Posted by: Ticktock | April 24, 2009

Vaccine Safety – Spread the Word!

Wow.  The last few days have been intense for my blog.  I’m amazed at the amount of traffic that Jim Carrey is generating for his misguided efforts at Huffington Post.  Thank you so much for coming here and offering your comments.  They’ve been very sincere and nice, for the most part, and I really appreciate that.

Now that I have everyone’s attention, I’d like to help spread the word about vaccine safety.

I’m just a blogging at-home dad and an enthusiastic advocate for science. If your friends and family are worried about vaccines, you will probably want to send them to an expert on the subject. It would be hypocritical of me to challenge Jim Carrey’s information without offering a science-based resource as an option for more reliable information.  Jim, if you’re listening, you and Jenny might try visiting this page too.

A few months ago, I was selected to take part in a teleconference interview with Dr. Ari Brown, author of the helpful parenting guide Baby 411.  Dr. Brown is a well-informed pediatrician from Texas, and she is a tireless advocate for vaccines.  I personally challenged her to step up and speak out against the antivaccine crusade, and she has since answered my call to arms with the best weapon of all – science-based information.

People don’t trust Dr. Paul Offit, even though you would be hard pressed to find someone more qualified on the subject of vaccines. We need another voice, someone who is not a celebrity (sorry Amanda Peet) and somebody who passes the “conflict of interest” test.  Dr. Ari Brown is it!

Click the pic for Dr. Brown's vaccine info!

Click the pic for Dr. Brown's vaccine info!

She’s tried to speak out against the antivaccine movement before, but she’s been shut down by Oprah and other media outlets.  They only seem to be interested in the controversy, not the facts.  I asked her point blank if she was paid, or was ever previously paid, by any pharmaceutical companies, and she assured me that she hadn’t and does not intend to be paid by “big pharma”. Conspiracy theorists be damned!

So, if you want a trustworthy resource to pass along to your friends and relatives who are paranoid about vaccines, you should send them to Dr. Ari Brown’s vaccine page.  She addresses every single antivaccine canard, and she does so with professionalism and knowledge.

Somebody in the comments asked me to point people in the direction of pro-vaccine facts.  I hope I have done this request justice.

Is there a resource that you recommend?  One post or one web page with all the answers?  Please help spread the word and let us know in the comments.  And forward Dr. Ari Brown’s vaccine page to new parents.  Get the word out!  Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy may be celebrities, but their fame will never suppress the truth!

*UPDATE* Are your friends and family brainwashed with antivaccine nonsense?  Send them to AntiAntivax for some reprogramming.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for the link. You know what I don’t understand-Why is this anti vax campaign so important? Why considering all of the evidence-does genrescue and the like still debate this? I can not figure out the motive. I think if they put half as much energy and money towards legitimate research and programs..what a positive impact they could have. I am missing something…can someone enlighten me?

    • Kathleen, I think there are a lot of factors. One reason is that it’s very hard to question your own beliefs, especially if you have gone this far to promote them. When they find out that the person who led them to believe this in the first place was lying to them (Dr. Wakefield), they desperately grasp at anything to justify their opinion rather than admit to themselves that they are wrong.

      Another reason is a lack of scientific knowledge and a fear of scary, sciency-sounding big words. It’s common for people to think “chemicals” are bad, without understanding that water and oxygen are chemicals. This is also combined with the very common logical fallacy, the appeal to nature. Of course, cobras and poisonous mushrooms are both natural and not good, and air conditioning and shaving are unnatural but good.

      I think the biggest reason that anti-vaccine activists ignore evidence is because they just don’t understand how important vaccines are. For the most part, they are too young to have grown up with the constant fear of catching polio and being crippled for life. They have not had to live with the reality that almost every family lost at least one child. They think that measles and chickenpox are trivial annoyances because they don’t realize that people can die from those diseases. So even if they look at the evidence and see no connection, they think that it’s better to be “safe” just in case, without realizing the actual risk they are putting on their children and the entire community.

