Blowing the whistle on anti-vax false claims – Part 2

Well, hello again! So glad to see you back. Today we are continuing to tackle the misleading information that is seen on the signs in the photo above. Because of the volume of nonsense seen in this photo, I’ve had to split this blogpost into several different parts. Welcome to Part 2 of “Blowing the whistle on anti-vax false claims”. Let’s get to it!

1. Pharma profits should not outweigh individual rights
This statement actually contains two claims. The first suggests that vaccines are produced purely to line the pockets of Big Pharma. The second speaks to “individual rights”. It suggests that universal vaccination efforts and legislation mandating vaccines for school entry take away parental rights to control healthcare interventions for their child. Let’s address these in turn.

A. Vaccinations are pushed on families to make money for pharmaceutical companies.

• Are pharmaceutical companies trying to make money? Sure! What company isn’t trying to make money? If they didn’t make money, they wouldn’t stay in business. And we would not have the vaccines and other drugs that we use every day to preserve health and protect life.
• It is VERY expensive to make vaccinations. It takes years of research and testing. Production of a vaccines runs in the billion dollar range and profit margins on this sort of medical intervention are much lower (around 3%) than they are for drugs used to treat disease. So, are drug companies getting rich off of vaccines? No. Now, drugs are another story. Don’t get me started on Insulin and Epipens.
• The fact that vaccine manufacturers make a small profit from their vaccines has NOTHING to do with why we recommend vaccines. Vaccines are developed to try to rid the world of deadly diseases. Pharmaceutical companies are just a means to a very important end.

B. Individual rights and “health freedom” are being stripped from parents.

• First off, no one is tying anyone down and administering vaccines to patients against their will. We are not tackling them before they can get out the door or shooting them with vaccine arrows from afar. There is always a choice. But get ready adults – this is something we teach our kids every day. Choices have consequences.
• Vaccines are recommended for personal health and required for the greater good. To protect those who can’t be vaccinated and to preserve the health of our communities, many vaccines are required for school entry. If you choose to participate in the community (ie, attend school), you have a duty not to harm those you come into contact with. And if you can’t make that decision for yourself, sometimes the states have to step in and make that decision for you. But still, you always have the choice to keep your kids out of school. The consequence for you is that you are now in charge of educating your own children. The consequence for your child is that their health is at risk and they are deprived of socialization and interaction with their peers. But, hey. You always have a choice!
• And I would argue that we also need to look at how our choices affect others’ rights. What about the rights of those that can’t be vaccinated or those that would see serious harm from vaccine-preventable disease (our patients on chemotherapy, for example). Is it fair that they should they have to live in constant fear of contracting an illness that could kill them if they go out into the world? Or do they not matter? Is it only all about us and no one else?

Child with cancer

Adapted from

2. Vaccine ingredients cause cancer and autoimmune diseases
OMG. It seems that some blame vaccines for anything and everything that has no easy explanation (the rise of cancers, suicides, autism, etc.). While it would be lovely if life were black and white and we could point the finger at one easily modifiable behavior as the cause of all ills, this isn’t reality. Reality is messy and confusing.

A. Could it be that we are living longer? Perhaps it’s the chemicals and hormones in our food? Maybe it’s the plastics that we have become so accustomed to using? Could it be our sodas and alcohol and cigarettes? Or maybe it’s our lack of adequate sleep and exercise, steady weight gain, and stress in our world? Certainly none of this could play a role. That would mean that our actions are to blame. That would require us to change our behaviors. Certainly it must be some force outside of us that is causing all disease. I know! Vaccines!

B. Study after study after study, involving millions of study participants, have shown NO role of vaccines in the increase in cancers or autoimmune disease. Here. Look here.

C. People with autoimmune diseases and cancers, many of whom are on immune suppressants or chemotherapy to control their disease, are some of the most at risk people for serious/life-threatening complications from vaccine-preventable diseases. We should absolutely be vaccinating these folks!

D. What does cause a lot of cancer in our community? Two very preventable viral illnesses, HPV and Hepatitis B. We have cancer-prevention vaccines, people. Isn’t that awesome? We can keep our girls from suffering and dying from cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers; our boys from penile cancers; and both from mouth and throat cancers and anal/rectal cancers. How do we do this? We keep them from getting an HPV infection in the first place by giving them a vaccine against the illness. And how do we keep people from developing liver failure and liver cancer from Hepatitis B? We give them a Hepatitis B vaccine to prevent infection from ever occurring!

E. What causes some of our autoimmune diseases? We theorize that viral infections can trigger things like Type 1 Diabetes, thyroid disease and others. And we have vaccines to prevent some of the the most dangerous viral illness out there!

F. Vaccines DO NOT cause cancer and autoimmune diseases. But they just may help prevent them!

3. Vaccine makers exempt from liability
Again with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP)? As we learned before, the government set up this program to take the weight of potential litigation off the shoulders of vaccine manufacturers so they would continue to make life-saving vaccines. Now our government, through the NVICP, handles litigation and compensation for patients harmed by the very rare, but very real, risks of vaccination.

Does this mean that vaccine manufacturers have a free pass from oversight and consequence? That they don’t have to concern themselves with things like safety and quality? No!

A. If a vaccine manufacturer is clearly negligent in providing quality or acts in a way that risks safety of the masses, they are still liable in the traditional court system. This most often pertains to larger-scale safety and quality concerns. This does not pertain to an individual’s claim of harm for a known vaccine associated adverse reaction (which is adjudicated through the NVICP).

B. However, if a claim of individual harm is brought before the vaccine court and is dismissed or denied, suit can still be brought in State or Federal court. Individuals are not without recourse through the traditional court system.

4. Vaccines are not placebo safety tested
You’ll also see this in other forms like, “Vaccines are not tested using double-blinded placebo-controlled trials”. To answer this concern, and in an effort to save time, I’m just going to cut and paste from a section of my book, Let’s Talk Vaccines: A Clinician’s Guide to Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy and Saving Lives.

Get ready. Unabashed sales pitch coming your way…. You should read my book. It is full of awesome information like that which you will be reading below!

A. To address this concern, we have to get into a discussion of ethics in research. Use of a placebo-controlled trial is acceptable when there is no safe or effective vaccine against a particular disease already in existence. Novel vaccines (for example, Shingrix) are, indeed, tested this way. So, this claim is A. Not true and B. Not true.

Infographic by yours truly

B. If we do have a vaccine in use that has been shown to safely decrease illness, however, then it is unethical to place children into an arm of a trial that purposefully puts them at risk (by denying access to the effective vaccine) of acquiring a vaccine-preventable illness.

C. The double-blinded aspect of a trial also merits discussion. This means that neither the researcher nor the subject know in which arm (test or placebo) the child is enrolled. This is necessary to prevent bias from impacting study results. In response to concerns over the ethics of a placebo-controlled trial, anti-vaccine parents will offer to enroll their children in the placebo arm of research trials. However, this renders the blinding of the study null and void and has the potential to introduce bias, which would then call the study results into question.

Well, there you have it! Don’t forget to show up for the 3rd and final installment of “Blowing the whistle on anti-vax false claims”. Until next time…

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