American Airlines to air dangerous antivax propaganda

By Phil Plait | April 23, 2012 6:30 am

[UPDATE: American Airlines has agreed not to run the interview! That includes both the audio and print versions.]


[Note: This post contains numerous links to articles showing antivax claims are misleading at best, and pose a huge health risk. I strongly urge you to read those links before leaving a comment.]

In May 2011, an unvaccinated infant infected with measles was brought on board American Airlines flight 3965. Measles is a highly contagious, dangerous, and potentially fatal disease, and because of this public health emergency officials had to track down 100 passengers and quarantine quite a few of them.

This event was not American Airlines’ fault. However, it’s hard to see what they learned from it, since they plan on printing and airing an interview with a notorious antivaxxer who makes provably false and incredibly dangerous claims about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases.

The antivaxxer in question is Meryl Dorey, an American living in Australia who has made it her life’s work to spread misinformation about vaccines. Her ability to distort the truth — to phrase it kindly — is nothing short of herculean. As I wrote about her in 2010:

She has said no one dies from pertussis anymore… when little four-week-old Dana McCaffery died of that very disease, because herd immunity in her area of Australia was so low. Dorey is an HIV denier. She thinks doctors lie and poison babies. [...] It goes on and on.

So why on Earth would American Airlines choose to run an interview with her in their in-flight magazine and air that interview on the in-flight TVs?

The interview is her usual passel of untruths about vaccinations: she tries to tie them to worsening diseases and autism — neither of which is remotely true — and then relies on the discredited research of a man the British Medical Journal outright called a "fraud".

Bizarrely, the interviewer for the American Airlines piece apparently didn’t even contact an actual doctor to get professional information on this topic. At the very least (the very least) the ability to show Meryl Dorey’s claims to be completely wrong is a Google search away, a trivial amount of work for an interviewer to do. Her horrid behavior towards Toni and David McCaffery — little Dana’s parents, who had to suffer through Dorey’s attacks while still grieving over their daughter — is also out there for all to see.

So again, why on Earth would American Airlines choose to run an interview with her in their in-flight magazine and air that interview on the in-flight TVs?

I don’t think they should. That’s why I signed a petition asking American Airlines to not run the interview. I added a note to it, saying in part:

"I will not fly AA ever again if they run this interview, and I will make very sure the thousands of people who read my blog know about my decision."

LizDitz at I Speak of Dreams has more information, and also downloadable letters you can send to American Airlines. She took the time to analyze the interview of Dorey and debunk it, too.

And I have one more thing to note. When Twitter user Reasonable_Hank sent several tweets to American Airlines about this, here was their response (which they sent out a dozen times at least to people asking them about this)… you may want to fasten your seatbelt for this bit of turbulence:

Holy. Crap.

Seriously, American Airlines? Seriously? Where do I even start with this notpology?

Maybe I could start with the fact that they want to wash their hands of any blame for passing on misleading and dangerous health messages by saying, "Hey, it’s someone else’s words!"

Maybe I could start by wondering how they’d feel if this message instead were telling people that smoking is good for them, or that meth is just great! Would they then tell passengers they don’t have to listen?

Or maybe I could start by telling them that blowing off customer concern with a dismissive statement like that is a major public relations fail, and when you do it on Twitter you’re essentially begging for a huge backlash. When will companies learn this?

Or maybe I could simply point out to them that something else is optional, too: what airline we choose to fly with.

So again: I will not fly on American Airlines until they a) dump this ad, and b) publicly apologize for it.

And just to be super clear: vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do prevent diseases. And Meryl Dorey is wrong, wrong wrong.

Comments (104)

  1. Chris

    Although in American Airlines defense, my brain totally turns off when commercials come on, so I probably would never even notice the advertisement.

    But I totally agree with you since other people seem to pay attention to commercials. I don’t know how they do it. Also I seem to remember that another airline was caught antivaxing a year ago. How did that turn out?

  2. Matt

    As an Australian, I find Meryl Dorey to be one of our most embarrassing citizens, and that is only multiplied by the fact that her vile, dangerous rhetoric is being spread to the rest of the world.

    Even more embarrassingly, the AVN has apparently recently regained charity status after being stripped of it a few years ago.

    She is a horrible person, and any organisation that has anything to do with her should be ashamed. Let alone one in an industry that relies on science (a different field admittedly, but science nonetheless) to literally stay in the air.

  3. Wes

    Not only is this incredibly stupid, its dangerous. AA should be reprimanded for this. This is why the nation should be more scientifically literate, because someone is going to get off these planes and think “Well that was interesting, it must be right.”

  4. I won’t be flying American Airlines anymore, and that was the airline I flew every year to visit family in the Dallas, Texas area (since they have a hub there).

  5. Greetings and Salutations…
    Right with you on your outrage over this nonsense. I read the interview and it is nothing more than an info-mercial for the anti-vaxer point of view. AA’s claim that it is a third party production is probably nonsense too because the interviewer is clearly labeled as an AA spokesperson. Now if it were a real, investigative interview by someone who actually holds her feet to the fire to try and get the truth, it would be ok. I support the right of Americans to spout any sort of nonsense they want, as a First Amendment issue. However, that does not mean that statements are free from being challenged about the basis of truth that they have (or fail to have). This interview is a fluff piece and has no place in AA’s entertainment/news programming.
    I agree, too, that the best thing to do is boycott their services, and, make sure they know it is happening and why it is happening. I would suggest too, that the same technique be used for protesting against the TSA and its security theatre.
    pleasant dreams
    dave mundt

  6. Chris

    Breaking News: American Airlines to now show Girls Gone Wild commercials.
    American Airlines. If your check clears, we don’t care what you say.

  7. Naked Bunny with a Whip

    That tweet doesn’t even qualify as a “notpology”. It’s a blatant “eff-ewe”.

  8. Polly

    We should get out a counter message that says the “kind of mercury we inject infants with is the safe kind”. Or we could say “injecting infants with anothers humans DNA has been well studied and is safe” or “increasing an infants blood aluminum level 25 times higher than what AAP says is safe via vaccination, really is harmless”. I bet Bill Gates or Pharma would fund our messages. Do you have any contact with Bill, Phil? Could you get any more $ from your pharma sponsor?

  9. JJB

    “Maybe I could start by wondering how they’d feel if this message instead were telling people that smoking is good for them, or that meth is just great! Would they then tell passengers they don’t have to listen?”

    I wonder if they would show a 3rd party produced video about how dangerous flying in air planes are. I mean they fall out of the sky all the time right?
    *All Sarcasm Intended*

  10. Carey

    There are going to be people who bring up the “free speech” concern (in fact, #3 xmundt already brought it up).

    Freedom of speech applies to the freedom of people to say what they want to say without threat of legal repercussions. Now, whether or not there can be legal repercussions when someone gives out terrible health advice is an interesting argument, but it’s not at issue here. No one is threatening AA with legal repercussions, only a boycott.

    So before any anti-vaxxers spout off about poor Meryl Dorey and poor AA and their freedom of speech, stop and think for a moment (a lot to ask for an anti-vaxxer, I know). They are free to spout their nonsense. We are free to tell them that they are full of [spit]. And we are free to take our money elsewhere.

