I’ve always been impressed by the cognitive dissonance exhibited by many in the anti-vaccine community. But it wasn’t until this election cycle thatI comes to understand exactly what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. When I see Donald Trump, a sweat stain that just wont come off your favorite country, tell a lie and then almost immediately say that the lie he told was part of a conspiracy to discredit him. Antivaxxers do this all the time. They’ll say that vaccines cause autism, and then, when confronted with the evidence that vaccines do no such thing, antivaxxers will quickly yell at you and tell you that you’re part of a conspiracy to hide the truth. If the antivaxxer happens to be a parent, pointing out to them that they’re lying or misrepresenting the evidence quickly comes with an accusation that you’re making fun of their child or their situation, or that you’re not a parent and thus have nothing to say on the matter.
Now, this is the part where I tell you that I’m not making fun of anyone… At least not intentionally. I’m sure that parenting is difficult all on its own with a neurotypical and physically able child. So I’m sure that a child with special needs of any kind must be at least a little more difficult. Sadly, for some parents, it is intolerable to the point that they are convinced when people like Andrew Wakefield sell them the idea that killing their child is preferable to a life of challenges. Again, I am not making fun of you if you are an anti-vaccine parent. And, most importantly in this entire discussion, I am not making fun of your child.
A couple of days ago, antivaxxers decided to have a rally in front of CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. True to form, they brough on the conspiracy theories that the government is in cahoots with the pharmaceutical industry to, among other things, kill and maime children through vaccines. They made wild claims as well, like their claim that most children will be autistic in the near future from all the vaccines. (The scientific evidence points more and more to a consistent 1% to 3% rate of autism in the general population at all times.) They claimed that there is no such thing as Suddent Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) because it’s all about the vaccines. And, when random people walked by, they assailed those people with their stories of horror allegedly brought on by vaccines.
This is the video of one such interaction:
The man in the video is clearly just trying to cross the street but is assailed by this woman, a woman who calls her son “mentally retarded after his vaccines.” The man asks her to “go away” a couple of times, but she just keeps it up. She then goes as far as to take a picture of him — because that’s a normal thing to do in these situations, apparently — and he flips her off.
Well, that flipping off just drove the antivaxxers insane. They started complaining on social media and on their blogs that this guy needed to be found and made pay for flipping off this woman. They launched into conspiracy theories about him being a paid actor or someting
This is all par for the course for antivaxxers. They try to intimidate public health workers (or people whom they think are public health workers) and then claim to be victims if those they are intimidating respond in any way. They lie about conflicts of interest and other improprieties but then claim to be the victims if someone points out to them that they’re selling supplements and scams. Or they cry that they’re being censored when they themselves don’t allow any kind of comments contrary to their beliefs on their blogs.
Antivaxxers are, in my humble opinion, and it’s a good opinion… A lot of smart people are saying I have a good opinion. And, let me tell you, folks, my opinion is so good that your head will spin. My opinion… By the way, if you go ask for someone else’s opinion, their opinion will not be as good as mine, okay? I’m just saying. Because no one can give you an opinion like mine. And, when you’re not famous, they’ll let you grab them by their opinion any time. Anyway, my opinion is that antivaxxers — who are horrible people — antivaxxers are just like Trump. If they don’t lie, they bend the truth. If they don’t bend the truth, they make something up. And if they don’t make something up, they claim it’s all a conspiracy.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
About History of Vaccines: I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Please read the About page on the site for more information.
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