“Entirely Predictable: More Parents Don’t Want Routine Vaccination for Their Kids”
Measles, pertussis, and chickenpox are poised to make a comeback. According to a recent article titled CDC Data Shows Highest Level Yet Of Vaccine Exemptions For Kindergartners:
The percentage of kindergartners whose parents opted them out of state-required childhood vaccinations rose to the highest level yet during the 2022-2023 school year, according to federal data released Thursday. The numbers mark a continued drop in routine immunization that increases the risk for highly contagious diseases, such as measles, to spread.
Many doctors responded to this alarming news by advocating for vaccines.
Not Dr. Vinay Prasad, however. He saw yet another opportunity to trash the pediatric COVID vaccine, as he’s been doing regularly since January 2021, several months before there even was a pediatric COVID vaccine. According to Dr. Prasad, by seeking to limit COVID’s impact on children, the CDC itself is to blame for falling vaccine rates. In an article on his monetized, misinformation Substack titled Entirely Predictable: More Parents Don’t Want Routine Vaccination for Their Kids, he wrote:
For many of us who have witnessed the CDC’s repeated blunders with kids COVID19 vaccines, this result is entirely predictable…I worried that the unyielding push to vaccinate kids with a COVID19 vaccine that has never shown reduction in severe disease or hospitalization in a randomized trial at any age, and certainly not against prevailing variants, was a huge mistake, and would lead the public to doubt all vaccines, rather than an embrace of all… Very soon, we will likely see real outbreaks of measles and other virus thought controlled by vaccination.
“I warned them,” Dr. Prasad boasted. Embracing extreme cancel culture, again, Dr. Prasad said, “Any employee responsible for masking 2 year olds or adding COVID19 vaccines to the pediatric schedule should be fired”.
“One common claim of the anti-vaccine movement is that vaccines have never been properly tested.”
Though Dr. Prasad’s readers won’t learn this, there were 6 randomized-controlled trials of the pediatric COVID vaccine, which involved nearly 25,000 children. There have since been dozens of observational studies from around the world showing it kept many children safe and out of the hospital. Dr. Prasad presented no data to support his claim that parents are declining the MMR because they feel the COVID vaccine RCTs were underpowered.
He just had a hunch.
I’ve studied the anti-vaccine movement for over a decade. Along with Dorit Reiss, I co-wrote a book chapter titled The Anti-Vaccine Movement: A Litany of Fallacy and Errors in 2018. We knew then that no matter how many studies are done on vaccines, anti-vaxxers will always claim they are insufficient. We wrote then:
This shifting of goalposts is also very evident when it comes to vaccine safety where impossible standards are often demanded. One common claim of the anti-vaccine movement is that vaccines have never been properly tested. Tens of thousands of studies exist on vaccines’ safety and effectiveness, and vaccines are, in fact, tested more thoroughly than most medications. But the anti-vaccine movement claims that these studies are invalid because the entire vaccine schedule has not been tested together over the entire human life span.
Based on my knowledge of the anti-vaccine movement, I doubt that vaccine-hesitant parents would be embracing the MMR today if only the RCTs of the pediatric COVID vaccine enrolled more children, as Dr. Prasad absurdly claimed.
The available data supports my position. If it were true that “the unyielding push to vaccinate kids with a COVID19 vaccine” led parents to reject other other vaccines, then Florida, which encouraged the mass infection of unvaccinated children with SARS-CoV-2, should have been spared a dip in its vaccination rates. However, according to an article from 2022 titled Florida School Immunization Rates Lowest in Over 10 Years:
Last year marked a more than 10-year low for Florida’s kindergarten and seventh-grade students completed all doses of required immunizations, according to a recent report form the state Department of Health.
Dr. Prasad did not blame Governor Ron DeSantis and his sidekick, anti-vaccine data-manipulator Dr. Joseph Ladapo, for falling vaccination rates in their state. In fact, he admires them for their “unyielding push” to have unvaccinated children contract COVID.
