What do Andrew Wakefield and Big Tobacco executives have in common?


I might have wondered what Andrew Wakefield feels about sparking a measles epidemic among a vulnerable population in Minnesota, but I should have known that he would feel exactly like executives of Big Tobacco felts about lung cancer deaths.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It’s hardly surprising that Wakefield apes the actions of Big Tobacco executives in denying responsibility. The fundamental strategy of anti-vax advocacy comes straight from the Big Tobacco playbook.[/pullquote]

The young mother started getting advice … Don’t let your children get the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella — it causes autism, they said.

Suaado Salah listened. And this spring, her 3-year-old boy and 18-month-old girl contracted measles in Minnesota’s largest outbreak of the highly infectious and potentially deadly disease in nearly three decades. Her daughter, who had a rash, high fever and cough, was hospitalized for four nights and needed intravenous fluids and oxygen.

How could such a thing happen? Even though her sister died from the disease in Somalia, the mother believed that her children couldn’t get the measles in the US.

“I thought: ‘I’m in America. I thought I’m in a safe place and my kids will never get sick in that disease,’ ” said Salah, 26, who has lived in Minnesota for more than a decade.

Anti-vaccine activists repeatedly brought Andrew Wakefield to speak to the community. You may remember Wakefield, now stripped of his medical license, because he published a paper in which he lied about a connection between the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine and autism. Why did he lie? Because he was preparing to market a different vaccine that he was going to claim was safer. Despite the fact that he has been repeatedly and thoroughly discredited, anti-vaxxers still believe him. Not all that surprisingly when you consider anti-vaxxers have a perfect record in their 200 years of existence; they’ve never been right about anything!

So how does Wakefield feel about the harm he has caused:

“The Somalis had decided themselves that they were particularly concerned,” Wakefield said last week. “I was responding to that.”

He maintained that he bears no fault for what is happening within the community. “I don’t feel responsible at all,” he said.

Hmmm, why does that sound familiar? Oh, I remember; that’s the defense that Big Tobacco used for years to disclaim responsibility for lung cancer deaths from cigarettes.

The technique of blaming the victim is outlined in the paper Tobacco Industry Use of Personal Responsibility Rhetoric in Public Relations and Litigation: Disguising Freedom to Blame as Freedom of Choice:

The tobacco industry’s use of explicit personal responsibility rhetoric reached its height in the 1980s, during a wave of consumer litigation in which the tobacco defendants countered injured smokers’ lawsuits with claims that ultimately the responsibility for the consequences of smoking cigarettes belonged to the smoker who voluntarily consumed them.

As a Philip Morris executive wrote in 1985:

It all comes down to the individual’s right to make up his own mind and to take responsibility for his own actions.

It’s hardly surprising that Wakefield apes the actions of Big Tobacco executives in denying responsibility. The fundamental strategy of anti-vax advocacy comes straight from the Big Tobacco playbook.

We have access to tobacco company files that detail marketing strategy, including a memo from the late 1960s that provides an overview:

Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the “body of fact” that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy. Within the business we recognize that a controversy exists. However, with the general public the consensus is that cigarettes are in some way harmful to the health. If we are successful in establishing a controversy at the public level, then there is an opportunity to put across the real facts about smoking and health. (my emphasis)

The memo is startling for its insight. Simply put, tobacco companies did not have to refute the scientific evidence about smoking and cancer; merely creating doubt in the mind of the American consumer was all that was necessary to maintain or increase demand for cigarettes.

It’s the same strategy employed to equally deadly effect by Wakefield and the anti-vax movement.

Doubt is their primary product. They don’t have to refute the scientific evidence about the safety and efficacy of vaccines (nor could they). Merely creating doubt in the mind of the American parent is all that is necessary to promote vaccine hesitancy and refusal. If it’s good enough for tobacco executives in promoting their product, it’s good enough for anti-vaxxers in promoting theirs.

Indeed, the overall strategy of anti-vaxxers maps that of Tobacco industry to a remarkable degree, including:

1. Denying the validity of the overwhelming majority of scientific evidence on the dangers of cigarettes/vaccine refusal.

2. Cherry picking and promoting the tiny fraction of studies that disagree

3. Insisting that science can never provide 100% certainty

4. Claiming the issue is a matter of individual freedom

Anti-vax advocacy has added its own little fillips: framing doubt, the most important product, as a sign of intellectual independence (“doing your own research”) and framing defiance of authority as a good in and of itself.

Andrew Wakefield is no different from tobacco executives — selling a deadly product, denying the scientific evidence, promoting dangerous choices as “freedom,” blaming the victims by invoking personal responsibility — and equally despicable.

