Antivaccine nonsense Medicine

Perhaps this line of work is not for you…

Over the long weekend, I came across a bunch of things that in normal times I would have blogged about, but because I was trying to chill, work a little on the yard, and also work a bit on grants, I intentionally took Monday off of blogging. As I get back into the swing of things, work-wise, blogging-wise, and otherwise, I thought it would be a good thing to make sure not to miss at least one thing I saw that doesn’t require a fill Orac-length discussion but should be pointed out nonetheless. It’s a little blurb that appeared on the antivaccine website complaining about vaccination requirements in the health care industry. In this case, someone named Jon opines:

I am entering the health field and start a respiratory therapy program this fall. I am 50 years old and a displaced worker from the heavy highway construction industry, was homeless for several months until a kind lady took me in and is feeding and housing me. I have lived a healthy life style since the age of 15 and am living off my unemployment and grants to attend school. I am being forced to get vaccinations in order to attend my clinicals. I talked to the vice president of the college, [redacted] and he said it is the hospitals policy and that he has nothing to do with that policy, even though he is a pro-vaccine advocate as I found out during my discussion with him. I haven’t had a vaccine since I was in my teens (except for tetanus shot due to work related injuries) and I am scared to death of the physical consequences that may occur soon after or years later. I presented him with factual and accurate data that shows the tuth about vaccines and he would not take a look at them. I also told him I do not want these chemicals, toxins and heavy metals in my body. I know if something negative should occur that I have no recourse and could not prove the damage they caused because of the immunity granted by our government to the pharmaceuticals.

Why am I being forced to put dangerous chemicals in my body in order to get and education so I can be a productive, contributing citizen? I am of average intelligence and have worked hard to earn my 4.00 average and I AM SCARED OUT OF MY MIND!!! I am Alone and have very little income. Is there something you can do to help me?

I’ll help John out by suggesting that he do one thing: Get out. I mean it. Quit your training program and find some other line of work. If you can get a 4.0 average in a respiratory therapy program, you can do it in something else. You’ll be doing yourself and any potential patients with whom you come in contact a favor. First off, you won’t be putting yourself in danger of vaccine-preventable diseases like hepatitis B that you can acquire working in the hospital. Secondly, you won’t be endangering your patients. Also, more and hospitals are requiring specific vaccinations of all their employees who come in contact with patients, and this is a good thing. Being a health care worker is different than working in other industries, because we as health care providers have a moral obligation to protect our patients however we can. This is the sort of obligation that workers in other industries do not have, and workers in other most other industries do not routinely come into contact with people as vulnerable as many patients are. As a respiratory therapist, you would be taking care of immunosuppressed patients who could die if they caught the flu, for example, from you. If for whatever reason you can’t or won’t do the responsible thing, do everyone a favor and get out while you still can.

I realize that Jon is down and out and trying to rebuild his life after economic dislocation. I have nothing but sympathy for people in such a situation and wish them success in pulling themselves out of the holes they find themselves in. However, I have more sympathy for patients who might come into contact with him. He does not belong in health care, any more than anyone who refuses to get a TB test every year belongs in health care or pharmacists who refuse to dispense legal medications such as birth control pills or morning-after pills belong in the health care industry. In the health care industry, the patient, not the provider, comes first, and clearly Jon isn’t willing to put the patient first. Worse, he lets fantastical fears keep him from doing what is reasonable and right. I also fear letting anyone work in a hospital whose critical thinking skills are so poor that he really believes all the misinformation he parrots about vaccines. There are already too many such people in health care now, some of whom are even doctors and nurses. We don’t need any more.

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]

60 replies on “Perhaps this line of work is not for you…”

I don’t get why so many anti-vaccine people want to work in hospitals, or why anti-contraception people want to work in drug stores.

If you don’t like what they do, why work there? I’ve never heard a vegetarian complain that at his job at the butcher’s, they expect him to handle dead animals.

I see a business opportunity, although a very cynical one. Health care facilities staffed totally by untested, unvaxed providers. You could market heavily to a segment of the population that is wealthy and stupid. Doesn’t get any better than that.

Well, it does get better than that but even stupid people have the right to quality healthcare.

