Are antivaxxers liable for preventable deaths?

By Phil Plait | May 19, 2009 10:42 am
Jenny Mccarthy and syringe, small

Scott Hurst, a skeptic and JREF friend, has written an entry for Swift asking how much responsibility antivax mouthpieces like Meryl Dorey and Jenny McCarthy have for deaths caused by their rhetoric. It’s a solidly-written piece that is well-researched and brings up what I think is a valid point. While we do have the right to free speech in the U.S., there are ramifications to it. Are they responsible if parents don’t vaccinate their children, and deaths follow? It’s a fair question.

Somewhat less fair, perhaps, is a video that has been made making fun of Jenny McCarthy. While I think it provides an outlet for the visceral need to do something to stop her relentless nonsense about vaccinations and autism, I don’t know if this sort of thing really helps. I don’t know if it will convince any fence-sitters or believers, and can come across as being mean-spirited. I think there’s a difference between being angry and showing it, and being simply mean. What do you think? I’ve heard opinions going both ways on this video.

I’m scratching my head over Cracked Magazine’s take on McCarthy, though (NSFW though, since it has some, um, adult content). It’s accurate, snarky, and takes her to task really well, but I doubt it’s any more fair to her than the video is, but it bugs me less. I wonder if the graphic imagery in the video is what troubles me, given that Cracked article has a ridiculous (and generally juvenile) nature. Pictures of sick babies is, well, it’s tough. Hmmm.

Finally, a great new website has been created called whyichoose.org, where people can post images of themselves and tell their personal stories about why they chose to get vaccinated. Anecdotes are not data, but they do sway opinion. And unlike the antivax anecdotes, we have reality on our side. So it’s not evil or wrong to use personal stories to urge people to vaccinate, and in fact I think it’s an important aspect that has not been used to its full potential. I’m all for it.

Tip o’ the syringe to BABloggee Heather Steingruebl.

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Comments (189)

  1. Dr. Plait, thanks for posting that whyichoose.org site. I’ll take a look.

    As for people who are against vaccines, please read the info below (pretty, easy to read version with hyperlinks available by clicking on my name or going to antiantivax.jottit.com). To the regulars, sorry for reposting this again, but I want to try to head off some of the pointless arguments before they get posted.

    MMR

    (info available from FDA, CDC, investigative reports by Brian Deer)

    * Some in the pro-disease anti-vax movement claim that the MMR has/had mercury in it. However, the MMR vaccine does not and never has had any mercury in it.
    * The basis of the “MMR vaccine causes autism” argument is a flawed study by Andrew Wakefield, who had several ethics breaches, including failure to disclose financial compensation from a lawyer representing families claiming MMR cause their children’s autism, failure to disclose financial interests in patents for MMR alternatives, failure to include data which contradicted his conclusions, use of contaminated samples to support his conclusions.
    * Independent studies trying to replicate Wakefield’s results have come up negative. To date, no properly controlled study has shown a causal link between vaccines and autism.

    Thimerosal

    (info available from both FDA and CDC)

    * Thimerosal is a preservative that is used in the manufacturing process of some vaccines and other medicines to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi, which could otherwise cause illness or injury.
    * It metabolizes into ethylmercury, not methylmercury, a mistake commonly made by pro-disease anti-vaxers who claim that the amount of mercury that used to be in vaccine exceeded EPA exposure guidelines. Those guidelines were for methylmercury, a compound that has a half-life in the body of several weeks to months and is often found in fish or other environmental exposures. Ethylmercury, on the other hand, has a half-life of a few days to about a week, meaning that it is not in the body long enough for it to build up to toxic levels from vaccination to vaccination.
    * It was removed from the final product of nearly all vaccines around 2001/2002. This was a political move, due in large part to public pressure, rather than based on sound science. This was a recommendation rather than a regulatory requirement. A handful of studies that suggested problems with thimerosal, but which were inconclusive, prompted a “better safe than sorry” approach from the FDA while the issue was investigated by FDA, CDC and others. No follow-up studies have found any health risks beyond local hypersensitivity.
    * Some vaccines still use it during the manufacturing process, but remove it from the final product, leaving, at most, trace amounts. The influenza vaccine still uses thimerosal, though thimerosal-free versions are available.
    * Despite the removal of thimerosal from vaccines, resulting in exposure levels lower than anytime in the past, autism rates have not declined, suggesting that there is no connection between thimerosal and autism.
    * To date, no properly controlled study has shown a causal link between thimerosal and autism.

    Other Vaccine Additives

    * Some pro-disease anti-vaxers claim there is antifreeze in vaccines. This is false. Antifreeze is ethylene glycol. Vaccines use polyethylenes glycol. These are different substances, the latter of which is not toxic. More info can be found at Inside Vaccines.
    * Vaccines contain formaldehyde. However, the chemical structure of the formaldehyde in vaccines is the same as that produced by our own bodies. It is used during the manufacturing process, but is diluted to remove it from the finished product, leaving only small or trace amounts. The total amount of formaldehyde in a finished product is far less than what is naturally found in the human body.
    * Vaccines contain aluminum in a salt form. Pro-disease anti-vaxers claim this is toxic, and some will cite that 4ppm will cause blood to coagulate. However, individuals are not exposed to such amounts of aluminum in a single vaccination visit. Below are the vaccines containing aluminum, with the corresponding parts per million (ppm) for an infant (~251 mL of blood in the body) and an 80lb. child (~4000 mL of blood); note the two numbers for DTaP represent extreme ranges of aluminum content.:

    ppm (w/v) = (weight in grams of sample/volume of sample in mL) * 106
    Vaccine ppm in infant ppm in child age received (in months)
    DTaP (170mcg) .677 .043 2, 4, 6, w/ final ~4-6 yrs
    DTaP(625mcg) 2.490 .156
    Hep A .996 .063 12 w/ final ~6 mo. later
    Hep B .996 .063 birth, 1 or 2, final at 6+
    HiB .896 .056 2, 4
    HPV .896 .056 11 or 12 yrs., then 2, 6 mo.
    Pediatrix 3.386 .213 2, 4, 6 (in lieu of DTaP, IPV and Hep B)
    Pentacel 1.315 .083 2, 4, 6, 15-18 (in lieu of DTaP, IPV and HiB)
    Pneumococcus .498 .031 2, 4, 6, 12-15

    * Further, about 71% of the aluminum is excreted from the body after about 5 days or so.

    Polio

    * Pro-disease anti-vaxers claim that polio rates increased after the introduction of the polio vaccine, that OPV spread the disease, and that polio was on a decline before introduction of the vaccine. This is wrong.
    * Before the approval of the vaccine, paralytic polio struck 13,000-20,000 individuals every year in the U.S. The number of cases peaked at 21,000 in 1952, only three years before approval of the vaccine. By 1960, there were only 2,525 cases, and only 61 cases in 1965.
    * The oral polio vaccine (OPV) was nearly 100% effective in preventing polio, though it did have a very small risk of causing paralytic polio in the recipient. OPV-caused paralytic polio resulted in about 6-8 cases per year. However, when vaccination rates were low, OPV had the added benefit of contact immunity. In other words, the virus from the vaccine was present in the stool, resulting in about 25% of people who came in contact with the immunized person would also become immune.
    * With the eradication of wild type polio in the U.S., the OPV vaccine is no longer used, and the less effective inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) is used. This version does not cause paralytic polio. OPV has not been used in the U.S. since 2000.

    Vaccine Court and National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)

    (info available from the Autism Omnibus Proceedings)

    * Pro-disease anti-vaxers claim that Hannah Poling and Bailey Banks are examples of successful Vaccine Court cases where vaccines caused autism. This is wrong.
    * Hannah Poling was found to have a mitochondrial disorder, and that the vaccine worsened her condition. The court did not rule that a vaccine caused autism. Note, mitochondrial disorder is not autism, though some in the anti-vax camp claim it is.
    * Bailey Banks was found to have suffered acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM). This disease occurs in approximately 1 or 2 per million vaccine recipients, compared with 1 per 1,000 individuals infected with measles and 1 per 500 rubella infections. The court ruled that this is a type of pervasive developmental disorder, but made clear that it is not autism. Like the Poling case, anti-vaxers try to distort the truth to make their case. In the case of ADEM, vaccination helps reduce the risk of contracting the disease by reducing the likelihood of natural infection.
    * Despite the low standards of proof in the vaccine court (more likely than not, or 50% + a hair), no one has been able to establish a causal relationship between vaccines and autism.
    * In three of the best cases put forth by the anti-vax movement, the court ruled in all three that vaccines did not cause the individuals’ autism.
    * Before VICP, the media fueled fears about vaccines, leading to increases in law suits and many manufacturers halting production of vaccines altogether. The VICP was proposed by a coalition of government, health organization, and industry representatives, as well as physicians and ordinary citizens as a means to ensure a suitable supply of vaccines while allowing legal recourse to those injured by vaccines.
    * Individuals may still seek damages through the tort system, if they choose, though they must then prove not only that the vaccine caused the injury, but also that the manufacturer was at fault.

    Vaccines in General

    * Pro-disease anti-vaxers want vaccines that are 100% safe. This is never going to happen, as all medicines carry some risk. However, the relative risk of injury from vaccines is significantly lower than the risk of injury from getting the disease naturally. For more information, see the CDC website.
    * Reduced vaccination rates lead to higher incidents of infection. This has been illustrated in the U.K. following Wakefield’s bogus study, in Germany in 2006 (including two deaths in unvaccinated children), in California, in MN (where an unvaccinated child died from hemophilus influenza type b).
    * Pro-disease anti-vaxers claim that “Big Pharma” makes lots of money from vaccines. If vaccination rates dropped, however, there would be an increase in preventable illnesses, many of which have high rates of complications resulting in hospitalization and expensive treatment. See the link about Germany above for information on costs associated with the measles outbreak there. The money to be made from the diseases far outweighs any money to be made from vaccines.
    * Pro-disease anti-vaxers claim that better hygiene has led to a decrease in disease, rather than vaccines. However, many of the diseases prevented by vaccines are airborne, and are not greatly impacted by improved sanitation or hygiene.
    * Pro-disease anti-vaxers claim that too many antigens (the parts that make the vaccines work) are given at once, ignoring that infants and children are exposed to thousands of antigens every day by touching things and putting their hands or the object in their mouth, through absorption or by inhaling.
    * They claim that combination shots should be avoided, and that parents should break up the vaccinations into individual vaccines and spread them out. However, this increases the total number of shots received, as well as exposure to those various “toxins” they hate so much.
    * There have been no properly controlled studies establishing a causal link between vaccines and autism.
    * There have been numerous properly controlled studies sponsored and run by various people and organizations around the world that have shown no link between vaccines and autism.

    Population X and Vaccines/Autism

    * Pro-disease anti-vaxers claim the Amish do not vaccinate and do not have autism. This stems from a lie by Dan Olmsted from Age of Autism. The Amish do, in fact, vaccinate, and it appears that their rates of autism may be lower than in the general population.
    * Some claim that the Chinese do not have a word for autism (they do, it’s 自闭症 [zì bì zhèng]). And simply not having a word for the disease does not mean that it does not exist, merely that it is not recognized as a specific disorder. Did autism only afflict people after someone created the diagnosis? No, but it may have been called something else.
    * The same claim about the Chinese has been made about Somalis due to a recent article about Somalis in Minnesota. Again, lack of recognition does not mean that the disease never occurred in the population. Further, the cases in Minnesota do not have a consistent connection to vaccines. Some of those with autism have been vaccinated, some have not. Despite a lack of evidence, Generation Rescue (which runs Age of Autism) has told the Somali parents that vaccines were the cause.

    Additional Resources

    Sites for info on vaccine safety, efficacy and general information:

    * U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    * U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
    * American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
    * Health Canada
    * U.K. Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency
    * Immunization Advisory Centre (IMAC) at the University of Aukland, New Zealand
    * Australian Immunization Handbook – large pdf file
    * World Health Organization (WHO)
    * World Health Organization – “Global Immunization Data October 2008”
    * Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)
    * Every Child By Two
    * Vaccinate Your Baby

    Sites for info on clinical trials and other research:

    * ClinicalTrials.gov
    * PubMed

    Other sites:

    * Respectful Insolence
    * BlogHer – “My Child Has Autism and I Vaccinate”
    * WiseGeek – “What is Herd Immunity?”

  2. Justin Andrews

    BBC is reporting a Measles outbreak in Wales, they cite that the uptake of the MMR jab in the areas effected were around 14% at the turn of the century.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/8057661.stm

    Antivaxxers endanger lives.

  3. Jordan Dean

    As crass an juvinile as the Cracked.com article you linked it…
    … I think it really captures the heart of the argument.

    Satire and derision always seems to cut through the PC crap and get to the heart of the matter.

  4. IVAN3MAN

    Phil, if Jenny McCarthy can use vulgar language against doctors and scientists who know better than she, then that video is quite right to show graphic images of the consequences of not vaccinating your kids.

  5. IVAN3MAN

    @ Todd W.

    For the second time, Todd W., you have excelled yourself. Excellent work. Well done!

  6. TheBlackCat

    I think there are two issues with anecdotes.

    First, anecdotes are usually not evidence, but they can be in certain very specific situations. One is the old canard about black swans. If someone claims that no black swans, a single case of finding a black swan, although an anecdotes, is sufficient evidence to counter the claim provided. Saying that the diseases are not killing anyone can be sufficiently countered by only one properly-documented anecdote of someone dying from the disease. An anecdote cannot show the lack of vaccination caused that particular case of the disease, but it can show that the disease is, in fact, deadly. So, to put more technically, they can be used to show that a certain phenomena exists, but cannot be used to infer the cause of that phenomenon.

    Second, anecdotes can be used as examples to give a more personal side to conclusions that were found through properly-done scientific research. They are not evidence themselves, but they do help people relate to scientifically valid conclusions.

    The problem is when people use anecdotes to infer causality. An anecdote can be used to show that autism exists, but not what caused it.

  7. nichole

    Totally O/T but there was a HUGE banner ad for “The John Templeton Foundation” on the main page.

    And I’ll second the love for Cracked.com

  8. nichole

    uh, a black swan standing in front of you is not an anecdote. it’s a datum.

    an anecdote is just an unverified piece of data. you can verify the black swan anecdote by… looking? i guess? and that turns it into data. unless someone’s actively trying to deceive you by painting the swan black or some such nonsense.

    over-simplified and nit-picky. whuteva.

  9. @Blackcat: If someone claims that no black swans, a single case of finding a black swan, although an anecdotes, is sufficient evidence to counter the claim provided.

    …no…that would be *evidence* of black swans.

    Me saying I saw one and providing no evidence, no photos, nothing other than my testemony would be an anecdote. And it would be treated with the derision it deserves.

  10. John

    @Todd W

    “Pro-disease anti-vaxers want vaccines that are 100% safe”

    That statement makes no sense whatsoever. If they want a perfectly safe vaccine, that makes them “anti-disease and pro-100% safe vaxxers” no?

    Better to use neutral language in future, and not risk making yourself look silly.

    The rest of your post was very informative.

  11. @John

    What I meant by it was that they argue that if there are going to be vaccines, they want them to be 100% safe. Anything less, they are against, which ends up with them being pro-disease and anti-vax.

    Thanks for the feedback, though. I’ll give that line some thought.

  12. I studied psychology quite a bit in my higher education (it was required for my major) and I theoretically understand why people are irrational, why they make choices that harm them, why they’re prone to panic and why they reject authority and knowledge for a pretty face.

    But what I don’t understand is how twisted people have to be to use fear as a weapon against medicine and endanger people’s lives while thinking that they’re doing something good. Maybe one day, I’ll either find a study or do a study to determine whether this is a clinical delusion but for now all I have is medical science and medical science says that every single argument put forth by anti-vaxers is wrong…

    http://worldofweirdthings.com/2009/05/09/anti-vaxers-yelling-fire-in-a-crowded-theater/

  13. Pac

    Considering that McCarthy has said that diseases being allowed to come back was an “acceptable” alternative to the current vaccines, I have no problem with her, or any movement she speaks for, being labeled pro-disease.

  14. Babs

    If people like Jenny McCarthy aren’t in any way responsible for the deaths of those who die of preventable diseases, then smokers aren’t responsible for any condition that could possibly be linked to second-hand smoking. The way I see it, it’s identical – the behaviour of smokers endangers a certain (not large, but apparently statistically significant) number of people. What’s the effing difference? Smoking isn’t against the law, and people have the right to smoke and express their desire to do so – it’s called freedom of expression. Let’s all go light up at Jenny McCarthy’s house and express our opinions on how non-smoking causes yeast infections and miscarriage. Oh, and autism. We could even throw a few other genetic disorders in for good measure. And death. We can’t leave out death. Oh, how dangerous life without tar and nicotine can be! And how irresponsible we would be if we didn’t point that out! I bet it’s Oprah-worthy, too.

  15. Steve

    A friend of mine came up with the interesting legal argument that the antivaxxers may not only be liable for wrongful death but they may also be guilty of treason. They are undermining our herd immunity to diseases like measles which could very easily be used in a bioterrorist attack, or otherwise tying up hospital resources that might be necessary for a real national emergency because a big ward is full of children being treated for measles. Neither of us are legal expert, but his reasoning doesn’t really seem to have a logical flaw (not that this has any legal bearing on matters).

  16. I wouldn’t say I found the video overly mean. You put yourself out there on a cause as harmful as this, you deserve it. It had photos of Jenny and photos of real patients. If you’re gonna weigh the risks yourself, you should have all the information, including how serious the diseases are.

    The same question applies to the Republican think tanks that have been denying global warming for so long, should they be liable for the damage caused by decades of delay?

  17. TheBlackCat

    uh, a black swan standing in front of you is not an anecdote. it’s a datum.

    an anecdote is just an unverified piece of data. you can verify the black swan anecdote by… looking? i guess? and that turns it into data. unless someone’s actively trying to deceive you by painting the swan black or some such nonsense.

    over-simplified and nit-picky. whuteva.

    Not true. If a child got autism immediately after receiving a vaccine, even if it was unquestionably verified, it would still not be evidence that vaccines caused that child’s autism, because there is no unambiguous link between cause and effect. It would be also be a datum that, if combined with many other randomly-selected samples, could be used as evidence for a claim regarding the link (or lack thereof) between vaccines and autism, but on its own it is just an anecdote and not evidence of anything except that autism exists and that this child has it.

    Here is the definition of anecdote:

    anecdote
    –noun
    a short account of a particular incident or event of an interesting or amusing nature, often biographical.

    Dictionary.com Unabridged
    Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.

    So the case where someone saw a black swan would indeed be an anecdote. It would still be an anecdote even if it was properly verified. But it would count as a disproof of the claim that there are no black swans. It would also be a datum, but being a datum and being an anecdote are not mutually exclusive. Being verified and being an anecdote are not mutually exclusive, either.

  18. firemancarl

    Hey, PZ just posted this http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/help_oprah_out.php

    Jenny is getting her own show, and you can tell them what you would like to see featured on her show!

  19. PhiJ

    “I don’t know if this sort of thing really helps. I don’t know if it will convince any fence-sitters or believers, and can come across as being mean-spirited. I think there’s a difference between being angry and showing it, and being simply mean.”

