The Vaccine Song

By Phil Plait | July 13, 2010 11:09 am

This is, quite simply, brilliant. The Vaccine Song:

I have a hard time disagreeing with anything in that song*. I really wish everyone knew that at the same time Jenny McCarthy is railing against vaccines for their toxins, she was injecting botox — which contains botulin, one of the deadliest substances known to mankinddirectly into her face.


* I’m not thrilled with the ad hominems in the song, but the point is well-taken: people would rather listen to someone like McCarthy and Carrey, who have no medical expertise at all, over their trained and experienced doctors.

Comments (61)

  1. Brilliant. Love it.

  2. RMcbride

    Looking to give this a listen when I get home. Can anyone say hypocracy?

  3. Yes, focusing on the fact that she’s a “Playboy Bunny” is a bit of an ad-hominem — but aside from that, it’s great!

    I especially like the point that many people in the past would have been thrilled to have the information that we have now. As I’ve said before, the fact that parents can (today) reasonably expect to see all of their children live to adulthood is the greatest thing about our modern era — I’d trade any other advance we’ve made for that one. The part about parents losing their children (in the song) was difficult for me, particularly because that’s not just made up — losing one’s children was a regular occurrence.

  4. Chris Winter

    This is indeed brilliant work all around: words, music, singing, illustration — and animation, given the tools he had.

    The illustration of the guitar player was clearly modeled on John Denver.

    I’ll be looking for more work from this bunch.

  5. I’m not sure that Uttar Pradesh’s problems are the result of locals not taking the vaccine. I know that there was such an issue with Nigeria and there are distribution issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but last I had heard, the troubles in Uttar Pradesh were more mysterious.

  6. Cobey Cobb

    He had me at “Like skinny little cows who use tools and words” LMAO

  7. Zucchi

    RMcbride: We can say it, but it’s “hypocrisy”.

    Doesn’t Jenny McCarthy claim she cured her son of autism by treating his imaginary mercury poisoning with chelation?

  8. As the father of a young man with cerebral palsy (resulting in special needs in motor abilities, vision and intellect), I have to admit a wee sensitivity to the botox comments. There are shades of gray here when it comes to shooting deadly toxin into your body.

    Botox was originally developed by an ophthalmologist for use on particular vision/muscular problems. It’s use has expanded therapeutically: in my son’s case he’s had to have three hip operations and during each surgery, the botox was used to weaken certain muscles and keep them from spasming in shock, reducing the need for heavy painkillers like morphine post op (also kept those strong muscles from altering the bone structure as it healed). Worked like a charm.

    I’m not in favour of it’s use for superficial plastic surgery, and I realize that’s what the song’s mocking, but I don’t want botox held up to be a complete and utter menace to society.

  9. Peter (8): It’s not being held up that way. The point is, McCarthy complains about minuscule (or nonexistent) amounts of toxins in vaccines, but injects herself with quite a bit of a deadly toxin. Her hypocrisy is what’s the deal here.

  10. An artist named Darryl Cunningham did a great piece (in comic form) on Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who conducted the study that is the cornerstone of the antivax movement. Check it out here.

  11. Steve

    I was hit by polio as an infant (before vaccine was developed), and I hate the idiots who claim vaccines are dangerous. Let their kid catch MMR or polio, and see how fast they sue someone! I’m gonna be interested in seeing how many high risk folks refuse an AIDS/HIV vaccine because some celebrity says it’s dangerous….

  12. Dave

    Come on, let’s be fair. She never advocated injecting botox into kids. Perhaps, you could argue that she should be setting a better example for kids by not using a toxin herself. But that would be a silly argument — how many kids use Botox?

    Don’t you sometimes drink beer but think it would be absurd for your doctor to give beer to your kids? How’s that different from Jenny using a toxin but wanting doctors not to inject toxins into kids?

    Note: I don’t agree that vaccines are toxic, but I think Jenny’s supposed hypocrisy here is the last thing to criticize her for.

  13. scgvlmike

    @Peter Cook: I thank you for your comment. I was completely unaware that botox was used for anything other than cosmetic surgery. You’ve opened my eyes. I mean no sarcasm at all as I write this. I honestly did not know that there is a legitimate medical use for this drug.

    A few years ago, I was turned down by my insurance company for a 94% effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea because the surgery in question is also used sometimes as a cosmetic procedure. My doctor appealed, but we were still turned down. For this reason, I’m particularly empathetic to others who have also seen what is otherwise a cosmetic procedure turned to a procedure used to extend life, or simply to improve the quality of that life.

