The Vaccine Wars
Given the flurry of media activity, I’m sure you’re all well aware that vaccination a hot topic at the moment.
It’s not my intention to engage in a debate about the effectiveness of vaccination; I’m an infectious diseases physician and work in public health. Clearly I believe in vaccination, and my standard procedure is not to engage the vaccine denialists – it provides them with a forum and no amount of what I consider to be credible scientific evidence will ever change their mind; I am in the pocket of pharma or have a hidden agenda or some such unhinged looney nonsense. Attempting to engage them is pointless and just provides their deranged beliefs with oxygen.
“Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience”
– Mark Twain
A major issue in the vaccination “debate” is one of false balance. Much as in the case of climate change, journalists seem to feel obliged to report “both sides” of the debate. Mediawatch did a great story on this in October, which I recommend.
What I will do is try to compile a list of articles in this salvo in the vaccine wars, for reference. Standard advice would be to Don’t Read the Comments
I like The Conv – it aims to get academics to explain their research for a general audience using simple language. It also shares its articles using Creative Commons. They have recently copped a bit of stick about their comments policy – which is probably justified, but it’s still a good read, which I recommend.
(Update: They’re obviously doing a vaccine theme week, so I’ll add some more articles as they come up.
- Monday’s medical myth: childhood vaccinations are dangerousThis is a good coverage of the myths by Prof Fiona Stanley
- Parents’ decisions about vaccination and the art of gentle persuasionThis is an interesting one about how to engage better with people who are anti-vaccine, from Julie Leask (twitter)
- Preaching to the unconverted: immunisation risks and public health – as I have commented on the article, I’m not entirely sure what the author is getting at with this post.
- ‘Toxins’ in vaccines: a potentially deadly misunderstanding
- Experts go on the attack as immunisation plummets (media monitors link)
- Children face risks in pockets of resistance to vaccination
- Forgetting fears may be deadly mistake
- Science is clear – vaccinate children
- Anti-immunisation rate a threat to public health, says scientists (sic)
- A pleasing vox-pop in Cairns
- A less so one in Brisbane
- At last, science finally comes out swinging
- Homeopathy regime is rejected as judge tells parents to immunise child – this one may cause some ruckus
- Immunisation debate hijacked by flat-earthers
- Media balance at a tipping point
- great article on false balance in vaccine science reporting
- Crusader fights to spread message (mediaportal link)
- Time to test claims of baby jab critics (mediaportal link)
- Doctors set high jab level (mediaportal link)
- The right reason (MJA Editorial)
- Family rues call on whooping cough booster ban (mediaportal)
Articles promoting choice / abstention / false balance:
- A mothers choice over divisive issue – in which a mum shows that research doesn’t equal learning
- SBS: Doctors urge parents to immunise kids
- not a bad story but contains a prolonged bit of unhingery by Meryl Dorey (nb: that link goes to an organisation which promotes itself as “pro-choice” but is the home of anti-vaccination in Australia)