As hard as it is to believe, it was over seven years ago that I started my Annals of “I’m not antivaccine” series. The idea was (and continues to be) to point out how the claim that many antivaccine activists proclaiming themselves to be “not antivaccine” but rather “vaccine safety advocates” is, depending on the specific antivaxer making it, a lie, a delusion, or perhaps both. I do that by simply highlighting bits of over-the-top rhetoric I see on antivaccine websites likening vaccines to all sorts of evil things, particularly the Holocaust. In the case of the very first entry in this series ever, I highlighted Kent Heckenlively’s likening vaccines to dynamite. Other examples rapidly followed, such as Kathy Blanco declaring that vaccines have NO VALUE [sic] (a sentiment echoed by a commenter), antivaxers likening vaccines to rape and human trafficking, and fraught comparisons to the Oklahoma City Bombing and the Titanic. Of course, through it all, there have Holocaust and Nazi comparisons. Oh, there have been so many Holocaust and Nazi comparisons, more than I can count, ranging from invoking Josef Mengele, the infamous doctor at Auschwitz known for conducting horrific medical experiments on prisoners, to general invocations of the Holocaust as an appropriate metaphor for “vaccine-induced autism,” to an antivaxer putting a no vaccine badge on herself and her child, likening it to the Yellow Star of David patches that Nazis forced Jews in Germany to wear.
I never realized back then that, seven years later, I’d be up to part 25 now, although, to be honest, I’ve exercised self-restraint. I could easily have done 100 parts to this series since 2010. I also never realized that Holocaust analogies would lose their power to shock, but damn if antivaxers haven’t used them so much that they elicit a yawn from me these days (at least most of the time). That’s not to say that it isn’t worth discussing such analogies, particularly when doing so serves a purpose. This time around, over at the antivaccine crank blog, Age of Autism, where the bloggers routinely oh-so-piously deny that they are “antivaccine,” a woman named Laura Hayes is providing me with just such a reason to discuss yet another vaccine/Holocaust analogy, because she goes beyond just ranting to advocating action for “vaccine safety activists in a post called A Dozen Things We Can Do RIGHT NOW to Help Stop the Vaccine Holocaust. (Ms. Hayes sure does appear to like her all caps.) You can read the full dozen for yourself; I’ll just “cherry pick” a few of the ones that interest me the most. But first let’s look at Ms. Hayes’ rationale in her introduction:
Every single week, without fail, there are tragic, heartbreaking stories of how vaccines have decimated or ended more lives. These stories are unending, they just keep coming.
Yet, doctors and nurses, who have become some bizarre type of pre-programmed automatons, continue to vaccinate day in and day out, despite the evidence of harm in their patients. It is as though they are brain dead, the “Stepford Wives” of Big Pharma, incapable of connecting that which they are injecting to that which they are then seeing and treating in their patients. Instead of stopping, analyzing, and changing course, they blindly plow forward, wreaking unspeakable damage in the very ones they have taken an oath to not harm.
Every single doctor and nurse (and now pharmacist, too) who is presently vaccinating the health, well being, and life out of their patients needs to stop, read the vaccine package inserts word for word, and then read critical analyses of vaccines and their ingredients that have not been written by those profiting directly or indirectly from vaccines. There can be no more excuses for or tolerance of the medical malpractice of injecting highly toxic, havoc-wreaking vaccines into people, followed by an inexcusable and callous disregard for the fallout, and a refusal to immediately stop that which is causing harm.
Extra credit for invoking the title of Andrew Wakefield’s book! Well, done! Excellent posterior smooching! Of course, there is no evidence for any of Ms. Hayes’ assertions about vaccines, other than that doctors and nurses continue to vaccinate. The reason, of course, is because vaccines are one of the safest, most effective medical interventions ever conceived by the human mind and created by human hands. Of course, because we physicians don’t buy into the pseudoscience and quackery that Hayes believes, to her, we must be “brain dead” or “Stepford Wives.” Our excuse for refusing to stop is simple: Vaccines work and they are safe. They do not cause all the conditions that antivaxers attribute to them.
