Trick or Treat! Tonight is the big night for my two kids and they are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to bang on the neighbors’ doors and receive piles of goodies. This year they are going as a “cupcake fairy” (who knew they existed?) and a female blue macaw (here’s our inspiration). Aren’t you proud that there is not a single Elsa in the mix?
I’m really hoping they score some dark chocolate because I like it and they don’t. I am also looking forward to seeing if any parents in the neighborhood use Halloween candy as an opportunity to spout health advice. Maybe like this:
I kid you not. The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is urging parents to attach these labels to the candy they pass out to unsuspecting kids. NVIC is an organization that has mastered the art of spreading misinformation about vaccines. The name, I believe, is meant to be ironic because this is not a place you go to in order to get valid information on vaccines. This organization is anti-vaccine. This is not some wishy-washy, maybe-vaccines-work-maybe-they-don’t, organization. Not at all. NVIC’s goal is to encourage parents (through fear and misleading information) to refuse vaccinations for their children. It’s a mission they take very seriously. They are bound and determined to see vaccine rates plummet and once nearly eliminated infectious diseases return. Because, after all, according to NVIC, things like measles and pertussis and mumps are nothing to worry about.
The tricky thing about NVIC is that it mixes just enough truth with its nonsense that an unsuspecting person might (reasonably) think that everything NVIC says is true. Here is an example. If you look up pertussis on the NVIC website, you get some valid information on how serious pertussis can be, including the fact that it can cause death. And, NVIC accurately states that the rates of pertussis in this country have dramatically declined since the 1940s, including rates of pertussis-related fatalities. Here’s where the deceit comes in — NVIC claims that the reason for the dramatic decrease in pertussis in the 1940s had to do with improved living conditions, “including sanitation and hygiene and access to health care.”
Really NVIC? Guess what else happened during that time period? We got our first pertussis vaccine. Prior to the vaccine, pertussis was a nearly universal disease — every kid got it. It was like a cold. Then, a pertussis vaccine gets introduced and suddenly cases started to plummet. Between 1940-1945 — BEFORE the vaccine — there were roughly 175,000 cases per year. In 1960 — AFTER the vaccine — there were 15,000 cases. But does NVIC tell you any of that? Of course not. To do so would completely undermine their misleading anti-vaccine propaganda. To hear NVIC tell it, everyone moved into clean homes and started using soap and, POOF!, this contagious disease was stopped in its tracks.
I commend NVIC for their Halloween game. It is undoubtedly clever. And, NVIC’ s latest ploy certainly meets the Halloween-is-scary theme. Because it is scary to think that someone would actually give out a Halloween treat with a message not to vaccinate attached. Maybe its the new Halloween tradition of providing really bad advice to your local children. Next year, you might consider taking NVIC’s lead and attaching a message saying “Hey kids, make sure to wear all black for Halloween and walk in the middle of the road.” Or maybe “Bike helmets are for losers.”
You get my point.
Happy Halloween. May you have treats aplenty and not one NVIC trick.