    I used to be a creationist, and am now a fence sitter (for the moment). If there was an equivalent video about creationism I wouldn’t watch it. But if I did click through (unlikely), and noticed the comments before I heard the video, that would be a little different. The flame war down there contains people rudely shouting at each other and talking about evidence, which I’d read (for the evidence bit).

    So although I reckon (from my experience; which is, I’ll admit, an anecdote) that the video is mean and does no good, the comments could do some good.

  20. Just to pointlessly weigh in on the anecdote/data thing.
    “My son was vaccinated and two weeks later he was diagnosed with autism” is an anecdote, but it contains two key data points:
    “My son was vaccinated – here’s the paperwork” and “He was diagnosed two week later with autism – here’s the paperwork”
    Both true, but the anecdote part is when you link them.

  21. I’m Brian Thompson, and I’m the one who wrote and recorded the Jenny McCarthy song and made the video for it. (I suddenly feel like I’m in a support group for satirists…)

    I’m not one to use the excuse of intent, but I will say that the images of sick children are supposed to make people uncomfortable. I wanted to play the lighthearted tone of the song against the cold reality of those photos. With all the “Antivax Barbie” comments out there, I felt it was important to keep up the ridicule while also shining a light on the disgusting truth of what McCarthy’s nonsense can cause.

    Yes, it’s an appeal to emotion, but it’s also based on fact. As others have written above, we’re now dealing with very real outbreaks of preventable diseases because of modern anti-vaccination paranoia.

    I could be wrong, but I’m willing to bet more fence-sitters will be swayed toward rational thinking on this issue by confronting a full-color image of a sick child than will feel sympathy toward McCarthy for being lampooned. I think this is why the word “satire” is often preceded by the word “biting”.

    Also because it’s a tool commonly used by vampires.

    Just kidding.

    (Or am I?)

    Regardless, I appreciate the link and the debate.

  22. @Todd W,

    I’d agree with John about the “pro-disease” label. I don’t see anti-vaxxers as pro-disease, just delusional. They don’t specifically *want* diseases to come back (even with Jenny McCarthy & Jim Carrey’s idiotic comments), they just don’t think things through properly. They don’t see how awful the vaccinated-against diseases are since the vaccines have been so successful. Instead, they figure they’re the types of diseases that make you sick for a week and then you recover from fully with no lasting repercussions. They then mistakenly link vaccines with an autism risk (shifting reasons for this “link” every time one reason is knocked down). Since they have mistakenly inflated the risk of getting the vaccine and mistakenly deflated the risk of not getting one, they come to the conclusion that vaccines shouldn’t be given.

    I wouldn’t call them “pro-disease”, but I would call them “self-delusional anti-vaxxers” (for folks like McCarthy who have “done the research” and still conclude vaccines cause autism) or “Misled anti-vaxxers” (for the folks who – for whatever reason – take McCarthy and others like her at their word and assume that they’ve done the proper research).

  23. @TechyDad

    I have a note in the linked version of my post that explains my use of “pro-disease”, which I added after similar comments as yours (might even have been yours when I first put the post up…), until I could find a term that I am more comfortable with.

  24. RL

    I don’t think you can hold antivaxxers liable for any deaths. In the end, the decision to vaccinate or not is made by individuals not McCarthy or Oprah or anyone else. Maybe there are circumstances to charge the parents of a child for not vaccinating, that depends on the specifics of the case.

    In the end, individuals are responsible for what they do and decide. If a person decides to listen to a celebrity over their pediatrician or doctor, then the blames falls on them. Part of being an adult is navigating what can often be confusing information on any number of topics and life choices.

    Education is what is needed to counter people like McCarthy. If antivaxxers are really impacting disease rates, then a stepped up campaign of education by the government or medical associations may be in order. As an aside, we live in a time that we haven’t had to worry about diseases like polio and have enjoyed many protections from modern medicine. Such times make people complacent. But thats true for almost anything. Its human nature.

    To answer Phil’s second question….Making personal attacks on McCarthy or other antivaxxers turns people off and doesn’t really do anything constructive. (Humor or teasing is one thing, attacks are another. he line can be fine). It just makes the name callers feel good. And make martyrs out of the targets. In fact, even though I agree that vaccinations are very important, the level of discourse on this blog (I think sometimes its shrill, hysterical) that often arises makes me want to support the antivaxxers or at least stop listening (or reading) provaxxers. I understand that its a major strategy to put a face on the enemy to rally others in a campaign (every story has to have its “bad guys”), but I don’t think its appropriate in this situation.

  25. Randy A.

    Brian Thompson wants people to be “swayed toward rational thinking” by his video. Well, I liked the video, and I think the level of satire is just right…

    But as a college teacher, I can tell you all that “rational” and “thinking” are two words that should rarely be used together. Most people prefer to think along well worn paths — new thoughts and ideas make thinking hard work, and should be avoided.

    Think I’m exaggerating? Pick up any newspaper…

  26. Jules

    I have not had a chance to read the full article yet. Busy day on this end. However, one thing that struck my hard and I don’t think I have noticed it to this degree before (and it is probably because of the placement itself in the article) is that correlation does not mean causation. That is a point that seems to have been missed in most articles. Or like I said, maybe I just missed it because of placement but in this article that important fact is not missed.

  27. Babs

    @RL
    So smoking is also a personal decision, therefore smokers should be able to smoke wherever…

    Yes, you are responsible for your own decisions, that’s why you should also take responsibility when the result of your decisions is harmful to someone else. There are people who can not be vaccinated due to age or various health conditions, whose survival and/or quality of life depends on herd immunity. If we fell for the unsubstantiated hysteria of antivaxxers and stop vaccinating, we’d put all those people at risk.

    Attacking Jenny McCarthy and her ilk is the only thing left. People have tried education, they have tried presenting the actual information. But antivaxxers are literally a religious cult, inoculated to any information that contradicts their doctrine. The only thing you can hear from them is the same old tirade about the big evil pharma that will be the death of us. The only ones you can educate are the ones who aren’t indoctrinated yet? But unfortunately you have to be loud doing it. At least louder than the other camp, the one that thinks that Oprah is the new messiah, and if she says Jenny is right, then Jenny must surely be nothing but right. Preventing the return of polio is certainly worth some yelling in my opinion. If people get to expose the nutcases for what they are in the process, all the better.

  28. @Randy A.:

    I don’t know what it’s like on a college level, but I’ve taught middle and high school students who’ve lit up at being asked simple critical thinking questions they’ve never been asked before. It’s really amazing to see them try to explain the things they believe at face value and, in the process, work logically through even their most deeply held assumptions about the world. Far from avoiding rational thought, many of them really enjoy it.

    But I’m confident even older people can be influenced to ditch magical thinking. I was a UFO-believing, psychic power-coveting conspiracy theorist into my early twenties. And abandoning that kind of nonsense was the most liberating and fulfilling thing I’ve ever done.

    I mean, my hatred of Doctor Who was one of the most deeply held beliefs I had. But upon Phil’s urgent nudging, I finally sat down to watch the new series. Now I own a sonic screwdriver invisible ink pen.

    Beliefs can change.

  29. Mogrammy

    Eat your hearts out all you uneducated people that support this Discover magazione blog. Jenny is getting her own show. I think that will trump this disgusting video you are all talking about. Sorry, maybe on another planet you’ll win your case.

  30. Dr. Nancy

    You’re full of it Todd W. Here’s some information you may want to consider.

    Burbacher T, Shen D, Liberato N, Grant K, Cernichiari E, Clarkson T. 2005. Comparison of blood and brain mercury levels in infant monkeys exposed to methylmercury or vaccines containing thimerosal. Environmental Health Perspectives. 113:1015-1021

    “There was a much higher proportion of inorganic Hg (Hg++) in the brain of thimerosal monkeys than in the brains of MeHg monkeys (up to 71% vs. 10%). Absolute inorganic Hg concentrations in the brains of the thimerosal-exposed monkeys were approximately twice that of the MeHg monkeys. Interestingly, the inorganic fraction in the kidneys of the same cohort of monkeys was also significantly higher after inj thimerosal than after oral MeHg exposure (0.71 ± 0.04 vs. 0.40 ± 0.03). This suggests that the dealkylation of ethylmercury is much more extensive than that of MeHg.”

    Early Thimerosal Exposure and Neuropsychological Outcomes New England Journal of Medicine, Thompson WW et al. (September 27, 2007)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    “Dr. Thompson reports being a former employee of Merck; Dr. Marcy, receiving consulting fees from Merck, Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, and MedImmune; Dr. Jackson, receiving grant support from Wyeth, Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis, lecture fees from Sanofi Pasteur, and consulting fees from Wyeth and Abbott and serving as a consultant to the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee; Dr. Lieu, serving as a consultant to the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices; Dr. Black, receiving consulting fees from MedImmune, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Merck and grant support from MedImmune, GlaxoSmithKline, Aventis, Merck, and Novartis; and Dr. Davis receiving consulting fees from Merck and grant support from Merck and GlaxoSmith- Kline. No other potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.”

    Lancet had received Wakefeilds paper 8 months prior to him receiving any money from the legal defense fund. This is easy to verify. Yor’re right about one thing Todd, thimerosal would kill the live virus’s in the MMR in a NY second. Here’s some real facts;

    0.5 parts per billion (ppb) mercury = Kills human neuroblastoma cells (Parran et al., Toxicol Sci 2005; 86: 132-140).

    2 ppb mercury = U.S. EPA limit for drinking water (http://www.epa. gov/safewater/ contaminants/ index.html# mcls).

    20 ppb mercury = Neurite membrane structure destroyed (Leong et al., Neuroreport 2001; 12: 733-37).

    200 ppb mercury = level in liquid the EPA classifies as hazardous waste based on toxicity characteristics.
    http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/tsd/m

    25,000 ppb mercury = Concentration of mercury in multi-dose, Hepatitis B vaccine vials, administered at birth from 1991-2001 in the U.S.

    50,000 ppb mercury = Concentration of mercury in multi-dose DTaP and Haemophilus B vaccine vials, administered 8 times in the 1990’s to children at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months of age and currently “preservative” level mercury in multi-dose flu, meningococcal and tetanus vaccines. This can be confirmed by simply analyzing the multi-dose vials. Flu, meningococcal and tetanus vaccines are all approved for use in children. The claim mercury is out of vaccines is bogus.

    Autism is simply a term from the psychiatric DSM-IV manual. It’s nothing but a smokescreen. It provides an alibi for the drug companies who added mercury to vaccines at levels 250 times higher than hazardous waste levels (based on toxicity characteristics). It provides an alibi for the CDC, FDA, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the other drug company cronies who are responsible for the safety of our children. It provides an alibi for the pediatricians who administered this poison. It provides an alibi for health insurance companies so they don’t have to pay for treatment for these sick kids. It provides an alibi for psychiatrists so they can force powerfull anti-psychotic drugs on these kids who are already terribly confused.

    There will never be an identifiable cause for autism. There are though 12 published papers which identify the underlying medical condition of autism as neuroinflammatory disease. My favorite is ” Neuroglial activation and Neuroinflammation in the Brain of Patients with Autism”. This was published by John Hopkins University. Now, do you want to debate whether mercury, a known neurotoxin, added to childhood vaccines at levels 250 times higher than what the EPA identifies as hazardous waste, causes neuroinflammatory disease? Do you want to debate whether brain damaged kids behave in a way so that some psychiatrist can label them as somewhere on the “spectrum”?

  31. Babs

    @Mogrammy
    Sometimes living on another planet has its appeal. Since most ‘tards wouldn’t be able to even acknowledge the existence of other worlds (or would simply claim that they cause autism), it would be a world where we’d just enjoy intelligent company. And our kids would be in no danger from dying of measles, mumps, polio and other completely preventable diseases. Can’t blame a girl for dreaming…

  32. Savino

    Lol.
    Theres an add from The jonh Templeton Foundation here in the BAblog!

  33. Jules

    If a death of a child (due to lack of immunization) can be proven to be directly linked to McCarthy et al, then yes they should be held legally liable.

    Recently, a mother was held liable for the suicide of a teenage girl that she was bullying online through MySpace. Laws have been changed accordingly. McCarthy is just another bully. She is using her status to spread misinformation and cause harm to the general public. It really is no different than that lady who posed as her daughter and caused the suicide of a girl because of her words or some cult leader that causes a mass suicide because a comet is coming by that will take them all off to some utopia.

    Yes, we are entitled to freedom of speech, as long as our speech is not harmful to the general public. There is many free speech legislation that covers this.

  34. Savino

    (ops, hit submit before finish)
    You got to love those ramdon ads bots irony!

  35. Lawyer

    Sadly, being stupid and following the stupid has never been against the law so the blonde dumbstress will probably not be liable any time soon.

    Improving the overall education system will help tremendously….

    Remember, people WANT to be owned by corps, credit card cos., hospitals, cell phone prov…
    People know they are going to pay higher rates on credit cards, but they don’t pay on time
    People know they cannot afford to drive a particular car, but they do anyway
    People know contraception will help, but they do use it.

    The common enemy is not the people that choose to take advantage of them, but an underlying blissful, willful ignorance of the citizens themselves (remember the DoDo bird, now extinct). Its not surprising Jenny blabbers and people react..

  36. People DO die from vaccines – that is why the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) exists.

    The tone of articles like this one is scary…so vicious.

    Please allow me to quote the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) site (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5201a1.htm) :

    “From January 1, 1991, through December 31, 2001, VAERS received 128,717 case reports describing adverse events after immunization.

    Overall, 14.2% of all reports received in VAERS during 1991–2001 described serious adverse events (10) (Table 9).

    A clinical research team follows up on all deaths reported to VAERS. The majority of these deaths were ultimately classified as sudden infant death syndrome.”

    Math = over 18,000 kids “suddenly died” after vaccination according to the US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

    More: http://www.thepatriotaxe.com/blog/?p=256

    One has to wonder why there are suddenly so many mean-spirited articles about this subject? Perhaps the pro-vaxxer doth protest too much.

  37. Apocalypse Cow

    my favorite line from the Cracked article: “Its F-ing science!”

    Because thats really what is at stake here. The anti-vaxxers are anti-science. Anti-proof, anti-reason, anti-sense. They refuse to see the rational reasoning put forth as to why anecdotal evidence is not scientific evidence. And that’s the damning thing about all this. As a good friend of mine says: “Any good conspiracy theory can incorporate any result after the fact.”

  38. Dr. Nancy

    Todd W. You are totally wrong on aluminum in vaccines. There are currently 8 childhood vaccines that contain aluminum ranging from 125 to 850 mcg. These vaccines are administered 17 times in the first 18 months of life, an almost six fold increase compared to the vaccine schedule of the 1980’s.

    According to the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN), based on IV feeding solutions a child should not exceed a maximum daily dose of 5 micrograms (mcg) aluminum/Kg/day (1). That means if a child weighs about 11 pounds they should not exceed 25 mcg in a day. This level was determined to be the maximum safety limit based on published data. The Hepatitis B vaccine, administered at birth, contains 250 mcg of aluminum.

    In a 1996 policy statement, “Aluminum Toxicity in Infants and Children”, the American Academy of Pediatrics states, “Aluminum can cause neurological harm. People with kidney disease who build up bloodstream levels of aluminum greater than 100 mcg per liter are at risk of toxicity. The toxic threshold of aluminum in the bloodstream may be lower than 100 mcg per liter.”

    So let’s say an infant receives 1250 micrograms at 2 months of age ( three required vaccines). Assuming a child’s body contains a half liter of blood, this would put the aluminum blood level 25 times higher than the above mentioned standards.

    Now people will argue whether an intra-muscular injection (such as vaccines) would introduce aluminum into the bloodstream at the same level as an IV feeding solution. Unfortunately, the purpose of direct intramuscular injection is to provides rapid access to the bloodstream. This provides direct access to all target organs such as the brain.

    The real eye-opener is a recently published paper where the authors investigated “Gulf War Syndrome” based on the fact that soldiers were getting sick without deployment to the gulf region (2). They eventually focused on aluminum used as the adjuvant in the anthrax vaccine. Injecting mice with aluminum at levels equal to what the soldiers received induced motor neuron death. The dose, per body weight, given to children easily exceeds what the soldiers received. One must question whether exposing a newborn to aluminum is worth the risk to protect them against a sexually transmitted disease (Hepatitis B). If aluminum can cause injury to an adult, combat ready soldier, what is it doing to newborns?

    (1) N. J. Bishop, MD, et al. Aluminum Neurotoxicity in Preterm Infants Receiving Intravenous Feeding Solutions New England Journal of Medicine. 1997; 336:22 1557-1562.

    (2) Petrik MS, Wong MC, Tabata RC, Garry RF, Shaw CA. Aluminum [vaccine] adjuvant linked to gulf war illness induces motor neuron death in mice. Neuromolecular Med. 2007;9(1):83-100.

  39. RL

    @Babs

    Obviously I was talking about vaccinations not smoking and second hand smoke…your point is totally unrelated. But since you bring it up, if a person decides to smoke, they made that decision, not some celebrity. If I get cancer from second hand smoke, its the smokers fault, not some celebrity. If someones refusal to vaccinate can be shown to contribute directly to the infection and death/serious illness of another, then go after them if you can prove it in court. But its the person who made the decision is liable, not McCarthy or Oprah or whoever.

    Education is a continual mission. You can throw your hands up and give up on that, but I seriously doubt you will be successful. In the end, its about convincing people, not drawing up sides.

    Your second paragraph of your response is an example of what I’m talking about. I agree with you on vaccinations but I stopped reading it around the third sentence. But then I decided to go on. “Religious cult…messiah…nut cases…” yeah, that will work. Not. Loud is ok. But what you say and how you say matters more.

  40. Gary Ansorge

    I just noticed from those videos, Jenny has a large face in relation to her total head size. Guess she’s not a fan of neotony,,,

    GAry 7

  41. @Dr. Nancy

    The first paper you quote from was looking at whether EPA guidelines for methylmercury exposure were reliable. Their conclusion was that it was not due to rather significant differences in how the body processes thimerosal and how it behaves in the body. Next time, provide the full abstract, rather than just a cherry-picked quote that appears to support your argument. For those who are interested, here’s the full abstract (emphasis added), also available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16079072:

    Comparison of blood and brain mercury levels in infant monkeys exposed to methylmercury or vaccines containing thimerosal.
    Burbacher TM, Shen DD, Liberato N, Grant KS, Cernichiari E, Clarkson T.

    Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA. tmb@u.washington.edu

    Thimerosal is a preservative that has been used in manufacturing vaccines since the 1930s. Reports have indicated that infants can receive ethylmercury (in the form of thimerosal) at or above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for methylmercury exposure, depending on the exact vaccinations, schedule, and size of the infant. In this study we compared the systemic disposition and brain distribution of total and inorganic mercury in infant monkeys after thimerosal exposure with those exposed to MeHg. Monkeys were exposed to MeHg (via oral gavage) or vaccines containing thimerosal (via intramuscular injection) at birth and 1, 2, and 3 weeks of age. Total blood Hg levels were determined 2, 4, and 7 days after each exposure. Total and inorganic brain Hg levels were assessed 2, 4, 7, or 28 days after the last exposure. The initial and terminal half-life of Hg in blood after thimerosal exposure was 2.1 and 8.6 days, respectively, which are significantly shorter than the elimination half-life of Hg after MeHg exposure at 21.5 days. Brain concentrations of total Hg were significantly lower by approximately 3-fold for the thimerosal-exposed monkeys when compared with the MeHg infants, whereas the average brain-to-blood concentration ratio was slightly higher for the thimerosal-exposed monkeys (3.5 +/- 0.5 vs. 2.5 +/- 0.3). A higher percentage of the total Hg in the brain was in the form of inorganic Hg for the thimerosal-exposed monkeys (34% vs. 7%). The results indicate that MeHg is not a suitable reference for risk assessment from exposure to thimerosal-derived Hg. Knowledge of the toxicokinetics and developmental toxicity of thimerosal is needed to afford a meaningful assessment of the developmental effects of thimerosal-containing vaccines.

    This study does not support your argument.

    Regarding the Thompson study, what’s your point? They disclosed their conflicts of interest. Those COIs may or may not have affected the outcome of the study, but we would need more data to make such a determination.

    The EPA guidelines you list for mercury exposure are for methylmercury, not ethylmercury. As the first study you cited shows, methylmercury cannot be used as a reliable comparator for exposure and toxicity.

    25,000 ppb mercury = Concentration of mercury in multi-dose, Hepatitis B vaccine vials, administered at birth from 1991-2001 in the U.S.

    50,000 ppb mercury = Concentration of mercury in multi-dose DTaP and Haemophilus B vaccine vials, administered 8 times in the 1990’s to children at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months of age and currently “preservative” level mercury in multi-dose flu, meningococcal and tetanus vaccines. This can be confirmed by simply analyzing the multi-dose vials. Flu, meningococcal and tetanus vaccines are all approved for use in children. The claim mercury is out of vaccines is bogus.

    You have a citation for this? As to mercury being out of vaccines, please see this site: http://www.fda.gov/CBER/vaccine/thimerosal.htm#t1

    Regarding the study you mention about neuroinflammatory illnesses, “Neuroglial activation and Neuroinflammation in the Brain of Patients with Autism” (abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15546155 – full text at http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/109793289/PDFSTART), the study does not specify whether the individuals studied were infected by the disease or received vaccination; in fact, the study does not mention vaccines at all. This is an important consideration, since neuroinflammatory diseases, like encephalitis, are far more common as complications of disease than of vaccination. I also note that their sample size is 18 patients. That’s not enough for statistical significance.

    Now, do you want to debate whether mercury, a known neurotoxin, added to childhood vaccines at levels 250 times higher than what the EPA identifies as hazardous waste, causes neuroinflammatory disease?

    If you’re going to continue to use irrelevant studies you gleaned from the cranks at Generation Rescue, then I’m not really interested. If you can actually provide some real science, then we can talk, and I may even change my tune if the evidence warrants. So far, though, you have not supported your arguments with valid evidence.

  42. Mickey

    Does anyone have any evidence that vaccines are actually effective? Have they been tested on either adults or children?

  43. Kevin

    The idea that someone voicing an opinion, even a stupid opinion like vaccinating your child is bad, is somehow responsible when people act on that opinion, is ludicrous. We are all responsible for our actions, and Jenny is free to voice her opinions. Likewise, I am free to voice mine, that her opinion is insane, and also that anyone who neglects to vaccinate their child simply because a celebrity said not too should be locked up!

    Jenny is NOT liable for the morons who listen to her!

  44. Alan

    Regarding the argument about black swans… Don’t they exist? I swear I’ve seen them in zoos and such. Maybe those are geese. But I really thought they were swans.

    -Alan
    Vaccine Free Since the Late 70s.
    I’m 46. You do the math. Ummm… Arithmentic.

  45. @Mickey

    Does anyone have any evidence that vaccines are actually effective? Have they been tested on either adults or children?

    Every vaccine, when first produced, must be tested in the target population and show both safety (i.e., benefits outweigh the risks) and efficacy in order to be approved by FDA. You can go to ClinicalTrials.gov to search for clinical trials that have been conducted for various vaccines. You can also search on PubMed for studies done on the efficacy of vaccines.

  46. Jules

    @Mickey

    There is tons of evidence if you know where to look. A simple test is are people still dying or being horribly disfigured because of these diseases. The answer is no. Now what I have just said, really isn’t science. But do you honestly think that the population has built up some type of natural immunity to these diseases in less than a generation after a millenia of global outbreaks causing mass death?

    Anyway, here is one recent study from the CDC since it appears you are too lazy to do the research yourself. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/13/1/pdfs/12.pdf

    Quick overview:

    The United Kingdom and United States have recently
    experienced large outbreaks of mumps, which raises concerns
    about vaccine effectiveness. The effectiveness of the
    mumps component of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
    vaccine was estimated using the screening method. In England
    from January 2004 through March 2005, 312 cases of
    mumps were reported in children eligible to have received 2
    doses of MMR vaccine. Of these children, 52 (16.7%) had
    received 1 dose of MMR vaccine, and 97 (31.1%) had received
    2 doses. Vaccine effectiveness was 88% (95% confi
    dence interval [CI] 83%–91%) for 1 dose and 95% (95%
    CI 93%–96%) for 2 doses. The effectiveness of 1 dose declined
    from 96% (95% CI 81%–99%) in 2-year-olds to 66%
    (95% CI 30%–83%) in 11- to 12-year-olds, and the effectiveness
    of 2 doses declined from 99% (95% CI 97%–99.5%)
    in 5- to 6-year-olds to 86% (95% CI 74%–93%) in 11- to
    12-year-olds (p<0.001 for 1 or 2 doses). Waning immunity
    may contribute to mumps outbreaks in older vaccinated
    populations.

  47. While not directly related to vaccination, a sad and timely reminder of what’s at stake:

    WAUSAU, Wis. – A mother accused of rejecting medical treatment and relying on prayer as her 11-year-old daughter died of untreated diabetes believed people got sick because they sinned, a former friend and Bible study partner said Tuesday at the woman’s homicide trial.

    Click my name to view the story on Yahoo! News.

  48. @Dr. Nancy

    Regarding the study you cited, “Aluminum Neurotoxicity in Preterm Infants Receiving Intravenous Feeding Solutions” (full text available at http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/336/22/1557), the researchers used only pre-term infants. Their results, therefore, cannot be extrapolated to full-term infants, for starters. Second, the aluminum compound they examined was calcium gluconate compared against calcium chloride. Third, they examined chronic administration for greater than 10 days. Therefore, this study cannot be used to discuss vaccines.

    When I have more time, I’ll address the rest of your post.

  49. Jefferson

    Thank you Dr. Nancy for your valuable input. It’s good to have a second opinion on such a crucial matter.

    In the end, I will balance the data provided by Todd against the data you have provided to help me weigh the risks of vaccination vs no vaccination and make an informed decision that is based on the solid scientific evidence that is available out there.

    RL, I totally agree with you: its about convincing people, not drawing up sides.

  50. Jules

    @ Mickey

    P.S. sorry for my tone. I am not meaning to be insulting. This is a topic that I am very passionate about due to the fact I cannot be immunized and neither can my youngest. There are many others out there that face huge risks due to the increasing trend to not immunize and I get ruffled feathers. Not only are parents putting their own children at risk, but they are putting the global community at risk.

  51. dysomniak

    As much as the pro-disease lunatics infuriate me, I can’t in good conscience say that they should be held legally responsible for the result of their fear mongering. While I do believe they have a deep ethical liability for their irresponsible speech, in the end it is just speech and any legal responsibility must lie with those who act on it. Legally restricting the idiots’ right to speak their mind is an incredibly slippery slope that could rapidly lead to censorship of any view that the majority considers harmful (for instance, oh i don’t know… communism? republicanism? atheism?). As much as I wish there were some easy legal remedy to shut down these vectors of ignorance, I cannot avoid the conclusion that silencing Jenny McCarthy by force (or by law) would be a greater moral evil than letting her speak. The best answer to bad speech is good speech.

    On the other hand, despite my libertarian-leaning politics, I would much more sanguine about holding doctors accountable if they advocate harmful practices in defiance of all reasonable facts. If this seems like a double standard, well that’s probably because it is. In order to practice medicine in the USA, there are certain standards of conduct and ethics that one must adhere to. Some of the key values are beneficence (act in the patient’s best interests), non-malevolence (do no harm), and honesty. It is easy to see that promoting harmful quackery like this violates the social responsibility that a physician accepts when they choose their profession. Although I have strong reservations about the degree to which health care is regulated in this countyry, as long as the system exists it may as well make itself useful by actually stopping the quacks who support this dangerous nonsense.

    Maybe the video and the cracked article are a bit over the top, and they probably aren’t going to win a whole lot of converts, but satire and polemic do serve a useful purpose. Sometimes they do change minds (Tina Fey’s Palin may be better known than the real thing, and I might not be a skeptic if not for Penn & Teller). Preaching to the choir is often used as a dismissive but it is important to rally those who are like minded. I believe that this sort of thing is important in the skeptical movement to draw the attention of like minded people the important issues so that they can (hopefully) reach out to the victims of woo in a less aggressive manner. Clearly, however this is something we need to work on doing more of.

  52. QUASAR

    Is that the antivax mascot?

  53. wikiBuddha

    “What’s the difference between smoking and vaccinations [in terms of effects on others]”

    I think I understood this commenter’s intended point, but I don’t think they argued in favor of their argument and will give justification for mine…

    Let’s flip the argument around. There are actually laws against smoking, in public places, particularly where food is eaten. There’s not necessarily a comparable argument in regards to restricting the places where vaccines may be performed. However, would it sound reasonable for a law to exists that says that “Everyone must smoke cigarettes”? It would probably sound more like “In order to get into college, all students must smoke a cigarette daily.”

    Doesn’t that sound a little foolish. Whether there is value in vaccines, I am not here to argue about. My point is that it is foolish to force, in a “free” country, any individual to put anything foreign into their bodies.

    I have felt increasingly that there should be an amendment to the US Constitution that reads “Freedom of bodily consumption act: All citizens reserve the right to determine for themselves what foreign substances they wish to bring into their bodies and those which they do not.” ~ something along those lines. I don’t know why it needs to be spelled out. If I am free, I have the right to do what I want, as long as I’m not impeding on your rights and by choosing not to vaccinate myself, I do not infringe upon your right to be vaccinated.

    Finally, to answer the question in the title of this article, “Are antivaxxers liable for preventable deaths?” I say no. Freedom of speech definitely trumps here. If these antivaxxers were physically preventing people from entering hospitals to receive vaccinations, then we have an arguable case against them. When did the USA lose its sense of individual responsibilities. Why is it always someone else’s fault. If I chose to forgo giving my child vaccinations because I heard a celebrity spouting off about how bad it is and my child dies, that is my responsibility. Who’s more foolish the fool or the fool who follows? The follower. However, if McCarthy signed a doctor’s or legal note affirming the harm of vaccines and my child dies, then they are responsible.

    Should everyone who voted for someone who either approved of or failed to prevent torture be held equally responsible? No. Only the ones who issued the orders and the ones who performed the acts (and those who knew about either of those, but did nothing about it). Would you really consider that Jenny McCarthy is ordering me to avoid vaccines? Then, I wish your mother hadn’t sat you by the TV side to let the MSM raise you, poor child.

  54. Davidlpf

    @Todd, thanks for all the work you put in.

  55. -Alan
    Vaccine Free Since the Late 70s.
    I’m 46. You do the math. Ummm… Arithmentic.

    There’s no math needed. The fact that you haven’t caught anything simple means that herd immunity is working. Want to volunteer to spend half an hour with someone who has Measles? How about polio?

    Just because you haven’t caught it, doesn’t mean you can’t. And just because you’re not vaccinated and haven’t caught it doesn’t mean it won’t kill you.

  56. Fritz

    Although I agree that the Jenny McCarthy video was in no way useful, and very rude, I think it plays an important role in that it allows us sane people to blow off some steam when dealing with such imbeciles.

  57. Wow, Todd. That is fantastic. Bookmarked!

    As for Brian’s video, I loved it. I don’t think it’s about changing minds. That requires facts and evidence, and looking at the medical studies is the way to do that. But that video serves as a stark reminder to us, the pro-vax types, of how important this issue is. And yes, we get to giggle with Brian Thompson’s lyrical abilities. But if you’ve ever listened to the AmSci podcast, or read their blog, you know that they satirize EVERYTHING. There is a place for serious skepticism, and there’s a place for silliness, and there’s a lot in between. It’s that chorus of voices that makes a movement successful, since it can reach out to all types of people.

  58. Actually, drsky, if you do the math…. a 46 year old was NOT born in the late 70s. I think that’s the point…

    What I took from that was “vaccinated and still healthy” not “I’ve never been vaccinated.”

  59. Oops…read too much into it. Just got home from work. Brain is mush.

    After the mercury militia moved in, I expected everything after to be cheering them on.

    Except Todd. When everyone else bails, there is always Todd.

  60. ccpetersen

    This whole McCarthy thing — and people like her who claim to have SUCH an interest in other people’s sick kids — makes me wonder if we aren’t dealing with some kind of weird twist on the Munchausen-by-proxy syndrome.

    Wikibuddha, I think your concept of “Freedom from injection” or whatever is fine, as long as you accept that the consequence of that freedom is that the rest of us don’t want you or your kids mixed in among the rest of us, thereby reducing the risk to the rest of us if you and/0r your kids are carrying something that can cause harm to pregnant mothers and other kids who aren’t vaccinated (yet).

    You ask, “When did the U.S. lose its sense of personal responsibility?” I think that the answer is that many of us haven’t lost it. We’ve gotten our vaccinations. Now we’re having to put up with screeching minority that insists on the right to NOT vaccinate, but doesn’t want to be held to the consequences of that right. So, instead, they blame, blame, blame, without knowing the science they’re blaming and deriding. That’s a whale of lot of NOT taking personal responsibility, wouldn’t you say?

    When you choose an act or a non-action, you choose the consequences. Think about it. If you choose not to vaccinate, you also choose the c0nsequences of what happens if you or your child infects someone else. If that someone else is a pregnant person, you’ve just infected TWO people, one of whom couldn’t possibly control what happened.

  61. Robert

    http://www.chop.edu/vaccine/pdf/aluminum_eng.pdf

    On aluminum (comparisons are insightful):
    “Q. How much aluminum is in vaccines?
    A. During the first 6 months of life, infants could receive about
    4 milligrams of aluminum from vaccines. That’s not very much:
    a milligram is one-thousandth of a gram and a gram is the weight
    of one-fifth of a teaspoon of water. During the same period,
    babies will also receive about 10 milligrams of aluminum in
    breast milk, about 40 milligrams in infant formula, or about 120
    milligrams in soy-based formula.”

    Took a long time to find information from a valid source. Type in “vaccine ingredients” into a search engine and you get a lot of woo and a lot of questionable sources. Link above was from the CDC (which, I realize, some people will claim is just a mouthpiece for ‘evil pharma’)

  62. ND

    I wonder how Jenny will react if the H1N1 we saw recently picks up again at greater rate and there is a vaccine ready for it. Is she going to publicly advocate not getting the shot? Sounds like a perfect storm brewing.

  63. Jules

    @ccpetersen You just raised something that made me ponder this, if someone infected with HIV/AIDS knowingly puts someone at risk for contracting said disease (does not give full disclosure of infection before participating in acts that can spread infection) can be charged with a criminal offense, then why shouldn’t it be the case for all disease? Especially those known to cause death and/or disfigurement/scaring/sterility/secondary infection/etc?

    This may just cause a whole different debate. Yes there is a period where one is contagious before symptoms are present, so disclosure cannot be given. However, if you knowingly put someone at risk for contracting said disease and do not warn the person, should they be held responsible just as one is with HIV/AIDS?

    If you knowingly put your children at risk for contracting said diseases, there should be a criminal consequence as well. Some may argue that these infections are not nearly as bad as HIV/AIDS, but they are. They all can cause death.

    If an adult wants to put themselves in such jeopardy, they can fill their boots because they can give informed consent, a child cannot.

  64. drsky, yeah I had to get out my calculator just to make sure…. and it was an ambiguous quote anyway. 😉

    And I never addressed the point of holding anti-vaxxers responsible… I don’t see how that can hold up. At what point does it stop being “another celebrity being stupid” and start being as dangerous as yelling fire in a theatre? They are spreading dangerous notions, but those can be counteracted with sound doctors and an overflow of pro-vax messages. It is ultimately the parents’ decision to choose what they want to do, and they have at least 9 months to think it over. As much as I’d like to simply shut them up (the celeb anti-vaxxers), we may be stuck with them.

    Also, in regards to personal responsibility, I can totally understand why a parent who doesn’t understand the risks and benefits of vaccines vs. not vaccinating will fiercely support their right to choose what they do. If they are lucky, great. If their kid gets sick then they should be held liable for endangerment. If their kid can’t get into school, that’s too bad. But even that gets to the point where you can’t start putting unvaccinated children into sealed bubbles to protect the rest of the population (or the small %age of it that can’t vaccinate or for whom the vaccine is ineffective.) It’s a tough position.

    I don’t know. I keep talking myself in circles here. The one thing I do know is that science and evidence should rule the day, and we need to get that information out there as much as we can.

  65. Darwin

    Figured you wouldn’t post my comment, no one here really is asking the right questions. Typical ‘herd’ mentality.. good luck lemmings.

  66. Babs

    @ RL
    You’re basically claiming that people who DECIDE to listen to sources of misinformation are not to blame if that decision turns out to be wrong and has horrible consequences for someone else as well. What I said was (paraphrased): Smokers, who DECIDE to listen to people who claim that smoking is harmless (or even good for you, as the claims used to be) are not to blame for any second-hand smoke related disease in others, because they’re exercising their freedom of expression, just as antivaxxers do. Smoking, as I used it, was analogous to refusal to vaccinate, not listening to Jenny McCarthy. I never claimed the latter.

    Antivaxxers claim they have the right not to vaccinate their children, which leads to more instances of diseases that would not occur if the herd immunity was strong through vaccination. So they have the right, under the umbrella of free speech, to potentially harm others. Smokers are prevented from smoking in public places, because second-hand smoke can potentially harm non-smokers. How are the two ideas not related? I could use others if you’d like. How about drunk driving. Alcohol isn’t against the law, neither is driving. Why are people punished if they’re caught driving under the influence of alcohol? Because there’s a potential of harming others. But since neither drinking nor driving are against the law, you should be allowed to drive drunk. Freedom of speech and expression… That’s what I was trying to say, and that’s precisely what you seem to have misunderstood.

    But if there are people who are loud enough to drown every other argument in their drivel, and if those people use their media, political or similar type of influence to persuade people to do something as harmful as refusing to vaccinate, they SHOULD be held accountable. If you coerce someone into doing something wrong (or, let’s be more precise here and say they do something against the law), they will be held accountable – and so shall you. Tobacco companies were held accountable for misrepresenting information that was already available, and they used their influence to persuade people to keep smoking. Why was that? And why doesn’t the same apply to vaccinations?

