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#CDCVax is the Twitter place to be today

The CDC is going to have a twitter party, sharing information about National Infant Immunization Week, 140 characters at a time, at 1pm EDT today. Just for fun, the anti-vaxxer crazies are planning to crash the hashtag, so getting more rational people to join the conversation would be a good idea — let’s swamp out the nonsense with reality.

Unfortunately, they picked a time when I’m going to be in class, so I’m going to be no help at all.

Comments

  1. yazikus says

    So I have to vent. I was talking to my sisters in law who have an 18mo daughter, and they don’t vaccinate. Well, if you asked them, they would say they do. They showed me their ‘homeopathic vaccines’ the other day (a little box full of vials with handwritten labels like MMR & Chickenpox). They were given these by their homeopath person who told them that they were just like the regular vaccines, except with none of the synthetics or toxins. Is that legal? Can naturopaths sell ‘homeopathic vaccines’? They are a super nice couple, one is an artist and the other is a physical therapist. I don’t get it.

  2. moarscienceplz says

    @#2 yazikus

    It’s probably not illegal to sell ‘homeopathic vaccines’, but I suspect your relatives could get in big trouble if they injected them into their child. I think that would qualify as dispensing medicine without a license.

  3. Orakio says

    They’re called ‘nosodes’, and they’re subject to the normal problems with homeopathy. Unfortunately, as long as they’re in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia that the FDA is required to recognize by law, they’re allowed to sell it.

  4. stever says

    “Homeopathic vaccines?” The FDA has “standards of identity” for foodstuffs. Doesn’t this concept apply to drugs? Of course those apparently-handwritten labels probably contain a line of Ultra-Eyestrain type disclaiming any actual vaccine content, like the tiny “Alleged” that you can find on the labels of those “Love”, “Healing” and “Money-Drawing” candles sold in some poor Catholic neighborhoods.

  5. doubtthat says

    @2 yazikus

    I have a family member who is into all of that stuff. She did get her kids all vaccinated. On some level she’s smart enough to realize that her kids’ health wasn’t worth playing around with, but still uses all kinds of crazy home remedies for various ailments.

    Maybe send this to your sister-in-law:

    http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/yhq2cw/preventable-diseases-on-the-rise

    Some people aren’t going to change, but this is a tightly presented, humorous take that also points out how fucking scary this is. These diseases are not frivolous things, and sugar pills aren’t going to do a damn thing. They had sugar pills in the 19th century, they had sugar pills in the 50’s when Polio was ravaging our youths. Vaccines are among the greatest developments in the history of humanity.

  6. robertfoster says

    The problem with the anti-vaxers is obvious. Aside from the flu, they’ve never seen an outbreak of a serious disease in their lifetimes. They’ve grown up in a society that did an excellent job of eradicating most childhood illnesses as well as things like smallpox and TB and cholera and yellow fever (which were endemic in many parts of the U. S. in the 18th and 19th centuries). I’m old enough to still show my smallpox vax scars on both upper arms. There were places as late as the 1960s that I wouldn’t have dreamed of visiting without my dozens of shots, many of them very painful. I’ve also been to Third World countries where I’ve seen crippled kids limping around from polio and people dying agonizing deaths from the Queen of the Runs. I think these anti-vaxers ought to visit places that don’t vaccinate and see if they want to risk their kids lives on homeopathic nonsense.

  7. David Marjanović says

    The Colbert Report has caught up with the fact that Germany, like Canada, is not in the US. :-( :-( :-(

    ‘homeopathic vaccines’

    Head, meet desk.

  8. Orakio says

    @#6 stever
    One of the major sponsors/authors of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics act was Royal Copeland, a practicing homeopathic “physician”. Therefore, homeopaths have a four lane highway of a loophole out of drug regulations.

  9. Trebuchet says

    They administer them orally… I just wonder what the hell they are made out of.

    Water. Just water. Shaken, not stirred.

    Unless they aren’t really homeopathic, which is a bit frightening.

  10. yazikus says

    Unless they aren’t really homeopathic, which is a bit frightening.

    That is what worries me, they described as having all the same ingredients and regular vaccines, just more natural and less ‘toxins’.

  11. jrfdeux, mode d'emploi says

    That is what worries me, they described as having all the same ingredients and regular vaccines, just more natural and less ‘toxins’.

    Given the homeopathic re-definition of what is considered “medicine”, I’m sure they found a reason to categorize pretty much everything in any given vaccine as a “toxin”. Which leaves water and perhaps a dewdrop of oil of lavender.

