Anti-Vaxxers: A Dangerous Trend the Philippines Needs to Avoid

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Parents only want the best for their child, be it as general as a good environment to grow up in or as specific as health. I grew up knowing that quite a number of deadly diseases could easily be cured through vaccination. Granted the means of delivering the vaccine are scary (children always cringe at the sight of a syringe), even then I knew that these medicines would prevent me from getting sick later on. Obviously I couldn’t remember it back then, but when I was an infant I received vaccines against rubella, diptheria, measles, mumps, tuberculosis and polio. Even today I still save a significant amount of my cash for an annual flu shot, and I recently completed a series of vaccines that would protect me against tetanus. Since I consider myself an athletic individual, given the occasional cheeseburger and chips, I don’t want to take big risks when it comes to my physical well-being.

So imagine my surprise when a certain cable company in Baguio, where I live, started airing dangerous commercials about the so-called “evils” of vaccines. They air at least once every two hours on four channels, spreading the message that vaccines are loaded with certain “dangerous ingredients” that could destroy a person’s central nervous system, or could even cause death. Their solution? Stop taking vaccines and go all-natural instead. These “Anti-Vaxxers” cite sources from a website called “Natural News” that offers homeopathic/chiropractic remedies that claim to reliable substitute vaccines and get parents and their children away from “Big Pharma,” their term for multinational drug companies. The Anti-Vaxxers even have a popular video called “Define Better,” a rap anthem that, while certainly catchy, fails to provide adequate information to pull people to their side.

I’ll lay it straight: Anti-Vaxxers are misinformed. Unconsciously or not, they spread lies to keep your children from getting healthy.

The main argument that Anti-Vaxxers emphasize is a 1998 study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, published in The Lancet in 1998. It put forward a hypothesis of an alleged link between the measles vaccine and autism from a very small small sample size of twelve children. Anti-vaccination hysteria caught on in 2002 when British media caught hold of this finding and published it for all the world to see. However, Dr. Wakefield’s finding could not be replicated in further tests, and it was eventually found that he used unethical means to get his result. Furthermore, Dr. Wakefield was discredited due to his involvement with anti-vaccination groups prior to his study, and it was eventually discovered that he had fabricated information and even ignored certain data, such as the pre-existing medical conditions of his test subjects. Eventually, due to the fraudulent and unethical nature of the study, The Lancet retracted Dr. Wakefield’s findings.

This, of course, does not deter the Anti-Vaxxers, who think that “Big Pharma” is “silencing the truth” in some sort of global conspiracy akin to the Illuminati or the 9/11 Truthers. This kind of stubborn thinking, regardless of the proven facts, has led me to conclude that people who refuse vaccinations for their children are gambling with their lives. The anti-vaccination crowd would cite all kinds of studies about vaccines and the chemicals that they contain, and fear is often their greatest tool for recruitment.

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For example, although the claim that vaccines contain formaldehyde is real, Anti-Vaxxers tend to forget (often times deliberately) that the body naturally produces formaldehyde. Pears actually contain a lot more formaldehyde than a single vaccine syringe.

Another, more disturbing, accusation that Anti-Vaxxers claim is that vaccines cause autism. This has scared so many people that even Jenny McCarthy now claims that vaccines were the cause of her child’s supposedly autistic behavior. First of all, autism is a genetic disorder, not a disease. There is no scientific proof that a person can retroactively gain autism from the environment, let alone a vaccine. Anti-Vaxxers turn to homeopathy and folk medicine for curable diseases, but common-sense science has proven that homeopathic cures do not have any active ingredients to boost the human body’s immune system against diseases.

There are many other claims that the Anti-Vaxxers want to push, and I find it appalling that they’ve finally found a foothold to spread misinformation in the Philippines. Despite this, and despite the numerous inadequacies of the government today, I’m still very grateful that the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) offers a comprehensive immunization and inoculation program to eliminate childhood diseases. I also do not need to enumerate the perhaps hundreds of websites out there that help debunk the bad science that Anti-Vaxxers continue to disseminate. Although factual science does admit that a small amount of children do have adverse effects when given vaccines (due perhaps to allergic reactions or pre-existing conditions such as congenital defects), no amount of homeopathic or “natural” cures can rid children of what could potentially kill them. When in doubt, your doctor is the final authority on what is best for your child, and only his or her medical expertise will tell you what vaccines you should take and shouldn’t.

Children should never be allowed to become martyrs for a misinformed “fight against Big Pharma.” Have your children vaccinated, whatever blogs, celebrities or so-called “experts” tell you.

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(The Facebook group “Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes” is a convenient social network portal for those who want more information on how to intelligently refute Anti-Vaxxer claims.)

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38 Comments on “Anti-Vaxxers: A Dangerous Trend the Philippines Needs to Avoid”

  1. It’s appalling that scientifically illiterate zealots like Jenny McCarthy have a platform that reaches millions to promote junk science, fads and really BAD — even harmful — ideas while profiting handsomely their outrageous views.

