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Anti-vaccination movement

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Caricature of Edward Jenner inoculating patients in the Smallpox and Inoculation Hospital at St. Pancras. The patients are shown growing cow heads from parts of their anatomy following the vaccination. There is a print of the golden calf on the wall behind them. Patients are spoon-fed "opening mixture" as they come through the door. A boy standing next to Jenner is holding his pot labelled "vaccine pock hot from ye cow", on his jacket is a badge saying "Pancras" and in his pocket a paper entitled "Benefits of the vaccine process". Lettering: The cow-pock - or - the wonderful effects of the new inoculation! - Vide, the publications of ye anti-vaccine society. Js. Gillray
Fears about vaccines were understandable when they were new, but present concerns are groundless.
Needles are scary
Icon vax.svg
Pricks against pricks
If you really, genuinely believe that 99% of doctors in this country are dishonest, then you need to see a doctor, ironically.
—Jimmy Kimmel on anti-vaxxers[1]

The anti-vaccination movement (or the anti-vaxx movement) is a loosely organized conspiracy theorist and Luddite subculture that blames the medical practice of vaccination for a wide range of health problems. Ironically, its advocates have been directly responsible for the return of health disasters by reinvigorating diseases that had almost been eradicated by said vaccines. The movement, led mainly by people with no medical or scientific qualifications (or tellingly stripped of credentials for malpractice and fraud), bases its claims mostly on spurious alleged short-term and long-term side effects of vaccinations — effects that are (to boot) often trivial compared to the severity of what were once common illnesses.

Anti-vaccination proponents argue that vaccines are deadly poisons (and that this ought to be "considered completely proven" to anyone but a shill). Yet the anti-vaccination movement fails to gain traction outside of social media. Therefore, by necessity, they argue that some kind of cover-up must be taking place (particularly in the CDC, but also in China, Russia, India - vaccine-manufacturing countries all - and in the United Nations); that the vaccines serve an agenda completely different from disease prevention;[2] or that some sort of shadowy power operates to suppress the anti-vaccination "whistleblowers". This, of course, makes perfect sense.

Scaremongering opposition to vaccines is antiquated rather than novel, however. The iteration of this movement that we're stuck with today does not respond to any current or new (or real) danger. The original anti-vaccination movement sprang up very soon after Edward Jenner popularised a smallpox vaccine in the 1790s. The word "vaccination" derives from the Latin vacca (meaning "cow") since Jenner's smallpox vaccine involved an inoculation that was then believed to be from cowpox (although shown by modern genetic research to be actually derived from horsepox[3]). As early as 1802, forerunners of the modern anti-vaccination movement claimed that getting the smallpox inoculation would turn you into a cow.[4] While vaccines have since improved from Jenner's primitive proof-of-concept to the contemporary medical science that we reap the benefits of today, the anti-vaccination movement hasn't smartened up noticeably from the level of their predecessors in the days of Jenner.

Recently, debates have erupted in the press and doctors' offices regarding the possible side-effects of vaccines and whether these outweigh the risks of leaving a population (or an autonomous individual) without vaccinations. Opponents of vaccines have alleged that vaccinations cause all manner of illnesses; autism is a prominent example, as its direct causes remain relatively mysterious and are probably very wide-ranging, with no identified single cause or lifestyle risk factor. Some prominent Americans have also spoken out vociferously about the supposed danger of vaccines.[5] For antivaxers, it is first and foremost always about the vaccines. Always. Whatever the chronic health issue in children, vaccines must have done it. Autism? It's the vaccines. Sudden infant death syndrome? Vaccines, of course. Autoimmune diseases? Obviously, it must be the vaccines causing it. Obesity? Diabetes? ADHD? Come on, you know the answer!

Current scientific research has rejected or failed to explain the mechanisms for claimed vaccine-induced health problems. Vaccine-preventable diseases have been a significant cause of illness, death, and disability throughout human history. The modern vaccine era has changed this significantly; most North Americans and Europeans have little memory of a pre-vaccine age when diseases such as mumps and measles — to say nothing of smallpox or polio — occurred commonly and often killed many of those infected.

Premise to anti-vaccination[edit]

There's a small, but still sizable group of people who are choosing not to vaccinate their children. Here in LA, there are schools in which 20% of the students aren't vaccinated, because parents here are more scared of gluten than they are of smallpox! And, as a result, we now have measles again.

I know if you're one of these anti-vaccine people you probably aren't going to take medical advice from talk show hosts — I don't expect you to, I wouldn't either — but I would expect you to take medical advice from almost every doctor in the world. See, the thing about doctors is they didn't learn about the human body from their friend's Facebook page. They went to medical school, where they studied all sorts of amazing things, like how to magically prevent children from contracting horrible diseases by giving them little shots. You know these little shots of Botox? Which is Botulinum toxinWikipedia, by the way? You get in your face to make your head look smooth and your eyes look crazy? A little shot, like that, and "poof!" — polio is gone.

But some people did not buy into that, because they did a Google search, and Jenny McCarthy popped up. And she had clothes on, so they listened to what she had to say, and decided not to vaccinate their kids. And by the way, this would all be OK if your kids were the only ones affected — they're your kids. But they're not, because unvaccinated kids put all children in danger, especially babies who are too young to get the vaccination shot... But of course, that's according to doctors, so — you know, take that with a grain of salt.
—Jimmy Kimmel, A Message for the Anti-Vaccine Movement[6]

The various suggestions that vaccines are inherently harmful are not supported by reviewed and accepted scientific evidence. For example, it is claimed that specific vaccines such as MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) or specific ingredients such as thiomersal are causative factors leading to disease. Some claims are more vague, based on the feeling that vaccines are "unnatural", that they're somehow "useless", or that the diseases they prevent "aren't that bad anyway". Anti-vaccination campaigners often use the language of being for "freedom" in whether to be vaccinated, such as with MMR, where the campaign was the "choice" to take a non-combined vaccine. These beliefs often stem from other ideological positions; for instance, vaccination programs are seen as excessive government interference or as an implementation of socialized medicine, although it's hardly just a conservative thing, as a look around The Huffington Post will tell you. New Age woo is another reason that some oppose vaccines. Similarly, those against "artificial" interference will also shun vaccination regardless of efficacy. It could be argued that these ideologies are the root causes of anti-vaccination positions and bias which specific concerns an individual will be attracted to.

Of course, there is well-developed, published data on the complication rates of vaccines, which plays an essential role in the approval process that vaccines must pass to be licensed for sale and recommended for use.[7] When faced with this, anti-vaccination activists often argue that the reporting system is not robust enough, which results in misleading figures. The reality is that unexpected side effects can occur, just as a parachute may fail to open, but the regulatory process ensures that such events are rare and within a risk boundary that makes vaccination statistically much safer than non-vaccination.

For vaccination recommendations by governments or advisory institutions (e.g., the World Health Organization) to change to an anti-vaccination stance, it must be fully demonstrated that the harms caused directly by the vaccine are more significant than the harms caused by withholding the vaccine from circulation. This needs to be shown at a population level, with reliable and substantial statistics.

Additional causes of confusion[edit]

Because of stories like Andrew Wakefield's discredited study, wrongly linking vaccines and autism, and the news media's obsession with pictures of crying, terrified children being poked with needles, people are nervous about vaccines.
—Joe Hanson, doctor of biology and host of It's Okay to Be Smart[8]

It is an unfortunate but sad truth that uninformed parents will very often click on shiny, flashy, "attention-grabbing" blog posts like this(redirect) as opposed to "boring", "unexciting" peer-reviewed research articles such as this.(redirect)

A significant cause of confusion among anti-vaxxers is the utter lack of understanding of the difference between actual research and woo that someone wrote on their blog. With little to no knowledge of science or the scientific process, parents are often more likely to trust something that entertains them even while it scares them. While this is also propagated by the media, a critical element of human behavior is at play here. Much of the anti-vaccine movement's successes lie more with how they present their "arguments" rather than what they actually say.

For example, if a television network were to create an anti-vaccine special in which they used a deep-voiced narrator, ominous music, and anecdotal cases of autism that fail to provide a causal link to vaccines, parents' minds would likely be swayed long before they cut to a commercial break following the narrator saying, "Find out what happens next when Billy gets his shot. You won't be able to believe your eyes. All this and more when we return to Vaccines: the deadly poison."

And to top it all off, even though a stream of new scientific studies have confirmed that the anti-vaccination movement's fears are entirely unfounded, these conclusions are not reaching anti-vaxxers. Instead, the very existence of new safety studies is paraded by the anti-vaxxers as an implicit concession that the safety of vaccines must clearly be insufficiently proven — even though the safety trials were only redone in the first place order to appease the constantly goalpost-moving anti-vaccination movement.[9] Against this kind of stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.

In 2018, it was reported that Russia had been spreading disinformation about vaccination between 2014 and 2017 on Twitter, including both pro-vax and anti-vax social messages, to create discord and false equivalency.[10] Many of the tweets were generated by the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, which is affiliated with Vladimir Putin and was indicted as part of the investigation into meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[10]

Religious fearmongering[edit]

Job II. vii. So went Satan forth from the Presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore Boils, from the sole of his Foot unto his Crown. …

It is this, That the Devil by some venemous Infusion into the Body of Job, might raise his Blood to such a Ferment, as threw out a Confluence of inflammatory Pustules all over him from Head to Foot: That is, his Distemper might be what is now incident to most Men, and perhaps conveyed to him by some such Way as that of Inoculation.
—Edmund Massey, preaching against vaccines in 1722[11][12]

The anti-vaccination movement also contains a significant religious element. The damage done to the lives of innocent human beings, especially the poorest and hardest stricken, by this anti-scientific movement is both remarkable and heartbreaking.

