Millions of Americans Uneasy About Vaccine Safety are “Notorious”?

Millions of Americans Uneasy About Vaccine Safety are “Notorious”?

hat, suit, and red carnation
This is an irresponsible and chilling use of a word at the outset of a news article by an experienced journalist for a major news organization.

The biased, vicious, and personal attacks against vaccine safety advocates by the mainstream media continue and seem to show no signs of abating.

Coming on the heels of a column published on May 8, 2017 by the editorial staff of the Boston Herald calling for those concerned about the safety of vaccines to be hung,1 2 and an opinion piece on March 3, 2017 in Scientific American by Peter Hotez, MD saying that steps should be taken to “snuff” out the antivaccine movement,2 3 senior health writer Maggie Fox of NBC News has now written an article describing vaccine skeptics as “notorious.”

Fox’s piece, “Vaccine Debate Vexes Vermont Ski Resort Town,”4 opens:

A planned symposium featuring notorious vaccine skeptics has set off a testy but polite debate in the Vermont ski resort town of Stowe.4

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word notorious as: “well-known or famous especially for something bad.”5 Examples of the word’s usage include: “a notorious gangster” or “a notorious mastermind of terrorist activities.”6 

So, Fox is characterizing as notorious anyone who has concerns about the safety of vaccines and believes it is their right to decide when or if they should vaccinate themselves and their children? She is likening to gangsters or terrorists Americans who maintain doubts and questions about this medical intervention and wish to exercise their informed consent right to refuse or delay the procedure?

This is an irresponsible and chilling use of a word at the outset of a news article by an experienced journalist for a major news organization. It directly plays into the narrative being crafted by the Boston Herald and other media outlets that people who hold dissenting views on vaccines and vaccination policy should be executed. After all, what should you do with gangsters and terrorists, right?

Fox’s characterization is insulting, to the say the least, particularly when a large and growing segment of the population in the United States is concerned about vaccine safety. While public polling shows that a majority of people in the U.S. support vaccination against infectious diseases, there are also polls that show that a significant number of Americans favor the right of parents to choose not to vaccinate their kids. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2015 found that about 41 percent of adults under 30 years of age were in favor of having this right.7

That same poll found that, among older adults over age 65, support dropped to 20 percent7 and that one in 10 Americans today believe vaccines are unsafe.8 A poll conducted by Pew last year found that 43 percent of parents of children 0-4 years of age express a medium to high level of concern about the side effects of vaccines. In that same poll, 31 percent of parents of children 5-17 years of age had a medium to high level of concern about vaccine risks.9 

Be it 43 percent or 10 percent, or anywhere in between, that’s a lot of American moms and dads Fox is pigeonholing as gangsters or terrorists. Really, Ms. Fox, you consider tens of millions of Americans who believe they should have the right to exercise control over their own bodies and the bodies of their children… you consider them to be on par with Al Capone or Osama bin Laden?

The public insult by Fox is certainly egregious, but it is also extremely odd, given the article she wrote just two years ago titled “Don’t Call Them Dumb: Experts on Fighting the Anti-Vaccine Movement.”10 

As I wrote last year in a column titled “Media Struggles to Pin Stupid Label on Well-Educated Vaccine Dissenters,” Fox “suggested that belittling people with regard to vaccines may, in fact, be helping them attract sympathizers because many people don’t like to see others being abused.”11 In her article, Fox noted that “some of the criticism on cable television, social media and in mainstream newspapers and magazines is starting to look like bullying.”

Fox went on to quote risk perception and communication consultant David Ropeik of Harvard University12

When you attack somebody’s values, they get defensive. It triggers an instinctive defensiveness that certainly doesn’t change the mind of the vaccine-hesistant person.11 

Fox also included a quote from professor of government Brendan Nyhan, PhD of Dartmouth University13

Imagine what calling people selfish and dumb can do. If people call me selfish and dumb, it doesn’t make me more open-minded, and I don’t know why anyone would think otherwise in this case. I think it’s really short-sighted. People enjoy lashing out at anti-vaccine folks, (but) it turns into an ‘us versus them’ thing.12

Notorious? Short-sighted, indeed.


