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The anti-vaccination idiocy

Penn and Teller profanely destroy the anti-vaccination case in a 90 second video well worth watching.

Unfortunately, many of the so-called anti-vaxxers won’t watch it, or understand it, or believe it.  No, they are willing to put their own kids – and everyone’s kids – at risk because of a completely wrong, now-retracted article in the Lancet purported to show a link between vaccinations and autism.

When, of course, there is NO SUCH LINK. As this group of parents with kids afflicted with autism eloquently shows…

And there’s any number of lunatics claiming vaccinations cause all type of horribles, e.g. whack-job, cartoon character Michelle Bachman’s assertion that the HPV vaccination can cause mental retardation

From the other side of the political spectrum, there are anti-vaxxer liberals who don’t get refuse to understand/outright deny the science – nice to know we all have morons in our midst…

Fortunately, people in third world countries are a lot smarter than these cretins 

We take vaccines so for granted in the United States,” Melinda Gates told HuffPost Live in January…

“They will walk 10 kilometers in the heat with their child and line up to get a vaccine because they have seen death. We’ve forgotten what measles deaths look like. We’ve forgotten … the scourges they used to be. But in Africa, the women know death in their children and they want their children to survive.”

The anti-vaxxers claim it is their right to jeopardize their kids – and yours. Fine.  While one could make a compelling case that their stupidity is grounds for a charge of child abuse, there’s a much bigger public health issue here, one that is all too obvious now that these idiots have allowed their kids into public spaces where they’ve infected others.

That case is simply this – if you choose to do, or not do, something that creates a significant public health risk, then you get to pay for the consequences.

Monetarily, criminally, civilly.

DWI, knowingly infecting partners with STDs, failing to keep firearms locked up, texting and driving, all are akin to the anti-vaccine movement.  And all come with legal consequences.

What does this mean for you?

Be careful, stupidity didn’t die out with the Middle Ages.

13 thoughts on “The anti-vaccination idiocy”

  1. Here in Missouri, our Legislature has not passed a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. and last year they tried to nullify Federal gun control laws. But we require parents to provide complete vaccination records before our kids can start school. I was surprised to find out there are states out there where this is not mandatory.

  2. I wonder how many anti-vaxxers were themselves vaccinated as children? What was the outcome? Those of us born before effective vaccines were available and who had no choice but to suffer through “childhood diseases” know exactly what’s at stake.

  3. Amen! Thank you for your bluntness. Uninformed anti-vaxxers need to do their research before blindly panicking and putting their children and our children at risk.

  4. Joe, I agree with both your position and your anger on this, but there is something I fear is missing that we all must come to grips with if we are to find a way to turn the tide. While it is true that these people are poorly informed and anti-science, it is also true that they tend to be affluent and educated. As one wag has suggested, if you find a Prius parked at a Whole Foods store, there is a decent chance that the owner is an anti-vaxxer. The typical consumer of those products is rarely named

    And, I would think that stereotype, which does have a point, is highly disturbing. Many things in our society we think we should fix by education, but these people, both on the left and right, already tend to be educated, making them less amenable to admitting their fundamental ignorance. In addition, this would seem to represent a fundamental failure of our system.

    1. Harry – well said. For every Michelle Bachman on the right, there is a knucklehead on the left. Both are at fault, and I agree that education hasn’t worked.

      What we can do is make them suffer the consequences of their choices.

  5. Penn and Teller are two of the smartest entertainers in the business. The best presentation of the truth about vaccinations I have ever seen. Pass this on to all the parents of young children you know. Thanks Joe.

  6. Joe, this is obviously a very hot topic and ripe for much discussion as it should be. However, painting with a broad stroke (all anti-vaccination parents are idiots, uninformed, uneducated, selfish, etc…) is both inaccurate and counter productive. Just a few blog posts below this one is your follow up to the 59 modifier on PT bills and you caution both sides against painting PT’s and/or Managed Care organizations with a broad stroke because, while there are certainly bad apples on both sides, most are good actors. Stereotypes are denounced in almost every way imaginable – until you (not specifically you but anyone) wants to apply them to those holding an opposing view of their argument.