  12. says

    I know my sister and I didn’t get all the usual vaccines as kids. Some were required by law so we had those obviously but my parents are still very much with homeopathy. I now “confront” them any time I can on the issue of homeopathy (to be fair, they always saw it as a first-lets-try-that kind of thing and then never hesitated to use real medicine if needed).

    My father forwarded me a letter 2 days ago about the “truth about vaccines”… how depressing this kind of thing is. The letter was very long, with lots of bullshit (obviously) that I saw through right away and a lot that I needed to research on the web in order to respond to it. In this process, I saw that the letter is on all sorts of alternative “medicine” and anti-vax websites.
    I had to stop halfway through because this was so tiring. (but every single point made in the newsletter was basically bullshit and I didn’t restrained myself to say so to my dad, with links and citations).

    So, if anyone here receive this “Vaccins, ce que tout parent doit savoir” newsletter: I have half of it debunked.

    Not adding very much to the conversation but it just feels good to talk about how frustrating it is to receive such garbage. And from family members too.

    Thanks for listening.

  13. says

    I agree with robertfoster at #9. Non-vaxers I’ve talked to responded with an ‘if my child does get the measels, she won’t die from it’ with the understanding that the rest of modern medicine will fix their child. How will they react when there are no beds available in the ER because of an outbreak?

    The lady I bought my (used) breastpump from helpfully left an anti-vax pamphlet in the pocket. IT claimed, among a variety of non-sense, that not vaxing made kids healthier because it would challenge the immune system and make it stronger.

  14. nich says

    Dutchgirl@16:

    …that not vaxing made kids healthier because it would challenge the immune system and make it stronger.

    I’ve heard this. Challenging your body with polio is good. Challenging it with “toxins” is bad. And then of course a lot of them will say that it was handwashing and other sanitary methods that really deserve the credit for getting rid of some of these diseases. So apparently NOT challenging your immune system works too…

  15. peptron says

    @ 14. jrfdeux, mode d’emploi :
    But don’t they know that oil of lavender is full of cytosine?

  16. Desert Son, OM says

    Dutchgirl at #16 and nich at #17:

    Thank you for making these points. They’re an aspect of inconsistency and mental gymnastics I hadn’t realized before in relation to homeopathy believers and anti-vaxxers: Do homeopath parents let children eat lead paint chips? If not, why not? Why keep children from playing with venomous animals or poisonous plants? How does one tell when something is a “toxin” versus when something is an “immune strengthener?” Why are some pathogens the former, and some the latter? If water is magical at the molar level, shouldn’t the water also be toxic at the molar level for all the heavy metals and biocontaminants likely to have come in contact with the water at some point in the water cycle on planet Earth?

    Anyway, thank you both for your posts. They helped clarify something I had not yet been able to pinpoint about (yet another) reason I’m bothered by anti-vaccination efforts and “alternative” medicine.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  17. jrfdeux, mode d'emploi says

    See, this is the kind of shit that can happen when you’re not up to date on your vaccinations:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/measles-outbreak-declared-in-calgary-edmonton-and-central-alberta-1.2626122

    This is happening RIGHT NOW. As in TODAY, in Canada, a first world nation, with decent health care and a reasonably well-educated citizenry. It’s “only” 22 cases in total so far, but measles has a long incubation period, so who knows how many more people are infected but aren’t showing symptoms yet?

  18. nich says

    Anti-vaxxers vex me. I have to drag my kids kicking and screaming to that needle and comfort them after it is over just so some shitheads can have the luxury of not vaccinating their kids. Oh well, I’d rather some poor kid ride the herd immunity we provide than get some horrible disease because of their dumbass parents, but goddamn if I don’t want to walk up to these parents and jab a needle in their shoulder: “If my 5-year-old has to take it, so do you asshat!”

    Though as many have pointed out, even herd immunity fails if enough wolves get in…

  19. gussnarp says

    The problem with homeopathy in the U.S., as I understand it, is that a very bad piece of legislation was passed some years ago that said that anything in the homeopathic pharmacopeia, or whatever they call it, was as good as FDA tested and automatically approved.

    So as long as your homeopathic product is in that list, you can make all the claims about it that the list makes and there’s no legal action that can be taken against you by the FDA.

    Now saying they are “just like the regular vaccines, except with none of the synthetics or toxins”, they may be crossing the legal line, since that seems to me to be saying they have the same active ingredients and homeopathic pharmacopeia be damned, it is illegal to sell a product as one thing when it is in fact something else entirely.

  20. futurechemist says

    I just don’t get it. In the 20th Century we sequenced the human genome, went to the moon, and split the atom. Why then in the 21st Century are we having the debate “vaccines – good or bad?” ?