  2. Check out this helpful summary of anti-vax positions & rebuttals in the comments at Bad Astronomy:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/04/23/jim-carrey-loves-the-pro-disease-movement/#comment-176349

    or

    Anti-Vax misstatements of facts rebutted

  3. I have Dr. Brown’s book Baby 411 and it was a lifesaver for me on all kinds of issues when my daughter was born. I give it to people at baby showers now.

    I’m glad to see the pro-vaccination movement getting better at PR. It’s a terrible thing for those parents who have autistic children to wonder if their decision to vaccinate may have harmed their child. I hope the cause of autism can be found/mitigated soon.

    It’s also a terrible thing to have large numbers of unvaccinated people in the world. Just read the other day that polio was increasing in Africa, India, and Pakistan. A lot of the problem is in Muslim areas where people have been convinced that vaccination is a plot by the west. Too bad for those children that will suffer greatly with a horrible and preventable disease.

  4. Hi,
    I understand that vaccines are important but until you have 100% proof that vaccines are not linked to autism I will not have my children vaccinated anymore. Autism is a huge epidemic right now and believe me, I know my own daughter has autism so when you can show me vaccines are safe I will totally do it.

  5. Nothing will change your mind, but maybe you could click over and see what Dr. Ari Brown has to say about vaccines before you automatically dismiss her.

  6. Nicole, if you’re not vaccinating I hope you live on an island with a big fence around it. I don’t want your kid anywhere near mine.

    • Oh Wondering Willa,
      Believe me I wouldn’t want my kids around you or your kids because the stupidity and the close mindedness might rub off!

  7. Nicole, I’m sorry to hear that you have to see your child struggle with autism. There are challenges there that I’m sure are hard to explain to people. My first year teaching I had a student with Asperger’s and I was very unprepared for what that meant and how to handle it.

    However, 100% safety with regards to vaccines or anything is unrealistic. We can’t expect that from a car, an airplane, or lately even peanut butter. I’ve read about kids getting hit in the chest with a baseball at just the right moment and their heart stopping. No big movement to ban Little League?

    So while it may be fair to suggest that we don’t know every possible implication for vaccination for every person, we do know that the diseases that they prevent are dangerous. Opting out has is no guarantee of safety either.

  8. Hi,
    I totally understand where everyone is coming from, basically we want all our kids to be safe and healthy. Well what is a good idea for some children may not be a good idea for mine, and although everyone thinks it’s a requirement for all children to be vaccinated before they go to school you people are sadly mistaken. Children can go to school without being vaccinated for religious reasons. So, most of your children come in contact with other children that are not vaccinated on a daily basis. Just food for thought!

  9. another interesting post

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/04/26/the-australian-antivax-movement-takes-its-toll/

  10. Nicole,
    “I totally understand where everyone is coming from, basically we want all our kids to be safe and healthy.”

    I don’t believe you. You are risking your children’s lives. You are leaving them susceptible to diseases that they can actually die from. The evidence has shown no connection between vaccines and autism, except for one study in which the data were faked (Dr. Wakefield). There is no guarantee of anything. If you ever transported your children by car, you have risked their lives. Driving is nowhere close to being 100% safe. Yet you continue to risk your children’s lives because you think there is no 100% conclusive evidence that vaccines do not cause autism. I think the evidence is 100% conclusive. 100% of the studies done have shown no connection. I desperately hope for the sake of your children that they are never exposed to a deadly infectious disease. They don’t deserve to die because you refuse to believe reality. You can ride on the herd immunity of others for awhile, but never forget that you are risking your children’s lives.

  11. Just read this today in Scientific American. Very interesting, but ultra preliminary study about a potential link between autism and vitamin D deficiency.

    Hopefully the definitive answer will be found ASAP.

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=vitamin-d-and-autism

  12. [...] Tip o’ the needle to Skeptic Dad. [...]

  13. @ Emily

    > Opting out has is no guarantee of safety either.

    I’ve got a working theory that “people who are against vaccinations” have a foundational problem in that they look at the risk equation in the terms of prospect theory instead of utility theory. They literally don’t see the risk analysis the same way you and I do.

    I’ve got a post up about it but I’m not sure it addresses the point clearly, reviews welcome :)

    (http://padraic2112.wordpress.com/2009/04/24/a-note-about-choice-an-observation-about-fear-and-parental-decisions/), shameless blog plug.


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