Vaccines are a good thing: refuting antivaxxer arguments

in antivax •  2 years ago

Hi all, i've seen a disturbing number of antivax types on steemit and thought it wise to refute some common arguments.

Of course, antivaxxers have every right to express their views, and I encourage the use of steemit for controversial viewpoints and free speech in general - but part of that is because I believe we can't refute someone's views if we don't know them.

So here we go....

"Vaccines cause autism"

This one hits close to home for me as i'm on the autistic spectrum myself (diagnosed aspergers, which is no longer a current diagnosis but I had mine as a child), and i've seen a LOT of bad pseudoscience about autism.

The myth seems to originate with andrew wakefield's now discredited and retracted paper in the lancet, available here:

Suffice to say, the scientific consensus is against the conclusions drawn in this paper, but one thing that stands out instantly is the old fact of "correlation is not causation" and a tiny sample size.

The lancet is a fairly respected medical journal, but so is BMJ, let's see what they said in response to the controversy:

Some choice quotes to show the bad science at work:

 “Wakefield told us my son was the 13th child they saw,” he said, gazing for the first time at the now infamous research paper which linked a purported new syndrome with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. “There’s only 12 in this.”
Running his finger across the paper’s tables, over coffee in London, Mr 11 seemed reassured by his anonymised son’s age and other details. But then he pointed at table 2—headed “neuropsychiatric diagnosis”—and for a second time objected.“That’s not true.”Child 11 was among the eight whose parents apparently blamed MMR. The interval between his vaccination and the first “behavioural symptom” was reported as 1 week. This symptom was said to have appeared at age 15 months. But his father, whom I had tracked down, said this was wrong.“From the information you provided me on our son, who I was shocked to hear had been included in their published study,” he wrote to me, after we met again in California, “the data clearly appeared to be distorted.”

The current scientific consensus on autism is that the cause is a mix of genetic and environmental factors and the existence of "clusters" in areas such as silicon valley would seem to confirm this.

Put quite simply, there's a strong correlation between aspergers and classic "geek" personality and autism - it's the same condition fundamentally, with the primary distinction simply being level of functioning (higher functioning vs lower functioning - defined in terms of IQ).

I myself, if diagnosed today, would be classified as "higher functioning autistic", as would a lot of my family and friends. The DSM-V removed the aspergers/autism distinction for a reason.

It should also be noted that having measles, mumps or rubella are quite nasty diseases that any loving parent should not want their child to suffer and even if vaccines DID cause autism, being like me isn't so bad - I promise.

Finally, more recent studies have found no correlation between vaccines and autism anyway, here's one for example:

"Vaccines cause heavy metal toxicity"

Well first of all, metal is awesome and we could all do with more Black Sabbath in our lives.

But being serious, this claim is often based on the preservative Thiomersal found in vaccines, which does indeed "contain" mercury. This compound is used to prevent contamination of the vaccines from bacterial and fungal sources, but it is not biologically active in humans in the same way that mercury and other heavy metals are.

For one thing, it's not actually literally mercury - it's mercury with a few other bits added to the molecular structure. The body breaks it down into 2 compounds: ethylmercury and Thiosalicylic acid, only the former of which is a concern. Now, ethylmercury in large quantities is nasty stuff, but the amount you get from a vaccine works out to less than eating a can of tuna.

It must also be said that in all medical practice, there's a risk/benefit tradeoff to be made: the diseases prevented by vaccines are FAR FAR more deadly than the small risk from this absolutely tiny amount of mercury.

Another point to be made is that the symptoms of heavy metal toxicity are nothing like the mild flu-like symptoms reported in some patients after vaccines (these symptoms are triggered by immune response by the way - it's a sign the vaccine is doing what it should).

"We should use chelation to treat children who have autism"

This is a bit of a sidepoint, but suffice to say - no, don't.

Chelation has a legitimate medical use for cases of heavy metal toxicity in emergencies, but it should be applied within HOURS of the toxic insult and it can not undo or repair damage already done to the body.

Not that autism has anything to do with heavy metal either, except for all the aspie metalheads I know.

"The CDC reports adverse effects every year"

This is true, but these effects are all either known minor side effects (headache, mild fever etc - all expected and actually a sign of the vaccine working), or the odd rare case of an allergic response (far more rare).

Again also, we must bear in mind the risk of serious problems with modern vaccines is far far lower than the risk to health posed by the diseases they prevent.

"Natural immunity is better" / "Chickenpox is better when young"

This is just nonsense, and parents who have "bug parties" to get their children infected with a disease are in my view simple child abusers. It's true that some diseases (like chickenpox) can be better to get in youth, but that does not translate to other diseases and even chickenpox can have life-threatening effects.

