Be a careful consumer and don’t be fooled by lies

Honest to Darwin, I don’t know why people who should know better (like Dr. Joseph Mercola, who claims to be board certified in family medicine) are so against the amazing public health accomplishments of vaccination. I really don’t. The science and logic are entirely behind vaccination, but for whatever reason, people are willing to lie their tuchises off to convince others to forego lifesaving vaccines and endanger everyone’s health.

Yeah, I went there. I called them liars. People like Jenny McCarthy may be mistaken or confused or whatever nice way people want to put it, but Dr. Sears and Dr. Mercola and Dr. Gordon and many folks at the National Vaccine Information Center are lying liars who lie like a lying thing. And anybody who’s willing to lie like they do can pretty much create their own “facts”.

For example, anti-vaccine scaremonger Mercola tells us in “Warning to parents: This vaccine linked to sudden infant death” all about how horrible the Hep B vaccine is: “And 781 people were reported to have DIED following hepatitis B vaccination….”

Oh noes! Call the police! Call the National Guard! Call…

Wait just one goshdarn minute. Where did he say he was getting this data from? Let’s see.

According to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), operated jointly by the CDC and FDA, there were 36,788 officially reported adverse reactions to hepatitis B vaccines between 1992 and 2005. Of these, 14,800 were serious enough to cause hospitalization, life-threatening health events or permanent disabilities.

Ah, I see. Well played, Dr. Mercola, well played. Nice argument from authority there. See how he threw the CDC and FDA in there to make this sound official and scary? Wow, if the CDC says it, then it must be true.

It’s true that both the CDC and FDA are involved in VAERS, but what this article doesn’t tell you is what the VAERS actually is: It’s a reporting system.

Yes, I can hear you rolling your eyes and saying “I know that, it’s in the bloody name!” But think about that. It’s the place you call when anything happens after your kid gets a vaccination.

It’s just a list that says “Person A reports that their child ran a high fever 48 hours after getting the MMR vaccine. Person B reports that their child developed a red rash on their chest within 4 hours of receiving the varicella vaccine.” Etc and so on. Anybody can make a report, not just doctors or public health officials.

You, yes you, can contact VAERS right now and tell them your child started clucking like a chicken after receiving the chicken pox vaccine and it’s probably going to go into the system until someone gets around to realizing that you’re making fun of them!

A file in the VAERS is not proof of anything except that something happened. The reports may or may not have been investigated and may or may not be accurate. Do me a favor and right now, right this moment, try to remember the order of events in your house 48 hours ago.

Who was where and doing what? Did little Susie start crying before or after dessert? Did both kids get in the bath? Wait, did you read The Very Hungry Caterpillar at bedtime two days ago or three? No, maybe it was Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Did your spouse get home late? Early? What did you have for dinner? Chicken, right? No, chicken was three days ago. Two days ago was…something else.

Now imagine that you need to report this all to someone so that they can determine if little Susie got sick because of the shot from the doctor, or something she ate, or…maybe she was already sick before you got to the doctor and you didn’t realize.

Can you see now why a list of VAERS reports isn’t exactly proof of the horrors of Hep B vaccination? Yeah, because VAERS reports are not science, they’re a whole lot of anecdotes. And, as I say practically every day, the plural of anecdotes is not data.

VAERS isn’t useless, though. In fact it’s very important to file a report if you even suspect your child has had a reaction to a vaccination, even if you’re not sure. Public health experts use VAERS to watch out for actual side effects from vaccines (as opposed to imaginary ones like autism), especially new vaccines. In 1999, VAERS helped officials realize there was a rare side effect occurring in response to the first rotavirus vaccine, allowing them to pull the vaccine quickly from the market.

Because despite what some parents think, public health officials got into this business because they want people to be healthier, not sicker. If they believe that a vaccine is harming people, they’re gonna yank that sucker faster than you can say “intussusception.”

We know that diptheria, pertussis, and polio kill kids. We know this. Have you ever been to a cemetery that has graves from 100 years ago? Check one out, especially the large children’s section. Look at the graves of children dead before they ever had a chance to live, brought down by diseases we can destroy, and try not to cry for their parents.

Although some people don’t believe it, we also know that our vaccines are very very safe. The common side effects are mostly mild and not very serious, and the dangerous side effects are very very rare. (In between, there are a few unpleasant side effects that are nonetheless better than the disease, like febrile seizures.)

We have hundreds of case studies of millions of people and all the good science using real facts says that vaccines do vastly more good than harm.

Real scientists don’t have to lie. They’ve got the truth and the facts and the science on their side.

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About mamamara

I'm a 40-somethng, work-at-home mother of two. I'm pro-vaccine, pro-medicine, pro-science, and an avid reader of information about all of the above, and I want to combine my love for my children with my love for science. So here we are!
This entry was posted in Health, Parenting, Science, Vaccines. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Be a careful consumer and don’t be fooled by lies

  1. debc says:

    “And 781 people were reported to have DIED following hepatitis B vaccination….”

    I could be wrong, since statistics and causal relationships are not my strong points, but shouldn’t the number higher, considering the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people who didn’t have fatal reactions to the virus? I mean, if you’re going to say that the Hep B vaccine causes people to die, shouldn’t there be more of them dropping dead?

    • mamamara says:

      Well, I suppose it depends on the reaction you’re claiming. ::shrugs:: Some of the anti-vaccine nuts say “Oh, only some kids are sensitive to the [random scientific technobabble] in vaccines, but since we don’t know which ones, we shouldn’t vaccinate anyone.” Others say that the effects can be long-term, so some people die immediately and others get cancer or something later.

      However, even 781 people dying would be incredibly unusual after vaccination and cause for MAJOR alarm on the part of public health officials. So, if he was telling the truth, it would be a huge deal.

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