  11. TheBlackCat

    @ Polly: You need to get your talking points updated, mercury-containing compounds were removed from the vaccines a long time ago.

  12. jason

    @theBlackCat Careful…. Don’t feed the trolls.

  13. Connor

    Given that airliners are big cans of aerosolised virus, it’s remarkable that airlines would go anywhere near antivax crap. These guys have medical advisers, right?

  14. Peter R

    I feel ashamed to be human right now.

  15. Mitch J

    Hey @AmericanAir you know, the pilot’s operating handbook is written by a third party. The pilot doesn’t have to read it.

  16. Christine

    These antivaxxer idiots are a public menace and should be whipped at the cart’s tail … metaphorically speaking, I suppose. As for AA’s promulgation of this nonsense, well, let’s just say that I will never fly them again, regardless of whatever future backpedalling moves they may make.

  17. Chris

    @8 Polly

    Glad to see you aren’t influenced by those antivax people. They are always spewing lies trying to make the components of vaccines seem unsafe. At least you are educated enough to trust the scientists and the vaccinations and call those antivax people out for the quacks they are!

  18. Bryan

    @Chris, the problem is some people DO listen to those messages, and regardless of whether they are actively listening or passively, the danger lies in these sort of messages seeping into the collective conscious of the public. Then at some point people start to say and believe “I heard immunizations are bad for you”.

  19. Huh?

    So if I decided to create inflight third-party content for AA that said AA’s fleet is dangerously under-maintained, that you’re more likely to die on an American flight than you are while driving after drinking a fifth of tequila, and that AA donates a third of it’s profits to the Ku Klux Klan, then AA would gladly screen it inflight and it would be okay with AA’s PR department since people don’t have to listen?

  20. Paul Harrison

    A question that ought to be asked: where are the unions?

    Flight crews are stuck in the same tin tubes as all the other passengers, except they have to travel in them day in, day out. It would stand to reason that AA’s anti-vax propaganda, if taken seriously by airline passengers, would disproportionately affect the health of airline workers.

    Are the unions aware of what’s going on, or amongst the leaning-libertarian science community, is it something we’re just not supposed to ask because unions are bad mmmkay?

  21. Oh Polly (8), so nice to see you again. I assume you have proof I get money from “Big Pharma”? Or do you think baseless accusations are just fun to do?

  22. KinzuaKid

    Signed from 30000 feet just now on my way to Chicago (yay GoGo!). Taking my 200000 miles per year to another airline would suck, but having to admit I sat in the seats while AA promoted the spread of disease through their own planes would suck worse. I don’t suppose they will put a report on showing how EMF from in flight wireless Internet is dangerous and makes us sick, though there is just as much evidence for it as for their antivax BS. I can’t believe these people think running those pieces makes sense…unless it is a sneaky attempt to fend off a hostile takeover. ;)

  23. KinzuaKid

    @Polly: “injecting infants with anothers humans DNA has been well studied and is safe”
    Are you on the anti blood transfusion committees, too?

  24. Jan

    Just after reading this someone linked me this article (read first, watch video after): http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-talk-huppke-obit-facts-20120419,0,809470.story

    I think it rings very true.

  25. Austin

    What has Big Pharma ever done for us?

    Aside from keep us safe from polio, measles, whooping cough, influenza…

  26. ccpetersen

    American Airline’s excuse that it is a third-party production that doesn’t represent their opinion doesn’t make the fact that the piece is a lying sack of you-know-what right. What it means is that they will use it as a CYA in case they get sued. Find out wh0 the production company is, expose their links to the antivax campaign and publicize that they are hacks for a movement gone wrong. Publicity of the wrong kind for the production company would go a long ways toward showing us what price they’re willing to pay for spreading untruth.

    And, for the record, I AVOID American Airlines for many reasons, and this is just one more reason not to fly them.

    @Polly. Thanks for showing us what mouthpieces really look like. But really dear, you need to pick better movements to rent your brain and mouth out to. That movement is notoriously without truth or honesty. By mouthing their crap, you lower yourself, darling.

  27. I think Polly’s general message is somewhere around this: “All science is bad! We should go back to living in caves! Everything else is unnatural! Blarg!”

    Ok, I added the “blarg” myself.

  28. jennyxyzzy

    Polly, you’re an idiot. Vaccines save millions of lives every year you dumbed down excuse for a hominid.

    Phil, I was listening to the Skeptics guide from a couple of weeks back, and they were saying that a recent study shows that a large part of recent outbreaks in pertussis aren’t due so much to a lack of herd immunity, but rather due to the fact that the current pertussis vaccine isn’t very effective against a new strain of the disease. Because of this, we should probably be careful about juxtaposing Dana’s tragic death with the anti-vax movement. It gives the impression that we are blaming them when for once they may not actually be at fault, and they will no doubt delight in using this to try and gain the moral high ground.

    Also, I’d just like to sat that my mother ran the Australian government vaccination program for about 5 years, so I’m absolutely gutted that a twit like Meryl Dorey is busy trying to undo all of her hard work.

  29. FuzzyPuffin

    First Delta, now AA?

    You’d think that companies in the business of putting its customers in pressurized tubes would be least likely to promote this kind of stuff.

  30. William

    I believe you are severely misinformed and not wanting to look at the truth.

    “And just to be super clear: vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do prevent diseases.”

    There are a number of vaccines that DO cause autism, that’s why when they are administered the doctors have a series of tests and questionnaires for parent to see if the child has developed symptoms.

    Vaccines do not prevent disease, if they did then why do we still see these diseases in our country? If they truly stopped disease then you should have no concern about being on a flight with someone who might possibly have one of those diseases you think you have immunity to.

    The truth is that so many of these vaccines only have a very short shelf life and are only able to make claims of helping to lessen the effects of the disease they are meant for.

    When you get a standard flu shot if given the nasal version you have a live virus in your systems and can get other people sick by spreading your germs.

    Go read the vaccines book by DR sears.
    Educate yourself about the truth of vaccines before you make such a public display of error.

  31. kat wagner

    O my hell, I have just about had it up to HERE with stupid people spewing nonsense. Lordy mercy, what does it take to get people to see what’s really going on?

    C’mon Mz Polly, we know vaccinations work because those bits of DNA glom onto bad organisms in our bodies, tricking them so they can’t do bad things to us. Dig?

    When our kids had reactions to shots, like fevers, I’d snuggle them, give them pain meds (ibuprofen) and after a night they were all better. And that’s WAY more preferable than having them get measles, mumps, or other bad juju that could send them to the hospital.

    Like Dan Aykroyd used to tell Jane Curtan on SNL – Jane, you ignorant slut. (Are we allowed to say that here?)

  32. Stargazer

    Troll in the dungeon!

  33. Old Rockin' Dave

    @ Polly:
    Let me pile on too. Actually all those things you say are true. But you’d rather listen to scary soundbites than be bothered with useless things like, say, EVIDENCE. When my grandmother was a little girl they said that driving sixty miles an hour was deadly because the air would be sucked out of your lungs. Could that be why there are so many highway deaths today – people suffocating and losing control of their cars?
    As someone who has actually had measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, and poliomyelitis, I can only say that using real and effective vaccines beats the hell out of believing trainloads of crap spread by idiots, liars and thieves who are prepared to let children suffer and die. You are a waste of the air you breathe.

