That’s the lot of the pro-vaccine movement. We are all in it to make money. And boy, are we all rolling in it. Take me, for example. The pharmaceutical companies — you know, “Big Pharma” — they send me a big fat check every time I write a pro-vaccine blog. I was able to pay for a trip to Hawaii with all the money I got from a pro-vaccine law review article I wrote (law review articles get tons of readers, you know). And next month, if I write enough articles dispelling anti-vaccine myths and “selling” vaccines, I get a new car. All paid for by the drug companies (I so hope they spray paint “Merck” in hot pink on the side of my car). This is the life, man.
This is also ridiculous. If you really think that pro-vaccine writers, bloggers, and advocates are doing it for money, well, I’ve got ocean front property in Santa Fe to sell you. C’mon. Pharmaceutical companies don’t need — nor would they want — to spend any money paying a bunch of people to convince others to use vaccines. Vaccines are not a cash cow for these companies. Between 1988 and 2001, “10 of 14 global vaccine manufactures partially or completely stopped production of traditional childhood vaccines.” One of the reasons: sparse profits. If vaccines were really so lucrative, wouldn’t companies be jumping into the vaccine manufacturing industry instead of running away from it?
In fact, vaccines don’t even make the list of the top ten most lucrative drugs. In 2011, Business Insider listed the number 1 pharmaceutical money-maker as the cholesterol lowering drug Lipitor ($7.7 billion). On that same list, #10 was an anti-inflammatory medication called Humira ($3.5 billion). Check it out yourself, but I promise no vaccines were on the list. If the drug companies are going to pay someone to promote a drug, their money would be better spent paying us to write about how awesome cholesterol medication is or how much we like anti-depressants.. That is where the money is at. Not in vaccines (which account for only about 1.5 percent of all pharmaceutical revenues).
The fact that vaccines are not lucrative, nor the fact that I cant find a single pro-vaccine advocate that gets paid by drug companies (I asked and received only resounding “Nos” and a few “I wishes”), does not stop anti-vaccine people from claiming we all must be the paid puppets of “Big Pharma.” (What kind of nickname is that anyway? It sounds like the name of a big furry blue muppet).
Its yet another myth promulgated by the anti-vaccine movement. No, vaccines do not cause autism and they never have. No, physicians do not get paid under the table by the drug companies to push vaccines on their patients. No, vaccination is not a way for the government to secretly inject a tracing device under your skin that lets the government track your every move (that’s what the internet is for). And no, the pro-vaccine movement is not a secretly funded surreptitious arm of the massive conspiracy between the pharmaceutical companies and the CIA, NSA, or FBI.
But, the anti-vaccine types are right about one thing. There is money involved in writing about vaccines, but its not on my side. It’s on theirs. Some of the biggest names in promoting the notion that vaccines are of the devil make a whole lot of money. Take Dr. Joe Mercola, the owner of “The World’s #1 Natural Health Website.” This guy loves to hate vaccines. According to him, vaccines are not only filled with toxic substances and mostly ineffective, they are also the source of numerous ailments, including autism. Preying upon parental fears, which he creates any number of “health articles,” Mercola then sells an array of products aimed at addressing and relieving those very fears he created. It’s a genius business model, and one that has apparently been incredibly lucrative. Not only does he live in a two million dollar home, he also has enough spare change lying about to donate one million dollars to alternative health organizations, including the rabidly anti-vaccine National Vaccine Information Center. So yes, writing about vaccines is lucrative. But only for some people.
For the die-hard conspiracy theorist, what I say won’t matter. Nonetheless, I’ll say it again. The drug companies aren’t paying me, and they aren’t paying anyone I know in the pro-vaccine world, to encourage and advocate for vaccination. I think I can speak for most of us when I say, we are doing it because we passionately care about vaccination rates and we worry about the devastating impact that low vaccination rates have on our health and our kids’ health. We don’t like seeing measles and mumps and pertussis in our communities and schools. We don’t like seeing people continue to spread myths about the vaccine-autism connection. We’re tired of hearing that vaccines aren’t effective (they are. Very). In fact they are so effective that they’ve created a generation of people who have never seen these diseases and can’t remember what it was like to worry that your child might get polio.
We aren’t doing it for money. We love vaccines. It’s as simple as that.