather and have the sniffles. If you want to avoid infectious disease it’s as easy as covering your nose when someone else sneezes. Between covering your nose and not getting vaccinated, you are pollution-free! Easy-peasy.

    I don’t think there is any positive argument. I think that Th1Th2 begins and ends with pollution being a bad thing.

  28. pmoran says:

    As WLU has eloquently said.

    I normally urge tolerance of those testing out opposing viewpoints here and on other skeptical fora.

    It is a healthy thing to do. Both sides can learn something. I admit that is rarely evident at the time, but even tentative intellectual positions are rarely altered or rejected overnight.

    These exchanges have a very different feel to them.

  29. Zetetic says:

    “Argumentum ad ignorantiam.” ????????

    I’d like to compare credentials with Th1Th2!

  30. Th1Th2 says:

    WilliamLawrenceUtridge,

    “The best summary I can give is that they believe:

    * bypassing the primary method of a pathogen gaining access to the body (i.e. lungs for influenza) produces some sort of unreliable, possibly dangerous response that doesn’t provide immunity, thus vaccination is worthless.”
    * vaccinating with an antigen is worthless since it is not the actual pathogen
    * vaccination somehow pollutes the body and we’d all live forever in perfect health if only we never got vaccinated for anything”
    ———-

    Vaccination, like natural infection, is worthless. It does not confer immunity (read: protection) but promotes infection. Smart people neither promote nor advocate infection to naive children. They must be protected from KNOWN infectious sources i.e. contagious individuals and vaccines.

    Your argument is akin to Dr Gorski’s statement when he stated :
    “because they think that “natural” is always better to the point of thinking that it’s better to get a vaccine-preventable disease in order to achieve immunity than to vaccinate against it” http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=7838. A very typical “lesser of the two evils” fallacy.

    “Oops, I should probably add that Th1Th2 also believes the innate immune system is somehow perfect and can present all disease if only it is never bypassed by injection. Apparently in his/her experience, the skin is never scraped and somehow flossing/sexual intercourse/paper cuts don’t cause microcuts in the gums/genitals/skin.”

    You know for sure that scrapes and microcuts are NOT synonymous let alone as serious and extensive as a deliberate intramuscular injury inflicted upon innocent children in most inoculation.

  31. Th1Th2 says:

    Alison Cummins,

    “Don’t forget pooping. Th1Th2 thinks the only way we can be contaminated by pooping happens after we don’t wash our hands. Microcuts in the rectum and anus don’t exist. ”

    That’s laughable. Are you saying the diseases below are caused by having “microcuts in the rectum and anus”?

    * Giardiasis[1]
    * Hepatitis A[2]
    * Hepatitis E[3]
    * Rotavirus
    * Shigellosis (bacillary dysentery)[4]
    * Typhoid fever[5]
    * Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections[6]
    * Enteroviruses, including poliomyelitis
    * Cholera
    * Clostridium difficile
    * Cryptosporidiosis
    * Ascariasis

    “Also, all disease is transmitted by people with symptoms. ”

    Unless they are properly isolated (those with infectious diseases), they can transmit and spread the infection.

    “Asymptomatic people aren’t really asymptomatic, they are under the weather and have the sniffles. ”

    Do you believe in fairies too?

  32. Th1Th2 says:

    Zetetic,

    “I’d like to compare credentials with Th1Th2!”

    So that you can resort to ad hominem attacks, wouldn’t you?

  33. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Well, there we go. We finally have a clearer idea of what Thing believes and, no surprise, it’s not based on any in science. I think the newest wrinkle is that the best way to prevent infection is complete isolation. Though, to be fair that is a good solution. If we could figure out how to stop the entire world from going anywhere and doing anything for a full month, we completely eliminate all infectious disease! Unless it’s got an animal reservoir.

    @Zetetic

    It doesn’t matter what someone’s credentials are. Thing could have multiple PhDs in infectious disease and immunology – the arguments are still completely unrelated to the evidence base for immunization.

  34. Dr Benway says:

    Our eLuddite friend is having a hard time moving on.

