Maybe I Should Have Been A Teacher...

This was attached to my windscreen on Tuesday at the railway station. (Note: Tuesday was 1 November, so not sure what the author's intent was with the 31 October stuff.)

Anti-vax letter

I've made some annotations on the paper itself as you can see, but let's look at it in more detail.

General Comments

Formatting

Overall, the inconsistent typography and poorly aligned elements make the author seem emotional, possibly to the point of instability.

Recommendation: Limit to one font size with consistent line and paragraph spacing will make the author seem more considered.

Sources

The author fails to provide any references for claims made in the paper. The author also fails to examine any evidence contrary to a presupposed opinion.

Recommendation: Add citations for claims. Examine evidence to the contrary and provide explanation for ignoring it.

Detailed Analysis

The clock is ticking on your child's health choices.

Powerful opening, provides an imminent sense of danger.

Vaccination needs to be a parent's choice. Our democracy is being eroded.

Bit of a non-sequitur here. Vaccination is a parent's choice, and will remain so. Erosion of democracy doesn't follow from this statement; however, we'll give it a soft pass on the basis of it being a byline.

The current "No Jab, No Play' Bill, coming up in SA parliament, maybe as early as Oct 31, is to mandate that all children are vaccinated according to the 2017 vaccine schedule, otherwise your child can't go to Kindy and Kindys will be fined $30,000 if they don't comply.

A lot to unpack here. First, the author needs to decide whether to use single (') or double (") quotes to indicate titles (or use italics, or even just regular capitalisation instead?). This is also a pretty egregious example of a run-on sentence, not to mention inconsistent capitalisation. Let's work this into something more readable...

The South Australian Public Health (Immunisation and Childhood Care Services) Amendment Bill 2017, commonly referred to as the "No Jab, No Play" Bill, is coming before the SA Parliament, perhaps as early as 31 October. This bill mandates that, in order to use kindergarten facilities, children must be vaccinated according to the current vaccination schedule. Children who have exemptions from the schedule, or who otherwise may be at risk, will not be able to use the facilities in the event of an outbreak. Childcare providers who fail to comply may face fines of up to $30,000.

So that's a little bit longer, but it provides a much clearer statement of the proposal.

I am pro vaccines but this 2017 vaccine schedule is dangerous.

The author makes two separate unsubstantiated (and contradictory) claims in this sentence.

  1. The author is pro-vaccination. This is unsupported by the text, particularly given the emotive nature of the preceding sentences.
  2. The 2017 vaccine schedule is dangerous. If the author is, in fact, pro-vaccination, then it behoves them to understand that the vaccine schedule is thoroughly vetted by qualified individuals and organisations to ensure that the schedule is appropriate and safe.

It is also important to note that the 'too many too soon' is a common rhetorical device used by the anti-vaccination movement masquerading as the vaccination reform movement. It's probably unwise to adopt the slogans of one side while trying to claim membership of the other. Ultimately the sentence provides no further useful information, so it should probably just removed altogether.

Hep B on day one of a baby's life, has killed babies. This is just one truth!

The author should probably clarify that they mean 'Hep B vaccination'; giving Hep B to a newborn is obviously a bad idea, and one that no rational person would support. Babies born positive with Hep B via the mother should definitely be receiving treatment. The author provides no supporting evidence that the Hep B vaccination is either directly or indirectly responsible for the death of any baby. Without supporting evidence, this sentence should be removed as well. If the author has a reputable source, consider rewording as follows.

[Reputable paper] has shown a clear causal link between day one Hepatitis B vaccination of infants and increased infant mortality rates.

OK, it's a little clinical, but without lots of supporting evidence that Hep B vaccination is directly responsible for any child's death, we should maintain a healthy scepticism.

Don't let the government force you down a path you don't want to go.

The obvious answer is that if you don't want to vaccinate, don't (although I sincerely hope that herd immunity keeps your child safe, even if you won't). All it means is that you can't access shared facilities. We can remove this sentence as well, then.

This Bill breaks the Nuremberg Codes which says not to force medical procedures on anyone and section 1.3.3 of the Aust Gov Immunisation Guidelines Handbook which clearly states immunisation my be given voluntarily.

Another run-on sentence, and for an author who seems to love overuse of commas, it's somewhat unfortunate that they decided not to use any here.

As per the above, the Bill doesn't actually force medical procedures on anyone. Parents remain free to vaccinate or not, so we'll remove that reference. Likewise, vaccination will remain voluntary, so we can strike the second half of the sentence as well.

If you do not want to vaccinate so be it. Let democracy exist!! This needs to be the parent's choice.

Another missing comma. Gah! And multiple exclamation points!! GAAH!!! Probably should be "parents'" plural, too. But OK, still not being forced to vaccinate.

Please write to your local politician and others this weekend before the Bill is considered, Oct 31. Election year is coming up. You (sic) voice counts. It is so easy. If you are not sure what to say...Simply say...
"Please restore democracy and revoke the No Jab No Play and Pay laws" and send on one or more of these links.

Wait, what? "No Jab No Play and Pay laws"? Changing scope much? And why no comma this time? I assume the author means 'send to one or more of these links', since the links following are email addresses for a number of politicians. There are, however, links further down to some anti-vax rhetoric, so it's unclear whether the author means send those links on to the politicians via email.

Given that this note was left on my car on 1 November, it's hard to know what to do. So much of the rhetoric is about stopping the bill from being introduced, but now it's about repealing it. A lack of consistency in the framing does not benefit the author.

Anyway, let's say that we buy in to the rhetoric for a moment, that even though we support vaccination generally, we don't feel that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children should be penalised for their choice; that, in essence, the law takes away a basic right and oversteps the boundaries of democracy. How then to word this?