I can see some ads now:

Don’t like vaccines? We have lots of antibiotics, bedpans and organic food. (At least the guy who delivers it said it was organic. We are a bit gullible though and so are you.) Come spend a delightful few weeks with us while you get over chicken pox or whooping cough. Having dozens of crying and gasping kids will make your problems seem less important.

Our doctors have been to India to study the latest eastern, tantric TB remediation methods. They might be infected (we have no idea) but that just means more patients to study! Join in the fun.

Sorry, back to work.

I would second the recommendation that the fellow find a different field. He’s not willing to protect his patients from himself, then he shouldn’t be helping patients, especially ones with respiratory issues!

It was rather sad, reading some of the comments, like the one from the woman that was surprised that she got pertussis in 2004 after having had it when she was young. Apparently she’s of the “natural infection always grants lifelong immunity” school of erroneous belief.

What’s even more mind-boggling is that he has chosen a field where he believes that all of his teachers are just spewing lies.

It almost seems like a poe, but sadly I think the guy really does lack the common sense necessary to realize that he should be pursuing some other non-health-related field.

I can’t get my head around the fact that this guy has chosen to retrain in a health field yet believes that his employer would force him to do something allegedly dangerous to his health before proceeding. I agree, he should choose another line of work.

@Todd W – we had the same thought at around the same time… OMG!! quantum energy hive mind!! IT’S FOR REAL!

“I AM SCARED OUT OF MY MIND!!! I am Alone and have very little income.”

Sounds like an anxiety disorder to me, not so much cognitive failure. If it weren’t fear of vaccines it would be fear of something else, like pneumonia or hand sanitizer, or the government coming to take away his guns and children.

He’s got harder work to do than most of us to just get by and he’s putting what he has into his 4.0 GPA. When you’re clinging to a cliff face by your fingernails (as I have been) you feel very vulnerable. There’s not much left over. Someone deciding that they need to inject you with something can be too much to accept, even when the rest of us (on more or less level ground) happily accept vaccines as something we get to care for ourselves and other people.

Dear Jon. it’s not me, it’s you. I just can’t go on anymore. You’ve gone astray from me, Jon, and we have to come to the parting of the ways. I’m sure it’s for the best if we make it a clean break. I’m sorry, Jon. If you want to come back to me, perhaps we can give it a fresh start.

Assuming it’s not a poe, maybe trying the “it’s not for you, it’s for your patient” angle might actually help. He says he got a tetanus shot, so he seems to believe the vaccines work. And it’s not like he’s in danger of developing late onset autism, or will be forced into taking gardasil.

But Orac, brave mavericks like Jon are merely trying to reform the pharmatocratic sick care industry from within by illustrating their naturally enhanced total immunity!

– ducks to avoid multiple projectiles aimed in her general direction-

This reminds me of a passage in the book Games People Play. The author referred to people whose profession was to remain out of work, while continuing to subsist on public charity. One strategy was to apply for jobs that were totally unsuitable for the applicant. Then, in the face of the inevitable rejections, there was a history of job applications which could be presented to the authorities.

I don’t know if this is a satire which is so over the top that it cannot be distinguished from true craziness (what people here call a Poe), but if not, this is a person who seems determined to fail. We can speculate about motives, intelligence, work history, and emotional state, but the idea that an anti-vax, pro-naturopathic person would try to infiltrate the house of the enemy (ie: a hospital) suggests a strong trait of perversity. I’ve seen this attitude in a few of my associates — there is an underlying need to prove their superiority by shocking the rest of us with their statements and actions.

You better duck Denice!

This bozo, knew when he enrolled in a respiratory therapy program that complete immunizations were a requirement, prior to clinical rotations. If he drops out…will he get additional government grants to pay for tuition in another (more *suitable-for-him*) program?

I *know* another student who is a student at GWU, who has the same opinions as Jon.

I’m betting that next he trains for an IT position, then ‘discovers’ that he has an electrosensitivity disease and can’t work with electronics.

He clearly has not thought it through. If so terrified of the very minor risk of getting vaccination, how will he deal with the risk of dealing with patients who might have a contagious disease?

From Herr Doktor’s link:

“”The mistake I made was not anything to do with the skills or knowledge, it was caring too much,” she told the commission. ”

Oh good christ.

@HDB – omg, that’s horrible! At least surgery was able to allow her to live long enough to spend the little time she had left with her family with a reasonable quality of life.

