Sunday, September 19, 2021


 I had the impression that the anti-vax movement started with Andrew Wakefield, a British doctor, because of the flap around 1998 when he published a paper in the Lancet which suggested that the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine (MMR) had not been properly tested and could cause autism.  Usually publication in the Lancet means good research, but it turned out that he'd been paid to find out if there was evidence to support a legal case filed by parents who believed the vaccine had harmed their children.  He invented the evidence  to support his conclusion and his results couldn't be reproduced. By 2010 the British General Medical Council had ruled against Wakefield on several issues and the Lancet withdrew the paper.  Wakefield is no longer allowed to practice medicine in Great Britain.  This is just a summary, if you're interested in the Wakefield incident, read the linked article on him.

I got a lot of this from the History of Anti-Vaccination Movements, a 2018 article on the site History of Vaccines. I recommend the article to the interested.  It reminded me that people have been objecting to vaccines since before vaccines existed as such (the concept was developed by Edward Jenner in 1798).  The reasons aren't very different from what we're seeing now:  people don't trust doctors, or the government.  People don't like being told they have to do something.  People are afraid vaccines will harm them.

A lot of people on social media have been referring to the general acceptance of the polio vaccines in the 1950s, in the United States, as the standard for public acceptance of vaccines against a horrible disease, and comparing it to current rejection of the COVID-19 vaccines.  It was the exception.  There were public objections to the smallpox vaccine, to the Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTP) Vaccine, and of course to the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine.  The only reason there were no objections to a vaccine for the 1918 influenza is because a vaccine was never developed. There were objections in 1918 to wearing masks.

Apparently people in the 1950s were simply more afraid of polio than they were of the vaccine, a reaction we haven't seen in the people refusing the COVID-19 vaccines.  At least until they're in the ICU.


  1. Anonymous9:28 AM

    Science now knows that viruses and humanity have been co-existing since creation (whenever that was). We know that viruses have an extraordinary advantage over their human hosts. They’re incredibly small, and incredibly prolific, and they’re able to reproduce themselves at geometric rates, and even to adapt to changes in their environment by randomly altering themselves to defeat challenges to their endurance. All this means that over the long haul, our attempts to outsmart viruses are doomed to failure. As we continue to overpopulate and crowd together on the planet, our susceptibility to infection will steadily increase and eventually will threaten our very existence. AIDS, and Covid, and similar kinds of viral threats are not anomalies. They’re the harbingers of a wave of viral onslaughts which will gradually increase in frequency and intensity over time. Medical research will struggle to keep up, but the odds are stacked against it. Honest medical theorists don’t like to talk about this, because it isn’t politically correct. Humanity might endure for another 500 years, even a couple millennia or more, but eventually, unless we figure out ways to reduce human exposure, we’re not going to beat the bugs.

  2. You're right, of course, but given how badly we're dealing with climate change at the moment, that may take us off the planet well before the viruses get around to it.