Please contact your local politician and other members of parliament if you believe that this bill goes too far. If you are unsure what to write, consider something like:

"While I support vaccination generally, I believe parents should have a right to choose the timing of vaccination. I believe that the "No Jab, No Play" Bill infringes on the rights of parents and penalises those who choose not to vaccinate on the preferred schedule to an unnecessary degree and should be withdrawn."

Email addresses for the Premier, Minister for Health and Shadow Minister for Health have been included at the bottom of the page.

I'm not saying I agree with the sentiment, but I feel that it comes across a bit more "concerned citizen", a bit less "raving lunatic".

We'll skip past the poorly formatted email address list (since we've moved those to the end of the page now).

So now we're into the "references" provided by the author. We'll examine these one by one for as long as I can be bothered. (Notes: (1) I'm not going to debunk all the anti-vax nonsense. Others who are far more qualified have already done a far better job of it. See, for example Orac's work at Respectful Insolence. (2) I've deliberately set the website links from the paper to empty links on this page to prevent traffic from this site. If you really want to visit, you can type the URL yourself.)

vaccinepapers.org is a site dedicated to "An objective look at vaccine dangers". Given that it's immediately focusing on the "dangers" and not the vaccines or the millions of lives they've saved, it's already seeming more "biased" and less "objective". At least they've moved on from thiomersal to the new vaccine bogeyman, uncle Al. By focusing on the aluminium adjuvant in vaccines instead of the old mercury-based one, they can safely ignore all the scientific evidence that thiomersal was not in any way responsible for any perceived increase in rates of autism diagnosis. Again, it's anti-vax manifesting as "vaccine reform", requesting people examine the science for themselves. Unfortunately, however, the "science" provided on the site all seems to be from the anti-vax side. I was unable to locate a single pro-vaccination/schedule article. So much for objectivity.

www.info.cmsri.org didn't have a DNS entry (note to author: check your links before publishing), so I cannot provide any direct analysis of the link. www.cmsri.org's home page didn't work either (it resolved but would not load the page), but I was able to get through to a child page. It is the "Children's Medical Safety Research Institute", a rather noble-sounding site, but it too seems entirely focused on anti-vax rhetoric. When you have authors on the site claiming that

Most scientists are sceptical -- they don’t like claims without evidence – but not all scientists are Skeptics. Skeptics are champions of objective scientific inquiry who fight against anything they see as irrational and unscientific, which is everything outside of pharmaceutical manufacturing interests.

... well, you've lost me. To assert without evidence that anyone who criticises is a "Skeptic" (i.e. criticises the anti-vax movement) is in the pocket of "Big Pharma" is not only patently untrue, it's obviously absurd when you think about everyone who would have to be in on the racket. The next sentence goes on about how "Skeptics" dismiss "functional medicine", which is a good thing, since "functional medicine" is, according to its critics, a "collection of totally nonsensical gobbledygook" (see also: Skeptic as the source of the citation).

(Aside: want to know what the difference between being 'sceptical' and being 'skeptical' is? Which side of the Atlantic Ocean you're on. That's it.)

The site provides the same biased information as Vaccine Papers, with the additional factor that it's a registered not-for-profit which is funding anti-vax research, so that's a bummer.

Next up we have the potentially trademark-infringing VISA (Vaccine Information Serving Australia, incorrectly labeled Vaccine Information Service SA in the letter, which ultimately links to whatisvaccination.com) is another anti-vax site, albeit one which seems to have been largely inert since 2015 (the most recent post is from the beginning of October that year). Same nonsense as the previous two sites, but with a focus on Australian government policy rather than US. (Even though most of the content seems to be aggregated from US articles anyway.)

Next up is the almost-certainly-will-be-mistyped-trying-to-get-to-it article at vaccineimpact.com/2017/medical-doctor-blood-of-every-vaccine-injured-or-killed-child-on-hands-of-murder-by-vaccine-pediatricians. So much for SEO. The article in question was written by one Dr James Meehan, who

has advanced training in ophthalmology, medical informatics, functional medicine, interventional endocrinology, and nutrition. He is an expert in pain management, addiction medicine, diagnostic laboratory services, toxicology, pharmacogenetics, and the business of medicine[.]

So no relevant qualifications. Righto. There's that "functional medicine" again. Always a red flag.

The source site is yet more of the same.

Next up is SAVE (South Australian Vaccination Education) which turned up exactly ZERO results in search but does exist on the book of faces as a closed group with "a stringent membership approval system", so basically an anti-vax echo chamber.

The movie Vaxxed has already been thoroughly debunked.

... and the rest I'm going to guess is more of the same. Honestly, I don't have the energy to go through more of this.

All of the above have been said to be rubbish. But are they? No harm checking them out.

The short answer is: yes, they are rubbish. And there is harm checking them out, at least if you're not able to evaluate scientific evidence.

Speaking of which... where is it? If the author is "pro vaccines" as they claim, where is any literature on the safety and efficacy of vaccination?

I'm beginning to doubt the author's sincerity in that statement.

Let's take the emotion out of this issue, so that we can make considered choices for our babies, infants and children who have no say in this.

... requests the author of an extremely emotive and emotional letter.

YOUR child deserves a second opinion. You deserve freedom of

[end of page 1].

YOUR child deserves a second opinion. You deserve freedom of [c]hoice and respect for your choices.

No. No you do not deserve respect for your choices if your choices put others at risk. You don't want to vaccinate? Don't. I'm sorry that your kids will have to rely on herd immunity for preventable diseases when they could be part of the solution, but that's your choice that you're inflicting upon them.

But you definitely do not deserve respect for your choices if your choices are putting my child at risk.

Matt Redmond

Musician, composer, actor, engineer, pirate.

Adelaide, Australia