The nonsense that is “Vaccine Injury Awareness Month”

Normally, these days I greet the month of October with a mixture of anticipation and dread. The anticipation stems from October’s position as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Now that somehow I’ve managed to have a variety of responsibilities with respect to how breast cancer is managed at our cancer institute, suddenly I find that I’m sometimes called upon to do media appearances, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month is one time we can use to get our message out about breast health and breast cancer detection and treatment, not to mention to highlight for the local media some of the cool research that goes on here. Every year (or so it would seem) the quacks, cranks, and haters of science-based medicine come out of the woodwork to use October as an excuse either to attack “conventional” medicine (particularly anything related to breast cancer), promote quackery, or both. Be it Christiane Northrup promoting thermography, as she did last year and is doing again this year, Mike Adams really bringing home the crazy over Breast Cancer Awareness month year after year, Dan Olmsted trying to co-opt the month for his anti-vaccine views (I kid you not), or Dennis Byrne promoting the scientifically discredited idea that abortion causes breast cancer, usually I can count on attacks on breast cancer science and medicine so full of napalm-grade burning stupid that no neuron can withstand the heat. Oddly enough, this October has been pretty quiet so far. Other than Mike Adams taking a couple of swipes at Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Whole Foods, the latter of which committed the crime (in Mike Adams’ eyes) of supporting “pink” breast cancer awareness campaigns, there’s been surprisingly little breast cancer-related activity on the crank front.

Oh, well. There’s still more than a third of the month left for quacks to make me cringe. At least I often get blogging material about it.

However, apparently October has other significance to cranks. True, the month is more than half over, which makes it odd that I hadn’t really noticed this before. Or maybe it’s not so odd. Apparently anti-vaccine loons are trying to co-opt Breast Cancer Awareness Month by making it their own. That’s right. Somehow, somewhere, anti-vaccine loons got the idea in their head that October should be “Vaccine Injury Awareness Month.” And the anti-vaccine movement is piling on, including the anti-Gardasil site The Truth About Gardasil and, perhaps most prominent of all, Dr. Mayer Eisenstein, founder of the crunchy, “holistic” Homefirst practice in the Chicago area who has bought into Mark and David Geier’s Lupron protocol. Many of them are linking or embedding this video:


Regular readers of this blog will recognize the panoply of anti-vaccine canards in the video above, including the toxin gambit, the “too many too soon” gambit, and other misinformation about vaccines, including claims that no safety studies are done and that we don’t study the effects of multiple vaccinations when in fact all new vaccines are studied within the context of the current vaccination schedule. And then, embedded in that video, we find:

It defies common sense to think that injecting our bodies, especially babies, with these chemicals and biological agents has no negative effects on the health and function of those who use them? To say there is no link is insane!

Not nearly as insane as the video and the nonsense being promoted by the anti-vaccine movement. Actually, what we have here is a classic appeal to incredulity. Just because the creator of the video, who appears to be a woman named Joanne, who is responsible for an ant-vaccine blog I had never heard of before, Are Vaccines Safe?, can’t understand how vaccines don’t have massive negative health effects, she assumes they must be very harmful. It’s also a straw man argument in that no one claims that vaccines are absolutely safe. Incredibly safe under any reasonable definition of the word “safe”? Definitely. Far safer than the risk of the diseases they prevent. Almost always. So safe that serious adverse reactions are incredibly rare? Of course. But no one says that vaccines never cause injury. What science does say is that the claims of anti-vaccine propagandists that vaccines cause autism, autoimmune diseases, dementia, and other chronic diseases are without a basis in science.

The rest of the video parrots classic anti-vaccine canards such as the “vaccines damage the immune system” gambit (they don’t). It all concludes with a plea to “educate before you vaccinate.”

Meanwhile, on NaturalNews.com, Paul Frassa is spewing stuff like this:

The launching of Vaccine Injury Awareness Month this October coincides with this month`s annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Unlike the cancer industry`s drive for more cash donations and customers (while exposing women to dangerous mammograms and withholding cancer prevention information), the Vaccine Awareness Month is a real effort to honor the vaccine injured and educate those unaware of vaccination hazards.