  21. nich says

    Heh….my rant above @22 sorta reminds of Colonel Jessup’s cross examination in A Few Good Men:

    Parents, we live in a world that has diseases, and those diseases have to be prevented by doctors with needles. Who’s gonna do it? You, Jenny McCarthy? You, Age of Autism?

    We have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for autism, and you curse the vaccines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That vaccines save lives. And their existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, save lives.

    You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want us on that wall, you need us on that wall. We use words like herd immunity, morbidity, eradication. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline.

    I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a group who live and die under the blanket of the very herd immunity that we provide, and then questions the manner in which we provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a needle, and vaccinate your kids. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!!!

  22. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    Once again another commenter beats me to it. As jrfdeux @21 said, we got ourselves a good old fashioned outbreak right here in Alberta. They are getting clinics set up, and are working hard to get kids vaccinated, ahead of the usual schedule if necessary. I’m not hearing a lot of anti-vax crap around here, but that just could be a lack of attention on my part.

  23. Desert Son, OM says

    futurechemist at #24:

    Why then in the 21st Century are we having the debate “vaccines – good or bad?” ?

    By no means a comprehensive hypothesis, but I wonder if some of it is a locus of control question. In addition to being amazing achievements, the things you mentioned have also helped us recognize, more and more (and for some, against their desires) that the universe is a giant place that utterly does not care in the least about the survival or thriving of some apes on a hurtling piece of space debris. The caring comes from the apes ourselves, as we look around and say, “Ok, I’m on board, I’d like to survive, I care about others, I’d like them to survive, too, what do we need to do?”

    But if the universe as a whole doesn’t care, and if the universe is populated not just by caring apes but also pathogens that can wipe the apes out (or other hurtling chunks of space debris that can wipe the caring apes out), then one response might sometimes be try to grab onto whatever tiny modicum of control a single caring ape may be able to achieve. For some apes, that means dictating terms of health to their children. As an outgrowth of the locus of control problem, latching onto ideas about magic water helps reinforce the idea (however lacking in evidence, and it’s totally lacking in evidence) that the universe really does care.

    I have every confidence that a majority of anti-vaccination and homeopathic parents genuinely love their children. What I wonder is how much that love has encountered the implications of a universe that doesn’t love their children, and what role fear of that knowledge plays.

    Though, as I said, just one hypothesis for one possible factor, and it may be a foolish hypothesis, after all.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  24. john cryan says

    “Non-vaxers I’ve talked to responded with an ‘if my child does get the measels, she won’t die from it’ with the understanding that the rest of modern medicine will fix their child.”

    Not necessarily, as the incidence SSPE is between 4 and 11 children per 100,000 cases of measles, which modern medicine CAN’T fix.

  25. moarscienceplz says

    #16 Dutchgirl

    not vaxing made kids healthier because it would challenge the immune system and make it stronger.

    Holy airheads, Batman!
    Do they seriously not get the point that that is EXACTLY what vaccines do???!!??? They challenge the immune system with a load of either weakened or killed infectious agents to allow an immune response without serious disease symptoms! How fucking ignorant can someone be??!!??

  26. twas brillig (stevem) says

    that anything in the homeopathic pharmacopeia, or whatever they call it, was as good as FDA tested and automatically approved.

    As long as it doesn’t CLAIM to CURE something (specific), and isn’t explicitly HARMFUL (Water; harmful?), all the FDA requirements are met; so the FDA can’t Block it’s sale. (“ineffective” is synonymous with “harmless”) That’s how so many ‘drugs’ for sale just claim to be “herbal”; not “medicine”, so the FDA can’t ban them. Loopholes need closing.

    re “hole airheads batman”@29:

    Funny how so many use “rationalize” as justification for ‘not thinking’.

  27. embraceyourinnercrone says

    Dutchgirl@19 They should read author Roald Dahl’s “Measles a dangerous illness” which he wrote about the death of his daughter Oliva –

    “Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.

    ‘Are you feeling all right?’ I asked her.

    ‘I feel all sleepy,’ she said.

    “In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.’’

  28. Paul Zimmerle says

    Mm, I’m worried this will only serve to reduce rates of vaccination :\

    Skeptic’s Guide to the Galaxy has been citing studies that show that public drives to inform people about vaccination tend to have the opposite desired effect.

    Let’s hope this one works out for the positive.

  29. says

    embraceyourinnercrone at #31: if only they would! That and a text book or two on basic science and/or physiology. Sometimes I just feel like trolling them and start a rumor that a certain homeopathic ingredient has been linked to epilepsy or something.

