Anti-vaxxers, where did you get the idea I care about what you think?

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Yesterday I expounded upon The extraordinary conceit of anti-vaxxers on my Facebook page:

When it comes to the benefits of vaccination, there is rare unanimity across scientific disciplines and across national borders. Nearly every immunologist in every country promotes vaccination as life saving and safe; nearly every pediatrician in every country recommends vaccination as the best, most effective form of preventive care in existence; nearly every epidemiologist in every government and health organization views vaccination as one of the greatest public health victories of all time.

No amount of attempted intimidation changes the fact that vaccines are safe and effective.

How conceited do you have to be to imagine that you, a lay antivaxxer, know better?

Very, very, very conceited.

It didn’t take long for the anti-vaxxers to appear at the behest of Stop Mandatory Vaccination.

Guys, Time to go and give your opinion to this OB nonsense.

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At the moment, there have been more than 2,300 comments on the post, most from anti-vaxxers.

Where did they get the idea I care what they think?

I don’t.

Anti-vaxxers, science is not a democracy. The belief with the most votes does not win. And no amount of attempted intimidation changes the fact that vaccines are safe, effective, and don’t cause non-specific “injuries.”

The Catholic Church tried intimidation on Galileo and it didn’t change the fact that the sun, not the earth, is at the center of the solar system.

A variety of the world’s religions tried intimidation on Charles Darwin and it didn’t change the fact that humans evolved and were not created de novo.

Semmelweis’ colleagues tried intimidation on him and it didn’t change the fact that doctors refusing to wash their hands spread disease.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m NOT saying that anti-vaxxers’ personal experience is irrelevant in medicine. In the aggregate, your experience is an important aspect of scientific evidence.

But anti-vaxxers personal BELIEFS are irrelevant! It doesn’t matter whether you think we evolved; we did. It doesn’t matter whether you think hand washing prevents disease; it does. And it doesn’t matter whether you think that vaccines aren’t safe and effective; they are.

I don’t doubt your sincerity. In the 16th Century ignorant, gullible people blamed demons for diseases they did not understand. They were extremely sincere in that belief. In the 21st Century you blame vaccines. You are equally sincere, but you are also equally wrong.

I’m not going to stop you from coming to my Facebook page to share your experiences and your “knowledge” (such as it is). If you want to preen before your equally ignorant anti-vax colleagues, have at it! But don’t be confused: I will never take you seriously when you don’t know a damn thing about science, medicine or statistics.

Get an education and then get back to me.

In the meantime your attempted intimidation won’t change the scientific evidence that vaccines are safe, effective and one of the greatest public health achievements of all time.

  • MaineJen

    Well done. I cannot tolerate anti vax nonsense either.

  • Russell Jones

    I have no truck with Facebook, but I betcha the anti-vax bingo card got filled quite quickly.

  • Mel

    I’ve been tracking down the outcomes of people who lived in my county’s Poor Farm. To track down deaths, I’ve been reading the ledgers that counties sent yearly to the state detailing the deaths of the last year from 1876 – 1900 (ish).

    The sheer number of people killed by diphtheria blew my mind.

    Young, mid-life, old – anyone could be taken out by diphtheria and there’s at least one death from diptheria per page. Some pages are mostly diphtheria.

    I mean, you can be blase about the measles or mumps or rubella – kind of, as long as you don’t spend too much time in areas with a large population of disabled adults – but anti-vaxx whackos always seem to ignore diphtheria and tetanus.

    • no longer drinking the koolaid

      Cholera epidemics were rampant across Europe for centuries until science figured out the cause. Not vaccines related but before science found the answer it was not unusual for a cholera epidemic to wipe out entire families.

      • Mel

        My rural area of Michigan had relatively few outbreaks of true cholera because we’re not densely populated enough to have many shared water sources – but we had lots of infants and toddlers who died of various forms of food poisoning (e.g., “summer complaint”) and/or infectious diarrhea (“cholera infantum”) since they didn’t have oral rehydration salts.

        Of course, Michigan was essentially a giant swamp with occasional islands of dry land prior to draining and backfilling of farm fields so malaria was a frequent issue. Two late summers ago, we received a huge amount of rain over the summer and we got hit with swarms of mosquitoes – literal, visible swarms were forming all over the place. I told everyone that global warming was essentially returning Western Michigan back to its natural state of an insect-paradise of swamp lands.