    1. You don’t know the half of it, brother. The organisation Jenny McCarthy is part of once promoted the practice of giving autistic children bleach orally and as an enema — all as part of a detoxification method (predicated on the idea that autism is an environmental disease).

        1. My friend, I think we both need to get vaccinated. To stave off brain farts. And to be able to type out a coherent thought without too many mistakes ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Only in the Philippines that an old man sucking on a persons painful body parts is believed to have it cured. That is a real example of fake healing. They will even borrow money to pay for this old guy to have him suck at their aches and pains.

    Come to think of it, filipinos would believe anything the yellow media tells them.

    1. Isn’t it that the causes of autism have never been found and every theory about it so far is speculation? Then no one can claim that they know the cause.

  3. This unnerves me so much that I plan on putting up a Tagalog translation of this article before the end of the month, if only to keep more Filipinos informed.

    1. It really scares me, this people should be put into jail for misinforming the people, and also by undermining public health..

  4. I made an error: autism is NOT a genetic disorder. However, it’s still a fact that autism is non-environmental and could not be caused by vaccines.

    1. To be more specific, autism is a disorder of neural development that has a string genetic basis. No scientific basis has ever been found so far for any external cause for autism.

        1. RtAVM just posted this, and I’d like to think this is more explicit and more sound than my explanation above:

          “Vaccines don’t cause autism; vaccines don’t cause nerve cells to demyelinate, because autism is NOT a demyelinating disease.”

        2. For the benefit of others:
          Demyelinating disease – One that leads to damage to the myelin sheath of the neuron.

          Multiple sclerosis is so far the most common disease of this type. Others are Optic neuritis, Devic disease and Transverse myelitis. Autism has never been proven to be like this.

          Took my info from the Mayo Clinic.

  5. MidwayHaven,

    Here are some quick facts from the US Centre for Disease Control:

    Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. People with ASDs handle information in their brain differently than other people.
    ASDs are “spectrum disorders.” That means ASDs affect each person in different ways, and can range from very mild to severe. People with ASDs share some similar symptoms, such as problems with social interaction. But there are differences in when the symptoms start, how severe they are, and the exact nature of the symptoms.

    Causes and Risk Factors

    We do not know all of the causes of ASDs. However, we have learned that there are likely many causes for multiple types of ASDs. There may be many different factors that make a child more likely to have an ASD, including environmental, biologic and genetic factors.

    Most scientists agree that genes are one of the risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop an ASD.

    Children who have a sibling or parent with an ASD are at a higher risk of also having an ASD.

    ASDs tend to occur more often in people who have certain genetic or chromosomal conditions. About 10% of children with ASDs also have been identified as having Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, or other genetic and chromosomal disorders.

    When taken during pregnancy, the prescription drugs valproic acid and thalidomide have been linked with a higher risk of ASDs.

    We know that the once common belief that poor parenting practices cause ASDs is not true.

    There is some evidence that the critical period for developing ASDs occurs before birth. However, concerns about vaccines and infections have led researchers to consider risk factors before and after birth.

    A small percentage of children who are born prematurely or with low birthweight are at greater risk for having ASDs.

    ASDs continue to be an important public health concern. Like the many families living with ASDs, CDC wants to find out what causes the disorder. Understanding the risk factors that make a person more likely to develop an ASD will help us learn more about the causes. We are currently working on one of the largest U.S. studies to date, called Study to Explore Early Development (SEED). SEED is looking at many possible risk factors for ASDs, including genetic, environmental, pregnancy, and behavioral factors.

      1. Absolutely right. The one thing the CDC makes clear is that there is NO definitive cause of autism that can be singled out at this time. The environment, medications, and other external factors MAY be contributors, but the best way to be sure is to consult your doctor, not to resort to medical quackery out of desperation because a celebrity released some public service announcement.

  6. you guys should contact the Baguio department of health or something. Have them takedown that cable company for false advertising

  7. I was able to read the news back then when the Lancet retracted Wakefield’s study. It was kind of interesting how it went, with some noise and all, and Wakefield gathering with supporters to protest this retraction. But the retraction stayed, and obviously, it was obvious that autism’s being caused by a vaccine was an unproven fluke. I wonder if some health and wellness (read: herbal) companies actually pay some people to create smut like anti-vaccine movements.

  8. While the subject is obviously way too complex to be fully elaborated on, in a short blog entry as this article. And while I do not know about this anti Vaxxer movement in the PH, nor did I see any propaganda against vaccines on TV- because I don’t watch TV. I’d like to note, that scientists and doctors are to this day not completely sure about the side effects of some vaccines, and there are quite a few of them, who refuse to vaccinate their own kids.

    While I have no doubt, that generally Vaccines are a good thing, and have helped eroding (or close to) some serious deseases, I am cautious!