In the United States, many state laws support an individual's (or parental) right to choose whether to be vaccinated against any disease. Forty-eight states allowed religious exemptions for compulsory vaccinations as of 2014, and twenty states allow exemptions on philosophical or personal objections to vaccinations.[13] Rudolf Steiner, the originator of Waldorf education, regarded bouts of childhood disease as spiritually beneficial,[14] which has made Waldorf education attractive for those opposed to vaccines.[15][16][17] Before the removal of the religious exemption in California, Waldorf schools had vaccination rates as low as 8%.[15][16][17] In 2018, a chickenpox outbreak occurred at the Asheville Waldorf School in North Carolina; it has one of the highest vaccination-exemption rates in the state.[18]

John D. Grabenstein wrote an extensive analysis that compared parents' religious exemptions from vaccination with what a wide range of religions actually advocates. His analysis found "few canonical bases for declining immunization, with Christian Scientists a notable exception". Parents' claims for religious exemption usually depended on irrational fears rather than specific religious tenets.[19][20]

As related by the late Christopher Hitchens (see also above Intentionally tainted vaccines):[21]

In the fall of 2001 I was in Calcutta with the magnificent photographer Sebastião Salgado, a Brazilian genius whose studies with the camera have made vivid the lives of migrants, war victims, and those workers who toil to extract primary products from mines and quarries and forests. On this occasion, he was acting as an envoy of UNICEFWikipedia and promoting his cause as a crusader — in the positive sense of that term — against the scourge of polio. Thanks to the work of inspired and enlightened scientists like Jonas Salk, it is now possible to immunize children against this ghastly malady for a negligible cost: the few cents or pennies that it takes to administer two drops of oral vaccine to the mouth of an infant.

Advances in medicine had managed to put the fear of smallpox behind us, and it was confidently expected that another year would do the same for polio. Humanity itself had seemingly united on this proposition. In several countries, including El Salvador, warring combatants had proclaimed cease-fires in order to allow the inoculation teams to move freely. Extremely poor and backward countries had mustered the resources to get the good news to every village: no more children need be killed, or made useless and miserable, by this hideous disease.

Back home in Washington, where that year many people were still fearfully staying indoors after the trauma of 9/11, my youngest daughter was going dauntlessly door to door on Halloween, piping "Trick or Treat for UNICEF" and healing or saving, with every fistful of small change, children she would never meet. One had that rare sense of participating in an entirely positive enterprise.

The people of Bengal, and particularly the women, were enthusiastic and inventive. I remember one committee meeting, where staunch Calcutta hostesses planned without embarrassment to team up with the city's prostitutes to spread the word into the farthest corners of society. Bring your children, no questions asked, and let them swallow the two drops of fluid. Someone knew of an elephant a few miles out of town that might be hired to lead a publicity parade. Everything was going well: in one of the poorest cities and states of the world there was to be a new start.

And then we began to hear of a rumor. In some outlying places, Muslim die-hards were spreading the story that the droplets were a plot. If you took this sinister Western medicine, you would be stricken by impotence and diarrhea (a forbidding and depressing combination). This was a problem, because the drops have to be administered twice—the second time as a booster and confirmation of immunity and because it takes only a few uninoculated people to allow the disease to survive and revive, and to spread back through contact and the water supply. As with smallpox, eradication must be utter and complete.

I wondered as I left Calcutta if West Bengal would manage to meet the deadline and declare itself polio-free by the end of the next year. That would leave only pockets of Afghanistan and one or two other inaccessible regions, already devastated by religious fervor, before we could say that another ancient tyranny of illness had been decisively overthrown.

In 2005 I learned of one outcome. In northern Nigeria — a country that had previously checked in as provisionally polio-free — a group of Islamic religious figures issued a ruling, or fatwa, that declared the polio vaccine to be a conspiracy by the United States (and, amazingly, the United Nations) against the Muslim faith. The drops were designed, said these mullahs, to sterilize the true believers. Their intention and effect was genocidal. Nobody was to swallow them, or administer them to infants.

Within months, polio was back, and not just in northern Nigeria. Nigerian travelers and pilgrims had already taken it as far as Mecca, and spread it back to several other polio-free countries, including three African ones and also faraway Yemen. The entire boulder would have to be rolled back right up to the top of the mountain.

Anti-vaccination proponents[edit]



Social media disinformation nexus[edit]

According to a 2021 study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, 65% of anti-vaccine content on Facebook can be traced back to 12 people, some of whom have been banned on social media:[68]


Vaccines are victims of their own success.
—Science writer Seth Mnookin, on how people have forgotten what now-cured diseases were like[4]

Despite the hysteria and media coverage, the only serious medical condition ever linked to a vaccine was specific to the virus strain used in manufacturing the vaccine. In fact, epidemiological evidence shows that vaccines prevent a considerable burden of disease and death globally.

Despite this, there is still a level of concern regarding vaccines. Public education about vaccines and health must continue, and we must continue to provide everyone with the rigorous scientific education needed so that they may avoid making vital public-health-related decisions based on misconceptions and lies.

The science of vaccination[edit]

A system that's based on people voluntarily using their bodies to protect other vulnerable people.
—Author Eula Biss, on how getting vaccinated is one of the most empathetic things we can do[4]

Origins of vaccination[edit]

A cartoon from c. 1800 depicts vaccination preparation methods: inspecting cowpox on a milkmaid's hand, while a man passes a cowpox-infected sample collected on a lancet from the cow to a physician. The lancet would likely have been made from ivory.

Allegedly, a Song dynasty (960–1279 CE) chancellor of China, Wang Dan (957–1017 CE), lost his eldest son to smallpox and sought a means to spare the rest of his family from the disease and eventually obtained and spread knowledge about inoculation.[69] The first clear and credible reference to smallpox inoculation in China comes from Wan Quan's (1499–1582 CE) Douzhen Xinfa (痘疹心法, "Philosophy on Poxes") of 1549 CE though no details are available.[70]

Inoculation by variolation (using cowpox or attenuated smallpox tissue) was reportedly not widely practiced in China until the Longqing Emperor's reign (1567–1572 CE). From these accounts, it is known that the Chinese banned the practice of using smallpox material from patients who actually had the full-blown disease of Variola major (considered too dangerous); instead, they used proxy material of a cotton plug inserted into the nose of a person who had already been inoculated and had only a few scabs. By 1700, smallpox variolation was practiced in Africa, India, and the Ottoman Empire.[71]

Onesimus,Wikipedia an enslaved African given to Cotton Mather,Wikipedia essentially brought variolation to early 18th century Boston and thus North America.[72] The beginnings of the anti-vaccination movement in the US can be traced here, as the medical profession of the time—spearheaded by the only physician of the time with an actual medical degree, William Douglass — was vehemently opposed to inoculation.[73] Benjamin Franklin witnessed this while working under his brother James's print shop; James was a fervent opponent of the practice (or anti-vaxxer) and went as far as to print a newspaper specifically aimed at opposing inoculation. Though Benjamin Franklin recorded the 1730 smallpox outbreak that only four died of the hundreds who were inoculated, six years later, in 1736, his four-year-old son died of the disease. He regretted not inoculating his son for the rest of his life. Why he did not inoculate his son is unclear, though his wife Deborah's worry about the procedure's safety is perhaps (truly or falsely) one reason. From then on, Franklin espoused inoculations, possibly influencing George Washington to mandate the inoculation of his non-immunized troops during the American Revolutionary War.[74][75][76]:88-90

Modern western vaccination began in 1798 when English physician Edward Jenner showed that by using the less-lethal cowpox virus, people could be protected against smallpox.

Known side effects[edit]

A pie chart showing that out of 1.4 million vaccines, there have been 4657 adverse events. A bar graph shows that the most common adverse reactions were Headache (~315 cases), Nausea (~305 cases), Dizziness (~270 cases), Sore arm (~225 cases), and Rash (~65 cases). Below the graphs is the text: "Source: MHRA"
Adverse reactions to the HPV vaccine Ceravix reported between April 2008 and 23 September 2009. Very few, and relatively mild.

Simply put, complications are more likely to arise from illness than vaccination. In other words, the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks, by far, in (almost) every case. (The main exception being vaccines against diseases that the person has essentially zero chance of being exposed to--and by zero, we don't mean "low", we mean "zero known cases".)

Most commonly used vaccines have a statistical risk of severe complications; however, the actual risk is ridiculously low. It's often difficult to tell if the vaccine actually caused the milder complications, as the nocebo effect can be powerful with injections.

The current impact of vaccines on health is very simply stated by the CDC.[77]

Children who get measles have a 1 in 20 (50,000 per million) chance of developing a severe complication; however, severe complications from the vaccine number 1 or 2 per million, according to the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University.[78] Based on a historical analysis of measles-infected vs. measles-vaccinated children, a 2015 analysis reported that a long-term immuno-suppression caused by measles infection likely increases the likelihood of fatality from other diseases.[79][80]

Before introducing the measles vaccination, there were about half a million cases per year in the United States, while only 89 cases were diagnosed in 1998.[78] Historically, the measles mortality rate in the U.S. was about 1 to 3 deaths per every 1000 cases, with young children suffering the highest mortality rates.[81] Most deaths occur as a result of pneumonia or encephalitis.[82]

After introducing polio vaccination, cases in the United States decreased from almost 30,000 in 1955 — many of which led to paralysis or death — to 910 cases by 1962. New polio cases in the U.S. are now a thing of the past.[78] The oral vaccine, while effective, is the less safe of the two types of polio vaccine. There are no more naturally acquired cases in the U.S., so the oral vaccine has become the only cause of polio (8-9 cases). Since the vaccine risk, however small, eventually exceeded the disease risk, the oral vaccine was abandoned in favor of the killed vaccine. In regions where polio is still a significant problem, the oral vaccine is still a better choice, as it can enter the water supply and vaccinate others passively. This may be less true in regions with high HIV rates, as live vaccines are usually avoided in patients with compromised immune systems.

