Great Britain

This woman is trolling anti-vaxxers by donating money for vaccines in their name

You can't move on the internet right now for anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists who are convinced doctors around the world are administering vaccines because they are determined to make us weaker, not stronger.

Alarmed by the minor side effects many experience after being injected with a small quantity of a given disease microbe - done to cultivate the body's immune system against it - anti-vaxxers are refusing treatment themselves and instead spreading hysteria online like a contagion.

These naysayers have been around since at least 1798, when British physicist Edward Jenner developed the world's first vaccine for smallpox. In fact, it's been going on for so long that even Benjamin Franklin felt the need to address the anti-vax mob more than 200-years-ago.

Unsurprisingly, the influence of anti-vaxxers can lead people, often small children, to contract viruses.

Vaccine hesitancy – the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines – threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases.

Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease - it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved.

Now, one woman has had enough.

Los Angeles-based author and video game developer Zoe Quinn, known for her activism on mental health and online harassment, is taking anti-vaxxers to task on social media, debating them on the draconian attitudes they promote and donating money to Unicef in their name - an ingenious blurring of philanthropy and trolling.

In the example above, Quinn argues with an unnamed person about children "living with autoimmune diseases and developmental delays due to vaccines".

When the irate anti-vaxxer quickly reverts to the old "I don't have time to research it" line and says the conversation is really about "the ethics of censorship", she simply posts a screenshot of a $100 (£75) donation to the United Nations' child healthcare fund.

Congratulated in the comments beneath her post, Quinn follows up with a link to [email protected], a charity working to protect vulnerable children around the world from preventable illnesses like measles, polio, diarrhoea and pneumonia through immunisation.

"I gave a few friends Christmas cards with donations to unicef made in Jenny McCarthy’s name this year", she tells her followers, referring to the American actress and TV presenter who has prominently promoted the fallacy that vaccines cause autism.

Such generosity should really make them sick.

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