85 Responses to “What do Andrew Wakefield and Big Tobacco executives have in common?”

  1. thevaccinemachine
    July 6, 2017 at 5:16 pm #

    Speech can’t spark an outbreak, Trashbag

    • Empress of the Iguana People
      July 6, 2017 at 5:44 pm #

      Bless your heart. Convincing others to do something inherently dangerous can indeed spark injuries and death. But I suppose you believe that vaccines are more dangerous than the diseases. They aren’t.

      • thevaccinemachine
        July 6, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

        “Convincing others to do something inherently dangerous…”

        Doing what?

  2. Zoe Hagenson
    May 22, 2017 at 7:12 am #

    I like your blog, Amy, but I wish you hadn’t picked on this guy, I just can’t believe anything people write about Andy Wakefield after reading the book about fenoterol in NZ and how the whistleblower (an epidemiologist) just could not get any traction, and many many New Zealanders with asthma died while he was repeatedly ignored and attacked by respiratory specialists and drug companies. It took years and years, and finally he got listened to and fenoterol was relegated to the history books.

    So yes, there is most definitely doubt in my mind. Sometimes people who are trying to expose uncomfortable truths in our scientific communities get ignored and made into scapegoats. Worse, it becomes a side-show from the real issues.

    • MaineJen
      May 22, 2017 at 9:00 am #

      …except that Wakefield isn’t a whistleblower, he’s a charlatan and a fraud. And how about that uncomfortable truth that an immigrant community in Minnesota is now suffering a measles outbreak in which many children have been hospitalized? And that Wakefield and his followers are directly responsible?

      • Zoe Hagenson
        May 22, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

        Yes, well-refuted. Sorry for my rubbish post. Will do better next time.

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
      May 22, 2017 at 9:38 am #

      There have been numerous well done studies done to test Wakefield’s “theory” that the MMR vaccine caused autism, ALL of them found NO evidence to support his theory:


      Wakefield had his medical license revoked for fraud: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136032/

      Wakefield was also conducting research on children without clearance:

      “The Lancet completely retracted the Wakefield et al.[1] paper in February 2010, admitting that several elements in the paper were incorrect, contrary to the findings of the earlier investigation.[7] Wakefield et al.[1] were held guilty of ethical violations (they had conducted invasive investigations on the children without obtaining the necessary ethical clearances) and scientific misrepresentation (they reported that their sampling was consecutive when, in fact, it was selective). This retraction was published as a small, anonymous paragraph in the journal, on behalf of the editors.[8]”

      • Zoe Hagenson
        May 22, 2017 at 5:51 pm #

        Yes, thank you, I have read the retraction that was published (about 2004?) and it sounds as if he charmed his colleagues into trusting him, while deceiving them terribly. An extraordinary fellow. I have met several people who have committed fraud in their home country and then migrated and started out gain in the same fraudulent path quite successully in a new country, and Wakefield certainly reminds me of them. I’m sorry, I really messed up my post, will do better next time.

    • Azuran
      May 22, 2017 at 9:43 am #

      Except that the study wakefield did was just complete shit, he’s a fraud and he make the entire thing to try to sell his own vaccine. He was also a gastroenterologist, so neither an epidemiologist, an immunologist or a neurologist, so he had no real credential to be making a study on vaccines and autism.
      And despite all this, we listened to the concerns of anti-vaxxer and did A LOT of studies to see if there was indeed a link. And it has been shown again, and again and again and again that there isn’t one.

      Scientist often make mistakes, first studies about any topic will often be refuted by following, stronger studies. It’s all part of the scientific method. And when this happens, real, honest scientist will accept the new results. If Wakefield wasn’t a fraud, he would have accepted the overwhelming evidence that vaccines don’t cause autism, stop his anti-vaccine activism and moved on to something else

      • Zoe Hagenson
        May 22, 2017 at 5:46 pm #

        Agreed. Probably he has other plans too, to create income streams from products and services for families with vaccine-damaged children. He doesn’t actually need the scientific community to believe him, just enough people to support a comfortable lifestyle. My argument was pants. I did have a point, but I buried it in my poorly written post. Sorry.

    • Melaniexxxx
      May 22, 2017 at 9:54 am #

      Apples and Oranges
      Yes, some drugs occasionally have unknown side effects when administered in excess doses. It’s no reason for you to defend a child abuser.

    • May 22, 2017 at 11:55 am #

      So because the medical community got it wrong on one person, they always get it wrong all the time? I think not.

      There is a ton of data available that Wakefield published that paper using unethical means to gather data (he paid kids for blood samples at birthday parties!), did his math all wrong, and had a huge financial incentive to lie since he was promoting his own measles vaccine as an alternative. He was actually stripped of his license for medical malpractice- that’s not easy to do. The NZ scientist you refer to had none of those strike marks against him- he was ignored and considered a crackpot, but he wasn’t ever shown to have done anything unethical. This is not the case for Wakefield.

      • Zoe Hagenson
        May 22, 2017 at 5:42 pm #

        Yes, thank you, well refuted. I think my point got lost in my post. I apologise, will do better next time.