  30. says

    moarscienceplz at #29: now I wish I’d kept the pamphlet so we could all boggle at the 10 ways not vaxing is great. It was astoundingly bad, and I’d have laughed if it wasn’t for the babies dying of whooping cough and measels.

  31. JohnnieCanuck says

    Dutchgirl,

    @16, you quote them as saying their child won’t die from measles. That’s not exactly true. The odds are low but not negligible. From a Calgary Sun article on their outbreak:

    But the fact is, even in a developed country like Canada, the mortality rate for measles is one or two deaths for every 1,000 cases — and 140,000 children die from the disease globally each year.

    Most kids don’t die — they just suffer horrible complications like brain damage and corneal scarring.

    The much larger outbreak occurring here in BC is attributable to a religious enclave where vaccination rates are near zero. Interestingly there is a connection to the Netherlands where the same church exists in much larger numbers. They regularly share their infectious pathogens back and forth.

  32. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    @2 – if it’s a “nosode” it is material associated with the disease (swamp much for malaria, a crust from a lesion for chickenbpox, snot from a kid with measlkes … ) ground up and treated to the same dilutiuons as any homeoppathic remedy.

    The chances of it giving them a disease are zero. And the chances of preventing the disease are also zero.

    @16 – Non-vaxers I’ve talked to responded with an ‘if my child does get the measels, she won’t die from it’ with the understanding that the rest of modern medicine will fix their child. How will they react when there are no beds available in the ER because of an outbreak?

    With hysteria and anger, of course.

    not vaxing made kids healthier because it would challenge the immune system and make it stronger. Except if they fail the challenge and die.

  33. says

    JohnnieCanuck at #35: you and I know that, but the people I’ve talked to seem oblivious, and quoting them scary statistics won’t change their minds. I mentioned it in my comment to show how disconnected their thinking is; they don’t trust the science behind vaccines, but are sure that measels doesn’t kill or that treatment always works.

    I also want to mention that the people I’ve talked with are not friends or even acquaintances. But I tend to be curious, and they were very willing to talk. One woman was the aunt of a friend, and a very nice woman with some crazy ideas. Others were just random encounters.

  34. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    News & numbers from Canada: there is debate right now in British Columbia to make vaccination MANDATORY for children attending school. The effectiveness of this policy is not debatable. Ontario has a mandatory-vaccination policy, and there were 17 cases of measles in the entire province of 10+million; BC, with a population of 4+million and no vaccination policy, had over 500 cases.

    I am generally anti-authoritarian, but when it comes to epidemics and herd-immunity, FUCK YOU, YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO PUT MY FAMILY IN DANGER OF DEATH!

    There are a few prices for living in a civilized modern society: taxes is one, vaccination is (or should be) another.

  35. azhael says

    This is just another symptom of a society that has large gaps of serious scientific illiteracy. Anti-vaxxers don’t understand how vaccination works. That might seem obvious but at least for me it was rather profound when i first thought about this and that thought sunk in. Adults….in developed countries…who have gone through educational systems….and don’t know how a vaccine works. It scares the fuck out of me.

  36. rorschach says

    The homeo vaccers look like normal people. They will present to me with their child having picked up a mild respiratory illness, appear perfectly sane and capable as parents, and it is only when you casually ask them if the kid has had their jabs and the answer of the nice lady in front of you is “no he had homeopathic immunisations” that the dread sets in, you know you are dealing with a lunatic and/or uninformed person, and you realise the kid might be about to come down with any number of terrible and avoidable illnesses.

    Then you try to compose yourself, mumble something like “hm in this case we better take a throat swab and some blood tests, and here have these strong antibiotics stat”.

  37. David Marjanović says

    Do they seriously not get the point that that is EXACTLY what vaccines do???!!???

    Perhaps what’s going on here is vitalism: challenging the immune system with natural antigens instead of artificial or processed ones must logically be healthier.

    Just 2 days ago, on the bus, someone behind me said artificial vitamins cause cancer.

  38. Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy says

    Robertfoster @9:

    No outbreak of a serious disease other than flu in their lifetimes? Are all the antivaxxers too young too remember the early days of the AIDS epidemic, and too sheltered to realize that being treatable doesn’t make AIDS trivial?

    I know, there’s no vaccine against HIV yet. But I suspect the point is that they managed to define everyone who died of AIDS as “them”—gay men, drug users, poor people, blacks, and, well, they’ve had time to forget the hemophiliac children.

    (This appears to have been a stored rant, and is only tangentially related to what you posted; I am not suggesting that you are an AIDS denialist.)