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An antivaccine nurse (or physician) should not take care of children, period

In Houston, a toddler was admitted to the pediatric ICU at Texas Children’s Hospital with a serious case of the measles. Unfortunately, one of the nurses there is antivaccine and blabbed about him on social media. The hospital quite appropriately fired her, but I would go further and say that antivaccine nurses should not be caring for children. Ditto antivaccine doctors.

Remember how many times I’ve said that when the next big outbreaks in the US happen they’ll probably happen in Texas? The reason is, of course, that the antivaccine movement there, lead by groups like Texans for Vaccine Choice, has successfully weaponized conservative, anti-government, anti-regulation politics to block policies to increase vaccine uptake, such as making nonmedical “personal belief exemptions” harder to obtain.They did this by painting school vaccine mandates as unacceptable examples of the government telling people what to do. They’ve also run antivaccine candidates against pro-vaccine candidates for the state legislature. Along with all this, the rate of personal belief exemptions in Texas has skyrocketed over the last 15 years. If this keeps up, it’s only a matter of time before outbreaks begin. Certainly, the odds of this happening are not helped by an antivaccine nurse like the one I learned about in Houston yesterday.

Yesterday, I learned that a Houston toddler tested positive for measles:

A toddler has tested positive for measles, confirmed by Texas Children’s Hospital, where the boy is being treated.

In addition, a nurse at the hospital’s West Campus is being investigated for posting about the little boy’s condition on an anti-vaccine Facebook page.

The City of Houston’s Health Department maintains this is a suspected case of the illness, and further tests will be needed to confirm it. The last time the health department investigated a confirmed case of measles was in 2013.

According to the health department, the case involves a male child between the ages of 1 and 3 years old. The little boy recently traveled internationally, and officials say it is possible he contracted the disease overseas.

So, is this toddler with measles a harbinger of things to come in Texas? I hope not, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it is. As is typical in these cases, the child appears to have caught the measles overseas. We know that Europe is currently suffering massive measles outbreaks in several countries, such as Italy, Serbia, and others.The child is said to be between 1-3 years of age, which means he probably should probably have gotten his first dose of MMR, but at the time of initial reporting, we didn’t know one way or the other. (More on that later.) Yes, it’s only one case, but it could well be a harbinger of things to come.

I hate to see a story like this. Texas, given its high rate of personal belief exemptions, is an outbreak waiting to happen. However, I hate to see something like this, something that makes this story even worse, so much more:

Over the weekend, a nurse working at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus posted about the child’s condition on a Facebook page titled “Proud Parents of Unvaccinated Children – Texas.” That page appears to have since been taken down.

In screen shots viewed by Eyewitness News, the nurse stated, “.. for the first time in my career I saw Measles this week. Actually most of mycoworkers and the ER docs saw measles for the first time as well. And honestly, it was rough. The kid was super sick. Sick enough to be admitted to the ICU and he looked miserable…By no means have I changed my vax stance, and I never will. But I just wanted to share my experience and how much worse it was than I expected.”

If you watch the video and pause it at the right spot (around the 1:30 mark), you can see the entire Facebook post:

I note that this antivaccine nurse also wrote:

Maybe this was an extreme case. Maybe most fare better, but this poor kid was bad off, and, as a parent, I could see vaccinating out of fear. Seeing it made me a little more humble and maybe a little more understanding. I’ll continue along my nonvax journey with no regrets but I’ll definitely have more compassion to those who vehemently vaccinate.

You can see for yourself with more clarity, however, if you wish. Here are posts by this antivaccine nurse to the “Proud Parents of Unvaccinated Children – Texas” Facebook page as they were reported by a concerned parent on the Texas Children’s Hospital Facebook page:

That’s nice. Where’s your concern for your own children who could suffer the same fate, thanks to your medical neglect in failing to get them vaccinated. (And, yes, I do consider failure to vaccinate medical neglect. That is my opinion.) It’s hard to believe that an actual antivaccine nurse works in a pediatric ICU (PICU). This brings us to something else horrifying that this antivaccine nurse wrote later, also reported in the news:

The postings included some comments by other group members, and at one point, the nurse commented, “I’m not kidding that I thought about swabbing his mouth and bringing it home to my 13 (year old).”

This tells me that this particular nurse believes in the trope that “natural immunity” obtained by getting the disease is somehow superior to immunity obtained from being immunized. It’s not. While it’s true that the immunity induced by some vaccines wanes with time, so, often, does immunity caused by the disease. Also, the price of “natural immunity” to diseases like measles is suffering and the risk of serious complications, such as pneumonia, encephalitis, and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), not to mention the continued spread of the disease to others.

I also can’t help but point out that this antivaccine nurse clearly knew that what she was doing was wrong and against hospital policy and could potentially get her into hot water, saying:

Sorry guys, I worked way too hard (and owe too much in student loans to jeopardize my license) ? so I deleted a lot of my responses. I love my job, I love being in healthcare. I really want to kee info to a minimum and if’when this case makes news I’ll elaborate! Love you all! Keep strong in your beliefs! We are all on this journey for a reason! And we are not wrong in our convictions. I’ll share more as I feel comfortable.

Sorry, but sharing ANY potentially patient-identifiable information is against the law, breaches patient confidentiality, and would continue to be wrong even after the story about this toddler with measles hit the news. I’d hate to be parents of this poor toddler, with an antivaccine nurse caring for my chid, knowing that she’s sizing up my son’s story and deciding what she thinks she can and can’t share about it among her antivaccine buddies on an antivaccine Facebook page. At the time, I was quite clear: An antivaccine nurse like this to be fired ASAP.

Fortunately, the hospital agreed, as reported last night:

A Texas Children’s Hospital nurse was fired after posting about a toddler, who tested positive for measles, on an anti-vaccine Facebook page.

The hospital sent the following statement regarding the incident:

We were made aware that one of our nurses posted protected health information regarding a patient on social media. We take these matters very seriously as the privacy and well-being of our patients is always a top priority. After an internal investigation, this individual is no longer with the organization.

Not surprisingly, the Facebook page where the nurse had posted about the child, “Proud Parents of Unvaccinated Children – Texas,” appears to have since been taken down. I’m guessing that the group is still on Facebook but that its administrators changed its setting to a secret group, so that only its members can see it. It’s also not too far out to speculate that the members of the group are commiserating with this nurse, portraying her as a “martyr” to pharma-led pro-vaccine zealots. The only thing that surprises me is that I haven’t seen her portrayed on antivax websites as a martyr yet.

In the meantime, I’m with Rebecca Lunstroth:

UT McGovern Medical School’s Assistant Director of Humanities and Ethics says although moral objections exist, medical professionals opposed to vaccines probably shouldn’t treat children.

“The beauty of healthcare, there is so many different routes that professionals can take,” said professor Rebecca Lunstroth. “If you don’t believe in vaccines, you probably shouldn’t go into pediatrics and you would be warned of that, that this is the standard and if you don’t believe in the standard, you should probably go into another practice.”

Precisely. The same is true of the neonatal ICU nurse whom I encountered on a panel on “vaccine choice” where she spewed antivaccine misinformation. If you’re a nurse (or a doctor) who “doesn’t believe in vaccines” or thinks vaccines are dangerous and ineffective, you really, really shouldn’t be treating children. Go into another specialty. I consider it not unlike the case of the pharmacist who is antiabortion and therefore refuses to fill prescriptions for the “morning-after” pill. If your beliefs make it so that you can’t do your job to the standard of your profession, you should not be in that profession.