According to Willem van Panhuis et al. 2013, "a total of 103.1 million cases of these contagious diseases have been prevented since 1924 on the basis of median weekly prevaccine incidence rates."[83]

The US vaccine court building.

In Britain, there was concern in the early 1970s about the pertussis vaccine, which was blamed for several cases of encephalitis. Despite the connection never being proven outright, vaccination rates still dropped from 77% to 39%. Following this drop in immunization, the UK was hit by two sizeable whooping cough epidemics (one in 1978 and another in 1982), both of which resulted in many deaths.[78][84] Unfortunately, these consequences from vaccine denial aren't confined to history; whooping cough also hit the American northwest, generating one of the worst outbreaks in 70 years, with a 1300% increase in cases in 2012 entirely blamed on recent hysteria over vaccines.[85]

The rates of complications from vaccines are so low that the benefit of vaccines for each child is higher than the risk of a poor outcome, so it is not true that the few children with adverse events are being sacrificed for others' health. Nonetheless, there is legal recognition of the potential for adverse effects from vaccines in the United States, which are handled by the Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ("vaccine court").[86] This court uses a no-fault compensation program based on a vaccine injury table[87] regularly reviewed by the Institute of Medicine.[86]

On June 21, 2017, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the EU courts could consider circumstantial evidence when deciding if the vaccination of a specific individual caused disease when there was no supporting evidence based on medical research.[88][89] The ruling would seem to be comparable to the no-fault compensation program in the US.

Disease vs. vaccine[edit]

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vs. the MMR vaccine
Complication rates per infection Complication rates per injection


  • Pneumonia: 60,000 per 1,000,000[90]
  • Encephalitis: 1,000 per 1,000,000[90]
  • Corneal lesions: Leading cause of blindness in developing countries.[91][92]
  • Death: 2,000 per 1,000,000[90]
  • Incidences:
  • Reported: 500,000 cases per year in the U.S. (about 0.3%), population approx 190,000,000[93]
  • Estimated: 3-4,000,000 cases per year (about 2%)[93]

MMR Vaccination:

  • Possibly vaccine-caused anaphylaxisWikipedia: 0.65,[94] 1,[90] or 1.8[95] per 1,000,000 injections
  • Possibly given 5 times in a lifetime, including booster shots, high-risk populations, and persons without documentation of vaccination; usually only given 2 times
  • Congenital Rubella Syndrome: 250,000 in 1,000,000 (if the woman becomes infected early in pregnancy),[90] which comes with a 7.4% risk of autism.[96][97]
  • Incidences: Rubella occurred primarily in epidemics every 6 to 9 years. During 1964-1965, there were an estimated 12.5 million rubella cases in the United States, population approx. 191 million.[98] Rubella then affected about 0.868% of the population each year, if 12.5 million cases occurred on average every 7.5 years.


  • Testicular atrophy: 140,000 per 1,000,000 males[99]
  • Miscarriage: 250,000 per 1,000,000 in the first trimester[99]
  • Meningitis: 100,000 per 1,000,000[99]
  • Incidences: Before 1967, about 186,000 mumps cases (0.0936% of the population) were reported every year; many more occurred.[100]
Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis vs. the DTaP vaccine
Complication rates per infection Complication rates per injection


  • Death: 50,000 per 1,000,000[90]

DTaP vaccine:

  • Continuous crying, then full recovery: 1,000 per 1,000,000[90]
  • Convulsions or shock, then full recovery: 70 per 1,000,000[90]
  • Acute encephalopathy: 0-10.5 per 1,000,000[90]
  • Death: None proven[90]


  • Death: 200,000 per 1,000,000[90]


  • Pneumonia: 125,000 per 1,000,000[90]
  • Encephalitis: 50,000 per 1,000,000[90]
  • Death: 650 per 1,000,000[90]

The return of once-cured diseases[edit]

For generations, just about everybody in the United States got vaccinations. And as a result, diseases like measles were all but eradicated. But in 1998, a study published in a scientific journal linked vaccines with autism. Even though that study was later discredited, ever since then, a small but vocal subset of parents have refused to vaccinate their kids. Now, measles... are back! As is whooping cough, mumps, and other diseases that were nearly wiped out. Children's lives are being endangered because some parents are acting on beliefs that have no scientific evidence to support them.
Hank GreenWikipedia, Crash Course Philosophy: Anti-Vaxxers, Conspiracy Theories & Epistemic Responsibility[101]

Another incredible side effect, not of vaccinations but of the opposition to them, is that when herd immunity breaks, once more or less eradicated diseases (at least in regions where vaccines were prevalent) have been able to make a comeback. One example of this is measles, in which the cause of the return is the failure of people to get vaccinated due to the needless (read: needle-less) fear of vaccines.[102]

Vaccination bonuses[edit]

Based on a historical review of measles-infected vs. measles-vaccinated children, a 2015 analysis reported there is likely a long-term immuno-suppression caused by measles infection that increases the likelihood of fatality from other diseases.[79][80] The measles vaccine actually does prevent other unrelated diseases. That is because the measles virus targets immune cells and manages to erase much of the immune systems' "memory" for fighting diseases. A consequence is that the measles vaccine reduces overall death rates, not just from measles.[103]

Infection from rotavirus is almost universal in children[104] and causes about 37% of childhood deaths from diarrhea (215,000 deaths) worldwide.[105] Based on a review of insurance data from 2001-2017, researchers found that children fully vaccinated against rotavirus had a 41% less chance of getting type 1 diabetes (an incurable disease).[106][107][108]

Purported reasons not to get vaccinated[edit]



See the main article on this topic: Thiomersal

Some anti-vaxxers argue that vaccines are harmful because they contain thiomersal. Usually, it is claimed that thiomersal is bad because it contains mercury. While some mercury compounds are toxic, the concentrations of thiomersal in vaccines are so low as to be almost negligible, thiomersal's type of mercury compound is significantly less harmful, and thiomersal has been phased out from most vaccines in developed countries.


See the main article on this topic: aluminum

Aluminum is the most abundant metal on earth and can be encountered anywhere, even in food and breastmilk,[109][note 2] being safely used in vaccines for over 70 years. After the removal of thiomersal from vaccines, aluminum in vaccines has become the new scapegoat for blaming autism and whatnot.[110]

Most vaccines contain certain aluminum salts, generally aluminum hydroxide (Al(OH)3) or aluminum phosphate (AlPO4), to stimulate a more heightened immune response against the antigen in the vaccine. It is claimed that it causes autism when deposited in the brain and autoimmune disorders anywhere else. Though some aluminum compounds are toxic at high doses,[111] the amount of aluminum adjuvant in any given vaccine is so low (and the amount of aluminum taken up by the brain even more so) that the risk posed by anti-vaxxers is entirely overblown.[112][113][114][115]

Anti-vaxxers may then argue that ingestion differs from injection,[116] which is an entirely valid statement but completely baseless in their context. While ingestion via the gut is different from Injection IM – into muscle (vaccines) is different from Injected IV – intravenously (directly into the bloodstream), and much of the injected aluminum from vaccines enters the bloodstream; a very, very small percentage of that will be actually "dissolved" in the blood since it's in the form of precipitate and is bound to carrier proteins (transferrin). Approximately 98% of aluminum in the blood is excreted in the urine through the kidneys,[117] and the unabsorbed aluminum is excreted in the feces, leaving a tiny amount that may be retained.[118][119]

There is a concern about aluminum exposure to humans, however. Infants have been found to be born with aluminum already present in their bodies (probably from their mother’s blood),[120] and the most significant risk of aluminum exposure to infants is via parenteral nutrition.[121] Most of the aluminum in the body (95%) has food for origin,[122] and the amount of aluminum contained in a vaccine is insufficient to increase the aluminum level in the organism.[123][124][125]

Vaccines, when injected, will still offer lower aluminum than food and breathing.[126][127][128][129][130]

A study from 2011 modeled the impact of aluminum from diet and vaccines in infants and concluded that the total amount of aluminum absorbed from both sources was likely to be less than the weekly safe intake level.[131][132] The authors also noted that some of the aluminum from vaccines is likely to be excreted immediately, while the remainder will be retained in the muscle. This is important because the anti-vaccination message wants us to believe that all of this aluminum will be instantly released and travel straight to the brain. Not only is that misleading, but it is also clear that we have aluminum in our blood from daily dietary and environmental exposures that start from birth and perhaps even earlier.

A more up-to-date study published in March 2018 took samples of blood and hair from 85 babies and measured their aluminum levels. Researchers did not find any correlation between aluminum levels in blood or hair and the estimated amount of aluminum the babies received from vaccines.[133] There were no links between blood levels and infant development nor between hair levels and infant language or cognitive development. There is no correlation between aluminum in vaccines and neurotoxicity.[134]

This claim has been fact-checked by Full Fact,[135] Snopes,[136][137] Reuters,[138] AFP Fact Check,[139][140] and Science Feedback.[141]

Several studies have directly compared aluminum-containing vaccines to a placebo that does not contain aluminum.

