November 1-6 to be “Vaccine Awareness Week”? Not so fast, Barbara Loe Fisher and Joe Mercola!

Posting will probably be very light the next couple of days because I’m at the Lorne Trottier Symposium. Not only have the organizers have packed my day with skeptical and science goodness, but I only have Internet access when I’m back at the hotel, which isn’t very much. This is somewhat distressing to me because several readers have sent me a truly bad study implying that (with the press out and out saying that) because investigators couldn’t detect signs of cancer in Egyptian mummies there must not have been cancer in pre-industrial times, the further implication being that all cancer is “man-made.” Such burning stupid demands a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence, but it may not get it because by the time I’m back to my regular schedule in a day or two, the timeliness of the story may be history.

The trials and tribulations of actually trying to do more than be at home, work, and blog aside, thereby spreading my fame far and wide (or at least as far as Montreal), I couldn’t let this one pass. A reader and friend sent me this little tidbit from the website of über-quack Joe Mercola. Buried near the bottom of Mercola’s “newsletter” is an announcement of an initiative: & NVIC Dedicating November 1-6 Vaccine Awareness Week

In a long-scheduled joint effort to raise public awareness about important vaccination issues during the week of November 1-6, 2010, and NVIC will publish a series of articles and interviews on vaccine topics of interest to newsletter subscribers and NVIC Vaccine E-newsletter readers.

The week-long public awareness program will also raise funds for NVIC, a non-profit charity that has been working for more than two decades to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and protecting informed consent to vaccination.

The November 1-6 Vaccine Awareness Week hosted by and NVIC will follow a month-long vaccine awareness effort in October that was recently announced on Facebook by parents highlighting Gardasil vaccine risks.

The six-week-long focus this fall on vaccine issues will help raise the consciousness of many more Americans, who may be unaware that they can take an active role in helping to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths and defend the legal right to make voluntary vaccination choices.

And remember, you can always visit and for the latest vaccine news updates and other important vaccine information.

Mercola and Barbara Loe Fisher apparently think that their simply declaring the first week of November to be “Vaccine Awareness Week” will make it so. Of course, there actually is an Immunization Awareness Week here in Canada, but it was six months ago. In the U.S., August is National Immunization Awareness Month. Still, if anti-vaccine loons want to make the first week of November “Vaccine Awareness Week” in order to peddle their pseudoscientific and dangerous misinformation claiming that vaccines cause autism and various maladies, I say we let them have it.

Just not in the way they expected.

So, given the power invested in me as a blogger (which is the same power Joe Mercola and Barbara Loe Fisher, except that I have science on my side), I hereby second the call to declare November 1-6, 2010 “Vaccine Awareness Week.” As part of the activities that week, I plan on spending more time than usual–perhaps all my blog time and posts–emphasizing the dangers of the anti-vaccine movement and providing science-based rebuttals of the lies of the anti-vaccine movement. In particular, I will concentrate on whatever propagandistic misinformation Joe Mercola and Barbara Loe Fisher decide to put out that week. Given whatever persuasive power I have as a blogger, I now request that any and all skeptical bloggers out there also take advantage of Vaccine Awareness Week to do the same. Steve Novella’s already on board, as is–surprise! surprise!–Science-Based Medicine. I’ve also spoken with Ben Goldacre and will be contacting other bloggers after I arrive home from Montreal.

Joe Mercola and Barbara Loe Fisher want to declare a week “Vaccine Awareness Week” in order to bury readers in a deluge of pseudoscience? Surely we can do better than they can and make sure that when anyone Googles “vaccine awareness,” what is found is not the current list of anti-vaccine pseudoscience but rather a flood of rational, science-based discussions of vaccines and refutations of the lies of the anti-vaccine movement. What I’d love to see from November 1-6 are a tsunami (word choice intentional) of posts that:

  • Include science-based discussions of the safety and efficacy of vaccines
  • Include science-based refutations of anti-vaccine misinformation
  • Specifically refute posts by Joe Mercola and Barbara Loe Fisher during that week. (You can throw in Age of Autism, too, if you like.)

Spread the word!