As for the child’s vaccination status, here’s what subsequent reporting revealed:

Dr. David Persse, the director of the City of Houston Health Department, says the baby boy diagnosed with measles remains in the hospital. Dr. Persse said the baby was too young to get the measles vaccine, but the rest of his family is immunized.

So I’m guessing that the original description of the boy as being “between 1-3 years old” really meant that he was around one year old, because according to the schedule recommended by the CDC the first dose of MMR is recommended between 12-15 months of age. However, there is a caveat. Infants traveling internationally are considered high risk and the recommendation is:

Infants 6–11 months: 1 dose before departure. Revaccinate with 2 doses at 12–15 months (12 months for children in high-risk areas) and 2nd dose as early as 4 weeks later.

I’m guessing that a lot of parents don’t think of that, and, if the child’s pediatrician doesn’t even know that the child will be traveling to international destinations, then there’s no way of knowing. The reason international travel is high risk is because of low vaccine uptake in various parts of the world, unfortunately including Europe. The reasons, of course, that high vaccine uptake is important are that it not only prevents illness in individuals but through community immunity (the now-preferred term over “herd immunity”), it prevents the rapid spreads of the disease, serving as barrier to outbreaks. Of course, children too young to be vaccinated are among those protected by community immunity, as well as children who are immunocompromised and thus can’t be vaccinated with an attenuated live virus vaccine like the MMR.

All of this is another reason why this nurse should not be anywhere near patients. I hope that she retrains and finds a job where vaccines are not part of the discussion, as, given her history, it’s unlikely any pediatric hospital will hire her. Even better would be for her to reconsider her antivaccine beliefs and get her children’s vaccines caught up. Unfortunately, what’s more likely is that she’ll be portrayed as a martyr to the cause by the antivaccine movement, which likely will reach out to her.

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]

163 replies on “An antivaccine nurse (or physician) should not take care of children, period”

What would you do, Orac, in a room full of presumed antivaxxers? Would you speak out and educate? Or something else?

What would you do in a room full of pro-vax medical professionals?

(Of course if you’re in the room the previous statement is not 100% accurate.)

I think that John Scott is referring to Orac’s presence at a political event where anti-vaxxers appeared :
I doubt that he went there to educate the audience- he reported on what was said and who showed up. I know because I’ve been in a similar position myself at alt med events- you don’t interfere, you observe and then write about it.

He has plenty of other avenues for instructing people.

Yes, exactly: observe and report, don’t interfere.

When present for journalistic purposes (overt or covert), observe and report in the press.

When present for purposes of investigating possible unlawful activity, observe and report to the appropriate authorities.

There is nothing to be helped by trying to be a hero and standing up against whatever-it-is when one is alone without backup. The exception being to protect innocent persons from imminent violence.

An sort of interaction with persons-of-interest who are planning or engaging in unlawful activities, may have the effect of harming law enforcement investigations that are ongoing and that one isn’t privy to. Thus “observe and report only” is almost always the most helpful thing to do to prevent crime and bring perpetrators to justice.

In the US, sending contaminated material through the post is very illegal, such as when antivax groups “share natural immunity” by exposing their kids to other kids’ chicken pox (half-eaten lollies, clothes, etc.) and post those materials to each other. The appropriate authority to report that to is the Postal Inspection Service, which is ferociously effective in prosecuting any crimes that make use of the US Mail.

You are entitled to your own opinions, but to your own facts. Instead of relying on over the thousand year old writing by unknown persons you could try some actual verifiable evidence. Just produce the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers not on the Dwoskin payroll that the present American MMR vaccine causes more harm than measles.

Use your own voice. Repeating words from an ancient book is a failure mode of Smartass. That is the failure mode named Lazy Jerk.

That is universally applicable to hearts. None of us can be completely sure our choices are right.

On the other hand, it’s not as universally applicable to objective facts, like the fact that measles is dangerous. It’s not even very applicable to legal questions, such as whether the nurse’s actions violated HIPAA.

First prove ‘the LORD’ exists. Once you’ve achieved that you can have a stab at proving that what you claim he said is what he has actually said. Then you can show us that he is also correct in what he said. Finally, you can demonstrate that what he said applies in this instance.

Or not.

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.” (KJV). I don’t see the relevance this has in this discussion, since the verse is clearly about moral issues (“hearts”), not about objective facts.

There is overwhelming objective evidence that vaccines are safe, effective, save lives, and that the known side effects are far outweighed by the benefits they provide in the vast majority of cases. So, what then would be the case for saying that vaccines are immoral?

A principle which perhaps the nurse should also consider, given that it is her children and the young patients in her care who would suffer from her beliefs, not her.

I am definitely not defending what this nurse in Texas did. My questions and comments were directed to Dr Gorski.

This truly is frightening. And yet this is what happens when real science is vilified, and quackery is elevated to “alternative medicine”/”natural wellness”/”pro-freedom, health choice policies”. I can only hope most Texans see this and realize that the “choice” to endanger other people isn’t the kind of “freedom” that makes us a healthier society.

(“frightening” , “vilified”, “quackery” and kind of “freedom” that makes us a healthier society.)

Diseases weed out the weak just as wildfires cleanse forests and make room for healthy vegetation.
Natural non assisted immune responses are stronger and grant PERMANENT immunity.
Pharmaceutical companies are PROFIT driven and are not concerned about the generational health of the species.
Medical malpractice in the U.S. ALONE kills 250,000 people a year. This is a conservative number not including deaths from overdose of their pharmakeia.
No one said freedom = safety.

“Diseases weed out the weak just as wildfires cleanse forests and make room for healthy vegetation.”

OOoh look! We have a real live eugenics argument from someone who does not understand “fitness” in the context of natural selection.

“Natural non assisted immune responses are stronger and grant PERMANENT immunity.”

Oooh… plus someone who failed college biology and does not realize not all infections cause “permanent immunity.” Dude, you really have no idea what a codon is do you?

“Pharmaceutical companies are PROFIT driven and are not concerned about the generational health of the species.”

Obviously this guy is from Htrae, and does no understand that it is cheaper to prevent diseases than to encourage them. Obviously the fact that 20% of the cases of measles required hospitalization is lots on him.

“Medical malpractice in the U.S. ALONE kills 250,000 people a year. This is a conservative number not including deaths from overdose of their pharmakeia.
No one said freedom = safety.”

R..i..g..h..t… so we are to believe the statistics from someone who failed both biology 101 and econ 101. That is hilarious.

Wow! An honest-to-goodness eugenicist! I haven’t seen one of those since, oh, the 1940s, when the defeat of Nazi-ism pretty much discredited eugenics.

I have discovered this tidbit–one Nicholas Starkowsky published on a compound called eugenitin, a chemical component found in cloves (“eugenia”) back in the early 1950s.

Dr. Starkowsky, or whoever you are, I have two bits of advice for you: First, you really should get up to date on your scientific and historical literature–you may learn why eugenics is so thoroughly despised. Second, don’t overindulge in cloves, if you value having a liver.

Oh my!, an avowed Social Darwinist, who (as we might expect) doesn’t understand Darwin.

He even contradicts himself, by supporting disease to “weed out the weak” and condemning medical malpractice, when consistency would call for supporting both.

Notice also the word “cleanse” in reference to wildfires and forests.

Dollars to doughnuts he also believes that “races” are scientific categories.

Where do they all come from?