  14. Brian

    I kind of agree that the issue isn’t hypocrisy, per se. It’s more that it is an indicator of the level of her own ignorance on the subject matter. Because it’s not just that she’s arguing against toxins while using them herself: the toxins that she’s devoted so much time and effort railing at are so minuscule as to be ridiculous. And when this fact is pointed out to anti-vaxxers, they typically respond that any amount of toxin is too much. (I say anti-vaxxers in general instead of Jenny McCarthy in particular because I vaguely remember a quote from her along those lines but I can’t recall the specific wording.) The fact that she trusts her own face to a very serious toxin displays, I think, a serious level of either hypocrisy or ignorance. And yes, if I had to guess I’d go with the latter.

  15. Chris

    Dave, she is advocating letting kids experience the very real toxins created by bacterial infections like pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria. She is ignoring the relative risks.

  16. Yeebok

    Whoever was involved with that, I’d consider having their babies. It’s brilliant.
    Re Botox, I also had no idea it had uses other than cosmetic, so thanks for that Peter.
    What Wikipedia says about botox is quite scary :
    It is the most acutely toxic substance known, with a median lethal dose of about 1 ng/kg when introduced intravenously[20] and 3 ng/kg when inhaled[21] This means that, depending on the method of introduction into the body, a mere 90–270 nanograms of botulinum toxin could be enough to kill an average 90 kg (200 lb) person.
    To think people are injecting that into themselves for (usually) vanity purposes is sad. That someone would do so, then complain about vaccines which in the vast majority of cases do more good than harm, amazes me. It’s ignorance or hypocrisy, I’d prefer it to be the latter but I assume the former.

  17. Dave

    @Chris

    I entirely agree! But that has nothing to do with her use of Botox.

  18. Chris

    Botox is not without risks.

    I think the problem people are having with her use of Botox is that she called all “toxins” bad, and did not actually understand that Botox was a form of a bacterial toxin.

    Again, it is another form of not understanding the relative risks.

    My biggest problem with McCarthy are the inconsistencies in her story. She blames the MMR vaccine (which has never contained thimerosal nor aluminum) for her son’s autism and seizures. Yet his very frightening and dangerous seizures occurred when he was over two years old. This is at least six months to more than a year after the MMR is given (between twelve and fifteen months old).

    Since my son had seizures before he had any vaccines as a newborn, and later because he had an actual disease… I know that seizures are terrible, and have many causes. And sometimes those causes are never known. This is why I doubt that a vaccine her son had months before the seizures was the cause.

  19. agentsarahjane

    I have an uncle (by marriage) whose brother who lived through polio back in the 50′s but now has to use crutches for the rest of his life. Other little babies his mom had died because of other diseases that could have been stopped by vaccines. I am forwarding this to my Facebook page and sharing it with my friends :)

  20. Katharine

    Tangentially related, but next person who talks crud about the president is going to get an invitation to eat a pile of horse dung – because thanks to him I still have health insurance; if McCain were elected, my parents would be neck-deep in debt, AT THE VERY LEAST.

  21. That’s a great video, but I also wish the McCarthy stuff wasn’t in there, or wasn’t in there as much. I despise Ms. McCarthy in every way, but I know that when I show the video to my anti-vax or on-the-fence friends, they’ll focus on the ad hominems as an excuse to ignore all the great stuff in the video.

    Phil, I enjoyed your TAM 8 talk, and I think there’s a lot to discuss about it – I think sometimes rudeness has a place and most times it doesn’t. This is on the borderline for me, because McCarthy is exactly the person to be rude to, but not because she was a Playboy model. Let’s be rude to her for being dangerous and stupid.

    I do agree on the botox = hypocrisy point though. I think the video would be a smidgen stronger if it had just gone with that and the university of google slams and left out the nude modeling and the actor boyfriend.

  22. A wonderful video, filed away for my next linkfest.

    I think there are a few poor word choices that keep it a notch below perfect, like “hacks”, or like saying “can haz” when “do haz” is meant.

    But my criticism ends there. There’s nothing in it at all that I would regard as ad hominem.

  23. Tyler Durden

    Jenny McCarthy is retarded and self-contradictory. She believes that:

    a) Her son is an “Indigo child”
    b) Her son has autism

    “Jenny, who runs IndigoMoms.com, is of the belief that Evan is a ‘crystal child,’ and she herself is an ‘adult indigo.’ This belief suggests that ‘indigo/crystal phenomenon is the next step in our evolution as a human species.’ Proponents also suggest that many indigo and crystal children are wrongly diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, and autism. Starchild has more information, for those interested.”

    So according to Jenny, her child is just a misunderstood evolutionary mutant – but his mutation was caused by vaccination. So shouldn’t she be *thanking* doctors for mutating her kid, rather than railing against vaccines on the grounds that they cause autism, endangering the lives of countless children?

