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Things I Think About, by Peter Bowditch

The anti-vaccination lobby

This article was published as the Naked Skeptic column in the October 2009 edition of Australasian Science. It has not lost an iota of relevance.

Australian Science October 2009For many years the anti-vaccination lobby had the respect of the media. Any story on a television current affairs program about a disease where anyone had suggested vaccination would include a performance by a representative of an organisation supposedly committed to “informed choice” talking about the dangers of vaccines, usually backed up by interviews with some parents who were convinced that vaccines had caused suffering or damage to their children. Images of vaccine-damaged children would be shown to step up the emotion. If any comment was provided by a doctor it would usually be a few seconds at the end when the damage had already been done, and the doctors were invariably polite and full of platitudes. (There were some exceptions but they usually didn’t get asked for comment a second time.)

Over the last year or so the situation has been changing, and the anti-vaccination lobby has been finding it much harder to have their say without being challenged. They are annoyed by this and claim that it is an infringement of their right to free speech for their opponents to have equal time.

One reason for the change in attitude of the media has been an upsurge in cases, and deaths, of childhood diseases that everyone thought had disappeared. As an example, the number of reported cases of whooping cough in the first three months of 2009 was 8,058, compared to 1,554 for the same period in 2008 and 1,677 average for the last five years. Bizarrely, the anti-vaccination lobby has lauded the increase and claim that it is evidence of the failure of vaccination to prevent disease. They claim that as it is obvious that the vaccine doesn’t work it should be withdrawn to avoid endangering children. As one anti-vaccination campaigner put it, “Nobody ever died of whooping cough”. At the time she said this she was appearing in a television program about a baby who had died from whooping cough!

I have sometimes been criticised for describing the anti-vaccination lobby as “anti-vaccination liars”. I will admit that not everything they say is lies, because to be a liar you have to know that what you are saying is untrue. In many cases, what they have to say is simply an expression of ignorance about how medicine and the human body work. Much of the opposition is driven by forms of alternative medicine such as homeopathy and chiropractic which reject the idea that germs cause disease. There is also a large element of conspiracy theory in the opposition to vaccines, with the obvious one being that vaccines are just a means of increasing the profits of Big Pharma by billions of dollars. (It is interesting that in one recent year the total world expenditure on vaccines, while being several billions of dollars, was less than what one very large pharmaceutical company spent on promoting their products.)

There is another category of untruth-tellers, those who don’t care about the truth of what they say as long as it progresses their agenda. I see this a lot in the anti-vaccination lobby, but once they have been told the truth and then repeat the untruth they must be moved to the “liars” category.

The current swine flu pandemic has really stirred up the anti-vaccination lobby and has brought out some wonderful examples of their use of free speech. I will finish with just a few gems. Most of these fall into the “don’t care if it’s true or not” class. It would be scary to think that anyone believed them.

  1. The swine flu virus (not a vaccine) was patented by Baxter International in 2008.
  2. The World Health Organization has admitted that they spread infections in advance of immunisation campaigns so that people can have something to be frightened about.
  3. More people died from the vaccine than from the flu in the 1976 swine flu epidemic, proving that vaccines are dangerous and that they didn’t need the vaccine anyway because the rate of infection was low. All deaths in the 1918 flu epidemic were caused by the flu vaccine.
  4. Vaccines are never tested before being used. Subjects in the first clinical trials of the flu vaccine will be exposed to something which has never been proven in a clinical trial.
  5. The nine vaccines given to children in the first five years of life are “30 vaccines before the age of one” or “20 vaccines given to newborns”, depending on who is speaking.
  6. My favourite – there is no such thing as swine flu, it is just a plot to soften people up so that they can be given a vaccine which will introduce microchips into them for the purpose of world domination by the Illuminati and other secret bodies. Speaking of bodies, the next phase will be the elimination of 90% of the world’s population.

You might think that I made that last one up. It was promoted on a web site run by Australia’s leading anti-vaccination organisation. Not that they are opposed to vaccination of course, as can be seen from their slogan : “Love them, protect them, never inject them”.

You can follow me on Twitter here.

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5 thoughts on “The anti-vaccination lobby

  • Beatrice Soelles says:

    This is a joke..right? Wow you certainly do have issues. Seems to me they likely stem from years of accumulated neurotoxins from all those vaccines combined with your alcoholically induced type ii diabetes….addled your brains.

    I wanted to comment on your other articles, but I realized my comments would be the same for all. So here goes: you write like a child with a thesaurus….You haven’t a clue how to analyze, interpret or report etiological data or evidence. Your conclusions are infantile and wrong. It became increasingly more apparent as I shopped your good name through google….why your such a fucktard.. Oh and you are the fucktard! And the tweets are brilliant! “I’m at this train station….I’m having tea” brilliant! earth shattering news!