This event is just in time for the flu season drive to vaccinate as many as possible with shots that combine both seasonal flu and swine flu vaccines, even though the CDC has recently declared the current swine flu as harmless.

If the CDC has declared the current swine flu (H1N1) as “harmless,” I have not seen the declaration. In fact, if you peruse the CDC website about H1N1, you’ll find this passage:

What Are Common Flu Complications?

The most common flu complications include viral or bacterial pneumonia, muscle inflammation (myositis), and infections of the central nervous system or the sac around the heart (pericarditis).

Other flu complications may include ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

Those at highest risk for flu complications include adults over 50, children ages 6 months to 4 years, nursing home residents, adults and children with heart or lung disease, people with compromised immune systems (including people with HIV/AIDS), and pregnant women.

Funny, that doesn’t sound as though the CDC has declared H1N1 “harmless” to me.

Oddly enough, I don’t see much evidence that the NVIC and Generation Rescue, the two most active anti-vaccine organizations, have anything to do with this. It appears to originate from a small anti-vaccine blog and then picked up upon by the “big dogs,” like Mike Adams at NaturalNews.com and Mayer Eisenstein, who is undoubtedly a big name in the anti-vaccine movement. Indeed, he’s been out there saying things like:

October is the month to acknowledge and honor those families whose loved ones have been injured by vaccines. These faceless (in many cases), nameless and numerous families are hurting and they need our help.

One of the ways we can assist them is by spreading the word that vaccine injuries are real and they are far more common then we have been led to believe.

If you are on facebook or twitter, please use the image below as your profile image for the month of October. Please spread the word amongst your own networks.
Bring the issue of vaccine injuries out into the public’s eye.

And:

I want to raise doubt in your mind as to the safety, efficacy and moral issues of vaccines. My goal is for you to do further research into all of the vaccines, use libraries, bookstores, our internet web site (homefirst.com) and ask questions. Only after fully weighing the evidence can you make an informed decision. An informed consumer is a wise consumer. This journey is a beginning of better understanding the issues surrounding childhood vaccinations.

As a devout anti-vacciner, I just have one thing to tell Dr. Anderson and all of the doctors who are tools of the pharmaceutical industry.

Read my books, all vaccines cause brain damage.

Well, at least Dr. Eisenstein is honest. No “I’m not ‘anti-vaccine’; I’m pro-safe vaccine” for him! He lays it all out on the line, letting his freak flag fly high! If ever Dr. Eisenstein ever claims that he isn’t anti-vaccine again, I’ll point you, my readers, to this statement by him. Whoever thought up the boneheaded, brain dead idea of trying to declare October Vaccine Injury Awareness Month, Mayer Eisenstein has glommed onto it like fleas on a dog–or maybe a better metaphor would be maggots on a rotting corpse, because the ideas and anti-vaccine lies that Eisenstein promotes are very much like a rotting corpse: dead, bloated, and stinky.

Personally, I find this video to be a far more accurate description of Eisenstein:

Months after I first discovered that video, I find it amazing that Dr. Eisenstein appears not to be the least bit embarrassed by it.

Obviously, this attempt by the anti-vaccine movement to associate itself with Breast Cancer Awareness Month by trying to claim October for its own is laughable and pathetic in the extreme.

You know, even though October is only a little more than half over and I haven’t (yet) seen stupid-based attacks on science-based medicine for breast cancer, given that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s obvious that I have encountered even more stupid-based attacks on the science of vaccines, courtesy of “Vaccine Awareness Month,” courtesy of Dr. Mayer Eisenstein, Paul Frassa, and a blogger named Joanne. Think of it this way: If Age of Autism won’t bite when it comes to promoting Vaccine Injury Awareness Month, that ought to tell you something.

Certainly it told me something.