Feb 10 2014

Anti-Flu Vaccine Rants at the HuffPo

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11 responses so far

11 Responses to “Anti-Flu Vaccine Rants at the HuffPo”

  1. DavidCTon 10 Feb 2014 at 11:10 am

    As a fan of your resident Quackcaster, I have come to the point of view that as HCWs it is an obligation to do whatever we can to avoid being part of the flu transmission cycle. That includes a flu shot each year along with a reasonable diet and probably avoiding young children. I happen to know someone who died of influenza and am thus very aware of the risk of doing nothing. Unfortunately you don’t get the traffic of the HuffPro.

  2. tmac57on 10 Feb 2014 at 11:36 am

    I really hate to see that kind of misinformation spread by a widely read source. It’s bad enough combating the nonsense spread through social media such as whale.to or Mercola,and this just gives (slightly) more credibility to spurious health information.

    A little anecdote: I have a Facebook friend who wallows in conspiracy theories and right wing nuttery,but also passes along dubious and quack medical “pass this along to everyone you know!!!” articles .
    One of them last December was about why flu vaccines are ‘so dangerous’ and to be avoided. I toyed with the idea of challenging her,but past experience has shown me that she just digs in deeper,and posts even more nonsense to counter my challenge.Plus I have noticed that very few people ‘like’ or ‘share’ her posts,so I think most of her friends are just tolerating her.But here’s the kicker,her son evidently contracted the flu in January,and ended up in intensive care in the hospital for a couple of weeks (hate to see that bill!),and she was begging people to pray to god for his life (no mention of speeding the hands of the medical staff trying to save him though). Happily,the good medical care that he got pulled him through.I wonder if they will get vaccinated next year.

  3. starskepticon 10 Feb 2014 at 1:01 pm

    # DavidCT – not only an obligation but a requirement; I haven’t worked in a hospital the last few years (I’m a traveling Med Tech) that HAS NOT required all it’s employees to be vaccinated. Anyone opting out – whether from choice or allergy – has to wear a mask for the entire flu season.

  4. ZooPraxison 10 Feb 2014 at 1:04 pm

    I discovered skepticism a few years ago thanks to this blog. I read it every day and learn just as much from the comments as I do from the posts. One aspect of skepticism I’d like to read more about is the perennial state of irritability “we” all seem to be in because we’re surrounded by so much scientific illiteracy. I don’t even read HuffPost because of articles like the you mention.
    I wonder though how everyone finds peace of mind while also championing education and advocacy.
    The more you learn and are aware of, the more often you notice logical fallacies all around and, for me at least, the more I grow consternated. I’ve tried to channel some of that frustration into my work. I recently made a short film about the importance of skepticism, Maybe some folks on NeuroLogica will like it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70iBkvQ6Dns

    It’s not as popular as my other work but I’m proud of it and looking forward to making more films that educate and entertain. Anyway, thanks to all the regular participants of this blog and of course to Dr. Novella. My mom always taught me to surround myself with people who are smarter than me. Since I live in a Southern California beach community, this blog is my way of meeting that goal. :)

  5. pdeboeron 10 Feb 2014 at 1:30 pm

    In looking at all the health care organizations he cites as having vaccine concerns. I’ve already looked at the United Nurses of Alberta and the BC nurses union. Both are very clear that they endorse the efficacy of the flu vaccine.

    Lawrence is using the union’s opposition to mandated vaccination to confabulate their denial of efficacy.

    Personally, I think they are wrong to oppose mandatory vaccination, but that is another topic.

  6. Davdoodleson 10 Feb 2014 at 10:03 pm

    #ZooPraxis: “I’ve tried to channel some of that frustration into my work. I recently made a short film about the importance of skepticism, Maybe some folks on NeuroLogica will like it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70iBkvQ6Dns

    That is nice work there. Very impressive in all respects.