Quite simply, you shouldn't expose your kids to disease if you don't have to.

"We have the right to refuse"

While I philosophically agree with this, because we all own our own bodies after all, where it comes to children - no.

Your responsibility as a parent is to lookout for your child's best interests, and if you can prevent them becoming ill you have a duty to do so.

As for adults, there's more of an argument to be made - but you're still fundamentally arguing for the right to become seriously ill, and you're also exposing others to the risk of infection.

"It doesn't matter if I don't vaccinate if vaccines work, because then I can't infect others who are vaccinated"

I believe a lot of the problems with anti vaxxers comes from lack of education so this point is often hard to get across for the same reason, but basically evolution plays a role here.

With "herd immunity" there's less people infected by any particular pathogen, which means less space for it to mutate and evolve into something the vaccines might not cover. We also have to think about those who can't take vaccines due to immune disorders or allergies - it's questionable whether the right to refuse injections means the right to expose others to illness.

Schools should really improve the way they teach evolution - a lot of people don't understand the basic principles behind it, but i'll try to give a brief summary here:

  1. DNA does not copy perfectly every time, and it also gets mutated from random environmental factors (radiation is a big one, but there's factors like viral infections and mutagenic compounds in the environment).
  2. When DNA is mutated, the mutations will either be of benefit to the organism, neutral or harmful
  3. Over time, if the mutations are beneficial, that organism reproduces more and is better able to compete for resources
  4. As a result, over long timeframes we get all the variety we see in life today

With bacteria in particular, they divide very rapidly and are quite vulnerable to mutation, but they also have been known to swap genes in a manner akin to the sexual reproduction seen in animals. The very rapid turnover of generations means that beneficial mutations (from the bacteria's viewpoint) stack up rapidly and this is why we see antibiotic resistance and why vaccines need to be changed from time to time to account for new strains. The same also happens with viruses and any other pathogens too.

"Disease rates are going down due to modern hygiene and other measures"

This is a talking point raised by some to argue vaccines aren't needed. While it's true that hygiene and the rest of modern medicine outside of vaccination also plays a role, it is not sufficient alone to prevent serious diseases.

No matter how well we clean our bodies and environments, pathogens will still lurk somewhere and eventually infect someone. Simple hygiene measures can slow down the spread of disease, but they don't eliminate the spread completely.

Conclusion and a call for input

Quite simply, vaccines save lives, and widespread usage of them keeps whole populations healthy.

If anyone knows of a widespread argument against vaccines i've not covered here, please comment. I've purposefully avoided the sillier conspiracy-theory arguments ("depopulation bombs", "big pharma" etc) and tried to address the most common ones i've actually seen myself, but undoubtedly there's loads more out there.

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@garethnelaonuk I am not so familiar with what you are saying but if your submission on this statement is true Quite simply, vaccines save lives, and widespread usage of them keeps whole populations healthy. I will try and look for vaccines and see the effect and also do more research on it.

Good post buddy.


Glad to hear it, sadly a lot of people see vaccines as a bad thing and they are anything but.


$65 million was paid out to those injured by vaccinations in 2016. Read more at The Bill Gates foundation was kicked out of India because their shenanigans. Britian went from the lowest incidence of autism to the highest incidence of autism in the world in Direct Correlation to the increase in vaccinations.


Great post! very informative I liked it. Thanks for sharing ! I hope you can visit me too @tiffanyrej

I am so happy you think the same like me. This movement is crazy. I am vaccinated my self, my kids, sisters, brothers cousins and nephews and friends. That this movement is claiming that you get autistic kids from vaccins. How come my entire family and friends circle don't have it? There is a known anti vaxxer from America, his name is Kent, i believe. He went to Australia, but they didnt allow him to enter Australia. Did you know there is a new movement: anti vaxxers on animals! Can you imagine walking on the street with your kids and a dog bites you or your kids and this dog didnt get his shots? Keep spreading this information @garethnelsonuk! I just resteemed your post.


The "vaccines cause autism" thing never made much sense, and all the evidence is against it - but some people think autism is the worst possible thing that can "happen" to someone like it's some kind of disease, and it most certainly is not.

I'm aware of the antivaxxers pushing their stuff with animals too - homeopaths do this as well, and homeopathy might be a good subject for my next post considering how popular it seems to be despite being literally just water.

I too have noticed the preponderance of "woo", pseudo-science and anti-vax on Steemit, it's a bit disheartening BUT they are not the only people here and in the end science doesn't care what you believe it just works.

Now the thing is to use science (as in the scientific method of experimentation etc) to find an effective way to change and enlighten minds.