1 Boston Herald editorial staff. Editorial: Preying on parents’ fear. Boston Herald May 8, 2017.
2 Cáceres M. Refusal to Vaccinate Should Be a Hanging Offense? The Vaccine Reaction May 11, 2017.
Hotez PJ. Will an American-Led Anti-Vaccine Movement Subvert Global Health? Scientific American Mar. 3, 2017.
Fox M. Vaccine Debate Vexes Vermont Ski Resort Town. NBC News May 15, 2017.
Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary. notorious.
Merriam-Webster. notorious.
Vergano D. Young Adults Most Worried About Vaccines, Poll Finds. National Geographic Feb. 12, 2015.
Frizell S. Nearly One in Ten Americans Think Vaccines Are Unsafe. TIME Feb. 9, 2015.
Funk C, Kennedy B, Hefferon M. Majority of Americans Say Benefits of Childhood Vaccines Outweigh Risks. Pew Research Center. Feb. 2, 2017.
Fox M. Don’t Call Them Dumb: Experts on Fighting the Anti-Vaccine Movement. NBC News Feb. 3, 2015.
Cáceres M. Media Struggles to Pin Stupid Label on Well-Educated Vaccine DissentersThe Vaccine Reaction Feb. 21, 2016.
David P. Ropeik, MSJ. Harvard University.
Brendan Nyhan. Dartmouth University.

Note: This commentary provides referenced information and perspective on a topic related to vaccine science, policy, law or ethics being discussed in public forums and by U.S. lawmakers.  The websites of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provide information and perspective of federal agencies responsible for vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking.


24 Responses to "Millions of Americans Uneasy About Vaccine Safety are “Notorious”?"

  1. Bev johnson   May 21, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Those pesky vaccine skeptics just won’t go away. We can’t call them dumb or stupid because ( some say) they may be intelligent and well educated. But call them notorious , that should get the job done! Someday, we should actually listen to what they are saying. Mmm Naw, that will never work.

    • Colorado   May 23, 2017 at 8:04 am

      Good one Bev. If people had to actually take cash out of their pocket and choose to pay for these ever increasing volumes of ever more expensive vaccines, they would not pay. They would not pay. The pro vaccine argument is predicated on a false narrative in a restrictive monopoly market anyways. This sort of behavior by companies is supposed to be regulated by RICO and the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Both important points of information to argue for people like us whom will not give an inch on liberty. We don’t meet in the middle with liberty, we’re all in, no reservations, don’t give them an inch or they’ll take a mile, true believers in the Constitution of the United States of America. I’m the consumer, these anti trust rules are there to protect me. The corporations are not supposed to be able to force persons to purchase their products. An important piece of educational content; The problem with vaccine manufacturers is they are not allowing the market corrections to happen naturally, as more people choose not to vaccinate. Rather, they abuse representative governance and force us into consumer positions via legislation, thereby giving them monopoly status over consumers themselves, and the result is a dramatic increase of ‘mandated vaccinations’. Just a few examples of that for you right here; (scroll down)

  2. Sara P   May 22, 2017 at 10:18 am

    The first step is to shame vaccine skeptics.

    The second is to wonder why, after all of the shaming and threats and calls for violence, they won’t out themselves to you.

    • Colorado   May 23, 2017 at 7:43 am

      Hi Sarah, thanks for participating in this vital and informative NVIC blog. Most people are educated on the propaganda regarding vaccine safety, not the facts of vaccine safety. A single day of online vaccine research into medical education methods, fda and cdc approval methods, and certifiable conflict of interest issues should be enough to sway the ethical thinker. I don’t claim to be a doctor, but until these people sort it out, we’re not participating. It’s an ethical decision based largely on deceptive advertising and heavy handed operational methods on behalf of big pharma. Call me simple minded by I think anyone or any company whom makes such a big deal about suppressing a group of regular similar persons or a set of regular provable facts, is not trustworthy. Those are companies I refuse to pay. If called out with the non immunized putting immunized at risk argument, challenge that with a simple logical test. “If the vaccinations are effective, and the majority of persons are vaccinated, how exactly are unvaccinated persons putting others at risk?” And there it is again, emotionally based propaganda. It’s effective, it’s catchy, it’s easy to sell. “We’re all at risk from the unvaccinated, be afraid, be very afraid!” Unfortunately such arguments can not pass simple logic tests. That’s why the human mind is so ready to latch onto the emotional side of the pro vaccine propaganda and we see this time and again, the emotional content is the only data that can be reconciled and make logical sense. This ailment can be cured with some simple and truthful education. I reserve emotional content for the point when someone dares to say I have no choice. Yes I do, that is my constitutional right and nobody in government has the ‘right’ to remove my right to choose. Rights are granted by god, not government. The most unethical consideration being that major corporations are usurping my liberty, for their profit. Instant fail, who’s actually buying these arguments? The weak minded I guess. Shame them if you want, I’d rather with hold their paycheck and see how long they can hold out.