    Second: you have obviously never heard any antivaxxers engaged in what could be mistaken for a debate. No matter what kind of evidence the actual experts, who had done (sometimes very extensive) research on the matter, present, the antivaxxers moan about how pharmaceutical companies just want to make money off the deaths of children. Those “arguments” are sometimes supplemented by blatantly anecdotal accounts of some horrible events that are supposedly linked to vaccinations, and talks about how they feel it’s the right thing to do. They’re immune to anything that actually makes sense, because vaccines are their own personal Lucifer, whether you like it or not. Their behaviour bears all the usual hallmarks of religious fanaticism, so why not call it that?

    Whichever way you turn it, Jenny McCarthy and quite a few antivaxxers I’ve heard so far are nutcases – they act that way so consistently, I can’t call them anything else. Excuse me for using the appropriate noun for naming a spade.

    Of course education is the key. But it won’t work if it drowns in scary fiction, especially if there are people who keep on claiming that scary fiction is actually fact. Trust me, those girls in scary movies can scream… and if you want people to hear your voice over theirs, you need to scream much, much louder, and you need to say out loud that the film is simply crap, because it is. You won’t wake anyone up by tiptoeing around them.

    By the way – does Jenny McCarthy get that much attention by being nice? I believe Gandhi was the very last person who got any kind of attention by being nice. And even he wasn’t always nice – and he certainly wasn’t quiet. I’m not saying we need to fight fire with fire, but we should say there’s a fire when we see it. But there’s a problem, isn’t there? Antivaxxers have been yelling fire for a while now. Would you care to guess how many people will believe us when we try to shout?

    To put it simply: the actual science is not that hard to understand, but to an average human being it’s just boring as shit. Jenny’s stories are thrilling and fun, and, on top of it all, you don’t even need a brain to understand them. The result of this equation is frightening, but unfortunately it reflects the current situation. I’m afraid being nice and polite will have no effect on the situation whatsoever.

  67. hera

    It always intrigues me that so many adults are unvaccinated, but the assumption always seems to be that only children or infants could pass on a disease.
    Out of interest, who on this board,who is healthy enough to receive it, has for example had a whooping cough vaccine recently?(apparently the vaccine gives immunity for about 5 years, so a childhood vaccination is basically irrelevant if you are an adult).(By the way apparently whooping cough, in some adults can be so mild it resembles a cold, so one could easily be at risk of passing it on without necessarily realizing one was infected.)It is interesting to check on the length of immunity given by most other vaccines. Then of course, most adults are not vaccinated against Hep B ( wasn’t given before the 80’s) Though Hep B is predominantly sexually transmitted, apparently the risk of catching it from someone splashing blood on you is high enough that we vaccinate every infant.( By the way, I think the immunity starts to fade after about 12 years, so all those sexually active teenagers are probably no longer covered..)Most adults already know if they have risk factors for vaccines,they have fully developed nervous systems,and fully functioning kidneys and liver and they are capable of reporting side effects, and being believed.It is safer in many ways for adults to be vaccinated, yet so many are not.
    Maybe time for anyone who believes in the culpability of non vaccinating parents in disease, to ensure that their own vaccines are up to date? Just a thought.

  68. Jan

    Have people forgotten already about the ‘mistake’ that Baxter pharma recently made when they shipped out a vaccine that was a mixture of live bird flu and influenza? Maybe the science behind vaccines is sound, but the manufacturers are not to be trusted an inch.

    http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2009/02/27/8560781.html
    http://blogs.healthfreedomalliance.org/blog/2009/04/26/baxter-admitted-sending-live-avian-flu-in-vaccines-now-vying-to-create-new-swine-flu-vaccine/

    There are many more references out there, these were just at the top of the search results.

  69. Jules
  70. mom4truth

    Is Dr. Bernadine Healy an “anti-vaxer?” Does Discover Magazine hold her liable for challenging the safety of our one-size-fits-all vaccine program? This is an obvious attempt to intimidate parents into not being cautious about vaccinating their children. Clearly, Big Pharma has the inside track at Discover. Otherwise, why is the coverage of this subject so biased?

    I would like to see Discover’s scientific explanation for the thousands and thousands of regressions into autism following vaccines. I hope they can give us something better than “coincidence.”

  71. Daffy

    “I would like to see Discover’s scientific explanation for the thousands and thousands of regressions into autism following vaccines. I hope they can give us something better than “coincidence.”

    Uh-huh. How many of those “thousands and thousands” had water that day? Or maybe peanut butter? Or tomatoes? Used toothpaste? Watched Jenny McCarthy on TV?

    Your example says NOTHING about causality. Not to mention you give no source for your figure, which may just be made up for all I know.

  72. Jules

    @mom4truth

    Have you not read the little disclaimer at the main page of this blog stating that these are the ideas and opinions of Dr. Plait and his readers, not of Discovery magazine and/or the James Randi Educational Foundation, of which Dr. Plait serves as President.

  73. Responsible, yes.

    Liable? Probably not.

    Also, there are levels of responsibility. If someone acts in good faith, but they are just seriously misunderstanding the information available (or there isn’t much information available) that is one thing.

    But, when groups like Generation Rescue knowingly distribute false information like their recent “study” (http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=2299), they should be held to a higher standard. That, I think, should make them legally liable for damages caused to people who act on the Generation Rescue advice.

    When Jenny McCarthy tells people to look at the Generation Rescue website for “altnerate” vaccine schedules that tell people to avoid vaccinating against Measles, Mumps and Rubella, why shouldn’t she be held responsible if there are outbreaks? When she uses clearly discredited sources like Andrew Wakefield to challenge the safety of the vaccine, she is spreading misinformation.

  74. # drksky Says:
    Except Todd. When everyone else bails, there is always Todd.

    That’s because Todd gets wholesale prices on Purina Troll ChowTM

    J/P=?

  75. “I would like to see Discover’s scientific explanation for the thousands and thousands of regressions into autism following vaccines. ”

    I don’t know about Discover Magazine’s explanation, but Dr. Maddy Hornig and her coworkers had something to say about the children who have autism, gastrointestinal disease and were vaccinated with MMR.

    They showed, pretty conclusively, that Autism and GI complaints are not linked to the MMR vaccine.

    The only “evidence” that MMR is linked to autistic regression was a paper by Andrew Wakefield–a paper that is clearly incorrect given Hornig’s paper. Much worse, Wakefield’s studies are well recognized as junk science. When his own co-authors published a retraction, it should have told us all that it was nonsense.

  76. And McCarthy’s denials of being anit-vax ring incredibly hollow. It’s like someone saying, “I’m not sexist, but I think women belong in the kitchen.” or saying, “I’m not racist, but I think black people are less intelligent.” So Jenny saying she’s not anti-vax is equally as hollow….

    And for all those people who have anectdotal stories remember that the correlation may seem remarkable to you because anomalies always seem remarkable when they happen to you. However, what you need to understand is that in the context of the 306 million people in the United States, anomalies are actually not only expected, it would be remarkable if they didn’t occur. Here’s a back of the envelope explanation why (from another blogger that frequents BA padraic2112.wordpress.com/2009/04/25/my-last-vaccination-post-for-a-while/):

    There is a simple reason why this is not relevant, take the following facts:
    * children take vaccines
    * autism displays its first symptoms in childhood
    * children under the age of 5 make up ~7% of the population
    * there are ~306 million people in the U.S.
    * about 80% of children are vaccinated entirely

    This means 306 x 0.07 x .8 = 1.7 million children (roughly) have been vaccinated. With the vaccination schedule being what it is, then, there are somewhere around 100,000 children getting a shot every month (that last one is hand-wavey, it assumes a lot about frequency distributions, but that’s not really germane to my point). Autism rates are estimated at anywhere between 1 in 100 and 1 in 150 children, that means we have about 17,000 diagnosis of autism. If every single one of those autism diagnosis was given to a vaccinated child (they’re not, but again for our sake here it introduces very small error), and those 17,000 have a scatter distribution of vaccination patterns, that means not one, not dozens, not hundreds, but *thousands* of those diagnosis came within days or weeks of a vaccination: yes, this means that dozens will occur within an hour of a vaccination.

    Put those thousands of people together on a message board (and since autism is hard to deal with, a very high percentage of these family *do* bond together, like SMA sufferers or MS or cancer or any other family-impacting disease), you’ll have a few thousand people all saying to each other, “Gee, MY kid got a shot right before her symptoms started showing, too! There are thousands of us! THAT CAN’T BE A COINCIDENCE.”

    But you can see, it actually *isn’t* a coincidence; it’s exactly what we would expect to happen.

  77. “Is Dr. Bernadine Healy an “anti-vaxer?” ”

    Don’t know about that. I do know that she has proven herself to make very irresponsible comments misinforming the public. Her statements about how the Institute of Medicine completely misrepresented the facts.

    Has she ever apologized for her work in spreading misinformation about the dangers of second hand tobacco smoke?

  78. Keith

    The video was brutal, but it’s candor was spot on. The truth is occasionally brutal, and as the old saying goes, the truth hurts. Well done Brian.

    I agree with Ivan, if Jenny McCarthy can cuss out doctors who know far more about the subject of vaccines than she does, people like Brian and Daniel at Cracked are free to skewer her in any manner they see fit.

  79. There are thousands of us saying that Jenny McCarthy and Generation Rescue are dangerous.

    Could that be a coincidence?

  80. Great article by Hurst. I fail to understand why Andrew Wakefield has not been prosecuted for anything, given that he knowingly falsified data in a study that has affected people’s health and caused deaths as a result of his “findings”. How is it that this man has not been brought to trial in either the US or the UK?

  81. Jules

    @mom4truth

    Maybe it is time for my to put on my psychologist’s hat. Here is the bare bones explanation for your question. However, I am afraid that even if I post links to 1000s of CREDIBLE studies on the subject, you will still not open your eyes to empirical evidence over some uneducated celebrity that has to find blame for her child’s autism other than genetics and other environmental factors. Because heaven forbid she has faulty genes in her family or the father’s family. No no no, it can’t be something that is inherited instead of some wild conspiracy from the Big Pharma to screw up generations of people.

    First, and really pay attention to this CORRELATION does not mean CAUSATION.

    The reason why there seems to be this causation is very very simple and has to do with the FACT that vaccination schedule occurs at approx. the same as certain developmental milestones in an a child’s development. So as a “norm” your child should be holding up his at 3 months old (now that is the norm, some children will be able to sooner and some later but if it doesn’t happen sooner, no need to panic). Now there are many other milestones that infant development specials and Drs will watch for as the child develops at around (coincidentally) that immunizations are given. The list is way too elaborate to list here and again maybe this will give you incentive to do your own research instead of listening to a bunch of people on the interwebs or tv. Now if by chance (as an example) your child is not holding its head by 3 months, the medical community will monitor and see how the child develops. Now since your child has just received a shot, is that the cause of the child not having full muscle control, no it could be a ride variety of things. And because of it, the child should be monitored.

    And this monitoring has to continue for YEARS because even so there is a “norm” not everyone falls into that norm. Some children may hold up their heads at 2 weeks, others at 4 months yet everything else falls within the curve of “normal”.

    Now because children develop at such a varied pace (regardless of norms) most diagnosis cannot be made until a child is at least 3 years of age. The Drs et al can only speculate as to what may or may not be occuring. MOST professionals are not comfortable with attributing any label or diagnosis until a child is AT LEAST 5. TADA the age at which the chicken pox vaccine is administered. Does that mean that vaccine caused a child to be ADHD or Autistic etc etc. NO. Its simple, that is the guideline by which is accepted within the medical community to assign a label. Reason for that is because a lot of the treatments for these different developmental issues can have negative impact on the child if a misdiagnosis occurs and we have a whole different set of issues to face (such as the over prescription of Ritalin because parents are too much in a rush to wait and DRs in some areas are lazy).

    /rant

    And this time I will not apologize for my tone.

  82. Kiwi

    What on earth are all of you defending. You would think that we have this “International Gold Standard” of health that somehow people are threatening to undermine.
    I’m sorry, did I miss something
    1)40+ countries in the world have a lower infant mortality than we do.
    2)Autism is 1 in 67 if you look at National Education Statistics.
    3)School teachers, administrators, and special ed experts are asking where all of these severely damaged kids are coming from, they are breaking the budgets of the schools, being killed by school restraint techniques, and those same teachers and special ed experts never thought they would ever see an autistic kid in their lifetime. They didn’t miss those kids 20 years ago, they have never seen anything like this.
    4) Our children are being ravaged by Autism, ADD/ADHD, Asthma, life-threatening food allergies, arthritis, insulin dependent diabetes, cancers. It is now harder in a classroom in the U.S. to find the perfectly normal and healthy child, there are few left.
    5) physicians that never thought they would see Autism in their lifetime now have more Autistic children in their care than they can count on both hands. Some dedicating themselves to this population have hundreds.
    6) the CDC wants you and I to believe that Autism has always been here, we just called it something else. Really? What did we do with them? Why didn’t they break the schools when we called them something else? Why can no one remember people even closely resembling these kids but now filling “Autism Classrooms”? What are they doing now as adults because thousands of parents are dying to know as they are being told their children are going to end up in group homes or institutions. IDEA is older than that, these kids would have been accomodated and mainstreamed, but I never met one. My old school now has Autism classrooms!!! Hmmmm?
    7)If it was better diagnosis Oregon might have gone from three children known to have Autism and receiving services to perhaps 20. I would even give you 50 for arguments sake, but in 20 years we have gone from three children to nearly 8,000.
    8) Seriously affected children are now being denied diagnosis and services because they just cannot handle any more in the “system”.
    9) Social Security is already reporting massive increases in Autism claims, and wait until 1 in 67 are signing up instead of going to college, or getting jobs. It is not the baby boomers who are going to break Social Security, it is Autism. It is a tsunami coming and no one is preparing because that would be admitting there is an epidemic.
    10) If I say my child collapsed after vaccination and was never the same afterwards, eventually to be diagnosed with autism, you call it antecdotal, while I call it “Eye Witness Testimony”. But if over 200,000 parents say it, it ceases to be merely antecdotal, and your ignoring it becomes more insane and criminal than any free speech Jenny McCarthy exhibits.
    11) If we are proven right, are all of you to be held responsible for killing and maiming innocent children that were sacrificed in the name of your holy herd immunity.

    I always have to laugh at the attitudes expressed here as if you are somehow enlightened of science and anyone who disagrees, is ignorant. You defend trumped up epidemiology as science, and we are the ones whacked????? Please!!!
    But no one can ever answer why preventing measles is more important than figuring out why 1 in every 67 children have Autism, why asthma, diabetes, arthritis, life-threatening allergies, children’s cancers…All life shortening, life-long chronic disease are increasing at almost 1500%. I am still trying to figure out what you are defending.
    Someone earlier mentioned Polio in 1952, the highest incidence rate. That was only 1 in 4000 children, perhaps 3,000 when speculating for those that may have shown only flu like symptoms. The fear and outcry brought a nation to its knees, the president addressed the nation to calm fears and demanded every scientist drop what they were doing to fix this problem. 1 in 67 even 1 in 150 does nothing.,…..ho hum….It’s a mystery…no shock, no alarm, no fear, no presidential address, we need more awareness. Hell we are about to get a proposed 48 million for autism awareness while the CDC tells us we are already so aware that is the reason for a falsley perceived increase. Can we afford much more awareness? What will 48 million in awareness bring us????? A rate of 1 in every 25? I somehow doubt even that will cause a rise in anyone. Will 1 in 5? What is it going to take? There is no crisis, no impending future catastrophe as all these autistic children age into adulthood…just be aware, accepting, go join your local walk around a track to raise more money so we can be “More Aware”!!!! Yawn!!!.
    Funny, in over 500 families with Autism that I have asked only 1 of them said their doctor was so aware he suggested there might be a problem. the other 499 were blown off by their doctors, told to wait and see, oh they will outgrow it, oh boys always talk later, etc. etc. etc. Even the CDC said they were shocked that it appears diagnosis is being made an appalling average of 1 1/2 years after parents express grave concerns. So much for all that better awareness. Look at a child with severe Autism and ask yourself if a parent 20 years ago wouldn’t have demanded to know, “What is wrong with my child”?
    I always love the argument also that parents are seeking the diagnosis because it is just so gosh darn “trendy” and let’s not forget “Lucrative”. While every family I know never knew what Autism was until they heard the one word they wish they had never heard in their lifetime. As they were told there was no cause, no treatment, no hope. As they were told to prepare for group homes or institutions instead of driver’s licenses, proms, and college. They all lost any chance of insurance coverage and many mortgaged their homes and retirements to help their children. They witness their physically ill child ignored because after all they are “autistic” and it just goes with the territory, as if that is a license to allow pain and suffering to an innocent child. Yes, that Autism diagnosis was a huge windfall. I’m still trying to figure out where there are money and services because I have certainly seen Zero. You could not have paid me a billion dollars to want this hell on earth. They watched the school set the expectations for their child equaling the expectations you might have for a fir tree. As they restrained their children, sat on them, and locked them in Closets justifying this as some kind of standard of treatment. Yes, all those parents were thinking how Lucky am I that I wanted that Autism diagnosis.
    We are told it is Genetic, yet it is only this generation affected in more than 90% of the families I deal with. No weird Uncle Frank who might have been misdiagnosed, no asthma, no diabetes, no arthritis, no cancers, but this generation of children seem to be pooling them all together.
    So yes, just what are you protecting? You are so worried that one unvaccinated kid might get near yours while in a single classroom of 24 kids I found 6 on (Ritalin, Risperdal, etc. etc.), 4 with ANA allergy kits for life-threatening allergies, 1 with insulin dependent diabetes, 8 of them had inhalers for some level of Asthma, and 5 more were receiving special education services for some form of emotional, behavioral, neurological diagnosed condition. So tell me again who is insane here? The fact you find this acceptable and worry more about measles and mumps than these life-long, life-shortening, and life-destroying diseases simply says it all.
    I guess I will stick with my own little group of crazies, they look a lot better and since someone mentioned rationality and common sense…uh hum, I will take us. The rest of you obviously have your brainwashed little sheeple heads stuck in the sand. I understand your anger though in realizing if you admit the other side may have some points, you have to look at the fact you may have played a part in the damage done to millions of children, maybe even your own. I know that pain as I live with it every day. But different than you I say, Fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice and shame on me. They will not destroy one more child in my family.
    Please tell me again what you are protecting? Oh yah, God forbid a child should get the measles, but millions with life-long debilitating diseases is just okey-dokey with you.
    Just so I am clear on that.

  83. John Says:
    @Todd W

    “Pro-disease anti-vaxers want vaccines that are 100% safe”

    That statement makes no sense whatsoever. If they want a perfectly safe vaccine, that makes them “anti-disease and pro-100% safe vaxxers” no?

    Better to use neutral language in future, and not risk making yourself look silly.

    -x-x-x-x-x-x

    John, you fail to realize that this is a war between the anti-science know nothings and the supporters of science and health. The former do not play “nicey-nice” and use whatever tactics to discredit science and the proponents thereof. If you have never visited the cesspool blog, Age of Autism, which is one of the leaders of the anti-vaccination movement, then you should do so. Watch how they “out” their enemies,. Watch how they personally trash people such as Dr. Paul Offit. They torture logic and use logical fallacies as means of argumentation. There are those who fall for their claims, such as Moms4Truth, who I met recently on a forum.