    • Zoe Hagenson
      May 22, 2017 at 5:58 pm #

      I unreservedaly apologise, Amy, this was a really poorly written comment on my part, comparing apples and oranges. I do not doubt that Andrew Wakefield is a charlatan and a fraud. Sorry for the mess up. I won’t be posting like that again.

  3. Steph858
    May 18, 2017 at 9:58 am #

    I’d say that comparing anti-vaxxers to the tobacco industry is insulting … to the tobacco industry. Not that I want to diminish the terrible way in which the tobacco industry behaved back when the evidence regarding tobacco’s harmful effects first started to come out, but these days they do have a point when they say, “Everyone knows smoking kills; it even says so on the cigarette packets! If someone still decides to smoke despite all those warnings against it, well, that’s on them.”

    Now, until such time as every sentence uttered by an anti-vaxxer is prefaced by a warning alerting the reader to the fact that following the advice given hereafter may be hazardous to health, I would be loath to compare the tobacco industry to anti-vaxxers; it gives the anti-vaxxers far too much credit.

  4. hmmm
    May 8, 2017 at 7:15 pm #

    The sick thing is that I love that Andrew Wakefield himself is directly implicated in the outbreak. I am horrible, like waiting for Trump voters to lose their Obamacare.

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
      May 22, 2017 at 9:46 am #

      I understand and sort of agree. What really saddens me is that some of the parents came to the US as children or young adults and had SEEN first hand what measles can do, and they STILL fell for Wakefield’s snakeoil BS (this woman’s SISTER dies of measles!):

      ” Suaado Salah listened. I thought: ‘I’m in America. I thought I’m in a safe place and my kids will never get sick in that disease,’ ” said Salah, 26, who has lived in Minnesota for more than a decade. Growing up in Somalia, she’d had measles as a child. A sister died of the disease at age 3.


      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
        May 22, 2017 at 9:57 am #

        Arrghhhh! Lady the reason America used to be safe from measles was that EVERYONE got vaccinated against it who could!!! I remember a girl I went to high school with. She had a somewhat suppressed immune system, she still got immunized just on an adjusted schedule, because her doctor and her parents wanted her to be safe from things like the measles…

  5. Teresa Morris
    May 7, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    See, here’s the thing. My dog nearly died of kidney failure in October 2014. She had received a distemper vaccination with the vaccine for Leptospirosis included – she was supposed to get just the distemper without the Lepto. My long-time vet made an error. Even though my dogs are NOT in danger picking up the diseases for which they are vaccinated, and even though the rabies vaccination is the only one required by law in the state of Texas, I vaccinated with the others so that my husband and I could board my dogs while traveling (all vacs required by my vet clinic for dogs who are boarded). When my Great Pyrenees began suddenly so ill two days after receiving her vaccinations, and tests showed complete kidney failure, the vet at my clinic (who sees my dogs when my regular vet isn’t available) recognized the link between the vaccination and my dog’s illness. My dog was presenting with Lepto, all the classic symptoms. This vet sent blood samples to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A & M, as well as the lot number of the vaccination my dog received and all related material. The people at A&M confirmed the Lepto diagnosis and the DNA relationship between the vaccination and my dog’s Lepto. They concluded, along with the vet, that my dog had, indeed, been injured by the vaccine. Between the three vets at my clinic (where I’ve taken my dogs since 1991) and the weekend ER vets (where my dog had to be receive treatment over night and on weekends, since my clinic isn’t an urgent care), four of the five vets told me that they NEVER recommend distemper shots with Lepto for the threat of dogs getting Lepto from the vaccine. Two of those four told me they don’t even recommend distemper shots of any kind to the clients whose dogs they see; distemper is not a big threat and certainly not in our area. The vet who diagnosed my dog’s vaccine injury reported it to the proper government agency as well as the pet division of Pfizer who makes the vaccine. I was contacted by these agencies to provide a statement – for whatever good that did. Even though my husband and I spent over $5000 to treat our dog (who praise be to God eventually made a full recovery after at one point we were told she probably would not survive), the drug company said it pays out to vaccine injuries only if the animal dies, and even then only if it’s a recognized full breed and then the owners get only the replacement value of the dog. NO ONE DENIED THE VACCINE INJURY. When this incident happened to us, I did a lot of research into ANIMAL medicine and found that many more veterinarians recognize the danger of vaccines and their long term impact on pet heath than human doctors do, and are working to have fewer vaccines recommended and required for animals. See, the thing is that the majority of people want to say vaccines are safe, but no true scientist or doctor will ever claim that every single “safe” medical treatment of any kind is safe in 100% of the cases. My husband is a clinical pharmacist with a certification in pharmacotherapy and an MS in biotechnology and he also says that vaccines don’t have to stand up to the testing standards of any other medicine or medical procedure. We know that children have increased autoimmune diseases and autism. Doctors and scientists in the field say that vaccines are not to blame. But then they say they don’t know what is to blame. If the medical establishment doesn’t know what’s causing increased incidents of autism and autoimmune diseases in children, HOW CAN THEY KNOW VACCINATIONS ARE NOT THE CAUSE? Or at least partially to blame? The cult of vaccination is a religion. It’s not science. Real science questions – and consensus is NOT equal to truth. Nor is it science.