  7. ZooPraxison 10 Feb 2014 at 11:13 pm

    #Davdoodles Thanks! I did a science series too, called Fail Lab, trying to reach my young male fanbase, but it was too brainy for them I think and too silly for science folks. Sigh…
    But I’m glad you liked ZooPrep! Makes me happy. :)

  8. Bookeron 11 Feb 2014 at 12:04 am

    You are right about Huffpo Canada. While they do have the occasional science-based blog post, they are filled with alt-med junk. Mr. Solomon has been attacking immunization for a decade in a variety of venues, and seems to have found a home on Huffpo along with fellow Canadian embarrassment, Conrad Black. On Canada’s national right-wing newspaper, The National Post ( founded by the felonious Black) Solomon displays his climate-change denialism.


    It’s not a necessarily instructive observation, but he does his vaccine-denialism on the modestly left-of-centre HuffPo and his climate-change denialism on the seriously right-wing Post. Solomon’s politics definitely aline with the latter publication, but anti-vax ideology seems to be the one crank idea they don’t tolerate, not even from one of their columnists.


  9. TBruceon 11 Feb 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Mr. Solomon is deceptive. He boasts that he has founded and chairs several fancy-sounding organizations (Urban Renaissance Institute, Consumer Policy Institute and more). These “institutes”, to be charitable, are extremely obscure. He also claims to be a “leading” environmentalist and a “best-selling” author. He is neither. Interestingly, in all his self-promotion and bragging, there is no mention of any post-secondary education, let alone a degree, in any scientific or medical field.

    His argument about doctors “avoiding” the flu vaccine is just plain stupid. There is a well-publicized problem with a substantial percent of doctors not washing their hands adequately between patients. By Solomon’s logic, this would obviously mean that washing your hands while caring for patients is worthless.

    Small correction: Mr. Solomon is deceptive. He is also dumb.

  10. Newcoasteron 11 Feb 2014 at 7:18 pm

    In BC the issue was more with the way the government, by way of the health authority, mandated nurses to get the vaccine “without consultation”. Since nurse are employees of the HA they can (in theory at least) be told what to do. That did not sit well, and they felt there needed to be more education and collaboration. It created a public relations nightmare last year. This year, there was ample notice, educational opportunities, and a choice: get vaccinated or wear a mask while at work. In my small community hospital there are no mask wearing nurses, but a few allied health workers (a radiology tech and a porter) are quite obviously anti-vaxx. The Scarlet Letter approach seems to have worked well. Even though physicians don’t work for the hospital or HA, our privileges could be suspended if we failed to get vacccinated, and a few people did get “a talking to” from the Chief of Staff.

    On the other hand, it is unfortunately true “in my experience” ( with full knowledge of Mark Crislips 3 most dangerous words….) that nurses are far more likely to have a variety of unscientific ideas than MDs. I’ve lost count of the number of ER nurses who believe we get busier on a full moon, and who regularly get chiropractic or accupuncture, and one who swears by Healing Touch on her cat.

    On another point, mr solomon was impressed with the lack of influenza as a recorded cause of death on a death certificate. Most physicians would probable agree that while we make an effort to be as accurate as possible on death certificates, in many cases the specific cause of death is simply unclear. Or, there are several possibilities and only the “best guess” is listed. I have tried putting “extreme old age” as a cause of death in a 90′s patient with multiple medical issues, any one of which could be responsible, but the Vital Statistics people disallowed it.

  11. pdeboeron 14 Feb 2014 at 2:17 pm

    So, I found it hard to believe that any Nurses’ group would say that vaccines are not safe and effective. So I contacted United Nurses of Alberta, here’s what they had to say:
    It is completely incorrect to characterize UNA’s position on this issue as “anti-vaccine.” UNA President Heather Smith’s comments on this issue can be found at: http://www.una.ab.ca/282/united-nurses-president-calls-for-full-range-of-measures-to-combat-influenza

    I found similar responses from the BC nurses Union and the U.S. National Nurses United.

    However, I contacted my home province’s Union, The Ontario Nurses’ Association.

    They evaded the simple question; do they endorse vaccines as a safe and effective preventative of the flu?

    I can only assume they are relishing in the confused controversy that backs their silly opposition to mandating vaccines. I’ll respond here, if and when they clearly address this point.

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