Intended for healthcare professionals

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Feature Essay

New power versus old: to beat antivaccination campaigners we need to learn from them—an essay by Kathryn Perera, Henry Timms, and Jeremy Heimans

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6447 (Published 21 November 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6447

Rapid Response:

An argument already lost by default?

There is here an immense failure to engage - we have the stereotyping ad hominem of "antivaccination campaigners" and the people disapproved of (ie Shanelle Cartwright, Suzanne Humphries, Andrew Wakefield etc.) [1]. The authors know who they do not like but as the late Rt Hon Tony Benn would say "what about the ishoos (issues)"? If they insist on the safety of the vaccine project, what body of evidence are they citing? Earlier correspondence here has pointed to unwillingness on the part of the NHS to even make available or discuss the contents of PILs (patient information leaflets) [2]. There is here a monumental effort to stop people talking but not to address full-on what they are talking about, and the more oblivious of human concern and dictatorial it becomes the more resistance there will surely be: the internet is only the medium, and as we have seen the NHS CEO is keen even to stop people talking at the school gates [3].

I was struck last night by a report in WalesOnline [4]:

Kady-Laura Alldis said her 11-week old son Rowan Buckley started deteriorating on Thursday, November 7 and was taken by ambulance to A&E the following Sunday...Kady-Laura, from Caerphilly , said: "No-one knows anything about Kawasaki disease and there isn't enough information out there, but it's becoming increasingly common and more children are being diagnosed with it...Rowan started getting "a bit grumpy" following his immunisations and was sleeping far more than normal...He didn't wake up for his bottles, and he cried when we tried to move him or pick him up to give him cuddles," she added...Then slowly he started not responding to us. His temperature was up and he just wasn't himself."

Why is Kawasaki disease increasingly common? I do not know for certain but parents should surely be warned in the PIL for Bexsero Men B vaccine (routinely administered at 8 weeks, 16 weeks and 1 year) it states that it causes Kawasaki disease in up to 1 in 1000 administrations [5,6].

Hard-nosed denial or being doctrinaire will not win hearts and minds.

[1] 'New power versus old: to beat antivaccination campaigners we need to learn from them—an essay by Kathryn Perera, Henry Timms, and Jeremy Heimans', BMJ 2019; 367 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6447 (Published 21 November 2019)

[2] Responses to Iacobucci, 'Child vaccination rates in England fall across the board, figures show', https://www.bmj.com/content/366/bmj.l5773/rapid-responses

[3] John Stone, 'Re: Mandatory childhood vaccination could cause “irreparable damage,” says expert panel', 12 October 2019, https://www.bmj.com/content/367/bmj.l5995/rr

[4] Mark Smith, 'Kawasaki disease: Baby's traumatic battle with devastating condition that's becoming increasingly common', WalesOnline 21 November 2019, https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/health/kawasaki-disease-caerphilly-he...

[[5] Bexsero PIL, https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/files/pil.5168.pdf

[6] John Stone, 'Re: Child vaccination rates in England fall across the board, figures show', 4 October 2019, https://www.bmj.com/content/366/bmj.l5773/rr-12

Competing interests: AgeofAutism.com, an on-line daily journal, concerns itself with the potential environmental sources for the proliferation of autism, neurological impairment, immune dysfunction and chronic disease. I receive no payment as UK Editor

22 November 2019
John Stone
UK Editor
AgeofAutism.com
London N22