Here’s to you, you little prick.

By   /   December 5, 2013  /   54 Comments

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there is so much anti-vaccination misinformation flying through the blogosphere, Facebook, and professional-looking pseudoscience pages online, that it is now time for a large-scale public push-back.


I got a shot the other week.

Just a little prick. Didn’t hurt.

I loved it, actually. It made me feel safe. And I wanted to tell everybody.

But I didn’t.

Because I was afraid.

I was scared of the scorn I thought my actions would elicit from a few remaining anti-vaccination friends and family members.

But I am going to suck it up, because there is so much anti-vaccination misinformation flying through the blogosphere, Facebook, and professional-looking pseudoscience pages online, that it is now time for a large-scale public push-back.

Anti-vaccination propaganda is insidious. Its personalised nature versus the faceless “medical profession” gives it a safe, community sort of feel that mass vaccination programme proponents don’t have – if it’s a caring friend telling you how bad vaccines are, how could they not be right?

The moment people start going “Shit I have a child shit I have to look after it oh god I’m in charge of a teeny human” there are all these knowing looks from people who appear to be alternatively-informed (and, it is insinuated, better-informed) about the issue of vaccination. You take their excellent advice on, perhaps, in-laws and breastfeeding, then all of a sudden We don’t vaccinate, they secretively say, and the seed is planted.

It isn’t fair, because in these alarmingly effective conversations, there isn’t a biologist, doctor or scientist there to provide a sane counter-argument against the fever of the modern “anti-vax” brigade.

There is a lot of very persuasive material out there to scare those new to the vaccination debate, when really, there is little to debate. I don’t see any reason to shame or belittle people who have been taken in by anti-vaccination propaganda (I was, for a short time, one of them!), but a push-back against the movement is required.

Bravery will be needed, because oh man there are some high-and-mighty, holier-than-thou people who smugly say “I suggest you read [link] or [book] or [article].”

If someone does tell you to read “Just a Little Prick” or any of the other dodgy, alarmist books and articles out there, think of all the other articles that you probably haven’t read yet, showing wonderful, spectacular achievements for humanity via vaccines – and hey, do you know anybody with polio, smallpox, or diphtheria? No? Neither.

Real bad diseases seem personally rare, and it is entirely thanks to vaccines. Smallpox is gone forever. We were nearly rid of the dreadful measles, but we got complacent, and the anti-vaccination brigade compounded our laziness with fear.

Mumps is no joke. Rubella is no joke.

Little old Chicken pox (varicella) can kill you.

Yet who knew that there was a vaccine for the Chicken pox/varicella virus now? Most people in New Zealand aren’t vaccinated for it, because varicella has come to be seen as a normal childhood illness, while vaccination is seen as optional and dangerous and a conspiracy by governments to fill us full of toxins and monkeys and despicable mind-control agents.

Yet in the 10 years following 1995, when varicella vaccinations were introduced in the US, the varicella vaccine has been just common enough so that from 13,000 serious hospitalisations and more than 150 deaths per year in the US before 1995, there has been a 71% drop in hospitalisations and a 97% drop in death rate: just 5 have died of chickenpox per year. It is no longer as prevalent as it was, and vaccination is the reason. Those people increasing innocent people’s exposure by attending pox parties are… just… I… aargh.

I cannot get the flu jab because it has an egg base and I have had allergic reactions to egg. Likewise, many people cannot receive various vaccines – others with serious allergies or immune system diseases like HIV, folks receiving treatment for cancer, and pregnants are a few examples. Herd immunity, where the vaccination-provided immunity of the population protects the unprotected, should be saved for them, not for a healthy young family in Birkenhead.

There are plenty of other arguments against vaccination that seem, on the surface, reasonable. Like, an anti-vaxxer might warn you of vaccine “overloading” causing deaths in sick babies, and give you a couple of shocking anecdotal examples. 

But no healthy child’s immune system is going to be overloaded by the large number of shots now given at once. In fact, the number of immune challenges introduced into a child’s body in a day (about 2,000-6,000 including hundreds of bacteria and viruses) is huge in contrast to the paltry 150 particles in the entire vaccination schedule.

The difference is, the immune challenges in vaccinations are specifically for bacteria and viruses known to be very deadly or dangerous to humans. Babies with compromised immune systems or other complications will get the opportunity to get their vaccinations when they are healthy enough. In the meantime, herd immunity should be saved for them, and we are their herd.

People who are anti-vaccination end up, when challenged by someone who knows their stuff, saying things you apparently can’t argue with, like Well, I’m not putting that toxic stuff in my kids, end of argument.

You just hope it’s not their kid who becomes a headline due to other stuff – natural, deadly microbial stuff – getting into their kids, like these poor souls. Now that would be a hard lesson to learn.

