Gift Ideas for the Unvaccinated

Before this cartoon appeared many places, I began hearing from anti-vaccine people. More are sure to follow in the coming days. It’s almost laughable for me to have to type this, but let me say up front: I have absolutely no ties to Big Pharma. In general, I find pharmaceutical companies to be morally skeevy, but this does not mean vaccinations are some sort of conspiracy. Nor does it disprove the science supporting vaccination as an essential part of public health.

When all reputable medical organizations — the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, etc. –- tell us that that any link between autism and vaccines has been thoroughly refuted, it takes a hefty dose of paranoia to think that you know better. What is fascinating about this issue is that it parallels global warming denial, but with a large lefty contingent. It’s a bit depressing, actually. But if progressives want to continue calling themselves “reality-based,” they have to take on pseudoscience wherever it appears.

This all started with a fraudulent paper in a prominent medical journal, long since retracted and refuted. It then took on a life of its own, fed by celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy and even Robert Kennedy Jr. Nowadays it mostly boils down to the idea that Big Pharma is engaged in a huge cover-up in order to sell vaccines. I’m the first to note the many evils of many big corporations, but you cannot simply dismiss an overwhelming scientific consensus that there is no connection between vaccines and autism, based on many subsequent studies. There is a difference between healthy skepticism and anti-intellectual paranoia, and this clearly crosses that line.

This wouldn’t matter so much if it wasn’t vaccines we are talking about here, one of the most important life-saving inventions of all time. Experts in the U.S. say we are already getting small-scale outbreaks because of the anti-vaccine movement, and experts outside the U.S. are getting increasingly worried about the potentially catastrophic consequences if these ideas get entrenched in the developing world. A recent Center for Disease Control study estimates that vaccines in the U.S. from 1994-2013 will save 732,000 lives. We are talking about untold numbers of lives at stake here.

Here are just a few useful links:


  • Peter Guerin

    Methinks Jenny McCarthy should take a look at this. Never take parenting advice from a former Playboy Playmate. :-P

  • Dorit Reiss

    Almost as sad as funny. Poor children.

  • MsProf

    What’s really bizarre about the Big Pharma allegations is that vaccines are not exactly a high-profit item … especially compared to brand-name, patent-protected pharmaceuticals and biologics.

    • Joseph

      Well, that may not be true. It’s been a few years now, but in 2009 I happened to take a look at GlaxoSmithKine’s annual report and they sure were excited about three new parts of their business: emerging markets, vaccines, and I forget the other thing. Vaccines were their fastest growing market segment for the previous three or four years leading up to the close of 2009. The H1N1 swine flu virus vaccine they developed and released in Q3 and Q4 of that year put their net income figures back up after a couple of years of decline.

      Vaccines were not their best performing market segment, but were expected, back then, to be a good earner, a cash cow, and not insignificant part of their business and expected to grow over time. It’s a captive market you see, since it is pretty much guaranteed that governments around the world will automatically buy the vaccines that they rush through development.

      By the way, it is also true that the WHO relaxed their threshold for what is considered a “pandemic” just in time for the swine flu virus, whose danger was later admitted to have been greatly exaggerated. An interesting article, in Z magazine in 2010 laid out a really compelling case that the WHO had been infiltrated, corrupted and bought out by a consortium of pharmaceutical companies.

      We shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but we should investigate, dig deep, and be careful about what we think we know until we’ve done our homework.

  • Joseph

    I’m not sure that vaccines cause autism, but there are issues of concern surrounding them and many other consumer products. In business school I was taught that the purpose of a corporation was to increase value for shareholders (all things being equal, stock price goes up as earnings go up). There was NO mention of the public good, morality, or any other consideration. This, in a nutshell, is why capitalism totally sucks.

    Don’t make fun of people for being distrustful of corporations and the government that it owns lock, stock and barrel. When the educational system is in the sorry shape that it is in this country, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that conspiracy theories fill the gap in understanding. That’s not to say that there aren’t conspiracies against the public; there clearly are, but we should conduct careful research and avoid excessive speculation.

    • LarryRow

      “Don’t make fun of people for being distrustful of corporations”

      She wasn’t.

