Editorial Comment

Vaccination Shaming

I believe in vaccinations. I get my flu shot yearly and make sure those who live in our house all get one, due to my wife’s reduced immune system; a result of diabetes. I know it isn’t as effective if only she gets her shot. No vaccine, after all, is 100% effective although no one said they were. Being inoculated just increases your odds greatly that you won’t get the ailment and if you do, it won’t be as serious.

I also believe it is incumbent on all of us to get vaccinated for the good of, not just ourselves, but our fellow travelers. The more vaccinated people that flu bugs encounter, the shorter the duration of the outbreak. Individual responsibility helps the whole population be safer. It is surprising this could be an issue that folks get polarized over, but it is.

Suddenly, those who believe vaccinations may hold unreasonable risks are being public shamed and in some cases, even driven from their jobs because of their opinions. Melody Torcolacci, a teacher at Queen’s University, was forced to take a leave of absence following revelations she was including anti-vaccination rants along with her undergraduate course teachings. Is it appropriate for university-level educators to dish on subjects contrary to the majority view? Where else should this happen? Wouldn’t fighting her views with facts be a better approach than merely shouting her down?

As much as I am pro vaccinations, I’m unsure beating up on the unbelievers is the answer. The stark truth is people have good reason to take everything the government tells them with more than a few grains of salt. Government agencies have both lied to us and simply been very wrong about many things. Although, I personally buy into this particular government program, it by no means indicates I believe everything the government does is for the benefit of we the people. Governments, by their very nature, are every bit as self-serving as the individuals that are a part of it. If people don’t believe them when they are being honest and have reams of scientific data supporting their position, it is their own fault. They have scuttled their own credibility with their positions on a number of issues.

We certainly can’t always trust Health Canada, for example, not to play politics with our well being. Their stance on e-cigarettes, for example, is not scientifically supported and ignores some pretty glaring facts. One aspect that is confounding is that non-nicotine vaping products are approved for sale, while nicotine is approved for delivery in gum, mist and many other products. To put nicotine in a vaping product, however, which can’t possibly be worse than smoking real cigarettes, isn’t approved at all. The trade in nicotine-laced vaping products has a shadowy, illicit quality to it. You can’t order them online and use PayPal. If you try and get the nicotine ‘juice’ from the US, there is a good chance it will be intercepted at the border.

Why would Health Canada drag their feet on allowing this to be the smoking cessation product which it is? Why would they obstruct a product which is so much safer for users than the tobacco alternatives? Are they operating in the public interest, or that of the government which is addicted to inflated tobacco taxes?

Recently, some medical professionals took Health Canada to task for approving homeopathic ‘vaccines’ which aren’t vaccines at all. As well, Health officials have often been accused of playing favourites with their approval process; expediting some approvals while dragging their feet on others. One company had their citronella-based bug spray taken off the market by Health Canada despite their HC’s own scientists advising support for its approval. Of larger concern, apparently as a result of a media campaign to reinstate the repellant, Health officials recently reversed their stance and approved the product for sale. It is concerning the department bowed to public pressure. Are their decisions science-based or not?

A similar situation to the distrust of vaccines occurs with fluoridating the water supply. There have been many studies showing tiny amounts of fluoride statistically improves the dental health of those who drink the water. However, there was a rumour circulating that fluoride affects the brains of infants and young children. A number of communities were challenged by anti-fluoride activists and forced them to stop adding the chemical to the water supply. Calgary and Windsor are examples of such municipalities. For some people in the 42% of cities who have stopped adding fluoride, it was a victory for a hysterical minority, while for others, it was a relief to have the choice whether to use fluoride or not; just one less chemical we can decide whether we want it for ourselves. It is worth noting, a large Harvard University aggregate study published just a year ago found fluoridation lowers IQ in children by seven points. In this case, the ‘whackos’ may actually have been proven right.

Don’t get me wrong. I still think vaccination is a statistically better bet than not vaccinating. After all, one must be very careful of assigning causality with regard to either IQ loss in kids from fluoridation or autism of which vaccination has erroneously been cited as being the cause.

However, it is quite understandable for people to be confused about what to believe and what not to believe from the government. The government makes mistakes. Oh lord, they make mistakes. Their agencies have competing agendas to satisfy.

The only way for the government to properly fight erroneous opinions about the danger of vaccines, is to show, everywhere and often, the evidence regarding the real risks associated with the practice. Statistically, few things have no side effects. Listen to most drug commercials. That’s honesty. If only the government was always as honest with us, we would believe them when we really should. 

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