”The mistake I made was not anything to do with the skills or knowledge, it was caring too much,” she told the commission. ”

Have you seen the road to Hell?

@HDB It’s actually even worse. The iridologist DID recognise it was cancer. And then she failed to tell the patient she thought that and failed to help her get treatment.

The only good thing to come of it has been the media coverage, it made the front page here with big pictures and ‘Natural Treatment Fails’ headlines.

So the iridologist is claiming now to be competent but actively evil, rather than just incompetent?

Competent might be pushing it. But she has admitted she thought the lesion looked cancerous, but did not tell the patient that or encourage her to seek proper treatment. She has also admited she knew her ‘treatments’ couldn’t cure cancer.

Good lord. He wants to be a respiratory therapist, but puts his own tenuous fears of unknown risks of vaccination ahead of his patients??? He obviously has no idea why vaccination is required in his field, nor does he care. Orac is right; he needs to leave the field immediately, as he is clearly not suited.

There are people I know who are unemployed. Some were laid off, and have not yet found the perfect job yet; they’ve got financial margin and are taking their time as long as they have the opportunity to do so. Others are, frankly, holding out. There is only one job they want to do, and since they haven’t been able to land that job, obviously the world hates them and it’s not their fault they’re unemployed. I hate to say it, but this guy looks like the latter. And although I usually don’t like to speculate about ulterior motives, if he were this one person I know, I’d totally believe it to be an act. This person I know will find any excuse to remain dependent on other people. This person (not John: obviously I don’t know John) always has an excuse for why they can’t get a job right now, why they can’t go places, why they can’t drive themselves places, why they need to mooch for room and board. The employers are ageists. They’re overqualified for other jobs. They don’t want to work there, because they’ve heard BAD THINGS about someplace else in the same (very large) industry. They can’t leave the house, because they’re responsible for and it’s totally too much to expect. Never mind they asked to take care of . Here’s a guy who really should have known a lot sooner that a *respiratory therapist* (i.e. somebody who works with freaking *asthmatics*) would be required to get vaccinated. Yes, you have to be vaccinated against pertussis, measles, and influenza, because these things could KILL your patients. If you don’t like it, tough. Your employment is not more important than other people’s lives.

The dangers to the respiratory therapist are certainly not hypothetical. One RT in California recently contracted meningitis from a patient.

That is terrible! (a link would have been handy).

Can you imagine if a patient caught pertussis from the respiratory therapist? Several years ago a nurse in a maternity ward was found to have pertussis. Needless to say, there was much scrambling to keep down the number of infections.

@herr doktor b – wow. Just. Wow. ~shakes head~

You do have to wonder – it could be the guy figured he could pull a “that’s against my rights” speech when it came time to clinicals and a job later. He might have been that naive (I tend to try to believe people are unintentionally put into theses situations if I can). Many people, when unemployed, are counseled to retrain in medical fields because it is supposed to grow so much in coming years.

That being said, the job is obviously not a good fit. At this point he should evaluate his credits and look for a major they will transfer to that will not require vaccination.

I’ve got the case that Ivan Ilyich referred to:

I’m glad that the hospital was fined…they failed miserably to protect the respiratory therapist, the police officer and potentially other staff who came in contact with the patient’s oral secretions, while treating the patient.

Hospital staff, ambulance crew, the policeman and the patient’s household members should have been notified immediately about a high suspicion for bacterial meningitis, and provided with antibiotic prophylaxis.

herr doktor bimler,

I wrote a post about that case about 1.5 years ago (and popped up a quick heads-up post a few days ago about the HDC’s report). One thing that was new to me was that the practitioner claimed (now…) that she recognised it as cancer from the onset – but didn’t insist the patient be referred on, instead ‘accommodated the patient’s wishes’. It’s an extraordinary, and sickening, case alright.

@Grant – that story is appalling, just appalling. Is that quack still treating people? I suspect the thing she “cared too much” about in this case was losing the income she was getting from stringing that poor woman along for 18 months.

Yikes – from that New Zealand story:

A pharmacist questioned the amount of painkillers she was taking and suggested she see a doctor.
But she was warned against this by Mrs Nelson, who told her “it wasn’t cancer and they probably wouldn’t treat it now” and that she would “get a bug or swine flu” if she went to hospital.

