OP-ED: Anti-vaxxers are the moral equivalent of drunk drivers

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by Peter Chow

If a vaccine for Covid-19 is developed, will enough people take it for society to achieve herd immunity?

It is sad that this is even a relevant question. People who are able to take vaccines but refuse to do so are the moral equivalent of drunk drivers.

The anti-vax movement, which aggressively spreads fear and misinformation about vaccines, has become a major, worldwide threat. Anti-vaxxers persist with a series of arguments for which there is no scientific evidence but that generate hesitancy among an increasing number of seemingly educated people who, due to the success of vaccination itself, have forgotten that not so long ago, children were dying from diseases such as diphtheria, polio or measles.

Myths:

1. “Vaccines contain toxic substances such as aluminium and mercury or aborted fetal tissue”

In a normal day, we breathe, eat or drink 30-50 mg of aluminum, more than 20 times the maximum allowed dose in a vaccine.

Adjuvants are sometimes necessary to boost the immune response and decrease the dose of inactivated virus or bacteria in the vaccine. Aluminum salts are not the most effective adjuvant but have been used as such for more than 80 years and in thousands of millions of doses precisely because of their safety. In a normal day, we breathe, eat or drink 30-50 mg of aluminum, more than 20 times the maximum allowed dose in a vaccine (0.85 mg).

Thimerosal is a preservative that inhibits the growth of potentially lethal bacteria or fungi. It is metabolized into ethyl mercury (which is less toxic and eliminated more rapidly) and not methyl mercury (as anti-vaxxers claim). In 2001, thimerosal was taken out of childhood vaccines while other vaccines, with the exception of the influenza shot, contain only trace amounts. Even then, we are exposed to higher amounts of mercury (69 mcg) when eating one can of tuna than with one dose of influenza vaccine (25 mcg maximum).

Formaldehyde is part of the vaccine manufacturing process and is present at residual quantities in the final product. Our body contains higher doses of circulating formaldehyde at any one time than that contained in any vaccine. In fact, there is more formaldehyde in an apple than in the Hepatitis B, DTaP and polio vaccines together.

Vaccines do not contain cells from aborted fetuses or other human cells.

Some childhood vaccines, including the one against rubella — which is part of the MMR vaccine given to millions of children worldwide for measles, mumps and rubella – are cultured in “WI-38 human diploid lung fibroblasts,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s fact sheet on the vaccine’s ingredients.

Those cells were from a cell line produced from cells originally obtained from an electively aborted fetus. A cell line is a cell multiplied over and over again to produce cells that are of a consistent genetic makeup. The WI-38 cell line is used as a culture to grow live viruses that are used in vaccines.

However, all cells are removed during the vaccine manufacturing process. This means that there are no human cells in the actual vaccines.

2. “Too many vaccines can overload the child’s immune system”

Children are exposed to a greater amount of environmental antigens in one single day than those contained in all the vaccines combined they receive.

From the moment we are born, we are continuously exposed to a huge amount of viruses and bacteria and foreign antigens. Fortunately, our immune system is prepared to recognize and combat an almost unlimited number and diversity of antigens (protein fragments derived from any organism and capable of inducing an immune response). In addition, the bacteria and virus within live vaccines are inactivated.

3. “Natural immunity is better”

For certain pathogens, naturally acquired immunity may last longer than that acquired through vaccination. However, the risk associated to a natural infection is not comparable to the risks associated to any vaccine. For example, measles causes 2 deaths out of 1000 infected individuals in developed countries (in low-resource countries the number can be up to 20 times higher), whereas the MMR vaccine causes one severe adverse reaction in one out of 1 million vaccinated individuals. The benefit of vaccination simply far outweighs the risk.

4. “Vaccines cause autoimmune disorders, asthma, autism and allergies”

Not one single large-scale study has showed that vaccines increase the risk of autoimmune disorders or allergies. Not one single large-scale study has showed that vaccines increase the risk of autoimmune disorders or allergies.

MMR vaccination was thought to have been associated with cases of idiopathic thrombocytopenia, an autoimmune disorder. However, multiple studies have shown that the frequency of such disease in vaccinated children (1 in 30,000) is much lower than that observed in children that contract rubella (1 in 3,000) or measles (1 in 6,000).

