MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Currently, there are measles outbreaks almost everywhere. I have often pointed out that SCAM does not seem to be entirely innocent in this development. Now another study examined the relationship between SCAM-use and vaccination scepticism. Specifically, the researchers wanted to know whether a person’s more general health-related worldview might explain this relationship.

A cross-sectional online survey of adult Australians (N = 2697) included demographic, SCAM, and vaccination measures, as well as the holistic and magical health belief scales (HHB, MHB). HHB emphasises links between mind and body health, and the impact of general ‘wellness’ on specific ailments or resistance to disease, whilst MHB specifically taps ontological confusions and cognitive errors about health. SCAM and anti-vaccination were found to be linked primarily at the attitudinal level (r = -0.437). The researchers did not find evidence that this was due to SCAM practitioners influencing their clients. Applying a path-analytic approach, they found that individuals’ health worldview (HHB and MHB) accounted for a significant proportion (43.1%) of the covariance between SCAM and vaccination attitudes. MHB was by far the strongest predictor of both SCAM and vaccination attitudes in regressions including demographic predictors.

The researchers concluded that vaccination scepticism reflects part of a broader health worldview that discounts scientific knowledge in favour of magical or superstitious thinking. Therefore, persuasive messages reflecting this worldview may be more effective than fact-based campaigns in influencing vaccine sceptics.

Parents opposing vaccination of their kids are often fiercely determined. Numerous cases continue to make their way through the courts where parents oppose the vaccination of their children, often inspired by the views of both registered and unregistered health practitioners, including homeopaths and chiropractors. A recent article catalogued decisions by the courts in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada. Most of them ruled in favour of vaccination and dismissed the arguments of those opposed to vaccination as unscientific. The author, an Australian barrister and Professor of Forensic Medicine, concluded that Australia should give serious consideration to emulating the model existing in multiple countries, including the United States, and should create a no-fault vaccination injury compensation scheme.

Such programs are based on the assumption that it is fair and reasonable that a community protected by a vaccination program accepts responsibility for and provides compensation in those rare instances where individuals are injured by it. To Me, this seems a prudent and ethical concept that should be considered everywhere.

14 Responses to More on vaccination scepticism, and the plea for a no-fault vaccination injury compensation scheme

  • Despite the proposal being rational, ethical, and reasonable in giving compensation for any injury caused by vaccinations (very few in number), I will wager my left gonad, for what little value it has, that it will interpreted by the lunatic fringe (anti-vaxxers) as a ‘recognition’ of the inherent harm caused.

    • Of course they will, and it’s absolutely right to acknowledge that vaccination is a prophylactic treatment with great benefits but also a very small risk of serious side effects. As a prophylactic, not therapeutic, treatment that like all medical procedures carries a non-zero risk, it is also right that responsible individuals can choose to decline that treatment.

      Everyone who vaccinates does their bit by taking on that personal risk in order to protect both the individual and society as a whole against serious diseases that cripple and kill. So in rare cases where the treatment does go wrong for one individual, it’s absolutely right that the rest do their bit by giving the vaccine-injured all the support they need for as long as they need it. Quid Pro Quo.

      Those who vaccinate must accept responsibility for the consequences of their decisions. An insurance fund to which everyone who vaccinates contributes is a simple and automatic way to provide that support.

      So call the anti-vaxxers on it: What responsibility do they accept for the consequences of their choice not to vaccinate? Where is the insurance fund for children and adults injured or killed by vaccine-preventable diseases, how much have they paid into it, and how much has it paid out?

      And the instant they evade, gut them for the lying hypocritical venal turd-weasel cowards they are.

  • A slightly pedantic point maybe, but I always find the word ‘sceptic’ rather irritating in these contexts.
    I’m tempted to suggest ‘idiot’ or ‘liar’, but I know that, generally, this is not your style.
    To me, it’s similar to the ‘false balance’ idea in TV or Radio debates, where a factually clued-up person- a scientist, say, is answered by an idiot who is given the same amount of time for their blather.
    It reminds me of fundamentalists who sat that Natural Selection is ‘only a theory, after all’, suggesting A that they have misunderstood the meaning of the word ‘theory’, and B that they think any random dope’s conclusion is just as valid as anyone else’s.

    • A slightly pedantic point maybe, but I always find the word ‘sceptic’ rather irritating in these contexts.
      I’m tempted to suggest ‘idiot’ or ‘liar’, but I know that, generally, this is not your style.

      I think ‘vaccination-denier’ is a good word for this, like ‘holocaust-denier’. Unfortunately, ‘vaccination-sceptic’ seems to be the word society has chosen, like ‘global warming-sceptic’, which also just means ‘global warming-denier’.

      • I partly agree; but they do not deny vaccinations, they claim they are ineffective, dangerous etc.
        The term does not work as well as with global warming, I find.

        • That is obviously a correct criticism of my use of the term. They do indeed not deny the existence of vaccinations ^_^

          Time for me to get some sleep and think of something more appropriate.

          Thank you very much for pointing that out!

          • ‘Vaccination-denier’ is fine as an abbreviation for ‘denier of the benefits of vaccination.’

  • Hang on:
    “It is fair and reasonable that a community protected by a vaccination program accepts responsibility for and provides compensation in those rare instances where individuals are injured by it. To Me, this seems a prudent and ethical concept that should be considered everywhere.”

    The vaccination-deniers claim that vaccination can cause autism – an attributable injury as far as they are concerned.
    Can you prove vaccination does not cause altruism?
    There will be a field day of claims if this altruistic largesse is allowed as you suggest.

    • They’re pushing for a compensation scheme? This implies they’re happy for ubiquitous application of such protections: seems their public liability premiums will sky-rocket.

      I strive to be “sceptical” of all claims. Maybe it’s better to describe this as applying scrutiny before tentative acceptance. Isn’t this akin to the scientific method?
      Forget PPI misselling, let’s bring accountability for CAM misselling, religious misselling, psychic misselling…

      Damn, I love this blog because I learn about medical scrutiny at the same time as gaining insights to the bogus marketing techniques of SCAM (religions, psychics…)

  • The paper states it as a sceptic not as a denier or anti vaccination. One can see this lay out in Question 12 of the Appendix.

    • The paper states it as a sceptic not as a denier or anti vaccination. One can see this lay out in Question 12 of the Appendix.

      Indeed. One can also see it in the part quoted by prof. Ernst. It doesn’t mean that it is a good term.

      • ‘Sceptic’ means “someone who has doubts about things that other people think are true or right”. The word doesn’t take sides: the view of a sceptic may be right or wrong.

        • ‘Sceptic’ means “someone who has doubts about things that other people think are true or right”. The word doesn’t take sides: the view of a sceptic may be right or wrong.

          That is correct, but it doesn’t reflect common usage here in North America. ‘Sceptic’ tends to be used as a synonym of ‘denier’ here. It makes my toes curl, but that is just the way it is.

          When I present myself as a sceptic, it is usually interpreted as a negativist, a naysayer.

          Don’t forget, this is also the continent where someone like Richard Dawkins is said to have a quaint accent. They seem to be oblivious to the fact that English did not originate in Trumpland.

          • Fortunately, I was brought up near Birmingham UK. As a result, I speak without any accent as it’s the epi-centre of England’s pronunciation influences.
            There are sceptics who deny the truth of such vocal purity…
            It’s easy and lazy to deride scepticism, atheism, the scientific method or secularism: but doing so is necessary if their claims lack evidence, data, argument or, arguably, integrity.

            Okay, I admit that the brummie accent is dire.

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