It really is starting to look like the Daily Mail are actively campaigning against vaccination. This piece, written by Beezy Marsh and Jo McFarlane*, is the first time I’ve heard of these new vaccination fears. Perhaps because (unlike Beezy, I would guess) I don’t call Richard Halvorsen and JABS every time there is a discussion about vaccination. You may remember that Beezy Marsh was the journalist involved in the infamous Carol Vorderman piece on the MMR vaccine – and that a piece she wrote for the Telegraph on MMR prompted a letter to the paper from Ben Goldacre. Beezy has written in favour of single jabs (a stupid idea, which would, quite unnecessarily, have left children unprotected against preventable diseases) and in that article quoted Halvorsen and JABS. Her sources have so far proved to be pretty unreliable, but that doesn’t stop Beezy from going back time and again to Halvorsen and JABS.
The piece about Hep B states that plans to routinely vaccinate babies against the disease are “controversial” and goes on to complain about “over-vaccination”. This sounds suspiciously like a claim of “immune overload” to me. The WHO has a page on this here. Beezy helpfully tells us that “by the age of four, a child will have received 32 vaccines, some in multishot jabs including the MMR against measles, mumps and rubella”, but – rather unhelpfully – fails to tell us why this is cause for concern. [Perhaps someone should lend her a copy of one of Paul Offit's books on vaccination.]
The next point in the article is pure Daily Mail: “The driving force behind the change is concern that infected immigrants are contributing to a rising tide of hepatitis B.” They go on to inform us that “High risk areas for the disease include South Asia, Africa and parts of Eastern Europe. Many migrants from these areas settle in Britain.” Predictably, Mail readers pick up on this and several comments refer to these sections of the article. Here are a couple of remarks the Mail saw fit to publish on their website:
How about we screen everyone when they enter the UK? [...] Whole familes should be fingerprinted and blood tests taken.
This is a routine vaccination in the states for the same reason it’s being proposed here: poor immigrants are bringing in Hepatitis B left and right, and it’s the only way to protect children who are exposed regularly to such populations
And here’s something rather more hysterical:
This is total insanity. Why don’t they just inject strychnine and be done with it. Children should not be vaccinated at all.
Well done, Daily Mail – you’ve managed to stir up anti-immigration ill-feeling and anti-vaccination crankiness. You certainly know your readers Mr Dacre.
Fail story; a post I wrote on the Vorderman piece: MMR-Beezy-Vorderman-fail; how the Mail characterised worried parents when one of the Mail’s anti-vaccination campaigns turned out to be baseless (it called them morons).
*Jo MacFarlane and Beezy Marsh commonly write articles on health, which is a bit worrying. MacFarlane; Marsh. I also found one bad science blogger taking MacFarlane to task for stating 6 week weather forecasting as truth incarnate here.