Likewise, two large scale studies concluded that there is no evidence for the supposed association between the Hepatitis B vaccine and multiple sclerosis that was reported in France between 1991 and 1997. Such vaccine has been used in more than 500 million people and is considered one of the safest vaccines yet developed.

Neither vaccines nor the components of the vaccines, thimerosal or mercury, are associated with autism: evidence-based meta-analyses have concluded that vaccinations are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder.

This idea was proposed by a gastroenterologist, Andrew Wakefield, who was found to have falsified data for his article and ended up having his medical licence revoked. The original study should not have been published not merely because it was poorly conducted, but also because it was a product of research fraud, falsified data. The British Medical Journal described Wakefield’s work as an “elaborate fraud”. Subsequent investigative reporting revealed that Wakefield had planned to capitalize on the MMR vaccination scare provoked by his paper by forming a corporation that would profit from “litigation-driven testing”.

 

5. Conspiracy theories are the core of most anti-vax arguments. The most common version holds that the “medical establishment” (whoever that is) are hiding the dangers of vaccines so that they can make money.

This is utter nonsense. All of doctors I know in the infectious disease community are motivated by a wish to cure disease. In any case, doctors make little or no money from administering vaccines. Similarly, pharmaceutical companies regard vaccines as a poor business model. Vaccines require huge development and testing costs and poor income streams. Vaccines are a one-time-use item – far more profitable to sell pharmaceuticals for chronic diseases that patients will have to take for the rest of their lives.

It is easy to treat belief in conspiracy theories lightly, but studies show that concern about conspiracy theories is warranted. Anti-vaccine conspiracy theories present a barrier to vaccine uptake, a barrier to achieving herd immunity, which will have significant detrimental consequences for society’s health.

When you search the word “vaccine” on Instagram, the app recommends dozens of anti-vaccine accounts in its top results. Accounts with names such as “Vaccines_revealed,” “Vaccinesuncovered,” “vaccines_kill_”, “vaccinesaregenocide_”, #billgatesisevil, #chemtrails, #coronahoax, #5Gkills, and “say_no_to_bill_gates_vaccine” are front and center.

Canadians are not immune to conspiracy theories:

  • A recent survey conducted by the School of Journalism at Carleton University found that nearly half of Canadians (46 per cent) believed at least one of four Covid-19 conspiracy theories addressed in the survey.
  • A quarter of Canadians, 26 per cent, believe a discredited conspiracy theory that the coronavirus was engineered as a bioweapon in a Chinese lab and released into the general population.
  • 11 per cent of Canadians believe another conspiracy theory, that COVID-19 is not a serious illness but is being spread to cover up harmful health effects associated with exposure to 5G wireless technology.
  • 23 per cent believe the hyped and unproven claim promoted by U.S. President Donald Trump that hydroxychloroquine is effective in treating COVID-19. And one-sixth of respondents, 17 per cent believe a myth that regularly rinsing your nose with a saline solution can help protect individuals from infection with the coronavirus.
  • Nearly half, 49 per cent, of those who believe the bioweapon conspiracy theory, and 58 per cent of respondents who believe the 5G conspiracy theory, said they can easily distinguish between misinformation and factual information.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is alive and well.

Although you have a right to your own body, your choice to willfully be sick ends where another’s right to be healthy begins. For that reason, people who “opt out” of vaccines should be opted out of society.

Freedom doesn’t mean “I can do whatever I want, whenever I want.” You can’t drive without a seatbelt and you can’t ride a motorcycle without a helmet. When we choose to live in a society, there are certain obligations—both moral and legal—to which we are bound. You cannot inflict harm or infringe on the rights and liberties of those around you.

Your moral and legal obligations to the safety of others can even curtail combinations of your rights. Even though consuming alcohol and driving are both legal activities, they are not legal when performed together. Nearly 11,000 people die every year because people choose to exercise their “rights” inappropriately.

The exact same reasoning applies to vaccination.

There is no moral difference between a drunk driver and a willfully unvaccinated person.

Anti-vaxxers resemble a cult because they have several of the key features of cults.

Members of the cult have special insights that outsiders cannot comprehend. With anti-vaxxers, this means they are completely convinced that they know that vaccines cause harm, despite mountains of scientific evidence to the contrary.

The group and its leaders are the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, and no other process of discovery is credible. The anti-vax movement has had several prominent leaders, whose followers flock to their speeches and events.