    The stupid, it burns.

  24. Chris Lamb

    “I’m not thrilled with the ad hominems in the song”

    - I didn’t hear any. Rhetorically asking the question: “Should I take my medical advice from a doctor or a playboy bunny” is not at all fallacious.

    A doctor is a true authority on medical matters and are inherently more trustworthy than an ex-model with no formal medical or scientific training. No?

  25. Nigel Depledge

    I can’t view the video from work, but some of the comments have set me thinking…

    McCarthy – hypocrite or ignoramus?

    My contention would be “both”. She has railed against “toxins” that she alleges are in vaccines, without taking any trouble to find out what they are, or what a toxic dose might be. OTOH, she praises botox, despite not having the foggiest idea what it is.

    These things on their own are not so bad. However, she exploits her celebrity status (and, yes, since the only thing for which she is famous is taking her clothes off for the cameras, her former career as a Playboy bunny is relevant) to dispense medical advice that she is not qualified to give.

    In combination, this is hypocrisy. She should either shut up and stay ignorant, or learn some of the medicine, epidemiology and microbiology that she so casually ignores.

  26. Grizzly

    @23. While I agree with the sense of your post, I wish that you had not used the word “retarded”. People might think me politically correct, but it is a word that is now seen as a perjorative, and is thrown around far too much – and does a good deal of harm.

  27. How is Jim Carrey like Jenny McCarthy? Both have built a career on talking out of their asses.

  28. Bob

    Jonas Salk did not cure polio. There is no cure for polio. You get and they just treat the symptoms. Vaccines are not cures. They just prevent or lessen the disease. I don’t think
    humans have cure any virus. (BTW Albert Sabin didn’t cure polio either.)

  29. Tyler Durden

    @Grizzly

    Good point, although IMO it’s only really a pejorative when used to describe someone who has a developmental disability.. McCarthy, on the other hand, has no such condition, and as such deserves enmity for her lack of common sense and disdain of critical thinking.

    Perhaps “ignorant” is a more accurate term.

  30. Ythaca

    I have to say that I found the idea of Jenny McCarthy having botox hilarious. That the toxins in the vaccines were going to hurt her child but “oh, it’s okay for me to put botulism in my face”.
    And this is coming from someone who is hoping the neurologist will put some into my head to stop my migraines. So for those of you who didn’t know that botox had medical uses, this is another. I think if I get it, it will all be behind the hairline, so no beauty benefits here.

    BTW. I waded on to a blog the other day and told the blogger that if she delayed her daughter’s immunisation and she got one of the diseases she may regret waiting. AND that if her daughter passed the disease on to a baby that couldn’t be immunised yet and that baby died she may feel even worse. I’m hoping that helps her reassess her ideas. There were plenty of others discussing herd immunity and other facts so I thought an appeal to her emotional side was appropriate.

  31. T. Masters

    I direct all of you to today’s Cracked.com article, “The 6 most misguided causes ever made famous by celebrities.” I think you all will appreciate #1 :)

  32. Eric

    “Poison” is in the dosage. Some vaccines contain live virus…is that no less a “disease” being injected into people?

    With a loved one who also receives Botox for therapuetic reasons, I bristle a bit over the bad rap it gets. (Aging celebrities with deadened facial muscles notwithstanding.) Used correctly (for either purpose), Botox is no more a “poison” than many other substances we inject into our bodies for medical reasons or willingly consume.

    Ergo, I don’t think it’s an issue of hypocrisy when used for cosmetic reasons, but one of vanity…and I too make fun of it.

  33. mike burkhart

    What do you expect? Hollywood surports gun control and half of them are packing guns worried about stlakers.

  34. @Eric,

    Live virus vaccines aren’t syringes full of “in the wild” kind of viruses. The viruses are alive, but genetically modified so that they don’t cause the full blown illness. Instead, they trick the immune system into thinking that you’ve been infected with the “in the wild” type and develop a defense.

  35. Damon

    I’m no fan of McCarthy or Carrey’s anti-scientific celebrity grandstanding, but I do believe parents should have the right to choose not to vaccinate their children based on personal experience & beliefs.

    I was talking to one of my long-time stage affiliates a little while ago about her trip to Costa Rica and the danger of native diseases and she mentioned offhandedly that she had been vaccine-free since birth (presumably because they are mystic/gypsy/counter-culture types, preferring to take the side of social justice over whoever has the most money etc.) and I was taken aback for a fraction of a second until she mentioned that she’s never been sick in her life, and I realized I had nothing to worry about any way because I don’t eat other people’s snot.