  • A 2015 study analyzed the female population (mostly 16 to 26 years of age) vaccinated with the quadrivalent human papilloma (HPV) vaccine. 1/3 were given a placebo (just saline), and the other two-thirds were given the newer 9-valent aluminum-adjuvanted formulation. There was more redness at the injection site and slight fever among the vaccine group than those who received a saline placebo. These are all 'adverse events,' but they were overwhelmingly mild or moderate in severity. Out of 608 vaccinated, there were three severe adverse events in the vaccinated group and three in the placebo group.[142]
  • Another study of an aluminum-adjuvanted HPV vaccine enrolled 9 to 15-year-old boys and girls and administered the quadrivalent HPV vaccine to 2/3rds and a non-aluminum placebo to the other third. Children were followed up for 18 months. More people who got the vaccine reported injection site pain compared to those who got the placebo. Five serious adverse events were reported in the vaccine group over the 18 months of follow-up, but none were deemed associated with the vaccine.[143]
  • A 2004 study of aluminum-containing vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP), alone or in combination, compared with identical vaccines, either without aluminum or containing aluminum in different concentrations "found no evidence that aluminium salts in vaccines cause any serious or long-lasting adverse events". In older children, there was no association between exposure to aluminum-containing vaccines and onset of (local) induration, swelling, or a raised temperature, but there was an association with local pain.
  • Even more randomized studies with a control group on this matter can be found using these search terms in Google Scholar or PubMed.

Intentionally tainted vaccines[edit]

A growing number of Muslims believe that Western pharmaceutical companies have intentionally tainted the polio vaccines used in their countries. They believe that Western powers secretly use the vaccines to spread AIDS and/or infertility among Muslims. An alternative story, also applied to insulin, is that the vaccine's chain of manufacture includes live pigs or pig cells. Unfortunately, this hysteria has led to a sharp decrease in polio vaccinations and an almost equally sharp increase in polio cases in Muslim countries.[144] Four state governments in the predominantly-Muslim part of Nigeria further increased the hysteria by banning all polio vaccines in 2004.[145][146] This isn't limited to the developing world; Eustace Mullins wrote an article claiming the polio vaccine was a Jewish plot to mass-poison American children.[147]

Aborted fetuses[edit]

See the main article on this topic at Wikipedia: Use of fetal tissue in vaccine developmentWikipedia

An unfounded fear common to anti-abortion and anti-vaccination "activists" is that aborted fetuses are being used as ingredients in vaccines or that abortions are necessary to manufacture them. This distorts that the weakened form of the viruses in some vaccines is grown in a culture derived from a cell line taken from fetal tissue. Vaccines have no fetal cells, and the original fetuses were aborted in the 1960s.[148] This issue has come up again in recent years; some of the COVID-19 vaccines were developed or tested on various cell lines, including those derived from fetuses from half a century ago. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were tested on but never derived from the cell lines. However, the J&J vaccine was derived from the cell lines themselves.[149] However, again, there are no fetal cells in the vaccine. Even if there were, receiving a vaccine with fetal cells doesn't support abortions any more than receiving an organ transplant supports car accidents.

In some areas, a religious exemption has been allowed for avoiding COVID-19 vaccination mandates as a condition of employment. Naturally, some vaccine-hesitant people who do not hold sincerely-held religious beliefs have attempted to exploit this exemption. In an attempt to force people to prove that their religious beliefs are sincerely held, Matt Troup, CEO of Conway Regional Health System, required unvaccinated employees to sign a religious attestation form that states that they do not use any of about 30 other common medicines that were developed using fetal cell lines.[150][151] The list of medicines probably would come as a shock to most anti-vaxxers and anti-abortion advocates; the medicines include:[150][151]

  • Albuterol
  • Aspirin
  • Benadryl (variously diphenhydramine, acrivastine, and cetirizine)
  • Claritin (loratadine)
  • Ex-Lax, Senokot (senna glycoside)
  • Lipitor (atorvastatin)
  • Maalox (aluminium hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide)
  • Motrin (ibuprofen)
  • Pepto Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate)
  • Preparation H
  • Prilosec (omeprazole)
  • Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)
  • Tums
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)

Troup said that some people who requested a religious exemption tried to draw a distinction between fetal cell lines used in development vs. fetal cell lines used in testing,[150] but this is a phantom distinction: testing is part of development.

Gelatin derived from pigs[edit]

Some vaccines do indeed contain gelatin derived from pigs. Some religions object to the consumption of pigs as food, most notably Judaism and Islam.[152] Jewish and Islamic scholars have ruled that vaccines containing pig-derived products are allowed. In the case of the Islamic scholars, the gelatin in vaccines is considered sufficiently transformed from pig to not be of concern; in the case of a Jewish scholar, the fact that the vaccines are not given orally was sufficient for it not to be forbidden.[152] More importantly, however, most religions have particular rules, which state that nearly all laws can be broken in matters of life or death.[note 3][note 4]

Graphene or graphene oxide[edit]

Although functionalized graphene derivatives have been proposed as vaccine adjuvants,[154] no vaccine containing a graphene adjuvant has reached the market. In particular, the COVID-19 vaccines are very easily shown not to contain graphene or graphene oxide, especially not in the 95% or 99% proportion claimed by some anti-vaxxers, by the simple fact that they are clear transparent liquids. Graphene and its derivatives are generally black, brown, or gray in solution, and even very low concentrations can be highly visible.[155]

Diseases and disabilities[edit]


Comic panel of two scientists talking. The dialogue is: "Wait a minute. Autism-spectrum people are overrepresented in research science. But... But... that means..." "My god...". "Autism causes vaccines" appears below the panel as text.
More logical than the converse, indeed.[156][157]
So you've observed that some people are born with autism. Good job, that's step one. Next, you ask a question — "What caused it?". You think that it's vaccination. Now it's time to test your theory. You know that some kids who've been vaccinated develop autism, but you haven't controlled for all the other variables, such as diet, genetics, environment, chance mutations, related disabilites or simply the higher diagnosis rate due to greater awareness. Plus, you can't explain why the 99% of people who have been vaccinated didn't develop autism. OOPS! That's a shitty theory! Go back to step one!
Maddox, How to tell if you believe in bullshit[158]

There has been much concern about a possible link between autism and vaccines, particularly the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine in the UK and thimerosal in some flu vaccines.[159] Part of this concern is due to a possible rise in cases of diagnosed autism over the last few decades — much of it raised by parents of autistic children and by prominent Americans such as Jenny McCarthy… but rarely by autistic people themselves. Often, evidence given by those peddling a link is indirect and anecdotal. When such groups attempt to be scientific, they cite links between ethylmercury exposure and other neurological problems outside the setting of vaccine administration. For instance, according to one source, "In 1977, a Russian study found that adults exposed to much lower concentrations of ethylmercury than those given to American children still suffered brain damage years later."[5]

Given that recent studies of methods for early detection of autism strongly suggest that autism is detectable somewhere around age six months and that vaccination is suggested to be done at 12-15 months, for vaccination to cause autism, time travel would be required.[160]

The following statement, attributed to Dr. Boyd Haley,[161] whom Orac has referred to as "disgraced,"[162] gives anecdotal evidence of a link between ethylmercury and "brain damage":

You couldn't even construct a study that shows thimerosal is safe... It's just too darn toxic. If you inject thimerosal into an animal, its brain will sicken. If you apply it to living tissue, the cells die. If you put it in a petri dish, the culture dies. Knowing these things, it would be shocking if one could inject it into an infant without causing damage.

This statement works to increase levels of fear but makes no mention of actual vaccines or actual patients. It certainly doesn't mention statistics or dose levels, which is essential when discussing chemicals' medical effects. Pouring a dose of a chemical into a petri-dish of cells (in vitro) is not the same as exposing an actual living human (in vivo) to the chemical. For a start, the body has certain defense mechanisms against chemical attacks. This is why real studies are undertaken, and many promising anti-biotics and medicines have failed because they work in vitro but not in vivo.

Several very well-done population-based studies have been conducted into the link between autism and vaccinations, although they aren't very widely reported. These hard facts tend not to resonate with the public consciousness and media like anecdotes and sob stories from concerned individuals and interest groups. This has been a problem with health scares for decades and shows no sign of going away. The particular studies have looked at actual populations in real-life conditions exposed to the substance in question; none have shown any connection between autism and the thimerosal preservative or the MMR vaccine. There is overwhelming evidence that the MMR and thimerosal-containing vaccines play no role in the development of autism.[163][164][165][166][167][168][169][170][171] This contrasts with many of the papers supposedly showing a link, which are often underpowered or poorly controlled. Ironically, one epidemiological study has indicated the MMR vaccine has reduced rates of one risk factor for autism-congenital rubella syndrome.[172]

A small study by Andrew Wakefield, published in The Lancet in 1998, became infamous around 2000-2002 when the UK media caught hold of it. It hypothesized an alleged link between the measles vaccine and autism despite a small sample size of 12 children. This eventually led to what Guardian columnist and science writer Ben Goldacre described as "the media's MMR hoax"[173] due to the evidence for any link being so lacking that it may have been entirely manufactured. The paper was partially retracted several years later but continued to be the most often cited case study for the link, despite mounting evidence (including one large study into the rates of autism in adults who wouldn't have received MMR) to the contrary. It was finally considered "thrown out" on February 2, 2010, after it was discovered that Wakefield behaved unethically. Specifically, he was found guilty of not acting in the best medical interests of the children he researched (one child was severely injured in a colonoscopy) and not disclosing his previous involvements with anti-vaccination groups before the study and it hitting the news.[174] Further examinations show that Wakefield outright fabricated information or selectively ignored facts in his study, such as preexisting conditions in 5 of the 12 children.[175]

Additionally, the CDC has been accused by anti-vaxxers, including Wakefield, of covering evidence for years on a study in 2004 that otherwise shows no evidence between vaccination and autism. However, omitted data allegedly shows MMR vaccination rates are correlated with autism diagnosis in a small subset of male African American infants. In reality, the "whistleblower" William W. Thompson and his traitor friend Brian Hooker are sympathetic to the anti-vaccine movement. Thompson has an axe to grind for the CDC, while Hooker is a full-on anti-vaxxer, and he has secretly recorded phone calls with Thompson and edited the footage. Hooker attempted terrible epidemiology (he has no background in it, nor did he consult a statistician for help) for a "reanalysis" for the study that had results he didn't like. Those results were published in a journal with practically zero impact, and even that was redacted for questionable statistical methods and undisclosed conflicts of interest.