Roald Dahl, whose daughter died of measles just one year before the vaccine was introduced, would have been saved so much heartbreak.

These people, this “anti-vax” movement, they are wrong, but they are persuasive. They use the natural fallacy liberally.

It’s got formaldehyde in it! You want to inject your kids with formaldehyde? They hiss. So? Reading the full list of ingredients on a vaccine doesn’t particularly alarm me. The human body makes formaldehyde as a byproduct, and in much greater amounts than you’d find in any vaccine. Our systems deal with it very matter-of-factly. And as of the year 2000, there is no mercury in vaccines, and the mercury that used to be present in tiny amounts was not methyl mercury but ethyl mercury, which does not bioaccumulate (and you’d get more from a standard can of tuna anyway). But aluminium!!!, they screech then. You mean the third most common element and the most common metal in the earth’s crust?

Anti-vaccination proponents have been alarmingly effective at using big scary science words like glutaraldehyde to tap into the general anxieties parents have about their children’s comfort and health, worldwide drug corporations, and modern lifestyles with all the real and perceived risks.

Most of them do seem to be people wanting to just simplify their lives and live more plainly or naturally. 

But we are natural. We are animals. I have little patience for people in 2013 who gossip about the “unnatural” processes of vaccination, while their kids eat artificially coloured lollies, benefit from sunscreen, Band-aids and Pamol, ride in cars in plastic car seats, and wear polyester blends. There’s nothing so great about natural. Shit is natural. Sharks are natural. Meningitis is natural. Ongaonga is natural.

And vaccines, made by primate mammals with lab equipment we invented, stimulate the natural human immune processes.

Scientists use natural ingredients (bacteria and viruses) and process them using natural substances like formaldehyde, trace mineral and metal elements, and sterile human or animal tissue (not cool? Oh, do you not eat meat or egg, breathe dust, chew your fingernails, or kiss someone and swallow their hormones and saliva?), so that they are not a danger. They then introduce the resulting compound to your body. Your own natural immune system then gathers around and investigates the intruder, and prepares its natural defences in case you are ever introduced to the very real, very nasty thing.

It is time we showed zero tolerance for misinformation about vaccines.

Misinformation is dangerous, and the level out there regarding vaccines is getting ridiculous. My horror-meter went sky-high when I recently met a maverick bloody midwife who told me she makes sure new mums and dads know about their “choices” regarding whether or not to vaccinate, as if the arguments for and against vaccinations were equal.

I mean, yeah, she’s right: there are two sides of the story. One has global scientific consensus, extensive research, and evidence that vaccines are an epic achievement with a real positive impact on global and local human health, and the other side of the story is chock full of obfuscation, debunked research, viral (sorry) misinformation, and myopic half-truths (for example, the polio vaccine can cause polio infection!! – semi-correct, once it did, between 1955-1963 when the vaccine was new, but it hasn’t since, and won’t again).

Vaccination isn’t a “personal choice.”

It’s not like choosing not to feed kids a Maggi cup-a-soup because of the additives. It’s not like choosing organic vegetables because of concerns about pesticides. It’s not about not giving them dairy products because they get the squits from milk. It’s not like choosing Ecostore cleaning products over more chemical-laden ones. It’s not pears versus pomegranates.

It’s a social responsibility.

It’s playing your part in the timeless deadly struggle between humanity and viruses and bacteria, and making sure each human in the world has as much protection as they can get.

In every single case, the benefits of a vaccine far outweigh any perceived or actual risks, and you are far more likely to die of a particular disease than from a reaction to the vaccine for it.

And the risk is slowly increasing. We are a global community of air travellers now.

Nobody is protected from the spread of viruses and bacteria except through vaccination.

Thanks to a lack of vaccines because of war and misinformationpolio is on the rise again in Pakistan and Syria. We can also thank the anti-vaccination brigade for a huge first-world-wide rise in whooping cough (which my cousin’s newborn daughter recently nearly died of after catching it from an infected unvaccinated young woman), measles (which very nearly killed my adult male friend last year), and even old-school diphtheria in several third-world countries.

It is enraging to see so many parents refusing to give their children the same medical care they themselves have benefitted from, but it is understandable that they don’t take it seriously enough: they simply haven’t seen what humanity has been up against, particularly the ancient smallpox.

My generation has undergone hugely popular vaccination drives, because our enthusiastic parents and grandparents did see with their own eyes the horror of poliodiphtheria, and whooping cough – warning: that link is a tiny helpless baby going through hell, but here’s another, because I’m really fucking serious about this. Whooping cough is not just a tickle in the throat. We take breathing for granted, until we can’t breathe.