  6. Mark
    May 7, 2017 at 12:45 am #

    But …

    What if you don’t vaccinate your kids and they become autistic?

    Can you then vaccinate?

    • BeatriceC
      May 7, 2017 at 12:47 am #

      No, because it’s still a vaccine injury because vaccines change your DNA and your parents got you vaccinated and you passed on the damage to your kids, so you have to make sure your DNA gets healed. Or something. I don’t know. I can’t think like them. I get a headache when I try.

    • Azuran
      May 7, 2017 at 3:59 am #

      No, they’ll say the kid became autistic because one of the parent, or grand-parent, or anyone in the last 5 generation was vaccinated. (I wish I was kidding, but I have seen this argument more than once) And if you vaccinate, it will make it worst.

      • Roadstergal
        May 8, 2017 at 1:36 pm #

        The sins of the vaccine are passed unto the fifth generation. Seriously, anti-vax is not just quasi-religious, it’s actually-religious.

  7. Empress of the Iguana People
    May 6, 2017 at 10:47 pm #

    OT: why do my kids always seem to run the worst fevers over the weekend? I’m up wondering if my baby’s fever is enough to go to the ER our insurance prefers, but it’s the ER, probably the busiest one in a city overrun with really good hospitals. And its “only” a fever. May be that she just runs higher fevers than her brother (at 11 months she hasn’t had a whole lot of ’em). Don’t want to bother them if it’s trivial, if it’s just my hormone exacerbated worries…

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      May 6, 2017 at 11:07 pm #

      If you’re worried enough to be thinking about it, it’s serious enough to go. But do you have a pediatrician on call that you could consult first? They could advise you better. (I promise yours will not be the silliest question they answer this evening. And people who can’t tolerate having their weekend interrupted by worried parents don’t stay in pediatrics so don’t worry about “bothering” the pediatrician on call. Get the baby looked after however you think she needs to be.)

    • Who?
      May 7, 2017 at 4:00 am #

      I’d imagine most doctors would rather see 100 kids with a minor illness and worried parent than one with a serious illness.

      Hope it all worked out fine.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        May 7, 2017 at 10:38 am #

        I sometimes joke that the ideal patient is a very mild hypochondriac: I’d far rather spend a little time giving out reassurance that the problem really is nothing and will go away on its own than deal with the consequences of a problem that the patient ignored because they didn’t want to be a bother and only came in when their leg fell off (example based on a true and very gross story.)

        • BeatriceC
          May 7, 2017 at 5:09 pm #

          ummmmmmm….WHAT? I mean, I totally get not wanting to be a bother, but how much do you have to ignore to get to the point of a limb falling off????

          • Dr Kitty
            May 7, 2017 at 6:25 pm #

            You have no idea…

            “Oh, several of my relatives have ulcerative colitis and Crohns, but since my symptoms always cleared up within a week or two I never thought it was a big deal. Well, yes, actually I’ve been having intermittent bouts of rectal bleeding and diarrhoea for years, but I am a man, and therefore I don’t seek help if it might involve butt stuff”.

            True story.
            And this is with *free* healthcare.

          • Dr Kitty
            May 7, 2017 at 6:45 pm #

            See also
            “I’m only seeing a doctor because the cap fell off”.

            A farmer with a huge fungating cancer on his scalp, which he had been ‘managing’ by wearing a cap.

            Again *free* healthcare, and people who don’t want to be a bother.

            There are always the minimisers.

          • BeatriceC
            May 7, 2017 at 11:53 pm #

            That’s really scary.

          • Empress of the Iguana People
            May 8, 2017 at 9:04 am #

            Oh god.
            I’m not that bad. If it were during office hours, I might have taken her, because mostly I just wanted reassurance. I don’t get anxious much, but i do over the kids and with my ppd, i don’t trust that my emotional side isn’t running away with my logical side.

          • Steph858
            May 18, 2017 at 9:43 am #

            For anyone who has to pay out the wazoo for healthcare and is wondering why someone who gets free healthcare would ever hesitate to see a doctor:

            Time management issues aside (not everyone has the luxury of a job which allows them to take lots of half-days off to go and see their GP so they have to use what little time off they are allowed very wisely), the NHS’s resources are not infinite and there have been plenty of campaigns encouraging people to use the lowest level of care which will effectively treat their condition. The public is encouraged to use self-care wherever possible, with the assistance of their local pharmacy if needed. Only if that doesn’t work are they encouraged to go to their GP. There are minor injuries units, which are exactly what they say on the tin (for bruises and scrapes which require medical attention but aren’t severe enough to warrant a trip to A&E) and also double as GP surgeries on weekends and bank holidays (when normal GP surgeries are closed) for those who really can’t wait a few days to be seen to.

