I think that World Net Daily tends to be a circle-j–k under the best of circumstances. A story with the headline, “Mom Faults Flue Shot in Teen Son’s Death,” is certainly no exception. Remember that WND (in general) is very conservative, anti-government, pro-corporations (but anti-”Big Pharma”), and very distrustful of science because it tends to conflict with their Bïble. So, when a story such as that is posted, you already know what the comments are going to be like: Predominantly anecdotes (argument from personal experience / argumentum ad populum) of either “I never took a vaccine and never got sick!” or “I became deathly ill but managed to survive from one jab and never took a vaccine again and have been 100% healthy!”
In this story, I don’t want to go through quoting the various anecdotes. Rather, I think it’s important to counter it with a little bit of skepticism. First, Sharon Hill over at Doubtful News has a good introductory post about it. She links to a post by Orac over at ScienceBlogs, and Orac points out that this is a tragic death, but it’s unexplained. As in, the mother insists it was the influenza inoculation, but that is not consistent with the medical care her son was receiving, is EXCEEDINGLY rare, and the mother refused to let an autopsy be done to determine the real cause of death because she “knows” what the cause is.
There’s also another science blog that points out that the mother is very much playing the part of a martyr rather than seeming to really want to know what caused her son’s death. This is evidenced not by her letting the doctors do an autopsy, but rather going on the television show, “Fox and Friends”:
On Fox and Friends (a show with a previous record of advancing the anti-vaccine agenda),
Webb said there’s “no doubt” in her mind that if they had focused on the flu vaccine from the start that her son would still be alive….
“He was so healthy. He was pure. He should have been able to fight the flu. I wish he would have gotten the flu rather than this vaccination,” said Webb.
It’s very difficult not to let emotional responses govern how we feel about something, especially when a personal tragedy is involved. It might be hard to fault the mother due to what she’s going through. Then again, what she is doing because of her personal tragedy is being exploited by anti-vaccine people who have zero evidence that this caused her son’s death (remember that correlation ≠ causation) but want to hype up the fear and the personal tragedy. It would be nice if the mother realized that she was being used. Or, if she is fully knowledgable of what she is doing, does one really think that her son would want his legacy exploited in this way?