I understand your concern about the integrity of the medical community, pharmaceutical companies in particular, and their enticement to act based on monetary incentives. This problem though is not one that is unique to the healthcare industry, but to society as a whole. There will always be individuals in every field who view their occupation as just that, a way to obtain profits and sustain their lifestyle. However, just as in every other field, there are many individuals who truly attempt to make decisions and products that are ethically sound, and vaccines are one of those products that are constantly being redeveloped to as a benefit to society. I agree with you in that vaccines may not provide the same long-term effects that natural immunity can, the price to pay for natural immunity does not outweigh the benefits of it. Vaccines have been used to control and eradicate severely fatal diseases such as polio, tetanus, and diphtheria. This child in particular contracted measles, probably while abroad in the UK where the use of the measles vaccine is not as widespread which led to endemic levels in 2008 as less than 50% of the population was vaccinated. The measles vaccine was introduced in the US in 1968 and a significant decrease has been observed in the number of deaths due to the disease since then. Just between 2000 and 2016, there was a 84% decrease and 20.4 million deaths were prevented, according to the CDC. The suffering of this child could also have been avoided had he been vaccinated. Vaccines expose individuals to antigens (toxic and foreign substances) that mount an immune response without causing the severe symptoms and progression of the disease. In the point of view of your immune system, the origin of the foreign substance is unrelated to its response. Regardless of whether the substance is naturally or artificially introduced to your body, your immune cells will react in the same way and will subsequently react faster to it during a secondary exposure. The reason why natural sources often transfer greater immunity is because of the high dose of antigens due to replication of viruses or bacteria. Nonetheless, taking the chance with obtaining natural immunity rather than using vaccines as a preventative method means that patients would run the risk of severe disease complications such as encephalitis (brain swelling), pneumonia, or even death in the time that it would take to mount a natural immune response. If you would like to learn more about natural and artificially gained immunity, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia provides a great explanation of the similarities and differences between the two and risks versus benefits of both: Moreover, providers have a responsibility to practice beneficence, which is an action done for the welfare of the patient. When comparing the risks versus benefits of refusing vaccinations, a large majority of physicians believe the risks of remaining unvaccinated outweigh the minimal benefits that natural immunity could provide. The duty of beneficence makes these physicians responsible for informing about and providing any treatment that in their opinion is in the best interest of the patient. Physicians still have to respect a persons autonomy about every treatment and the the ultimate choice, of course, belongs to the patient, or the patient’s guardian.

I’m wondering if the employer notified the Board of Nursing. She’s vulnerable to discipline, and she won’t have much of a defense.

She could lose her license for this, though more likely she’ll have to remediate and be restricted from some kinds of practice for awhile.

I agree that the now-disappeared Facebook group this nurse posted to has probably gone to a secret setting viewable only by members.

There are still (as of yesterday) a couple additional, accessible Proud Parents of Unvaccinated Children FB groups, one of which has such over-the-top postings you wonder if it’s a Poe (hard to tell with these people). Plus, there’s an Embarrassed Cousins of Proud Parents of Unvaccinated Children FB group to provide balance. 🙂

Firstly, I’m a member of the Facebook Group “Things Antivaxxers Say” and they posted this story.
Secondly, she posted confidential patient information. Do you think any hospital in the U.S. will hire her after a violation like that?
Thirdly, the bub’s story really has me upset. I’ve read the stories of Dana McCaffrey, Kaliah Jordan and Kailis Smith among others. It saddens me to know that several years from now, this child could die from SSPE.
Fourthly, re:

Also, the price of “natural immunity” to diseases like measles is suffering and the risk of serious complications, such as pneumonia, encephalitis, and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), not to mention the continued spread of the disease to others.

I’ve said this before, but I believe it bears repeating: catching a disease to gain immunity to it is like burning something to fireproof it.

Yeah, most of the people who broke that story were on Detox, Antivax and Woo Insanity. That’s the first place I saw it, and that’s (and TAVS) were where I saw the news story.

I also saw the story first on “Things Antivaxxers Say” FB page. There were a few trolls but it was overwhelmingly angry with this nitwit nurse. Things like “I love working in healthcare”, followed by some of the inanity Orac quoted in his post. Infecting your own child as a considered option is beyond stupid, especially given what she wrote about the hospitalized baby.

Nope. Even though none of the 17 automatic HIPAA identifiers were included, she violated the 18th: “Any other characteristic that could uniquely identify the individual.” The fact that there was only one measles-infected child in that ICU at the time means that she very clearly meets the HIPAA standard for releasing PHI.

An important PS- in retrospect, that “nope” sounds way more brusque than it was intended. I’ve been reading RI for a long time, and I have great respect for Narad. No excuses; the lapse in politeness is my fault. Sorry, Narad!

No, I appreciate the explanation. You obviously understand HIPAA in much greater detail than I do.

I’ll continue along my nonvax journey* with no regrets…

Tells you all you need to know about the typical anti-vaxxer. Nothing will sway them even a PICU case of measles.

*This is not a fekkin “journey”, you lumbered fecklessly and ignorantly into your anti-vaxx stance and are stuck there.

I’ll continue along my nonvax journey* with no regrets…

A lot of people seem to say similar things to this. It could easily be a madlib statement, “I’ll continue on my [fill the blank] journey with no regrets…”

Scary thing that people are willing to showcase their inflexibility as a virtue. IMHO, everybody should be open to changing their mind if confronted with information that necessitates updating a personal stance. Driving your car off a cliff after reading the “bridge-out 500 ft” sign, is foolishness.

If bothers me that conservatives have so effectively politicized science. Yeah, I know Al Gore had a hand in popularizing global warming… that doesn’t mean the science is wrong.

Scary thing that people are willing to showcase their inflexibility as a virtue.

Unfortunately, we as humans view “sticking to our guns” as something laudable, even when that inflexibility causes harm. It’s a known cognitive failing.

As I have said once before, there is something that you could use to change even Orac’s mind about vaccines: hard, scientific evidence showing that they cause more harm than good. If you have it. No amount of evidence is going to change these peoples’ minds. Even if they had a vision of Jesus Christ himself and he struck them blind like Paul on the road to Damascus and telling them to receive a vaccine to restore their sight, they’d probably believe it was the devil trying to deceive them, and would rather stay blind for the rest of their lives.

Chances are excellent it’s not even her “journey”. What do you want to bet that this nurse was vaccinated as a child, and so isn’t at nearly the same risk as her own child who has not been vaccinated? All talk and no walk.

Exactly. These people are impervious to evidence. They only accept that, no matter how poor, that supports their existing views.

Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this whole exercise, is that anti-vaxxers like this nurse seem to believe that the normal rules don’t apply to them.

Chris – The belief that one is “above the law” has become a growing plague in the present political climate, and it’s one of the underlying claims of anti-vaxers..

Keyphrases to look out for: “rule of law,” also “rule of law state,” and “strongman state” and “warlord state.”

The US, UK, and EU states (among others) are “rule of law states,” where a core value is that the law governs all persons and nobody is above the law. Russia under Putin is an example of a “strongman state” where the leader is considered the source of the de-facto law, and the leader’s associates (in Russia “the oligarchy”) are considered exempt from the normal written statute law.

The associated issues have become highly contentious at present, so you will frequently see holders of public offices, and candidates for same, using the phrase “rule of law” approvingly as an endorsement, or as cautionary language against opponents who are seen as flouting the law in various ways.

The obvious problem is, once any segment of society identifies publicly as having preference for a strongman state (or any sort of anarchic state) and being above the law, the plague spreads to increasing numbers, who adopt it for convenience and rationalization of obvious self-interest.