  34. Just signed the petition. How awful that people would turn their backs on the help that vaccines give. I wonder if they don’t vaccinate their pets, either? I always figured it was stupid to have a horse worth $1,000.00 die because you did not give them a $4.00 vaccination. How much worse it would be with a child! I can not even imagine how horrible it would be to have a child die because of no vaccination. :(

  35. Cthulhucalling

    Or we could say “injecting infants with anothers humans DNA has been well studied and is safe”

    Hopefully nobody will consider injecting YOU with their DNA, so your genetic derp doesn’t continue on.

  36. Dale Swanson

    If AA chooses to ignore one area of science, why not others? Maybe, aerodynamics? We should create a PSA that talks about the evils of heavier-than-air flight, and how it doesn’t work. I wonder if they’d air that. Sadly, I bet they would, for the right price.

  37. HvP

    American Airlines consistently ranks at the bottom of customer satisfaction surveys for the major airlines, and it’s no wonder why when they give responses like that to legitimate safety concerns.

    I see their attitude towards public health is no better than their attitude towards their workers. This is after all the same company that is using the bankruptcy process as leverage to unilaterally void all of their union contracts.

  38. A hand written letter to American Airlines will probably have more of an impact than a petition (although I signed it as well). I intend to include a request of cancellation of my AAdvantage:

    U.S. Mail
    American Airlines Customer Relations
    P.O. Box 619612 MD 2400
    DFW Airport, TX 75261-9612

    Overnight Mail
    American Airlines Customer Relations
    4255 Amon Carter Blvd. MD 2400
    Fort Worth, TX 76155-2603

    And of course: http://factsnotfantasy.com/vaccines.php

  39. Not one of these antivaccination types will ever be swayed by reason or science. These posts about them provide good info, but are only preaching to the choir. I suppose windmills need to be tilted at, and perhaps this sort of thing might occasionally reach someone who’s sitting on the fence.

    Can’t help with refusing to fly American. I stopped using them in the eighties when on three flights in one year my checked luggage travelled twice as far as I did.

  40. Polly@8; apt pseudonym, given that the stereotypical “Polly” also parrots words unthinkingly and without understanding… I’d just suggest using better cage-liners to mimic than the “Weekly World News” or printouts of “World Net Daily”.

    — Steve

  41. Frank

    For the love of Louis Pasteur, what next, a movement contesting the germ theory of disease?

  42. Andy S.

    Frank @#29: Oh, the people who contest the germ theory of disease are out there. There’s a bunch of people in the anti-vax crowd who deny the germ theory of disease.

  43. YouSheepleYou

    Do any of you vaccine promoters out there ever recall reading a third party, non biased report on the effectiveness and side effects of vaccines? Oh you do? Funny .. cause there HAS NEVER BEEN ONE. Most vaccines have been around long enough to know short-mid term afermath – but there are new vaccines (like the flu shot, chicken pox, etc) that have NOT been tested (because hey, to test it, we’d have to do human testing – which is “not” the same thing as mass administering it and checking for side effects later) , and have NOT been studied. I’m not against all vaccines. Most are not dangerous and do save lives. You have to be blind and stupid not to realize that it’s definetly possible for the pharmeceutical industry to get vaccines approved by the FDA that haven’t been tested – with a little thing called money. Most of you have children, I assume? Did anyone ever tell you that they were shooting up your brand-newborn with a Hep B vaccine that is known to kill over 7,000 newborns each year? Did they also fail to mention that the Hep B vaccine is only effective for approximately 9 years? No? Use your freaking brains people. Don’t assume that people against vaccines are ignorant and stupid. We’ve done more reading on vaccines than you’ve done in high school.

  44. Jared Gee

    Frank@29

    Careful…don’t give them any ideas.

  45. OtherRob

    @VinceRN, #27:

    I suppose windmills need to be tilted at, and perhaps this sort of thing might occasionally reach someone who’s sitting on the fence.

    When we took our now-11-year-old son for his first vaccinations, we asked our pediatrician about the possibility of vaccines contributing to autism, which we’d heard a little bit about. He assured us that there was no scientific basis to those claims. This was enough for us and he and his younger sister are current on their vaccines and will continue to receive them.

    I had probably not thought seriously about vaccines between the time I had my last one and when it was time to vaccinate our first child. I had scanned a few things about a link between vaccines and autism, but didn’t really pay much attention. Just enough for the potential to be in my mind when we took our son to the doctor.

    So, yes, keep tilting at those windmills for people like me. You’ll never change the Pollys (Pollies?) of the world, but there are a lot of people out there looking for information and I’d much rather them find sites like this than Ms. Dorey’s.

  46. Chris

    Look, I firmly believe that AA has a right to ignore science in favor of ad dollars but from a purely practical standpoint do they really want to stand tall on the vaccine issue when their business model involves putting 100-400 people into a tube and making them breathe the same air over and over for hours on end?

    Just thinking in terms of practicality here… doesn’t seem like the best choice

  47. Daphne Holland

    If AA does decide to pull the ad, it’ll just pop up somewhere else–and with every anti-vaxxer in the world crying “censorship”! As much as I agree that misinformation about vaccines is dangerous, I wonder if trying to get these ads pulled is like playing a game of whack-a-mole.

    Has anyone considered raising some money to run a pro-vaccine ad on AA flights? I know there have been efforts to counter anti-vax propaganda before–seems that trying to drown them out with well-presented facts is a better long-term strategy for defeating them in the court of public opinion. Maybe I’m just naive.

  48. Yep, that’s where I go to get medical advice for my kids, an airline.

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  49. Thanks, Phil, for the shout-out.

    I’m not defending American Airlines, but they didn’t produce the Dorey infomercial. Their supplier, Altitude Media did.

    I’m thinking that there’s an alt-med enthusiast or vaccine-rejectionist (or both) at Altitude Media.

    Contact information from their website and from LinkedIn, so I feel it’s acceptable to post it.

    Marc Holland, CEO
    Elizabeth Montgomery, Executive Producer
    Altitude Media, Inc.
    4111 West Alameda Avenue, Suite 505
    Burbank, CA 91505
    Phone: 818-762-6400
    Fax: 818-688-0111

  50. Mark

    Years back when Everyone was vaccinated, world travel was less and immigrants had the required immunizations, not getting vaccinated was not a problem because being the small number of highly vulnerable people in the absence of disease went unnoticed. This too fueled the anti vaccination groups. See? We don’t need vaccinations. Our kids aren’t getting sick. But with more not getting vaccinated and immigration from remote areas of the world, international travel and on and on exposure to these diseases has in read leaving a large number of vulnerable unvaccinated people. This is a potentially dangerous situation.

  51. nancy

    @24 yes, sadly some people do not vaccinate their dogs. A coworker of mine is quite proud of that.

  52. Liz,

    Thanks! Another great address to send a letter to.

