Being an argumentative sort of person, every once in a while* I find myself getting into a spot of witty repartee. It usually happens on twitter, the land of the 140-character he-said/she-said/THE-GOVERNMENT-IS-OUT-TO-GET-YOU banter, but occasionally I find myself getting into arguments in other places online, or even in real life.
Arguing on twitter is basically my life
Often these arguments are over the subject of vaccines. Because whilst vaccines have been accepted by public health organisations the world over as the most important medical innovation of the 20th century, and one of the most lifesaving interventions that we’ve ever come up with, there is a small minority of people who are convinced that vaccines are bad for their child’s health.
A small, very vocal, minority.
Now, I’m not here to criticize parents. It’s very important to note that most parents want the best for their kids. They are trying to look out for their children, and occasionally in this pursuit they get misled. And make no mistake, the people who sell vaccine fear are professionals in the art of deception. They know exactly how to convince a worried parent that the most dangerous thing in the world for their child is the vaccine, rather than, say, the measles.
It’s not the parents who are spreading vaccine denial. They are victims of professionals. If you are a parent who is worried about vaccination: don’t stress. You are a good parent. You have just been lied to. Have a read of this article, and maybe go have a chat with your doctor about why immunization is important and why it’s a good thing for your kids.
Whenever you talk vaccines, the anti-vax professionals come up with the same arguments time and again. Here are my top 8, and why they make no sense whatsoever:
8Vaccines Cause Autism. I’m not really going to go into this, because it has been refuted time and again. Virtually every study involving a) humans, b) more than 10 participants, and c) researchers who haven’t been convicted of fraud, has shown that there is no link between vaccines and autism. It was a valid concern in the early 90s, but we have 30 years of evidence showing that autism is in no way linked to vaccines.
VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM ALL REPUTABLE STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THIS FOR DECADES
7There Hasn’t Been Much Research. This is always a bit of a weird one, because people are usually claiming that on the one hand there hasn’t been enough research done on vaccines to prove them safe, but on the other they know the truth because they’ve done their research and it shows vaccines to be basically poison.
It’s a strange argument to make, but it comes up all the time.
This is simply a lie told by vaccine-deniers to make parents scared. Vaccines are one of the most well-researched interventions of all time. We have data from literally millions of children across the world demonstrating their safety. There has been more research on vaccines than almost any other medical intervention.
The research has been done. Time and again. Vaccines are safe and effective.
6Vaccines Are Enormously Profitable. This is also a weird one, because…so what? So are any number of things. The international flour market is gigantic, but that doesn’t make every bread advert a missive from the devil. Flour millers have actually been influential in protecting babies worldwide by fortifying their products with macronutrients and preventing neural tube defects.
Pictured: tasty. Probably not sent by Lucifer
It’s also untrue. Pharma companies make far more money from so-called ‘blockbuster’ drugs than vaccines — for example, Astrazeneca’s Nexium, despite being no more effective than cheaper options for gastrointestinal problems, has made them more than $50 billion. The yearly earnings have been somewhere between 2 and 5 times as much as the flu vaccine. In fact, if you look at the top 20 earners for pharma companies, not one of them is a vaccine.
4The CDC Is Lying. This is one of my favourite red herrings, because it is just so easy to disprove. Whenever someone brings up the CDC, my response is…so what? Let’s say the CDC is evil, awful, in the pocket of Big Pharma. It’s not — the people who work at the CDC are dedicated, honest, and usually incredibly good at public health — but for the sake of argument, let’s say the CDC is corrupt.
People who focus on the CDC ignore one glaring truth: the US isn’t the only country in the world. If the CDC is corrupt, what about every other public health organisation in the world that recommends vaccines. Australia. France. The UK. Japan. China. The list goes on. Forget about the CDC. Have a look at the Australian Department of Health on vaccines.
Or the Japanese immunization schedule. Or one of hundreds of other countries that all choose to vaccinate. Either there’s a global conspiracy including countries that are literally at war with one another — a bit unlikely — or immunization is a good thing no matter what you think of the CDC.
I was going to make a dick joke, but their page on sexual health is actually really good and dick jokes are pretty hard.
3The US Is Special. This is another one that I love, because it’s so easily disprovable. No, the US doesn’t give a uniquely high number of immunizations. Much of the OECD has a virtually identical vaccine schedule to the US, bar a few minor differences.
The US also has significantly less punitive laws in terms of vaccination than other countries — for example, in France you can go to jail for failing to vaccinate your kids.
So no. The US isn’t special. It’s just another country, trying to stop nasty diseases like polio, diptheria and measles from killing children.