Like most people, I’ve heard of the recent Disneyland measles outbreak and the anti-vaccination movement. I’m usually frustrated when I read about how people are refusing to vaccinate their children, but last night I got furious. That’s because I learnt about a board-certified cardiologist from Arizona called Dr. Jack Wolfson.
This guy is an asshole.
Image taken from WolfsonIntegrativeCardiology.com.
(Lest my argument be dampened photo stealing.)
Dr. Wolfson recently gave an interview with AZ Central News where he explained that he is completely, 100% against all vaccines. He also posted a follow-up article where he further explained his rationale.
This is quite possibly the dumbest question ever.
Below are a few choice excerpts from Dr. Wolfson’s article and interview, with my own rebuttals after. I’ve taken great care to cite my facts from extremely reliable sources; I highly encourage you to verify my information.
“Correctly prescribed drugs kill thousands of people per year. The flu kills just about no one.”
The number of flu deaths varies widely from year to year, but according to the CDC there have been at least 3,000 flu-related deaths during flu season every year since 1976. That number has gone as high as 49,000 in some years.
“The problem is not Hepatitis B which is a virus contracted by drug users and those who sleep with prostitutes. And you want to inject that vaccine into your newborn?”
According to the World Health Organization, over 780,000 people die each year worldwide from Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is commonly spread to an infant during birth or between children. Very few children sleep with prostitutes or are habitual drug users.
“We should be getting measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox. These are the rights of our children to get it. “
I…I don’t know how to combat this intellectually. Measles kills on average 1 out of every 500 people affected. Diptheria kills 1 out of every 20. Tetanus kills 1 in 5. These are all deadly and debilitating diseases. A severe reaction to the MMR (measles, mumps, & rubella) vaccine occurs in 1 out of every 1,000,000 people. For the DTaP vaccine (Diptheria, tetanus, & pertussis), 0.5 – 10 out of every 1,000,000 people get acute encephalopathy. There is “little to no evidence” that any death has ever been directly caused by a vaccine.
Okay, end rant. I want to be absolutely clear on one thing.
Seriously, I want to be clear on the next point. PAY ATTENTION!
I think it is 100% okay, as a parent, to ask questions about vaccines. I think it is GOOD to bring up your concerns with a doctor. That, to me, shows that you care about your child.
I get it. I’m a vet student; I’ve had seven years so far of intense science courses. I know how vaccines work; how they interact with our bodies. Most people don’t have a medical education, and that’s completely fine. This is your child, and it sounds scary and weird to inject diseases and chemicals into their body. That is completely reasonable to me.
So ask questions and get answers from your doctor. Don’t rely on random people talking online. Don’t rely on Jenny McCarthy. These people have no medical knowledge; they have no understanding of the complex reactions that take place in your body when you are given a vaccine. Talk to someone who has spent literally a decade understanding how your body works and how its immune system functions.
THAT is why Dr. Wolfson is such an asshole. He is a doctor. He has spent well over ten years attending undergrad, medical school, and learning in hospitals. He knows how the body works. He knows how to analyze research, separate the good studies from the bad, and just plain how to understand science. But for whatever reason, be it ignorance or stupidity or just plain assholery, he is throwing all of that training and trust people place in him as a doctor out the window. Instead, he’s spouting completely untrue ‘facts’ that aren’t just idiotic, but dangerous.
Few alive today can remember what it was like to live in fear of getting polio, smallpox, rubella, tetanus, etc. We have vaccines to thank for that. Parents don’t have to constantly worry that their child will get disfigured, go deaf, become paralyzed, or die from these diseases. Or at least they didn’t until these anti-vaxxers came along.
Yes, vaccines can carry side effects. But the utterly, nearly incalculably vast majority of these are nothing worse than a sore arm or, in the case of the flu vaccine, feeling like you have a cold for a day. As I said above, your odds of getting a serious, debilitating reaction are literally one in a million. Compared to the odds of getting these other horrible diseases and suffering at their hand, that risk is infinitesimal.
Look, I hate being told what to do. I’m the only person who didn’t join SCAVMA (the student chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association) in my class simply because I was heavily pressured to do so. I’m all about having freedom over your own life. But sometimes something is so important to public safety that we have to make a small personal sacrifice. It’s a tough line to draw, but to me and nearly every other doctor and scientist out there, vaccines are clearly part of that line.
That’s because it’s not just your own child’s life at risk when you refuse to vaccinate. There are people out there who can’t receive vaccinations. Whether they’re immuno-compromised or just happen to get bad reactions to vaccines, their bodies can’t tolerate them. That means they’re relying on others to get vaccinated in order to keep these diseases from spreading. It’s called herd immunity and is an incredibly important part of why vaccines are so integral to society.
So please, educate yourselves. Just simply do some research and talk to your doctor. Don’t rely on Yahoo Answers, celebrities, or the one assholish doctor out of millions who spout facts that ten seconds of research can easily refute. Trust the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the 99.9% of doctors and scientists with years of intensive training. Ask questions and share your concerns, but be open and willing to get the answers you’re seeking. It’s not just your child’s life on the line, it’s everyone else’s too. Don’t bring us back to a time when helpless children were scarred by smallpox, crippled by polio, or deafened by rubella. This outcome is completely preventable, and it starts with you.
And to Dr. Wolfson, should you somehow ever stumble across this blog, I will say this to you. I always try to see the other side of issues and understand those who stand for something I disagree with, but you are so very different. For trying to set back medicine a hundred years, for willfully endangering thousands of children when you have every reason to know better, you are a complete and utter asshole. No child should ever suffer because their parents listened to a monster like you.
There’s plenty of wonderful articles out there about why vaccines are helpful, but this is one of my favorites. It sums everything up in a fun to read comic! If you want to learn more about vaccines I suggest using this as a place to start. And remember, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions. That’s what they’re there for!