Which gets us back to the present subject, anti-vaxers believing that the rules don’t apply to them.

To my mind one of the root problems is erosion of belief in the rule of law, and this is something we need to fight on its own, both:

1) In conjunction with public health issues, such as when supporting pro-vax legislation, and,

2) in other cases entirely separate from public health issues, such as any issue where one or more people assert that the law does not apply to them, or seek to weaken legal frameworks in other ways.

For more on the context of “rule of law” and its opponents, look up Yale historian Tim Snyder’s writings about Ivan Ilyin, in the New York Review of Books and other venues. This is big and it is not going away any time soon.

@ Grey Squirrel

Hmm. I read your analysis and it’s compelling. it made me think immediately about the sovereign citizen movement.

If she bothered to look at the statistics she would see that in the last outbreaks in Europe and U.S. over 20% of people were hospitalized.

And as I said elsewhere, I’m incredibly troubled that she stands there, looking at a child very, very sick, and is thinking “I want this for my son.”

“I’m not kidding that I thought about swabbing his mouth and bringing it home to my 13 (year old).”

This is an alarming statement. I know I’m stating the obvious (to us) but what healthcare professional and parent could possibly think this is a good idea. And anti-vaxxers wonder why they’re looked down upon?

This case is SO incongruous!

On the one hand the nurse has enough clinical acumen to discern that the infant is very sick solely due to measles. On the other hand she fantasizes about inoculating her own child with the identical virus, seemingly unaware of putting both her child and her child’s friends at risk of a similar outcome. If this were a fictional story it would be dismissed as impossible.

Of note, the Texas Board of Nursing website is remarkably transparent (including names) as regards outcomes of disciplinary action ( It will be interesting in the future to see what becomes of possible complaints to the TBN arising from this incident.

Vaccines protect children. In an ideal world there would be a mechanism to prevent health care providers that advocate against vaccines to provide pediatric care. Given that the AAP, a national pediatric honor society, is reluctant to even revoke membership of pediatricians who advocate against vaccines it seems highly unlikely that limiting the practice of such HCPs is (or sadly ever will be) possible.

I’ve been checking the Texas BON page as well.

They don’t typically start an investigation until a complaint is filed. It’s altogether possible they’re preparing to start one and can’t update the website until an investigation becomes official.

It embarrasses me when I hear nurses talking woo just on general principles. My profession is consistently rated among the top ten most trusted. That’s a position of responsibility. The public has expectations of us we must live up to.

Normally BONs are pitbulls. But I don’t know what they are going to do about this, if anything.

It’s scarier than that, considering the tendency of antivaxxers to cluster. Odds are she and her kid(s) socialize with others of similar mindset. This could (or could have, not clear if she thought about or actually did this crazy thing) kindle a blaze that Orac has spoken of. I am thinking he would prefer not to be correct in his prophesy, but this is exactly how it could happen.

To me it sounded as child-abuse. You see what measles can do to a child and you want your own child to get it?
What is wrong with the mind of this nurse?
I wouldn’t allow her anywhere near live patients. I’m pretty sure she will be into alternative medicine as well.

You are right, Renate–child abuse first but, given the contagiousness of measles, bioterrorism second as she would deliberately be furthering an outbreak.

I looked over Mercola’s site and serendipitously, a post about Measles popped up ( June 10, 2018):
while he accurately stated how contagious measles is and what complications can occur, he then incited fear about the MMR and soothed parental worries because deaths happen in places where people are malnourished. He suggest nutrition as a way to combat the infection,\

Holy crap, he’s a DOCTOR! And he says this?
Over 4000 people shared the article.

Atdnext: I can only hope most Texans see this and realize that the “choice” to endanger other people isn’t the kind of “freedom” that makes us a healthier society.

Er, Texas, the most trigger happy state in the nation? Good luck with that. Most Texans are just ducky with other people being endangered by their choices, would happily murder any random person, and they don’t really care much about children down there. I can only think of two other states that hate kids more, and the citizens of Idaho are at least a little ashamed now. Oklahoma’s shameless in general.

I’m a political blogger/journalist, so I’m familiar with the politics of Texas. Still, I’d like to think most Texans don’t want kids’ lives jeopardized by a few yahoos who refuse to acknowledge actual science.

But then again, science isn’t always “sexy”. That’s why it’s critical for the skeptic/pro-science community to reframe this debate. For far too long, quack-tivists have gotten away with making this “an issue of choice” and a “matter of freedom”. This terrifying incident should serve as a wake-up call that their “choice” endangers peoples’ lives.

The anti-vaxxers are overwhelmingly libertarians, I think, who obsessively blab about personal freedom. That means selfishness above the common good. In my experience these types have absolutely no concept of public health, and they do not comprehend that their selfishness endangers others.

I had a conversation today with a young mother who will not vaccinate her toddler based on stupid propaganda. Tact does not work on these people. I’ve tried it several times. They are stupid obsessives and fanatics and are mostly a lost cause. Hate to impugn people, but sometimes you will never be able to penetrate this kind of rigidity.

PGP: Sigh. I could offer you anecdotes about the people I know in Texas who do vaccinate their kids, who don’t have guns in the home (or keep their hunting rifles properly locked up), who really do love and care for their kids, but I know that’s not going to make any difference to you.

You know the saying ” painting with a broad brush”? Sometimes (often) you paint with a power sprayer. I say this as a person given to hyperbole; you’d have more success convincing us of your position if you toned it down a bit. I know, I’ve said that to you before, but it’s still true.

politicalguineapig being the normal obnoxious politicalguineapig. The kindest thing to do is not take them seriously. I sometimes think that if Orac were to swing the banhammer, PGP might be a better choice than MJD.

I sometimes think that if Orac were to swing the banhammer, PGP might be a better choice than MJD.

I’m sticking with Doucheniak. PGP has at least reduced her traffic level.

Re Texas.

Facts not in evidence. Have you ever visited there? I have. Did a travel nurse assignment in Houston, and I have family there.

Don’t paint all Texas with a broad brush. Their legislators may be BSC, but that doesn’t mean a majority of Texans are, especially with our heavily gerrymandered political districts.

Brittany Bailey writes,

…owe too much in student loans to jeopardize my license.

MJD says,

The healthcare education you received failed you, Brittany. Should her nursing school take part of the blame?

@ Orac,

Where did she go to nursing school?

The healthcare education you received failed you, Brittany. Should her nursing school take part of the blame?

How about a little personal accountability here. But anti-vaxxers aren’t big on personal nor societal responsibility as evidenced by your insipid statement.

Science Mom writes,

How about a little personal accountability here.

MJD says,

I’ve taken a decade of respectful insolence for my efforts to communicate vaccine safety awareness. Maybe you have the guts to answer my question, Science Mom.

Q. What nursing school did Brittany Bailey attend.

Maybe you have the guts to answer my question, Science Mom.

Q. What nursing school did Brittany Bailey attend.

Oh good grief; it doesn’t take “guts” to answer that. It’s such an inane question because her education didn’t fail her, she failed at it. Stop looking for something to blame for her stupidity and selfishness.

Science Mom writes,

It’s such an inane question because her education didn’t fail her, she failed at it.

MJD says,

Everyone understands that vaccines are not 100% safe and effective. I’m sure she was taught this during nursing school. It is morally and ethically irresponsible to teach “do no harm” and at the same time ask some RN’s to administer vaccines.

Let’s start a petition here at Respectful Insolence to request that Brittany Bailey be reinstated based on the misunderstood and misrepresented concept of do-no-harm in medicine.

