Now there’s a cage match I’d like to see when I get back from Chicago…

Mark Crislip versus Doug Bremner.

Dr. Crislip calmly explains the evidence regarding flu vaccination and why it’s safe and effective. Perhaps the most important point there is this:

So it’s a suboptimal vaccine. And that’s a problem. One, because it will make it more difficult to prove efficacy in clinical studies and two, there is a sub group of anti vaccine goofs who seem to require that vaccines either be perfect, with 100% efficacy and 100% safe, or they are not worth taking.

The influenza vaccine is not 100% efficacious in preventing disease, but it is as close to 100% safe, and much safer than the disease.

One of the biggest bits of nonsense about the flu vaccine (and, come to think of it, most vaccines) that the anti-vaccine movement promulgates is that if it isn’t 100% safe and 100% effective, then it’s crap. Unfortunately, virtually nothing in medicine is 100% effective or safe, but vaccines come pretty darned close to 100% safe.

It also appears that Dr. Bremner is spouting some real nonsense about Gardasil. It’s really pathetic in that he’s actually using a talking point straight from the anti-vaccine movement; specifically, the infamous “Freedom of Information” request that shows so many adverse events from the VAERS database, the same sort of deceptive misinformation that the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism was trumpeting over a year ago. I’ve dealt with the issue before here and here. I’ve also pointed out how easily the VAERS database is manipulated by anti-vaccine litigants and, and distorted by, well, just about any bit of information that hits the zeitgeist. I’ve expressed my misgivings about the promotion of the HPV vaccine before (at the same time pointing why correlation does not necessarily equal causation), but Bremner’s arguments against it are nothing more than the recycled nonsense that the anti-vaccine movement has been cranking out.

As David Colquhoun said in a comment:

Although a pharmacologist, I’m very opposed to over medication, especially by psychiatrists who appear to be one of the groups that have acquiesced to bribery by Big Pharma, to prescribe marginally effective drugs. But this post cames dangerously close to endorsing the anti-vax conspiratorialists.

There’s no “dangerously close” about it. Bremner did endorse the misinformation about the HPV vaccine being spread far and wide by anti-vaccine conspiratorialists. He clearly has no clue about how the VAERS database actually works, and that’s how he fell for anti-vaccine propaganda. In my mind, with that post, Bremner has stepped out of the realm of reasonable skepticism and into the realm of flirting openly with the anti-vaccine movement. There’s room for reasonable skepticism about the HPV vaccine and its promotion, but what Bremner wrote in no way resembled reasonable skepticism. It was far more akin to a screed posted on anti-vaccine websites like Generation Rescue or the NVIC or on anti-vaccine blogs like Age of Autism.