Wednesday, 17 January 2018

24hrs on an Anti-Vaccine Facebook page

NSB recently spent 24hrs on an anti-vaccine website and was saddened by what was being posted there - some examples later but first wanted to mention three lessons that NSB learnt:

i) Parents (overwhelmingly mothers) who visit these anti-vaxx facebook pages do not really stand a chance. The fear, uncertainty and doubt that is sown in parents minds by these sites is relentless.

ii) It is MUCH harder for parents to find the authoritiative data on vaccince effects than it is to find the anti-vaccine memes, websites and Facebook pages. Google is actively presenting fake and misleading data over accurate and authoritative data.

iii) Authoritative health sources are simply failing to provide counter information to that on anti-vaccine sites.

All of the posts below are from one single anti-vaccine Facebook page (and it's public sister page) and they are not the result of scrolling through the pages timeline, they are simply a small subset of what was posted over a 24hr period.

Worried parent asks for positives and negatives re vaccination. Gets told "Vaccinations do not work. They do not work at all"
In fact, vaccines clearly and very significantly reduce disease incidence.(link)


Worried mum to be asks for advice regarding HPV. Gets told that "lemon balm" gets rid of HPV.
In fact, so far as NSB can tell, there is no evidence that lemon balm eliminates HPV.



Poster treated unvaccinated childs whooping cough (pertussis)with "oatmeal baths, homeopathic remedies and herbs". Note also misleading claim that the vaccine increases the likelihood of getting pertussis. We will come to this later.

In fact, whooping cough is horrific. The coughing, which lasts several weeks, is so severe the child's ribs can be broken.Tens of thousands of children die from whooping cough around the world every year."Oatmeal baths" are unlikely to cure the symptoms.



A poster claims that Vitamin C can treat Whooping Cough.

In fact, and in contrast to the repeated claims in the posted link, the pertussis vaccine is, very effective. And even the article itself only claims (without evidence) to reduce the severity of the coughing, adding that Vitamin C "does not prevent or stop the disease".
Even the link itself admits that Vitamin C will not reduce the length of the infection, and it presents not the slightest data in support of the claim that Vitamin C is helpful.


Poster provides link saying that "People say measles is a deadly disease, but it's not"

In fact, the World Health Organisation comments that "In 2016, there were 89 780 measles deaths globally – marking the first year measles deaths have fallen below 100 000 per year. Measles vaccination resulted in a 84% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2016 worldwide.


Really struggle to understand the worldview of someone who has just seen doctors save their premature childs life through state of the art NTU care - and then call the exact same doctors "monsters" because they want to vaccinate the exact same child against diseases.


Again, apparently no problem with doctors providing life saving kidney transplant surgery (and the subsequent lifelong anti-rejection drugs) but refuse to believe the same doctors when it comes to vaccination. Bizarre.


Poster asked for advice for elderly relative regarding pneumococcal vaccine. Gets told flu shot is "killing elderly people at an alarming rate."

In fact, the NHS specifically states "You can't catch flu from the flu jab".Thousands die from the flu in the UK every year. The elderly are at particular risk.



Apparently, there is a whole story (without links or references) showing how polio is caused by metal poisoning.

In fact, the history of polio is very interesting, but not at all like the post claims.


Similarly, this post implies that smallpox occurs independently of vaccination level

In fact, smallpox is a horrific condition, to the extent that NSB thinks it would be too disturbing to post an image of what it does to a person. Worldwide eradication of smallpox is one of medical sciences greatest achievements. The events in the posted timeline appear to be drawn from multiple continents and, in some cases, simply made up.


Many posts like this one that talk about "shedding", where allegedly, vaccinated adults and children "shed" viruses to infect those around them. A number of posts suggest that the only reason we have some viruses is that they are "shed" from vaccinated people. There is no evidence for "shedding".


Poster willfully ignores dangers of a number of viruses.
The reality? Viruses are dangerous



This poster chooses to omit the fact that if children with rubella pass it on to a pregant woman in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects in unborn babies.



See also this post.


Another recurring theme:
Vaccinated children who get ill - any type of ill - are "vaccine injured".
Unvaccinated children who get ill are "strengthening their immune system".



It's not really surprising worried parents are getting biased information on this page - it's against the rules to post pro-vaccine information.




Oh yes, meant to talk about that whooping cough (pertussis) data!

Firstly, here is a link to the page, and it does indeed show many more vaccinated children getting pertussis (2950 cases) than non vaccinated children getting the disease (556 cases)

So slam dunk, yes? Vaccination increases the risk of getting pertussis?

Well, not really. And to explain why, let's step back and take a hypothetical example...

Imaging there is a population of 1000 unvaccinated children and 1000 vaccinated children and that 1 in 10 get pertussis, say.

And let us presume that the vaccine is useless. It does nothing. Neither makes the child more nor less likely to get pertussis.

So what would we expect - we would expect 100 unvaccinated children to get pertussis and 100 vaccinated children to get pertussis.

And we can see that, as expected, it doesn't make any difference if you are vaccinated or not.

Now, and this is the important bit, let us imagine that only 60 children are unvaccinated and 2940 children are vaccinated (97%, about the level of pertussis vaccination in the general population)

Again assuming that the vaccination does not do anything, and that 1 in 10 children get pertussis, how many cases will be see?

Well, it will be 6 from the unvaccinated group and 294 from the vaccinated group.

OMG! Does this mean that vaccination increases the liklihood of getting pertussis?

As I am sure you can see, dear reader, no it does not. The high number of vaccinated cases is simply due to the fact that most of the population is vaccinated.

A couple of links:
https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/toxic-myths-about-vaccines
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/straight-talk-about-vaccination
https://medium.com/@visualvaccines/why-dr-suzanne-humphries-an-anti-vaccine-activist-is-lying-to-you-about-measles-ce446d0a7e0f

Update May 2018
Fascinating stories of the three women who developed the whooping cough vaccine. : Grace Eldering, Loney Gorden, Pearl Kendrick.

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