Why hasn’t this “therapist” been tried for manslaughter?


“Why hasn’t this “therapist” been tried for manslaughter?”

A local doctor who has examined ‘alternative’ remedies (he has a book out) said pretty much the same.

I’ll be putting up a video of the radio interview where he’s said he makes this point (that she ought to be up for manslaughter) once it’s available.

According to the report:

“The Director of Proceedings decided to issue an HRRT [Human Rights Review Tribunal] proceeding, which is pending.”

I’d like to think he’d recommend it be presented to the Courts.

Lame self-promotion – more here:

@Edith Prickly,

You wrote: “Is that quack still treating people?”

It’s a good question and I’ve no idea. I’ve had a quick look to see if she has a website, but haven’t located it. (I’m a bit short on time to do a full search.)

“I suspect the thing she “cared too much” about in this case was losing the income she was getting from stringing that poor woman along for 18 months.”

– from memory she said in the report that she doesn’t take money from cancer patients [note how that has her admitting there might be other cancer patients she’s treated…] and that she didn’t charge this patient.

Either way there is certainly a difference between acting in the patient’s best interests, as opposed to accommodating their wishes. (The latter in this case may have an element of the practitioner ‘recommending’ things, then acting on what the patient asks back; seeing the practitioner’s own wishes, as it were.)

“In the health care industry, the patient, not the provider, comes first”

That needs to be chiseled in stone and displayed in neon lights at the entrance to every health care educational facility in the country. It’s sad that it needs to be…

While I’m prepared to give Jon the benefit of the doubt with regards to his sincerity, I must concur that, as long as he rejects vaccines, he and the health services sector are incompatible.


Wow. Some of the comments on that thread are frightening. More so because these are nurses spouting such nonsense. It would be nice to sit down with them and help them understand just where their logic, such as it is, is going astray. We’ve got Nirvana fallacy a-plenty, the “my rights are more important than my patients’ rights” whine, complaints that we don’t vaccinate for MRSA so why should we require flu vaccines. Ugh! So much stupid, my monitor started to sputter and smoke.

@ K: Wow the stupid there is unbelievable. I am ashamed for my profession, for what some of those nurses are posting.

Unfortunately, “I don’t do Facebook”. Kelly M. Bray, one of our RI Regulars could use some help on that blog.

I have to concur that Jon has no place in medicine. If his understanding of biology and medicine is so poor that he dismisses one of the cornerstones of disease prevention then he clearly disrespects his intended profession. If he doesn’t quit, they should boot him out on his ass.
@Todd W.: I have worked and/or socialized with a great many nurses of all national origins and ages over the years, and I frankly was never impressed with the amount of basic scientific knowledge the vast majority of them have, and I include my own wife, one of the very best nurses anywhere, in this. Fortunately, this only very rarely stops them from doing a competent job. I knew some nurses who were recycled NYC firemen and while they had or retained very little book learning, they justifiably prided themselves on their practical skills. They were also tops at handling difficult patients and were willing to undertake any task that was needed. All that said, on the whole, nurses are generally grateful when practitioners take the time to explain not only the practical matters of dealing with their patients, but the underlying reasons why they are called on to do things that they may not understand.

I could really use some help on the above thread that I posted. There is an LVN with less than a year experience going on and on and I would like to see the hammer drop on her.

“I’d like to think he’d recommend it be presented to the Courts.”

So would I, but he doesn’t have that power. The HRRT recommendation is the best he can do. It’s up to the police to prosecute.

@ Kelly M. Bray: CR*P, “I don’t do Facebook”.

Why don’t you “invite” some of the trolls and the LVN over to RI?

You could link to RI with a comment about how real experts, including doctors, scientists, nurses and “civilians”, who are well-versed in immunology, post here.

I’m so missing some of our trolls and hankering for a new chew toy.

Sometime, I think I’m on the wrong planet! Last year, I ask my primary care doctor to give me the DTaP booster and she refuse (she instead give me the tetanus booster and the flu vaccine) and now, we’re stuck with an epidemy of pertussis.

