Bainbridge Island's anti-vaccine crusader, Michael Belkin, is getting attention for a new music video his "protest" band has posted on YouTube. A KOMO-TV report yesterday pronounced the video, which has more than 275,000 hits, in "viral" territory (no pun apparently intended). Ironically, his breakthrough video comes amidst a state epidemic of whooping cough.
Like Belkin himself, the band does not traffic in subtleties. Vaccines kill! Doctors are like Nazis! Those are literally the messages behind the pop-funk beat. One early song was called "Vaccine Gestapo."
Their latest video (see below)--featuring a grim-faced Belkin singing, his (unvaccinated) son Sebastian on drums and shots of scary looking needles interspersed with those of a sad-looking baby-- is only slightly more low-key. Goes a stanza:
Mothers and fathers Protect your children From the medical dangers That threaten their lives
Mothers and fathers
Protect your children
From the medical dangers
That threaten their lives
Meanwhile, the state has been grappling with the worst whooping cough outbreak in 60 years, according to the state Department of Health. The number of cases has now climbed past the 1,000 mark, according to new figures released yesterday by DOH.
State Secretary of Health Mary Selecky simultaneously issued a warning. "Whooping cough can be life-threatening for infants, and they're too young to get enough doses of vaccine to be protected. That's why we want everyone else to make sure they're vaccinated against whooping cough."
Belkin tells SW he's far from convinced. "The vaccine isn't like Lysol that eliminates germs," he says. In fact, he says even mainstream scientists are concerned about "the ineffectiveness of the pertussis vaccine." As on his band's website, he points to a recent Reuters story showing that the vast majority of children who got whooping cough during a 2010 California outbreak had been vaccinated.
The story doesn't stop there, however. Citing a new study, it goes on to show that the problem is not that the vaccine doesn't work at all, but that its effects wear off over time. "The longer you went from your last vaccine, the greater your risk of disease," said one of the study's authors, Dr. David Witt.
That's why health officials for some time have been urging both adolescents and adults to get booster shots--although that's not a complete solution either because some kids get whooping cough before it's time for their booster shot.
That's a long way from saying that the vaccine kills.
But the disease, of course, really can kill. DOH spokesperson Michele Roberts points out that "another thing trending on social media is the story of the family in Snohomish County, whose 27-day-old baby died of whooping cough last August." According to a pro-vaccine website that posted an article about baby Kaliah Jeffrey, the story attracted 1.5 million viewers in a matter of days.