    There are indeed many poorly informed individuals who choose not to vaccinate their child simply out of a fear they know nothing about but there are also many parents who know exactly what they are dealing with – they have done the research and many already have a child or children who have been vaccinated and now have autism. The research is key – doing your own that is rather than relying simply on what is reported in the media or in colorful youtube videos done by entertainment professionals ,rather intelligent entertainers, but certainly not qualified medical professionals who have done their own research. And who have probably never looked a parent with a child on the spectrum in the face and watched them make a heart-wrenching decision on whether to vaccinate their baby after seeing that baby’s older sibling deal with the carnage autism leaves in it’s wake.

    These are not easy decisions and while the headlines paint a picture that there is no empirical evidence to suggest vaccinations cause autism – they fail to mention there is also no empirical evidence they do not. I would encourage everyone to look into the federal vaccine court and start scrolling back into the 90’s – back before the “craze” started and the government recognized it would go broke if it continued to acknowledge and pay out damages for neurological deficits caused by vaccinations – even thought hey had been doing so for years. Many, many cases were documented where damages were awarded due to a finding that the vaccination did indeed directly cause a neurological deficit and often produced symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder.

    Does every child who gets vaccinated develop autism – of course not. Do vaccinations save lives – of course they do. But there is a history of vaccinations causing a reaction in many children that resulted in neurological deficits. This is indisputable and is all documented in those vaccine court records. Why do some children react negatively and with such cataclysmic repercussions – no one knows – but that is the point. No one knows. No one knows what causes autism so it’s pretty hard to digest when someone says they know what doesn’t cause it. Every child’s DNA is different and thus it would be impossible to test all of those DNA variations with each type of vaccine to determine if there is any identifiable “trigger” which may cause one child to suffer irreparable damage from a vaccine while millions of other children get to live long happy lives free of all those horrible diseases with no other lasting impact.

    Paranoia is the enemy. Not the parents who are trying to do what’s best for their children. Not the doctors who support vaccinations. Not the doctors who support an alternative view on vaccinations. Not the vaccinations themselves. And certainly not the children who are unvaccinated and just trying to be kids. Paranoia is causing those who have no clearly justifiable reason for avoiding vaccinations to do so. Paranoia is causing people to label entire segments of the population as idiots, hippies, and much worse. Paranoia and fear are the enemy. It’s up to the rest of us to approach the situation in a calm, steady, thoughtful manner so all people are afforded the opportunity to openly discuss their views and discover safe solutions.

    For what it’s worth, I faithfully vaccinated my first two boys. They both have autism. My third son was born and we made the decision not to do all of the vaccinations because there is enough reason to suspect something in our genetic pool may include the “trigger” for a vaccination side effect. The youngest is about to turn 2 and is thriving. Both of his brothers were 8 months into intensive speech/developmental/occupational therapy by this age. If I vaccinated my youngest tomorrow, would he develop autism? I don’t know…but I would be willing to bet there are few, if any, parents out there who would stand in my shoes and so easily order up those vaccines to find out. Penn & Teller’s video is fascinating and rather convincing – until you find yourself the parent of that one little kid with autism they so easily bumped off to the side without so much as a sigh of regret that the little boy or girl is going to have a struggle of unimaginable proportions for the entirety of their life.

    Kindness, thoughtfulness, understanding. We preach these every day…until someone has the opposing view of an argument we feel so passionate about. Then we resort to name calling and stereotypes. Fear and Paranoia are the enemy folks.

    1. Dan
      Thanks very much for your thoughtful response. I appreciate your perspective and while I cannot possibly understand your situation it is clear your view is thoughtful and nuanced.