    They claim that they want 100% safe vaccines, when they have been told time and again that this is not possible. They know better, but regurgitate their crap to make themselves look like they care.

    It is war. Take no prisoners.

  84. The NON-Patriot whined: One has to wonder why there are suddenly so many mean-spirited articles about this subject? Perhaps the pro-vaxxer doth protest too much.

    No, one does not have to wonder. The sceince based pro-health crowd is fed up with the vicious attacks of the Anti-Vax Collective. The tide has turned.

    Oh, and your use of VAERS is bull. You do not even have a clue about it. Ask Dr. Laidler.

  85. Wow, Kiwi–you are just full of misinformation.

    “7)If it was better diagnosis Oregon might have gone from three children known to have Autism and receiving services to perhaps 20. I would even give you 50 for arguments sake, but in 20 years we have gone from three children to nearly 8,000.”

    So, there are no adults with autism in Oregon at all? No one over 20 years old? Total nonsense. Or, are you claiming this based on education data? In that case, yes, there were no kids with the label “autism” 20 years ago. Guess what, there was no educational label for autism 20 years ago.

    Can you provide a real link to the “national” data that shows 1 in 67 with autism? OK, I admit to being disingenuous since I KNOW the national data don’t support your wild claim.

    We could go on and on disecting your long post. But why? You are obviously spreading misinformation.

  86. Jules

    @Kiwi

    Has it ever occurred to you that maybe some of these people from this crazy scientific have family members who are afflicted with the above mentioned illnesses and know exactly what kind of struggles families face when their children are not “perfect”?

    Has it ever occurred to you that the reason why it is seen so widely in classrooms is because, up until recently (well here in Canada anyway), children were widely misdiagnosed with other disorders and classrooms were segregated, children with developmental disorders were not put in classrooms with “normal” children.

    Has it occurred to you that there are very few pychologist/psychiatrists that are trained in Abnormal Psych of Children/Adolescence and therefor generations of children were treated under the guidelines given by Abnormal Psych for adults. Ab. Psyc for Children is a relatively new field largely due to the fact that the scientific community has finally realized you cannot treat and diagnose children as you would an adult since the way their psychology functions is so vastly different. I cannot even begin to go into all the huge advancements in this field since I received my degree less than a decade ago. It is a huge undertaking for someone to keep up to date with the latest advancements in the field and for psychologists (at least again here in Canada) continuing education is not mandatory as it is for Drs to remain licensed.

    Do you even understand that difference between a psychologist (who that is all they study is psychology), a psychiatrist (who is a medical dr and then later on does a rotation in psychiatry but does not receive nearly enough training in Psychology IMHO), a pediatrician (who again has to learn a lot about everything), an Infant Development Specialist (who takes years of Infant Development and child psyc cources)? Do you understand how these difference can sometimes muddy the waters when trying to find answers as to why their children may have developmental issues?

    Do you understand the millions of different factors that can cause any one of the afflictions you mentioned?

    I really don’t think you do, otherwise you would not be blaming vaccines as the cause.

    Let me ask you this? Do you sterilize your house? Do you use anti-bacterial anything? Did you know that if you use anti-bacterial soap that you should soak your dishes for at least 10 minutes in hot water otherwise you are just killing the weak bacterias and allowing the strong bacterias to become even stronger and creating super-bugs? Do you understand that is a huge contributing factor to all the ailments you have mentioned? Do you understand thanks to anti-bacterial things and the misuse of the prescription for antibiotics for things like the cold or flu can be attributed to these ailments since children are no longer in environment that let their immune systems develop naturally?

    There is no simple answer. It is not clear cut. And speaking from both an educated stand point and a parent who has two children with behavioral disorders, well this whole thing just busts my biscuits! And let me tell you this before you ask if my children were vaccinated or not, my oldest was and my youngest could not be fully vaccinated because unfortunately he inherited my allergy to vaccines. My oldest inherited his ADHD/ODD. He has undergone a study at UVic regarding ADHD/ODD because of the severity. His father has it, my brother has it and my first cousin has it. My youngest has Autistic tendencies, which thankfully due to behavioral therapies, we have been able to manage through most of them but life was hell until he was 6. And well we are still trying to figure out what is the exact cause because the underlying history only has 10 reported cases in Canada and so he is part of an ongoing study.

    No matter how much the anti-vaxxers piss and moan, until they can show me REAL empirical data to the contrary instead of just anecdotal evidence, I will continue to support vaccination and point out that there are sooo many things in our environment today that was not present even a generation ago that can be causing ALL of these conditions.

    Anyway, I am just rambling now and am extremely angry that you would even think that “we” don’t get it, because a lot of do. And my arguments are not to logical at this point in time because I am pissed.

  87. TheBlackCat

    But no one can ever answer why preventing measles is more important than figuring out why 1 in every 67 children have Autism, why asthma, diabetes, arthritis, life-threatening allergies, children’s cancers…All life shortening, life-long chronic disease are increasing at almost 1500%. I am still trying to figure out what you are defending.

    YOU, and people like you, are the ones hampering our ability to understand the real causes of autism. No matter how many studies are done indicating no link between autism and vaccines, no matter how well-done, how large, how well-controlled, and how unbiased the studies are you are never satisfied. You keep demanding more studies, more studies, more studies. No matter how thoroughly the vaccine/autism link is shown to be false, you still demand we throw more money at it.

    There is limited time, manpower, and resources available. Every time you make scientists duplicate the dozens of existing vaccine/autism studies, you are taking that time, money, and manpower away from looking for the real causes of autism. Studies of the genetics underlying autism has already made huge strides. Many genes strongly linked to autism have been found. Studying those genes, and others we might find down the road, can tell us a great deal about autism. If we can figure out which genes, or combinations of genes, are linked to specific sets of symptoms we might be able to get a better idea for how autism can be broken into categories for better diagnosis and treatment. If we can figure out what the genes do we should be able to figure out what specifically goes wrong to lead to autism, and perhaps even how to prevent it (or maybe even reverse it, although that is unlikely). If we can figure out the chemistry of those genes we may be able to figure out what environmental triggers can lead to autism.

    You mention cancer and diabetes. We have learned a great deal about what triggers various sorts of cancer, how it develops, and how we can stop it. Many forms of cancer have over 90% recovery rates if diagnosed in a reasonable amount of time. Some have far higher success rates. And that list is growing continuously. We are figuring out how cancer can be triggered as well. The same goes for diabetes, both our understanding of the diseases and our ability to treat them has grown tremendously.

    You, however, are slowing this down. Not only are you wasting resources by demanding we re-hash the same studies over and over and over again, but you are causing outbreaks of diseases that were once essentially gone. Fighting these outbreaks takes substantial resources as well. So you may claim that you want to find out what causes autism, but in reality you are the biggest thing standing in the way of that right now. You are stealing scarce resources from proven productive lines of research and wasting them on lines of research that were settled years ago.

    I’m still trying to figure out where there are money and services because I have certainly seen Zero.

    The money is in the people promoting the vaccine-autism link. People like McCarthy who are selling books and getting lucrative daytime TV deals. Quacks peddling useless and often dangerous treatments. Ambulance-chasing lawyers and conmen being paid by them. These are the people who invented the autism-vaccine link, these are the people who promoted it, and these are the people who are pushing it right now. They are parasites feeding off families facing difficult times. If you want to be mad at someone, be mad at them. They are the ones making a fortune off your children. Scientists make next to nothing. Vaccines are practically worthless to pharmaceutical companies. But these people are getting rich by promoting an imaginary and long-disproven myth originally invented by a proven fraud.

    We are told it is Genetic, yet it is only this generation affected in more than 90% of the families I deal with. No weird Uncle Frank who might have been misdiagnosed, no asthma, no diabetes, no arthritis, no cancers, but this generation of children seem to be pooling them all together.
    So yes, just what are you protecting?

    This is complete and utter baloney. Documented cases of autism go back hundreds of years.

    No weird Uncle Frank who might have been misdiagnosed, no asthma, no diabetes, no arthritis, no cancers, but this generation of children seem to be pooling them all together.

    Diabetes and cancer were not survivable until fairly recently. You don’t see those people because they are dead. I have an aunt who is in her late 40’s and has had asthma since she was a kid. My father is in his mid-50’s and has obsessive-compulsive disorder. My parents both have serious allergies. I know a bunch of people in their 50’s carrying around epi-pens because of life-threatening allergies. If you think these diseases are new you are delusional.

    It is true that some, such as diabetes, have been increasing. So has childhood obesity, which has been conclusively linked to diabetes. Why do you think doctors are fighting so hard against childhood obesity? For others, like autism, the actualy evidence (evidence, not stories) of an increase is tenuous at best. And even if these is in increase, there is no reason to think that it is linked to vaccines. Lots of other things have increased in the same time period, including the use of SUVs, global temperatures, video games. Others have decreased, like corporal punishment, honey bees, and the use of thimerosal. Just because two things happened over the same time period does NOT mean one caused the other.

  88. Just in case some people might be under the impression that black swans don’t exist. We have thousands of the birdies here in Oz.
    http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan

  89. The libertarians really are giving too much of a free pass to the Jennys of the world. Yes, individuals are responsible for their own actions. Jenny and her ilk are also responsible. Free speech does not cover shouting “fire” in a theatre. Many countries also have laws against incitement of racial hatred as far as inciting violence or other criminal acts. Jenny and her cronies can be considered to be inciting criminally negligent behaviour that threatens the collective good and that kills a few individuals on the way. So, yeah, she is responsible.

  90. Last week on the Skeptic Zone podcast Richard Saunders wandered off to the doctor to get a whooping cough booster partly in response to the whooping cough epidemic we have in Australia now. Apparently if you have any contact with children under 4 months old you should consider having a booster shot if you haven’t had one in the last 10 years. I was lucky enough to become an uncle again in the last couple of weeks so me and my better half have an appointment this afternoon to get our booster shots. In your face pro-disease criminals.

  91. Michelle

    I once debated with a forum full of antivaxxers in a thread that I’d been called into as the proverbial cavalry. (The person who called me was a nurse who got dogpiled after she was venting frustration at a child who had died of — I think whooping cough. His parents, antivaxxers, hadn’t gotten him vaccinated, and now he was dead.)

    I didn’t go in thinking I would convince anyone. If the existing science on the subject hasn’t convinced you, Jesus Christ himself coming down from heaven to tell you to knock it off already isn’t going to convince you, and I certainly won’t. I did it, I’ll admit, just to poke them with the facts over and over to see what they did.

    I made my arguments entirely to reason, neutrally. I described herd immunity. I pointed out the potential consequences to children who could not be vaccinated or who were too young. I pointed out that no autism link had been found, and that the initial study had been roundly discredited. I posted links backing up every fact I put out there (I did a -lot- of research), and kept restating my points over and over again, always neutrally, always respectfully.

    The results were hilarious to a trollish part inside of me: These people, who are probably not screaming simians most of the time, devolved into calling me really horrific things that didn’t even have anything to do with the subject at hand, and stating that they were going to hold onto their beliefs regardless of my facts. People who knew them were contacting me over PM for weeks after, apologizing.
    ,
    The upshot: Even though I made clear, neutral arguments, even though I stayed respectful and acknowledged the pain that parents of autistic children must be going through, and the need to understand why these things were happening, and even though the other side were making schoolyard fights look tame, not one fence sitter (if there are any left) or believer came over to my side.

    People like Cracked probably don’t help, but it’s not like there’s any helping that’s left to be done.

  92. B McDonnell

    Pro-Disease?

    What ridiculous biased spin.

  93. Mark Hansen

    Any more ridiculous than Big Pharma™ Shill?

  94. Kiwi

    OK, I’m laughing on the inside. If you can’t counter the argument, you invent things said that were not.
    Did I say there were no adults in Oregon with Autism? NO I did not. What I said is the facts, 20 years ago there were 3 children in Oregon known to have Autism and receiving services through the schools for their diganosis. So educational or not, Autism was known and diagnosed. There are now close to 8,000. Every child in our district that I deal with, has both a medical and educational diagnosis and I guarantee none of these children would have been missed even 20 years ago, nor mistaken for any other diagnosis. If we had seen children like this 20 years ago, we would have clearly known it and remembered it. I don’t think anyway you can spin that, can you come to any logical explanation for such an explosion. Whether it be diagnostic substitution, better awareness…..you simply cannot explain away such an huge explosion of autistic children.
    If the numbers had not increased, in fact, we would have always had this number of disabled children, NO MATTER WHAT WE CALLED THEM! But we did not. In my tiny town where everyone knew everyone, there was one child with moderate mental retardation that I knew my entire life. There were no disappeared babies, spirited off to institutions without peoples knowledge, plus they would be 3 or so before anyone knew, so people would have know of the child’s existence. The same town now has Autism classrooms. Don’t you think tenured teachers would remember children that rocked,flapped, couldn’t speak, were sometimes a danger to themselves or others. They simply did not exist, were not mislabeled. Schools would simply be going on as usual, but as we read every day across this nation, they are not. Just google and read all the articles of how autistic children are breaking schools. The increases are unsustainable and parents are turning on each other. Parents complaining that our “retarded” children are sucking up their kids money. This did not exist before, no matter what we called these children, the numbers just don’t add up. They are not just trying to modify history they are trying to re-write peoples memories.
    I’ve always been amazed that the CDC has no compulsion to talk to tenured teachers, special ed experts, all who never expected to see a child with autism but now deal with huge numbers even in the tiniest of schools. When educators get together these days, the conversation always comes around and around and around to What is wrong with the Children today!
    As far as diseases that existed before, I was talking of my own family. There is no weird uncle Frank or known ancestors with any history of issues let alone possible Autism, no Asthma, no Diabetes, no ADD/ADHD and yet every child of this generation in our family is severely impacted by one or more of these. Just this generation. Every single niece, nephew, child. Fact.
    I see this and deal with it in every school in our District. Every kindergarten class it gets worse and worse. We have children with no diagnosis at all, worse off than some with full blown Autism medical diagnosis. These diseases of course existed, but certainly not in the numbers we are seeing now. Every principal, school nurse, special ed expert and teacher I deal with, we all see and talk about the same thing…something is very wrong with our children and it is only getting worse. I do not disagree that many things have changed over the last 20 years, but I am more appalled by the lack of urgency than by the reasons for the explosion of children with lifelong devastating diseases. It simply appears to me the only measure of health in this nation seems to be contagious disease. Just look at the response of the CDC. They only track contagious disease, so they cannot even tell us the facts about increases in Autism and many other of these diseases. They can find tainted spinach in two weeks time but after 20 years of an apparent explosion in Autism they can’t say unequivocably that there is a real increase as they never kept any data, not because that data is unchanged. I noticed they conventiently removed from their website the old numbers of 1 in 10,000 which they used to stand by. Can’t have that out there now can we?
    And please quit calling epidemiology science. It is data which can be used to refute or support real science, but by itself, it is not science. Can you say Tobacco Science? And let’s look at my favorite…the Verstraeten study that found a correlation between thimerisol and autism higher than smoking and lung disease. So five times the CDC sent him back to the drawing board. Five generations of the same study to try to make the numbers go away. One generation they tried adding back in 1 to 3 year olds, knowing they were not likely to have a diagnosis, but that didn’t work. So they added back in 17,000 originally excluded because they were born with a birth defect. Oops, that didn’t make it go away either, so they decided to try only counting the original diagnosis. So, if a child was originally diagnosed with language delay but later with Autism, they only counted the language delay. Anway, you get the point. This is the so-called science that you say has proven over and over and over again that there is no connection. Hhhmmmm, wonder why it just won’t go away. In the end, Verstraeten claimed his study, after five generations, neither supported nor refuted a connection(though his emails said otherwise). Yet it is constantly thrown out there as the soundest study, proving no link. What about Denmark where they counted Autistic children before thimerisol was removed and then after thimerisol was removed they added kids that were diagnosed as “outpatients” (probably 90% of autism cases are diagnosed on an out-patient basis), so no surprise the numbers went up after thimerisol was removed. They didn’t use the same simple counting measures. We will never know what the real data would have showed.
    I love when people say “no studies have ever shown” and what they really mean is “no studies have ever been done”. They refuse to study treatments that seem to work for some children. Oh that’s right, that’s all just whacky anectodal parents again. We seem to have no way to win do we.
    If I give my child gluten and casein, we see old behaviors return, meltdowns, self-biting, screaming, full-blown Autism. If I take it away again, we get a beautiful self-controlled child. Straight A and B student with many friends. We have challenged the diet many times and always to the same affect. But I hear from people like you I am somehow depriving my child, I am experimenting on their health, blah blah blah, no proof, no scientific studies. Well, I don’t see anyone rushing out to do them, and in the meantime? To see what I have and do anything different would be neglect. If anyone gave their child food that caused Autistic behavior they should have that child taken away. So, our experience is anectdotal, but not with thousands of others. To not study this is criminal.
    To the person that was so angry they couln’t see straight. Imagine my anger. I am told I didn’t see what I saw. Even our doctors say our Autism is vaccine caused. I am told my child’s amazing progress was a fluke, it would have happened anyway, was misdiagnosed to begin with. I am told on lists that my child is autistic because I am a bad parent. I am told I don’t love my child because I can’t accept Autism. And someone on this list said we are treasonous. I served my country, did you?

    I have never heard a single one of you admit that even one case of death within 24 hours of six vaccines could possibly be related to the vaccines, though you admit every medical procedure has risks. You hear within 24 hours of a measles case across the entire nation, but we never hear a single story about a child sacrificed for the good of the herd. If it’s your child the risk was 100% now wasn’t it? But parents making choices is not up for discussion. The child lost is no less devastating to the family.

    I would never imagine telling someone what they should or should not do with their own child. You have made your decisions. It is your right as a parent. I have the same right. I would never question your observations as a parent, even our pediatricians say no one knows their child better than a parent. Give me the same. My experiences and observations are no less valid. No one that has witnessed what I have would do any different. My experiences go many years before any celebrities had said a peep. But they have a platform none of us ever would or will, so I appreciate it. You don’t have to believe your child or any child became Autistic because of vaccines. I know different for my child. If Autism runs in your family, I believe you…I have no reason not to, but it does not in my family.
    You can refuse to have an intelligent dialogue, that is also your choice and you have clearly chosen this route. You can call me and others like me any name you choose, but this is not going away, and as you see, many in positions of power are seeing the truth. You can yell and scream all you want, but the truth cannot be silenced. And as you have already figured out, we are not going away.

  95. @Kiwi
    “What I said is the facts, 20 years ago there were 3 children in Oregon known to have Autism and receiving services through the schools for their diganosis.”

    You keep making assertions but you’ve been pretty light on citations.

  96. Bobby Joe

    Seems pretty clear to me.
    I’ve seen papers discussing Autism in England, a country that, while on par with America, has a higher rate of autism, despite having less vaccinations.

    At least that’s my understanding, been awhile since I last looked at the papers, and my brains a bit shuffled these days.