These include Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced former doctor who lost his medical license after it was revealed that he had committed fraud. His followers, though, either don’t know or ignore his fraudulent past, and regard him as a hero. He makes a living from his books, a movie, and speaking fees, all based on spreading fear about vaccines.

An even more prominent anti-vax leader is Robert Kennedy, Jr., who also sells books and gives speeches proclaiming the harms of vaccines. He is the Kennedy clan’s version of Eric Trump. Thanks to his famous name, and despite the fact that he has no medical or scientific training, some people believe him.

Misinformation abounds. The internet, both a blessing and a curse, has allowed devilish lies, propaganda and a discredited fraud masquerading as science to infect the minds of millions of people.

Unfortunately, there’s no vaccine that can inoculate someone against a counterfactual, unscientific mindset.

Vaccines can prevent dozens of harmful diseases. Those who refuse, and recklessly endanger others, should be put in quarantine.

There is a solution that maintains everybody’s freedom: Anti-vaxxers can opt out of society.

New Carleton Study Finds COVID—19 Conspiracies and …
https://newsroom.carleton.ca/2020/new-carleton-study-finds-covid-19-conspiracies-and-misinformation-spreading-online/
1 day ago

How Instagram’s anti-vaxxers fuel coronavirus conspiracy …
https://www.engadget.com/instagram-anti-vaxxers-coronavirus-conspiracy-theories-173021562.html
5 days ago

Exploring the Reasons Behind Parental Refusal of Vaccines
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4869767/

MEASLES OUTBREAK IN THE PACIFIC – SITUATION …
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4869767/
6 Jan 2020

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN March 21, 2019
Ethan Siegel is a theoretical astrophysicist and author of Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive.

Vaccine Myths Debunked | PublicHealth.org
https://www.publichealth.org/

134 COMMENTS

  1. Vaccines have protected us from many serious and contagious diseases. It took years, if not decades to develop them. I survived many childhood illnesses for which there are now effective vaccines. Nonetheless, humans do have immune systems that can handle many of them.

    Excessive immunization is known to compromise our immune systems and lead to the rising incidence of things like peanut allergies and asthma. We need to strike a balance. If this opinion is intended to prepare us for the mandatory immunization for the coronavirus, all I can say is you first. I won’t be a guinea pig. I will wait until I have reasonable assurances that the vaccine is is effective and safe.

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  2. The writer uses a typically bullying tactic to make thinking people seem like idiots or criminals. However, I would say the writer sounds almost like a spokesperson for the vaccine industry – and it is an industry. Further, I note he has used a standard tactic of discrediting Dr. Andrew Wakefield – but what he doesn’t say is that Dr. Wakefield has withstood a relentless attack by the pro-vaccine industry and an obedient medical profession and has been vindicated. I have now listened to several interviews with Dr. Wakefield and he is a smart, ethical researcher who simply said that the findings of some unusual symptoms noted in early studies with children who had been vaccinated needed to be more carefully investigated. He identified absence of sufficient clinical testing of the MMR vaccine. This is what researchers are supposed to do, otherwise they are not serving society. Judge for yourself instead of being told what to think – here’s a short interview with him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTh97pANTxc

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  3. Fluoride had been put into the water supply of many cities before residents petitioned to have it removed. It still may be present in some cities. This is common knowledge.
    When we go to the dentist, the last step is typically the fluoride where they put it in those foam mouthpieces, they tell you not to swallow it and even put a vacuum hose in to try make sure you don’t swallow any.
    Now why would our dentist tell us not to swallow fluoride? Because it’s a toxic substance linked to lower IQ and lower birth rates.
    Knowing this, why would our respective governments(municipal or otherwise) put this substance in the water supply? They claimed it was to protect our teeth, but it’s hard to have a glass of water without swallowing, so in essence, our governments were forcing us to swallow fluoride which our dentists directed us directly against.

    So if I can’t trust my government with something as simple as the basic city water supply, why would I trust them with something injected directly into my body?