Autism, as I see it, steals the soul from a child; then, if allowed, relentlessly sucks life's marrow out of the family members, one by one…
—Jerry Kartzinel,[176] who definitely isn't a terrible person[note 5]

Autistic adults and other reasonable-minded people maintain that it is horrible to claim that vaccines cause autism because it implies claiming ipso facto that a person is better off dead of an easily preventable disease than alive and autistic.[177][178] Anti-vaxxers have also been accused of hating autistic children due to comments made by anti-vaxxers characterizing autistic children as brain-damaged[179] and soulless.[180]

It doesn't help when people like Jenny McCarthy make outright statements that children's deaths are acceptable collateral damage in furthering the spread of her message.[176]

Multiple Sclerosis[edit]

Concern has been raised about a connection between MS and vaccines, especially the Hepatitis B vaccine. One of the several studies on the topic showed a potential link,[181] but there were methodological problems,[182] and most other studies failed to show a link.[183][184] The most recent CDC publication cites fifteen studies showing no link between MS and the Hepatitis B vaccine.[185]


The DTaP vaccine has been suspected of causing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which causes children to stop breathing and die.[186] However, studies have not shown a connection between SIDS and DTaP vaccinations.[187]

Recent studies have identified abnormalities in the development and function of medullary serotonin (5-HT) pathways in the postmortem brain from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) cases, suggesting 5-HT-mediated dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system in SIDS.[188][189] This is basically stating that SIDS has a strong genetic component and is more prevalent in families with issues with serotonin re-uptake, thus preventing the infant from shifting when their airway becomes blocked while asleep.

Research into SIDS is progressing and has left behind the fictional link to vaccines.

Shaken baby syndrome[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Shaken baby syndrome

A small group has tried to tie Shaken Baby Syndrome to childhood vaccinations. The "studies" that have been published are relatively weak. Most are available only online from non-recognized sources and are "based on personal experiences of the authors..."[190] The rest of the "evidence" is based on personal testimonials of involved parents and physicians.[191][192]


"Vaccinosis" or "Chronic Vaccine Disease" is a term invented by the alternative medicine fraternity to describe a raft of symptoms purportedly caused by vaccines. Like many made-up illnesses, claims about "vaccinosis" often exploit genuine symptoms, such as known adverse reactions to vaccines, and exaggerate them to pander to fear and mistrust of medicine.[193]

The Free Dictionary defines vaccinosis as "Chronic illness, discomfort, or malaise that results from immunization."[194] In contrast, the WHOWikipedia defines vaccinosis as: "No results for vaccinosis."[195] On the other hand, the CDC defines vaccinosis as "0 results returned for vaccinosis."[196]

"Overwhelming the immune system"[edit]

Under-vaccination and delayed vaccination of children is a much more common problem than entirely unvaccinated children. "Overwhelming their developing immune systems" is frequently an excuse for parents to delay or skip some vaccines for their children.[197][198]

Because the number and frequency of childhood vaccines have increased over the years[note 6] and because many parents have never seen the horrible effects of these different childhood diseases,[note 7] many parents have become vaccination-shy on behalf of their children.

A review of the medical literature concluded:[note 8]

Current studies do not support the hypothesis that multiple vaccines overwhelm, weaken, or "use up" the immune system. On the contrary, young infants have an enormous capacity to respond to multiple vaccines, as well as to the many other challenges present in the environment. By providing protection against a number of bacterial and viral pathogens, vaccines prevent the "weakening" of the immune system and consequent secondary bacterial infections occasionally caused by natural infection.
—P. A. Offit et al., Pediatrics Vol. 109 No. 1 January 1, 2002[199]

Humans are exposed to countless foreign antigens and infectious agents in the everyday environment from birth to early infancy and childhood. Responding to these stimuli helps the immune system to develop and mature. Newborn babies are exposed to millions of microbes before they leave the hospital, far more than those contained in three or four vaccines. Compared with exposure to the natural environment, vaccines provide specific stimulation to a small number of antigens. Responding to these specific antigens uses only a tiny proportion of an infant's immune system's capacity.[200]



One claim, promoted widely across the internet, holds that CDC research showed that breastfeeding reduced the effectiveness of vaccines, and so breastfeeding should be stopped or postponed.[201][202][203][204][205][206] However, the study made no such conclusions.[207]


Another common "concern" cited is that vaccinations cause seizures. This is technically true. All immune responses, which vaccines trigger by design, have a chance of causing what is known as febrile seizures, also called fever pits or seizures associated with high body temperatures. However, the overall risk of febrile seizures during vaccination is very low. Only about 3% of children get them, and the complication rates of the seizures from vaccines are far lower than the exact same seizures caused by the diseases vaccines help prevent. Disease-caused seizures had 20 times the ICU admission rate and were connected with all infant deaths in one study of febrile seizures in children.[208]

Social evils[edit]

Big Pharma[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Big Pharma
A bar graph titled "Top 20 pharmaceutical products by sales worldwide in 2015 (in billion U.S. dollars)", showing their total sales.
Lots of big earners, none of them vaccines

Vaccines are often touted as a significant source of revenue for Big Pharma (the pharmaceutical industry).[209] However, vaccines have much lower profit margins than alternative drugs and only make up 2-3% of a trillion-dollar worldwide pharmaceutical industry.[210]

For example, Hepatitis A, B, and C all currently infect over 100 million people. Vaccines are available for Hepatitis A and B, but not Hep C. Sovaldi, a drug used to cure Hep C, is available at a list price of $84,000 in America.[211] Medicare alone paid over $3B for Sovaldi in 2014,[212] and a grand total of $7.8 Billion in the US for just this one drug,[213] not including Harvoni and older drugs still in use for Hepatitis C. In 2014, the total spending on all vaccines other than flu was $6.9 billion.

The international flour market is gigantic, but that doesn’t make every bread advert a message from the devil. Flour millers have been influential in protecting babies worldwide by fortifying their products with macronutrients and preventing neural tube defects.

Pharma companies make far more money from so-called 'blockbuster' drugs than vaccines.[214] For example, AstraZeneca's Nexium, despite being no more effective than cheaper options for gastrointestinal problems, has made them more than $50 billion. The yearly earnings have been between 2 and 5 times as much as the flu vaccine.[215] In fact, if you look at the top 20 earners for pharma companies, not one of them is a vaccine.[216]

In fact, many pharmaceutical companies are gradually abandoning vaccines.[217]

If pharmaceutical companies only cared about the bottom line, they wouldn't manufacture vaccines.

CDC is evil![edit] what? Let's assume for the argument that CDC is evil in the pocket of Big Pharma. It's not — the people who work at the CDC are dedicated, honest, and usually incredibly good at public health — but for the sake of argument, it is corrupt. Even still, all of it ignores one obvious truth: the US isn't the only country in the world. If the CDC is corrupt, what about every other public health organization that recommends vaccines? Australia. France. The UK. Japan. China. India. And every single country on the planet. Forget about the corrupt CDC; look at the Australian Department of Health on vaccines, the Japanese immunization schedule, or one of the hundreds of other countries that all choose to vaccinate. Either there's a global conspiracy including countries that are literally at war with one another and are being controlled by reptilian overlords — a bit unlikely — or immunization is a good thing no matter what you think of the CDC.


Some ideologues oppose vaccination for political or moral reasons. For example, certain conservatives oppose the use of Gardasil on young girls for fear that it will discourage them from sexual abstinence by eliminating an STD,[218][219] thereby depriving the right of one of its favorite pro-abstinence scare tactics. Bear in mind that these are the same people claiming to be "Pro-Life", opposing a vaccine known to save lives by preventing cervical cancer. Though it won't stop Christian fundamentalists from promoting ineffective abstinence-only sex education programs, the CDC announced that a study has shown that Gardasil does not increase the likelihood of unsafe sex among teens.[220]

Not trusting God[edit]

I gave you the fucking scientists who made the masks and vaccines needed to protect you, you doofus.
Jesus[citation NOT needed]

A measles outbreak centered around a megachurch that the family of Texas faith healer and televangelist Kenneth Copeland runs. Church officials denied that they oppose medicine or vaccination. Still, people who know the ministry's culture claim a general sense that believers should rely on God rather than modern medicine to stay well. "To get a vaccine would have been viewed by me and my friends and my peers as an act of fear — that you doubted God would keep you safe. . . . We simply didn't do it." Former church member Amy Arden stated.[221]

So God can let them have medical treatments like allergy pills and painkillers, but not vaccines.

Population control conspiracy[edit]

Graph titled "World population estimates and UN projection, 10,000 BCE to 2100". It shows an exponential growth pattern. Data after 2015 is projected.
Notice the lack of a world population collapse since vaccines were invented.
See the main article on this topic: Depopulation conspiracy theory

Another example was when strange congressman Louie Gohmert voiced his equally strange concerns about vaccination on a Family Research Council broadcast: he's convinced that liberal elites are using vaccination programs to cull the earth's human population due to concerns about the scarcity of natural resources. Apparently, the evil cabal behind such a plan aims for a target population of 700 million, which indicates that Gohmert may have arrived at that number by purely imaginary means.[222] It's also backward since vaccines save lives, and even anti-vaxxers don't claim they kill people.