It is morally and ethically irresponsible to teach “do no harm” and at the same time ask some RN’s to administer vaccines.

Four things:
1) The risks of vaccinating are FAR outweighed by the risks of not vaccinating.
2) Many things in medicine are potentially harmful. Anaesthesia; medications; surgery itself. In 2010 I had an operation. Before it could begin, I was given a consent form. Said consent form basically declared “we will carry out our jobs as Medical Practitioners and do our very best. Nonetheless, there is a chance you could die or be seriously injured. By signing this, you acknowledge you understand the risks and give us permission to proceed.” I signed.
3) The Nurse violated patient confidentiality, an offence that in some jurisdictions can see offenders permanently banned from praticising medicine.
4) I’m beginning to seriously consider using Narad’s nickname for you going forward. Your signal to noise ratio is minimal to nonexistent, and you consistently fail to grasp the matters Orac writes about.

OK, MJD, you unmitigated ass.

EVERY nursing textbook ever written discusses vaccines and the benefits of vaccination.

No medication is 100% safe, but vaccines are among the safest medications we have. Brittany Bailey’s nursing education taught her that, full stop. She ignored it, refuses to believe it, or just didn’t pay attention. Who the hell knows, and I don’t care. She’s still responsible for knowing it, and if she doesn’t that’s on her not her program.

Vaccination and vaccine science are part of the nursing standard of care, and she is responsible for it. She was taught it. If she denies it, does not provide the proper care, and someone gets hurt, she is guilty of malpractice.

Panacea writes,

EVERY nursing textbook ever written discusses vaccines and the benefits of vaccination.

MJD says,

Do said nursing textbooks also write about vaccine injuries and how to deal with such unfortunate circumstances? Please reference a nursing textbook that effectively describes the risk/benefit ratio of vaccinations.


Let’s start a petition here at Respectful Insolence to request that Brittany Bailey be reinstated based on the misunderstood and misrepresented concept of do-no-harm in medicine.

You keep wittering on about “do no harm”, and that in your misguided opinion giving vaccinations violates this – that being the case what’s your stance on her stated desire to bring a sample of the disease home so she can intentionally infect her child?

Rational people don’t consider autism a side effect or adverse reaction of vaccination, Michael.

You better believe I tell my students what a fraud Wakefield is.

Vaccine injury is not a term I use, nor will I ever use it in connection with a patient who has suffered a serious adverse reaction.

Where did she go to nursing school?

Why don’t you figure it the fuck out for your fucking self, Doucheniak?

Dr. Guevara doesn’t actually teach entry level nursing students. Bailey would have gotten that information in her entry level program, and that’s the scope of practice she was working on at the time.

Certainly FNP programs teach the benefits of vaccination. Maybe she’s in NP school. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter.

I am so done with you, Michael. Just go away.

This nurse has made a personal choice to be anti vaccine. I can’t see how her education has failed her.

You are simply full of your own feelings of self-importance as evidenced by the inordinate amount of spacing within your posts which is, of course, either a deliberate or subconscious attempt to make them stand out because, of course, you feel it is oh so important that people read them. The same for your “X says…MJD says” ritual. As if what you say is so important. Yet everything you say is just non evidence-based ignorant opinon. But I repeat myself.

PGP was overgeneralizing again.

However, one can plausibly argue that Texas, as a state, places a lower priority on certain health services.

I found this oped to be enlightening.

Apparently New Mexico ranks better than Texas in this respect, although they don’t provide this 24 hour support either.or, it may be that New York City has the resources and population density to make this feasible.

Anecdotally, I can attest that Albuquerque has a number of small group homes for disabled people.

Post was inadvertently abbreviated.

A rant that generalizes from this case to claim that “most” Texans “don’t really care about children” is both foolish and ignorant. Examples:

I think Dr. Peter Hotez would also disagree with the blanket condemnation of Texans PGP indulged in.

There are antivax health care providers still in practice in many states. I’ve described at least one in Ohio, California is infested with a number of them and Orac recently described a similar-sounding nurse in Michigan.

Sorry guys, I worked way too hard (and owe too much in student loans to jeopardize my license) ? so I deleted a lot of my responses. I love my job, . . .

. . . putting my selfish stupidity at a much higher priority than the welfare of patients or anyone else I might come into contact with.

DB: I wasn’t aware they had health care for children in Texas. Good for them! But I wasn’t basing my statement just on health care (or lack of) Texas lags significantly in public education, and nearly every Texan is armed, as well as there being no measures at all for gun control anywhere in the state.

I’m aware there are anti-vax people in every state. My state had an outbreak of measles not two years ago, thanks to those idiots. Some states just have idiot magnetism. Michigan’s fine with poison,Idaho is a-ok with a significant amount of child death due to faith healing,, Montana’s got a ton of Nazis and survivalists, and California’s full of hippies.

nearly every Texan is armed

Given your own wild level of paranoia, maybe you should start packing heat.


I wasn’t aware they had . . .

Perhaps you shouldn’t post statements about things you are not actually aware about.

Narad: That wasn’t paranoia, that was stating a fact. And I’m not interested in adding to the problem by getting a gun and having to automatically enroll in the NRA (woohoo, an armed fraternity- think I can live without that, thanks.).

I’m not interested in adding to the problem by getting a gun and having to automatically enroll in the NRA

Beg pardon?

Sorry, PGP. You are not entitled to your own facts.

Not every or even most Texans are armed or own guns. If you want to make that statement, prove it with evidence.

This isn’t about bashing Texas. Does Texas have a political climate that encourages anti vax behavior? Yes, clearly based on what we know about personal exemptions. That doesn’t mean all Texans think that way, or even most. Uptake rates may be low, but they’re still more than three quarters of parents in most cases. That’s a lot of people, and far from “most.”

You made a silly statement. Everyone is pointing out your logical fallacies. Accept it and move on. Don’t double down.

There’s something I don’t get about antivaxxers. If they think measles is a harmless disease (hard to imagine with a baby in the PICU but anyway), then why infect their child at a measles party or via a swap as this nurse suggested? If the child gets measles naturally, then he’ll recover (because it’s harmless) and then he’ll be immune. And if he doesn’t get it naturally, then he won’t be immune but he won’t have gotten it either.

Her desire to infect her son implies that she does know perfectly well that measles is a dangerous disease and that he needs immunity. But then she knowingly wants to expose him to a dangerous disease. This does not compute.

Pro-disease people are rarely logical. This nurse shouldn’t be allowed around children, or any sick people at all. In fact “nurse” should no longer be a part of her CV.

I’ll be curious to see what the Board of Nursing does. Texas changed its laws on filing complaints a few years ago; they cannot be made anonymously anymore after two Texas nurses filed a complaint against a doctor.


I know of a nurse who used to work with people with disabilities and who had an anonymous complaint made against him. He was not allowed to continue working untill the case was investigated. After twelve months he was still not told what the charges were and who made them, what progress was being made in the investigation or when it was likely to conclude. He decided to leave nursing, even though he was being paid for doing nothing, and he now works as a clown/comedian entertaining children with disabilities.

Wow. That’s interesting. Usually you are able to continue working during an investigation. If they suspended his license immediately (that’s the only way they can stop you from working) there must have been a very serious accusation.

Did he hire a lawyer with experience in these kinds of cases? If he didn’t he was foolish. You cannot defend yourself when the BON investigates you. You will lose every time.

If they think measles is a harmless disease (hard to imagine with a baby in the PICU but anyway), then why infect their child at a measles party or via a swap as this nurse suggested?