  53. Mark

    Frank@29

    A friend of mine, a Christian Scientist, didn’t believe in the germ theory of disease. Not sure if that generalizes to his religion, though he claimed it did. He tried to cure a melanoma in his chest with phone conversations to fellow church members. It spread to his brain in just a few months, he literally lost his mind and died.

  54. James

    Another great decision by American Airlines. Oh wait, the same American Airlines who is in bankruptcy court today.

  55. Chris

    YouSheepleYou @43, so you say there has never been a third party, non biased report on the effectiveness and side effects of vaccines? So where is *your* uncited information coming from? Obviously you can’t possible be just spewing nonsense from antivax websites right? That would be “Sheeple” behavior. So come on, give us some primary sources. Or prove what we’re all assuming about you by either: a) not responding or b) not responding with the primary sources requested. Let’s see what you reveal about yourself.

  56. jimmy

    Good. AA has the courage to stand up to the Big Pharma sanctioned brow beating people get when they question the safty and true purpose of vaccines. It’s no secret that most of them are full of all kinds of toxic substances….but because “someone”…says it’s safe…we are all just supposed to fall in line and get injected. Nope.

  57. JP

    Hooookay. I agree with this, up to a point.

    I just don’t think censorship is ever the answer. The scientific community shouldn’t adopt the looney-bin’s tactics, even if they work.

  58. Gregory Ruderman

    @William (#30): Your well-considered and demonstrably false claims aside, when was the last time you knew anyone who had smallpox?

    Oh, not since it was eradicated?

  59. asoaoao

    Mark@53

    As a Christian myself I don’t believe all this insane crap about science from the christian far right. Personally I am fully in support of all areas of science and no I don’t believe in intelligent design. (Evolution, Fusion, Space Travel (SciFi), nanotech, biotech, growing organs, cell reprogramming, global warming, etc… I personally don’t even know why there are religious groups opposed to these areas they are all unrelated subjects and your faith in your religion is completely independent of physical reality as if you can prove God exists/doesn’t then there is no more faith and religion would become a science…)

    Did you know Steve Jobs did the same thing as you described he opted for naturalistic cures for his easily cured early stage cancer then it spread and eventually killed him. (Statistically not significant as its just one person though) He didn’t believe/trust in modern medicine, his ego went strait into his head and so did the cancer figuratively.

    ALSO GERM THEORY HAS NOTHING* TO DO WITH MELANOMA… *(Cancer is your own cells going rouge which can in certain cases be caused by bacterial or viral infections, but melanoma is normally caused by UV exposure to the skin or chemical affects…)

    Please Google germ theory, melanoma, and Christianity before you pseudo generalize science and religion at the same time.

  60. haversham

    I just want a citation for this floater:

    Did anyone ever tell you that they were shooting up your brand-newborn with a Hep B vaccine that is known to kill over 7,000 newborns each year?

    Riiiight.

  61. Chris

    It reflects the sad state of science education that American Airways can get away with this.

  62. Leon

    I just want a citation for this floater:

    Did anyone ever tell you that they were shooting up your brand-newborn with a Hep B vaccine that is known to kill over 7,000 newborns each year?

    Agreed. YouSheeple, as James Randi might say: evidence or GTFO.

    In the interest of full disclosure, both my kids have all their recommended vaccines. So yes, I had heard people say outrageous things like that before, but knew that those claims are fabricated by dangerous charlatans like Dorey who are making themselves famous by endangering our public health.

  63. MikeB

    (2) – a small aside, as mentioned in the article Meryl is an American citizen, not Australian. If she is not a citizen (i.e. has permanent residency only) then she cannot vote in Federal elections. For someone who makes a big fuss about lobbying politicians, this would be a curious inconsistency.

  64. @#43, you claim not to warrant the titles of ignorant or stupid, yet your post is full of it…

    Hep B info: http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/5382/are-hepatitis-b-vaccines-for-newborns-safe-and-cost-effective Well researched answer that shows ZERO deaths due to Hep B vaccine. I suppose 7000 is just a rounding error?

    Another epic fail on your part, peer reviewed studies on vaccines: http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/1276/has-any-peer-reviewed-double-blind-study-been-made-on-any-vaccine-regarding-effi Tons of studies linked in the answers there.

    You may actually have some reading to catch up on at http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/vaccines

  65. julianpenrod

    Among other things, American Airlines’ airing an interview with Meryl Dorey falls under “freedom of speech”. But, rest assured, when Constitutional guarantees threaten the connivances and conspiracies of coirporate mega-giant pharmaceutical houses or drug industries, who fund “scientists” all over the world, those “scientists” will thinbk nothing of rising up to impose the dictatorship of the dollar! Note the particularly vituperous manner displayed in this article, the name calling, the character assassination, the purple prose. Notice, too, this is supposed to be a column on astronomy! But it’s a case of closing ranks, one person who managed to get themselves termed a “scientist” sticking up for others who managed to get themselves termed “scientists”. All for the purpose of personal profit. Plait complains the airline didn’t ask a doctor about the subject, as if they can be trusted to tell the truth and not tout the drug corporations’ line! Like “scientists” ever interview those who don’t dismiss the unconventional out of hand in any of their lectures of “truth”! And all the website article on “I Speak of Dream” does is say the only people who should be intervciewed are those “researchers” with vested interests in seeing “vaccination”, and expensive “research” in “vaccination”, increase!

  66. John

    Just one more reason that I will never fly AA.

  67. Ian Bruce

    American Airlines to air in-flight interview series debunking aerodynamics. “Flying Deathtraps”. #ListeningIsOptional on Twitter

  68. joulesm

    I just tweeted at American Airlines about this and got this reply:
    https://twitter.com/#!/AmericanAir/status/194534497830703105

    Victory!! Kudos to AA for responding to their customers’ concerns!! I’ll forgive them without the apology as they canceled it before it was aired and did damage.

  69. Leon

    julianpenrod, where to start?

    - The big pharmaceutical companies certainly do connive and conspire, but not on vaccines. They lobby the government hard on many things to help them bring in more money than is their due, but vaccines aren’t part of this. They are, however, happy to have the anti-vax crowd drawing attention away from their actual conspiracies. Really, they owe you a big thank-you for your efforts here.

    - By putting scientists in quotes, I assume you mean non-scientists who pretend to have actual scientific training and credentials so they can pull the wool over people’s eyes? There certainly are such people, usually pulling for pseudoscientific causes like creationism, global warming denialism, even anti-vax. Again, you’re doing their job for them here. See, the actual, real scientists pay close attention to evidence and making sure they figure things out correctly so we can understand reality better. The evidence clearly shows that vaccinations help WAY more than they hurt, and that they don’t cause autism.

    - The dictatorship of the dollar? There definitely are people who want to make such a thing happen, but you’ll find them in the libertarian camp, or in big business. Believe it or not, scientists don’t rake in the bucks doing what they’re doing–only “scientists” (see above) do that, and guys like Phil don’t get paid a king’s ransom to do their jobs.

    - Name calling, character assassination, purple prose? Have you heard the rhetoric coming from your own side?