A similar story is playing out in the UK, which also had an “unyielding push” to have unvaccinated children contract COVID. A recent article titled ‘No No No. Avoid Them All’: Anti-Vaccine Conspiracies Spread As UK Cases Of Measles Increase shows how misinformation about the COVID vaccine bleeds into all vaccines. “Online anti-vaxxers, conflating Covid and MMR theories, are convincing parents against immunising their children,” it said.
In fact, according to Heidi Larson, the director of the Vaccine Confidence Project:
In 55 countries, there was a precipitous drop between 2015 and 2022 in the number of people who said that routine immunization is important for children.
According to an article on this worldwide drop:
Disinformation campaigns and hesitation about Covid vaccines have spilled over and eroded some of the traditional eagerness that parents had to get their children routine immunizations.
Can the CDC’s “unyielding push to vaccinate kids” be blamed for this? I don’t think so.
“It Is Natural To Be Infected Repeatedly With Respiratory Viruses— If We Got Fewer Infections What Would That Mean For Auto-Immunity For Cancer?”
So if the CDC is not to blame for falling vaccination rates around the world, what is? I too have a hunch as to why some parents are rejecting vaccines today: prominent doctors told them that viruses are beneficial for children and society at large.
Indeed, Dr. Prasad was a vocal cheerleader for infecting unvaccinated children with multiple viruses. I know I’ve shared these quotes previously, but in light of Dr. Prasad’s unearned victory lap, it’s worth doing so again. His facile arguments and emotionally manipulative language- the unyielding push to vaccinate kids – are like catnip to anti-vaxxers and identical to the content they produced before the pandemic.
In an article titled Should We Let Children Catch Omicron? he wrote that measures to protect children:
Are premised on the idea that America’s children must be shielded from exposure to Covid-19. What kids really need, however, is a return to normal. And when it comes to infectious disease, normality means a world where they are routinely exposed to, and overcome, viral illness. For children, getting sick and recovering is part of a natural and healthy life…Parents must consider that exposures are how we best protect our children against the variants of the future. In fact, it is reckless to let children age into a more serious encounter with a disease best dealt with while younger.
“Immunity is built through illness,” he wrote.
Promoting the idea that unvaccinated children should be exposed to SARS-CoV-2 to benefit society, Dr. Prasad favorably quoted Dr. Francois Balloux who said:
I’m not sure how to convey this message in a half-acceptable way. But, if the objective were to send SARCoV2 into endemicity, then healthy kids have to be exposed to the virus, ideally earlier than later. This is not ‘eugenism’; it is bog-standard infection disease epidemiology.
He also favorably quoted a paper in The BMJ that said:
Once most adults are vaccinated, circulation of SARS-CoV-2 may in fact be desirable, as it is likely to lead to primary infection early in life when disease is mild, followed by booster re-exposures throughout adulthood… This would keep reinfections mild and immunity up to date.
He urged readers to numb themselves to children lost to COVID, writing:
Covid-19 is less deadly to children than many other risks we accept as a matter of course, including drowning, vehicle accidents, and even cardiovascular disease.
This is exactly how anti-vaxxers minimized measles. This comes from an anti-vaccine article, Measles: The New Red Scare, on Greenmedinfo from 2019:
Before the advent of a measles vaccine, measles was generally considered a mild illness. Even the British Medical Journal remarked in 1959 at this particular medical practice that over a 10 year span there were few complications from measles and that all children recovered.
In the majority of children the whole episode has been well and truly over in a week . . . In this practice measles is considered as a relatively mild and inevitable childhood ailment that is best encountered any time from 3 to 7 years of age. Over the past 10 years there have been few serious complications at any age, and all children have made complete recoveries. As a result of this reasoning no special attempts have been made at prevention even in young infants in whom the disease has not been found to be especially serious…
In 1962, measles was sixth from the bottom for causes of death. You can look through the list of causes of death and find almost everything from “Birth Injuries” at 28,199 to “Ulcers” at 12,228 to “Asthma” at 4,896 were far higher than the 408 deaths attributed to “Measles” that year.
