Monday, 1 November 2010

Vaccine Unawareness Week

November has arrived and the infectious-disease-promotion-movement has its "Vaccine Awareness Week." Therefore they are being offered a less Halloween inspired week of science-based information regarding vaccines. Probably they are not interested in a rational debate because the willfully blind ignore information contradicting their ideology. This inoculates them against the current correcting "misinformation week"-week. So, this week supporters of critical thinking attempt to reach the worried and misguided adherents of the anti-science crowd. Articles promoting critical thinking can be suggested at Science-Based Medicine:
Many of our fellow science bloggers are on board as well. We will use this site at aggregate as many science-based posts about vaccines and public health as we find. If you have or know of any that are not listed, please let us know in the comments and we will add it.
The first posts are already on-line. Steven Novella deconstructs the propaganda surrounding flu vaccines while Orac revisits a previous post:
About seven months ago, I encountered a profoundly intellectually dishonest set of graphs done by Obomsawin that were designed to demonstrate that "vaccines didn't save us."
I note that, not only have the graphs not been changed as far as I can tell, but Dr. Obomsawin is scheduled to give a webinar tomorrow evening (exactly 24 hours from now, actually) entitled Graphic Reality: The Charting of Truth in which he is apparently going to argue the same old nonsense that "vaccines didn't save us."
Orac notes that he:
intended for a while to go back and revisit Obomsawin's remaining nonsense. Somehow I just never got around to it. As you may recall, in my original post I didn't deconstruct all of his graphs and how deceptively he used them. Vaccine Awareness Week might be the perfect opportunity to rectify that oversight.
Please visit the above mentioned aggregate site frequently this week for more. You may also be interested in what immune response is, since this is what vaccines attempt to augment. Some background can be found here.

Update: Red flag? Mercola will help us fight those scientists. All you need to do is buy something from him.

Update II: Collecting articles trying to protect us against the infectious-disease-promotion-movement Liz Ditz makes it easy for us to follow these posts.

Update III: At Science-Based Medicine Harriet Hall adds:
Physicians, has a feature called AFP Journal Club, where physicians analyze a journal article that either involves a hot topic affecting family physicians or busts a commonly held medical myth. In the September 15, 2010 issue they discussed “Vaccines and autism: a tale of shifting hypotheses,” by Gerber and Offit, published in Clinical Infectious Diseases in 2009.  
The article presented convincing evidence to debunk 3 myths:
  1. MMR causes autism.
  2. Thimerosal (mercury) causes autism.
  3. Simultaneous administration of multiple vaccines overwhelms and weakens the immune system, triggering autism in a susceptible host.
Next is Steven Novella who analyses the history of chicken pox and the fairy-tales from the anti-vaccine brigade, and Orac shows another example of crank magnetism.

Update IV: The current endeavour is noticed in New Zealand by Skeptics in the Pub. Information on Vaccination Safety and Quality is available at the WHO website and EBM-first offers us some valuable links. More on influenza, effectiveness of vaccination and its risks, are discussed by Science-Based Pharmacy. Also, I found an old, but sadly still relevant, article there which was a response to the misinformation spread by those who prefer the return of preventable infectious diseases. As an aside, in Canada there already was a National Immunization Awareness Week earlier this year. Striking is an article written by Dr. Jay L. Wile. In his own words:
He is best known for the "Exploring Creation with..." series of textbooks written for junior high and high school students who are being educated at home.
With this background I was pleasantly surprised to read:
Because people in California are refusing the whooping cough vaccine in large numbers, whooping cough is rearing its ugly head there. Children are needlessly becoming sick and dying, and we have the misinformation spread by anti-vaccine people to thank for it.
Pretty amazing. Then there is the nice overview "Not Dangerous, and Irresponsible to Opt-out of" by Todd W. Finally, for those wandering the intertubes, here is a guide to evaluate trustworthiness of websites.


  1. Dr. N, can you point your readers to ... well, moms who are doubtful about the risks and benefits of vaccines?

    HOW can we reassure fearful moms that vaccines are (a) safer than the illnesses they prevent (b) safe overall -- safer than being in a car-- (c) not causal in autism, asthma, and a host of other childhood conditions?

    It seems to me that vaccine advocates have to be better storytellers...

  2. It may be more difficult than simply offering better-looking websites, or eloquent defenders of science (we already have several of them). Probably there is a psychological explanation for why people are not susceptible to science:

    In short, when confronted with evidence contradicting their view this will make them believe the anti-science movement even more.