            A&E visits are only for those with heart attacks in progress, limbs which recently went missing and such. Here are a few examples of the campaigns run by the NHS encouraging people to avoid being a bother:


            Some people clearly take this messages a bit too much to heart and err too far on the side of ‘It’s not that bad; others have much worse’.

          • kilda
            May 18, 2017 at 10:30 am #

            yeah….as much as I get annoyed when people come into the ER for minor things….”don’t go see your doctor, it’s probably nothing” seems like a dangerous message to send people.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
            May 18, 2017 at 10:43 am #

            Indeed, my little brother had a slight fever and a bad headache one night, not unusual, my family is prone to migraines and sinus problems. Fortunately something about his lethargy or the way he held his head made my mother think this headache was different. She had him try to move his head down/touch his chin to his chest..he couldn’t. Rush to the ER, Turned out to be meningitis & encephalitis.

          • Steph858
            May 18, 2017 at 11:14 am #

            The NHS 111 has received a lot of flak because its operators were bad at picking up symptoms of sepsis in babies, but in general the advice they give is usually good common-sense stuff. I’ve had both situations where I was me thinking it was probably nothing but 111 told me to get to A&E ASAP, and situations where I thought it was something serious but it wasn’t and I just needed to get some rest and plenty of fluids. In the former, being told by 111 “You need to go to A&E” at least removed any guilt I might otherwise have felt about wasting their time which might have prevented me from going; in the latter, in addition to not wasting A&E time, I got peace of mind and reassurance.

            They used to have an online symptom checker, similar to WebMD. That was pretty useless, partly because it relied on the user picking the right symptom checker. Personal anecdote: I noticed my then 18-month old son had a sore-scab-type thing on his lip. I noticed this just after I’d given him his lunch; I thought maybe the food I gave him was deceptively hot and the sore was a burn so I picked the ‘Burns/rashes in children’ symptom checker. The answers I gave (Why yes, his burn IS all blistery and yellow!) must have made the algorithm think he had a second-degree burn on his lip since it told me to take him to A&E ASAP. Turned out he had impetigo (i.e. he could have waited a day or 2 to see his GP; an A&E visit was unnecessary and a waste of everyone’s time) and the first sore just happened to develop right on his lip right after his lunch.

            The online symptom checker has been removed now as someone apparently did some research and found that it was sending patients who only needed self-care advice to A&E and was also telling some patients who needed to go to A&E to stay home.

          • Dr Kitty
            May 18, 2017 at 12:21 pm #

            The issue with 111 was that it relied on staff with no clinical training triaging patients. if it had been staffed by Drs and nurses it would have worked better, but that isn’t cost effective.

            Now, *I* probably don’t ask half the questions on those algorithms, because I have the training to mentally narrow my differential diagnosis from the first question.

            NHS111 and ambulance call operators don’t have the training, so they have to work down the list, using questions as written on the list to get a diagnosis.

            I can ask the same question four ways to try and get an answer I need, they have to stick to a script.

            Sometimes it is a bit farcical.
            Like when I order an ambulance to transport an elderly patient to hospital, and I phone the non-emergency GP ambulance number.

            Every, single, time, even though I identify that I am the patient’s GP, requesting a non emergency ambulance any time within the next 4 hours to take the person to hospital, I get asked if the patient is conscious and breathing, because that is the first question on their algorithm.

            Obviously, if the patient were unconscious and not breathing, I’d have called 999 and reported CPR in progress…they know that, I know that, but they still have to check.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            May 7, 2017 at 7:37 pm #

            He had severe uncontrolled diabetes and had lost all sensation in the limb. It got infected. He ignored it. It smelled. He ignored it. It got gangrene. he ignored it. It fell off. He put it in a bag, got some crutches he had laying around from a prior hospitalization, hobbled in and asked if it could be reattached. No. Sorry.

          • MaineJen
            May 8, 2017 at 9:25 am #

            GOOD GOD

          • Daleth
            May 8, 2017 at 10:36 am #

            Omg… omg. What? Omg. Sorry, that leaves me a bit incoherent.

          • Charybdis
            May 8, 2017 at 1:08 pm #

            I can’t even. There are no words…

          • Azuran
            May 7, 2017 at 8:43 pm #

            Or sometime it’s just extreme stupidity. There is no limit to stupidity.
            Casts are really a pain with animals, they have a high rate of complications like skin lesions that can get infected (and can reach bone if left untreated) So they require close monitoring from the owners and they are instructed to monitor closely for foul smell or secretion.
            And owner came in with a dog with his leg half decomposed inside the cast, it smelled horrible and was basically leaking pus.
            When asked why he hadn’t properly monitor the cast his answer was: ‘I did, I’ve checked everyday and noted the smell and secretions a week ago.’