    As for the people who’ve never been sick a day of their life, and have had no vaccinations.
    That’s fine.
    Travel to a a country where the diseases are still common, or to a community with immigrants from these areas.

    Vaccines serve two purposes, from my understanding; the first being the prevention of the person getting the disease, the second being the spread of the disease within a population.
    The second helps with people who are born with allergies to vaccines or certain types of medical treatments.

  97. B McDonnell,

    Pro-Disease?

    What ridiculous biased spin.

    Since Jenny Killer McCarthy has stated:

    I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it’s their f___ing fault that the diseases are coming back. They’re making a product that’s s___. If you give us a safe vaccine, we’ll use it. It shouldn’t be polio versus autism.

    Interview in Time Magazine 4/01/2009.

    The vaccines are safe. The diseases are not safe. She is just too stupid to understand this.

    The claim of wanting a 100% safe vaccine is ridiculous. Nothing is 100% safe. Nothing.

    Demanding 100% safe vaccines is the same as refusing to take vaccines. Of course she trusts medicine, when it comes to using Botox to get rid of wrinkles and when it comes to getting breast implants. Why the hypocrisy, when it comes to vaccines? Because she does not understand what she is talking about.

    She is prodisease.

    The prodisease movement is bringing back deadly illnesses. Children are being killed by these illnesses, courtesy of the prodisease movement.

  98. scienceteacher

    Hera brought this up and I wanted to make a statement too. “Dr.” Nancy by the way you brought up Hep B I would question if you are an MD, or just some person with a PHd. While Hep B is presented to most students as an STI, not STD which I think is the current lingo, it can be trasnmitted by any sort of blood contact between people. As a science teacher I see little cuts and scrapes constantly and students are not very good at making sure that all those little drops of blood are cleaned up properly. In my previous life as a summer custodial maintence worker, see that sounds better than janitor right :), every year we had a day long meeting about proper cleaning techniques for blood borne pathogens. I believe in that meeting it has been stated that if not cleaned up properly Hep B can “live” up to 6 months and still be infectious on a hard surface. In addition most blood spills are not cleaned up properly. Hint wiping the blood up with a dry paper towel doesnt cut it, pardon the pun. There are specific procedures that need to be followed to eliminate the contamination from a drop of blood. I’ll get off my soap box now but my point is this, yes one of the primary vectors for Hep B is sexual contact, there are many other ways it can be spread especially to new born infants who are in hospitals in which, last time I checked, there is a lot of blood both contained and possibly not.

    Keep fighting the good fight, and as Bill Nye says science rules.

  99. ND

    scienceteacher,

    so what are the proper procedures to clean up drops of blood?

  100. It is crazy that so many of these cures and vaccinations cause more harm than good.

    I mean I was watching a commercial the other day for some kind of new grug and they were stating all of the side effects at the end of the commercial and I thought they were really joking.

    It seemed like a SNL skit or something…

  101. There are times when wearing a seat belt will get you killed.

    It is however *far* more likely that wearing a seat belt will save your life.

    There is a risk to using vaccines. But it is far outweighed by the benefits.

  102. Dr. Nancy Says: “You’re full of it…

    Your opening sentence made me not read the rest of your post.

  103. Robert

    On rates of autism:

    A quick and simple google search finds “The Contribution of Diagnostic Substitution to the Growing Administrative Prevalence of Autism in US Special Education” [full paper is online] which shows that “as the rates of the autism diagnosis increased from 1994 to 2003, the rates of diagnoses of mental retardation and learning disabilities decreased.” Article also points out that this is mainly due to our increased understanding of autism and better [but sometimes broader] diagnostic criteria.

    A quick search will also show that “educational labeling” criteria are set state by state, and that Oregon’s are very broad. Most adhere to DSM-IV criteria, but some have a broader definition.

    I could not find data for autism rates NOT linked to educational rates, which obviously shouldn’t be used to make a comparison due to the differences in labeling criteria from state to state.

  104. Jason

    @kiwi
    “Every principal, school nurse, special ed expert and teacher I deal with, we all see and talk about the same thing…something is very wrong with our children and it is only getting worse. I do not disagree that many things have changed over the last 20 years”

    Well I am a teacher and I disagree. I haven’t noticed an increase of students with ‘problems’. More students are labelled as being somewhere on the Autism spectrum (but then aren’t we all on it?) But they were always there.

    There you go, my anecdote cancels yours.

    I guess we’ll have to go with the science then.

  105. passionlessDrone

    Hi Jules –

    Do you understand thanks to anti-bacterial things and the misuse of the prescription for antibiotics for things like the cold or flu can be attributed to these ailments since children are no longer in environment that let their immune systems develop naturally?

    While I agree with you regarding the unknowns and potential dangers of our war on germs, the notion that intentionally stimulating the immune system at the earliest stages of development with aluminum adjuvants is akin to a natural development of the immune system does strike me as a large chunk of irony. By way of example, were you aware that the key components of vaccines, the adjuvants, that allow you to develop an immune response while only being exposed to a tiny amount of bacterial or viral protein structures are still very mysterious in their mechanism of action?

    This site doesn’t play nicely with links, but this is easy enough to find:

    Crucial role for the Nalp3 inflammasome in the immunostimulatory properties of aluminium adjuvants

    What you will find is that in 2008 researchers were just beginning to understand the hows of the initiation of an adequate immune response due to vaccination.

    And let me tell you this before you ask if my children were vaccinated or not, my oldest was and my youngest could not be fully vaccinated because unfortunately he inherited my allergy to vaccines.

    Considering this, I find it a bit strange that you would find the idea that other children were more prone to adverse reactions to vaccines so fanciful. Please consider that the entirity of our vaccine research doesn’t test vaccination; but rather, thimeorsal or the MMR. And again, this would seem to speak towards the fallacy of believing that vaccination has anything to do with a naturally developing immune system; it would seem there is a distinct difference between vaccination and getting sick, at least for you.

    No matter how much the anti-vaxxers piss and moan, until they can show me REAL empirical data to the contrary instead of just anecdotal evidence, I will continue to support vaccination and point out that there are sooo many things in our environment today that was not present even a generation ago that can be causing ALL of these conditions.

    Unfortunately, you are treating the lack of quality analysis as the presence of good studies. What we have is studies on thimerosal and the MMR; nothing else. But, I would tend to agree with you that there have been lots of changes to the environment, and we seem to have a growing amount of clinical data showing that chemicals now pervasive in the environment are capable of causing a variety of developmental problems in animal models. But acknowledging this does nothing to bolster the robustness of our existing research on vaccines and autism.

    I wonder if you knew that we have several animal studies that show that an early life immune activation was capable of causing modifications to immune system functioning and behavioral characteristics into adulthood? Several of these studies took steps to insure it was the immune response that was responsible for changes into adulthood, either by utilizing inflammatory inhibitors or using straight cytokine injections. It appears that during some stages of early development the immune system is sensitive to programming, with changes that last into adulthood. If we are causing similar changes to our children by the aggressive increasing the early stages of the vaccination schedule, analysis of the MMR or thimerosal content will have absolutely no means to determine this; the studies simply are not designed to capture this type of relationship.

    For some interesting reading, you might check out some of the following papers:

    Postnatal Inflammation Increases Seizure Susceptibility in Adult Rats

    Long-term alterations in neuroimmune responses after neonatal exposure to lipopolysaccharide

    Early-life immune challenge: defining a critical window for effects on adult responses to immune challenge

    Early life immune challenge–effects on behavioural indices of adult rat fear and anxiety

    Early-life exposure to endotoxin alters hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal function and predisposition to inflammation

    Neonatal immune challenge exacerbates experimental colitis in adult rats: potential role for TNF-alpha

    The anger that is often brought into this disucussion is unfortunate.

    – pD

  106. scienceteacher

    @ ND

    The procedure which we followed was to use a product called vindicator, I can’t remember who makes it. We were required to spray the product in a 6 in circle around the spill and let stand for at lease 10 min. It could then be wiped up with potable water if used on a food prep surface, or a rag on a non food prep surface. Additionally this product was designed specifically to defend against the Hep B virus.

  107. Dr. Nancy

    Todd and Fill, are these numbers, all backed up by references, real science?

    0.5 parts per billion (ppb) mercury = Kills human neuroblastoma cells (Parran et al., Toxicol Sci 2005; 86: 132-140).

    2 ppb mercury = U.S. EPA limit for drinking water (http://www.epa. gov/safewater/ contaminants/ index.html# mcls).

    20 ppb mercury = Neurite membrane structure destroyed (Leong et al., Neuroreport 2001; 12: 733-37).

    200 ppb mercury = level in liquid the EPA classifies as hazardous waste based on toxicity characteristics.
    http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/tsd/m…

    25,000 ppb mercury = Concentration of mercury in multi-dose, Hepatitis B vaccine vials, administered at birth from 1991-2001 in the U.S.

    50,000 ppb mercury = Concentration of mercury in multi-dose DTaP and Haemophilus B vaccine vials, administered 8 times in the 1990’s to children at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months of age and currently “preservative” level mercury in multi-dose flu, meningococcal and tetanus vaccines. This can be confirmed by simply analyzing the multi-dose vials. Flu, meningococcal and tetanus vaccines are all approved for use in children. The claim mercury is out of vaccines is bogus (http://www.vaccinesafety.edu/thi-table.htm).

  108. ND

    scienceteacher, thanks.

  109. Gary Ansorge

    A simple Google of “diabetes and virus” yields a slew of viral induced diabetic syndrome in both humans and rats. I expect the population of Oregon has increased in the last 20 years, which is just another way of saying, greater population density results in greater transmission of contagion, which shows up as more disability of ALL types, not just those we’re able to vaccinate against.

    62% of people with type II diabetes also show antigens to specific viral infections in the isle of LAngerhorn cells. That may or may not be an indicator of a causal connection. More research required..

    As far as autism is concerned, there may be a contagion involved, some kind of infectious trigger for a genetic predisposition. We just don’t know,,,,yet,,,

    ,,,or perhaps humanity has just evolved as far as it can and is now slipping back down the evolutionary ladder,,,(Marching Morons)

    GAry 7

  110. Cheyenne

    If vaccines cause autism why are boys 5 times more likely to get it than girls? They have the same vaccination rates.

  111. Lawrence

    @Dr. Nancy – if those numbers were even close to being real, you’d have kids dropping dead left and right (by the tens of thousands) almost as soon as they receive the vaccine.

  112. Sili

    I thought it was a pretty clever video. Not really any ad hominem or anything. Just the facts.

    Granted, we could do with some widespread infertility, but I think they’re are better way’s of accomplishing that.

  113. @Dr Nancy
    The claim mercury is out of vaccines is bogus http://www.vaccinesafety.edu/thi-table.htm
    You do realise that most of the vaccines on that page show that the concentration of thimerosal is a big fat donut, zip, nada, zilch, zero. Some of the flu vaccines still contain thimerosal and nobody here claims they don’t. Anti-vaxxers claim that the MMR vaccine was problematic because it contained thimerosal but, surprise surprise, the table shows a fat zero.

    However you are talking about the ppb mercury in… whatever. Here is a quick chemistry lesson. Ethyl Mercury is not mercury. Understand? Didn’t think so.

  114. Holy cow! I believe we have editing functionality like I’ve never seen before… and it appears to work. It’s a miracle I tell ya.

    Thanks BA.

  115. ND

    Dr. Nancy,

    are you really a Dr.? What are your credentials? The vaccinesafety.edu appears to have tons of references to how vaccines are safe and the lack of a vax-autism link. What’s your point?

  116. passionlessDrone

    Hi The BlackCat –

    No matter how many studies are done indicating no link between autism and vaccines, no matter how well-done, how large, how well-controlled, and how unbiased the studies are you are never satisfied.

    But there have been no such studies. There have been studies on thimerosal, and studies on the MMR; nothing else. In any case, the notion that more of these ‘well done’ and ‘well-controlled’ studies are being performed due to people like Kiwi is as annectodal as they come.

    Studying those genes, and others we might find down the road, can tell us a great deal about autism. If we can figure out which genes, or combinations of genes, are linked to specific sets of symptoms we might be able to get a better idea for how autism can be broken into categories for better diagnosis and treatment.

    We are in agreement.

    Not only are you wasting resources by demanding we re-hash the same studies over and over and over again, but you are causing outbreaks of diseases that were once essentially gone. Fighting these outbreaks takes substantial resources as well.

    Completely impossible to substantiate. Could you quantify the ‘substantial resources’ that have been applied to fighting an ‘outbreak’ of disease, and detail how these funds otherwise would have been applied to a different realm of autism research? What resources, in particular, are wasted by such demands? In any case, what some of us want is a study that is drastically different than what has already been performed; i.e., not the same studies again and again.

    Documented cases of autism go back hundreds of years.

    Hehe. I’m wonder if you could provide some documentation to back this claim up?

    I wonder why there seems to be so much mystery as to what percentage of children experience a developmental regression in language or behaviors, if what you imply is true. Lets assume that for forever, around one percent of males had autism. Further, let us assume that between twenty and forty percent of them experienced developmental regression.

    If these things are true, why on Earth was it not until 2007 that the medical profession announced that any developmental regression indicated an urgent need to have a child evaluated for problems? This mandates that the doctors of centuries past saw dozens or hundreds of children over their careers that had language, lost it, and went on to a developmental trajectory of autism, and yet no one managed to put two and two together.

    I know a bunch of people in their 50’s carrying around epi-pens because of life-threatening allergies. If you think these diseases are new you are delusional.

    Strawman alert. No one is arguing that these diseases didn’t exist previously, just that they didn’t exist at the same rates. There seems to be very little dispute that things like asthma, allergies, and more exotic autoimmune disorders, like multiple sclerosis are more common in younger cohorts than older ones. These do not necessarily need to be fatal. For some examples, see:

    Changes in atopy over a quarter of a century, based on cross sectional data at three time periods

    Our data show that atopy in middle aged men has increased during the last quarter of the 20th century and that the prevalence of atopy does not decline with increasing age; rather, more recent birth cohorts are more likely to have become atopic. Reports of increases over time in specific IgE to inhaled allergens in adults from Nordic countries and Swiss and Japanese schoolchildren1-4 involved younger subjects and shorter time periods than ours.

    Incidence and prevalence of multiple allergic disorders recorded in a national primary care database

    This large national study reveals that the recorded incidence and lifetime prevalence of patients with multiple allergic disorders increased in England during the first half of this decade, which may reflect a genuine increase in the incidence of multiple allergic disorders, improved awareness, diagnosis and recording in primary care, or, perhaps most plausibly, a combination of genuine increases and improved identification and recording. Future work needs to try and distinguish between these different possible explanations. A key related important unanswered question concerns the quality of care and symptom control of these patients. Given the relatively higher prevalence of multiple allergic problems in children when compared with adults, the overall numbers of people in England with multiple allergic problems is, for the present at least, likely to continue to increase.

    Status of Childhood Asthma in the United States, 1980–2007

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data were used to describe 1980–2007 trends among children 0 to 17 years of age and recent patterns according to gender, race, and age. Asthma period prevalence increased by 4.6% per year from 1980 to 1996. New measures introduced in 1997 show a plateau at historically high levels; 9.1% of US children (6.7 million) currently had asthma in 2007.

    Contribution of incidence to increasing prevalence of multiple sclerosis in Alberta, Canada

    Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) data were used to calculate prevalence and incidence rates for multiple sclerosis (MS) in the general population of Alberta from 1990 to 2004. Multiple sclerosis prevalence rose steadily each year over this time period, from 217.6/100,000 individuals in 1990 to 357.6/100,000 in 2004.

    Temporal changes and geographical differences in multiple sclerosis phenotypes in Japanese: nationwide survey results over 30 years

    Similar findings.

    All share a common component of pathology; the immune system, the cornerstone of vaccination. There are plenty of other environmental factors that are possible, or even likely candidates for some of this, but more SUVs and fewer bumblebees aren’t one of them.

    Why should the fact that you know an adult with an allergy not leave us alarmed at the increase that has been observed?

    – pD

  117. Dr. Nancy

    “Here is a quick chemistry lesson. Ethyl Mercury is not mercury. Understand? Didn’t think so.”

    Oh really Shane. I’m not going to argue with someone as smart as you. You must have gradeeated top of your class. You’re way to sharp for me.

    “There was a much higher proportion of inorganic Hg (Hg++) in the brain of thimerosal monkeys than in the brains of MeHg monkeys (up to 71% vs. 10%). Absolute inorganic Hg concentrations in the brains of the thimerosal-exposed monkeys were approximately twice that of the MeHg monkeys. Interestingly, the inorganic fraction in the kidneys of the same cohort of monkeys was also significantly higher after inj thimerosal than after oral MeHg exposure (0.71 ± 0.04 vs. 0.40 ± 0.03). This suggests that the dealkylation of ethylmercury is much more extensive than that of MeHg.”

    Burbacher T, Shen D, Liberato N, Grant K, Cernichiari E, Clarkson T. 2005. Comparison of blood and brain mercury levels in infant monkeys exposed to methylmercury or vaccines containing thimerosal. Environmental Health Perspectives. 113:1015-1021

  118. @passionlessDrone

    Allergies smallergies. They’re still not autism. Show us the link between autism and vaccines.

    There are plenty of other environmental factors that are possible, or even likely candidates for some of this, but more SUVs and fewer bumblebees aren’t one of them.
    Why? You’re making the correlation between vaccines and allergies but you’re discounting everything else?

  119. @Dr Nancy

    Not smart but I can read. You obviously don’t understand the monkey study you’ve quoted and you probably haven’t read the bottom line. Ethyl Mercury is eliminated from the body faster than methyl mercury (the bad one you get by ingestion) and methyl mercury can’t be used as a reference to compare the risk of exposure to ethyl mercury. The study was not about the toxicity of mercury.
    Understand?

  120. @”Dr.” Nancy

    I believe you are still confusing Ethyl Mercury wth MethylMercury which are very different substances with very different rates of excretion. You need to actually read that stuff that Todd is writing. Is plain from your continuous beating of the mercury drum that you’re not.

  121. Robert

    @Dr. Nancy
    The exact same study says “The current study indicates that MeHg is not a suitable reference for risk assessment from exposure to thimerosal derived Hg.”;

    “The initial and terminal half-life of Hg in blood after thimerosal exposure was 2.1 and 8.6 days, respectively, which are significantly shorter than the elimination half-life of Hg after MeHg exposure at 21.5 days.”;

    “minimal accumulation in blood Hg concentrations during weekly dosing. Also, blood Hg concentrations dropped below the detection limit of the assay in some animals by day 10 after the last vaccine injection.”

    You really should read the entire study.

  122. passionlessDrone

    Hi Shane –

    Allergies smallergies. They’re still not autism. Show us the link between autism and vaccines.

    But there have been very few studies to analyze the link between vaccines and autism; only thimerosal and autism, or one particular vaccine and autism. You are treating the absence of evidence as the existing of quality research. Why?

    If you would like to know why so many people are increasingly skeptical of regulatory agencies, you need look no further than your apparent lack of concern over the rapid increase in a variety of immune mediated disorders. It is a much more powerful message than anything Jenny McCarthy manages to put together.

