You probably do not want to read the comments in the link below. They follow a post by Mayim Bialik, aka Blossom, aka Amy Farrah Fowler on Big Bang Theory, wherein it came to light she chose not to vaccinate her kids and speculation ran that she might be an anti-vaxxar. It’s not clear if the last part is true or not. Here’s an except of her post:
I almost always listen to my editor. But I rebelled last week. You see, she asked me to write in response to someone on the internet who was speaking disparagingly about me regarding my personal (and rarely publicly discussed) decisions about vaccines. She wanted me to respond. I said no.
Bialik has a real doctorate in neuroscience. So I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she’s not an anti-vaxxar. Which might mean she chose to spare her kids the minuscule risk of a bad reaction, knowing that the herd immunity provided by other parents who did vaccinate their kids would protect hers. Which may be even worse, but again, I don’t know what’s going on there and she’s not saying.
What I do know is the comment section quickly degenerated into a jamboree of people who are well informed and those who have been successfully victimized by the anti-vaxxar shysters. One of the more pernicious lies they pitch these days is, not only are vaccines useless or dangerous, diseases are actually passed on and kept endemic because people get vaccinated. None of these strange beliefs fall across the usual left-right political axis. I’ve observed anecdotally that Lefty anti-vaxxars tend to suspect drug companies of a giant conspiracy — up to including some who claim the drug companies purposely tailor their vaccines to keep the disease going because that’s good for business — whereas Righties tend to blame it on a massive government conspiracy. But politically, this one is an equal opportunity delusion.
Obviously we know vaccines work. For starters we can and have tested them exhaustively, that’s part of the tedious clinical trial process for all drugs. It’s not hard to do, you expose two populations of rats or chimps or whatnot to the virus in question, one that has been vaccinated and one that hasn’t, and see what happens. Since I’m writing here for level-headed science-minded skeptics, we all know what happens.
But graphs like the one above, showing polio rates, are more difficult for the shysters to explain away. We can debate why that polio outbreak happened, I would guess that when millions of people come home from war ravaged regions of Europe and the Pacific, where basic sanitation and medical care have been seriously reduced or broken down completely among the surviving native populations for months or years on end, they might bring home some new or newly mutated viruses. Which, after the relevant incubation time, set up and cause outbreaks in those nations. But there’s no doubt what caused reported cases to drop precipitously; the mid 50s are precisely when a polio vaccine was developed and distributed on a massive scale.
You don’t want to know what the shysters make of that, because when you hear it, you’ll be depressed that they aren’t laughed out of the room by 100% of their intended marks. The Polio Vaccine Myth spiel goes like this: the outbreak was actually going to go to zero in the mid 50s (They know this for a fact!), but the polio vaccine extended it and made it worse! That’s right folks, the evidence that polio vaccine stopped a deadly epidemic in its tracks and has kept it at bay ever since is really evidence the vaccine doesn’t work and causes polio!
To put it in terms even the average wingnut can grasp, saying that people who get vaccinated sometimes get the disease and therefore vaccines are worthless, is like saying people who own guns sometimes get shot and therefore owning a gun offers zero protection. In terms for the rest of us, if you don’t leave your keys in your car and it gets stolen, you might as well leave the keys in and the doors open form now on because it doesn’t do any good to lock it up.
PT Barnum was an optimist.