            Somehow, it didn’t occur to him that he was supposed to bring the dog back if he noticed any sign of infection

          • Roadstergal
            May 8, 2017 at 1:42 pm #

            I couldn’t do your job. I would be arrested for assault and battery.

          • Charybdis
            May 8, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

            THIS ^^

          • Roadstergal
            May 8, 2017 at 1:38 pm #

            It’s just a flesh wound…?

            Yeesh. There’s the worried well, and then there’s the other end of the spectrum.

    • Dr Kitty
      May 7, 2017 at 4:13 am #

      Get her checked out.
      At the very least, most Drs would want a source for the fever- ear, chest, throat or UTI.
      While most fevers in kids are caused by viral illnesses, some do need antibiotics for strep throat, UTI or a pneumonia.

      If it makes you feel better, when my kid spiked a temp of over 41C and we went straight to the ER, and left, one chest X-ray later, with some heavy duty antibiotics for pneumonia. 48hrs later she was right as rain.

  8. RudyTooty
    May 6, 2017 at 10:15 pm #

    This story, I worry, is just used as fuel to scapegoat an immigrant community.

    Here’s a story with an un-qualified white male preaching to the Somali-Minnesotans about the “dangers” of the MMR vaccine.

    I’m certain there are other pockets of the population – think the chiropractor-loving, Whole Foods-shopping, essential oil-diffusing set – that are similarly under-vaccinated as the Minnesotans of Somali descent are.

    It’s more convenient to scapegoat an immigrant community about the measles outbreak – than to look at the liberal, white, affluent, non-vaxxers out there.

    • Daleth
      May 8, 2017 at 10:37 am #

      Why is he not in jail for practicing medicine without a license?

    • Petticoat Philosopher
      May 8, 2017 at 2:12 pm #

      A lot of them aren’t liberal though they are definitely very, very white. But you get a lot of government-is-out-to-get-you right-wing libertarian types in the anti-vaxx movement too, although they tend to be the crunchy variety of conservative also. Vaccine denial is far from just a liberal phenomenon. I guess it’s just more surprising when it’s liberals because we tend to expect them to not be science-deniers.

      • RudyTooty
        May 9, 2017 at 2:38 pm #

        My apologies. Of course there are conservative non-vaccinators as well. Conveniently (for them) if they’re white people, conservative or liberal or just plain delusional, they avoid the scrutiny that is falling on this immigrant community.

  9. Dr Kitty
    May 6, 2017 at 5:39 pm #

    In an interesting development, the U.K. Is quietly introducing universal Hepatits B vaccination at 8,12 and 16 weeks.
    All women are screened for Hep B during pregnancy ( opt out programme) and the babies of women who test positive will also get vaccinated at birth and at one year as well as these three dose of vaccine.

    As a single DTAP/IPV/Hib/HepB vaccine is going to replace the current DTAP/IPV/Hib it means no extra needles, and will mean parents have to opt out of all of these vaccines on the NHS if they want to opt out of the Hep B, hopefully ensuring very low non medical opt-outs.


    • Azuran
      May 6, 2017 at 6:15 pm #

      Anti-vaxxers are going to cry murder over this, saying that this is too many at the same time

      • Spamamander, pro fun ruiner
        May 6, 2017 at 9:55 pm #

        Never mind that simply by being BORN the immune system has to mount defenses against hundreds of things a day…

    • Nick Sanders
      May 6, 2017 at 7:57 pm #

      So that’s what the stupid post saying “never before has a baby been expected mount an immune response to 8 diseases at once” I saw last week was about.

      • Heidi_storage
        May 6, 2017 at 8:19 pm #

        The vaccines will ensure that a baby won’t have to mount an immune response to these 8 diseases at once–or singly.

      • AnnaPDE
        May 7, 2017 at 9:57 am #

        Because never before has a baby taken something dirty in their mouths. Or worse, scratched themselves with a nail that was in something filthy a few minutes earlier. No, humans NEVER get exposed to more than a single germ at a time!

      • Steph858
        May 7, 2017 at 2:10 pm #

        Only 8 at once? Pah! Man Flu requires the sufferer to mount an immune response to 150 different rhinoviruses all at once!

      • Roadstergal
        May 8, 2017 at 12:11 pm #

        The number of antigens on a single bacterium would blow their gorram minds.

      • Roadstergal
        May 8, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

        Fun fact, depending on how you define ‘fun’ – I once had a project that required access to human thymocytes. My source was a local pediatric cardiac ward – in kids, the thymus is so huge that they have to cut a chunk of it off to get at the heart. It’s chock-full of maturing T-cells. Kids are really good at mounting immune responses.

