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STFU Parents: Anti-Vaxxer Parents On Facebook Are Crazier Than Ever And Making Me Itchy

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About a year ago, Robert DeNiro finally buckled under mounting public pressure and canceled the screening of the controversial anti-vaxx-leaning (aka “alt-vaxx” or “alternative vaxxer”) documentary “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe” at DeNiro’s 15-year-old (and typically-respected) Tribeca Film Festival. According to the New York Times, “the film is directed and co-written by Andrew Wakefield, an anti-vaccination activist and an author of a study — published in the British medical journal The Lancet, in 1998 — that was retracted in 2010.” Most people know who Wakefield is by now and are aware that “Britain’s General Medical Council, citing ethical violations and a failure to disclose financial conflicts of interest, revoked Mr. Wakefield’s medical license,” but that didn’t stop DeNiro, whose own son has autism, from ushering Wakefield’s movie into his festival. After considerable public criticism, and after DeNiro released a statement saying he doesn’t personally endorse the movie or condemn vaccination, it was pulled and we all went on with our lives. Well, most of us anyway.

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Mmm hmm. But that was then. Now, he’s just made headlines again by teaming up with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a vaccine skeptic, and offering $100,000 via Kennedy Jr.’s World Mercury Project to “to the first journalist, or other individual, who can find a peer-reviewed scientific study demonstrating that thimerosal is safe in the amounts contained in vaccines currently being administered to American children and pregnant women.”

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And yet, the CDC has formally stated for years that despite their being “no evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines,” it was eliminated from childhood vaccines in the U.S. in 2001. It’s still used in some flu vaccines, but there are currently versions that contain no thimerosal. In other words, this “$100 challenge,” as World Mercury Project called it, is pointless and only serves to stir up further debate about vaccination, especially among parents of young children who have grown to believe a number of incredibly dangerous myths surrounding vaccines. Theories range from believing that autism and vaccines are linked, to thinking pharmaceutical companies can’t be trusted, to thinking medicine and antibiotics are bad for us and our kids, to thinking God gives us illness to “test” us — the list goes on and on. And the more DeNiro, well-intentioned as he may be, continues to lend his star power to repeatedly disproven claims about vaccines, the more dangerous things get for the population at large (particularly for children who haven’t yet or can’t receive certain vaccinations and are the most vulnerable).

Only a few days after this latest announcement, an ominous Washington Post headline made the rounds online: ‘Trump energizes the anti-vaccine movement in Texas.’ ::shudder:: This article includes quotes like, “Public health experts warn that this growing movement is threatening one of the most successful medical innovations of modern times,” and, “The battle comes at a time when increasing numbers of Texas parents are choosing not to immunize their children because of ‘personal beliefs.'” The director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development “predicts that 2017 could be the year the anti-vaccination movement gains ascendancy in the United States,” noting that a third of students at some Texas private schools are unvaccinated. Most frighteningly, the article reminds us that Trump has met with Wakefield, who “told supporters afterward that he had received ‘tremendous support’ for his efforts and hoped to have more meetings with the president.” It has been speculated that Trump’s youngest son is on the autism spectrum, and his emotional connection to this very scientific, crucially important subject has caused many people in the medical field to worry. It’s caused people on Twitter to worry, too:

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Average anti-vaxxers on the internet and their support for their movement mirror Trump supporters in many ways. The arguments are often uninformed and have a deeply emotional origin, be it skepticism of big government or trauma from managing life as the parent of an autistic child, leading to some holding seriously wacky beliefs about science and medicine. It is possible these people didn’t have parents or grandparents who told them of the horrors of life before certain vaccines were available in this country, but considering my own grandmother lost two siblings to the flu (ages 2 and 16), that seems hard to believe. And yet…

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The person who sent in this screenshot wrote, “‘Ignorent’ indeed! This girl is constantly posting anti-vaxx and natural healing crap on Facebook. Her spelling and grammar are atrocious and she always types in all caps with lots of punctuation!!!!!!!lol. It’s difficult to take her seriously when she is calling people who want to vaccinate their healthy children ‘ignorent.'”

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For all the stories that I, too, heard growing up about polio, it’s hard to imagine how far we’ve shifted on what I now think of as “the vaccine spectrum.” So many children aren’t vaccinated today, I’ve got friends in states all over the country posting on Facebook about their infants contracting whooping cough or their Type 1 diabetic son getting the measles and nearly dying. It’s fucking crazy. And after reading reports about DeNiro/Kennedy, Jr. and Wakefield/Trump, it’s a little scary to predict where we’ll be in just a few years from now. Especially given the sheer amount of insanity that’s been emailed to me by STFU, Parents readers. On that basis alone, I’m concerned. In an “unpresidented” Trump-era, is it possible that before any nukes or missiles get launched, before the climate burns us all up, before we all get murdered by a madman in a shopping mall, we may just destroy ourselves by quitting modern medicine?

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It’s people like this on the internet who inspire topical (and accurate!) comics like this (from I Waste So Much Time):

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Thankfully, all hope is not yet lost. We can still encourage parents to be informed AND get their kids vaccinated. We can still post links online that refute our anti-vaxxer friends who promote their bizarre agendas. And we can be inspired by kids who seek out necessary vaccines despite their “non-believer” parents’ wishes (*note: it helps to live in Canada, where healthcare is universal and parents aren’t required to hold their children’s hands until they’re 18):

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The future of herd immunity effectiveness might currently be up for debate, but if enough of us refuse to send our kids to schools that welcome unvaccinated students, and refuse to go to pediatricians who treat unvaccinated patients, and continue to challenge vaccine critics at every level of society, then we’ll all be better off. If we don’t, we stand to risk too much. “Fake news” and vaccines are not an alluring pair (unless it’s on Clickhole). If you don’t believe me, just imagine a future where science and medicine are dominated by people like those in the examples below. Do you want to see more people like this in your newsfeed? I know I don’t.