    - Yes, this is a blog centered around astronomy, but so what? It’s never been exclusively about astronomy. Phil’s pointed out numerous times that he reserves the right to talk about other things here, and it’s his blog to do with as he will.

    - Doctors can’t be trusted with questions about our health? You sound like my grandfather. If you refuse to follow your doctor’s advice about your own health, you have bigger problems than vaccination.

  70. Blargh

    @ asoaoao

    Please Google germ theory, melanoma, and Christianity before you pseudo generalize science and religion at the same time.

    “Christian Scientists” denote members of a specific sect whose particular brand of loony (called “Christian Science”) involves rejecting most of medicine (showing once again that religious organizations using names derived from “science” tends to be like countries sticking “Democratic” in their names).

    I honestly wouldn’t have known about them if it hadn’t been for Tom Lehrer’s line of “it has been a nervous year and people have begun to feel like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis”.

  71. JLT

    “Among other things, American Airlines’ airing an interview with Meryl Dorey falls under “freedom of speech”.”
    If the government barred AA from airing that interview, it’d be a freedom of speech issue. If Meryl Dorey was sent to prision for giving that interview, it’d be a freedom of speech issue. If costumers decide that they won’t fly with an airline that helps to spread dangerous lies about live-saving vaccinations, and the airline then decides not to show that interview, that is called capitalism.

  72. Chris2

    Blargh:

    Christian Scientists” denote members of a specific sect whose particular brand of loony

    Some of it lethal: http://childrenshealthcare.org/?page_id=132

  73. Old Rockin' Dave

    @julianpenrod:
    “Among other things, American Airlines’ airing an interview with Meryl Dorey falls under “freedom of speech”.”
    Your understanding of the First Amendment is as weak as your understanding of science. Government entities can’t suppress free expression. American Airlines is not a part of the government. The people complaining to or threatening to withhold business from American Airlines are not the government. American Airlines, like a privately owned TV station, is a platform only, and as such has no obligation to allow any message or speaker of whom they disapprove to use that platform. Those of us who object to American Airlines allowing Ms. Dorey’s message are under no obligation to fly American Airlines if we object. If you approve, you can tell them so, and you can fly AA to the limits of your ability.
    You also seem to be misinformed about Phil Plait in particular and blogging in general. You say “Notice, too, this is supposed to be a column on astronomy!” No, it’s Phil Plait’s blog and he is exercising his freedom of speech to comment on what he chooses, as he has done for years. If you don’t like his writing on subjects other than astronomy, no one is forcing you to read it and no one will stop you from objecting.
    Then you say, “But it’s a case of closing ranks, one person who managed to get themselves termed a “scientist” sticking up for others who managed to get themselves termed “scientists”.” Guess what? While I won’t call myself a scientist, I have a degree in biology and another as a physician assistant and for twenty years I made my living by helping to run medical studies, providing empirical information to scientists, and using the tools and methods of, and provided by, science. I think this gives me some standing to offer opinions on matters of medical science. What education or experience do your bring to the discussion?
    The above also goes to “Sheeple”, who seems to believe that skimming Google for articles that conform to his prejudices can substitute for actually having an education and experience on any given topic, and arrogantly assumes that he knows more about vaccines than people who have actually worked with them.

  74. Solius

    julianpenrod @ 65 wrote:

    … rest assured, when Constitutional guarantees threaten the connivances and conspiracies of coirporate mega-giant pharmaceutical houses or drug industries, who fund “scientists” all over the world, those “scientists” will thinbk nothing of rising up to impose the dictatorship of the dollar!

    Slippery slope much???

  75. Cameron

    Ok, so if pharma companies only do it for the money and vaccines don’t even work… Why wouldn’t they just use perfectly safe, nice sounding ingredients in a placebo?

  76. Jefe Loco

    Wow, Phil. Great write up concerning an increasingly important cultural issue. I cannot fathom how people continue to ignore reason and fact in favor of perpetuating nonsense and emphatic ignorance.

    @8 and 65: How do you guys manage to make it out the door in the morning without signs? This blog is about science and critical thinking, which is a process that MUST transcend categories in these troubled times. This is the personal blog of an astronomer, not an astronomy section of a publication.

  77. PertussisIsReal

    When I caught Pertussis, AKA whooping cough a couple of years back and was sick for almost FOUR months, I awakened to the fact that a healthy 20-something can indeed catch what I always thought was a third world disease. My doctor was even astonished that she had an actual case of whooping cough.

    Oh, yeah, and even though my DTP booster still had a couple of years left until expiration
    I was still sick enough to get fired from my job because I was bedridden for over a month.
    And this was after a stiff round of antibiotics!

    My grades at college suffered, too, but luckily I had good professors that worked with me to allow me time out of class.
    This is what anti-vaccination people fail to grasp.

    There are real consequences for exposing the general public to very ill children or adults.
    Shame on you, American Airlines.

    I also remember a day when people used to wash their hands and use handkerchiefs, but our society has apparently devolved to a barnyard manner . I want everyone to start teaching their children basic hygiene as well as practicing it themselves. The world is to crowded to behave in this manner.

    Does anyone know that laws banning spitting in public areas arise from TB infection controls when we were living in crowded tenement conditions?

  78. PertussisIsReal

    I’d also like to add that if you don’t want to vaccinate your children or be vaccinated, that’s fine by me, for what it’s worth…

    But if you have any inkling that you or you child is ill, stay home or arrange for daycare.
    Above all, get to a doctor before half the town is exposed to your TB/Measles or Pertussis.
    We are having regular outbreaks of these 3rd world diseases in large metro areas, after all.
    Negligence like this is just rude and self-centered.

    If you are too poor to stay home or arrange for a sick child’s daycare, get a shot and do the
    rest of society a favor before people like you make it necessary for enforced quarantines to be a regular occurrence.

    Lastly, autism might be more linked to the massive amount of PVC’s, defoliants, household chemicals, pesticides, fungicides, industrial waste and other nasty chemicals floating around than a vaccination. There is a much, much higher incidence of cancer and autism clusters surrounding Superfund Sites than the relatively small correlation found between autism and thimeserol/mercury used in some vaccines.

  79. Jason

    If you’re fully vaccinated and protected from all the nasties, why are you concerned about those who are not vaccinated? It won’t affect you, right?

  80. MikeB

    @Jason – what about the people who cannot receive vaccinations (because they are too young, or have medical conditions preventing it)? Hint #1 – go look up ‘herd immunity’. Hint #2 – stop thinking so selfishly; vaccination provides protection of communities. Having seen how my auntie (who had polio as a child in Australia mid-last century) *still* suffers to his day, I wouldn’t wish 50 years of pain on anyone when it’s not necessary. The anti-vaxxer view is often a very self-centered one.

  81. Rich

    @jason 80.

    Go back and actually read the article. Pay particular attention to the part about Dana McCaffery. Follow the link to her story.

    Then come back and tell us that we don’t need to be concerned about those who are not vaccinated. Selfish idiots and ignorants basically killed a newborn girl because they thought it was “no big deal” if they didn’t get vaccinated. Ignorance and stupidity really can kill Jason. Don’t be a killer.

