Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, stop spreading vaccine misinformation

Sadhguru-Optimized

At the United Nations, talking about the importance of vaccines and how they have saved millions of children from debilitating illnesses across the world, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev ends up spreading the very misinformation that anti-vaxxers spread on social media.

I was today alerted about a dangerous tweet and message on vaccination by Jaggi Vasudev. The tweet reads: “The significance of vaccination against many debilitating diseases should not be played down. But at the same time, it is important it is not overdone, without taking into consideration the many side-effects or negative impacts of vaccinations.”

The tweet has a link to excerpts of Jaggi Vasudev’s conversation with Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the anti-vaccination movement. One can also listen to the conversation he has with Dr. Swaminathan on Youtube.

The conversation he has with Dr. Swaminathan at the UN General Assembly on June 27, 2019 once again highlights the danger of allowing people who are not experts on vaccines to speak on the subject, especially at an international forum. Jaggi Vasudev’s understanding of many issues connected with vaccines is patently wrong and should never be allowed to spread misinformation on vaccines.

Spreading misinformation

While advocating for vaccination and clearly telling the advantages of how polio vaccination in India has today prevented children from becoming crippled, he veers to an uncharted territory and ends up uttering incorrect and misleading information on vaccines and the supposed dangers of vaccination.

“I was talking to some parents in California, and they said they were being put through around 40 different types of vaccines. Maybe in United States they are overdoing it a little bit. Apart from treating the basic things which would cripple or cause death in children, I think the healthcare system is trying to give a vaccine for just about everything,” he says to Dr. Swaminathan.

Dr. Swaminathan is seen clarifying at the end saying: “I don’t think there is anything too much of a good thing.”

She then goes on to say: “There are side effects of everything but it is one in a million, maybe one in two million. But they have been blown out of proportion and this gets circulated on social media.”

How many vaccines do children in the U.S. get

Sadhguru may do himself and the rest of the world a lot of good by first fact-checking before uttering such nonsense on an international forum.

The website of the Atlanta-based Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clearly mentions the different vaccines that are recommended for children from birth to 18 years. And they are only 13 vaccines and not 40 vaccines as Sadhguru claims. Of the 13, only 12 are part of the routine immunisation while Meningococcal B (MenB) is based on clinical discretion.

From birth to 15 months the CDC recommends just 11 vaccines. On its websites it clearly mentions the schedule and the number of doses per child. The 11 vaccines are — 1) Hepatitis B, 2) Rotavirus, 3) Diphtheria, tetanus, & acellular pertussis, 4) Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), 5) Pneumococcal conjugate, 6) Inactivated poliovirus (IPV), 7) Influenza, 8) Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), 9) Varicella, 10) Hepatatis A and 11) Pneumococcal polysaccharide.

For children aged 18 months to 18 years, CDC recommends just two additional vaccines, of which one is based on clinical discretion — 1) Human papillomavirus (HPV), and 2) Meningococcal B (MenB), which based on clinical discretion.

Peddling dangerous misinformation on flu

With a disclaimer that he is not a medical expert, Jaggi Vasudev goes on to say what a non-medical person should refrain from saying. “I thought some of the things they were giving vaccines for were just absurd. If a child catches a flu, or something like this, it is all right to go through some of these illnesses when you are growing up.”

This is precisely the kind of misinformation that is spread on social media and the reason why we see so many influenza cases and deaths each year. As on October 27, 2019, there have been 28,050 H1N1 cases and 1,201 deaths this year in India.

Jaggi Vasudev has confused common cold with flu, also known as influenza. About flu, the CDC says: “Flu illness is more dangerous than the common cold for children.”

Children below five years are one of the high-risk groups for influenza and are recommended to be vaccinated each year. The CDC says “influenza can be dangerous for children”. On its website, the CDC says: “A flu vaccine offers the best defence against flu and its potentially serious consequences… Getting vaccinated has been shown to reduce flu illnesses… reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalisation and death in children.”

Unsolicited, misinformed advice to WHO

He then goes on to say: “… Now they are giving vaccines for a whole lot of things which may not be necessary… I feel the World Health Organisation should tell them that “this much is not needed – these vaccines are compulsory, and the rest are by choice.”

Dr. Swaminathan, whose discomfort at listening to the unscientific things being said clearly clarifies where the WHO stands on the issue of recommending vaccines. She says: “As far as the WHO is concerned, we have absolutely very clear guidelines on vaccination. There is very clear guidance both for public and for practitioners on which vaccines are absolutely essential for all children.”

I am now waiting to see when he would delete the tweet and remove the misinformation posted on the website.

27 Thoughts

  1. I am disappointed with The Hindu for letting publish this nonsense article. Of course sadhguru is for the vaccination. He just wanted WHO to tackle the fears associated with vaccination. He just said what someone in California told him about the number 40.He just quoted an example he heard from people fearing vaccination. That’s it. So don’t make some dumb assumptions on your own. When u read/listen full article, he clearly stated that he is for vaccination. Once again, am disappointed with The Hindu.

    1. The Opinion piece published in The Hindu does not say one word about 40 vaccines. So where did you read that? And if you confuse my blog post (written a few days ago) with the Opinion piece published in The Hindu then the mistake is yours. And do remember that my blog was the reason why the clarification by Jaggi Vasudev on Twitter about following the WHO essential list was put out. So you should be proud of The Hindu and the journalists who work there.

    1. Non-experts who peddle dangerous misinformation need to be called out. Sadhguru deserves to be widely criticised and ridiculed for his statements. Don’t let your bhakti get in way of the truth.