    • Steph858
      May 7, 2017 at 2:01 pm #

      That’s bad news. Very Bad News.

      Because it means my 2.5 y/o missed out on Hep B protection by just a couple of years. Woe is me!

      • Mattie
        May 7, 2017 at 3:25 pm #

        they may do a ‘catch up’ program? Like they did with HPV and Meningitis

      • Dr Kitty
        May 7, 2017 at 3:40 pm #

        You can always choose to pay for the 3 vaccine Hep B schedule privately.
        Just like you can with chicken pox, rabies, Japanese encephalitis and every other vaccine that is available but not on the NHS schedule.

        • Dr Kitty
          May 7, 2017 at 5:11 pm #

          I’m serious, BTW.
          Your GP can prescribe on a private script, as long as they are willing to use their nurse’s time to administer the vaccines.
          If you have a friend or family member who is trained to give IM injections, you can even get around that.

          Not cheap, but not impossible either.

        • Steph858
          May 8, 2017 at 3:22 pm #

          I’ll seriously consider that. Well, not with rabies though. I think rabies falls into that category of diseases with such a low incidence that the risks of the vaccine outweigh the risks posed by the disease itself, especially since vaccination can provide post-exposure protection – albeit with more aggressive treatment than is required for someone vaccinated pre-exposure. Other such diseases include smallpox, yellow fever, cholera and typhoid (all but the first with the exception of me deciding to go on holiday somewhere where they’re prevalent, in which case they will form part of the standard travel vaccines schedule; the NHS will provide all except yellow fever for free).

          On the subject of rabies, I once had the following argument with an anti-vaxxer:

          Me: Would you refuse to be vaccinated against rabies even if you were bitten by a rabid animal?

          Him: Well, no, in that situation I’d get the vaccine. But that’s completely different; in that situation, I would have been exposed to the disease and would be at real risk of contracting it. I agree with post-exposure vaccination, but I don’t see why we need to vaccinate EVERYONE on the off-chance that they MIGHT be exposed to the disease. Why not just only vaccinate people who have actually been exposed to the disease if and when such exposure occurs?

          This from someone who has allegedly ‘done [his] research’.

          • Roadstergal
            May 8, 2017 at 3:32 pm #

            Here’s a horrible story of anti-vaxxers and how they handle exposure to rabies.
            They insisted that the zoo meerkats be tested for rabies – which involves killing them – instead of just having their daughter vaccinated.


          • Steph858
            May 8, 2017 at 5:16 pm #

            What’s worse is I imagine the anti-vaxxers’ spin on that story will be:

            Meerkats test negative – See, we were right, she didn’t need the shots!

            Meerkats test positive – Well, the poor things would’ve had to have been put down anyway once their symptoms became apparent; better they were spared the suffering of an emerging rabies infection completely.

            And if vaccines are so great why were they worried about the girl getting infected anyway? The meerkats had been vaccinated, so where did the alleged risk come from?

            PS: For any anti-vax lurkers who are thinking of actually using those ‘arguments’ elsewhere, I’ll preemptively Include the counterarguments below:

            Meerkats test negative – You just killed 5 meerkats to spare a girl from getting a few 5-second owies (rabies shots these days are no more painful than any other shot; they haven’t given the infamous abdominal routines since the 80s) which, IMO, would have the benefit of teaching her a few good lessons (that actions have consequences, you shouldn’t poke your fingers in wild animals’ cages, you shouldn’t ignore warning signs etc) in addition to the medical benefits. I think your priorities are very skewed.

            Meerkats test positive – The girl has to get the shots anyway, and you still killed 4 more meerkats than was necessary assuming it was only 1 that tested positive.

            No vaccine is 100% effective, that’s why we pro-vaxxers keep banging on about herd immunity.

          • Steph858
            May 8, 2017 at 5:16 pm #

            What’s worse is I imagine the anti-vaxxers’ spin on that story will be:

            Meerkats test negative – See, we were right, she didn’t need the shots!

            Meerkats test positive – Well, the poor things would’ve had to have been put down anyway once their symptoms became apparent; better they were spared the suffering of an emerging rabies infection completely.

            And if vaccines are so great why were they worried about the girl getting infected anyway? The meerkats had been vaccinated, so where did the alleged risk come from?

            PS: For any anti-vax lurkers who are thinking of actually using those ‘arguments’ elsewhere, I’ll preemptively Include the counterarguments below:

            Meerkats test negative – You just killed 5 meerkats to spare a girl from getting a few 5-second owies (rabies shots these days are no more painful than any other shot; they haven’t given the infamous abdominal routines since the 80s) which, IMO, would have the benefit of teaching her a few good lessons (that actions have consequences, you shouldn’t poke your fingers in wild animals’ cages, you shouldn’t ignore warning signs etc) in addition to the medical benefits. I think your priorities are very skewed.