    I am cautious whenever there is a new “oh so scary decease” as the several different types of “influenza” in the recent past. Where Governments are considering the enforcement of vaccinating everybody- with vaccines not even proven to be effective for said virus.. (I tend to be sceptical whenever anything is “enforced”)

    I am also sceptical if the official side-effects of some vaccines are more serious than the decease they are supposed to protect us from. Not to mention how many healthy people and kids are getting infected by the vaccine itself due to contamination or wrong dosage.

    My Wive recently gave birth to our baby daughter, and naturally I was faced with the same dilemma about vaccines.
    Most vaccines I agreed on, and I am (more or less) happy to pay for (I cannot criticise Government waste, inefficiencies and theft, as well as socialism per se, and then go and get free vaccines at the health centre… thus I am paying those inflated prices at the private clinic.)

    However, there was one exception: Hep B. After my wive gave birth, they hardly wouldn’t allow us to leave the hospital without pushing us to get HEP B vaccine for our newborn.

    Now, why did I refuse?
    First of all, HEP B is transmitted sexually or through contaminated Needles and such. I can guarantee you, as a Father, I will make damn sure that my newborn daughter is not participating in sex orgies with heroin junkies, and neither will she be sharing needles with them!
    Furthermore will the HEP B Vaccine lose its effectiveness after 8-12 years, and needs to be redone (I am not talking about a booster shot, but a renewal shot). Arguably, just when the risk of her getting infected due to her potential “experiments” (sexually or with drugs), are increasing, as she becomes a Teenager, the vaccine will have lost its punch.

    Additionally, while there are many many infections of HEP B around the world, it is only an extreme fraction of infected people that experience any chronic effects, and only a small fraction of those will have sever problems, and, again, only a small fraction of them will suffer fatal effects (per-mille rather than per-cent).
    While I’d certainly prefer to spare anyone from even the slightest risk, especially my loved ones, I do have to take the odds into account.

    HEP B Vaccination seems also to be one of the most problematic vaccines out there, with its side effects (and yes, autism is widely believed to be one possible side effect). Obviously, it is also only an extremely small fraction of vaccinated people who experience any of those side effects. I, again, need to take the odds into account.

    This is why my daughter will get her HEP B Vaccine when she is around 12 years old (or thereabouts), which seems to me to be a far better timing, rather then putting a newborn through that additional stress and risk.

    Now why am I boring you with this story?
    Basically, because I do not believe in propaganda – pro or contra, and I felt the urge to put my comment below a fairly one sided article, written by someone whom (no offence) I doubt to be a doctor, scientist in a related field of expertise, or a Bioengineer at a Big Pharma company, and therefore should be careful about writing one sided articles about vaccines.

    Without trying to insult anyone, I do notice in recent years, how more and more journalists, reporters and repeaters, all around the globe started to forget the principles of “balanced” writing from a neutral stance. And do appreciate, therefore, the ones that do, even more.

    Arrive at your own conclusions, concerning whatever subject, rather than being fed one side over the other.

    cheers

  9. If you take any medicine. It will have an effect on your body and mind. The effects varies from person to person. What is poison to me; may be food to you. You have to decide by the risk/reward factors…
    Read the articles, just listen to what they say.
    However, you yourself must research. If what they say is true or not…it is the Age of Information Technology. Use your computer to access information. Not only in the Philippines, but in some advanced countries.

  10. Conspiracy Keanu says: What if all these anti-vaccination stuff was a plot of by someone/something else to covertly destroy the human race? XD

    And Kotaro Minami/Kamen Rider Black would probably say this is Golgom’s fault… XD

  11. I had also wondered whether some “herbal” companies have a conspiracy of their own. For example, they pay people to create these false reports about commercially available products, to make it easier for their product to sell. So herbals are badmouthing conventional medicine to make it easier to sell their products. Yes, I know herbals are good, but that strategy of ruining competition is unethical. That is, if true.

  12. Being in the medical field, as a Nurse, we have several vaccines to have, before being deployed. I actually had 5 doses of HEPA B now, 3 initial dose and 2 booster dose. Vaccines are actually the disease, but in a more weaker form. Our body general has a security feature more like an internet antivirus program. When a virus attacks our body responds and remembers it, like putting it on their database. And when this same virus reappears our body can now act on it much faster because they already know what it will do. Much like an update to your antivirus system, think of a vaccine as an update of your body to prevent you from getting ill.

    Anti-Venom is also also a vaccine, certain amount of venom is injected to a large animal, preferably a horse and when that animal produces antibody it is gathered and viola you have Anti-venom. That saves millions of lives everyday.

    This anti vaxxers need to be stop misinforming the people. They make good use of the social media to promote their propaganda. The truth is that more people have now access to the internet, they tend to believe on the post on their wall about something, they just add scientist/research/study on the sentence and the people will believe it. Even if there is no definite evidence or proof of their claim.

  13. “As always, when in doubt, consult your doctor.” – I would have to disagree with this. Doctors don’t know EVERYTHING.

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