    The point is that vaccination is more an issue of parenting than public safety. If we taught our kids not to breathe in other people’s faces and not touch everything in site before putting their fingers in their mouths (i.e. basic health courtesies) we probably wouldn’t even need these questionable injections in the first place.

    Parents: Please stand up and actually fulfill your health and safety roles as parents to your children before you start attacking other people for choosing to live organically. There are plenty of people living happily vaccine free with no intention of harming others; it is harm that occasionally finds others through them. This is a rare situation where individuality does indeed supersede science.

  36. Chris

    Avoiding vaccines for “personal experience and beliefs” has nothing to do with living organically. The decision should be based on science and public health.

    The problem is that they may not intend to harm others, but they do. Do you really want, Mimi, the child with leukemia to get a disease from a non-vaccinating family? How do you propose we prevent stories like this: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1055533.ece

    You just have to be in the same room, up to two hours after they left, to be infected by measles. Your sanitary precautions would be worthless for measles. Again, you really need to listen to the science.

    By the way, it is more organic to prevent a disease by vaccinating than to fight the ravishes of the disease with medications and ventilation equipment (been there done that… no fun with a toddler in a hospital hooked up to lots of tubes, monitors and extra oxygen at the ready!).

    I’m a gardener, and I manage bug damage with integrated pest management. I put out traps, and I used small mesh nets to keep the spotted wing drosphilia off my cherries (it worked!). I recently started to use strips of copper window screen from the hardware store to keep slugs away from young plants. I don’t spray, because I like to rely on ladybugs and parasitic wasps, plus I need the bees.

    Think of vaccines as a form of integrated pest management. That is much more intelligent that saying you are being “organic” and telling kids not to breathe on people (which is really worthless for some viruses like measles, mumps, etc… which your kid can get if they touch a surface with the virus… and also worthless for tetanus — which kids have gotten from bug bites).

  37. Donna O.

    Damon:

    I don’t think that anyone here “eats other people’s snot.” You seem to have a misconception about how diseases are transferred between people, and the point of maintaining a high level of vaccination in a given population.

    Several of the diseases that are commonly vaccinated against are not spread person-to-person. For example, tetanus (the T in the DTP/DTaP shot) is due to a common bacteria in soil. You can be a hermit, get dirt in an open wound and die of tetanus. Even disease that are transmitted in mucus can easily by shared, and not just by some gross ‘snot-eating’ person. Many bacteria can survive on surfaces (such as doorknobs and phones) for long periods of time.

    Also, a major point in being a vaccinated adult is NOT merely to protect your own health. It is to avoid transmitting a disease to a weaker person. Pertussis (or whooping cough) is rarely fatal for adults. It can be, however, lethal to infants. An adult with a mild or moderate case of whooping cough could transmit the infection to others, exposing infants and causing deaths. This is the ‘herd immunity’ that you’ve no doubt heard of.

    When you choose not to vaccinate, you are not merely endangering yourself and/or your kids. You are choosing to risk the health of everyone else you encounter. Further, the fact that someone has ‘never been sick’ (which is highly unlikely to be 100% true, by the way) does not mean that they have never hosted bacteria or viruses that they can then pass on. Many diseases, such as diphtheria and polio, can be spread by asymptomatic carriers.

    Vaccination is definitely NOT “more an issue of parenting than (of) public safety.” Clean living alone will not protect you from disease, as much you’d like to believe it would. One person alone cannot fully safe-guard their health or the health of their family. We rely on each other, and a major component of that is for as many people as possible to be vaccinated.

  38. Chris

    “Clean living alone will not protect you from disease, as much you’d like to believe it would. ”

    Indeed. It killed Henry David Thoreau’s brother, John. He got tetanus when he nicked himself shaving.

    Oh, and don’t forget that polio became more dangerous because of sanitation. Before sewage treatment and clean water was available most children got polio as infants when they were still protected from maternal antibodies. After major changes in sanitation which decreased incidences of cholera and dysentery, kids got polio later when they were more vulnerable.

  39. Your Name Here

    You know what I think? I think that all the anti-vaxxers should be put into prison for manslaughter.

  40. Nigel Depledge

    Bob (28) said:

    Jonas Salk did not cure polio. There is no cure for polio. You get and they just treat the symptoms. Vaccines are not cures. They just prevent or lessen the disease. I don’t think
    humans have cure any virus. (BTW Albert Sabin didn’t cure polio either.)

    No, we have no cure for polio.

    However, the WHO came damn close to eradicating it. They would have succeeded if not for the activities of antivax campaigners in Nigeria. Go figure.

