When it Comes To Vaccination, We Have 99% To Thank
Oct 03, 2013

hugmeslothWhen I began writing on this blog three and a half years ago, I had never had a face-to-face conversation with someone who I would’ve described as “anti-vaccine”.  That’s not surprising really, since about 99% of people vaccinate.  The odds of me knowing someone who didn’t vaccinate was fairly low, and the odds of me speaking to them about their opinions would likely be even lower.  While I had never walked around wearing a sign that said “I vaccinate”, I had never hid the fact that I vaccinate either.  Each of my five children wore their band-aid badges of honor after their scheduled well-visits and it was not uncommon for me to tell others that “my kids had shots today”.

But today – knowing what I know now – I think about the hundreds of people who I’ve associated with over the years.  It’s entirely likely I’ve known people who were selective vaccinators, delayed vaccinators, or parents who followed an alternative schedule.  But anti-vaccine? Could it be?  Other than one acquaintance I’ve had, I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever known, in real life, that has refused vaccinations entirely.  And even though this one acquaintance believed her child’s developmental delays were in some way a result of her child’s immunizations, she never once tried to persuade me not to vaccinate or even suggest that she believed vaccines to be dangerous.

Unfortunately, since I began writing about immunization issues, I’ve been shocked and appalled at the people who ridicule, threaten and personally harass me day after day – all because they reject the scientific views that I base my vaccination decisions on.  AntivaxersMakeMeSickShirtAnd while there are still less than 1% of people nationwide who refuse vaccines entirely, I’ve seen how a very small minority of that 1% can be extremely persistent, vocal and downright rude.  These are the people I would label as “anti-vaccine”.
Which brings me to the interesting popularity of a recent article entitled “I’m Coming Out…As Pro Vaccine“.  The author’s views have been articulated by many before.  But for some reason, this particular post has gone viral.  I’ve seen lots of acquaintances discussing it on social media and it’s encouraging to see how the popularity of this piece may be helping the 99% of parents who vaccinate to make their views known publicly.
At the beginning of the article the author, JJ Keith, admits,

“When I see debates about vaccines online — and as someone who writes about parenting culture I see a lot — I used to pat myself on the back for not getting mixed up in the fray. I mean, what’s it to me what other people do with their kids? I’m secure in my own choices. Besides, even if I wanted to change the minds of anti-vaccine advocates, how could I?”

But after following along in the lives of two children with leukemia who can’t be vaccinated, identifying the breakdown in herd immunity by parents who are skipping routine immunizations for their children, and recognizing the resurgence of vaccine preventable diseases like whooping cough and measles, the author declares that it’s time to speak up.  She explains,

“The ideas of anti-vaccine advocates have been allowed to spread because vaccinating parents tend to not be radicalized enough to bother with arguing with them. However, this tendency for vaccinating parents to stay out of the discussion is what’s causing vaccination to lose its bandwagon appeal. Anti-vaxers are loud. The rest of us need to be loud too, because there’s nothing crunchy about a resurgence of polio.”

Of course, I couldn’t agree more.  People who are constantly speaking out against vaccines are hoping others will agree with their misguided views.  Maybe their constant noise is a tactic to convince others that there are more people rejecting vaccines than there really are.  Maybe they hope that planting seeds of fear and doubt will be enough to get people to ignore the scientific evidence that proves immunizations to be safe and effective.  Maybe they simply need justification for their own dangerous decisions.  Or perhaps, as one recent research article suggests, they are simply off their rockers!
In a Mother Jones article published yesterday, University of Bristol psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky explains the findings of some interesting research that he and his colleagues published in the journal PLOS ONE.  In short, he explains,

“People who tend toward conspiratorial thinking are three times more likely to reject vaccinations,” says Lewandowsky.

So maybe that’s just it.  We’ve got a small percentage of people who are extreme in their views.  And yet the people we really need to focus on are those who are genuinely concerned about immunization safety and efficacy but who are just needing need more credible information to make an informed decision.  People who are hesitant – who delay vaccinations, selectively vaccinate, or insist their children only receive one vaccine at a time – are in a different category from those that we may call out as “anti-vaccine”.  They are confused by the misinformation that is so widely spread by anti-vaccine extremists and their fear and doubt can make it difficult for them to know how to identify credible sources of scientifically accurate information.

One of the first steps in educating oneself about vaccines is to stay informed on current immunization news.  You can do that by visiting our Vaccinate Your Family website, “liking” the Vaccinate Your Family Facebook page and following us on Twitter and Instagram.

If you have questions, just ask.  There are plenty of experts available to discuss your concerns, such as those at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Vaccine Education Center where you can submit an online question.  Make an appointment to talk with your own doctor, visit the Questions About Vaccines section of our Vaccinate Your Family website, or email us at info@vaccinateyourfamily.org and we’ll do our best to respond.  Whatever you do, just be sure to get the information you need to make an informed decision.

And if you vaccinate, tell others what an important decision it has been for you and your family.  Your voice matters more than you may know in this immunization conversation.  Don’t be afraid to use it!

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17 responses to “When it Comes To Vaccination, We Have 99% To Thank”

  1. Acyclovir says:

    “You’re voice matters more than you may know in this immunization conversation. ”

  2. Lawrence says:

    Really? Grammar troll?