    Ok guys. Time to break out that new vaccine we can send to people over the Internet.

  35. Dr Benway says:

    Yeah the argument from ignorance is not:

    “You don’t seem to know what you are talking about.”

    It’s more of the form:

    “Psychiatrists do not understand much about emotion. Therefore, Dianetics is true.”

    Or:

    “Biologists can’t explain everything about the Big Bang. Therefore, Intelligent Design theory is true.”

  36. Chris says:

    On another blog a person brought up the notion that infants could be protected from pertussis by isolating the mother and child. He claimed that some cultures protected newborns by doing this. I have asked him to identify those cultures, but it has been a few days and he has not returned.

    But it made me think on how that could realistically be accomplished in an industrial society. I wondered how a woman would be able to care for a newborn in isolation if she had older children. Those of us who have had small children know that we cannot even go into the bathroom without little knocks on the door, followed by little voices asking for mommy or daddy.

    So the mother and child would have to be confined to their own place in the house, where the father would bring food, diapers, other supplies and take away the remains and dirty laundry. But that would be impossible unless he worked from home. He would also have to do the laundry, the shopping and care for the older children. No one could come near them if they had contact with the outside world.

    But I think I did come up with a way to protect babies for their first year without requiring vaccines for anyone. It would be a special set of isolation condos attached to the birthing hospital. The mother and child would live in this condo starting in the mother’s last trimester because you don’t want the mother to give pertussis to the newborn (and in the new non-vax world pertussis would be endemic). This also makes sure that they are not exposed while in transit between home and the hospital/condo complex.

    The condos would have kitchens, laundry, exercising equipment, a computer with Skype to communicate with family (and husband who she won’t see in person for over a year), and a venting system to keep germs away. Meals and/or groceries would be delivered through a special cupboard by personnel who are screened to be free of illness. There will be no contact with any other humans.

    When she goes into labor, a specially screened team will go into the condo wearing full white room gear (jumpsuits, respirators, the whole bit). They will put her on a gurney, whisk her to the delivery room.

    After the baby is born and has a cursory exam they will be returned to their special condo, which is now outfitted with sterilized clothing and accessories for the baby. The clothing, baby food and toys will be exchanged for age appropriate ones as the baby grows in its first year.

    The child’s progress will be monitored with closed circuit cameras installed in the condo. That way experts can judge if the child is developing normally, and check on the mother’s mental health. Obviously, the well child checks must be done by remote.

    On the child’s first birthday the mother and child will check out of the condo, and go to a special reception area where they will see their family for the first time in fifteen months.

    It would be the Pre and Postpartum Pertussis Protection Prison… oops, Project!

  37. WilliamLawrenceUtridge said somewhat ironically -
    “Though, to be fair that is a good solution. If we could figure out how to stop the entire world from going anywhere and doing anything for a full month, we completely eliminate all infectious disease! Unless it’s got an animal reservoir.”

    Really, only a month? Assuming that family units are still living together in one household, I think that we would have to isolate longer than a month for chicken pox or pertussis, if one child had it, then gave it to the other child…

    Oh, but one small part of me says, ‘what the heck, lets give it a shot’. I will admit that it’s only the small part of me that feels a global apocalypse is inevitable and we may as well get it over with. Who are we planning on giving the power to enforce a worldwide quarantine?

  38. mira says:

    I’ve found the best way to convince people to get vaccinated is to try to relate it to something personal eg. if you get the vaccine, you have a lower chance of getting the flu, and will protect other members of your family, particularly the elderly who may have chronic illnesses. Also, you will protect your children from getting the flu and having to stay home from school and needing a babysitter.

    Another argument that works well for people who travel a lot eg. truck drivers, is that they will need to take fewer sick days if they are protected with the flu vaccine.

    I’ve been administering the inactivated injection, and have found that it helps to explain how the inactivated vaccine is made and works. There is a lot of misinformation out there that we as pharmacists are in an excellent position to correct. I often get a chance to educate people when I open the conversation by asking them if they’ve had their flu shot yet.

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