No to Bad Things

Antivaxxer aunt posted a bunch of signs from protests she says she supports, and they all look like this:

Signs with text like, No to Bad Things

Other rallies have signs that take stands — “Black Lives Matter,” “Justice for George Floyd,” “Gay Rights Are Human Rights,” “End Anti-Trans Discrimination.” These are just “Freedom! Freedom is good! Please assume without question that everyone here agrees perfectly with me about what we need to be Free from.”

Gotta wonder what % of the group says afterward “look how many of us aren’t into any CRAZY stuff, we just agree Big Pharma is faking everything” and what % says “look how many of us agree a secret cabal is kidnapping children to get high by snorting their ground-up bones.”

(…did you know that’s not a parody? Do you know that’s actual, totally-earnest QAnon lore? Was your mind as blown by that as mine was?)

In TWIV #720 (starts around 51:17), Paul Offit told a story that I’ve been meaning to write down.

So his wife’s a pediatrician. A 4-month-old comes into her office for a vaccination…and the kid has a seizure.

Child gets rushed to the hospital. Is diagnosed with a seizure disorder. Ends up having a chronic neurological condition. Offit doesn’t say what it was called, but the important part is — only a few years later, the child dies from it. They were 5.

And this is the kind of story antivaxxers love to tell as Proof that Vaccines are Harmful and Evil —

except —

the vaccination hadn‘t happened yet.

The seizure hit before the child got any shots. Like — moments before. “The doctor was drawing the vaccine into the syringe” before. And obviously they didn’t finish — when a baby is having a seizure, you get them the hell to a hospital, now! General preventative care can wait.

And Offit points out that if the timing had been five minutes different — if the appointment was a bit earlier, if the office moved a bit faster, maybe if the parents hit a few more green lights on the way there — the parents would’ve blamed the shots for all of it.

And who could talk them out of it? If you spent years trying to care for a child with a terrifying deadly disease, and the symptoms all started moments after a vaccine — how would anybody convince you that that was a coincidence?

Except here’s a case that was just as vanishingly unlikely, that we know was a coincidence.

It’s absolutely wild. One-in-a-million doesn’t even come close. If you wrote it in a novel, people would dunk you to the end of time for trying to make a serious point with such a transparent, exaggerated, anvilicious setup.

But sometimes, in medicine, in health, in real life, that’s just how it is.

And it’s not a “totally happened to my friend’s cousin’s barber!” urban legend. It’s from a specific doctor. You can listen to — or watch the video version of — a source, as told by her specific husband.

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