  3. Colorado   May 22, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    FYI, a very interesting article regarding suing vaccine manufacturers in the USA. According to this article, thousands of adults are currently suing these companies. An important piece of information for vaccine activists.

  4. Deborah Kahn   May 22, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    small typo “Coming on the heals of a column published on May 8, 2017 by the editorial staff of the Boston Herald” should be “heels”

  5. Bill   May 22, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    Um, Marco, when you say that vaccine safety advocates have “dissenting” views, then you are implicitly validating the dominant paradigm. We must subvert the dominant paradigm, and dominate the subversive paradigm. Surely you have no trouble accepting the idea of antibiotic-resistant bacteria? Why is it so hard to imagine how soon we will see vaccine-resistant viruses? Will you still call them “dissenters”, when vaccines fail in the face of vaccine-induced “SUPER VIRUSES”?…. The depopulation agenda as described on the Georgia Guide Stones won’t really kick in until we get 99.9% vaxx saturation.

  6. Sharri   May 23, 2017 at 12:18 am

    They never publicize the tainted vaccines or those that have been crippled, babies that died, or medically suffer from the effects of vaccines. American’s have every right to question vaccines. Personally I believe it is all about money. Veterinaries make 85% of their income from vaccines on animals. Dogs have many health issues from repeated toxic vaccines. I can only guess what the drug companies and doctors make from pushing vaccines on humans at the cost of our health. Babies should never be vaccinated until their immune system is mature, and this includes animals. Why? Because this plays havoc on their immune system to fight the toxic and causes an array of health issues they will not tell people! Secondly, there is no need for repeated vaccines ever!

  7. Sharri   May 23, 2017 at 12:21 am

    If they do not print my response, it is because they fear an educated researched response.

  8. Keith Manning   May 23, 2017 at 5:39 am

    Watch the NBC Nightly News: virtually all advertising is sponsored by the Big Pharma corporations that manufacture vaccines. In fact, when anchor Lester Holt covered the measles outbreak in Minnesota, he said anti-vaccine advocates had given “false” information about vaccine risks to the parents of the unvaccinated children!

  9. Thomas McLeod   May 23, 2017 at 5:42 am

    This is tame compared with the Boston Herald piece, which is certifiable hate speech.

  10. Heidi   May 23, 2017 at 6:58 am

    I hate being the this cynical but the reality is that more and more children. Are being compromised from vaccines. While the smear campaign and cyber-bullying is holding many back from expressing their views it’s only a matter of time before everyone has to face this very inconvenient truth: we have a programme going WORLDWIDE that cuts across all economic, national and racial lines and kids all over the world are suffering reactions of various degrees of severity. It’s going to be very hard indeed to face up to what we have done. And yes, it is all of us because even the innocent parents failed to educate themselves, failed to stand up to doctors and failed to protect their kids because they blindly trusted doctors and didn’t take thirty minutes to research what is going on. I foresee a time when we will have whole clinics and hospitals devoted to vaccine injury treatment and they will be full. Hang one – there’s mooney in that right? Do I see a new generation of money makers coming fixing what the old generation did. How jolly convenient this economy is. Even when you screw up you can make a mint out of fixing it. Like Brian Hooker said – we need to stop calling it autism and call it what it is: vaccine induced encephalitis. Oh god – our poor, poor kids.

  11. Mike Martin   May 23, 2017 at 7:01 am

    Pretty cool – Maggie Fox has made herself a shill for the vaccine industry. When she does things like this, does she get paid union scale, or is this a one-off kind of arrangement? Or it it an “altruistic” thing, a public service that reporters perform for their audiences? I suspect It must be monetary, because no rational, thinking person could endorse the concept of “notorious anti-vaxxers” with a straight face and a clear conscience.

    As with so many things, it’s sometimes good to “follow the money” to determine what is the true source of news stories like this, and the true reason for their publications.

    HINT: How much advertising do the newspapers get from the pharma companies?

  12. CATRYNA WHITE   May 23, 2017 at 7:09 am

    “The biased, vicious, and personal attacks against vaccine safety advocates by the mainstream media continue and seem to show no signs of abating.”

    This has been going on, for two hundred years. There have always been advocates and those who were in opposition to vaccines or mandated vaccines.

  13. Marion Felter   May 23, 2017 at 7:32 am

    On the heels of, not on the heals of (incorrect spelling in your article. Otherwise excellent article. When will the general public get sick and tired of political correctness and value free speech and freedom of choice?

  14. Jill H   May 23, 2017 at 7:56 am

    And has Miss Maggie Fox had the shots recommended by the CDC…..ALL the shots?