COVID was not the only vaccine-preventable disease Dr. Prasad lauded. He encouraged parents to think of unvaccinated, infected children as human shields and embraced long-standing anti-vaccine myths about chickenpox, writing:
Shielding kids from exposure only increases their future risk. This is partly why the UK does not vaccinate against chickenpox. Serious complications from the disease are rare among children, and the circulating virus allows adults to be naturally boosted against reactivation-driven shingles. By rebuilding population immunity among the least at-risk, moreover, we help buffer risk for those most vulnerable.
Of course, children are independent people who deserve to be protected against diseases. According to CDC estimates:
During the first 25 years,* the U.S. chickenpox vaccination program has prevented an estimated: 91 million cases. 238,000 hospitalizations, 2,000 deaths.
The UK finally seems poised to reverse their flawed stance.
In addition to COVID and chickenpox, Dr. Prasad spoke favorably of letting children contract a third potentially lethal virus, the flu. In an article titled “I Am Going to Mask Because I Want to Get Fewer Colds & Other Flawed Ideas,” Dr. Prasad wrote:
There is the arrogance that avoiding colds and flu is good for us. Of course it is the case that getting sick is unpleasant, but our knowledge of immunology and the body is so primitive we should not conclude that avoiding it is ‘good for us.’ We have no idea if that is true in the long run. It is natural to be infected repeatedly with respiratory viruses— if we got fewer infections what would that mean for auto-immunity for cancer? We have no idea if we would actually live longer or healthier lives trying to dodge seasonal runny noses and coughs.
Prior to the pandemic, anti-vaccine doctor turned homeopath, Suzanne Humphries, similarly spoke of the “benefits” of infecting unvaccinated children with “natural” viruses. In her article The Benefits of Having a Natural Measles Infection, she claimed that measles treats kidney disease and cancer. She asked a question very similar to Dr. Prasad’s: “Why not just let wild measles circulate and do the job nature intended at the time of life it was intended, which leads to 65 years of immunity and no need for life-span vaccination?”
Having essentially argued that parents should forgo vaccines and let three viruses, SARS-CoV-2, varicella-zoster, and influenza, “circulate and do the job nature intended at the time of life it was intended,” on what grounds would Dr. Prasad argue against someone who wanted to let measles, “circulate and do the job nature intended at the time of life it was intended”?
Of course, this is just half the story. In addition to hyping the potential “benefits” of being repeatedly infected with respiratory viruses, Dr. Prasad relentlessly fear mongered about rare, usually mild, vaccine side-effects, even treating mere abnormal lab values after vaccination as a fate worse than death from COVID.
Dr. Prasad has a few thoughts vaccine side effects
“Entirely Predictable: More Parents Don’t Want Routine Vaccination for Their Kids”
To summarize, parents learned from Dr. Prasad that “immunity is built through illness” and that “for children, getting sick and recovering is part of a natural and healthy life”. “It is natural to be infected repeatedly with respiratory viruses,” he wrote, while suggesting that protecting children from potentially deadly viruses could trigger cancer and autoimmune disease later in life. “It is reckless to let children age into a more serious encounter with a disease best dealt with while younger,” he said. “Shielding kids from exposure only increases their future risk,” he added. He told parents to stop trusting pediatricians and other opponents of mass infection. He accused public health experts of hiding the risks of vaccines, and said that anti-vaccine crank RFK Jr. would “flatten” them in a public debate.
Don’t trust the people telling you to vaccinate your child
So, is it really a mystery why parents who were inundated with a constant stream of pro-virus sophistry then rejected the MMR? Not to me. When a professor from a top medical school with a large media footprint parrots standard anti-vaccine blather and says those who disagree are untrustworthy “idiots” who are “off their rocker“, it’s entirely predictable: more parents don’t want routine vaccination for their kids.
Dr. Prasad didn’t predict this sad outcome, he worked tirelessly to cause it. So did many other doctors.