Anti-vaxxer group mocked for asking to be called ‘vaccine risk aware’

Toronto moves to crack down on vaccine hesitancy
Toronto’s Board of Health will request the Ontario government to end exemptions for vaccinations for philosophical and religious reasons. But while Toronto Public Health officials made assurances that immunizations are safe, dozens came to protest the move. Matthew Bingley has more.

You can’t always get what you want.

The Crazy Mothers blog — which boasts the slogan “the rebellion starts at home” — took to Twitter on Sunday to speak out against the use of the term “anti-vaxxer,” which refers to people who are against vaccinating children.

“Dear media, please retire the use of the term ‘anti-vaxxer.’ It is derogatory, inflammatory and marginalizes both women and their experiences,” the statement reads. “It is dismissively simplistic, highly offensive and largely false.”

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“We politely request that you refer to us as the vaccine risk aware. Thank you.”

Given that vaccinations are, in fact, safe and effective at keeping large populations healthy, the group didn’t exactly get what they were hoping for.

“Plague enthusiasts would be more accurate,” one person wrote, while another said: “We will continue to refer to you as the Mass Graves Full Of Dead Children Enthusiasts, but thank you for your suggestion.”

While some offered sarcastic title suggestions for the group, others tweeted them back with their real-life consequences of lack of vaccines.

READ MORE: The sly ways anti-vaxxers are spreading misinformation online

“Deaf guy here. For deaf people of my generation, the #1 cause of *permanent* deafness was measles,” the Twitter user wrote. “When you see an older person signing in ASL, just remember they spent a lifetime like that because there WAS NO VACCINE. Now it’s happening again because of DELIBERATE anti-vax BS.”

Another responded to this tweet, writing: “That’s me. The chicken pox fever damaged my ears. There was no vaccine then but there is now.”

A doctor also chimed in on the debate, pointing out that “no vaccine is without risk, but the risk of a severe reaction is vanishingly small.”

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“You are not ‘vaccine risk aware,’ you are ‘dangerously uninformed and insisting that public health experts indulge your fantasies,'” an immunologist wrote.

Interior doesn’t hit herd immunity target in measles vaccine catch-up campaign
Interior doesn’t hit herd immunity target in measles vaccine catch-up campaign

Vaccine hesitancy was named one of the top health threats by the World Health Organization for 2019 — and it’s a movement that has largely mobilized online.

Social media giants have recently announced efforts to help combat vaccine misinformation on their platforms. Facebook has said it is removing anti-vax calls to action and Twitter has developed a new feature aimed at tackling the topic.

But according to experts, anti-vaxxers are still utilizing online spaces to spread their messages.

READ MORE: Calgary man who nearly died from flu urges others to get immunized

As of June, measles cases neared 1,000 in the U.S., its largest outbreak in 25 years.

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Elsewhere in the world, the measles toll as exceeded 5,000 in Democratic Republic of the Congo and has claimed the lives of dozens of children in Samoa.

The anti-vaxxer movement is partially based on a flawed study that was published — and later retracted — in the Lancet medical journal in 1998.

The British Medical Journal called the research “fraudulent” in 2010.

—With files from Laura Hensley.