Measles was so nearly eradicated: worldwide we had a 99% reduction, but it is coming back in ever-growing pockets, directly due to families who are misinformed (but – quite unfortunately for the rest of us – see their non-participation in mass vaccination as an educated stance; both virtuous and self-sacrificing). The family aspect is an aggravating factor; so often, anti-vaxxers infuriatingly add “…and I’m speaking as a parent.”

Sorry, but having unprotected heterosexual sex with the expected generative consequences does not confer expert status on medical and biological matters. Likewise, a natural-style parent who reads forwarded Facebook links and seeks websites that confirm a bias doesn’t equal an expert on vaccinations.

Too often, I have heard, We’re not vaccinating for [name of disease]. If we get it, we will deal with it then.

The analogy is: We’re not going to use seat belts. If we crash, we crash. The chances are low. We have good roads here in NZ.

So – what if you do crash, and your kids only have to live with minor injuries, but you also crashed into someone else, someone unwell, who wasn’t doing anything wrong, and they died, or were left blind or deaf, or with brain or limb deformities, or with a chronic illness, or you murdered their defenseless newborn baby?

Still we hear, Well, we didn’t vaccinate and our children are just fine – yes, great, but actually that’s thanks to the rest of us who are taking one for the team, getting all our jabs on your behalf (leeches!). It’s like saying I don’t know anyone with AIDS or HIV so I don’t need to use condoms. (Yes, it is exactly like that.)

Like car seats and seat belts, no vaccine is 100% effective. Viruses and bacteria continue to evolve, and we can only do our best. Indeed, some vaccinations only provide 30% initial immunity: you need boosters, which – as you grow up and become in charge of your own healthcare – seem like too much of a nice-to-have instead of a necessity (hence all these adults saying I got whooping cough even though I was immunised …bet you didn’t get your boosters).

The more people who are immunised, the less likely any disease is to spread, and the less likely those who are unprotected through no fault of their own will have to suffer the consequences of others’ ignorance.

I have a friend of Chinese heritage (relevant, because those with European ancestry often have stronger remnants of genetic immunity) who has no natural immunity to measles, and for some reason, measles vaccination hasn’t worked on her (though other vaccines have). She is forced to rely on simply not being exposed to it. It really worried her when she was pregnant. Nobody wants to have a deformed baby.

Last year, a different friend did nearly die of measles, after being exposed to it by an unimmunised child at his daughter’s daycare. He spent a week in hospital on a drip, ravaged by a 41 degree fever, and is lucky not to suffer lasting consequences. Many do. (My flatmate’s mother is deaf thanks to measles.)

I’m pretty left wing, eh. I hate war, and right wing political profiteers, and corporate greed. I am a keen gardener. I like to wear a mix of natural and unnatural fibres. I buy simple moisturisers and cosmetics. My mum is a potter. I’m vegetarian, with severe food allergies, and I have to eat gluten-free. I am so, so white, with several skin cancers already diagnosed and removed by the age of 32. I am undergoing rehab for major shoulder surgery. I have no choice but to look after my health.

I don’t have a child to vaccinate, and don’t want one. So I’m using myself as an example.

Two weeks ago, I was digging in the garden, and stabbed a muddy splinter down the side of my finger. It became very infected, and I had to go on a course of strong antibiotics. I also had to get a tetanus shot, because I hadn’t had one in several years. With my friends’ babies’ health in mind, I asked if I could get a whooping cough booster, and whatever else was available while I was there.

My doctor nearly hugged me. Yes, she exclaimed, told the nurse I was keen, and left us to it. As well as tetanus and whooping cough, this one gives you some polio and diphtheria protection at the same time, he told me, delighted to have somebody sane to immunise.

Load me up, I said. They gave me Adacel.

If it had been fed to me, I would have licked the spoon.

Just one tiny prick later, I am well protected, and so are those around me.

What about you?

It’s time to push back. Be a part of the global fight against viral and bacterial attack.

Don’t be afraid. There’s nothing to fear.

Vaccines can not only save your life, but stop you ruining someone else’s.

Get vaccinated, get your boosters, and get on the bandwagon:

Zero tolerance for misinformation on vaccination. 


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  1. Jenny says:

    We should ask Colin Craig if he supports vaccination.

    If Colin Craig publicly condemned vaccination, people would rush to get vaccinated.

    Hear Colin Craig: ‘A Vaccination against stupidity’.

  2. Flip says:

    Zero tolerance for misinformation on vaccination.

    I agree. A carefully referenced article would go somewhere along the way to showing that Burnt Out Teacher actually has correct information.

  3. melissa says:

    Thank you. Seriously.

  4. Molly says:

    Your thinking is flawed in that you propose that every vaccine – and vaccination programme is equal – when it is not.

    For example, the recent big spend on Gardasil running concurrently alongside MSM articles regarding the researcher who doesn’t believe in the efficacy or safety of this vaccine.

