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ImmuniLies, or: Get your vax on!

Hot on the heels of his excellent effort Immunize, ZDoggMD is back for a followup. Unfortunately, his partner in crime, Dr. Chase McCallister, billionnaire hemorrhoid surgeon, whose woo-fighting alter-ego is Doc Quixote, screwed up. Wandering into the University of Google, he came up with a rap that would do Mike Adams proud:

More reason than ever to get your vax on!

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

22 replies on “ImmuniLies, or: Get your vax on!”

Unfortunately, there are so many kids these days with chronic health/developmental problems and so many “uber important, mandatory vaccines” that parents are starting to question it all. Any of these efforts simply drive parents to research more and use their own God given common sense.

Do you have evidence that “chronic health/developmental problems” and vaccines are connected? And don’t go with correlation, both also positively correlate with the price of vodka.

@Jen: it’s a shame you are so young and lived in a sheltered environment. I don’t see any more kids with chronic health/developmental problems than when I was a child, or when my children were young. What I DO see is that the kids who were tucked away in “special classrooms” are now mainstreamed, and kids who couldn’t leave the house now can with the help of medications/equipment that didn’t exist 30-40 years ago. I don’t think you can point out ONE issue that didn’t exist when I was young.

However, I CAN point out a lot of things that don’t exist now in the US/Canada in normal circumstances – smallpox, polio, measles decimating classrooms for weeks…my mother nearly flunked a grade because she had measles and mumps in the same year. However, since 90% of her classmates also had them, they just passed the whole class anyway and let them catch up the next year. I can recall going into a normal classroom of 30 children and seeing only 10 there because the rest of the class was out with chicken pox. And you think this is a GOOD thing?

Unfortunately, there are so many kids these days with chronic health/developmental problems and so many “uber important, mandatory vaccines” video games that parents who don’t know better are starting to question it all, while those who are responsible actually trust the doctors. Any of these efforts to save lives and prevent outbreaks simply drive parents to research look up stuff on Google or read echo-chamber blogs like Age of Autism more and use their own God given common sense of paranoia to endanger the lives of their children and their communiy.

There, Jen. I fixed it for you.

Excellent Poe, Jen. If you had replaced “common sense” with “Mommy sense” it would probably have made it too obvious. I applaud your choice of words in order to hide your true intentions.

“What I DO see is that the kids who were tucked away in “special classrooms” are now mainstreamed, and kids who couldn’t leave the house now can with the help of medications/equipment that didn’t exist 30-40 years ago. ”

This. So much of antivax propaganda reads like nostalgia for good old days when disabled children were hidden away from “decent folks” and I say to hell with it. Our children are here, and we’re not going to hide them from sensitive souls, nor allow them to be used as props for anti-health advocates.

Oh yeah, “common sense”. Even rarer than “common courtesy”.

Question – who would like to fly in a plane built by someone using common sense?

My mother-in-law and her mother both used to work at a state school. This doesn’t mean a university run with state funding. People today probably won’t realize what “state school” was really a euphemism for. The state schools were (and in some places still are) institutions where the disabled could be warehoused, since mainstream society couldn’t handle them and didn’t really want to. The autistics, kids with cerebral palsy, kids who’d been crippled (by disease or physical trauma), kids with serious birth defects, etc. And this wasn’t just a sort of boarding school for special ed kids. Once you went into one of these places, odds are you were there for life, and the idea wasn’t to educate you but simply to feed you and clothe you and bathe you until you finally kicked the bucket. It sounds better than “asylum”, but hey, even “asylum” wasn’t originally meant as a bad word. It literally means “refuge”. Sounds like a nice place to send your disabled kid, right? Keep them safe from the world that can’t cope with them? Or perhaps the other way around.

Of course, not all of them wound up institutionalized. Some wound up homeless; some wound up jailed; some wound up dead; some would be kept at home by the family but always indoors since it wasn’t done to bring them out in public. One older member of my family (a wonderful man otherwise, but once in a while displaying some very old-fashioned prejudices) did not want to be seen in public with my disabled baby brother.

People indeed didn’t see the disabled fifty years ago, or a century ago. That’s because the disabled were tucked away where they wouldn’t disturb anyone’s peace, not because they didn’t exist (as much as society tried to pretend otherwise). Also, because the disabled didn’t tend to live as long (partly because of advances in medicine not available then, but also because of widespread neglect of them).

@ Jen: Calli provided you with some real information about the care provided to children and adults with developmental disabilities.

Actually I have been in institutions which provided care for mentally and physically impaired children and adults. The “State School” label has been changed now to “Developmental Center”, but they are still human warehouses where human beings are stashed so as not to offend anyone or scare little kids.

Jen, if you go to the You Tube site, try to view “Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace”…I think it would be a learning experience for you.