  3. Before the internet, society had its own herd immunity against cranks. If halfwits in different states wanted to share loopy ideas, they had to plan a convention, or organize a conference call. If there was an outbreak of bat shit craziness, such as when two conspiracy nutters bump into each other on demolition derby night, the contagion remained local and died out as the nutters forgot what they were talking about, or became distracted by a shiny hubcap. The internet changed all that. Now a failed chiropractor in Boise can share his spittle flecked insights into germ theory with a Waldorf School booster club on Long Island.
    Welcome to the Brave New World.

  4. dingo199 says:

    (just kidding!)

  5. Ilia says:

    “In a Mother Jones article published yesterday, University of Bristol psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky explains the findings of some interesting research that he and his colleagues published in the journal PLOS ONE. In short, he explains,
    “People who tend toward conspiratorial thinking are three times more likely to reject vaccinations,” says Lewandowsky.
    So maybe that’s just it. We’ve got a small percentage of people who are extreme in their views. And yet the people we really need to focus on are those who are genuinely concerned about immunization safety and efficacy but who are just needing need more credible information to make an informed decision. People who are hesitant – who delay vaccinations, selectively vaccinate, or insist their children only receive one vaccine at a time – are in a different category from those that we may call out as “anti-vaccine”. They are confused by the misinformation that is so widely spread by anti-vaccine extremists and their fear and doubt can make it difficult for them to know how to identify credible sources of scientifically accurate information.”
    If you are supporting the garbage in the Mother Jones article you lose all credibility in my eyes. How about these are the type of people that use their brains and think a little bit instead of following the crowd? BTW…GMO’s have been proven to cause cancer, but if you believe they are bad you are considered an extreme conspiracy theorist?? Hilarious!

  6. Chris says:

    Ilia: ” BTW…GMO’s have been proven to cause cancer,”
    Citation needed.

  7. autismne says:

    Ilia doesn’t follow the crowd, so she won’t be back. Too crowded.

  8. Ilia says:

    Chris: So you don’t believe there is enough evidence to make GMO’s and health debatable? And if you are skeptical of them you are a conspiracy theorist?
    autismne: Can’t think for yourself? Do you expect people to be sheep and not do their own due diligence? And when they do, you ridicule them?

  9. Lawrence says:

    @Ilia – please provide the “evidence” that convinced you that GMO’s were unsafe or “cause Cancer.”

  10. Chris says:

    Ilia, I asked for a citation not a biased document. You made a claim, therefore you need supply the evidence for that claim. Just post the best papers indexed on PubMed that show “GMO’s have been proven to cause cancer” by supplying their title, date and journal.

  11. Chris says:

    By the way, I looked at that 120+ paper by searching the word “cancer.” There were no studies in it that directly linked a genetically engineered plant to cancer. So you’ll need to find the PubMed indexed papers that show (in your words) ““GMO’s have been proven to cause cancer.”
    Be forewarned: do not post anything written by Seralini. Really, really, do not post anything by Seralini

  12. Ilia says:

    Chris: If you want to eat GMO food go for it.
    There is a lot of bad evidence, and no long term safety studies on GMO’s. So I will avoid GMO’s when possible. That doesn’t make me or anybody else a conspiracy theorist.

  13. novalox says:

    Then post some evidence, which you haven’t done so far.
    Otherwise, we can all assume that you are just another stock conspiracy theory nutter and liar.
    Let’s give you 3 posts to show what evidence you have.

  14. Lawrence says:

    @Ilia – if you rely on evidence & don’t make accusations that GMOs are part of some worldwide NWO conspiracy, you have a bit of a leg to stand on, unfortunately, most of those who are against GMOs aren’t very well educated on the real issues & instead rely on the conspiracies….

  15. Chris says:

    Ilia, you made a claim, therefore you must support that claim with actual evidence. We have been eating genetically modified food for thousands of years. Very little in your pantry is what it was in the wild. And Americans have been consuming genetically engineered food for almost two decades.
    Though, with this conversation I did find an interesting blog: http://www.biofortified.org/. So, thanks for that.

  16. louveha says:

    I think that you can debate GMO without claiming “GMO’s have been proven to cause cancer”, which is a very caricatural idea (if you don’t develop it more therafter) (for example : you have to test each GMO to know their effect on health ; at the very least you can only claim (with citation) “this GMO has been proven…”).
    You can debate their impact on the environment, on business practice, on agriculture and farmers… There are a lot of critical subjects one can keep an eye on and campaign for.
    However, the “health and GMOs” debate has unfortunately taken over a bit too much of the debate, leading pros and antis to make ridiculously extreme statements sometimes (well, from my point of view ; YMMV).
    You can think that GMOs aren’t a good thing because of their environmental and economic impact, or that this technology should be used by corporations far more ethical than Monsanto, without thinking that they are bad for health. (Safety studies of both sides seem to have been heavily criticized, so I don’t know enough to form a real opinion on this point. Studies as grotesque as Seralini’s further muddy the debate and do a disservice to reasonable anti-GMO people. )
    I was at first a bit disappointed by the vagueness of the questions in the study regarding GMOs. It seemed that you can have these beliefs without them being ridiculously extreme. However, if you are anti-GMO and you believe in conspiracy theories, I agreee that you are much more likely to have extreme beliefs.
    So to me being anti-GMO doesn’t mean you are automatically a CT ; but if you are a CT and anti-GMO, you are more likely to be extremely anti-GMO.

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