    On a personal level, we have used some vaccines and refused others. I have worked in a pharmaceutical company and seen the heavy marketing approach to medications in play.

    It is possible to take a precautionary approach to any medication – and decide which ones do provide the immunity and safety you (and the wider public) require.

    A blanket recommendation for vaccinations is as naive as a blanket censure.

    • Shane Baylis says:

      This particular story seems to be derived from a misquote of the researcher in question – the researcher is in no doubt that the vaccine is safe and effective, but appears to think that other screening-and-treatment combinations might be just as effective. Orac at has a pretty thorough history of the meme at:

      • Molly says:

        Didn’t read blogs at the time this vaccine was promoted so was reading in the MSM, most likely the Herald about concerns, but could have been overseas papers.

        From memory – the vaccine did have a good reduction in two HPVs, but the elimination of these particular HPV’s were often replaced with more virulent strains. This data is not reported alongside the 70% efficacy rate.

        Also, cervical cancer is 100% curable if regular PAP smears are taken, and abnormal results treated appropriately. The vaccine carries the proviso that it is not a guarantee of protection and that regular smears should be maintained.

        Given human nature – it is possible – if not probable – that those receiving the vaccination allow their smears to be delayed and/or avoided, increasing the chance that any abnormal cells develop into something requiring more care and treatment to resolve.

        In this case, if cervical smears are necessary for the ongoing effective treatment of cervical cancer WITH the use of Gardasil, I would rather have seen the $139 million given to this programme be spent on the delivery of that service, and the improving of testing times and providers.

        PS. Did read your link, interesting but is a bit strident itself in giving out labels to those who disagree. Not really the scientific speak I would expect from an unbiased source.

  5. amirite says:

    Thanks for that, Burnt out Teacher. The staggering fact is that the vast percentage of anti-vaccies are white, middle class, supposedly educated people who have the arrogance to dismiss and discard decades of scientific research so they can then promote their own alarmist theories.
    Until shit happens to one of their children.

    • Naomi says:

      I think that in a way the anti-vax movement is a response to the success of vaccination. Most people who choose not to vaccinate their children haven’t seen first hand the horror that these diseases can cause. Thank goodness that they haven’t had to, although if they had perhaps they would make a different decision. Unfortunately their decision is making it more likely that they or others will again experience this horror.

  6. Danyl Strype says:

    As part of my research to understand why seemingly intelligent people passionately support “free market” ideologies, I used to read Lindsay Perigo’s ‘Free Radical’ magazine. It’s pages were full of similarly histrionic rants against the “greenshirts” and “troglodytes” who had were opposed to genetic modification of food, or concerned about climate change (in the 90s the mainstream scientific position was supposedly on their side and “global warming” was a fringe theory promoted by Greenpeace et al). I remember similar “think of the children” arguments claiming that, by supporting the banning of DDT, we greenies are responsible for the deaths of millions of children who could have been saved from malaria if DDT could have been used to kill the mosquitos which carry it. Yeah right.

    This blog suggests to me that your good intentions too have been hijacked by the PR strategies of an extremely powerful global chemicals industry. Unlike you though, I respect your right to your opinions, and the actions that go with them. Anybody who promotes “zero tolerance” towards other people and their right to dissenting views is far more dangerous to a democratic society than any physical disease. Vaccinations, like any medical intervention, is a *choice*, and must only ever be allowed with full informed consent from the patient, or in the case of children, their parents.

    • Burnt Out Teacher Burnt Out Teacher says:

      1. So how much tolerance do YOU think we should have for misinformation?

      2. Suggesting people are brainwashed by an industry’s PR, or have had their good intentions hijacked is a really effective way of undermining their argument, but it’s lazy. I see it a lot, and it gets more every time. I have delved deep into both sides of the argument – as I said, for a while I was anti-vaccines, and am so ashamed of it now!

      3. It is completely valid stance to not respect people’s opinions, actually. Some people hold very repugnant opinions.

    • Burnt Out Teacher Burnt Out Teacher says:

      (Please delete previous comment – spelling & grammar mistakes. I hit post too fast!)

      1. So how much tolerance do YOU think we should have for misinformation?

      2. Suggesting people are brainwashed by an industry’s PR, or have had their good intentions hijacked is a really effective way of undermining their argument, but it’s lazy. I see it a lot, and it gets more irritating every time. I have delved deep into both sides of the argument – as I said, for a while I was anti-vaccines, and am so ashamed of it now!

      3. It is a completely valid stance to not respect people’s opinions, actually. Some people hold very repugnant opinions.

    • This blog suggests to me that your good intentions too have been hijacked by the PR strategies of an extremely powerful global chemicals industry.

      Not at all, Danyl. That argument has been used to condemn-by-association.

      But it ignores a simple reality that the former Soviet bloc had it’s own vaccination programmes. The vaccine manufacturers were State run. The distributors were State run.