    In general, there is no “cure” for a viral infection, mainly because viruses evolve so fast. I remember attending a Virology conference that showcased a new idea for antiviral treatment: mutagenic agents. By accelerating viral mutagenesis, you would tip them beyond the point of viability, based on the fact that so many of them naturally exist on the edge (i.e. their mutagenetic rate is fast enough to support rapid evolution, but not quite so fast that they cease to be able to replicate).

    Having said that, it seems that antiviral therapies are getting better, and it seems to be only a matter of time before we have a cure for at least one virus. In the present issue of Nature Reviews: Drug Discovery (volume 9 no 7), there’s an article about how the combination of a viral protease inhibitor with the existing therapy has improved the cure rate for Hepatitis C by 30%. IOW, if you suffer from Hep C, you do have a real chance of being cured, but it depends on too many variables to predict accurately.

  41. Nigel Depledge

    Eric (32) said:

    “Poison” is in the dosage. Some vaccines contain live virus…is that no less a “disease” being injected into people?

    The situations are not analogous.

    Of course, for “toxic” substances, the toxicity is in the dose, not the substance per se. Having said that, the international definitions of “Harmful”, “Toxic” and “Very / Highly Toxic” depend on the dose required to cause death. IIUC, Botulinum toxin has the lowest LD50 of any substance known, and therefore has the lowest toxic dose. It is certainly reasonable to call it a highly toxic substance.

    Many toxic substances are used in medicine and agriculture: antibiotics are all toxic to bacteria, for example. Most anticancer chemotherapy agents are toxic to human cells that are undergoing rapid cell division (which is how they work). Insecticides are toxic to insects. And so on.

    However, virus infection rate is not heavily dose-dependent in the same way. A vaccine containing live virus contains a weakened form of the virus. The virus is weakened by passaging it through cells in culture (often avian cells, but not always) so that it adapts to a different class of host organism. This adaptation makes it more infectious to the host cells, but less infectious to humans. Therefore, the vaccine stimulates an immune response in the host and, if there is an infection, it is a weaker, less virulent form of the infection.

  42. Nigel Depledge

    Damon (35) said:

    I’m no fan of McCarthy or Carrey’s anti-scientific celebrity grandstanding, but I do believe parents should have the right to choose not to vaccinate their children based on personal experience & beliefs.

    I was talking to one of my long-time stage affiliates a little while ago about her trip to Costa Rica and the danger of native diseases and she mentioned offhandedly that she had been vaccine-free since birth (presumably because they are mystic/gypsy/counter-culture types, preferring to take the side of social justice over whoever has the most money etc.) and I was taken aback for a fraction of a second until she mentioned that she’s never been sick in her life, and I realized I had nothing to worry about any way because I don’t eat other people’s snot.

    The point is that vaccination is more an issue of parenting than public safety. If we taught our kids not to breathe in other people’s faces and not touch everything in site before putting their fingers in their mouths (i.e. basic health courtesies) we probably wouldn’t even need these questionable injections in the first place.

    As I pointed out in response to your nonsense in the last anti-antivax thread on Phil’s blog, this is rubbish.

    Of course you ingest other people’s nasal mucus, and on a regular basis. We all do. It’s part of living alongside other people. It is normally ingested as an invisibly-fine aerosol, but if the chef sneezes over the soup, do you think he’s going to throw the whole lot away? Maybe, maybe not. You cannot know for sure, can you?

    The fact that you do not become ill on a regular basis is down to three things:
    (1) You are probably vaccinated against some viruses anyway;
    (2) You may only be regularly exposed to infections that you’ve already had, and are therefore naturally immune to most of the ones you encounter; and
    (3) Luck. Your genetic make-up, that of the viruses you encounter, and the timing and ways in which you encounter them.

    Washing your hands and avoiding close contact with people’s bodily emissions may protect you from many bacterial infections, but it does nothing against most viruses.

    The most responsible thing a parent can do for their child, and for other people that child may come into contact with, is to go and talk to their physician about immunisations. It is downright irresponsible to refuse to have your child vaccinated simply because you don’t care about everyone else in your community / country / world (depending on the virus and how easily it travels).

  43. Phil:

    There are no ad hominems in the song. An ad hominem is a logical fallacy that says don’t believe person X because of some unrelated fact about the person (unrelated to the matter being discussed). The matter being discussed in the song is: Who are you going to listen to? Scientists, who have studied this stuff and know what they’re talking about, or a couple of people with no scientific background or understanding of disease and vaccines?

  44. Steve Huntwork

    Phil, you have an amazing ability!

    I have never understood how you can get me upset about something that I have supported all my life, but that video was down right insulting.

    Just had to make my comment…

    As for immunization, that is something that I have been personally involved with for over 40 years now.

  45. Chris

    Why is the video insulting? Please elaborate one which points you found offensive.

    Was it the description of families before there was vaccination?