I'm with you! RESTEEMED, voted and followed!


Thanks for that :)

It's a sad fact that when you support free speech you have to support it for those you disagree with or even hate, and I wouldn't want to change steemit to take away the antivax views for the very reason that I support free speech for all.

The correct response to this stuff is not censorship (that just makes martyrs), but open refutation. I encourage people to speak out and refute this nonsense whenever they see it.


Indeed, remaining silent implies agreement. Speaking out is necessary.


In his book "Bad Science" Ben Goldacre(who is not an anti-vaxxer) Author, journalist, physician, science writer and scientist speaks of the lack of scientific rigour applied to medical practices, here is a snippet from wikipedia

The book remarks on the relatively low percentage of conventional medical activity (50 to 80%) which could be called "evidence-based". The efforts of the medical profession to weed out bad treatments are seen to be hampered by the withholding or distortion of evidence by drug companies. The science and economics of drug development are outlined, with criticism of the lack of independence of industrial research and the neglect of Third World diseases. Some underhand tricks used by drug companies to engineer positive trial results for their products are explored. The publication bias produced by researchers not publishing negative results is illustrated with funnel plots. Examples are made of the SSRI antidepressants and Vioxx drugs. Reform of trials registers to prevent abuses is proposed. The ethics of drug advertising and manipulation of patient advocacy groups are questioned.

I've always wondered how you do a double-blind study on vaccines, do you know of any?
I think you should always be a careful consumer of medicine because of the history the medical profession getting things very wrong while claiming "science" the whole time.
Of course being careful doesn't only apply to western medicine as this book shows, he even "debunks" homeopathy(I used quotation marks to denote debunks as a verb as opposed to a fait accompli).


You inject saline for placebo group.

Then you measure incidence of illness.


That might prove something if you then exposed them to infection.
Any actual double-blind studies following your methodology(with a large enough sample size of course)?

I concur @garethnelsonuk one article and a few likes can get people into a total spin about anything.

Growing up in Africa we got vaccines at school, the nurses arrived you took the shots and got given a sweet, that was it. OK so in today's world parents have to give permission, agree but also disagree since if you protect a nation all should have the vaccinations.

Fast forward to the parents of today, science has developed and new findings happen daily, some right and perhaps some take a few years to be proven wrong. Before this generation we never heard of Autism nor Aspergers, now I know of 50% children known to me suffer with either or both diseases.

Modern disease? Additives to foods? Crop spraying? Water recycling? Dirt in the oxygen we breathe? Vaccinations? I do not believe there are any simple answer to the question, however moving forward we do not protection.


Aspergers is not a disease, and it is not caused by any toxins in the environment. The cause is genetic.

Paging @canadian-coconut to the thread!

YES!!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!
Vaccines do not cause autism. Period.
Autism is NOWHERE NEAR even comparable to the horrible diseases these vaccines prevent. If your biggest reason for being "anti-vax" is because they "might cause autism", you have some serious thinking to do about your priorities.
No, vaccines are not 100% effective in 100% of people. Yes,you can still catch the diseases the vaccines prevent, and that friend-of-a-friend may have contracted chicken pox, despite being vaccinated. I promise their bout of illness was significantly lessened because they were vaccinated.
There are people who can't be vaccinated, for a number of reasons (like close friends of ours, whose little guy needed a stem cell transplant, and so lost all the immunity he had built up, and needed to wait until he could safely be re-vaccinated), who rely on herd immunity to keep them safe. Herd immunity doesn't work if the herd isn't immunized.

Now, ethylmercury in large quantities is nasty stuff, but the amount you get from a vaccine works out to less than eating a can of tuna.

You can't compare since the first is in fact injected. If you'd actually know what you were talking about then you'd also know mercury is very sticky. Something Mike Adams aka the Health Ranger found out since he timulated a digestive system artificially. He operates instruments in his lab which test for heavy metals. Furthermore Thimerosal is a pretty bad antibacterial agent so it has nothing to do in a vaccine which gets pushed into babies which don't have any immunity yet. If you want to learn about vaccines go to @canadian-coconut. Stop spreading BS please.


When you eat something, it still ultimately ends up in your blood stream - injecting it or absorbing it through the digestive tract, why does it matter?

It's somewhat besides the point as Thimerosal is no longer used in a lot of modern vaccines.


When you eat something, it still ultimately ends up in your blood stream - injecting it or absorbing it through the digestive tract, why does it matter?

Why you think the human has evolved so well, of course if you digest food and there is aluminum in it it's much less toxic then to have needles filled with adjuvants to circumvent it. The forms of aluminum in vaccines are neurotoxic just as many if not all forms of mercury.