      There was no profit motive.

      We may have a healthy distrust of the pharmaceutical industry (and rightly so) – but a blanket dismissal ignores the positive benefits of the vaccination programme.

      Vaccinations, like any medical intervention, is a *choice*, and must only ever be allowed with full informed consent from the patient, or in the case of children, their parents.

      Except that, in this instance, a parent’s decision impacts on human lives other than their own.

      As I pointed out above, it seems hugely ironic that *some* parents will refuse vaccinations for their children – but rush to get a tetanus ‘jab’ the moment they cut or scratch themselves in the garden or workshop.

      I also suggest that advocating the rights of the Individual over and above the wellbeing of the Community is part and parcel of the neo-liberal ideology.

      What was it that Thatcher said? “There is no such thing as society…”

      • Danyl Strype says:

        “I also suggest that advocating the rights of the Individual over and above the wellbeing of the Community is part and parcel of the neo-liberal ideology.”

        Maybe so, but the right to refuse treatment is a basic tenet of medical ethics, and human rights. Lumping fundamental personal rights in with “neo-liberal ideology” is exactly the sort of guilt-by-association you accuse me of.

  7. JonL says:

    As with everything in life, there is an element of risk. Some people will react negatively to injections, that is a fact of life (and death), but, that does not mean immunisation is bad – on the contrary, the good it has done outweighs the small risk by orders of magnitude. If people can’t see that…………..

  8. Stephen says:

    I totally 100% agree with you on this issue! You are to be congratulated on writing this article well done for being brave enough to write it. The anti vaccination brigade are not only illogical, irrational but insidious too. You cannot reason with them as they are hysterical and emotive. Cold hard facts and sober analysis cannot win them over you are just wasting your time, they appear to have turned their back on the Age of Enlightenment. You are best to direct your efforts at mainstream society who can sometimes unfortunately be duped, convince them that a substantial body of evidence exists in support of vaccinations and it has been rigorously examined and debated, which is very much the whole process of science.

    • Danyl Strype says:

      “You cannot reason with them as they are hysterical and emotive.”

      As Molly points out there is irrational all-or-nothing thinking on all sides of this debate. A rational discussion starts with an examination of the available evidence. Rather than slinging about character assassination, class-baiting and racism, and propaganda phrases like “anti-vax”, let’s talk about the evidence, hmm?

      For example at a BSEM (British Society for Ecological Medicine) conference in March 2011, Lucija Tomljenovic, PhD (University of British Columbia) presented a paper entitled ‘The vaccination policy and the Code of Practice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI): are they at odds?’. The article examines transcripts from meetings of the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, and claims this committee mislead both the public and officials about both the safety and efficacy of vaccinations.

      She and Chris Shaw, Phd have also published a number of peer-reviewed papers investigating the alleged health effects of vaccines (such as links with lupus and autism) and the practice of childhood vaccination.

      The very existence of researchers with Phds from reputable universities publishing peer-reviewed articles questioning the safety and efficacy of vaccinations proves that there is a scientific debate going on, and it’s therefore propaganda to claim all those who oppose vaccination are “anti-science” (certainly if someone is “anti-science” to start with, they are likely to be anti-vaccination too, but just because all trout are fish, that doesn’t mean all fish are trout).

      • Danyl, I had a quick look at the VRAN website. It states, in part,

        ” In some developed countries, by the time children are 4 to 6 years old, they will have received a total of 126 antigenic compounds along with high amounts of aluminum (Al) adjuvants through routine vaccinations.”

        I would suggest thqat by the time a child is 4 to 6 years old, they will have breathed in somewhat more than 126 “antigenic” compounds. They’re breathing in billions of bacteria, virii, fungii and yeast spores; etc. And I suggest that the source of that aluminium may well be from cooking pots and pans.

        There’d be bugger all aluminium in a single vaccination.

        • Danyl Strype says:

          >> I would suggest that by the time a child is 4 to 6 years old, they will have breathed in somewhat more than 126 “antigenic” compounds. <> There’d be bugger all aluminium in a single vaccination. <<

          Maybe, but unlike airbore pollutants, every steric of it goes directly into the bloodstream. Besides, I'm not keen to base a decision about the health of my children on guesswork.

          BTW You may also be interested in the opinions of the doctors, nurses, and scientists of the International Medical Council on Vaccination:

          "As medical professionals, Council members have observed first-hand the health of vaccinated vs. the unvaccinated. We find the latter group to be robust, healthy and drug-free compared to the former group."

          • Vincristine says:

            You realise that the evidence you are quoting in your argument are all from quack non evidence based medical sites?