  82. Chris2

    Jason:

    If you’re fully vaccinated and protected from all the nasties, why are you concerned about those who are not vaccinated? It won’t affect you, right?

    That, folks, is the Nirvana Fallacy. Absolutely no one who lives in reality thinks that any medical intervention is 100% effective. People are funny, they have this thing called “genetic diversity.” This means that sometimes there are persons who cannot become immune from certain diseases. I had mumps twice. I need herd immunity. No amount of vaccination nor actually getting the disease will make me immune to mumps. And yes it sucks when folks like you think that is a joke.

    As others mentioned: How is a child under the age of one year old “fully vaccinated”?

    Please post your scientifically verified protocol to protect children under the age of one year from measles, mumps, Hib, pertussis, tetanus, rotavirus and diphtheria. Because protection from bacterial diseases are not guaranteed until the full series is completed (bacteria a sneaky bugs… see my previous comment). And I am expecting the evidence to support your statements to be a minimum the title, journal and dates of PubMed indexed papers.

    Also, Jason, when was the last time you had a tetanus booster? Was it the Tdap? Do you understand that because bacteria are more complex than viruses, they are better at getting around your immune system. This is why you can get strep infections (which sometimes turn into scarlet fever) again. There is no way to get permanently immune form tetanus and diphtheria, and immunity from actually getting pertussis and coughing your lungs out for three months (it is known as the “100 day cough) can be as short as four years:
    Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2005 May;24(5 Suppl):S58-61.
    Duration of immunity against pertussis after natural infection or vaccination.

  83. Andrew

    “If you’re fully vaccinated and protected from all the nasties, why are you concerned about those who are not vaccinated? It won’t affect you, right?”

    Jason: There’s this thing called compassion that human beings have; it results in humans not wanting infants too young to be vaccinated and people with medical conditions that preclude vaccination to be exposed to diseases that will kill or seriously injure them.

  84. Andrew (not the one above me)

    Jason, some of us AREN’T vaccinated against everything (flu in my case), because of adverse reactions or family history or what not. We rely on the rest of you pincushions to keep us safe. So do it. For me. <3

  85. Peter

    The trouble is that a lot of people accept someone’s word at face value :( So, people like Meryl Dorey can spread their ignorance and some people listen :(

    The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), formerly known as the Vaccination Awareness Network, is an Australian anti-vaccination lobby group[2] registered in New South Wales.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Vaccination_Network

  86. Nigel Depledge

    Polly (8) said:

    We should get out a counter message that says the “kind of mercury we inject infants with is the safe kind”.

    So, do you have the slightest idea of what you are prattling about?

    Do you not know that you consume a far more dangerous mercury compound than thimerosal every time you eat tuna?

    Quite obviously, you are anti-facts. Mercury is an element. Thimerosal is a compound that inter alia contains mercury. Do you have the first idea why that should change the behaviour of the substance? Consider hydrogen gas. That’s pretty hazardous, because it explodes so easily in the presence of oxygen. Now consider water. Its chemical behaviour is totally different, yet it is a compound containing hydrogen.

    Or we could say “injecting infants with anothers humans DNA has been well studied and is safe”

    Erm . . . where and when does this ever happen?

    or “increasing an infants blood aluminum level 25 times higher than what AAP says is safe via vaccination, really is harmless”.

    Citations needed. Since you seem concerned about the figures, what is the exact dose of aluminium salts in a single vaccine dose? What is the AAP limit for acute exposure. Or are you comparing an acute dose against a chromic exposure limit, which would be functionally meaningless?

    I bet Bill Gates or Pharma would fund our messages. Do you have any contact with Bill, Phil? Could you get any more $ from your pharma sponsor?

    What the . . . ?

    Here’s a thought for you – what if science is right about vaccines? Just consider, for a moment, as a thought experiment. If the science is right, then Phil is simply disseminating a critical-thinking approach to medicine.

    Of course, if the science is wrong (please explain how this could happen, in detail), then I must be part of the conspiracy too.

    Now, you must excuse me, I’m just about to jet off to the Caribbean to lounge about on my yacht and contemplate how to spend my ill-gotten gians. [/snark]

  87. Nigel Depledge

    Peter (90) said:

    The trouble is that a lot of people accept someone’s word at face value So, people like Meryl Dorey can spread their ignorance and some people listen

    It’s more complicated than this. There are also things like confirmation bias, so anyone who already has suspicions about modern medicine will find Dorey’s blather in accord with their preconceptions, and they will assign it more weight in their thoughts than any amount of actual data.

    I think the key question that should be used is how. How come the science is wrong? How come these huge rigorous studies show no effect of vaccines, whereas far smaller (and potentially flawed) studies show that vaccines do have some effect? How does a pharma company turn a quest for increased profit into [allegedly] a huge scheme to poison infants?

    Without clear answers to these questions (and plenty more like them), the antivax arguments have nothing to hang onto.

  88. PayasYouStargaze

    @91 Nigel

    You reminded me of what one of my chemistry teachers once said. One is a metal that burns exposively when dropped in water. One is a supremely poisonous gas. Make a compound of them and you put it on your chips (fries to the Americans here) without a second thought.

    You know what I’m talking about :D

    It’s sad that there are people ignorant of such basic chemistry.

  89. Nigel Depledge

    PertussisIsReal (79) said:

    There is a much, much higher incidence of cancer and autism clusters surrounding Superfund Sites than the relatively small correlation found between autism and thimeserol/mercury used in some vaccines.

    I don’t know anything about these “Superfund Sites” of which you speak, but no rigorous study has ever found any link between autism and thimerosal. If anything, the reverse is true : as thimerosal use declines, autism rates are still rising.

  90. Nigel Depledge

    PayasYouStargaze (93) said:

    You know what I’m talking about

    Indeed I do.

    It reminds me of the contrast between one of the most reactive elements and a polymer containing this element that is one of the most inert (and slippery) substances we know.

  91. Nigel Depledge

    Jimmy (56) said:

    Good. AA has the courage to stand up to the Big Pharma sanctioned brow beating people get when they question the safty and true purpose of vaccines. It’s no secret that most of them are full of all kinds of toxic substances….but because “someone”…says it’s safe…we are all just supposed to fall in line and get injected. Nope.

    So, if most vaccines are “full of all kinds of toxins”, I have a few questions for you to answer:

    1. What are these toxins?

    1a. How toxic are they in the kind of doses that are applied in vaccines?

    1b. What are the doses of these “toxins” in vaccines?

    2. How does a pharma company (Big or otherwise) get a vaccine to market when it’s “full of all kinds of toxins”?

    2a. Be very specific in any answer you attempt to provide. For instance, if you talk about a vaccine, what is the vaccine for? Who makes it? When did it come onto the market? What regulatory agency was involved (e.g. was it the FDA, the EMEA, the MHRA, or whichever)? When were the clinical trials for that vaccine carried out? Who oversaw them, and where were they performed? What data from those trials was published, where and when? And so on.

    3. If vaccine formulations are, as you imply, toxic, what’s in it for the pharma company? Surely if the vaccine formulation is toxic, it’ll kill off the company’s customers, right? In what way does a pharma company benefit from dead customers?