            Meerkats test positive – The girl has to get the shots anyway, and you still killed 4 more meerkats than was necessary assuming it was only 1 that tested positive.

            No vaccine is 100% effective, that’s why we pro-vaxxers keep banging on about herd immunity.

        • Linden
          May 11, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

          That’s what I’ve done. I’m lucky to be able to afford it, but I thought the cost of me staying home if he got chickenpox would well cover the cost of the vaccine.
          I’ve gone for HepB and chickenpox, and got the injected flu vaccine instead of the nasal one. Haven’t got MenB yet (my son missed it by a few months)

      • Nick Sanders
        May 7, 2017 at 5:01 pm #

        Well, maybe you should have thought about future medical advancements before deciding to get pregnant. /s

  10. Sheven
    May 6, 2017 at 1:47 pm #

    What I’m interested in now is, how are they going to spin this? They found a community that listened to them and their messiah. Immediately upon vaccination rates going down IN ONLY THAT COMMUNITY, there was a massive outbreak of measles IN ONLY THAT COMMUNITY that put children’s lives in danger. What do you do when you create the proof against your cause?

    • Al Kinley-Jones
      May 6, 2017 at 2:40 pm #

      They won’t consider it proof against their cause, since their cause is “vaccines cause autism”. The fact that not vaccinating causes measles outbreaks isn’t problematic to them.

      In any case they consider measles harmless, and even if a death occurred they’d either deny measles was the cause, blame vaccines, or even suggest that death is a better fate than autism (or any combo of the above). I have even seen anti vaxxers suggesting that deaths from measles are just nature thinning out humanity by killing the weakest. Truly an inspiring ideology. I hope these are just extreme examples, but I am doubtful.

      • Nick Sanders
        May 6, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

        See: Sablemouse, Brandon Foster, and DietDee.

        • Empress of the Iguana People
          May 6, 2017 at 7:57 pm #

          But we’re just a clique, ya know, following 99% of doctors and immunologists, climatologists, and other such ignoramouses.

          • Nick Sanders
            May 6, 2017 at 7:58 pm #

            It’s a very big clique.

    • Azuran
      May 6, 2017 at 2:53 pm #

      First, they will say that it’s shedding from the vaccinated children that are responsible for the outbreak.
      Then they will try to screw the math and lie about how many children where vaccinated/unvaccinated like they always do whenever there is an outbreak.
      Then they will say that the epidemic is a good thing, because now those children have lifetime immunity and measles is a good thing.
      If any kid die, they will say it’s because doctors are no longer trained in treating VPD, that the death was due to a medical mistake or a pre-existing health problem. Anyway, the kid probably had it coming, it was god’s will and he was just not meant to live. (and hey, he wasn’t autistic when he died so everything is ok)
      And they will deny all responsibility (as they are already doing) by claiming that they merely ‘informed’ parents and empowered them to make their own decision.
      Then they will keep doing what they do and prey on the next vulnerable community.

      • Empress of the Iguana People
        May 6, 2017 at 7:56 pm #

        They like to misuse math too. 9 vaccinated and 8 unvaccinate working out to 2% and 95% or something like that.

    • Heidi
      May 6, 2017 at 3:12 pm #

      I don’t know, maybe vitamin A deficiency? Even though vitamin A deficiency pretty much doesn’t exist in the United States. But I’m sure common sense won’t get in their way.

      • Azuran
        May 6, 2017 at 3:25 pm #

        wait…I thought vitamin C was the universal treatment for everything.

        • Heidi_storage
          May 6, 2017 at 6:09 pm #

          It is. Except when it’s turmeric. Or maybe essential oils. Or acupuncture. Or homeopathy.

          • Steph858
            May 7, 2017 at 1:57 pm #

            I wonder how many of the ‘Turmeric cures everything’ crowd realise that it’s basically Poor Man’s Saffron?

          • Roadstergal
            May 8, 2017 at 12:10 pm #

            Or that the papers that showed anything to it have been retracted, and follow-up papers have shown nothing?

      • Clorinda
        May 6, 2017 at 8:21 pm #

        I’ve already seen the vitamin A deficiency claim because they assumed the kids that got sick had immigrated with the parents. I tried to point out that not only were the kids born here, but also the only way they could have a vitamin A deficiency was if they would have had to avoid fortified foods, plentiful and varied vegetables, and eaten only what could also grow in Somalia.

    • Gatita
      May 8, 2017 at 9:29 pm #

      Black foreign born population is how they’re going to spin it. Inherently genetically inferior. Wait for it.

      • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild
        May 13, 2017 at 4:29 am #

        No, they went with “deport the dirty stupid n–gger foreigners introducing teh Eboa Meezels”

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