Government intrusion[edit]

Libertarians also oppose mandatory vaccination, believing that the state does not own your body, and therefore mandatory vaccines are a direct contradiction to individual liberties.[223] (Note that vaccination is most effective when everyone else is also vaccinated, meaning this is a clear case of personal choices affecting others' "liberty.") So-called Beltway libertarians, among others, usually make an exception for state-mandated vaccination out of practicality, much as they do national defense. Ronald Bailey at Reason has covered the issue[224] with an argument part moral and part pragmatic, which looks something like this:

  • (1) No vaccine is 100 percent effective.
    • (This concession isn't actually necessary, but is helpful to understanding herd immunity)
  • (2) Vaccines considerably reduce the likelihood that the vaccinee will contract the disease being vaccinated for.
    • Corollary: Taking vaccination as a baseline (which, in the developed world, it is), the unvaccinated are more likely to contract diseases for which vaccines are in widespread use than the average person.
  • (3) You are more likely to catch many of these diseases from someone who has contracted the disease than someone who has not.
    • Pertussis comes to mind as an example.[225]
  • (4) Per (3), the more people around you have a given contagious disease, the more likely you are to contract it.
    • Corollary: People around you are more likely to contract the said disease if you have it.
  • (5) Per (2), (3), and (4), the more people around you are vaccinated, the less likely you are to contract the disease for which they are vaccinated.
    • This is the case irrespective of whether you personally are vaccinated or not.
    • Corollary: If you are vaccinated, you are less likely to contract that disease, and therefore less likely to transmit it to people around you.
      • Corollary of corollary: If you are unvaccinated, you are more likely to contract the given disease, and therefore more likely to risk transmitting it to people around you.
    • In both directions, this is the basis of herd immunity: every individual vaccinee in a population reduces the likelihood that a case of a disease will occur at all, and every case that doesn't occur reduces the likelihood, in the rare instances in which a vaccine does not work as expected for a given individual, that the individual will ever be exposed to the pathogen anyway. The success of mass smallpox vaccination illustrates the positive feedback loopWikipedia at work here.
  • (7) As a consequence of the various parts of (6) and the corollary established in (2), by abstaining from vaccination, the abstainer exposes people around him to a risk of disease greater than the baseline.
  • (8) Per (7), abstention from vaccination may be reasonably perceived as endangering people around you.

Contrary to the more extreme forms of libertarianism, people in the United States do not have a right to go unvaccinated and may even be forcibly vaccinated in unusual circumstances. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on this in 1905 regarding smallpox vaccinations:[226]

Upon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.

The ruling was preceded by nearly of century of state-level vaccine mandates that faced little public opposition.[227]

The Supreme Court also ruled in 1922 that unvaccinated children could be refused admission to public school,[228] and in 1944 that the "right to practice religion freely does not include the right to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill-health or death…"[229]

The rights of the children who cannot be immunized are equally important, and they, or their parents, have no choice. It is an obligation as a member of society to protect those vulnerable children who cannot be immunized by not exposing them unnecessarily to infectious diseases. Immunization is the most effective way to do that.[230]

Social alternatives[edit]

Can you explain why better nutrition and sanitation eliminated polio in 1954-55 but waited until 1964 for measles? It's very sneaky of nutrition and sanitation to kick in only at the same year vaccines are released.
—Andrew L.[231]

Many anti-vaxxers claim that better sanitation is the real reason that rates of diseases were massively reduced. This is very questionable. As noted by the quote above, not all diseases decreased simultaneously or at the same rate, suggesting that they were not prevented by the same changes. "Sanitation" is not a binary — for example, modern toilets and plumbing, which hugely help prevent waterborne diseases such as cholera, took decades to reach even a majority of citizens in any country. And polio has been nearly eradicated not by eliminating world poverty and lack of sanitation but via vaccination — so even if sanitation helps, it is clear that vaccines work. Mortality rates for diseases such as smallpox and polio also had declines in part due to better treatments, but vaccination is what brought cases down.

Natural alternatives[edit]

Some anti-vaxxers, rather than holding some truly far-fetched idea about autism or other diseases being caused by vaccines, claim that natural infection is better for a child than vaccination simply because it is natural. Very few of these people want to give their kids large doses of all-natural cyanide, though, for unexplained reasons. That aside, there are several problems with this approach:

  • Vaccines have a much smaller likelihood of causing the symptoms of the disease, such as pneumonia (pneumococcus et al.), meningitis (Haemophilus influenzae, type b), liver cancer (hepatitis B), etc.
  • Some vaccines do a better job building immunity than a "normal" infection with the corresponding disease.[232] It is known that measles infection causes short-term immuno-suppression, and there is evidence to believe that it also causes long-term immuno-suppression.[79][80]
  • Many alleged means to infect your child ("pox parties") are unlikely to induce the target infection and may even cause unintended infections such as hepatitis B, streptococcal infection, and staphylococcal infections.[233] Also, sending infectious matter through the mail is illegal in the US.[234]

The idea that getting childhood diseases is harmless or even fun is erroneous, but it has been propagated by anti-vaxxers using the "Is There a Doctor in the House?" episode from 1969 of the TV sitcom The Brady Bunch, in which the entire family came down with measles in the episode. The real-life actor Maureen McCormick, who played the role of Marcia, denounced the use of that episode by anti-vaxxers, saying, "Having the measles was not a fun thing. I remember it spread through my family."[235] The show's creator's son also denounced the episode's misuse, saying, "Dad would be sorry, because he believed in vaccination, had all of his kids vaccinated."[235]

Josh Nerius, an adult who was not told by his parent that he had never received any vaccinations, was initially diagnosed with strep throat. When the infection did not go away with antibiotics, he wound up in the hospital and was diagnosed with measles. He described it as "like the worst flu I'd ever had, combined with the worst hangover I'd ever had." It took Nerius months to feel better, but he still feels its effects after 3 years.[236]

Before a measles vaccine became available in 1963, an estimated 3 to 4 million people in the US were infected yearly. An estimated 400 to 500 people died yearly from measles, with 48,000 hospitalizations and 1000 cases of encephalitis.[237]

Around the world[edit]

In 2019, the World Health Organization grew concerned about the worldwide decrease in immunization rates.[238] This has been evidenced by a 2019 measles outbreak in several countries, a 60% decline in measles vaccination rates in the Philippines between 2016 and 2018, a 15-times rise in measles rates in Europe between 2016 and 2018, and a 30% rise worldwide between 2016 and 2017.[238] The declining vaccination rates have been at least partly attributed to conspiracy theories.[238]


Barack Obama gets his H1N1 shot. Beware!
Disease is pestilence, and pestilence is from the Devil. The devil is germs and disease, which is cancer and any of those things that can take you down. But if you trust in the Lord, these things cannot come near you.
—Dina Check on why her daughter should be entitled to spread disease in New York public schools[239]

In August 2013, there was an outbreak of measles in the Eagle Mountain International Church based in Newark, Texas. The pastor, Terri Pearsons, was critical of vaccines (due to the mythical autism link), and because of this, most of the church's members refused vaccination. After a congregation member traveled to Indonesia, they brought the measles back, where it spread quickly to the congregation, staff, and daycare. Every reported case (21 total in the church) came from people who refused vaccination. There were no deaths from the outbreak, and the silver lining came in the form of Pearsons reversing stance and advocating vaccinations, as well as the church hosting vaccination clinics.[240] Another outbreak in late 2014-early 2015, which started in Disneyland, was directly linked to children who weren't vaccinated, where 15 of the original 20 patients in the outbreak had not received the MMR vaccine.[241]

In the United States, it is generally held (perhaps "legally held" is a better way to phrase it) that parents have the right to have their children not be inoculated if they, the parents, so desire.

The H1N1 swine flu vaccine was a hot topic among vaccine denialists, from fears the vaccine was unsafe (stoked by reports of side effects from the old 1976 swine flu vaccine) to conspiracy theories that the vaccine was a plot to curb overpopulation.[242]

Safety concerns about the HPV vaccine Cervarix were raised after a girl died after being injected with the vaccine.[243] The story was immediately jumped on by anti-vaccination groups and was widely reported in the general and scaremongering media. It was later determined that the death was due to an undiagnosed tumor, but the same media that cried out for "more research" into the incident preferred to bury this conclusion; undoubtedly, a large part of the UK population still believed the young girl died due to a direct reaction to the vaccine. Anti-vaccination blogs and organizations, of course, have cried foul on this conclusion. The Sunday Express also hyped up fears about the jab by — one can only assume deliberately — misquoting Dr. Diane Harper and claiming that the vaccine was "just as deadly as the cancer." Indeed, practically every single one of the claims on the newspaper's front page was false, ranging from what Dr. Harper said to her actual level of involvement in the vaccine. In true tabloid style, the corrections were well and truly buried.[244]

It got into the spotlight in the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination as candidate Michele Bachmann claimed a woman told her that her daughter had become mentally retarded after receiving the HPV vaccine while attacking her opponent Rick Perry.