            Quoting from the fringe does not make your arguments robust BSEM largely made up of quacks using non evidence based treatments. International Medical Council on Vaccination also largely made up of anti evidence quacks

            You arent comparing apples with apples. You are claiming the 5% argument is as robust as the 95% argument. It is not

  9. The most ironic conversation I ever had with an anti-vaccination adherent was when she admitted to point-blank refusing to vaccinate her daughters. “They never get sick”, she insisted.

    I asked her what would happen if she cut herself in the garden? Tetanus is a horrible way to go, I suggested.

    She replied, “that’s different, she’ll make an allowance for that”.

    I concur with BoT; being a human being with offspring does not automatically confer wisdom or common sense.

    By the way, when I researched incidences of polio in NZ, and showed her the dramatic decline post early 1960s vaccine, she dismissed it as the result of “clean water”.

    Good lord. *shakes head*

    Well said, BoT.

  10. fambo says:

    I tell anti-vacinators that in our class there was a boy who had been crippled by polio only a few years before a vacination became available. He’s not alive today, but I’m sure he would tell them how much he wished it was around when he was a baby.

  11. Simon Smithson says:

    Actually, the people I know who don’t vaccinate have spent a lot of time doing the research on each of the different scheduled vaccines. Many of them are not anti-vaccination per se, and will opt for a subset of the scheduled ones. T

    he people who vaccinate appear to be the type that just blindly accept what they are told by an industry that profits from having more and more vaccines on the schedule.

    The MenzB vaccine roll out was a huge fraud. The Min of Health mixed data from all types of meningococcal disease, the vaccine was untested, the CARM data was a joke (a school having a third of pupils absent the day following the jab was put down to flu), the vaccine numbers were fudged, the number of jabs required went from 3 to 4 to 5, and kids that had them still got the disease.

    • The MenzB vaccine roll out was a huge fraud. The Min of Health mixed data from all types of meningococcal disease, the vaccine was untested, the CARM data was a joke (a school having a third of pupils absent the day following the jab was put down to flu), the vaccine numbers were fudged, the number of jabs required went from 3 to 4 to 5, and kids that had them still got the disease.

      Those are quite some claims, Simon. Do you have a source for that info so we can look further into it?

    • Naomi says:

      So when you say that they did the research, I’m guessing that you mean they read anti-vax information. I doubt that any of them actually read the scientific literature. It’s bizarre how many people are willing to blindly accept information found on the internet but won’t trust opinions or information from their medical professionals or government organisations.

  12. Ovicula says:

    I remember the tail end of polio. That people seem to want to bring that sort of thing back is almost unbelievable. You are correct, Burnt Out Teacher. We do need to push back. Respectfully yours,
    Dr. Ovicula.

    • Danyl Strype says:

      This is begging the question. Here is some referenced evidence that the polio vaccine was unsafe and unnecessary:

      • Danyl, thanks for the link. I had a quick read of it -it’s nakedly anti-vaccination for sure.

        How does that website reconcile their statement, “”There is crushing evidence that polio has not been eliminated by vaccination, but on the contrary has experienced a resurgence or an initial increase wherever mass inoculation was introduced.” – with the fact that polio has been all but eliminated from this country postr 1962?

        Because after the vaccination campaign here, the number of cases dropped to zero, each year.

        And what evidence is there for this outrageous claim,
        “”Polio, and a great many other diseases, are now on the increase in the third world thanks to mass vaccination campaigns.”

        When a lobby group has to resort to wild, unsubstantiated claims (or just plain lies) to prove their case, then that suggests to me that their argument is bankrupt.

        This was shown dramatically in 2011 when it was proven that Andrew Wakefield falsified research into his claims that vaccines caused autism. The subsequent investigation and court case into his shonkey activities led him to be struck off; his papers in Lancet retracted; and he was discovered to be attempting to profit from his “research”.

        If the cases against vaccination was so compelling, why the need for fraudulent “research”?

  13. Debbie Brown says:

    Excellent article and so important. Thank you for your courage in writing it, and for all the hard work and effort.

    I think it’s tragic that in this day and age, so many people would spurn the science which has enabled us to live relatively free of many diseases which once would’ve killed us. Even if vaccination can cause mild fever or inflammation for a day or two, that is a small price to pay compared to loss of limb or life. I think it’s somewhat telling that of the doctors I have known, they all fully immunise their kids. They know.

  14. By the way, Burnt Out Teacher was quite right in her comments on polio and the polio vaccine. Here’s a website (NZ Post Polio Society) that gives the numbers;

    Note the drop to zero post introduction of the polio vaccine, after 1962.

  15. nznative says:

    my kids are grown up now but they got all their shots they were supposed too.

    I had to put up with a lot of ‘don’t vaccinate’ ‘advice ‘, from other parents when my kids were young.

    I used to point out they were freeloaders who relied on people like me who did vaccinate their kids.

