Originally published 24 April 2013
Revised 2 October 2013
Revised 11 February 2014
Revised 6 December 2014
Revised 20 January 2015
Revised 24 January 2015
Revised 25 April 2015
One of the cherished strategies of the antivaccine cult is to quote vaccine package inserts (called a Patient Information Leaflet in EU countries and Instructions for Use in the case of medical devices) to “prove” that vaccines are dangerous. Vaccine deniers consider the package insert to be golden tablets of the Truth™. It’s ironic that these antivaccine groupies rail against Big Pharma, as if they are demon reptilians, but the package insert, written by Big Pharma, is considered gospel. Irony abounds.
Just spend more than a couple of minutes in discussion with an antivaccine cultists, and you’ll get a reference to any of the many vaccine package inserts (PI) as “proof” that it is dangerous, contains dangerous stuff, or is just plain scary.
Orac has recently proclaimed it “Argument by Package Insert”–it’s almost at the level of logical fallacy. (David Gorski has just given it the Latin name, argumentum ad package insert, so it’s officially a logical fallacy.)
Before we start, vaccine package inserts are important documents, but only if the information included therein is properly understood. It is not a document that serves as medical and scientific gospel. But it is a document that can help clinicians use vaccines (or frankly, any medication) properly.
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