I also work my ass off as if my life depended on it at school and all I get is a 3.0 GPA which is never enough to be a shrink; despite that, I manage to have a third author publication in auditory cognitive neuroscience and on the other hands, we have this guy who’s affraid of being vaccinated. Sigh…


Lilady, since I haven’t seen your name or face, I don’t know that we haven’t worked together, and if I have not socialized with you, I promise it’s solely for lack of opportunity. You will of course notice that I said “vast majority”, which may or may not be an overstatement, but is still not the same as “all”. I do have to say that some of the worst nonsense I ever heard propounded by any health professionals came from nurses. I will also say that even though most of the RNs I know have had extensive course and lab work in the sciences, many appear not to have absorbed it. I’ll repeat that this does not stop the vast majority I know from doing good to excellent work in the actual care of patients, and no honest MD, PA, or NP will deny that there is no substitute for a good, dedicated nursing staff, or that they could even begin to do a good job without being able to rely implicitly on the nurses. My wife is an RN, and when we worked together she impressed the hell out of me with her common sense, attention to detail, and practical skills, among other things, and is genuinely one of the very best nurses in the world – her longevity in her very difficult unit, with its complex procedures and challenging patients, proves it. But she would be the first to admit that very little of her sciences remains with her.


i’m in the middle of nowhere assisting a friend doing scuba diving at night, Google Alain Toussaint for the pub

Yes, Liz. My kids and I camped in Yosemite Valley two weeks ago. We stayed in a campground next to Camp Curry, and ate and socialized there a few times. Not directly in the hot zone but too close for my comfort. The chances are low but I will be sweating the next five weeks possible incubation period.

@ Lilady,

no; essentially, we located over 7000 studies using Positron-Emission Tomography or functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and I and Fabienne selected 58 studies out of the bunch using very strict criterias (of which I remember using whole-brain statistical analysis instead of regions of interest; it was also sorted by category of sound from noise to voice including simple sound, spectrally complex sound and temporally complex sound, and finally music; the remaining criterias, I don’t remember them).

The limitations of the study is that, if there would exist a statistical method to include all of the 7000+ studies with the majority doing ROI (region of interest); that would be the equivalent of the nobel prize in math/stats but as it is, we can’t use them.

Such a study is useful because we can take the brain region analysed and compare it with all kind of clinical applications (in Fabienne’s case, the auditory function of autistics, here’s an abstract of her PhD thesis: and also, it serve as the most reliable way to define regions of interest in auditory studies.

I should blog about it.



“…..doing scuba diving at night…” (?)

Fun, exciting and you get to see new things. I knew people who did it, but I never tried. My SCUBA instructor had us put paper covers in our masks to show us what it was like. I was disoriented, and lost a fin. And this was in a YMCA swimming pool.

Regarding scuba diving, I stayed on the surface (blame allergies to ragweed) but my friend went with a bottle of nitrox down to 80 feets below the surface and it was a chilly 4 degree C down there.


From Chris’ link:

“You’ve got it the wrong way round. You gave the right to control your life away. You’re the one who chose to ignore the way the world works.”

Perhaps the best line in the whole piece. I immediately thought of Marg.

Do these folks every realize that diseases are rather bad? Way worse than a mere shot.

Chromesthesia, no they do not. One tactic is to minimize the effect of a disease like measles, pertussis, mumps, etc, and then over-emphasize the minor side effects of the vaccine. A common comment from them is “I had the disease and I am okay.”

Scuba diving at night (?)…

My daughter took scuba diving lessons at a local indoor pool in preparation for her trip to a tropical paradise (her hubby is a diving enthusiast). I shudder to think about the excess baggage fees they incurred. The closest I ever came..or gearing up, is when I don my pink onion goggles. I love onions…they don’t love me.

Yeah, one of their *favorite* comments is “I had the disease and I’m just fine”.

D’oh, didn’t we all have those diseases and are all “just fine”.

It’s the triumph of ignorance over basic science and, IMO shows great selfishness. Observe what is happening with our Social Security and Medicare programs. Oldsters (*GOGS), are fairly confident proposed cuts won’t affect the programs they rely on. The proposed cuts will affect those approaching retirement age (55 and under). The GOGS are eating their young.

GOGS=Greedy Old Geezers.

@Lilady, I agree about the equipment and especially the nitrox (enriched oxygen) tank who had 120 cubic feet of air and weighted a ton.


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