    Why? You’re making the correlation between vaccines and allergies but you’re discounting everything else?

    I’m not sure I understand your point. I was merely pointing out that BlackCats statements concerning knowing someone in their 50’s who had an allergy are a very poor analogy; no one is arguing autoimmune disorders didn’t exist before, just that didn’t exist at the same rates. He had come up with an answer to a question no one had asked.

    I happen to be of the opinion that a great number of sythnetic chemicals that have reached environmental ubiquity are affecting our infants in a myriad of unforseen ways. But again, acknowleding this does nothing to change the fact that our existing research into autism and vaccines consists solely of analysis of thimerosal, and analysis of the MMR.

    – pD

  123. TheBlackCat

    I wonder if you knew that we have several animal studies that show that an early life immune activation was capable of causing modifications to immune system functioning and behavioral characteristics into adulthood? Several of these studies took steps to insure it was the immune response that was responsible for changes into adulthood, either by utilizing inflammatory inhibitors or using straight cytokine injections. It appears that during some stages of early development the immune system is sensitive to programming, with changes that last into adulthood.

    The average child is exposed to thousands of new immune challenges every day. If it was immune challenges that were the problem you would see decreased autism depending on the environmental conditions a child is raised in, for instance areas with lots of infectious diseases would lead to increased autism because the child was receiving more immune challenges. Or areas with poor sanitation would be correlated with more incidence of autism.

    But there have been no such studies. There have been studies on thimerosal, and studies on the MMR; nothing else.

    Not true. If it was indeed the rate of vaccination that was the problem, then eliminating any one vaccine would reduce that rate and would therefore reduce the incidence of autism. So if it was vaccines as a whole, the the reduction of any one of those vaccines should be negatively correlated with the incidence of autism. It isn’t.

    In any case, the notion that more of these ‘well done’ and ‘well-controlled’ studies are being performed due to people like Kiwi is as annectodal as they come.

    Also incorrect. In fact in one study they even included a prominent anti-vaxxer specifically to placate them. If they weren’t doing this because of the anti-vaxxers, why include them in the study? It didn’t work, of course, she was quite happy with the study while it was being done and had no complaints about the methodology, but as soon as the results came in and contradicted her stance suddenly the study was flawed and worthless.

    Completely impossible to substantiate. Could you quantify the ’substantial resources’ that have been applied to fighting an ‘outbreak’ of disease, and detail how these funds otherwise would have been applied to a different realm of autism research? What resources, in particular, are wasted by such demands? In any case, what some of us want is a study that is drastically different than what has already been performed; i.e., not the same studies again and again.

    First, I didn’t say that the resources would necessarily go to autism research. It is taking resources away from the medical system as a whole. As for the cost, take a look at this:
    http://www.idph.state.ia.us/common/press_releases/2005/measles_outbreak_070505.asp

    The outbreak began when an unvaccinated college-aged student was exposed to measles while overseas, became ill while returning to Iowa, then infected two others. The public health response totaled over 25-hundred hours of staff time at a cost of $142, 452. Based on that review, the report concluded the direct cost of protecting a community from one case of an infectious disease is expensive and time-consuming. The report also praised efforts by the public health community to stop the outbreak, saying it had the potential of infecting nearly 1,000 people with measles at a potential cost of over $700,000.

    Hehe. I’m wonder if you could provide some documentation to back this claim up?

    Google “Hugh Blair autism”. There is even a whole book about it. The events are from the 1700’s.

    I wonder why there seems to be so much mystery as to what percentage of children experience a developmental regression in language or behaviors, if what you imply is true.

    The very existence of regressive autism is controversial at best.

    Lets assume that for forever, around one percent of males had autism. Further, let us assume that between twenty and forty percent of them experienced developmental regression.

    If these things are true, why on Earth was it not until 2007 that the medical profession announced that any developmental regression indicated an urgent need to have a child evaluated for problems? This mandates that the doctors of centuries past saw dozens or hundreds of children over their careers that had language, lost it, and went on to a developmental trajectory of autism, and yet no one managed to put two and two together.

    The focus on, careful diagnosis of, and treatment of psychological and psychiatric disorders is a fairly new phenomenon.

    No one is arguing that these diseases didn’t exist previously, just that they didn’t exist at the same rates.

    No, that is exactly what Dr. Nancy argued. Here it is again:

    No weird Uncle Frank who might have been misdiagnosed, no asthma, no diabetes, no arthritis, no cancers, but this generation of children seem to be pooling them all together.

    You may not be arguing that, but I was not replying to you, I was replying to Dr. Nancy.

    All share a common component of pathology; the immune system, the cornerstone of vaccination.

    But cancer has nothing to do with the immune system. Neither does vision or hearing problems, which are becoming much more common in children.

    There are plenty of other environmental factors that are possible, or even likely candidates for some of this, but more SUVs and fewer bumblebees aren’t one of them.

    Oh, do you have studies backing up this conclusion? Just because you find a link implausible does not mean there isn’t one. After all, considering all the research almost all scientists consider a link between vaccines and autism implausible, but you fell justified overruling them. You demand we provide studies contradicting your position (instead of your providing studies backing it up), it is more than a bit hypocritical of you to then turn around and say you don’t need to provide any studies backing up your rejection of other factors.

  124. @passionlessDrone

    The original claim was that the MMR caused autism.
    Many studies later, no link.
    Then there was the claim that it was actually thimerosal.
    Many studies later, no link.
    No you’re suggesting that it is some vaccine that may cause autism.
    That is called shifting the goal posts but which vaccine and what evidence do you have that it may cause autism?

    your apparent lack of concern over the rapid increase in a variety of immune mediated disorders
    Not lack of concern, it is the lack of understanding just exactly what correlation you are claiming and what evidence/citations you have. The rate of childhood obesity has gone up over the last 30 years too. Which vaccine has caused that?

  125. @passionlessDrone

    You appear to be arguing the “if it’s not MMR or thimerosal, it must be something else in the vaccines” point, which I first came across in Barbara Loe Fisher’s blog Vaccine Awakening.

    I’ll agree with you that it appears that few studies have compared populations receiving vaccines to populations receiving zero vaccines. Perhaps a good explanation for why the focus has been on MMR and thimerosal is that the anti-vax campaign focused so strongly on those two things as causes of autism. Indeed, a large number, as evidence by Dr. Nancy above, still harp on these issues, demanding more research be done, refusing any and all studies that contradict their a priori conclusions, not to mention misinterpreting studies (or just copying and pasting those misinterpretations from sites like Age of Autism, Generation Rescue or the Huffington Post, also as she has appeared to do), such as the monkey study she cited. Is it little wonder, then, that the majority of the research has been on thimerosal and/or MMR?

    Lately, the focus has been shifting away from those two and onto the other things in vaccines, like the adjuvants (in particular aluminum) and growth media (e.g., eggs, bovine serum, monkey liver, etc.). The claim is that these things are causing autism (and countless other maladies, just for added effect), yet no sound scientific evidence is presented to support those claims. It’s just more misinterpretation or lies.

    Let’s look at aluminum. As I pointed out above, someone came in several months ago saying that 4ppm aluminum causes blood coagulation, therefore vaccines are bad. But, looking at the actual amounts of aluminum in any given vaccine, the total amount a child receives is typically way below that threshold. Lately I’ve been seeing the immune response to aluminum leading to neuroinflammation. The studies presented so far have had no connection to vaccines due to differences in method of administration, aluminum compound used in the study, measurement outcomes with no connection to vaccines, etc. Furthermore, as someone noted above, the amount of aluminum a child receives through breast milk is significantly higher than anything in a vaccine.

    The anti-vax campaign has also, it seems, started to move away from “vaccines cause autism” and toward “vaccines cause autism and a host of autoimmune and psychological/developmental disorders and diseases”. Yet again, there is a failure to provide any evidence to support that claim other than mere speculation. The “there has been an increasing trend in X. There’s also been more vaccines. It must be the vaccines!” type of argumentation, ignoring any other changes that have also occurred (demographic changes as population shift or blend from various ethnic regions, decreases in early antigen exposure due to over-sanitization, changes in environmental pollutants, etc.). With the exact same level of validity as people who make those arguments, I could say that autism is caused by global warming. “The overall average global temperature has been going up. Autism rates have also been increasing. Therefore, average global temperature is causing autism. Now, go do some studies to show this is true, thank you very much.”

    We need more than speculation and anecdotes. To all the anti-vaxers, go out, get the data, then come back and let’s discuss. And, be honest. If you don’t understand something, then don’t cite it to support your argument or you may just make a fool of yourself or further spread misinformation, like Dr. Nancy has done. Don’t quote out of context, just to support your personal conclusions, especially when the full text contradicts you. Don’t misrepresent studies. And, please, don’t lie. And when the evidence overwhelmingly shows that your idea is wrong, accept it with grace.

    Until you have something more than mere speculation and personal opinion, it is irresponsible to encourage people not to get themselves or their children immunized. We know that vaccines work and that the overall risks from the vaccines are significantly lower than the risks from the diseases prevented. When the risks from the vaccine become higher than the risks from the disease (e.g., with the OPV after polio was eradicated in the U.S.), we stop including it for use in the immunization schedule.

    Keep your calm and look at the issue rationally, rather than emotionally. Thank you.

  126. Dr. Nancy

    Robert, Todd and Shane, I know the half-life of ethylmercury in the blood is shorter than methylmercury. Why? It’s gone into the kidneys and the brain. Why? Because it rapidilly dealkylizes to Hg++ (it’s no longer C2H5-Hg). How many times do I have to repeat this scientific fact?

    “There was a much higher proportion of inorganic Hg (Hg++) in the brain of thimerosal monkeys than in the brains of MeHg monkeys (up to 71% vs. 10%). Absolute inorganic Hg concentrations in the brains of the thimerosal-exposed monkeys were approximately twice that of the MeHg monkeys. Interestingly, the inorganic fraction in the kidneys of the same cohort of monkeys was also significantly higher after inj thimerosal than after oral MeHg exposure (0.71 ± 0.04 vs. 0.40 ± 0.03). This suggests that the dealkylation of ethylmercury is much more extensive than that of MeHg.”

    Burbacher T, Shen D, Liberato N, Grant K, Cernichiari E, Clarkson T. 2005. Comparison of blood and brain mercury levels in infant monkeys exposed to methylmercury or vaccines containing thimerosal. Environmental Health Perspectives. 113:1015-1021

  127. Hi Phil.

    Thanks for the link to WhyIChoose.org. I will be adding it to my links page on my next update.

    -Derek
    http://www.JennyMcCarthyBodyCount.com

  128. @Dr Nancy
    Read the last thing Todd wrote.
    Then read the whole article you insist on reposting a snippet of.

    http://www.ehponline.org/members/2005/7712/7712.pdf

  129. @Dr. Nancy

    What is your point in continuing to cite that study? Just to show that inorganic mercury from thimerosal in the brain in monkeys is higher than inorganic mercury from methylmercury? Okay…?

    What we keep saying is that that study says nothing about toxicity. In fact, other studies that have looked at the toxicity of ethylmercury vs. methylmercury have found that ethylmercury is less toxic than methylmercury.

    Besides which, if parents wish, all of the vaccines currently available are thimerosal-free, contain only trace amounts of thimerosal (<1 mcg) or have thimerosal-free options available. So, the mercury-in-vaccines-causes-autism meme should die. Also, IIRC correctly, autism rates have not declined since 2001/2002 (when the last thimerosal-containing vaccines were off the shelves), which further suggests that thimerosal is not implicated in the supposed autism "epidemic".

    So, again, what's your point?

  130. JimB

    Todd W.,
    I just want to express my heartfelt thanks for the (maybe not so much now) thankless task you have taken on. I really appreciate your clear writing style. For those of us that are not scientists you really make the important stuff easier to understand and then pass on where I can.

  131. @JimB

    For those of us that are not scientists you really make the important stuff easier to understand and then pass on where I can.

    Perhaps that’s because I’m not a scientist, either (at least, not by vocation), though I have studied the regulatory process and applicable laws. I just know how to read a study, even if some of the jargon is unfamiliar (easily remedied by referring to, well, reference articles :) ), and I am a firm believer in using language that’s not all puffed up to unreadability.

    I have to admit, though, that after several months of this sort of thing, I’m starting to get a little worn out.

  132. IVAN3MAN

    Todd W.:

    I have to admit, though, that after several months of this sort of thing, I’m starting to get a little worn out.

    Has it been a “Sisyphean task” or a “Sisyphean challenge”, Todd?

  133. Dr. Nancy

    There is no science whatsoever that says thimerosal does not cause brain injury. The science you folks keep refering to is not science at all. It’s nothing but statistical manipulation done by people involved in the mandatory vaccine program. Case in point;

    Early Thimerosal Exposure and Neuropsychological Outcomes New England Journal of Medicine, Thompson WW et al. (September 27, 2007)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    “Dr. Thompson reports being a former employee of Merck; Dr. Marcy, receiving consulting fees from Merck, Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, and MedImmune; Dr. Jackson, receiving grant support from Wyeth, Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis, lecture fees from Sanofi Pasteur, and consulting fees from Wyeth and Abbott and serving as a consultant to the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee; Dr. Lieu, serving as a consultant to the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices; Dr. Black, receiving consulting fees from MedImmune, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Merck and grant support from MedImmune, GlaxoSmithKline, Aventis, Merck, and Novartis; and Dr. Davis receiving consulting fees from Merck and grant support from Merck and GlaxoSmith- Kline. No other potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.”

    Now, wouldn’t it have been a heck of alot easier to list the authors that didn’t have a conflict of interest with the product in question?

  134. @IVAN3MAN

    Has it been a “Sisyphean task” or a “Sisyphean challenge”, Todd?

    It seems like it at times, but now and then I get a word that I’ve made an impact with someone that was on the fence or who was in the other camp and took a rational look at the arguments after reading some of my stuff. So, instead of the boulder rolling back down the hill, once the boulder’s at the top, I go to another boulder and hill that look amazingly similar, yet are different. 😉

  135. @Dr. Nancy

    Apparently you didn’t read my response the last time you posted that COI info from the Thompson study. Here’s what I said last time, to save you the scrolling:

    Regarding the Thompson study, what’s your point? They disclosed their conflicts of interest. Those COIs may or may not have affected the outcome of the study, but we would need more data to make such a determination.

    You cite one study which lists some industry conflicts of interest, which, by some means beyond my comprehension, means that all studies that reach the conclusion that thimerosal in the amounts present in vaccines does not cause autism are “not science”? So, now we’re into conspiracy land, where anything that conflicts with your preconceived notions is, of course, part of the Big PharmaTM conspiracy to silence all dissent. Right.

    Bear in mind that vaccines that do not use thimerosal or other preservatives cost more, meaning more profits for the pharmaceutical companies. Why? Because the vaccines must be packaged as a single-use vial, with a shorter shelf-life to avoid the growth of bacteria and fungi. So, wouldn’t Big PharmaTM be the ones trying to get thimerosal out of all vaccines so they could increase their profits?

  136. Quatguy

    I watched the video and thought that it was great. In my opinion it was fair and was not mean or angery (per se) as BA suggested. It was definately harsh, but fair considering McCarthy’s actions.

  137. *facepalm*

    *headdesk*

  138. Emperor Zar

    Well, that’s it. If another poster can claim to be a doctor with no evidence for it (while displaying a shocking ignorance of medicine, chemistry and public health issues to boot), I’m declaring myself emperor.

    Note: ethyl mercury =! methyl mercury. Also, aluminum compounds =! straight-up aluminum. It’s like with sodium vs. sodium chloride: the latter can be consumed without problems, but if you try to eat the former your face will catch fire and explode.

  139. Dr. Nancy

    Todd says, You cite one study which lists some industry conflicts of interest”. Now I’ll cite a couple more Todd. Your credibility is quickly slipping away Todd.

    “Safety of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: A Two-Phased Study of Computerized Health Maintance Organization Database”
    Pediatrics, Thomas Verstraeten, MD (November 2003)

    Conflicts:

    Written by the Centers for Disease Control, the federal agency in charge of the vaccine program. The lead author, Thomas Verstraeten, left to take a job with Glaxo SmithKline — a vaccine manufacturer — after the study was written and before it was published. The U.S. Congress later cited this as an ethical violation.

    “Thimerosal and the Occurrence of Autism: Negative Ecological Evidence from Danish Population-Based Data”
    Pediatrics, Kreesten M. Madsen, MD (September 2003)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    “The activities of the Danish Epidemiology Science Centre and the National Centre for Register-Based Research are funded by a grant from the Danish National Research Foundation. This study was supported by the Stanley Medical Research Institute.” [Two of the seven authors were employees of Denmark’s largest vaccine manufacturer, Statens Serum Institute]

    “Continuing Increases in Autism Reported to California’s Developmental Services System”
    Archives of General Psychiatry, Robert Schechter, MD (January 2008)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    “This study was supported through the California Department of Public Health.”

    “Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines Neuropsychological Performance 10 Years After Immunization in Infancy With Thimerosal-Containing Vaccine”
    Pediatrics, Alberto Eugenio Tozzi, Patrizia Bisiacchi (February 2009)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    The study was supported in part by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, through contract 2002-N-00448 with the Istituto Superiore di Sanita.

    “Autism and Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: Lack of Consistent Evidence for an Association”
    American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Paul Stehr-Green, DrPh, MPH (August 2003)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    “Financial support for the compilation of the data used in this investigation and the preparation of this report was provided by the National Immunization Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We are grateful to Victoria Romanus of the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Ingrid Trolin of the Swedish Medical Products Agency, Anne-Marie Plesner and Peter Andersen of the Danish Statens Serum Institut Institut [Denmark’s largest vaccine company], and Roger Bernier and Susan Chu of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for their contributions in the design and conduct of this investigation, and in the preparation and review of this manuscript.”

    “Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Developmental Disorders: A Prospective Cohort Study in the United Kingdom Does Not Support a Causal Association”
    Pediatrics, John Heron and Nick Andrews, PhD (September 2004)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    “Financial support for the establishment of the ALSPAC cohort was provided by the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the UK Department of Health [the British CDC], the Department of the Environment, and DfEE, the National Institutes of Health, and a variety of medical research charities and commercial companies [vaccine makers]. Funding for this study was provided by the Department of Health [the British CDC].”

    “Association Between Thimerosal-Containing Vaccine and Autism”
    Journal of the American Medical Association, Anders Hviid, MSc (October 2003)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    “Danish Epidemiology Science Centre, Department of Epidemiology Research (Messrs Hviid, Wohlfahrt, and Dr Melbye) and Medical Department (Dr Stellfeld), Statens Serum Institut [Denmark’s largest vaccine company], Copenhagen, Denmark.”

    “Mercury concentrations and metabolism in infants receiving vaccines containing thiomersal: A descriptive study”
    The Lancet, Michael Pichichero, MD (November 2002)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    “The investigation was funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).”