Three Republican candidates for the 2016 Presidential race announce that childhood vaccines should be voluntary: Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, and Rand Paul. Chris Christie was accused of "pandering to the anti-vaxxer crowd".[245][246] Dr. (!) Rand Paul doubled down — and reiterated Bachmann's idiocy from the previous race — by saying that vaccines can cause "mental disabilities".[247]

In April 2015, California legislators proposed removing the "personal belief" exemption from childhood vaccination requirements in public schools.[248] The proposed legislation does not remove a religious exemption, so how "personal belief" can be differentiated from religion remains to be seen[19][20] if the legislation passes in this form. Discredited ex-doctor Andrew Wakefield has begun rallying the antivax troops against this proposed legislation. He is reportedly contemplating busing chiropractic students to rally at the state capitol.[249] Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the final bill that removed both the personal and religious exemptions from vaccine requirements.[250] The ending of the personal/religious belief exemptions has resulted in higher immunization rates (the exemption rate dropped from 2.54% to 1.06% from 2015 to 2016). Still, the medical exemption rate rose from 0.17% to 0.51% during the same period.[251]

Having lost the legislative fight in California, anti-vax activists attempt to recall state Senator Richard Pan from office. Dr. Pan, a pediatrician, was the primary author of the mandatory vaccination legislation.[252] The activists are also attempting to get an initiative on the state ballot to overturn the legislation.[252]

In 2016, Leontine Robinson lost a lawsuit against her former employer, Children's Hospital in Boston. Ms. Robinson worked near children at risk at the hospital. She had refused to get a flu shot because she is a member of the Nation of Islam, and some flu shots contain pig-derived gelatin, which she claimed was prohibited by her religion.[152] Ms. Robinson was allowed to find another position at the hospital that was not near children but could not do so; she subsequently sued her employer after her employment was terminated. The judge in the case ruled against Ms. Robinson, stating, "Had the Hospital permitted her to forgo the vaccine but keep her patient-care job, the Hospital could have put the health of vulnerable patients at risk."[253]

In 2017, Mark Blaxill of the crank Age of Autism and chair of Health Choice propagandized the Somali-American community during a measles outbreak in Minnesota about what he alleged was a vaccine-autism link.[254] Some Minnesotan responsible health care workers have fought back against the propaganda.[254] Minnesota's worst measles outbreak in decades has emboldened rather than cowed the anti-vax movement, and they have recruited associates of Andrew Wakefield to the state.[255]

A 2012 survey of US pediatricians and family physicians published in 2015 reported that one-fifth of pediatricians refused to treat children of vaccine refusers, primarily to protect other patients.[256][257]

From moonbat to wingnut[edit]

See the main articles on this topic: Moonbat and Wingnut

It used to be that anti-vaxxers in the US were considered to be mainly within the moonbat left-wing. Phyllis Schlafly was a notable exception who opposed vaccine mandates.[258] Later, her son Andrew became counsel for the vaccine-denying Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.[258]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, then-President Donald Trump repeatedly spread disinformation about COVID and hid the fact that he received a COVID vaccine from the public. This, and his losing the 2020 election bigly, was sufficient to politicize COVID vaccinations and push the majority of anti-vaxxers into the wingnut right-wing.[259] A 2021 Monmouth University poll found that 43% of GOP respondents said they would never get the COVID vaccine compared to 5% of Democrats.[259] Never mind that Trump once touted the development of the COVID vaccines (by his reviled "medical deep state") as one of his accomplishments.[260]


More recently, the MMR-autism link (mentioned above) hit the UK headlines after Andrew Wakefield, the lead author of a paper suggesting a link between autism and MMR, was found guilty of unethical conduct. Despite the ruling only applying to his ethical conduct in the research, which had been questioned for several years (a "conflict of interest" was raised in 2004, three years after he left the Royal Free Hospital under controversial circumstances), the UK media have taken the ruling to also mean "his work has been discredited."[261] As those who may have seen Wakefield's original research would know, a series of 12 case studies never particularly had any credit to be discredited.[262] Wakefield's conclusions had been repeatedly discounted by further study long before the ethical matters were ruled upon. The Lancet — the premier medical journal that featured his research — issued a full retraction of the study in February 2010.[263]


In August 2010, the Finnish National Institute of Health and Welfare recommended that the use of the Pandemrix H1N1 vaccine should be discontinued, pending an investigation into 15 cases of narcolepsy in recently vaccinated children and adolescents in the previous year.[264] Simultaneously, the European Medicines Agency and the Swedish Medical Products agency launched their investigations into the vaccine. Far from being quashed by Big Pharma, these studies were completed in early 2011 and concluded that there was an increased relative risk of developing narcolepsy in children and adolescents vaccinated with Pandemrix. Some follow-up studies have found various relative risks, ranging from about 3[265] to as much as 7.5.[266] Because narcolepsy is so rare to begin with, relative risks are hard to estimate, and the confidence intervals mentioned in the studies reflect this, generally giving a range of half to one and a half times the cited risk. The actual risk amounted to some four additional cases per 100 000 people per year because of the rarity.[265]

As is usual with stopped clock cases, these findings did not result in a widespread paradigm shift against vaccinations in medicine. Instead, the scientific method labored on to produce a model that explains these findings. A research group suggested that narcolepsy might be caused by specific surface proteins of the H1N1 virus resembling hypocretin, a neurotransmitter that transmits the "wake up" signal.[267] In June 2014, they retracted the paper after failing to reproduce its key findings, although they continue to believe that their original hypothesis remains valid.[268] Later in the same year, a research paper comparing Pandemrix with another vaccine with the same adjuvants but different viral antigens concluded that the focus on finding the cause should be the viral antigens and not the vaccine adjuvants.[269]


In 2015, Pakistan arrested about 500 parents for refusing to vaccinate their children against polio, and over 1000 arrest warrants were issued. Officials turned to these drastic means because of community stupidity opposition and Taliban threats. Sixty-four workers from polio eradication teams have been killed for doing their work since 2012.[270][271] In 2014, Pakistan had the highest number of new polio cases globally: 327 of 413 total (or 306 of 359 wild-derived cases).[272]

In 2015, Pakistan and Afghanistan became the last two countries with endemic polio. In November 2015, a local polio coordinator was assassinated in the northwestern Swabi district. On January 13, 2016, a suicide bomber killed 15 people in the vicinity of a vaccination clinic in Quetta.[273]


Australia cut welfare payments to parents of unvaccinated children starting in 2016.[274] In response, many parents got their children's vaccinations up to date.[275] Anti-vaxxers, in the meantime, started setting up "black market" childcare facilities.[276] The predictable happened as early as 2015 when eighty children caught chickenpox in one such facility.[277]


In recent years, the anti-vaccination movement gained so much traction and diffusion in Italy that vaccination rates lowered below safety levels. The anti-vax people in Italy often sport radical political views, causing the debate to become highly polarized. In 2016-2017, many things happened at once: an epidemic of measles, another epidemic of meningitis, a child was infected by tetanus (after many years of absence), and so on. The scientific community answered by increasing the level of discussion on vaccines, trying to better inform the public (especially notable is the work of some of the best Italian doctors, such as Roberto Burioni). Moreover, these facts prompted the government to take some steps against anti-vax doctors (a couple of them were expelled by the medical college) and raise the number of mandatory vaccines from 6 to 12. The new law is still being discussed by the parliament as of June 2017.

In 2018, a coalition of right-wing (Lega NordWikipedia) and left-wing (Five Star Movement) populist parties formed a coalition government. Both parties have opposed the mandatory vaccination law, and in August 2018, the parliament overturned the 2017 law that mandated vaccination.[278] The repeal occurred when Italy had the second-highest measles rate in Europe after Romania.[278] The rise in anti-vaccination in Italy has been attributed to Wakefield's discredited autism study but has been fueled by a 2012 Italian court ruling that MMR caused autism (the ruling was subsequently overturned in 2015).[278][279]


In France, certain vaccinations are made mandatory by 2018.[280]


After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has experienced a severe decline in vaccination rates;[281] as of 2017, 48.7 percent of Russian children born in 2016 had not been vaccinated on schedule. The most common excuses to not vaccinate children are "personal choice," doubt over the efficacy of vaccines, and distrust of authority. Parents can simply say that they don't want their kids vaccinated, as it is far easier to get personal belief exemptions than in the U.S. Homeopathy remains a popular "alternative" to vaccinations. Anti-vaccination runs to the point where even some doctors doubt vaccines, though scientific consensus remains that exemptions are unnecessary. Unsurprisingly, measles outbreaks have become far more common, with 1,717 measles cases between January and June 2018 compared to 127 cases in January-June 2017, a 13.5-fold increase.[282]


Samoa has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the world, being 31%, well below the recommended 95%, contributed by an incident in July 2018 where a nurse made the tragic error of mixing MMR with expired muscle relaxant rather than water[283] that killed children and had the government halt the MMR program for investigations. There were also reports of two siblings from New Zealand, one dead and one injured from the MMR vaccine due to a rare genetic disorder. Fueled by these incidents, the anti-vaxxers, including Robert Kennedy Jr. and 'online influencer' Taylor WintersteinWikipedia,[284] have targeted the MMR vaccine in Samoa, erroneously believed to be responsible for killing children. Winterstein has promoted vitamin A to treat measles, but this is known to be ineffective as a treatment.[285][286] Winterstein has also resorted to Nazi analogies against mandatory vaccination,[287] which is typical of the anti-vaccination movement.

A 2019 measles outbreak has sickened 2,437 people and killed at least 71, mostly children,[284][288][289][290] out of a population of about 200,000. One local alternative medicine practitioner has been treating measles patients with an alkaline diet but acknowledged that the water does nothing.[288] Fortunately, the response to the epidemic resulted in a vaccination rate of nearly 90% after the government enacted a two-day shutdown to vaccinate people.[289] The anti-vaxxers, unfortunately, have flooded the government's Facebook page with nasty comments and 1-star reviews,[291] including comparisons to Nazi Germany and the belief that the outbreak was caused by the vaccines and not more obviously by them and their ilk.