    • mabelcruet

      The building where my old pathology department was based was very elderly (previously a Victorian workhouse) and we had autopsy records going back to the late 19th century through to modern day. The reports were all handwritten in gorgeous copperplate in giant leather backed volumes. They are fascinating to read-at the time virtually every patient who died had an autopsy performed. Every page is full of infectious disease related deaths: tonsillitis, chest infection, appendicitis, cholecystic disease. And loads of TB cases, polio cases, measles pneumonia, diphtheria, tetanus. Really rare complications of disease that we simply wouldn’t see today, like TB meningitis, bread and butter pericarditis, quinsy.

      At the time, pathology was a fairly dangerous speciality. It was done bare handed, personal protective equipment not really being a thing, and there are cases of pathologists who died after catching infection, including TB, from a corpse.

      Nowadays, infection related disease deaths are very rare, unless you are a vulnerable group (extreme premies, elderly with multiple co-morbidities, immunosuppressed) but back then it was kids and young adults mostly. In my entire career, I’ve had 3 infant deaths due to vaccine preventable disease, all in babies too young to be vaccinated, and the worst of which (insofar as you can have a worst out of this truly appalling group of needless deaths) was a baby whose mother had an older child who was sent to a chickenpox party, gave it to his baby brother who promptly died of chickenpox necrotizing myocarditis.

      • rational thinker

        “a baby whose mother had an older child who was sent to a chickenpox party, gave it to his baby brother who promptly died of chickenpox necrotizing myocarditis.” -Stuff like this is what gets me really enraged. How stupid can these parents possibly be.

        I say we empty an island or maybe an entire state and send all these anti-vax assholes to live there away from responsible people who do vaccinate. Send all of them and their homeopathic health care providers to this island or state so they can prove to us sheeple how a whole society can stop vaccinating and stay healthy. I think after maybe ten years or less they would all be dead from vaccine preventable diseases.

        • mabelcruet

          Because chickenpox is just a simple childhood rash, rite of passage, every kid gets spotty, no one comes to harm, ok it’s a bit itchy but it’s natural immunity and that’s obviously perfect. Nachurul!! Our bodies aren’t designed to cope with fetal DNA and mercury and formaldehyde being injected into our veins. What’s one baby death compared to saving millions from being deliberately poisoned by the government??

          These people make me sick. Not so much the followers, because I recognise some of them simply don’t have the capacity to judge the evidence for themselves and have gotten hopelessly confused and afraid, but those who are profiting off gullibility, like Andrew Wakefield, those who deliberately spread fear to make money.

          • rational thinker

            I just love it when anti-vaxers come here and try to insult Dr. Tuteur who is retired and not currently working as a doctor by choice and then in the same sentence they praise assholes like Andrew Walkefield who can no longer legally work as a doctor because he was struck off for unethical misconduct.

          • mabelcruet

            It’s because in their narrative he was struck off in order to silence him, because the General Medical Council is part of the universal conspiracy to prevent the truth about vaccines being heard. The fact that he falsified data, took blood without consent (even took samples at a kids birthday party inappropriately), and had a very obvious financial interest in ensuring the results of his ‘research’ showed what he wanted it to show is completely irrelevant to them. He was struck off for fraud, probity issues, dishonesty and unprofessional behaviour, but who cares about that when an anti-vaxxer gets all warm and fuzzy inside because a ‘real doctor’ has validated their twisted beliefs?

    • Queen Khentkawes

      Diphtheria swept through the grand ducal family of Hessen-Darmstadt in late 1878. Grand Duchess Alice (Queen Victoria’s daughter, and great-grandmother of Prince Philip) nursed her husband Ludwig, and children Viktoria, Irene, Ernst Ludwig, Alix (the future Empress Alexandra of Russia), and Marie. Marie died from it. Supposedly Alice caught it from Ernst Ludwig when she gave him a kiss, but I think she could have caught it from any one of them. Alice herself died on December 14, 1878, the seventeenth anniversary of her own father’s death from typhoid. A few months later, her sister Victoria’s son Waldemar also died from diphtheria. Never one to sit back, Victoria did all she could to encourage research into the disease. Ultimately, I guess we have to thank her for today’s vaccine.

    • demodocus

      Ah, rubella. my husband’s reason for being congenitally blind. Poor MIL still feels guilty, and he’s 44. (No idea why she wasn’t immune, no sero conversion? the cancer she survived at 12? her mother never getting her vaccinated? Lord knows she’s definitely pro-vax now)

  • no longer drinking the koolaid

    Might want to correct the statement about Gallileo. The heliocentric model was developed by Copernicus in the 16th century. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_center_of_the_Universe