1. Entitled To Bringing Back Once-Eradicated Diseases

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Whenever articles like this are posted by skeptics like Bailey, they always come from sites like “vaccine risk awareness dot com” or “CDC vaccines are evil dot net,” but they still spread like wildfire. It’s possible, in terms of actual risk to a population, that anti-vaxx propaganda was the original “fake news.” It’s certainly alive and well (no pun intended!) today. People like Bailey expect others to “hear her out” when she posts anti-vaxxer rhetoric that’s just a jumble of random numbers and ratios and percentages and fake facts and figures — but they’re wrong to have that expectation. No, I won’t hear out the Baileys of the world, and I won’t contribute to the dilution of facts by reading “one woman’s story” to help “embolden conversation.” Please homeschool your kids and never leave the house, Bailey! THX.

PS: Is it worth pointing out that Bailey has surely benefited from being vaccinated herself, yet hesitates to afford her kids the same opportunities? Probably not!

2. AUSTISM SYRUP

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Perhaps you’ve heard of “sizzurp” aka “purple drank”? It’s a highly intoxicating elixir made with codeine-based prescription cough syrup, soda and Jolly Ranchers candy — but trust me, it ain’t shit compared to Autism Syrup. Just head over to your general practitioner’s office, demand an MMR booster, and watch the effects take hold. Soon, you’ll be straight autistic, you’ll feel so fucked up. Sure, it’s completely true that the government is building an Autism Army — I just read about it on autism army coverup dot biz — and Autism Syrup is the first step toward recruitment. That is true. But if you ever try it, you won’t regret it, because that syrup’ll get you CRUNK. I tried it myself back in the ’80s and thought it was pretty cool, but all my younger relatives have told me the newer versions are wayyyy crazier. You start feeling autistic within like, minutes. Crazy.

3. Melissa Has A Doctor FOX 4 News Kansas City Can Contact

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I really hope the lone “Like” here is from FOX 4. Just a subtle “ooohhhhkayyy, crazy lady” nod from whoever was in charge of the Facebook page that day. How can Melissa post in good conscience about “challenging” a news report on the depressing reality that parents “often forget” (forget!) to immunize their kids? I looked up this article and here’s what it said:

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With all that said, Melissa’s gut reaction was to preach about “aborted fetuses” in vaccines and decry the lack of opposing research / views since “there are two sides to every story.”

Who wishes they lived next door to Melissa???

4. Anti-Vaxxers Are Discriminated Against And It’s Just Like Racial Segregation

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One of the most common things anti-vaxxers do that’s not only empty-headed, but cruel, is pit “sick kids” against “well kids.” Aside from the fact that some kids are more immunocompromised than others with or without vaccines, this argument actually makes an even stronger case FOR vaccination. The entire idea behind herd immunity is that if we’re all receiving the same vaccines, we can help protect our peers, as well as ourselves, from being vulnerable to illness and spreading disease. What D. is describing is an “every man/woman/child for himself” approach to vaccines, because her kids never had polio, but she’s apparently never questioned WHY they never got polio.

But also — this is just like racial segregation.

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First, I’d like to apologize to Canada on behalf of America. I know you guys already have your share of nutty anti-vaxxers, but this person does sound like a real “prize” and we are sorry. Second, what the hell is D. talking about?? Anti-vaxxers playing the victim has to be THE least sympathetic cause I’ve ever heard, but comparing their supposed victimhood to thousands of blacks who were beaten, murdered, ostracized, ridiculed, kept down, and disrespected during pre-Civil Rights segregation?! I suppose I’d expect nothing less. Brava, D. You are a dumbass.

5. One Last Time For The People In The Back: Austism. Is. Not. Linked. To. Vaccines.

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Sheeple! Dormant conditioning! Chemical warfare imposed by the government on its people, giving everyone cancer and autism! This is DEFINITELY population control, and it’s DEFINITELY a possibility. Why should Green trust the same government-funded entities that created and distributed vaccines that have saved millions of lives over the past century? Nahh. No thanks, fam. Green — who no doubt has been fully vaccinated — can see what’s *really* happening here. And he has no problem spouting his views and telling everyone they’re wrong at every chance he gets. His paranoia-driven movement is growing, and that’s why he needs to be called out.

Without the last commenter, this thread would be depressing. Without someone stepping up and saying, “Vaccines don’t cause autism, stop spouting nonsense,” this exchange is more dangerous than it is when someone DOES step up. So don’t be afraid to be that person. I, for one, *do care* whether parents vaccinate or not, and I’m NOT tired of hearing about the miraculous benefits of vaccination. What’s tiring is hearing the endless stream of garbage lies being spread by conspiracy theorists. If you’re a person who cares about the well-being of society, and you’re aware that there’s as much truth to anti-vaxxing beliefs as there is to the Pizzagate conspiracy, then you, too, can tell an anti-vaxxer to STFU.

I’m STFU, Parents, and I approve this message.

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