Presumably so they can control the timing of the disease so as not to interfere with the scool schedule.

Or if the child I young enough, to be able to say, “my child has already had the measles and doesn’t need to be vaccinated to enter school.”

This has also happened here in Florida. A local nurse who is a fanatical religious nut and anti-vaxxer also refused to treat an infant under the age of about two, I think, and was just suspended and probably will be fired by the hospital after review. These dumb fanatics need to be screened better.

I have a somewhat prejudicial opinion that many nurses are victims of our sexist culture, and many are very conservative people. Exceptions exist, of course. The nurses I’ve worked with, however. are mostly female and seem to be exceptionally conservative and very religiously inclined..

10% of nurses today are male. That percentage is growing; more men are entering my profession.

We run the gamut of political opinion, and religious persuasion. You are asserting that nurses are “exceptionally conservative and very religiously inclined”

I challenge you to support that extraordinary claim with evidence.

These dumb fanatics need to be screened better.

I agree but…
IANAL but screening questions to suss that information out could be (would be?) construed as impeding one’s freedumb of religion or expression or some squishy nonsense. Sacking them after they refuse to perform their duties seems ground for the administration, at least to me.

I think if someone talks openly as this woman did about questioning the safety of vaccines–she’s an RN or maybe NP (in Florida, not this Texan nutjob)–that’s grounds for immediate disciplinary action. Not sure how that would work legally, though, because it’s technically hearsay. Actions speak louder than words, of course. She apparently refused to vaccinate a toddler and may have shown a pattern of consistent refusal. I wonder why it took so long for hospital administrators so long to catch this in record-keeping. Lost in the gigantic load of constant paper shuffling, maybe. Or other nurses were afraid to report her? From what I’ve read she is some kind of supervisor and might be an NP. Not clear what her credentials are This is not in national news–yet. Might be as this situation unfolds…

There’s really no practical way we can pre-screen people for belief.

We pre-screen knowledge: it’s called the licensing boards.

What we need is for the Boards to have teeth and bite into the asses of people like Brittany Bailey or Jay Gordon/Bob Sears when they start spewing this kind of knowledge in public spaces.

The evangelical cult of antivaxx. The whole world is damned except for us. We who know the revealed truth.

It is truly a cult. I have a behavioral science background, and I think these people show the kind of rigidity and obedience to authority that is very typical of cult followers. It’s scary. You cannot change their thinking. Pointless to try. Then they find people like themselves and glom together and collectively reinforce their psychopathology.

“nearly every Texan is armed”

Actually, about one in three Texans owns a gun, which is close to the national average. If you want to indulge loony paranoia about being shot down in the street, go to Alaska where about 60% are armed.

Oh, and saying that buying a gun compels one to join the N.R.A. is like saying that graduating from medical school forces you to join the A.M.A.

Let’s leave the unhinged rhetoric to antivaxers.

As someone who resides in the state with the highest gun ownership, even I generally don’t worry about being shot down in the street. However, it is almost September and hunting season is in full swing, so I’d definitely would be wearing bright clothes when out hiking this time of the year. I don’t need to get mistaken for a caribou. 🙂

Though it does that my state attracts a disproportionate amount of hermits and individuals who don’t play well with others, there are still skeptics and critical thinkers even this far north.

The ever delightful ciaparker was cheering on the European measles outbreaks in the comments section over on SR last week and was extolling the “extremely beneficial” nature of measles. When I inquired as to what benefits the 37 people who have died from it in 2018 were getting I was told that only people who weren’t previously healthy and/or were malnourished died of measles and that it was all the fault of the recent population growth in Europe. The not so subtle implication being that these people didn’t matter or that it was somehow their fault.

This “nurse” seems to be of the same opinion that getting measles is a Good Thing and as incomprehensible as I find that stance in general it’s even more so that someone with the grim reality of a serious case of this disease right in front of them can still feel that way. Truly bonkers!

I’m glad she was fired, and I agree that antivaxxers ought not be taking care of children. At least she, herself, is probably vaccinated against MMR–a protection she won’t extend to her own children!

Science Mom, Panacea, Julian, Narad:

Don’t you find it uh…interesting that MJD is attempting to hold the nurse’s alma mater responsible when she blithely disregards all that she must have learned there and in her training?

Perhaps we should question whatever university granted him a degree as well.**

Because I survey woo-meisters/ anti-vaxxers, I know that many of them have attended decent institutions ( although there are also mail-order doctorates and woo specialities). A few have MDs, DOs, MA/MSs or PhDs from respectable places..BUT
it doesn’t mean that they assimilated what they studied or that they studied material relevant to what they proselytise ( anti-vaxxers I’ve followed frequently have degrees in unrelated subjects like English, Journalism, Business, Marketing).

Even amongst those who have unrelated ( to SBM) degrees, shouldn’t they who have a liberal studies background at least be able to think their way out the absurdities presented in anti-vax credo? Many universities require lab science courses regardless of major. Anti-vaxxers with degrees in social science should have had at least some statistical analysis and research design.
Another factor is that many years have passed since these people have studied anything seriously.

I’ve just become convinced lately that there is a lot of wacky out there. A degree is no guarantee of realism or awareness.

You’re nicer than me, Denice.

I find it irritating as hell that MJD would focus on the school rather than the nurse for these actions. Nursing schools are held to rigorous standards by the Board of Nursing in their state, and by accrediting organizations such as the Accrediting Commission on Nursing Education (ACEN). My school had site visits from the OBN and ACEN within weeks of one another . . . it was TOUGH.

And it’s all a steaming pile of disingenuous horseshit anyway. MJD is obviously enjoying the hell out of the fact a nurse is coming under such fire for her stupidity. Though he fails to realize that fire is BECAUSE health care professions hold themselves to such high standards of rigor, both in academics and in practice.

MJD is a smarmy, self centered, officious, unctuous, SOS who DELIBERATELY engages in lies and distortions of scientific evidence for what purpose I cannot fathom. His behavior will do nothing to cure his son’s autism, nor will it prevent a single future case of autism. It’s like he’s punishing the world for his troubles, and I’ve about had enough of him. I can deal with people who are ignorant. Ignorance has nothing to do with intelligence; it just means you don’t know something.

MJD knows better. That’s what makes his behavior all the more disgusting.

@ Panacea:

You say ” for what purpose I cannot fathom”

If I can venture a guess, about woo-meisters / anti-vaxxers in general – not just him-

they want to prove the authorities wrong.
Even if they never studied medicine or related disciplines, they want to overturn the accumulated wisdom of research from past decades. They, as brave rebels, envision alternatives that the reality-oriented are blind to.
They will ride the incoming tsunami of paradigm shift like a surfer at Mavericks, CA.
They actually lack the ability to critique their own skill level as well as that of others.
Unfortunately, their self-aggrandisement is accepted by followers who lack the same skills and have an axe to grind against authority as well. At heart, the problem is most likely emotional – a need to excel and prove themselves superior as compensation- as well as cognitive.

I imagine that our high level woo-meisters were never accepted at the elite universities they denigrate ritualistically.

That’s why when I ridicule their brilliance I always illustrate the simple mistakes they make in general information and everyday language-so that followers may wake up and see that their heroes ( and they’re mostly men) are not intellectual giants as they pretend.

It’s been said that English needs a word that means what most people think “officious” means.

Panacea writes,

His behavior will do nothing to cure his son’s autism, nor will it prevent a single future case of autism.