      Couple thoughts. First, the 59 modifier issue is quite different; it is a business problem not a personal choice, there is no public health issue at stake, and the claims by some commenters that all intermediaries are bad missed the key point and in so doing confused the debate. I’d add that the science on vaccinations to date is quite clear. Finally the 59 issue was pretty much unknown at the time of the posting; the same isn’t the case for vaccinations.

      As I noted in a previous response to a commenter, I see this as a public health issue brought on by an ill-informed group of individuals who put their own desires and views ahead of others. That is their right. It also comes with consequences for the rest of us, some potentially deadly. There has been much talk of liberty freedom and personal choice among our politicians and political groups. With freedom comes responsibility to others.

      My post was intended to alarm and awaken. I’m appalled by the lack of media attention to this issue when compared to the complete non-issue of Ebola. We panic over an infinitesimal risk and essentially ignore a very real risk.

      Unfortunately when you intentionally paint with broad strokes you obscure what may be fine details on the surface but are very real and very important to those affected. I apologize to you Dan. I would suggest that your situation is quite different from the vast majority of vaccination opponents who have based their objections on pseudo science and anecdote.

  7. Joe,

    I think you have some good points on many things, which is why I follow your blog. But I think you’re starting to get a bit rude in some of your comments.. I do 100 percent agree with you about vaccinations, its your delivery that makes me cringe more and more lately. You have been seemingly getting more and more like this and it’s starting to turn me and others off. Truth is many people believe their information about vaccines to be gospel. Not because they ‘want’ to but that is truly the message they chose to believe. Do you honestly think your message, delivered in that way will change their mind which is greatly built on fear? Education and facts and more education and more facts respectfully gets peoples attention that are sitting on the fence. Not rudeness or comparing it to something such an a purposeful transmission of a STD and worse, calling people stupid, and many have autistic kids. Perception is reality Joe. Right or wrong. This delivery will just turn even MORE people away from what we want to accomplish. Sorry Joe, but the post really slapped the target audience further away on this one.. (25 plus years in health care here)

    1. Amazed
      Thanks for the comment. I appreciate your view on this however I have to disagree with the premise. That appears to be a belief in education as the solution, a hope that more information will somehow change peoples’ minds about this critical issue. I’d suggest this is highly unlikely. There is much research out there on the false premise of the anti-vaxxers; the overwhelming scientific evidence is directly contrary to their position. There is also solid research that additional education will not change their views- just as it doesn’t work with creationists.

      Given that, the reality is the failure to vaccinate causes harm to the rest of us – and the anti-vaxxers’ kids.

      This is a public health issue. Nothing less. Vaccinations are incredibly effective, have prevented millions of deaths and relieved parents of overwhelming fear grief and anxiety. Fact is the evidence does NOT indicate any linkage between vaccinations and autism.

      Thus my post was specifically intended to get readers to focus on the public health implications of anti-vaccination forces. There are real and potentially devastating consequences.

      The issue is a balance between personal choice and public health, and my sense is there has been too much acceptance of parents willful choosing to put others’ kids at risk due to their unfounded fears.

      As to those offended, I very much respect their right to hold and promote their opinion. I do NOT respect that opinion. There is a key difference.

      1. Joe,

        I respect everyone’s opinion, I guess that is the difference. I may and don’t agree with it. But I also know, yes, it captures peoples attention, but when you are trying to get people to do things, for the right reason, you do not call them stupid. It’s human nature for them to say, “see, all the more reason, I do not believe these people”.

        1. Amazed
          Thanks for the comment. Re respecting opinions, to make the point, I don’t respect the opinions of racists and bigots because they are flat out wrong and morally wrong.

          I didn’t make my point in my original response clearly enough. I’m not trying to gain the attention of anti-vaxxers. I’m trying to gain the attention of those currently unengaged.

  8. I think it boils down to distrust of the companies making huge profits from the vaccinations and how vital they actually are now.

Comments are closed.

Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates




A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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