    Vaccination stops epidemics

    People who do not vaccinate are sheltering behind this fact

  16. Mike S says:

    Are there any reputable studies available that compare the health of and rates of infection of various diseases between a group of fully vaccinated people and a group of never vaccinated people?

  17. Mike S says:

    You mentioned whooping cough in your opinion piece. Interesting to grab a quick stat which shows that in October 2013 there were 51 confirmed notifications of pertussis in NZ where the vaccination status of the victim was known. Of these, 26 were vaccinated, 25 weren’t. Of those vaccinated victims, the vast majority had 3 or more vaccination doses. So statistically, in October, in New Zealand, you were more likely to contract whooping cough if you were immunised ‘against’ it than you were with no vaccination. Hmmmm…….

    • Burnt Out Teacher Burnt Out Teacher says:

      Thanks, Mike, for this excellent example of obfuscation – it highlights one of the commonest ways we are misled by Team Anti-vaccination.

      The “statistics” you provide do not, and can not, measure or give information on the many thousands of NZ people who were exposed to whooping cough and did not contract it because their vaccinations were up to date.

      It is worth noting here (thanks again for this great opportunity!) that the first whooping cough shot only gives 30% immunity, so this is one of the vaccinations for which it is most important to follow up with boosters. Many people report themselves as fully vaccinated, yet have had only one inoculation.

      • David H says:

        Thank you or an excellent article. I met some of these Anti Vaccine people when I was (funnily enough) taking my son for his imm’s. The way they went on when they found out where i was going could have been quite scary. But I just told them See this happy smiling face? they said yes. I said GOOD because the Imms will keep him that way. They were horrified. But thats him up there still happy and Smiling. And as a child of the 1950’s I have seen what happens to non vaccinated children (well that was before some vacines were invented) Thank you B O T.

        • Ditto, David.

          My parents ensured that I and my siblings were fully vaccinated. We’re all alive and grew up healthy.

          No whooping cough, polio, diptheria, etc, amongst us.

      • Naomi says:

        Totally agree. If we take a rough guess that about 85% of people in NZ are vaccinated then 26 people out of that 85% of the population contracted it compared to 25 people out of the remaining 15% contracted it. Those figures strongly support vaccination. Furthermore this ignores the fact that many people who are recorded as being immunised probably have not had boosters. If this is taken into account the figures would support vaccination more strongly.

    • So statistically, in October, in New Zealand, you were more likely to contract whooping cough if you were immunised ‘against’ it than you were with no vaccination. Hmmmm…….


      Sorry, Mike, not only does your math not add up, but the interpretation of the figures are meaningless for a whole host of other reasons.

      Just of the top of my head, do you know the infection rate prior to full immunisation being carried out, especially if the children are from low income families suffering over-crowding in damp housing? No, neither do I.

      But it’s worth considering, as poverty-related diseases and over-crowding by poor families is a significant, growing problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”) in this country.

  18. Jules31 says:

    Schools closed for 6 months, my best friend Judith age 8 DIED from Polio, kids had callipers on their wasted legs. You DO NOT want the catch this disease.
    It is a scourge of modern society that there is developing a serious lack of our social responsibly to protect our community.
    The more who are immunised against these terrible life threatening, disfiguring, debilitating diseases, the better our community survives them.
    People who are not socially responsible in this way should be shunned and banned from community gatherings like schools, public transport, libraries etc.

  19. Naomi says:

    Great article. I agree that people in support of immunisation need to be more vocal. It may not change the opinion of those who have already made up their mind, but it may prevent people who are still considering it from being swayed by the pseudo-science nonsense that is so common on the internet.
    I am so frustrated by the anti-immunisation movement at the moment. So many of the arguments are totally ridiculous. It amazes me that so many otherwise intelligent and sensible people are taken in by the conspiracy theories and emotive and nonsense reasons for not immunising. So often people refer me to anti-immunisation articles saying how great they are and I read them and they are so stupid and contain no sensible or logical reason not to vaccinate.
    I also find the superior attitude taken by most anti-immunisation people to be so horrible – acting like they know so much more than those who have chosen to vaccinate and referring me to this and that stupid article or book. None of the anti-immunisation people I know ever read anything in support of immunisation or any direct studies, just articles against immunisation. Sure I didn’t research every vaccine. As a non-medical person I accept that I am not capable of understanding all the scientific research of the subject. Instead I discussed the matter with medical professionals (both those we see as patients and friends in the field). I think it is telling that it would be very rare to find medical professionals (who are generally extremely intelligent and educated) who don’t support immunisation (although no doubt the anti-immunisation movement would say that it is all a conspiracy – sigh).

    • Molly says:

      Actually that is not true.

