My mum is supporting a group of volunteers in NZ who are making coffins for babies who have died of #measles in Samoa as the local funeral homes are running low. 😢Please, please vaccinate your children. pic.twitter.com/zYHc2WYybA— Marie Bismark (@mbismark) December 5, 2019
This week I read that anti-vaxxers are well and truly fed up with being called "anti-vaxxers" and would like to be called something just a little more benign: "vaccine risk aware".
As a "communicable disease aware" person, I'll take the suggestion under all the consideration it deserves--none. More than 140,000 people died from measles last year, and a disease once considered nearly eradicated is actually on the rise. The crisis of the anti-vax hoax terror had led to over 60 deaths in Samoa, and the arrest of one of the movement's spokestrolls. The loss of "herd immunity" through routine vaccinations is not just harmful to the unvaccinated, but also harms vaccinated people who might be immunosuppressed for other health reasons.
This is what should be deeply concerning to these anti-science trolls--the harm they do to others, rather than their fixation on whether there is something "unnatural" about vaccines, or whether they lead to disabilities or neuroatypicality. (Which certainly have existed before we had medical interventions like vaccines, and which, I am appalled to have to say, while disability is not worse than death, also, vaccine-preventable diseases certainly lead to their share of disabilities. The idea of vaccine-injury is remote, but disability due to communicable disease is not so much.)
I'm not going to litigate the reasons why people who need reasons to explain why some family member has a dramatically different health outcome reach out to the possibility of iatrogenic causes. I don't know that find the reasons why people become anti-vaxxers necessarily helps us understand.
The human mind being what it is, anti-vaxxers, having gotten a very wrong idea about how the immune system works and the value of vaccination, are very unlikely to change their minds about anything via shaming. On the other hand, they aren't likely to change their mind via being coddled either. I don't even know if it helps to explain that much of the anti-vax disinfo out there is promulgated by trolls trying to divide people over hot-button issues. But I think it is deeply wrong to let the fatally-wrong dictate the terms of engagement.
If "anti-vaxxers" is a term that now offends, will "coffin-fillers" do? Because this stupid nonsense had lead to deaths already and will lead to more. And I think people who spread that dangerous meme should simply be shut down with facts.