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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptical Inquirer > Nov/Dec 2018 > Diving into the VAERS Dumpster: Fake News about Vaccine Injuries

Diving into the VAERS Dumpster: Fake News about Vaccine Injuries

Harriet Hall, MD, also known as “The SkepDoc,” is a retired family physician, a CSI fellow, and an editor of the Science-Based Medicine blog. Her website is

Vaccines are unquestionably one of the greatest triumphs of modern medicine. Smallpox deadliest scourge in human responsible for 300 million to 500 million deaths in the twentieth century alone, when it was already on its way out. Thanks to vaccines, smallpox has been completely eradicated. And now polio is well on its way to eradication. Today it occurs in only three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria (except for a recent isolated case reported in Papua New Guinea).

How quickly we forget! Only some of us older folks can remember our parents not letting us go swimming in the summer because of polio risk. We’ve made great progress against many other vaccine-preventable diseases. Today’s children won’t get sick with chickenpox, mumps, and measles like I did. We even have two vaccines against viruses that cause cancer: human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B.

Vaccinations constitute a wonderful insurance policy. You’d think no one would want to refuse that protection. But plenty of people do, because of mis information being spread by misguided vaccine opponents. I’ll call them antivaxxers. They may protest, like Jenny McCarthy, that they’re not against vaccines but just want safe vaccines or a delayed schedule. But they are clearly antivaccine. They are vaccine denialists, not vaccine skeptics. They reject the overwhelming scientific evidence for the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. And they’re endangering us all by reducing the herd immunity in our communities.

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