      “we should conduct careful research and avoid excessive speculation”

      We did conduct careful research: it shows that vaccines are safe, independent of however you might feel about pharmaceutical companies. The only excessive speculation going on is in the anti-vacc crowd.

      When a metric tonne of research has been performed, and it all says the same thing, and some people still say, “But we need to perform careful research,” it’s a sure sign they are looking for research to tell them what they want to hear.

      • Joseph

        Who funded this research? What do you think would happen if a scientist did find a link, however tenuous, between vaccinations and neurological disorders? It would take a rare individual of enormous integrity and courage to resist the pressure of Big Pharma to get the truth out. His reputation would be destroyed if he couldn’t be bribed.

        The bourgeois establishment is to blame. They created and maintain this sick, evil system built on avarice. The government can’t be trusted because it is owned by the corporations. The corporations can’t be trusted because they are owned by capitalists who are sociopaths only interested in getting more.

        • LarryRow

          That’s not how science works. If a study showed a link between vaccines and mental disorder, it would be a huge coup for the authors of the study. It would get into peer-reviewed journals and they would make the rounds on all the talk shows.

          • Joseph

            Okay, but scientists don’t rule this country, businessmen do.

          • JamesDiGioia

            If businessmen ruled the country, you think they would have let the original study saying vaccines cause autism come out? Oh wait, businessmen aren’t omnipotent beings, and your logic allows you to justify whatever you want. Your posturing at being reasonable is BS.

          • Joseph

            You answered your own question. Of course the rulers are not omnipotent, but there is a populist opposition that is, sadly, not nearly as organized as it needs to be – and the various factions have yet to unite.

            And if you don’t think that the 1% own and control this country through their power over the state and the economy then you really haven’t been paying attention.

          • JamesDiGioia

            None of that explains why the “rulers” would let a study that hurts their bottom line (by making vaccines look bad) come out, unless they don’t control science.

            And if they don’t control science, it means we can trust the overwhelming data that says vaccines are safe.

            And if we can trust that data, all your “reasonable” posturing about “we need more research” is bullshit meant to support your biases.

            3 bullet points – it’s not complicated, and it all point to you being full of shit.

          • Joseph

            Do you know what omnipotent means? The ruling class is not omnipotent, nor are they omnipresent or omniscient. They don’t have the power to stop everything before it happens. If they did, they would have stopped the Occupy Wall Street protests before they spread all over the country and the world.

            Also, I believe the study you’re talking about came out in England, while I have been mainly talking about the situation in the U$.

            I didn’t say I don’t trust science, just bourgeois scientists – especially medical science. They’re arrogant and slow to admit when they are wrong and most of them are doing it for the money and not because they really want to help people. The pharmaceutical companies are the same. They’re the same class of people.

            I’m just telling you to be skeptical. I have satisfied myself that the H1N1 virus, for example, was a hoax. The virus was real, but not nearly as dangerous as reported and it was a big money-maker for GlaxoSmithKline; it put their earnings way back up after they had been in decline.

            Furthermore, have you ever heard of eugenics, the sterilization of black people and poor people in the South up until the 70′s, or even the Tuskegee experiments? Recently the CIA admitted using a fake Hepatitis B vaccination program in Pakistan as a cover to discover the whereabouts of “insurgents” and “terrorists.” They were taking DNA samples from children.

            Everybody laughed at the Taliban when they said the Americans were using the vaccinations for a nefarious purpose and that they were collecting tissue samples; they also claimed that the U.$ was trying to sterilize Muslim children. Okay, so that last part is just crazy, right? Oh wait, they’ve already done that to their own citizens.

            I won’t fully trust the health care system until a bona fide working class socialist or communist party seizes power and then nationalizes the entire health care industry and has all the executives shot. Then we’ll know that we’re living in a decent society.

          • Benjamin Schwab

            I have a simple question. When you said “we should conduct careful research and avoid excessive speculation,” were you suggesting that more research needs to be done on the claimed connection between vaccines and autism, people shouldn’t a-priori believe pharmaceutical company research, both, or something else?

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.