Hayes tells us that more and more people are asking, “What can we do to stop this vaccine insanity and medical tyranny?” Whether that’s true or not, I have no idea. I’m sure some people are asking that, because some people believe that the moon landing never happened, that the Holocaust never happened, or that 9/11 was an inside job, and antivaccine activists easily scale the same eights of delusion as any of these conspiracy mongers. In any event, Hayes wants you—yes, you!—if you’re an antivaxer to take action immediately. I laughed out loud at the first one:
1. STOP giving business to doctors who vaccinate. When medical help is needed, let’s give our business to doctors and healers who are not harming and killing their patients with vaccines.
I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth of pediatricians everywhere who practice science-based medicine! This is one thing they would like more than anything else. Their loss of business would be minimal, and they wouldn’t have to waste untold hours explaining to yet another mother like Ms. Hayes that vaccines don’t cause autism, aren’t loaded with deadly “toxins,” and are indeed effective and safe, with such explanations falling on deaf ears. I can hear pediatricians everywhere saying, “Please, Ms. Hayes, don’t fling me in dat brier-patch!”
Another one of Hayes’ suggestions later in the article is almost, but not quite, as hilarious:
Call your insurance company to request a list of doctors who don’t vaccinate (of course, don’t expect such a list to exist). For those who have a vaccine-injured child, or who have lost a child as a result of vaccines, or who have suffered vaccine injury themselves or in a loved one, frequenting a medical practice where vaccines are still administered is akin to having your public school assignment be one where you can hear children being beaten and abused in the next room, or simply having the knowledge that beatings and abuse are occurring somewhere on campus whether or not you can hear them. Being in such a place can trigger post traumatic stress symptoms, and we should not be forced to endure such an environment when seeking necessary medical care. If such a list does not yet exist, then request as a bare minimum a list of doctors who don’t require proof of vaccinations or that you vaccinate. Remind your insurance company that they are required to provide necessary medical care that is accessible. When doctors require proof of vaccinations or that you vaccinate, that makes necessary medical care inaccessible to those who do not want vaccinations. We need to demand that our insurance companies offer and cover that which they are required to provide, in addition to that which we, the paying customers, want, and which doesn’t destroy our health.
Hmmm. Not only is it a “Vaccine Holocaust” but to Ms. Hayes going to a medical practice where vaccines are still administered is akin to having your public school assignment be one where you can hear children being beaten and abused in the next room,” something she can’t endure and doesn’t think that anyone else should have to endure either. But, no, AoA is not antivaccine. Perish the thought! It just routinely publishes pieces by a woman who thinks there is a “Vaccine Holocaust” and likens vaccines to beating children.
There’s just a modicum of a grip on reality left in Ms. Hayes that she realizes that no insurance company is going to maintain a list of doctors who don’t vaccinate or even a list of doctors who don’t require proof of vaccination before accepting a child into their practice. Quite the contrary! Vaccination rates are considered a quality metric that is used in pay-for-performance programs. Can you guess why? Because preventing disease is better (and cheaper) than treating disease. Doctors might remain on insurance plans if they don’t vaccinate (clearly, there are antivaccine-friendly doctors who do), but any insurance company that becomes aware of such a physician is not going to publicize it.
The next one is not so funny, and is basically what many would consider harassment:
2. If you have a vaccine-injured child, return with your child to the doctor’s office where the harm was inflicted (for those whose child was killed by vaccines, take a picture of your child, or of their tombstone). Write a 1-pager detailing your child’s story, make 10 copies, and pass them out to the parents in the waiting room. Introduce them to your vaccine-injured child, and let them know that they were injured right there at that office. Include in your 1-pager and conversations how the doctor responded to your child’s vaccine injury, including whether or not they acknowledged it, reported it, helped your child after, or changed their vaccination practices as a result. Include whether or not any type of informed consent took place, including whether or not the doctor reviewed each and every vaccine package insert with you prior to administering vaccines to your child, and whether or not your doctor offered alternatives to vaccinations, including the option of not vaccinating. If entering the office is too intimidating or traumatic for you, consider the option of talking with parents in the parking lot before they take their child in for their appointment, and/or going with another parent and their vaccine-injured child. *If you no longer live near the doctor’s office where your child’s vaccine assault happened, take your child and your story to any local pediatrician’s office where the abusive practice of vaccination is still taking place.