MJD says,

It’s autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and my vaccine safety efforts will reduce the incidence of allergy-induced regressive autism; resulting in enhanced cognition in a subset of individuals with an ASD.

Love y’all.

Doucheniak, if you think your “efforts” are going to do a fucking thing that does not lie between “nothing” and “bore,” you’re more unhinged than I thought.

Panacea writes,

There’s no evidence that allergies have anything to do with autism.

MJD says,

Hmm, maybe and maybe not.

Many children that have an autism spectrum disorder are burdened with atopy. Medical science attempts to relieve some of the allergy symptoms with antihistamines. In a research article from Advances in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety (2013) titled, “Intake of the First-Generation Anti-Histamines in Early Childhood May Have an Adverse Effect on Cognitive Function. Population Based Pharmacoepidemiologic Study in Non-Asthamtic Children” the researchers stated, “The first-generation antihistamines negatively affect verbal but not performance IQs of young children when they are used over a relatively longer time. As language development is the part of the human communication system, the weaker verbal communication function may hinder the cognitive development of children and be associated with relatively poor school academic achievements.”

No Michael, not “maybe and maybe not”.
“Many children that have an autism spectrum disorder are burdened with atopy”. And so are many children who aren’t on the spectrum. My sister is one of them. In kindergarten, she developed a particularly vicious case of eczema that took several years to clear up. Your link was interesting, but hardly convincing.

OMICS, Doucheniak? You’re even dumber than I thought. And no, I’m not checking, given the combination of sources.

In other news, first-generation antihistamines didn’t seem to affect my SAT scores. Fuckwit.

Narad writes,

I’m not checking, given the combination of sources.

MJD says,

Orac has you brainwashed that only his stuff matters. That’s funny, Narad.

Orac has you brainwashed that only his stuff matters. That’s funny, Narad.

First law of holes, Doucheniak.

Dr. Starkowsky, where may I find information on your campaign to bring back the smallpox virus, to “weed out” the weaklings in our society?

I can’t believe I just read a reference here to someone thinking it’s OK to use a horrible disease to weed out weaklings. Maybe it’s the cruelty this corrupt administration has unleashed. Many people around here certainly seem to have liberated their inner a-hole. Who thinks this way except fundamentally disturbed people?! But I think most antivaxxers are profoundly rigid and unable to understand the depth of their own ignorance. Dunning-Krueger.

AVs aren’t ignorant. They’ve confronted the evidence countless times, and it just rolls of them like water off a duck’s back. AV is a conspiracy theory, so these folks just know (sic) the science has all been faked by the corrupt forces of Big Pharma, or as part of some population control plan by the Illuminatti, or whatever else they can cook up. Anyway, rigid, for sure, and that’s a clue that it’s some deep-seated commitment, a sort of defining identity. Nobody is that rigid on topics they find worthy of weighing with facts. You only get that with core beliefs that function as pure faith. As you asked below, the question is ‘why?’. Why do folks need some sort of faith? Why do some folks need a clearly ‘alternative’ marginalized faith? What does having this faith do for them – what do they get out of it psychologically?

These questions may be more important than the ‘why’ of how AVs settle on that particular faith. Antivax is just one (and a lesser one at that) of the many outre conspiracy theories we seem to be swimming in. Q-Anon is just a hyper-CT that masks to some extent that the Trumpism some 40%+ of people polled evidence is a conspiracy-theory-based cult of personality. I do think you’re right that the internet has eliminated some of the socio-cultural friction that might have tamped down these tendencies in the past. But I think there’s something different about our times, a way our environments are disturbing in a way our forbears never faced. My thought is that it has something to do with the rapidity and degree of technological change over the last 150 years or so. This is barely an eyeblink in evolutionary time, yet the nature of everyday life has been almost totally transformed. We don’t think of things like artificial light, motorized transportation, mega cities, absolutely ubiquitous mediated realities and fictions as radically new, but in terms of our species’ adaptation, they are. Look at it that way, it’s not surprising a lot of people are messed up.

Just one hypothesis about this: we don’t have the senses of control in our immediate spheres of everyday life we used to, and the nature of the things we can’t control has quickly passed from the natural to the artificial. In a way, natural dangers are much easier to understand, and besides homo sapiens sapiens has had a loong time to practice dealing with them. A lot of contemporary experience is just ‘sh!t happens’, and that’s scary at some very deep level, and that leads to various forms of denialism….

Sara, I wish it surprised me, and I wish I could blame it on the current administration, but this ludicrous blather has been around considerably longer than that and nothing pro-disease people say comes as a surprise any more. Well, there was the person a few years ago who told me, in all sincerity, that Shingles didn’t exist before the chicken pox vaccine went on the market, because nobody ever heard of it before that. That was a bit of a surprise, considering the etymology of the word.

I’ve also heard that ridiculous lie that shingles did not exist before the chicken pox vaccine. What I grapple with is understanding these people’s mentality. They openly defy reason and the state of current medical knowledge. The question is why. What vulnerabilities are we missing in these people that makes them so resolutely resistant to the facts? I study rigidity and its roots, but I really don’t get these people at all. They take solace from like-minded people and have formed their own tribe.I wonder if they didn’t have such powerful reinforcement in the online world whether they would fade out from lack of support and be relegated to the fringe where they belong.

This purely speculation BUT

I sometimes wonder if a deeply seated belief in a form of eugenics underlies woo, alt med and anti-vax:
maybe, just maybe:

many of these partisans believe themselves to be intellectually superior to the ordinary masses which to their jaundiced perspective includes doctors, scientists etc even if they never studied those subjects
They KNOW more, they know how to live better, are healthier, morally superior ( never shills), more pure ( in whatever twisted sense they define that), their children are incredibly beautiful, wise and healthy until contaminated by SBM
They believe that they can outsmart illness, disability and perhaps even mortality by following the right protocols.
They often involve a spiritual or mystical dimension ( invoking god or angels) whilst parading their own righteousness as they call for judgment for those who destroyed them, their children or the world.

They are not sheeple. They are above the common crowd. They don’t consume the Standard American Diet. Or follow what SBM or the MSM teaches. They describe their opponents as being compromised, criminal or controlled by nefarious forces who deserve prison or worse. Those who follow SBM will get what they deserve.

I hope you see where I’m going here. I’m not saying that any of this is consciously realised or aimed at harming people but their belief in an eventually just world/ divine justice might lead them to perceive of themselves as the chosen few.
One woo-meister says only ” 5%” live correctly.

I have always wondered if some of the anti vaccination smugness comes from never having seen what these illnesses can really do. I would think that few people living in the first world have ever seen diseases like polio or TB or even endemic influenza so they can dismiss the death and suffering such diseases cause. Add this to a belief that modern “cleanliness” can somehow protect against such diseases coupled with a misunderstanding that modern medicine can cure almost anything (cue almost any prime time hospital based TV drama) and I can see how we could dismiss vaccinations as unnecessary, because “it’ll never happen to me”.

You may be on to something here. The “original” antivaxxers in the 18th century cited divine will as the source of their discomfort with vaccines, as in “God sends pestilence upon the Earth to work his will in punishing the wicked. Any effort to thwart His divine will must be considered hubris of the highest order.” My response would have been that this rather seriously underestimates the resources of the Divine, but that is just me.