    4. Do you acknowledge that vaccines actually work to prevent disease?

    4a. Because if they don’t work, then the pharma company will surely make more money by selling injections of harmless sterile saline that won’t kill any customers, right?

    5. How do you suggest it came about that regulatory agencies all over the world (not the FDA alone) have been coerced into allowing vaccines containing “all kinds of toxins” to be marketed?

    5a. IOW, the regulators, according to you, are doing the exact opposite of what they were set up to do. How come no secretary, no filing clerk, no disgruntled ex-employee, has blown the whistle on this?

    5b. Do you know of anyone who works or worked for a regulatory agency who has been coerced into allowing toxic vaccine formulations to be marketed?

  92. Nigel Depledge

    YouSheepleYou (43) said:

    Do any of you vaccine promoters out there ever recall reading a third party, non biased report on the effectiveness and side effects of vaccines? Oh you do? Funny .. cause there HAS NEVER BEEN ONE.

    Eh?

    What, you mean apart from the hundreds that are carried out each year?

    I’ve worked with a guy who supervises clinical trials. I’ve been involved in process development for a cancer vaccine, and met a guy who supervised a very early small-scale clinical trial of it in patients with terminal oesophagal cancer.

    AFAICT, these guys are all on the level, sharing the sincere belief that what they do improves people’s lives. They were also good scientists, not shirking from whatever conclusion the data forced them into.

    So for you to claim that impartial clinical trials of vaccines have never been done is pretty extraordinary. Do you have any evidence at all to suggest that the sponsors of clinical trials routinely pressure the researchers to return a specific result?

    If this occurs – as you imply – as a matter of routine, how come so many drugs and vaccines fail at Phase III? How come any drugs fail at all in the later phases of clinical trials?

    Most vaccines have been around long enough to know short-mid term afermath – but there are new vaccines (like the flu shot, chicken pox, etc) that have NOT been tested (because hey, to test it, we’d have to do human testing – which is “not” the same thing as mass administering it and checking for side effects later)

    Erm, yeah, they have to be tested, unless they’re identical (or so closely similar as to make no odds) to an existing product.

    , and have NOT been studied.

    Y’know what? To me this sounds like a lie.

    Put up or shut up.

    I’m not against all vaccines. Most are not dangerous and do save lives.

    So which ones, in your view, are “dangerous”?

    What makes them dangerous?

    Have you questioned the FDA – or at least researched the cirumstances – regarding their approval?

    You have to be blind and stupid not to realize that it’s definetly possible for the pharmeceutical industry to get vaccines approved by the FDA that haven’t been tested – with a little thing called money.

    Ooooh. So that explains how come we had a parking lot of brand-new Lamborghinis out front when the FDA inspectors came to inspect the site at which I work, a couple of years ago. Oh, wait. No, we didn’t. We passed that inspection through hard work, diligence and rigorous attention to detail, not through bribery. Maybe you should contact my bosses and tell them that it’d be far easier to use bribery. Please be sure to pass on the names of which FDA inspectors are open to offers, as it’d be so embarrassing to try and bribe the one or two who are scrupulous. [/snark]

  93. Nigel Depledge

    William (30) said:

    There are a number of vaccines that DO cause autism, that’s why when they are administered the doctors have a series of tests and questionnaires for parent to see if the child has developed symptoms.

    Ooh, you tease.

    How about you clearly state which vaccines you are talking about? Who makes them, and how is the autism link established?

    Are you absolutely sure you are talking about autism, and not some form of encephalopathy?

    Vaccines do not prevent disease,

    Yes they do. The data all support this claim, whereas I have never seen any data to support your contention.

    Here’s another thing I’ve never seen – someone with polio. This is directly attributable to widespread vaccination.

    if they did then why do we still see these diseases in our country?

    Ever heard of a little idea called evolution?

    No?

    Maybe you should look into it.

    But, to supply a more direct answer to your question :
    1. Vaccines are not 100% effective.
    2. Pathogens evolve ; frequently their mutations allow them to evade our immunity. For some organisms, this occurs rapidly while for others it occurs more slowly (which is why we have a different flu vaccine every year, whereas tetanus immunity typically lasts a decade).
    3. Some people cannot receive certain types of vaccine for other medical reasons (for example, people with egge allergy cannot receive the flu vaccine).
    4. The immune-compromised (such as transplant patients) can contract and spread diseases irrespective of how many vaccinations they may have had.

    If they truly stopped disease then you should have no concern about being on a flight with someone who might possibly have one of those diseases you think you have immunity to.

    See above. Immunity is not perfect, even if you acquire it through infection rather than vaccination.

    The truth is that so many of these vaccines only have a very short shelf life and are only able to make claims of helping to lessen the effects of the disease they are meant for.

    There are two kinds of vaccine. Prophylactics, which account for the vast majority of vaccines used; and treatments, where the vaccine activates the patient’s immune system to fight off a disease. Most of the latter are experimental or apply to a small proportion of clinical indications. Cancer vaccines, for example, are all in the latter category, and tend to be highly specific.

    Many vaccines have a pretty long shelf life when you consider the biochemistry of what’s in them. True, it might be short compared to small-molecule drugs, but that’s not really relevant, is it?

    But the reality is that vaccines provide immunity against diseases. Immunity, here, is used in its technical, immunological, sense. Neither vaccine nor having a disease can absolutely prevent you from getting the same disease ever again. But both will confer at least some measure of protection, and will often provide a very high level of protection, to the extent that a subsequent infection with a mutated form of the pathogen could be next to symptomless.

    Note especially that vaccination offers the only opportunity we have for eradicating diseases. Smallpox has been eradicated, through a coordinated, targeted programme of vaccination. Polio came close about a decade ago, and would have been eradicated then had it not been for the activities of antivaccination campaigners. It looks now like we might eradicate polio this year or nest year, through another coordinated vaccination campaign.

    When you get a standard flu shot if given the nasal version you have a live virus in your systems and can get other people sick by spreading your germs.

    You have an attenuated virus in your system. Sure, you can infect other people with it, but their symptoms are likely to be mild, and it will most probably confer immunity on those people to the strain against which you were vaccinated.

    What of it?

    Go read the vaccines book by DR sears.

    Or, you could read some of the primary literature concerning vaccines.

    Educate yourself about the truth of vaccines before you make such a public display of error.

    Actually, the current state of knowledge favours Phil’s points, not yours.

    As far as we can tell :
    1. Vaccines pose a very small risk in and of themselves;
    2. Vaccination prevents the spread of many diseases;
    3. The immunity conferred by vaccination occurs through a mechanism that is largely understood;
    4. The arguments of antivaccine campaigners do not hold water.

  94. Jockaira

    #99 Nick DePledge: “Here’s another thing I’ve never seen – someone with polio.”

    Anyone born in the US before 1950 grew up with friends, relatives, and classmates afflicted with this horrible disease.