In December 2019, antivaxx activist Edwin Tamasese was charged with incitement against a government order for stating regarding the government vaccination campaign, "I'll be here to mop up your mess. Enjoy your killing spree."[292] Tamasese had also falsely claimed that papaya leaf extract and vitamin C could treat measles.[293]

Samoa was previously the location of "one of the most disastrous epidemics recorded anywhere in the world", with an estimated 22% of the population dying during the 1918 influenza pandemic.[294]

In pets[edit]

There has reportedly been increased resistance from anti-vaxxers to vaccinating dogs and cats.[295][296] This is apparently at least partly due to pet owners' erroneous fears that their pets will get autism, even though autism has never been studied or diagnosed in non-humans, even if autism is applicable in the first place.[296]

In a nutshell[edit]

Convincing people to vaccinate[edit]

Captain America pointing at the viewer, surrounded by text reading "I want you to vaccinate your fucking kids".

Standard practices encouraging more parents to vaccinate their children have been ineffective.[297] These ineffective practices are included here:[297][298]

  • Explaining that there is a lack of evidence showing that vaccination causes autism
  • Explaining the dangers of diseases prevented by vaccination
  • Showing images of children with illnesses that could have been prevented by vaccination
  • Explaining that diseases could kill but are preventable from vaccination
  • Explaining herd immunity

Researchers conducted two independent surveys using the "moral foundations theory" from psychology.[299][298] Moral foundations theory attempts to place people on five or six scales of morality (care-harm, fairness-cheating, loyalty-betrayal, authority-subversion, purity-degradation, and liberty-oppression) to understand how they come to moral decisions.[298] The research results found that while messaging that encouraged vaccination focused on the harm and fairness parts of the scales, "vaccine hesitancy" parents (potential anti-vaxxers) instead fell on the purity and liberty parts of the scales.[299][297] The researchers concluded that there is a "need for inclusion of broader themes in vaccine discussions,"[299] but which messaging effectively reduces vaccine hesitancy still needs to be tested.[298]

More effective practices include taking time to listen to concerns, agreeing that adequate information is hard to find, and making emotional appeals to encourage them to think about their actions' effects.[300]

Too bad there's no vaccine for denialism, eh?

Two former antivaxxers, Heather Simpson and Lydia Greene, have teamed up to support people who want to return to evidence-based medicine.[301]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Anti-vaxxers: How to Challenge a Misinformed Movement by Jonathan Berman (2020) MIT Press ISBN 978-0262539326
  • Deadly choices: How the anti-vaccine movement threatens us all by Paul A. Offit (2015) Basic Books. ISBN 0465057969.
  • Il vaccino non è un'opinione. Le vaccinazioni spiegate a chi proprio non le vuole capire [Vaccines are not an opinion.] by Roberto Burioni (2016) Mondadori. ISBN 8804669837. An Italian virologist confronts the antivax movement.

External links[edit]


  1. In his own words: "What I've read about what they think I'm saying is not what I've said. I'm not a germ theory denier. I believe vaccinations can work. Polio is a good example. Do I think in certain situations that inoculating Third World children against malaria or diphtheria, or whatever, is right? Of course. In a situation like that, the benefits outweigh costs. But to me living in Los Angeles? To get a flu shot? No."
  2. With some notable exceptions — it's the genius of religious reasoning we're talking about here, after all.
  3. In this vein, some Jewish scholars argue that vaccines are not just permissible under Jewish law but mandatory.[153]
  4. …Okay, that sounds like an ad hominem out of context. We're saying that Jerry is a terrible person because of his ableism and his shitty arguments in support of that toxic worldview.
  5. For example, there are 20 recommended vaccinations before age 2.
  6. Responses along the lines of "nobody I know has ever seen polio" are comparable to Were you there? responses by young-earth creationists — truth is not related to personal experience.
  7. Which has been cited 443 times by other sources...


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  124. Public Health Statement for Aluminum
  125. Study Reports Aluminum in Vaccines Poses Extremely Low Risk to Infants FDA
  126. another antivax myth (ingestion vs injection) by Alison Campbell (November 7, 2017)
  127. Is There a Difference Between Aluminum That Is Injected vs. Ingested? by Paul A. Offit, MD (Last Reviewed, Aug 11, 2015) The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
  128. Aluminum-based vaccine adjuvants: much ado about nothing by Edward.
  129. No Evidence That Aluminum in Vaccines Is Harmful by Ralph B. Alexander (October 22, 2018) Science Under Attack
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  135. This image about vaccine ingredients is extremely misleading by Grace Rahman (26th Apr 2019) Full Fact
  136. Does a Viral Video of Mercury and Aluminum Mixing Suggest That Vaccines Are Unsafe? by Alex Kasprak (7 Sep 2017) Snopes
  137. Did a Study Show That Aluminum from Vaccines Killed Alfie Evans? by Dan MacGuil (2 May 2018) Snopes
  138. Partly false claim: Vaccines contain toxic levels of aluminum, polysorbate 80, yeast and other substances (6 May 2020)
  139. False claim about early-years vaccines spreading on social media by Thomas Saint-Cricq and Alex Cadier
  140. Hepatitis B vaccine is safe for newborns by Marisha Goldhammer (8 July 2020 at 00:27) AFP
  141. Vaccines do not cause neurological damage, aluminum levels in vaccines are safe Published on: 24 Mar 2020 | Editor: Flora Teoh
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  150. 150.0 150.1 150.2 Many are searching for vaccine mandate loopholes. These are the people trying to stop them. by Ashley Fetters Maloy (October 2, 2021) The Washington Post.
  151. 151.0 151.1 Some Medications Also Tied to Religious Vaccine Exemption by Carolyn Crist (Sep. 18, 2021) WebMD.
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  202. CDC Recommends Mothers Stop Breastfeeding To Boost Vaccine Efficacy (January 14, 2015) Global Freedom Movement.
  203. CDC Researchers Say Mothers Should Stop Breastfeeding to Boost 'Efficacy' of Vaccines by Ethan A. Huff (January 22, 2012); copied from Natural News in Schwartz Report.
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  205. CDC researchers say mothers should stop breastfeeding to boost efficacy of vaccines Self Bliss (archived from September 7, 2015).
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  210. Vaccines Are Profitable, So What? Yes, Big Pharma is making money from immunizations. But that doesn't mean anyone should skip the shots. by Bourree Lam (Feb 10, 2015) The Atlantic.
  211. The True Cost of an Expensive Medication: The U.S. is unique among Western countries in that it doesn't regulate drug prices. One nurse tells the story of what it's like to watch patients get sicker when they can't afford a pricey treatment. by Olga Khazan (Sep 25, 2015) The Atlantic.
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  220. HPV Vaccine Does Not Increase Likelihood of Unsafe Sex for Girls
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  223. Not as a rule, but commonly. See: Should Vaccines Be Mandatory? A libertarian debate on immunization and government by Matt Welch et al. (April 2014) Reason.
  224. Refusing Vaccination Puts Others At Risk: A pragmatic argument for coercive vaccination by Ronald Bailey (December 6, 2013) Reason.
  225. Help Protect Babies from Whooping Cough Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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  227. First U.S. vaccine mandate in 1809 launched 200 years of court battles by Jess McHugh (December 12, 2021).
  228. See the Wikipedia article on Zucht v. King.
  229. See the Wikipedia article on Prince v. Massachusetts.
  230. A Critique by the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) of the Immunisation Awareness Society brochure "What’s all the fuss about?" (October 2010) Immunisation Advisory Centre, University of Auckland.
  231. Here's an answer to the popular anti-vax trope that better nutrition and sanitation are responsible for the decline of vaccine-preventable diseases. by "I fucking hate pseudoscience" (December 8, 2014) Facebook (archived from 9 Nov 2015 01:31:19 UTC).
  232. General Vaccine Safety Concerns Vaccine Education Center, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (archived from November 24, 2014).
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  234. Swapping chicken pox-infected lollipops illegal by Tim Ghianni (November 12, 2011 / 12:11 PM) Reuters.
  235. 235.0 235.1 'Brady Bunch' Episode Fuels Campaigns Against Vaccines — And Marcia's Miffed by Gwynne Hogan (April 28, 20198:54 AM ET) NPR.
  236. My parents didn't tell me they skipped my vaccines. Then I got sick. My sore throat and fever kept getting worse. I developed a rash. Then I collapsed. by Josh Nerius (April 25, 2019) The Washington Post.
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  239. Religious Liberty Confers No Right To Send Unvaccinated Kids To School, Court Rules
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  245. Chris Christie gets Twitter-pounded for pandering to anti-vaxxer crowd with ‘balanced’ comment
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  247. Rand Paul: Vaccines Can Lead to 'Mental Disorders'
  248. Lawmakers push legislation ending personal belief exemptions in California
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  250. Why Jerry Brown Was Right to Sign the California Vaccine Bill by Jeffrey Kluger (Updated: June 30, 2015, 2:32 PM EDT) Time Magazine.
  251. After California got rid of personal exemptions for vaccines, medical exemptions went way up by Amina Khan (September 5, 2017, 6:25 PM) Los Angeles Times.
  252. 252.0 252.1 Vaccine law opponents seek statewide vote, try to recall sponsor by Melody Gutierrez (August 9, 2015 Updated: August 9, 2015 8:08pm) San Francisco Chronicle.
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  255. Despite measles outbreak, anti-vaccine activists in Minnesota refuse to back down by Lena H. Sun (August 21 at 5:05 PM) The Washington Post.
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  259. 259.0 259.1 Thanks to Republican Anti-Vaxxers, the U.S. May Never Reach COVID-19 Herd Immunity by Bess Levin (April 21, 2021) Vanity Fair.
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