Great. So basically she’s telling antivaxers to harass the patients of pediatricians, none of whom did her any harm, before getting to the pediatricians, none of whom did her any harm either, her delusion otherwise notwithstanding reality. This is the sort of thing that will not end well—for Hayes and anyone who tries to follow her example. Most likely the result will be the police being called to escort her off the premises. I also can’t help but note her obsession with package inserts. Package inserts are legal CYA documents. They are not scientific documents. Manufacturers list every potential adverse event ever observed, whether there is a link to the vaccine or not.
In any case, bothering parents just bringing their children to the pediatrician and potentially exposing them to disease by bringing your likely undervaccinated child along (given that most antivaxers stop vaccinating once they become convinced that a vaccine caused their child’s autism) to potentially expose them to disease is a profoundly self-centered strategy. Hayes isn’t trying to educate other parents; she’s drawing attention to herself. It’s all about her and gaining attention for her “plight” and that of her child, which is why she also advocates going to pharmacies that administer vaccines to pester pharmacists about whether or not they read every line off the package insert when giving informed consent and then bother the store manager with the same questions, while spreading antivaccine misinformation.
A lot of Ms. Hayes’s other ideas are in the same vein and only marginally less obnocious. For instance, she advocates printing up a bunch of cards with brief lists of websites and “resources” chock full of antivaccine misinformation on them to pass out to expectant mothers. She also suggests approaching pastors and boards of places of worship to try to win them over, making signs to display, and starting a private e-mail group for local antivaxers to use to strategize, all dashed with a little sprinkle of paranoia:
Vet members carefully, keeping a watchful eye out for “controlled opposition” looking to infiltrate. Gather addresses and phone numbers, too, in preparation for a time when electronic communications may no longer be advisable or possible.
Yes, because the government is definitely coming to force you to vaccinate, just like it’s definitely going to take away your guns. Oh, wait. It hasn’t, and it’s not going to. In a flourish of drama, Ms. Hayes asks for the help of AoA readers in coming up with more ideas to stop this “Vaccine Holocaust.” The results are predictable—and depressing.
First, there’s joe, who can’t resist injecting (if you’ll excuse the term) a bit of misogyny as foul as those toxins antivaxers imagine to be in vaccines. It’s so nasty as to be worth posting in its entirety to make my point (also in case AoA moderators get rid of it):
I have a friend who is a pediatric nurse practitioner. I’m convinced it’s willful ignorance with her. She doesn’t know about vaccine dangers because she doesn’t WANT to know.
Look, most pediatric docters in the U.S. are women. Most pediatric nurse practitioners are women. Heck, most nurses, LPNs, and medical assistants are women. WOMEN ARE PROPAGATING THE VACCINE HOLOCAUST.
Sorry if that hurts. They don’t have to participate in the holocaust. They should be nurturing. But they’re killers. They are. They should find other work. But it’s not going to happen.
People in the healthcare field are followers. Laura, I love your passion, but please take this into account. The world today is not even close to what it was 10 years ago. People have lost their minds.
I organized a VAXXED movie showing and NO ONE from the conventional healthcare field came. They’re afraid and suspicious, and dismissive, and snide. They’re not coming out of their comfort zone. Ain’t happening.
These fascist women vaccine providers must be stopped. But they will not by themselves.
I know you’re shocked. But, but, but…it CAN’T be women doing this!!! Oh yes it can, and is. Walk into ANY pediatricians office and look at the staff – women. Including the doctor behind it all. Female.
Of course, the “Tbought Leaders” are all female, too. Melinda Gates, anyone? Chelsea Clinton, anyone? Young Barbara Bush and her Global Healthcorps? Do you know what her organization does? Just guess.
I bet joe’s a Trump supporter too.