    Was it the explanation of herd immunity using a child with leukemia and people dressed as cows?

    Was it the mocking of people who make their living pretending to be other people (also known as “actors”), but insist on making comments on medicine without any pertinent training (to the point of shouting down doctors in an interview)?

    Or the general Western theme? Do you dislike the the fact the writer took a theme from his home state (Texas) and went from there? Do you think there is something insulting to us who live in the western USA? Or are you insulted by those of us who live in the western USA and have actually been to a rodeo (which in reality are quite boring)?

  46. Cyber Mole

    The problem with the MMR is that doctors were given financial inducements to carry it out, irrespective of any concerns about the safety of this vaccine.

    Three in to one is believed by some to overload the system and many parents want the right to have these injections done separately, but are denied this choice because of these MMR targets and financial inducements.

  47. Nigel Depledge

    @ Chris (45) -

    Yep, that last one’ll be the most offensive. Those darn rodeos shouldn’t be allowed. They are just symbols of the oppression of the masses by the elite! Or something . . .

    Hell, I don’t seem to be any good at inventing random polemic.

  48. Orange Lantern

    Cyber Mole, do you have any evidence of these financial inducements? If the MMR was broken up, my clinic would be able to charge for the administration of each individual vaccine, and be reimbursed more. However, vaccine reimbursement is very small. Most clinics do not profit from vaccine administration.

    There is no science-based reason to believe that any shots on the schedule can overload the immune system. Don’t hesitate to link to some actual evidence.

  49. Chris

    Cyber Mole, I will add that I want to know what evidence you have? How is there more incentive to give the MMR over the DTaP? What country are you talking about? What evidence do you have that the MMR has had issues since it was approved in the USA in 1971?

    Recently with the California declaring a pertussis epidemic, doctors there were complaining about the costs of vaccinating their patients.

    By the way, Cyber Mole. what is more cost effective:

    1) Providing the MMR to as many children as possible?

    or

    2) Dealing with the hospital costs for the over one in a thousand children who get measles require?

    Before you try to answer that, do read some papers:

    An economic analysis of the current universal 2-dose measles-mumps-rubella vaccination program in the United States.
    Zhou F, Reef S, Massoudi M, Papania MJ, Yusuf HR, Bardenheier B, Zimmerman L, McCauley MM.
    J Infect Dis. 2004 May 1;189 Suppl 1:S131-45.

    Measles epidemic from failure to immunize.
    Dales LG, Kizer KW, Rutherford GW, Pertowski CA, Waterman SH, Woodford G.
    West J Med. 1993 Oct;159(4):455-64.

    Pediatric hospital admissions for measles. Lessons from the 1990 epidemic.
    Chavez GF, Ellis AA.
    West J Med. 1996 Jul-Aug;165(1-2):20-5.

  50. Cyber Mole

    For sake of clarity I was talking about the UK. Apologies for not making that clear

    It was in the press a while back that some parents were asking to have the injections separate because of what they had heard, even if what they heard was suspect.

    Doctors in the UK were given targets for MMR vaccinations at the time and this lead to perception that big business was behind this. I believe these were actually government targets.

    I accept that the situation in the US will be completely different.

    Now let’s assume the belief that the MMR will cause an overload is a wrong, but let’s accept that for this argument, a number of people bought into this misinformation. Even though they are wrong, they lose trust in it for whatever reason and hence, alarmingly,vaccination rates fall.

    Now still going with the case that the MMR vaccine is as safe as you can get it, we have to ask, which is worse? A parent who for whatever reason has listened to the scaremongers instead of the doctors and end up not getting their child vaccinated completely, or pandering to their foolish beliefs and allowing them to have the injections done separately, even if it costs and there is no point?

    This is not advocating, not getting vaccinated at all, this is allowing people the choice to have all the vaccines in the MMR done separately so the vaccination programme is done.

    The sad fact is, as in all walks of life, some will mistrust the real experts and listen to the siren voices. As in all things we need to take that into account, recognise it and find a work around.

  51. Chris

    Cyber Mole:

    I accept that the situation in the US will be completely different.

    Well, Cyber Mole, because the MMR used in the UK since 1992 is the same one that has been used in the USA since 1971 you should have no worries about safety.

    If you read the papers from the California experience (they are available without a pay wall, so no excuses for not doing so!), you will see that the argument was for the state to provide vaccines for those with low income and no insurance because it would be cheaper than hospitalizing those children (and those cost are born by the state). So the NHS has probably also decided that to keep hospital costs down, it is more prudent to encourage prevention of measles with vaccines, and the MMR is the most effective version.