    I recall several classmates who used crutches or wheelchairs to get around. My best friend in college had one leg shorter than the other by about six inches. He insisted in limping everywhere in order to keep his body from deteriorating. He could not run and sometimes had to use a crutch because of pains in his good leg. The fatality rate from polio is about 10-15% within a few days of the onset of the disease. Perhaps worst of all, a neighbor girl (my age) was confined 24-7 to an iron-lung, her only view of the outside world through a small window seen upside down in the mirror above her head. She died when she was 18 years old, having spent most of her life since the age of four on her back with a machine to do her breathing for her.

    I also recall my parents not allowing me to go anyplace during the summertimes for play or sport where there might be large groups of kids, like swimming pools or public parks, because of the high chance of contracting polio. Newspapers frequently ran headlines of polio epidemics with warnings to “Keep Your Children At Home.”

    When the Salk, and later the Sabin vaccines became available, my parents insisted I get both of them, and I finally felt safe from the ravages of polio…but it came too late for many others I knew, many of whom still live today, crippled for life.

    I grew up in a time when the only antibiotic available was sulfa, and the only vaccines, smallpox and tetanus. People used to die painfully from small wounds and infectious communicable diseases. I’ve had tetanus and some of the diseases mentioned above. They’re not pleasant and a real threat to life.

    Anyone opposed to vaccines simply has no idea of the reality of a world without them!

  95. Gunnar

    It is both remarkable and very sad that there are still so many people who are so ignorant of science and history that they are unaware of the proven benefits of vaccination. I, too, am old enough to remember when polio was still epidemic, and to have grown up with with friends who still suffer permanent disability due to that disease. Anti-vaxxers are at least as ignorant as flat-earthers, and much more dangerous. Flat-earthers are relatively harmless in comparison.

  96. Geoffrey Miller

    Just a general observation, a quick, two-step Google search indicates that “The Executive Report” is a production of Altitude Media, Inc., a corporation which claims to specialise in in-flight media: http://www.altitude-media.com. They appear to be producers for American Airlines, Delta, US Airways, jetBlue, and Continental, and their page for “The Executive Report” indicates that it’s hosted by Stephanie Riggio and Gary Stevens, and that it “features conversations with those on the leading edge of a wide variety of industries.”

    While I’ll readily agree that all of the antivax crap is just that (i.e., a smelly and unpleasant amorphous mess that is a major vector for spreading disease), it seems highly likely that the contractor and their brainless hosts and producers (who are so competent that they’re involved in in-flight entertainment instead of, say, working for a real broadcast news agency like CNN or MSNBC or USA Today), and that no one at the airline reviewed the content before its insertion into AA’s entertainment rotation, especially since the name of Ms. Dorey’s group is deliberately chosen to sound like a professional and competent organization, with the title of “president” implying particular expertise in the field, since “Chief Lunatic of the Ignorant Conspiracy Theorists’ Anti-Logic Society,” while accurate, would probably result in a little less attention being paid to this moron.

    I point this out not in defense of the show, but because one should make sure one is in the right about underlying facts before throwing rocks.

  97. Carolyn

    PertussisIsReal: “I’d also like to add that if you don’t want to vaccinate your children or be vaccinated, that’s fine by me, for what it’s worth…
    But if you have any inkling that you or you child is ill, stay home or arrange for daycare.
    Above all, get to a doctor before half the town is exposed to your TB/Measles or Pertussis. We are having regular outbreaks of these 3rd world diseases in large metro areas, after all. Negligence like this is just rude and self-centered”.

    I completely agree with your point that sending sick, non-vaccinated children out into the world is RUDE, but I do not think strictly keeping them home from daycare/school when they are ill is enough to keep the immunocompromised safe.

    For example, the prodromal (initial) phase of a Bordetella pertussis infection lasts about 2 weeks and is only characterized by mild symptoms such as a slight cough and a runny nose. These symptoms alone are probably not enough to worry a parent and they may still send their child off to daycare or take them out to run errands. However, this is when Bordetella is MOST CONTAGIOUS. When the whoops begin developing the number of infectious particles actually decreases. This allows a full 1-2 weeks for the pathogen to spread to MANY children. NOT okay. Also, newborns under 6 months of age are the most susceptible population. In the case of Bordetella pertussis, CELLULAR immunity is protective, antibodies are not, and passive immunity from the mother does not occur. So these infants are vulnerable whether their parents have plans to immunize or not (DTaP series is not started until 2 months of age and not complete until age 4-6). So those parents against vaccination are NOT correct when they think their decisions only affect their own family. Again, this just goes back to the whole ‘herd immunity’ concept.

    Let’s see, what else can I think of? The prodrome for measles (fever, malaise, cough, etc.) begins about 2-3 days before the more characteristic rash shows up. Again, this initial phase is when the person is MOST INFECTIOUS. And with mumps, contagion precedes symptoms by 7 days. Also keep in mind both these diseases have a contagion rate of about 85% to 90% and 95% and 70% of those infected with measles and mumps, respectively, will become symptomatically ill. Anyway, good luck to those poor unvaccinated children who hang out with other unvaccinated children (seriously, good luck, because I really do feel sorry for those with irresponsible or ill-informed parents).

    Now, one last thought and I’ll get off my soapbox. I have seen several people mention that they believe there is less concern to immunize because so few of us are familiar with the devastating diseases our vaccines protect us against. Just a random example, I didn’t realize until medical school that dysentery wasn’t just something you died from on The Oregon Trail…. Anyway, I think it is POSSIBLE many people have stopped thinking of these severe diseases as anything more than a rash or a bad cough. I’m sure many manipulated parents do not know about so many of the severe primary and secondary complications of these preventable diseases. Just for fun, I’ll name a few.

    Haemophilus influenzae type B: epiglottitis (THROAT CLOSURE), pericarditis, meningitis (with a 90% mortality rate if untreated and complications such as mental retardation and blindness IF the child survives).

    Bordetella pertussis: pneumonia, seizures, encephalopathy (these complications can develop DURING RECOVERY).

    Measles: pneumonia (causes over half of measles deaths), encephalitis, subacute sclerosing pan encephalitis (SSPE) — this usually begins 3-10 years post measles infection in TEENAGERS and leads to eventual death.

    Mumps: meningoencephalitis and other CNS infections, epididymo-orchitis if the infection occurs in post-pubertal males — CAN LEAD TO STERILITY.

    Influenza (the REAL flu): pregnant women can die in their 3rd trimester or lose the baby, one can develop viral or bacterial pneumonia, and people with HEART PROBLEMS are more susceptible to severe disease (but no one in America has heart problems, right?).

    Rubella: maybe not so bad? A bit of a rash, fever, the usual. Then possibly some arthritis and encephalitis. BUT, congenital rubella infections occur when a mother becomes infected during pregnancy. This results in heart defects (Tetralogy of Fallot), deafness, microcephaly and several other awful conditions. If parents choose not to immunize their child now, she could possibly get infected years down the road while pregnant and completely destroy the life of their grandchild (if it even lives long enough to have a life).

    I don’t know why I took the time to type all this; we all know hard-headed people will never change their opinions. Maybe ONE person will be persuaded to vaccinate their child (just one? maybe?) plus this was less exhausting than trying to explain how autism does NOT occur from vaccination.

    (Also, please do not ask me to cite references for my statistics…I obtained them from my old medical school lectures and am going to assume they are close enough to the real deal).

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