Do any of you remember reading the book “Karen” by Marie Killalea? Recall that physicians of that time recommended that Karen be put in a state school as Calli mentioned, and IIRC one physician suggested that they do like they do in China and abandon the child. That was back in the 1940s. Children with disabilities were hidden from view. Remember Kathleen Kennedy?

Autism, CP, mental retardation, health issues have always been with us. It is just that society is learning to live with them rather than hide them.

That’s one of my wife’s favorite books – when the family took their daughter on a trip to visit relatives, a motel threw them out (!) because Karen was disabled.

@ triskelethecat- Dawn, I recall my mother making an appointment for me to get the brand new measles vax – I never went *because I got the measles* first- the next few weeks were a blur. Ah, the good old days!

It’s hard to comprehend the invective aimed at vaccines and their supporters- esp. our doctors and _nurses_ here @ RI. You ( actually *we*) want to prevent needless *suffering* in children ( and others). I want to understand *why* we are such objects of hatred in certain circles ( we haven’t horns, you know):

Illness involves a loss of personal control to a somewhat random invisible cause; our natural health aficionados maintain that *if* only we ate correctly and “lived right”, there would be no need of vax : we’d never get ill (Ah, omnipotence and omniscience!) Vaccines ( and their supporters) are troublesome reminders that not all of life in under personal control.

Blaming autism on vax is another protective mechanism by aggrieved parents to deal ( unrealistically) with what can be a very difficult life situation that is long-term, isolating, seen as stigmatising, and may have a bleak prognosis: it’s a way to avoid more suffering. External causes are easier to live with- suddenly, the fault lies in the product, a company,or the “establishment” who *misled* the blameless parent into “buying the vaccine myth”- not genetics, a multi-factorial cause, or simply randomness. Understanding probability is notoriously problematic for most people ( see subjective probablity).

If fear and emotional face-saving are behind the “reasons to believe”, you can be sure that the unscrupulous can find ways to bank on them. They divert anger towards *us* that should more appropriately be directed at *them*- and their business ventures, based on fear. They will never tell you that, I will.


Unfortunately, there are so many kids these days with chronic health/developmental problems and so many “uber important, mandatory vaccines” that parents are starting to question it all. Any of these efforts simply drive parents to research more and use their own God given common sense.

Question: is the evidence supporting the causality between vaccines and “chronic health/developmental problems” as compelling as the evidence you admitted did not exist for vaccines and Alzheimer? Eventually you will have to realize that what you believe is not based on evidence but rather on wishful thinking. When you can admit this then, maybe, you will be able to honestly and intellectually analyze the evidence. Until then I suppose you will simply continue reading your antivax sites and accepting everything they say as gospel. Sad.

Overall, I thought it was a funny video. Humorous and it gets the point across.

Actually, I once worked at a state developmental facility, where I worked with residents who were both on the high end and low end of the MR/DD scale.

Either way, it was hard work, with a lot of the high end residents being relatively intelligent but having behavioral problems, which could be very difficult, and the low end residents, who had to be constantly cared for.

I can see your point, it seemed that in the past, developmental centers/state schools were nothing more than warehouses to store humans that were considered deficient away from normal society.

But at the place I worked, at least, it seemed that it was a bit better than the stereotype.

@ novalox: I only provided the You Tube Willowbrook site to Jen, because in her naivete she maintains that more kids are being diagnosed with developmental disorders, ASD, cerebral palsy and seizure disorders…that she sees and hears of. Institutions/State Schools/Developmental Centers kept these children out of sight…out of mind.

I met some life long friends while doing advocacy on behalf of handicapped children and adults, some in the private sector and many in the local and state offices and buildings of developmental centers. Their positions were not just jobs for them, it was their advocacy to improve conditions in the centers and to provide residential homes in community-based settings…some call it “normalization”, I call it compassion.


I understand why you posted the video, and why you mentioned it to jen.

When I underwent training at the center, one of the videos that they showed to me and the other hires was the history of the facility. One of the things that stood out for me in that video was that any person who wasn’t considered “normal” by society’s standards at that time (1880s) was placed into the facility, which included people who were considered by our standards today to be autistic, based upon the records that were preserved.

So, yes, people who were considered autistic at that time could have been sent to state schools/developmental centers where they could have been kept “out of sight, out of mind”.

And yes, I also met some friends at the job who were really dedicated to helping out the residents at the facility.

@Denice Walter: actually, I DO have horns, I just keep them filed down and hidden under my hair. But jen seems to have figured out my secret (lol).

I don’t remember having the measles. I was about 4 or so, my mom says. I DO remember chicken pox. I brought it home from kindergarden, and gave it to my older brother and newborn sister. My mother was NOT pleased.

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