  15. Diane Maupin   May 23, 2017 at 9:01 am

    The pharmaceutical companies are going to use anyone with any influence, especially t.v. and newspaper media to maneuver the public into thinking and complying with their vaccine agenda. Thanks be to NVIC, Mike Adams the Health Ranger, Dr. Joseph Mercola and others like them to help us sort through the lies and deceit we are being told about vaccines!

  16. zuto   May 23, 2017 at 10:09 am

    It’s about time to forget about defense. I don’t bother defending my point of view on vaccination because that won’t change anyone’s mind.

    What might change some minds is putting the record of Pharma and others in the medical-industrial complex right out front where haters of vaccine safety advocates can get a good view of it and maybe think about exactly who is promoting vaccine mandates and the snuffing of vaccine skeptics.

    Dig up all the dirt on pharmaceuticals that have been withdrawn from the market because – oopsie- they injured or killed people (even though the risks were known before the product’s release, and that information was suppressed: think Vioxx, think fen phen (, think fluoroquinolones. Do you want companies who have been prosecuted time and time again helping the government decide mandate what your healthcare should include???

    Don’t ever apologize for refusing to vaccinate. Go on the warpath! Get the dirt out there and never let it be hidden. Pharma, the people who are on the boards of directors, the researchers and institutions with juicy patents and whoever else profits from cramming medicine and medical procedures down the entire nations throats need to be held accountable and punished for their crimes.

    People who mindlessly follow directions and spew the misinformation that the vaccine machine markets will be punished enough by their own failure to think critically so let them alone – natural selection will deal with them.

  17. RICHARD L. BRANDON, MD   May 23, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    It appears that the only ones that are well-educated about this debate, are those insisting on informed consent. “The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism”

  18. Dan   May 23, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Many years ago I worked in construction. I was working on a office remodeling it for the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. The person whose office it was came in to see how the job was progressing. I was working with a fellow employee of the same construction firm who enjoyed learning a little bit about “everything.” When the Pfizer employee came in my workmate asked him, “What’s your contingency plan?” The man stopped and asked, “What do you mean?” Well, the other continued, I’ve been watching jet airplanes taking off from the neighboring airport and it seems to me that upon take off they are very vulnerable to crashing on this plant if something goes wrong. Now I don’t know whats in all those tanks outside but I can’t imagine it’s good.” The Pfizer employee closed the door and said, “The Feds were here Monday asking just the same question. This is what we think.” He walked to the white board in the office and made a dot. “This represents where we are.” He then drew a circle around the dot. “This represents five miles. This area will become a dead zone immediately for 1,000 years. Not even bacteria will survive.” Then he drew another circle around the first. “This is also five miles. We will have 20 minutes to evacuate this area. After that, this will become a dead zone for 1,000 years. After that it’s just a matter of trade winds.” This is the level of humanitarian concern and thought to safety that these pharmaceuticals have for all of us. They don’t always tell the public what we need to know. It’s really just about the money.

  19. Amy Murphy   May 23, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    As a grandma, and as someone who has read every book I could get my hands on about this topic since 1978, I must mention in this discussion that Dr. Suzanne Humphries’ “Dissolving Illusions” should, in my opinion, be read by every concerned citizen who is coming to realize what a “bill of goods” we’ve been sold. It is a stellar book, and answers every question possible on this difficult, complex subject.

  20. JPS   May 23, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    Thank you! Let’s free the U.S. media from their tethers to pharmaceutical advertising dollars! I would love to see direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription pharmaceuticals banned on TV, Radio, and Internet, and banned or limited in print media. (The American Medical Association has called for a ban on direct-to-consumer drug ads on TV.) Currently, these advertising dollars are tax-deductible(!) for pharmaceutical corporations. Congress should change that. We also need to ask Congress to require that costs and profit margin information for each vaccine be available to the public.

  21. Jim Garner   May 24, 2017 at 10:10 am

    I don’t know anyone in the vaccine industry, but I’m sure they have a lot of really great people with great families same as anyone else. That doesn’t rule out facing the truth about vaccines. Of course, any amount of vaccine skepticism is understandably a huge threat. The truth is that vaccines do play a very important role for the well-being of the public. However, if we make an honest assessment of all the data available to the public, we have to say that there exists a very strong connection between vaccines and autism. The courts made a very grave error in granting the vaccine industry legal immunity from litigation and thus a free get-out-of-paying-the-cost-of-doing-business card. The cost to the public for negligence on vaccine safety is just too high.

  22. Brad   May 24, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    Media? What media? We don’t have a media. Try BS machine.


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