I am very frustrated by this article, Here is why: I am the mother of a severely vaccine injured 21 year old boy and a nurse. I work at Michigan Medicine. I am not allowed to say anything at work except the company script to patients concerning vaccination. I have been disciplined for not following this script when asked questions about vaccine by patients. Patients ask me my opinion which I am not allowed to give per Michigan Medicine policy. When I did answer one of these questions honestly some patients turned me in to my boss. They assured me also that talk about my vaccine injured child even to co-workers will lead to more discipline ending in my termination. They told me that when asked about my son I must say he is fine or doing well. If I could quit I would.
She is also very much opposed to the flu vaccine:
I am allowed to avoid vaccine for flu IF I WEAR A YELLOW MASK at all times in the hospital. This mask does not filter tiny viral particles. It is utilized to co worse me and others to take the flu shot. I have A LOT of difficulty breathing while I wear this. I would work with a ball and chain around my ankle to avoid taking vaccine.
It’s good to know that my medical alma mater is doing the right thing and not letting its employees spout antivaccine misinformation to parents or try to persuade them not to vaccinate. It’s also good to know that Michigan is requiring its employees with direct patient care responsibilities to be vaccinated against the flu. It’s not so good that it allows an nurse with what can only be described as radically antivaccine views to continue to work in a capacity where she deals with patients and vaccines. I actually feel sorry for this nurse in that she clearly has a hard life dealing with a special needs child who is no longer a child. It’s also very sad to see how far down the rabbit hole she’s gone, having taken her child to Dr. Jeff Bradstreet, who apparently administered 85 doses of IV chelation therapy, which clearly didn’t work (because chelation therapy doesn’t work for autism).
Ms. Hayes is, of course, totally sympathetic with the nurse’s plight, but in the wrong way, as in supporting her antivaccine stand. Then a commenter named Linda1 misinterprets the Florence Nightingale pledge, which she invokes at the end of her comment:
I am truly sorry for all that you’ve gone through and for what you face at work every day. But what Laura says is right. A nursing license is not a permit to act unethically. In fact, it is a license to stand firm to protect patients and to deliver the best care and teaching, even if that means standing up to a morally bankrupt hospital system and loss of employment. Financial need is never an excuse for wrong doing. If your job tried to force you to compromise on the principles that you are legally and morally obligated to uphold according to your license, then you have no choice but to either seek another line of work or work somewhere else where you will be free to provide good care. If all healthcare workers refused to do harm, or to be silenced when patients are being deceived, the holocaust would end. The only reason why it continues is because people rationalize that they have no choice but to participate. But they do have a choice.
A nursing license also requires that the nurse practice her profession according to the accepted evidence-based standard of care. Frightening patients and parents out of vaccinating is not practicing according to that standard of care. In fact, one thing that drives me crazy about state licensing boards for healthcare physicians is that they do nothing about antivaccine physicians, and they do even less against antivaccine nurses, no matter how much they endanger the public. In any case, about the only thing Linda1 and I agree on is that this nurse should not be working where she is working, albeit for incredibly different reasons. I predict that whenever our nurse commenter either decides to leave her job or is fired from it she’ll end up working for an alternative medicine practitioner or going into alternative medicine herself, perhaps naturopathy.
So, to recap. What we’ve learned from Ms. Hayes and AoA commenters is that there is a Vaccine Holocaust of autism and neurologic disorders that antivaxers need to do something about. Also, their resistance is like that of partisans in Nazi-occupied territories. (Never mind that I don’t see any “vaccine safety advocates” being gunned down, and, no, I haven’t forgotten Jeff Bradstreet, who killed himself as the FDA zeroed in on his quack clinic.) Most importantly, doctors and nurses who vaccinate are the perpetrators of this holocaust who could stop it if they would only speak up. They are thus collaborators who are risking their licenses and going against their Hippocratic Oaths or Florence Nightingale Oaths by pumping horrific toxins into their patients in the form of vaccines.
Tell me again how all this is “not antivaccine” and how AoA could be “not antivaccine” despite publishing dreck like this over and over again. I’m not getting it. After all, it’s not as though Ms. Hayes doesn’t have a copious history of rhetoric very much like this over the course of several years.