  2. This is a problem with self-acclaimed or advertised Godmen who tend to inch towards to the status of being considered first as demi-Gods and drifting towards higher echelons and all religions allow this to happen albeit with different names, namely, Maulas, Caliphs, Saints, Gurus etc. and build mythology to support it. Naturally, the modern-day demigods in India, whether these are Sadguru, Sri Sri or the imprisoned Panjabi / Haryani superstar,Ramdev, all have amassed enormous fortunes that they administer via clever accountants and money-mongers and routed through charitable Trusts like educational, religious and such institutions. And they must look good and with religiously sexy appeal.

  3. The whole article is based on one number i.e. 40, which sadhguru says is what someone told him and did not ‘claim’ to be the truth. If true, then ‘maybe’ overdone. This is a case of the journalist hyperventilating and then exhilarated that he found something negative to write about.

    He has said in his interview that he is no expert and there are many more parts to the interview, but all that conveniently ignored. I wonder why…. Of course The Hindu and the journalist here are very unbiased ☺️, as always

    1. The blog does appreciate his advocacy for vaccines and for crediting India for eliminating polio through vaccination.
      One need to be very careful while talking at a world stage and can’t afford to throw random numbers, which is far from truth.
      And as he admits, since he is not an expert, he should have been more measured and circumspect with what he says. There is no room for flippant comments on such a sensitive issue such as vaccine, especially when anti-vaxxers are use any such misinformation to further scare people.
      Are you aware that even today anti-vaxxers scare people citing the discredited Andrew Wakefield study linking MMR with autism? Well, if you knew that you wouldn’t be saying all this.

      1. All one can see is there was no bad intention /motive from sadhguru when he addressed the concerns of the local educated people of California to the Dir.Gen of WHO. If you feel these are flippant comments, then you are neglecting the comman masses and their problems, concerns, doubts. Why then such a stage if it is not for doing good to the people. He hasn’t claimed that he knows the WHO schedule, but clearly identifies one of the many problems, where such a schedule needs to be pushed in the public domain for awareness.
        All this information he shared is not his personal observations, and I don’t know how you could interpret his efforts as a supporting factor to the anti vaccine campaign!

    1. He has NOT partnered with WHO, as you claim. He is just correcting himself after Dr. Soumya Swaminathan corrected him saying the WHO has listed the essential vaccines to be given to children. He had claimed that children in the US are given 40 vaccines, which is not true. According to the CDC, only 12 vaccines are recommended.

      1. He didn’t say that, he just said what those parents had told him. He further conveys their hesitation against vaccines and urges the WHO to eliminate this fear and spread the message of the recommended dose of vaccines.

        1. It is highly unlikely that parents would have told him that children are given 40 vaccines in California as the CDC only recommends 12 vaccines. His ignorance about the recommended doses once again gets reflected when he asks the WHO to clarify which vaccines are essential, when such recommendation already exists.

          1. If your claim is true about parents not have said the number 40,then you gotta investigate the matter, find if they are unaware, or have the also added to the number of doses to the original n.o of vaccines or if there is a malpractice at the vaccination center.
            Apart from all this clutter, I guess the conversation ended with the need to push the WHO vaccine chart to the public domain. He may not be aware and neither do many people, he just tried to solve a problem he is in touch with.

      2. He did not claim this 40 vaccines, this is what the apparent educated California locals have to say. Sadhguru spreading through his page, the recommended WHO vaccine schedule is what is necessary to correct the misinformation in the society.

  4. as usual, another godman and his nonsense being peddled, and of course his brainless followers will walk off a cliff for him (with measles). us hindus are our own worst enemies.

  5. What way he is a sadguru or a guru. He was a hahish (ganja seller ) peddler, check the police station records. He can keep his mouth shut. Does he know the elements of vaccination. Every body is an expert on things one doesn’t know.

  6. It is a common trait of Indian journalists that they exhibit utmost respectfulness and discretion when commenting on Padres and Mullahs or even avoid mentioning their identity when reporting unspeakable horrors… Then roar like a lion when assigned to take down a Hindu Guru. There may be mis-understandings on Sadhgurus part based upon some misinformation as he played by the ear… Nothing that deserves such a rude sounding take down designed to please the Church in it’s tone and tenor. The author of this comment is quiet certain this journo will brown his pants if tasked to write in a similar tone and tenor about a Mullah or a Padre.

    1. Let me know when a “Mullah or a Padre” says similar kind of nonsense about vaccines on stage at the UN or any other huge national or international forum.

  7. Nowdays, For journalist it has become fashion to make statements against Sadhguru or to any Rightist. Especially English Media. How do you stop this educated fools. Stop buying English paper n channels, which I am doing it.

    1. The moment people stop talking nonsense, the mainstream media and all journalists too will stop writing about them.

    2. Please stop commenting in the “English Media” if it offends you with truth. Amazing your views are no different from the Taliban and the islamic right. Polio is rampant again in pakistan, not mention the recent HIV in children in pakistan thanks to misinformation…self proclaimed gurus are a curse to poor India… “God save India”

  8. How much have you been paid to malign ?I know Sadhguru.I dont even want to know who you are.Pls don’t try to sell your lies.Keep them to your self.

    1. You need not have to know me. But you surely need to know the truth about vaccines and infections and how vaccines help protect not just thus who have been vaccinated but even those who have not been. Read more and improve your understanding of vaccines than spending time telling me to keep quiet.

  9. Well, that is what happens when they have accorded the status of “know all” without their realising that such would also include stupid comments and ill informed statements leading to noxious propagenda. This Sadguru guy is really an imposter!

  10. Respect the man but why make statements or discuss on topics that he is not well aware of. Is there too much pressure on him to be expertly opinionated on everything that happens in the universe or does he really believe in the statements he makes. He Just needs to leave some of these things to the experts in the field.

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