      We contacted the author of the book “Just a Little Prick” that is used to title this article regarding the use of Vitamin C to treat sepsis for a school project. No mention of vaccinations, but she kindly provided us with scientific literature and references for the use of Vitamin C. She also provided access to a study by Linus Pauling.

      We had a one hour visit with her, and saw her research. On whole room – meticulously referenced – and to scientific literature and published papers.

      As mentioned, we were not there for vaccination material – AND SHE DID NOT VOLUNTEER IT – she just provided the information on Vitamin C that we had asked for.

      As I mentioned before, each vaccine needs to be considered on it’s on merit.

      Acceptance of all vaccination programmes ‘…because of polio’ etc seems as irrational to me as blanket rejection.

      • As I mentioned before, each vaccine needs to be considered on it’s on merit.

        The question then is – what is the criteria of that “merit” ? And who decides?

        As I pointed out above, I discussed this matter with one person (on another forum) some years back. Whilst she point blank refused to immunise her children, she was only too happy to take a tetanus vaccine if she suffered a cut or injury in her garden.

        It seems that the “merits” of vaccines became clear to her when she was faced with an unpleasant disease – but was willing to take the risk for her children…

        • Molly says:

          As I pointed out about the Gardasil above – human nature plays a part in the overall effectiveness of a programme.

          Gardasil recommends a continuation of regular smears. It is reasonable to assume that many women will delay or avoid smears – feeling that they are ‘protected’.

          Delay in identifying abnormal cells may decrease the outcomes of the screening process.

          My family has had most of the vaccinations available, but did not take up this one.

      • Molly says:

        Also, for those who keep citing bias while showing it. I want to point out that the journey to the author was a convoluted one…

        Started with the prescription of high-dose Vitamin C powder from our GP, which happened to coincide with the swine flu epidemic. There were two stories at that time with patients – one in Sydney and one in Tauranga (?) fighting with hospital doctors to allow for intravenous high dose Vitamin C.

        We started to investigate why our GP would prescribe high doses, when the doctors shown on television in these stories were totally dismissive of any benefit – and in fact, said that damage was caused by it’s use.

        It was an interesting topic to research (albeit at school level) and the journey eventually took us to a well-known NZ anti-vaccination author.

        As I said, she offered no unsolicited advice about vaccination, but she did provide us with research articles relating to concerns that high-dose Vitamin C causes kidney problems.

        We visited her at her home, and one room is dedicated to collating information and providing references to scientific studies – and/or – finding published reviews of pharmaceutical literature.

        We were only there for a short time, just long enough for our students to understand how Vitamin C aids recovery.

        I have no affiliation to this author whom I have only had one contact with a few years ago – but the premise that “anti-vaccinators” are not researchers or influenced by scientific study, is a generalisation. I am also aware that while conducting research she has asked for independent statistics and clinical studies review and comment.

        I’m not someone who defends people of loyalty when they are wrong. But I have no doubt, that if I was genuinely interested in looking at her references for scientific published papers to back up her stance, she would probably provide it.

  20. Danyl Strype says:

    It’s hard for debates on health issues to be carried out dispassionately, perhaps because, as in the case of vaccinations, both sides in the debate believe they are the ones protecting the children. I don’t think it helps for either side to engage in name-calling, accusations of brainwashing (which admittedly I did above but only in pursuit of an argument about freedom of opinion), or calls for dissenters to be “shunned”. This can only lead to shouting matches, and even more entrenched opinions.

    Who knows how many of the 800,000 non-voters are skeptical about the purported benefits of vaccination? If it’s worth discussing vaccination at all, surely it would be better to have respectful discussions about the available evidence and how to interpret it logically, rather than condemning people en masse, and calling for yet another propaganda offensive pro or anti? Just saying.

  21. Kehua says:

    There’s very little actual evidence in this article and plenty of the kind of scorn towards others, that the author says she fears from them. Her call for “zero tolerance” for what she calls “misinformation” sounds like an attempt to stifle debate, and supress information. Statistical evidence from Health Departments in the UK and US show that most major diseases were steadily in decline prior to the introduction of vaccination. It is not ridiculous to suggest that things like decent housing, clean water, and nutrition caused this decline and that these are the primary things needed for good health. Vaccination seems to me to be a last resort when these are lacking.

  22. Kehua says:

    Parents who make an informed choice about vaccination are not following blind prejudice but carefully studying the information available. Different decisions may be made about different vaccines for different children etc. One of the studies quoted by a vaccine supporter in the comments above indicated that while the vaccines lowered the rates of the diseases vaccinated against they also lowered the general immunity as the children had higher rates of other diseases. It is not a black and white picture and therefore it is important to respect people’s decisions and their right to make them.

Authorised by Martyn Bradbury, The Editor, TheDailyBlog, 5 Victoria St East/Queen St, CBD, Auckland, New Zealand.