What continues to irritate me, and that means that anyone who reads this stuff I write will have to read my gripe again, is the damned and demented anti-vaccine movement. There’s an article in the Daily Telegraph concerning a current outbreak of measles reported in public health and hospital records in the UK.
I just hope that I am posting this to people who will spread the necessity for herd immunisation in communities where kiddies and babies are at risk to ensure that young parents vaccinate their children. It is so important to keep these diseases at bay.
As you know I come from the Far North Coast of NSW where there is a cute little, relatively well heeled town called Bangalow. One Meryl Dorey resides there and, until recently, fronted for an organisation she founded called the Australian Vaccination Network.
She was a vociferous misinformation specialist spreading and scare mongering all around the place. She came to prominence when a wee baby died because of a preventable disease – whooping cough. The baby died because it was too young to have received the start of the vaccination schedule to provide the protection that most of us take for granted because we were vaccinated against infectious childhood diseases when we were kiddies. So we had mild doses of these diseases by and large. Nothing is 100% sure any way.
A monitoring group developed calling itself the Stop the Australian (Anti) Vaccination Network and its success has been to publish the scare-mongering of Dorey and her group which has finally forced the government regulator to demand that AVN to change its misleading name or be deregistered.
That’s the background to my more generalised gripe. I have also railed against Andrew Wakefield here in London who has been struck off the register and banned from practising medicine in the UK. Unsurprisingly he now lives in the US which is where Dorey hails from.
During the period of the MMR scandal that Wakefield virtually singlehandedly spearheaded, vaccination rates in the UK dropped from 92% to below 80%. The kiddies that missed out are now adolescents of 18 – 20.
These are the current victims of an upsurge in the incidence of measles in the UK. The rate is reported as being the highest in 18 years with 2016 confirmed cases by early 2013. The Daily Telegraph reported this and among the comments made to the article are some of the most uneducated and scaremongering statements, presumably in an attempt to misinform people of the benefits of vaccination while highlighting a singular case of infection after vaccination.
Anti-vaxxers behave in the same way as religites. They suffer from confirmation bias and cherry pick what data they can and then propose their own interpretation of that data. You have to deconstruct the comments to find anything worth a second glance. And the anti-vaxxers lie. They make a bald statement like 47,500 paralysed kids from Gates Foundation polio shots. This then takes an immense amount to time to track down the what and why of comments like this to lay the lie to rest and understand what the figure actually refers to which is a rise in India in the number of non-polio acute flaccid paralysis that has nothing to do with the vaccine.
Then some people comment on their own circumstances as though one can extrapolate from anecdotal evidence to a generalised community data base.
You are entitled to your own opinion but not entitled to your own facts. Apparently attributed to DP Moynihan. Well, he is right regardless.
There was a good blog article in 2009 on scienceblogs about the anti vaccination movement. The irony is, of course, that medical research and technology has contributed to a diminution in the mortality rate of human beings.
Rubella fell sharply when immunization was introduced
Measles reported in the US before & after introduction of the vaccine
And, of course, there’s small pox. Hasn’t been a case world wide since 1979 but an estimated 300 million died from small pox in the 20th century. I am sure even the silly and dangerously misinformed anti-vaxxers are glad that a global public health effort was undertaken to rid the world of that little nasty virus.
- Teenagers behind biggest measles outbreak in 18 years (telegraph.co.uk)
- New cases of measles reaches highest level for 18 years (independent.co.uk)
- North measles outbreak ‘serious’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Measles hotspots: Cases of fatal disease are at 18-year high (mirror.co.uk)