Reader Rant preempted by Andrew Wakefield

Monday night I got an email from Bruce Critelli asking if we could get some WTF indignation down to Grant Park to counter protest Autism One’s anti-vax rally this afternoon.

I said yes, but that I’d be staying relatively hands off while I snuggle with my new baby, sleep and pop Oxycontin.

That didn’t happen. Instead I got angry. I chose not to sleep… because who am I kidding? I have a 6 day old baby who eats every hour during the night. Giving up sleep is like giving up hosting my birthday party on Skepchick Island this year.

So I got caught up.

And I had planned on pre-scheduling this week’s rant because I was scheduled to have a baby today… but that baby showed up last week and ruined EVERYTHING!

Anyway, to inspire you to get your rants to me, I will give you something to get ranty about. Here is the live stream of the anti-vax rally that the Women Thinking Free volunteers are out protesting today:

UPDATE: @UAJamie is live tweeting from Grant Park #antivaxrally

Live Broadcasting by Ustream

And we’re in the process of putting together an informational website for confused and scared parents.

I will be adding a page for “Why we vaccinate” which will be photos of our vaccinated children. If you’d like to submit a picture to my site (we can include or not include any information like names and cities/states) please send it to elyse(at) Subject: Why I vaccinate.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. Ugh. Do they make an ad blocker for iPhone? The ads for the mobile version of this post say ‘Extract that heavy metal… crosses the brain barrier… gentle on your child’ with a link.
    I know that’s how Google ads work, but it still makes my blood boil.
    Also, Elyse, you eff’in rule.

  2. I don’t have any pictures. I am old enough to remember the scary summers when we worried about polio. There may be images on the Web somewhere of hospital rooms filled with the old “iron lungs.” I remember a couple of classmates who wore leg braces because they’d had polio.

    Measles can cause serious brain damage. I remember a measles outbreak at the elementary school I went to. There were about 200 kids in the school and while not all of us caught measles two kids never came back. One died and one was left permanently impaired by the virus.

    My own kids are grown now and both were vaccinated for everything I could get then vaccinated for.

  3. I’ve commented in other places about how easy it is to scare the hell out of first-time parents with that antivaxx crap. If I hadn’t seen what a family of 5 kids, all with pertussis at the same time, looked like when I was a child, I might have fallen for it too.

    My “baby” – I hope she doesn’t read this, she’s 8 – was vaccinated for everything. She’ll get her next round in a year or so.

  4. @spyderkl: Absolutely, it’s terrifying. As we speak I am battling a fever in my 4 month old daughter as a side effect of her well-visit yesterday. But I would rather combat a temperature than pertussis.

    It’s not fair that they aim their divisive propaganda at parents who are just scared for their children. Yes, it’s terrifying to think about the tiny percentage of children who react adversely to the shots and that you don’t know if your kid is one of them. But avoiding it all together on a longshot is more detrimental to the health of your kid than trusting proven science and hoping your kid is in the majority.

    I’m also super grumpy because she woke me up with said fever at 5am.

  5. I was just at the rally. The good news is that they were in an area of the park without much traffic so nobody was getting sucked in to hear their crap. That meant that there was little counter-protesting for us to do. Great chance to meet some local skeptics though. We mostly just got harangued by a handful of the anti-vaxxers spouting some ridiculous shit.

    One of the anti-vaxxers questioning why we were there asked if we even had children. I informed him that I have a fully-vaccinated 1yo daughter. It made me realize that that’s actually why this is an important issue to me. The sleazebag said something like “Well, you better hope she’s all right.” I like to think that if my child was diagnosed with autism, my first response wouldn’t be “Oh, maybe I was mistaken about vaccines,” but “What can I do to best take care of my child.”

  6. I have learned I shouldn’t go to events like this after being awake for 24 hours. I can’t think that quickly anymore, especially when some crazy dude is yelling at me and somehow has figured out how to breathe while talking.

    @B Hitt – you were awesome.

  7. @B Hitt

    You were pretty damn good, man. I almost wished I had kids already to show my commitment, but then I think of how that would be the same type of selfish attitude these assholes have towards their own children.


    You did as good as any of us. That guy was nuts.

  8. Oh! Oh! I almost forgot. Had I brought my camera or had my blackberry battery not been dead I would have the greatest picture ever to share from the rally:
    Before the event, I saw one of the organizers behind the stage area holding a sign listing the “toxins” in vaccines (the usual laughable lot like aluminum, formaldehyde, antifreeze. . .wtf) while she was . . . wait for it. . . smoking a cigarette!

    @Elizabeth: & @Modoc: , it was great to meet you guys, and get yelled at with you.
    Regarding their selfish handling of their kids’ conditions, great example was that guy who came to yell at us about his child with a muscle-wasting disease. The implied argument was essentially I have a sick kid, you don’t, therefore I’m right about this issue. The only reason any of us were out there was because we care about the health of kids (& adults), OUR concern is just guided by evidence. He’s turning his kid’s condition into a misguided crusade against life-saving vaccines and feeling like a hero for offering his kid as a martyr. Sick!

  9. The rally was associated with an ongoing woo-fest called AutismOne — you know, vaccination ruins your child but you can recover them with chelation, diet, lotsa supplements, etc. I think today’s streaming video is from that conference.

    You might want to see reactions to the rally from science-based parents of children with autism, such as:

    Autism News Beat, who was there.

    Countering Age of Autism, who figuratively held her nose and listened to the live-streamed rally. Snarky commentary.

    LeftBrain/RightBrain, which has more photos. Prometheus‘s comment, below, wins the best-comment award:

    I’m sorry I couldn’t make it – I had an important appointment with my garden.

    It sounds as though the vaccines-cause-autism movement is slowly coming apart – the rally was smaller than some family reunions I’ve seen in Grant Park. Given that this was a “featured event” at the Autism One “conference”, the small turnout bodes ill for the movement.

    On another site, I saw a picture of a rally participant wearing a t-shirt saying “Autism: it’s no mystery. It’s the mercury.” Clearly, the leaders of the movement haven’t been able to get all of their followers “on message” – what happened to “too many, too soon”?

    A “keynote address” by a disgraced and discredited physician (Andrew Wakefield) to a “crowd” of a few hundred with musical interludes by a one-man-antivaccination-band is something that “South Park” would consider too “over the top”. Yet, that is exactly what happened.

    One of the signs that a group or movement has lost its direction is when they become a self-parody. That time is now, for the vaccines-cause-autism movement.


    PS: Elyse — Felicitations on the birth of your baby.

  10. “Autism: it’s no mystery. It’s the mercury.”

    Even that sounds out-dated, since they stopped using mercury in almost vaccinations given to children years ago. It’s not difficult to avoid it and still completely vaccinate a child during their first years. And then, there’s also the whole ethyl mercury vs. methyl mercury issue that many anti-vaccination people don’t understand.

    My anger is mostly reserved for people like Wakefield, Jenny McCarthy, Viera Schriebner and countless chiropractors who are making quite a profit off of scaring parents away from life-saving technology, often with the claim that the drug companies don’t care about children but just want money. And for them, it’s a lot easier to make money because they don’t have the same expenses as a drug company.

    Plus, as far as relative risks go, a baby is far more likely to be killed or disabled by walker, crib, playpen or swimming pool. But nobody’s denouncing Babies R Us as sacrificing children for profit.

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