LETTER: Misinformation may hinder vaccination efforts

From reader Ryan Lengsfeld

I wonder what overall impact a reliable COVID vaccine is going to have. Provincial records indicate that roughly 75 per cent of Grade 9 students have up-to-date immunization records. It is not a stretch to extrapolate that adult immunization is roughly the same. In stark terms one in four people remain as a possible contagion to those who are immunocompromised or unable to receive vaccinations.

Recent vaccine hesitancy can be traced to Dr. Andrew Wakefield who in 1998 published a fraudulent study declaring a causation between vaccines and autism. Despite a retraction by the Lancet and his being struck off the UK medical register as well as being barred from practicing medicine, his misinformation gained traction and led to a sharp decline in vaccination uptake, leading to a number of measles outbreaks around the world.

Some groups with a historical aversion to vaccination have added to this continuum of doubt. Although the National Centre for Homeopathy’s advice on immunization states that they “believe vaccinations represent the only long term relatively effective method of preventing these very serious diseases” they almost immediately digress into information about religious and philosophical reasons that can be used to forgo vaccination. Homeopathy also offers vaccines for various childhood and other diseases that have proven to be no better than sugar pills in randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials.

Naturopathy is another group with historical disdain of vaccination. Benedict Lust, who introduced naturopathy to America during the early 20th century, was strongly opposed to vaccination. As recently as 2006 naturopathy’s most authoritative text included a chapter called “Vaccinations and Immune Malfunction,” by Harold E. Buttram, M.D., who claimed that vaccination harmed the immune system and might be “precipitating aberrant immunologic effects such as allergies, infant sudden death syndrome, and AIDS.” Antipathy to vaccination is also found in the Journal of Naturopathic Medicine.

Vaccine Choice Canada has gobbled up much of the aforementioned misinformation. In a suit brought to the Ontario Supreme Court they are litigating for “rights” they feel are threatened by government strategies during the COVID pandemic. It appears focused more on civil rights than vaccine efficacy. This small vocal group seems outsized in their determination to thwart advantages offered by vaccination.

The existing vaccine hesitancy and the lingering doubts created by these groups leads me to speculate that the COVID vaccination effort will falter because of their misinformation. It is discouraging for a former science educator to see how the lack of science literacy has had such a huge impact on the future of us all. I personally will follow the advice of public health experts rather than the vocal, biased rhetoric of a misguided minority.

Ryan Lengsfeld


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Woman who assaulted downtown Nelson business owner sentenced

Nicole Brown was found guilty of assaulting Linda Randall during an attempted shoplift in 2017

RDCK reduces number of properties under evacuation alert from Talbott Creek Fire to 46

Improved visibility has allowed helicopters to resume water suppression efforts on fire

Art as reconciliation: Ymir artist hosting BC Culture Days event

Damian John will lead a workshop titled Exploring Reconciliation Through Creativity

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Quirky Canadian comedy ‘Schitt’s Creek’ takes Emmys by storm with comedy sweep

Toronto-raised Daniel Levy and Ottawa-born Annie Murphy both got supporting actor nods

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Most Read