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  4. A certain person B.G., vaccinated a population in India for polio, which resulted in horrifying counts and numbers of children with birth defects and deformities, and crippling effects on over 60% of the children vaccinated, so absolutely not taking any vaccine that was made in a hurry, without lots of testing, vaccine usually takes 4 to 5 years to create and test before it is actually approved

    • Is there credible proof to this? 60percent is a very high percentage. Considering the polio vaccine did wonders and saved many lives

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  5. hey all the ant-vaxers will die out anyway survival of the not idots and yes they may harm everyone around them in the short term but in the long run they won’t be making it that far

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  6. So, they say you can catch the virus again.. so please tell me how a vaccine would even work? And any Doctor or otherwise who compares not vaccinating to drunk driving shouldn’t have a licence to doctor!! What a bunch of garbage.. until doctors and big pharma start being liable for damages and deaths, you know what you can do with your vaccines!!!! And guess what else.. I know how to read an insert! Do you? 😉

  7. This is legit a personal opinion written by someone who works there it isnt news it’s pushing your beliefs on everyone else. And I bet i can counter set and disprove some of ur reference articles that u have here in ur sources lol

  8. I am absolutely not an antivaxxer, myself and my entire family are up to date on vaccines HOWEVER when they come out with a vaccine for Covid-19…….I will opt out of that one for the safety of my family, maybe my children’s kids (in 20 years or so) can get it when all of the long term effects have been ironed out……

  9. Are you kidding me, Sault On-line shaming individuals who for their own medical reasons may not be able to get the vaccine.
    I thought news was suppose to be impartial.
    And to boot there is no vaccine yet, maybe let’s give the facts when the vaccine is available, administered, and side effects.

  10. Eventually herd immunity runs out and everyone is at risk. If you don’t believe in vaccines take a walk in a cemetery and note the baby and childhood markers from past pandemics and childhood diseases. Thank your parents for having you vaccinated or you might not be here to exercise your right to endanger all of us.

  11. When I was 18 months old I almost got killed by my vaccinations I had a adverse reaction. Last year I visited (at my request) a doctor at the Sault Area Hospital to see if it would be okay to get vaccinated I was told I could but had the right not too. I spent the last few months of the summer in 2019 getting vaccinated for the first time since that fateful day in 1990. I get my flu shot each year. Back when the HPV shot came out for the first time I read in my local news paper several girls lost their limbs or are on dialysis for the rest of their life as a result. As such until the second or third public version of the Covid-19 vaccination is available I won’t be getting it.

  12. Well at least he didn’t blame President Trump for it…I was expecting to see that somewhere in this very disturbing article. Well I guess Sootoday has joined the low standards of the biased media!!!! I am an anti-vaxxer….so ask me this then …If people want to get the vaccine and do and some don’t…what’s the problem?? If they work then people that took the vaccine won’t get Covid19 RIGHT???So the problem is what exactly???

    • April, herd immunity and restrictions on who can be vaccinated.

      Many older adults, young babies, or immunocompromised people cannot take vaccines.

      So that leaves the rest of us.

      It’s like the restrictions we had on going out to slow the infection rate. People who stayed home would be the people that got the vaccine. Some people didn’t have a choice and still had to work (these would be the people that can’t get it).

      We slowed the curve enough that the governments and health centres could have time to adjust to learning how to treat it and make emergency plans. But that’s only because enough people chose to protect others.

      So we have to hope that enough people choose to get vaccinated to slow the spread and have the vaccine actually work.

      I don’t want to pass it on to my grandma, or my friends with cancer, or my niece. But some random they encounter might not have got the vaccine and spread it to them.

      Vaccines only work if we have enough people taking them, and that has to be the majority. 80% is a good mark on a test but does not cut it for herd immunity.

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    • April herd immunity also works naturally and with exposure we build our immune systems naturally, I am not discounting the many lives vaccines have saved but history has shown man makes mistakes and putting all your eggs in one basket is a very risky proposition. I am not anti vac I am vaccinated as are my children but I will always support someone’s right to choose.

    • Tom Greco, I get that!

      Natural immunity can work but requires people to have enough of the infection to cause a response. It also means they can be asymptomatic carriers that can infect others.

      I support others right to choose. But want people to know that we haven’t seen the consequences of many of these infections for a long time. I also respect people being worried about vaccines being pushed out before they’re ready.

      They will come back and kill a lot of people if enough people refuse vaccines.