Shelly is so right. A while ago I had that very conversation with a rabid anti-vaxer. Have you ever met anyone who had polio as a child? No? You do understand that people have died from measles, and there is an active outbreak in Europe right now. But I don’t live in Europe, she said. But we have these things called airplanes, and it’s believed that HIV/AIDS was brought to the US by one flight attendant. Have you ever been around people with advanced TB? No? But I take good care of myself and have a healthy immune system, she said. So do I, I replied. That didn’t save me from almost losing my leg to a MRSA. Following someone’s idea of a pure and correct lifestyle doesn’t matter to viruses and bacteria. These people are all about control and their religion of rejecting orthodoxy and accepted practices. That makes them so, so special. It’s the entitlement that gets to me as much as the rank ignorance. They are immune to persuasion. Presenting the facts just makes them dig in their heels even more. I think of them as just another variety of religious zealot.

“If you don’t believe in vaccines, you probably shouldn’t go into pediatrics and you would be warned of that, that this is the standard and if you don’t believe in the standard, you should probably go into another practice.”

You cannot work in the vaccine church (hospital), if you don’t believe in the vaccine religion. Makes sense in Religion Based Medicine.
And all these would be a non-issue if the stupid vaccines were safe.

Vaccines ARE safe. Far safer than the diseases. Risk assessment is math beyond your ability here Vinu?

Oh let’s please not wind vinu up? If I have to wade through another 20 comments about how much vinu hates milk (I think vinu wishes they had been born a reptile) and ancient bad mouse studies I think I’ll scream.

Vinu doesn’t care that vaccines are safe an effective. Vinu just wants to be mad.

And all these would be a non-issue if the stupid vaccines were safe

Yeah, it’s too bad that the stupid vaccines aren’t safe because you could sure use a vaccine against stupid.

What is a faux religion is this rejection of vaccines to the point of absurdity. These people are just fanatics. The fears are rooted in personality factors–tending toward authoritarianism, needing to feel superior to the rest of us, needing to reject conventional wisdom. These people mostly seem like rigid narcissists.

That’s a little harsh don’t you think? Dining room tables are useful.

My dining table is a rather excellent Scandinavian modern design in cherry wood and is waaaaaaay more useful and coherent than Vinu and never, ever, cites its own incomprehensible letters to editors of journals as proof of anything.

At least vinu has not (yet, anyway) succumbed to raving insanity – unlike one relatively well-known antivax loon who is now calling for the death penalty for pro-vaxers.

Three guesses as to who it is (your first will be wrong).

My first guesses after reading Julian’s excellent response were AoA’s Angus and Jake’s acolytes, Hans or Sophie BUT….
then I thought: it must be Handley or Heckenlively so I went to the Bolen Report and Lo! and behold! it was old Timmy Pat himself.

That article is fantastic ( in the original sense of the word) : I have one question- how is the pizza restaurant/ child sexual abuse ring NOT implicated?

I was impressed with the Vaccine Safety Datalink project being a blue state conspiracy. I had also never considered the possibility that trigger warnings for millennials* are necessary because of vaccine damage.

*Tim is a bit confused about generational stereotypes.

@ DB:

Well, it was only a matter of time that someone made the connection because kids born in the 1990s are the “most damaged”:
after all, they have more MI, more allergies, ASDs, LDs, low IQs etc. Ever read AoA’s Ann Dachel? Or the TMs? Ginger? The Canary Clan? Those kids are being POYSONED by vaccines, food, meds, the air, water, toxic media, video games, television, rap, bad teachers..

Woo entrepreneurs like Adams and Null continuously bemoan the sad plight of the Millennials: they are too sensitive, leftist, gender fluid, badly educated**, plugged into social media/ tech etc.
Null plays tapes of how students at Columbia/ NYU can’t answer his ( very odd) questions. Adams just insults them as snowflakes, socialists.
They must dislike them because the kids don’t follow their woo/ altie news.

** oh the irony! These loons criticising anyone’s education.

Correction- the guess was by Renate

Belatedly, AoA has a post on the Texas Children’s Hospital nurse firing. No comment on the nurse revealing confidential patient-identifiable information, her defending antivax views despite the child’s severe illness, or her temptation to carry a highly infectious disease home to give to her son (and whoever might’ve been unfortunate enough to catch it from him). Just some bland side commentary suggesting measles is a routine thing, no biggie, and a boon for parents. In fact, the post defines measles as:

“formerly a common childhood illness that bonded Moms in coffee klatches and Tupperware parties.”

And yep, it mentions the Brady Bunch.

Panacea re. your reply to me elsewhere (there was no Reply button to that comment):

Yes, the Sovereign Citizens. They are regarded by law enforcement as the most dangerous domestic extremist group, probably for their “hobby” of driving with hand-written license plates and then shooting cops who pull them over.

It would not surprise me if there was a large antivax & unvaxed population under the umbrella of these groups.

From a straight-up public health standpoint, whatever can be done to convince them to vaccinate their kids is good, even if it means seeming to be friendly. It’s about the health of the kids first.

Ultimately it would be better to just have nationwide mandatory vaccination laws and bluntly tell the antis that if they don’t like that “risk,” we’ll bring back the military draft with no exemptions except serious medical and principled pacifists, the latter being obligated to some other form of national service, and see how they like that risk (a real one) by comparison.

As for Wakefield the Measles Fairy, he’s a naturalized citizen of the US now, but that can be revoked for good cause. The only reason we shouldn’t is because inflicting him on the UK would probably put us at risk of being sued by the UK in various international courts.

Yes, that’s why the child with measles was in the hospital, because measles is alway a walk in the park, for mothers to bond over. Unless they have their child in the hospital, but they didn’t show that in the Brady Bunch. Not much to laugh about probably.

Dangerous Bacon, oddly enough my measles didn’t “bond” my mother with anyone over a coffee klatch. Of course, the fact that she had a full time job would have precluded that, anyway. What it did, was worry her that I wouldn’t survive, and cause her to have to stay home a a couple of days to give my grandmother a rest from caring for me as I raved with febrile delirium. She also “bonded” with the doctor when he came (this was back in the Dark Ages when doctors made house calls – although even then, they expected to be paid with money, rather than a chicken or a dozen eggs).
Brady Bunch was mentioned? I wish someone would mention the tiny difficulty having six children with one bathroom – that didn’t even have a toilet! But they’re all to busy laughing about the fun the kids had with the spots, while survivors like me, gag.

I saw this in my morning newspaper, so I thought I’d share it here. It’s actually from the Atlanta newspaper.

Meanwhile, a team of researchers, including scientists from the University of Georgia, found in a new study that while some people lose immunity relatively quickly, the vaccine can be protective for many decades. The study, published in a March issue of Science Translational Medicine, also found that the dwindling number of people still alive who survived pertussis infections in the days before vaccination and therefore gained lifelong immunity, is also playing a role in the resurgence. When the vaccine was first introduced in the 1940s, there were very high rates of vaccination, which led to an overall decrease in transmission.

Senior author Pejman Rohani, who has a joint appointment in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine and the Odum School of Ecology, said the number of people who are susceptible to contracting pertussis is slowly rising, setting the stage for an increase in the number of new cases, especially in older individuals. This is known as the “end of the honeymoon” period, he said.

And even though the effectiveness of vaccines may wane over time, experts say people should still make sure to get them. Skipping the vaccines, Rohani said, “would be a terrible idea, especially the routine scheduled and maternal vaccination.”

One of the hospitals where I do clinic actually made me get a TDaP booster a couple of years ago, because we’d had a local outbreak one county over. Everyone at the hospital had to get the booster: staff, students, instructors. No booster, no job.

Last year, we had a mumps outbreak at my university among students living in the dorms.

It’s really getting to be a more and more common problem.

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