    There is also absolutely no reason to get separate shots, especially since they are no longer available. In case you haven’t heard, Merck is no longer manufacturing separate measles, mumps and rubella vaccines. Just as you can no longer get the vaccinating for diphtheria, pertussis or tetanus with separate vaccines (well, there may still be DT vaccines).

    It is also a bit silly to triple the risk of injection area infection just because of fraudulent case study of a dozen children.

    And, since you are talking public funds: to triple the costs.

    To argue the “antigen overload” is completely baseless considering a person encounters more antigens in their environment than would be in multiple MMR and DTaP vaccines.

    Now if you could come up with some valid evidence that the MMR used in the USA since 1971, and the UK since 1992, is in some way more dangerous than separate vaccines, please provide it. Something along the lines of this:
    Safety concerns regarding combination vaccines: the experience in Japan.
    Andreae MC, Freed GL, Katz SL.
    Vaccine. 2004 Sep 28;22(29-30):3911-6.

    Japan demonstrated that withdrawal of the DTP and MMR vaccines had significant impact on the rates of immunization and disease despite the availability of monovalent vaccines.

    (their experience was that pertussis came back in the 1970s, and measles came back in the 1990s, the latter caused many schools to be closed… basically, the single vaccine plan did not work)

    And this:
    Bacterial infections, immune overload, and MMR vaccine. Measles, mumps, and rubella.
    Miller E, Andrews N, Waight P, Taylor B.
    Arch Dis Child. 2003 Mar;88(3):222-3.

    So you question has been asked, and answered.

    Edit to add: Still waiting to see why Mr. Huntwork was so offended. Though I did check out his contributions to this blog and discovered he is a sensitive soul who is easily offended. The poor deer.

  52. Cyber Mole

    @Chris

    I have no issue with the science presented here and will go with the line it is completely safe and that the MMR should be used.

    My point was how do accommodate those poor misguided souls who have bought into the anti-vaccs line who went after MMR. How do we make sure that the heard immunity is not compromised?

    Could allowing separate injections be a way to go, even if they are pointless.

    How do you persuade people when they have developed a mistrust of science due to cynicism and the rantings of third rate z-list celebrities.

    We may be right, but it does no good if we are not believed

  53. Chris

    One way to persuade those those that single vaccines is pointless to show that the “studies” trying to discredit a well established MMR vaccine were bogus. And guess what! They were!

    Dr. Wakefield was found to have ignored graduate students (Chadwick!) and went with what he was paid to do (Richard Barr), and now he is no longer allowed to practice medicine in the UK. And he was never qualified in North America at any time (yes, I know he attended university in Canada… trust me, I know… I am married to a Canadian! eh!).

    Fortunately in the UK, Wakefield’s shenanigans have been exposed and uptake in the MMR is now increasing. So stop with the “what ifs” and go with the science.

    Rejoice! And stick to the science. Something you have failed to present.

    Though I do recommend two really good books:
    Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
    and
    Autism’s False Prophets by Paul Offit

  54. Messier Tidy Upper

    Great song and videoclip. It is spot on. IMHON.

    Best of luck (& medical expertise) to Mimi too – hope she gets well soon.

    @24. Chris Lamb Says:

    “I’m not thrilled with the ad hominems in the song”
    - I didn’t hear any. Rhetorically asking the question: “Should I take my medical advice from a doctor or a playboy bunny” is not at all fallacious.
    A doctor is a true authority on medical matters and are inherently more trustworthy than an ex-model with no formal medical or scientific training. No?

    Yes – that’s what I think too. Medicine comes from doctors whoare traine dtoknow what they’r etalking about. Pointing out that someone has no appropriate and necessary qualification to be dispensing medical and health advice is entirely valid in my book.

  55. Cyber Mole

    @Chris

    In other matters when I tried to go with the science and how a certain film, “The Day after Tomorrow” got loads of science plain wrong, I was told “Forget the science, it’s the message”

    They would not look at any of the science and went with what Hollywood presented which was flawed beyond belief.

    Now I may not have presented any science in this case, but I was referring to the irrationality of some people.

    We both want people to be vaccinated
    The most efficient way is the MMR, which is over in one

    However we have this annoyning complication called Human factors.

    Some may persuaded when shown how flawed those anti-MMR studies were, but then we can run up against brick walls from those suspicious of the evil gubment and their paymasters in even more evil business.

    How do you deal with those people and still achieve our objectives? Do we allow them a way out that helps achieves what we both want?

  56. Nigel Depledge

    Cyber Mole (46) said:

    The problem with the MMR is that doctors were given financial inducements to carry it out, irrespective of any concerns about the safety of this vaccine.

    Yet the vaccine had to pass the same safety tests as any other vaccine before it could be approved for use on people.

