The ‘Phantom Flyers’ debunked

“Uncertain immunity is way better than certain susceptibility”

With the current outbreak of Meningitis B, getting vaccinated has been incredibly emphasized. However, the belief that vaccines cause more harm than good has also made its way into the conversation.

Flyers, like those shown below, were found around UMass this week:

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The main point of these anti-vax flyers is to claim that there is mercury, fecal matter, and viral diseases and other substances in our vaccinations that cause immune disorders and, apparently, death.

Let me break down all of the lies that they want you to believe.

1. The idea that two teens recently died of Meningitis B because they were vaccinated is UNTRUE

According to Daily Mail, teens, Kimberly Coffey and Emily Stillman, died of Meningitis B in 2012 and 2013.

While they did receive meningitis vaccines, the traditional vaccine covers only Meningitis A, C, W, and Y. The girls were not vaccinated against serotype B, which is the one that UMass is now suggesting students get to protect themselves.

The mothers of Coffey and Stillman suffered terrible losses and have used their grief to join together to spread awareness of Meningitis B.

2. Do your own research

These flyers are advising you to do your own research, while telling you where to research.

Dr. Rima Laibow (@whoever created these flyers: it is "Laibow" not "Libow") has a Doctorate and is licensed in New York but does not have a registered license to practice. She has a fraudulent history and is 100% against vaccinations. Her company, Natural Solutions Foundation, was issued a warning letter from the FDA after they released and marketed a product called "Nano Silver" in 2014 that they claimed cured Ebola.

According to the FDA, “therapeutic claims on [their] websites establish[ed] that the products are drugs because they are intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.”

Newsflash: that's illegal. If Dr. Laibow is so confident in her products, why not take it to pharmaceutical companies to get tested and put on the market? Dr. Mercola has likewise recieved fame for his anti-vax views. The FDA repeatedly warns him over his false claims that his products "virtually eliminate [your] risk of cancer."

Main point: don't believe everything you hear; do your own research to avoid reading only false information.

3. Vaccines do NOT contain Mercury

Trace amounts of mercury is in thimerosal. Thimerosal used to be used in most vaccines to prevent the growth of bacteria and germs. However, According to the CDC, thimerosal hasn't been used in vaccines for children since 2001.

There are trace amounts of thimersosal in very few flu shots. HOWEVER, you can opt for thimerosal-free flu shots.

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4. Vaccines do NOT cause diseases

The idea that vaccines cause conditions such as Crohn's Disease and Autism began with Andrew Wakefield, a former British gastroenterologist and medical researcher who lost his licensure after publishing a fraudulent medical study in British medical journal, The Lancet. He basically said that the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine (MMR) caused Crohn's Disease.

After reaching mainstream media, the study was twisted into insinuating that vaccines also cause Autism. Celebrity, Jenny McCarthy, ran with this idea and became a major spokesperson for the anti-vax movement. She claimed that her son's vaccination gave him autism. Then, she reasoned that she was able to "cure" him by putting him on a gluten-free diet. By adding to this idea, people create a trend in supporting “natural” cures to things that do not actually have cures yet.

Vaccines have been repeatedly studied and tested; such results prove that there are no links between vaccinations and diseases. If you’re thinking “who the hell doesn’t believe in vaccines?” The answer is: more people than you'd like to believe. I have literally gone to the grocery store and heard mothers talk about refusing to vaccinate their children several times. This has become so common, in fact, that the measles are back in the U.S. after being eradicated in 2000.

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With less vaccinations, we mess up what is called “herd immunity.” Most cases of measles post-2000 have been connected to international infection. So, if you get the measles from abroad and come back here, others who aren’t vaccinated will probably contract measles because it is super contagious. Some people are not allowed to receive vaccinations for medical reasons. If getting the vaccine for yourself is too hard, get it for the, now weak, 80 year-old war veteran or the 3 year-old who was born with an immune disorder; they don't have the option.

Sure, vaccines aren’t always 100% effective, however they are 97% effective. A wise physician once told me: “uncertain immunity is way better than certain susceptibility.” The more contagious a disease is, the more people need to be vaccinated in order to protect themselves and others.

The Anti-Vax Movement is just another reason to divide humans and create panic. Do not let this happen at UMass! If you still don’t believe me, go visit a talk to a local doctor, professor, teacher, or even your Uber driver this weekend (why not?), and ask them what they think about vaccines. You're bound to get some useful information.

Get educated, get vaccinated!

UMass Amherst