    • Jennifer Anne I definitely respect your thoughts and opinions and I am pro-vax for the most part. I will throw this out there, the Meningococcal vaccine is a mandatory one as we know, administered when we are children, multiple immunizations of it. My brother passed away from this and my daughter is a survivor or it..both vaccinated at the correct ages. This vaccination did not save my brother, nor did it prevent my daughter from experiencing this horrible virus/bacteria.
      What makes me most nervous about this new vaccine, is the lack of time they have taken to develop it safely and effectively. Vaccines take many years to develop yet they have already begun trial runs on our very own military personnel. That’s scary, we cant rush these things. We shall see how this plays out, however, knowing the true result will take many years and I just hope that not too late.
      Stay well!

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    • Shari Dewar, for sure!! I’m sorry for your loss.

      I am also concerned about that, and will want to know more about how they brought it to the market before I make my decision.

      But there is a lot of misinformation out there that is fear mongering, which does no one any good.

  13. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

    Herd immunity only comes from most of the people pitching in and getting themselves vaccinated.

    People who choose not to get vaccines are riding on the coat tails of the herd.

    Pretty soon we are going to see more outbreaks of preventable infectious diseases cause some people don’t trust science 🤷🏻‍♀️

    • For starters, Sweden didn’t lock down, has no vaccine and are close to herd immunity.
      Second there is a very strong argument that modern plumbing did more to eradicate diseases than vaccines that came out very shortly after. The lack of modern plumbing in 3rd world countries could explain why certain diseases still remain even with vaccination regimes.
      Third, most cases of Polio in India are now a mutated form of the vaccine shedding. Not to mention all of the paralysis from the vaccine itself. India chased Gates’s regime out of the country because of this.
      There are also claims of Tanzanian government officials of vaccines sterilizing women there.

    • Ashley Rae-Anne Austere, I think it’s a pretty apt analogy.

      It’s someone making a choice to do something, at the cost of their own safety and the safety of others.

      It’s not for people who are staunchly against vaccines. It’s to provide information for those who don’t know what to think or are on the fence in their beliefs.

      • It suggests that if you don’t get the vaccine you don’t deserve to live in society. Quite insulting to both anti-vaxxers and those simply pro-choice.
        Second, it is a poor analogy. Anti-vaxxers truly believe they are saving themselves and loved ones from harm, whether they are right or not, they have good intentions. A drunk driver on the other hand has absolutely no good intentions. What they are doing is also illegal. It is still legal to refuse a vaccine.

      • Modern plumbing did more to eradicate diseases. They have vaccines in third world countries due to humanitarian efforts. Still lacking plumbing and still have those darn diseases.

        Not to mention Sweden didn’t lock down, nor does it have a vaccine but is close to herd immunity. 😉

    • Josie Weir do some research, there are many strains of the flu, the vaccine is made for the common ones and the ones that are predict to be big that season. So when you catch the flu its a different strain and if by some fluke it is the same strain you are not as sick or at risk if you did not get the vaccine

    • Josie Weir the article is redundant and stupid to equate drunk driving and a vaccination which is a coronavirus and there’s several different types of coronavirus has and yet there’s no vaccines for those Mark commented on the flu there’s different strains of the flu so and it takes years to develop a vaccine that they can prove is effective… I’m pretty sure my grandparents had one of those of those either smallpox and polio and the best comment here today is a gif….. when you can’t carry on an intelligent conversation they always go down to that I’m not too keen on putting formaldehyde Mercury human albumin which is too knows what that is Mommy say aborted fetal tissue so yummy to that and a whole slew of other things which is gelatin to and that’s your body doesn’t need those things they need to fight disease there’s no really proof other than the belief mind over matter of people believe it to be true and because if they needed it then everyone that I’ve got Corona disease would have died because there’s more people that fought it off than the ones that didn’t and they had underlying possibly health issues as to when and maybe it was just their time to go

    • Marnie Catherine you mentioned as the first ingredient formaldehyde. Do you know there is formaldehyde in many everyday products? Here’s just a couple for example white bread, cigarettes and clothing. Just an interesting fact!

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    • Valerie Kerry well personally know the bread I buy does not have it cuz I read the label second of all I don’t smoke and it’s not in fruits and vegetables so I’m pretty good with that as far as clothing I don’t know if it’s in all clothing but I don’t put in just my clothing into my body regardless formaldehyde is not healthy to put into anyone’s body you might have formaldehyde poisoning based on your ridiculous comment

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