    And the AVO! Uttering death threats, criminal conspiracy, llibel, defamation….did I miss anything? Wishing you all the best at your next hearing! Xmas is coming early for you this year!

    Now fuck off and die…..slowly and painfully…..Toodle-loo….

    • Thank you for your kind words, Mr O’Neill.

      One thing though – we don’t say “Toodle-doo” in Australia. Canada perhaps, but not here.

      And if you don’t like my tweets, get a school kid to explain “unfollow” to you. It’s really quite simple. (I was tempted to say “Like you”, but I won’t.)

  • Jemima says:

    Here is some food for thought Peter. Tell me what you think of a flu vaccine that predisposes you to a worse illness than the one your supposed to be ‘protected’ from.

    Flu shot may have worsened H1N1 virus during the 2009 pandemic
    Despite study, immunization still vital, doctors advise

    B.C.’s top doctors are advising people to get immunized against the flu despite new research suggesting the vaccine made people more vulnerable to the H1N1 virus during the 2009 pandemic.

    Researchers led by Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an influenza expert at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, wanted to follow up on studies conducted in 2009 that found people who received the seasonal flu vaccine were twice as likely to get a serious case of H1N1. Because this was not initially found to be the case outside Canada, there was some question as to whether a link between the two really existed, Skowronski explained.

    The results of the new study, presented by Skowronski in San Francisco on Sunday, found that ferrets given the 2009 version of the seasonal flu vaccine became more sick when exposed to H1N1 than those given a placebo, losing more weight and experiencing more respiratory problems. All of the 16 ferrets used in the study made full recoveries, Skowronski said in an interview Monday.

    However, there is no basis for the belief that getting the flu shot this year will make you sick, she said.

    The seasonal vaccine was ineffective in 2009 because H1N1 was a pandemic virus, or one that was significantly different from the seasonal varieties of previous years, Skowronski explained. Pandemic flu viruses occur once every 10 to 40 years. Once doctors were able to tailor a vaccine specific to H1N1, it was over 90 per cent effective, she said.

    “This is something peculiar to seasonal vaccine and pandemic strain,” she said. “When there is a dramatic … major change in the influenza virus, we see this kind of negative interaction and we don’t fully understand why, but obviously it would be important to investigate that further before the next pandemic so that we can then address it.”

    It is possible something similar could occur during another pandemic, but unlikely, said Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C.’s provincial health officer. By the time another pandemic occurs, there will likely be better ways of detecting which flu strains are circulating and what the potential interactions with seasonal vaccines will be, he said.

    This year’s flu shot, which will be rolled out in the coming weeks, vaccinates against H1N1 and two strains of seasonal flu, Skowronski said. The protection offered by the vaccine varies from year to year, but is typically around 60 per cent. It is especially important for vulnerable people, such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, to get vaccinated, she said.

    Such arguments carry little weight with Vancouver-based holistic nutritionist Ariel Laakso, who never gets the flu shot.

    “For most things, I would rather go the natural route,” she said, adding that she also refuses travel vaccines such as hepatitis. “Especially for something like a flu vaccine, I take really good care of my body and I would like to think that my own immune system is going to be strong enough to fight anything that I’m going to come into contact with.”
    Laakso is also concerned by what else is in the vaccine, most notably the toxic metal mercury.

    “That would be almost more of a concern to me than whatever else is in the vaccine like the antibodies.”

    A disinfectant used in the flu vaccine contains trace amounts of mercury, between two and 50 millionths of a gram per dose, Kendall said. However, it is a form of mercury that is excreted quickly by the body and is generally considered safe in such trace amounts, he said.


    P.S. This page can no longer be found by googling the original link. WHY do you think that happened Peter?

    So people could stay informed? Yeah right! Lol!

  • Lloyd Master says:

    Hello Tara….have you read any of the material excreted by this sub-human life form? If you had, then you’d realize that this Bowditch character is nothing more
    Than stinking fetid dung heap. Bowditch doesn’t want fact, he doesn’t know what fact is. He has no requisite background, academics or experience that lends itself to any credibly whatsoever. In this latest round, Bowditch has resorted to uttering threats of death, sexual and mutilation……not to mention having been charged, convicted an incarcerated for aggravated assault.

    So don’t even attempt rational discussion with this arsehole…..you have better results with a rock…

  • Allen Felcher says:

    The H1N1 virus is currently a seasonal flu virus found in humans. Although it also circulates in pigs, you cannot get it by eating properly handled and cooked pork or pork products.,*’;

    Our own blog page