    BTW, MMR was introduced to save the time of physicians. IIUC, the financial side of its introduction is irrelevant. Most physicians (especially in places like the UK, where NHS doctors are paid a salary irrespective of which approved treatment they give the patient) would not have received any more money for MMR than they did for separate shots.

    The converse, however is true of antivaxxers like Andrew Wakefield. He set out to find something wrong with MMR because he had a financial interest in a company that was developing an alternative. He ended up fabricating data because he failed to find any causal link between MMR and autism.

    Three in to one is believed by some to overload the system

    What system is this?

    And overload how, exactly?

    And how is that supposed to differ from reality, in which exposure to three infectious agents simultaneously is probably more common than exposure to just one alone?

    and many parents want the right to have these injections done separately,

    In the UK, I believe the option still exists for these immunisations to be delivered separately. But why givwe your child three injections when one will do?

    but are denied this choice because of these MMR targets and financial inducements.

    That is quite a serious allegation. I suggest that, if you have real evidence that such things occur, you go and talk to your DA. If, OTOH, you don’t have any evidence that such things occur, I suggest you hold your peace.

  57. Nigel Depledge

    Cyber Mole (50) said:

    For sake of clarity I was talking about the UK. Apologies for not making that clear

    OK, that changes the slant of some of my earlier response.

    It was in the press a while back that some parents were asking to have the injections separate because of what they had heard, even if what they heard was suspect.

    And, of course, I always believe everything I see in the newspapers.

    Oh, wait. No, I don’t. In fact, I don’t believe anything gets reported in the UK’s press without some mistakes in it somewhere (even if those mistakes don’t change the meaning of the article).

    Doctors in the UK were given targets for MMR vaccinations at the time and this lead to perception that big business was behind this. I believe these were actually government targets.

    It probably was a set of targets to achieve herd immunity.

    It may have depended upon which NHS Primary Care Trust’s territory you were in.

    I accept that the situation in the US will be completely different.

    It may have been completely different in most of the UK, too.

    Now let’s assume the belief that the MMR will cause an overload is a wrong, but let’s accept that for this argument, a number of people bought into this misinformation. Even though they are wrong, they lose trust in it for whatever reason and hence, alarmingly,vaccination rates fall.

    Now still going with the case that the MMR vaccine is as safe as you can get it, we have to ask, which is worse? A parent who for whatever reason has listened to the scaremongers instead of the doctors and end up not getting their child vaccinated completely, or pandering to their foolish beliefs and allowing them to have the injections done separately, even if it costs and there is no point?

    In the short term, the first option is worse. In the long term, however, the second option is worse. Letting public opinion (as opposed to actual science) dictate health policy is a road that leads to epic failure.

    This is not advocating, not getting vaccinated at all, this is allowing people the choice to have all the vaccines in the MMR done separately so the vaccination programme is done.

    IIUC, this is actually what happened after Wakefield published his pack of lies.

    I blame the media for failure to give the same prominence to any of the studies that demonstrate no link at all between autism and MMR.

    The sad fact is, as in all walks of life, some will mistrust the real experts and listen to the siren voices. As in all things we need to take that into account, recognise it and find a work around.

    And the work-around is … critical thinking.

    If our schools were to teach people to think for themselves, then the MMR scare would have been very shortlived.

  58. Cyber Mole

    @Nigel Depledge

    And the work-around is … critical thinking.

    If our schools were to teach people to think for themselves, then the MMR scare would have been very shortlived.

    All too true

    Unfortunately our UK education system is driven by targets as well leading to “Teach to the test” to satisfy league tables, so teaching of “critical thinking” will not make it to the syllabus

    The rumours about “overloading the system” were IIRC circulating in some parts of the media and on various fora – I wish I could remember precisely where I heard that one. The belief was that a baby’s body would not be able to cope with three vaccine’s all at once.

    From the success stories of those who have received it , this idea is obviously a foetid load of dingo’s kidneys.

    As for that Wakefield person, alarmingly on some of the comments pages and the forums, some have got the idea that Wakefield has been right all along and his being struck off by the GMC was mainly to silence him and discredit him, because he was “exposing the truth”

    The same mentality of those who claim Gus Grissom was murdered because he was going to expose the Moon Landing Hoax. There seems to be no accounting for stupidity

    To use an American term, “Go Figure”

    So given that

    Critical thinking is unlikely to be taught any time soon in school

    An irrational mistrust of authority

    The prevalence of woo-woo espousing Z-list celebrities

    How do we get the message across?

    I proposed a solution of allowing separate injections, but consensus seems to be that, that is a path we should not take.

    So where do we go from here?

    All I can think of is sharing that video on my social networking sites.

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