Which button would you click?

One thing antivaxers have going for them over a science based argument, is playing the emotive card. Consider this from a debate I was involved in tonight:-

That anyone can say it’s ok to sacrifice a few children for the “good” of others (even though it’s ridiculously untrue) is beyond insane! How would you feel if YOUR child was one of those vaccine injured children….would it still be ok then? Are you seriously saying you’re happy for your child to die so others can live?

Consider two buttons. The first kills 1 in a 1000 children of some population at random and the second kills 1 in 1000000 children of the same population at random. Which one would you click? Yes, it’s a no-brainer. Yet this is exactly the sort of choice we have to make with respect to vaccination strategies – and some antivaxers would have us click the first button – the “don’t vaccinate” button.

Neither button is desirable, but we have to click one of them and the clear winner is button two. Because serious adverse reactions to vaccination are so rare, they often have public exposure (and rightly so), making them an easy and compelling target for antivaxers.

It’s easy for the antivaxer to say things like – “what are you going to tell those parents?”, but exactly the same can be asked if we stopped vaccinating – “what are we going to tell the parents of the orders of magnitude more children that will now die from a vaccine preventable disease?”. Can you imagine their response to – “we stopped vaccinating because there were some very rare but serious adverse reactions…”.

Everybody knows that vaccines carry an inherent risk, but we are all in this together. We can stop vaccinating and watch tens of thousands of children die, or join together and fight a common enemy. Measles for example could be eradicated if we could get over our generally misplaced fear of vaccines.

So much passion is wasted on arguing against vaccines in general, when in fact it could be refocused on lobbying to: improve research into developing new vaccine technology – for example to replace the live vaccines, phase out multi-dose vials, improve vaccine efficacy and improve screening technology – the latter indirectly helping to counter the human tendency to associate illness following vaccination as an adverse reaction.

Consider what John Salamone achieved.

In such a world those who still cannot be vaccinated for age or health reasons really can be identified and successfully cocooned in the herd because everybody else is vaccinating – and there is a very real chance of eliminating and eventually eradicating some of these diseases – a manifestation of emergence from a collection of achievable goals.

There again many people I ask really do want to click button one – they say it online – in public. How would they strategise? Diet is favourite, followed by vitamin supplements!

The target of this post are antivaxers who for no reason other than personal choice (not medical/age reasons) decide not to vaccinate.

Edit: Some cowardly Anon has written a response to this on Meryl Dorey’s blog.