Vaccination Misinformation: Harmful Propaganda

Immeasurable suffering has resulted from vaccination misinformation through harmful propaganda campaigns Vulnerable people in our society such as older people, children and those already fighting disease suffer because of harmful vaccination misinformation.

Nick brushed on this topic in his article “Let’s Get Immunised To Bullshit”. Unfortunately, I don’t think that we can let it lie there. The disgustingly harmful practice of spreading disinformation reduces the health and safety of others, and it must be crushed.

While groups and pages like VINE have been closed on Facebook, that doesn’t mean they won’t pop up again on Facebook which they have or somewhere else such as hosting their own website and spouting nonsense like:

“The Vaccine Hoax is Over Freedom of Info Act Forces Release of Secret Documents that Reveal Shocking Truth: Vaccines Do Not Work – Cover Up…”

VINE (previously) on Facebook.

These people may hide behind the freedom of speech to spread their vitriolic brand of deliberately damaging bullshit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is okay to do it. And it certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t have the right to call them out on it.

VINE (Vaccination Information Network) = Concerned idiots on Facebook

Is it a good thing to question established wisdom? Absolutely. Is it a good thing to ignore peer-reviewed medical science? Absolutely not.

A brief glance over VINE and their associated Facebook pages (feel free to educate them on the actual science) will delight you with a swath of intelligent individuals who, lock-step, believe that ALL vaccination is not only dangerous but outright harmful to children.  

The bullshit reeks at face value, yes.  It’s evidently harmful propaganda from people who profess a scientific opinion without understanding the very basics of scientific endeavour, yes. But that doesn’t mean that it should be dismissed out of hand.

One comment from their original parent page (no longer available) caught my immediate attention:

“Only indoctrinated retards believe vaccines “eradicated polio”

– One evidence-ignoring Facebook user.

Perhaps we should also reflect on what happens when you blatantly ignore medical science.

A black man in a wheelchair plays with an orange basket ball. Behind him blurred in the background are other people playing with a ball

The vaccination of polio

Commonly termed polio is an acute illness that follows gastrointestinal infection and is medically called poliomyelitis.  It is often caused by one of three types of polioviruses, though the symptoms they have are the same.  

The symptoms of polio, if you’re lucky enough to develop symptoms that can be treated (only about 10% of cases develop symptoms), include:

  • Headaches.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Tiredness.
  • Neck and back stiffness.
  • Severe muscle pain.
  • Paralysis.  

About 5% of people hospitalised from polio will die and about half of those who survive will suffer from irreversible paralysis. Polio can also have severe impacts on developing infants and children, leading to horrific deformities later in life.

The polioviruses are members of the enterovirus genus and are spread between people through nasal and oral secretions and by contact with contaminated feces.

Having coasted with a relatively low incidence for most of human history, in the early 1900s polio reached epidemic proportions, particularly in developed countries with high living standards like the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.  

At the same time other diseases such as diphtheria, typhoid and tuberculosis were on the decline and the scientists of the time, rather ironically, believed that the rising standards of hygiene were to blame.

Thankfully, polio is a vaccine-preventable disease and that vaccination is recommended as a part of standard childhood jabs.  

This process should continue and a quick glance over at the World Health Organisation’s website will tell you why.  Polioviruses attack and kill human nerve cells with brutal efficiency.

Jonas Salk enough said.

The inarguable humanitarian Jonas Salk developed the polio vaccine in 1955. I mention Dr Salk for a very special reason.  His very mention deals a crippling blow to the “for-profit” charge of those who argue against vaccination.  

Dr Salk uttered nine magic words.

There is no patent. Could you patent the Sun?

– Jonas Salk on patenting his polio vaccine.

The vaccination of smallpox

Monkeypox and smallpox vaccine scar on a woman’s left arm

The World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared smallpox eradicated in 1979 following a global collaborative effort. It is, perhaps, one of our greatest medical triumphs of the past century. Edward Jenner, in 1796, publicised the process and a vaccine was born.

Like many distant scientific events, it comes with a lovely little story.

As was the case with Newton, Jenner made his discovery after a rather simple observation. His apple, of course, were milkmaids. Jenner realised that milkmaids who contracted the much milder cowpox did not contract smallpox.

Smallpox is—was—an infectious disease unique to humans. It was a horrible disease whose mortality rate was as high as 35% and 65-85% of survivors left disfiguring characteristic scars, commonly on the face. Two strains of the virus caused the scars, either variola major or variola minor, they being members of the family of orthopoxviruses.

Some historical perspectives of such horrific diseases should give some perspective as to why vaccination and immunisation are distinctly important.

For those spreading vaccination misinformation and those on the fence

Educate yourselves.

Those people who tell you that vaccines don’t work or of government cover-ups are generally conspiracy theorists or ill-informed. What they’re selling you is vaccination misinformation in contradiction of accepted science.

They’re just like the people who believe the moon landing to be a hoax. The primary difference, however, is that moon hoaxers are harmless.

Those vile people telling you not to immunise your children are not. Ultimately, vaccination and immunisation have a track record of success. That speaks volumes of its efficacy.

Are the lives of your children worth risking? I would argue a resounding no. People who peddle such nonsense are evil.  They do so maliciously, either intentionally or ignorantly.

Those who are ignorant refuse to check the actual peer-reviewed science on the issue and still choose to peddle misinformation. That is an act of belligerent ignorance, and it should no more be accepted than should be accepted racism or homophobia—less so!  

This kind of bullshit kills people.

Education is the vaccination to bullshit.

Further reading on vaccinations:

Editorial note: We updated this article on 15/04/2023. We removed some links, changed a few images and sprinkled some textual love.

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