    From the lead author’s website:

    “Dr. Pichichero was a member of the discovery team at the University of Rochester that invented, tested and licensed a Haemophilus influenzae b (Hib) conjugate vaccine (HibTITER®) now universally given to children in the U.S. [he makes vaccines, but didn’t report as a conflict]”

    “Thimerosal and Autism?”
    Pediatrics, Karen Nelson, MD (March 2003)

    Conflicts:

    Lead author works at a government agency, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

    “Lack of Association Between Rh Status, Rh Immune Globulin in Pregnancy and Autism”
    American Journal of Medical Genetics, Judith H. Miles and T. Nicole Takahashi (May 2007)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    “This study was supported by a grant from Johnson and Johnson Company and ongoing autism research support from the Leda J. Sears Trust.” [Note: Johnson & Johnson manufacturers the Rh Immune Globulin vaccine, the subject of the study]

    MMR Studies

    “Lack of Association Between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy: A Case-Control Study”
    PLoS One, Mady Hornig, Thomas Briese T, et al. (September 2008)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    “This work was supported by CDC grant U50 CCU522351 to AAP [American Academy of Pediatrics] and by National Institutes of Health awards AI57158 (Northeast Biodefense Center-Lipkin), HL083850, and NS47537.

    Role of Study Sponsors: Members of the funding organization (AAP) and its sponsor (CDC) participated along with experts in virology and neurovirology, autism pathogenesis, and vaccine design and safety; representatives of the autism advocacy community; and study collaborators in an Oversight Committee that reviewed and agreed to all aspects of study design prior to data collection.”

    “MMR Vaccination and Pervasive Developmental Disorders: A Case-Control Study”
    The Lancet, Liam Smeeth, MRCGP, Eric Fombonne, MD (September 11, 2004)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    “E Fombonne has provided advice on the epidemiology and clinical aspects of autism to scientists advising parents, to vaccine manufacturers (for a fee), and to several government committees. A J Hall received a financial contribution from Merck towards research on hepatitis B vaccination in 1998. He is also a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation (2002-present).”

    “Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Prevalence and Links With Immunizations”
    Pediatrics, Eric Fombonne, MD (July 2006)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    “In the United Kingdom, Dr Fombonne has provided advice on the epidemiology and clinical aspects of autism to scientists advising parents, to vaccine manufacturers, and to several government committees between 1998 and 2001. Since June 2004, Dr Fombonne has been an expert witness for vaccine manufacturers in US thimerosal litigation.”

    “No Evidence for a New Variant of Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Induced Autism”
    Pediatrics, Eric Fombonne, FRCPsych (October 2001)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    None noted, although Fombonne’s conflict statement above reads, “Dr Fombonne has provided advice on the epidemiology and clinical aspects of autism to scientists advising parents, to vaccine manufacturers, and to several government committees between 1998 and 2001. Since June 2004, Dr Fombonne has been an expert witness for vaccine manufacturers in US thimerosal litigation.”

    “No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study”
    Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Hideo Honda, Michael Rutter

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    None noted, an egregious omission given what is known about Dr. Michael Rutter of the UK: Not only is Dr. Rutter a paid expert witness for vaccine makers facing litigation regarding the MMR vaccine, he was also a board member of the Wellcome Foundation, a front foundation for Glaxo Smithkline, a vaccine maker. Dr. Rutter is also a primary witness in the case against Dr. Andrew Wakefiled, a British doctor who published a paper implicating MMR vaccine in autism.

    “Measles Vaccination and Antibody Response in Autism Spectrum Disorders”
    Archives of Disease in Childhood, Gillian Baird (February 2008)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    “Funding: The study was funded by the Department of Health, the Wellcome Trust, the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Remedi. The sponsors of the study had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation or writing of the report. The corresponding author had full access to all the data in the study and final responsibility for the decision to submit for publication.

    Competing interests: MA and DB have given unpaid advice to lawyers in MMR and MR litigation. GB has acted as an occasional expert witness for the diagnosis of autism. AP receives royalties from SCQ and ADOS-G instruments. PBS has acted as an expert witness in the matter of MMR/MR vaccine litigation.”

    “Neurologic Disorders After Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination”
    Pediatrics, Annamari Makela, MD (November 2002)

    Conflicts statement from the study:

    “Dr Makela was supported by a grant from Merck & Co. [the manufacturer of the MMR vaccine].”

  140. I thought I would share with parents information specific to pertussis, which is not given to them by their doctors nor is on the Vaccine Information Sheets (VIS) put out by the CDC. The information below comes directly from the package insert of one of the vaccinations currently on the schedule: Pentacel® (http://www.fda.gov/CbER/label/pentacelLB.pdf ).
    First according to the manufacturer’s package insert/prescribing information for Pentacel®, there are no well established blood tests that can demonstrate the efficacy (effectiveness) of the Pentacle vaccine, or any other vaccine, against pertussis (page 4). Due to the lack of a true and reliable test for effectiveness, they compared the antibody response of their vaccine to another vaccine called DAPTACEL (‘control group’). So in actuality, they only tested to see if their vaccine could produce the same amount or more antibodies against pertussis than their ‘control’ group vaccine DAPTACEL. Remember, they just said on page 4 that there is no reliable test to show that high antibody levels even protect against pertussis. In addition, there was no true control group of unvaccinated subjects, as all the study participants received vaccinations.

    After 4 doses of each, Pentacel® and DAPTACEL were compared on the ability to produce antibodies against pertussis (various agents). Overall, Pentacel®only showed a 2.5% increase in the number of individuals with a 4 fold rise in antibody levels or ~ 3 individuals (page 12). In addition, 6.2% of the subjects did not even meet the criteria for antibody response. Previous data about the DAPTACEL vaccine shows that it is only 84.9% effective against pertussis using the World Health Organization definition of pertussis (more than 21 days of paroxysmal cough and confirmed with a culture, blood test, or epidemiological link). Against mild pertussis (more than 1 day of cough with laboratory confirmation- the most common and usually undiagnosed version of pertussis) DAPTACEL was only 77.9% effective (page 8). There was only a 2 year follow-up period. It is unknown if the effectiveness diminished over time, as it does with many vaccinations, as is demonstrated by the prevalence of many vaccines needing boosters.

    If you want to extrapolate as the manufacturer did, the Pentacel® vaccine given to children is only about 85% effective against the most stringent definition of pertussis and 78% effective against the more commonly seen cases of pertussis at best. This means that at least 15-22% of vaccinated children (1 out of 5) do NOT have any protection against pertussis. They can catch it and spread it! These numbers don’t even include the children who are only partially vaccinated, which in many states can be as high as 32% of children ages 19-35 months.

    Scientifically and statistically speaking, it is more likely that a vaccinated child will pass pertussis onto your child than an unvaccinated child. Similar results are also seen with Pediarix and the other pertussis vaccines.

  141. passionlessDrone

    Hi Todd W –

    Indeed, a large number, as evidence by Dr. Nancy above, still harp on these issues, demanding more research be done, refusing any and all studies that contradict their a priori conclusions, not to mention misinterpreting studies (or just copying and pasting those misinterpretations from sites like Age of Autism, Generation Rescue or the Huffington Post, also as she has appeared to do), such as the monkey study she cited. Is it little wonder, then, that the majority of the research has been on thimerosal and/or MMR?

    I would tend to believe that such a tight focus is very unfortunate. That being said and admitted, however, does nothing to make our existing research more robust.

    The claim is that these things are causing autism (and countless other maladies, just for added effect), yet no sound scientific evidence is presented to support those claims.

    I am not making that claim. I am, instead, making the claim that we do not appropriately understand the result of increasing the frequency of stimulated immune responses in our infants. Why do I make thic claim? Because there are no evaluations on it; we only understand one half of the equation, how frequently you get disease if you do not vaccinate. You seem well aware of the fact that we have no evaluations beyond thimerosal or the MMR, and yet, you seem to have no problem worring about the fact that no evidence has been presented to you. You don’t see the paradox in your reasoning?

    Lately I’ve been seeing the immune response to aluminum leading to neuroinflammation. The studies presented so far have had no connection to vaccines due to differences in method of administration, aluminum compound used in the study, measurement outcomes with no connection to vaccines, etc. Furthermore, as someone noted above, the amount of aluminum a child receives through breast milk is significantly higher than anything in a vaccine.

    Hehe. So let me get this straight; in one sentence you are (rightfully) concerned about the fact that there are differences in route of administration and compound of aluminum of vaccines as a confounding effects, and then, one sentence later, you would use a gastro intestinal method of entry of natural aluminum as valid evidence that an intravenous amount of aluminum of a different compound cannot have consequence. Are different routes of administration meaningful, or not? Are different types of compounds of aluminum meaningful confounds or not? And people wonder why I am skeptical.

    The “there has been an increasing trend in X. There’s also been more vaccines. It must be the vaccines!” type of argumentation, ignoring any other changes that have also occurred (demographic changes as population shift or blend from various ethnic regions, decreases in early antigen exposure due to over-sanitization, changes in environmental pollutants, etc.).

    I am not making that argument that it ‘must be vaccines’, but rather, that it might be, and our existing information on the subject is insufficient to have confidence. I happen to think that some of the things you mention, especially the abundance of man made endocrine disrupters is a particularly worrisome. But this doesn’t mean we’ve studied vaccines very well, it just means that we have other things to worry about too. Taking our learning experience with endocrine disrupters as a gauge, damage does not need to be overt to be have long lasting and real impacts.

    With the exact same level of validity as people who make those arguments, I could say that autism is caused by global warming.

    But the diseases we seem to be experiencing upsurges in have direct roots to abberant immune function, the cornerstone of vaccination; and in fact, we have ample evidence from previous iterations of vaccine development that an association between vaccination and altered immune function is biologically plausible.

    Unfortunately, the acrobatics necessary to get an association between global warming and abberant immune function are much more extreme. You are taking the opinion that we are intelligent enough to understand all of the consequences of increasing our vaccination schedule; I am simply taking the opposite approach.

    To all the anti-vaxers, go out, get the data, then come back and let’s discuss.

    Hm. Well, as we have discussed, there is, in fact, a paucity of data involving vaccination and autism. But, if we want to know if vaccination seems to be able to have persistent effects up and above immunological memory of a particular pathogen, we do have some evidence of this.

    For example, check out ‘Modulation of Infants Immumne response by the first pertussis vaccine administrations’.

    What the authors found was that they were able to detect a distinct TH1/TH2 shift depending on if an infant got the DTP vs the DTaP; a variance that was persistent for at least, several months. This effect goes far and wide beyond recognizing diptheria, tetanus, and pertussis protein structures. The long term impact of this? Who knows. Maybe nothing, but one thing is clear; operating on the theory that our only impact on infants is the generation of antibodies is an artifact of not looking for more subtle effects, as opposed to an absence of more subtle effects; this study was done eight years after DTAP was licensed. I just don’t have confidence that this is the only unexpected result of our vaccination schedule. I might feel a bit better if you could show me studies involving pre and post cytokine profiles for some other common childhood vaccines. Do any such studies exist?

    What happens if we evaluate the timing of getting a DTP vaccine? Well it seems that delaying your first dose of DTP is associated with a full halving of your risk of developing asthma. Another two month delay is associated with an even further reduction in risk.

    Delay in diptheria, pertussis, tetanus vaccination is associated with a reduced risk of childhood asthma.

    I wonder what we might find if we were to evaluate for effects on delaying any vaccinations similarly? You seem to believe that such evaluations are unnecessary, I believe otherwise.

    And when the evidence overwhelmingly shows that your idea is wrong, accept it with grace.

    Yet when the evidence tells us that our studies available don’t test vaccination, but rather, thimerosal and MMR, the reason this is sufficient is the ever graceful Global Warming gambit. *Yawn*

    When the risks from the vaccine become higher than the risks from the disease (e.g., with the OPV after polio was eradicated in the U.S.), we stop including it for use in the immunization schedule.

    Technically true, but again, you are counting on us having a full and complete understanding of the risks of vaccination. Without a mechanism to quantify this risk, our ability to meaningfully weight risks between the two options is severly hindered. By way of example, can you detail for me the risks of having intiating a TH1/TH2 shift in an entire generation of infants as was observed in the study I referenced above? Without such an understanding, we have only one half of the necessary information.

    Keep your calm and look at the issue rationally, rather than emotionally. Thank you.

    I am not sure I’ve lost my calm here. (?) But your point is well taken.

    – pD

  142. Lawrence

    @Dr Nancy – so, ummmm, by what you put as a conflict, there isn’t a single organization out there that isn’t conflicted out. That’s nuts.

  143. passionlessDrone

    Hi TheBlackCat –

    The average child is exposed to thousands of new immune challenges every day. If it was immune challenges that were the problem you would see decreased autism depending on the environmental conditions a child is raised in, for instance areas with lots of infectious diseases would lead to increased autism because the child was receiving more immune challenges. Or areas with poor sanitation would be correlated with more incidence of autism.

    Well, the animals in the studies above were also exposed to thousands of new challenges every day; they were rats after all. And yet, for some reason, only those that got a robust immune response via LPS, PolyIC, or tnf alpha went on to develop behavioral and immunological disparaties.

    For a clearer illustration of the problems with your argument, check out this study: “Modulation of Infants Immumne response by the first pertussis vaccine administrations”

    Here we see that researchers observed very different cytokine profiles if a child got the DTP versus the DTaP. This effect was observed to be persistent for (at least) several months. Now, considering these children were exposed to thousands of challenges every day, shouldn’t it be impossible to tell the two groups of children apart immunologically if there was no difference between vaccination and everyday exposure? And yet, what we observe is the opposite. What are we to make of this argument?

    Not true. If it was indeed the rate of vaccination that was the problem, then eliminating any one vaccine would reduce that rate and would therefore reduce the incidence of autism. So if it was vaccines as a whole, the the reduction of any one of those vaccines should be negatively correlated with the incidence of autism. It isn’t.

    And if our effect is time dependent as was observed in many of the studies I posted above, what does this do to your model considering the vast increases in the schedule have occurred at the two, four, and six month check ups when the MMR is often given at eighteen months? I’m also curious on your take as to the statistical power necessary to detangle the effect of removing a single vaccine in a series of twenty or thirty.

    The outbreak began when an unvaccinated college-aged student was exposed to measles while overseas, became ill while returning to Iowa, then infected two others. The public health response totaled over 25-hundred hours of staff time at a cost of $142, 452. Based on that review, the report concluded the direct cost of protecting a community from one case of an infectious disease is expensive and time-consuming. The report also praised efforts by the public health community to stop the outbreak, saying it had the potential of infecting nearly 1,000 people with measles at a potential cost of over $700,000.

    Hehe. So three people getting infected costs 50K each, but three hundred times more people would have decreased the price to 700 a person or so. Economies of scale, I guess. At one point, every single child in the US got the measles. How did we ever manage to afford anything else?

    Google “Hugh Blair autism”. There is even a whole book about it. The events are from the 1700’s.

    Wow! An entire book! I won’t argue that there wasn’t any autism in the past, just that we needed to have been exceptionally ignorant of things, for forever, for what we are observing now not to be a new phenomena. The other thing I love about this is that there are plenty of folks who will question if Jenny McCarthy’s son actually had autism, even though he was diagnosed in 200#, but they seem to have no problem believing they can diagnose someone from the 1700’s, and not only that, but that this constitutes meaningful evidence. And I’m the guy that likes shaky science. Unbelievable.

    The focus on, careful diagnosis of, and treatment of psychological and psychiatric disorders is a fairly new phenomenon.

    We had a name and a diagnosis for dyslexia over one hundred years ago. Your argument hinges on our (half literate) society to be better at detecting children who had trouble reading from those that started speaking, and then stopped and often required lifelong care.

    The other thing I love about this is that the lynchpin of this argument is that it is completely unfalsifiable. Is there ever a point to which autism rates could apparently rise at which we could safely say that this was not simply a result of better diagnosis? If the CDC came out tomorrow and said that autism was at one in fifty children, this type of argument would be unaffected.

    You may not be arguing that, but I was not replying to you, I was replying to Dr. Nancy.

    Your point is taken and accepted.

    Oh, do you have studies backing up this conclusion? Just because you find a link implausible does not mean there isn’t one. After all, considering all the research almost all scientists consider a link between vaccines and autism implausible, but you fell justified overruling them. You demand we provide studies contradicting your position (instead of your providing studies backing it up), it is more than a bit hypocritical of you to then turn around and say you don’t need to provide any studies backing up your rejection of other factors.

    If you would like to argue that a decrease in bumblebees is as likely a candidate for changes in our infants as say, increased exposure to PCBs, BPA, flame retardants, or a galaxy of other synthetic chemicals, I cannot stop you. Unfortunately, people studying thyroid dysfunction or endocrine disruption don’t seem to be concerned about SUVs or bumblebees, but do seem worried about chemicals such as the onces I mentioned.

    I have made no demands for studies; I have simply pointed out the flaws in the studies we do have available. As has been stated many times, the absence of studies is quite different than the existence of studies. You seem intent on gloating over the fact that no studies have been performed is evidence that we can have certainty over the question.

    – pD

  144. TheBlackCat

    Nancy, you actually consider the CDC, NIH, and even the California Institute of health to be conflicts of interest? If that is the case, what funding source would you consider to NOT be a conflict of interest?

  145. Greg in Austin

    Dr. Nancy Says:
    May 20th, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    “There is no science whatsoever that says thimerosal does not cause brain injury. The science you folks keep refering to is not science at all. It’s nothing but statistical manipulation done by people involved in the mandatory vaccine program.”

    Maybe I missed it in your wall of words. Where is the peer-reviewed, repeated scientific study that shows thimerosal does cause brain injury in humans?

    There is no science whatsoever that says marshmallows do not cause brain injury either, yet they put marshmallows in cereals, pop-tarts, granola bars, and even in… bags of marshmallows.

    8)

  146. Gwenny

    -Alan
    Vaccine Free Since the Late 70s.
    I’m 46. You do the math. Ummm… Arithmentic.

    Yes. I can do the math. You were born in 1963 and had all your shots before you went “vaccine free”. You are protected by the intelligence of your parents . .too bad you didn’t actually GET that intelligence.

  147. Amanda

    That depends… is Amanda Peet personally responsible for tens of thousands of children who suffer debilitating side effects upon receiving vaccine cocktails?

  148. Jerry

    Hi Greg in Austin. I just went to Pubmed and typed in thimerosal and 1293 published papers came up. Non of them were too nice concerning the neurotoxic consequences of this product.

  149. OtherRob

    There is no science whatsoever that says marshmallows do not cause brain injury either, yet they put marshmallows in cereals, pop-tarts, granola bars, and even in… bags of marshmallows.

    Actually the studies were done that showed they cause brain injury. But they were suppressed by Big Marsh…

  150. @OtherRob
    Heh, a bit like how modern farming methods cause brain injury but the results of the studies have been suppressed by Big Farmer…

  151. Greg in Austin

    @OtherRob,

    Of course. And we all know who the biggest lobbyist is for Big Marsh… The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

    8)

  152. Nathan

    The antivaxxers should be held liable, but the manufactures have immunity (Patriot Act) if they make a mistake in an “emergency” and kill all the people who take it? Where am I?

  153. HCN

    Dr. Nancy, given your lack of reading comprehension and basic lack of understanding of chemistry what does the word “doctor” you are using actually represent?

    Are you a chiropractor?

    Are you a homeopath?

    Are you a real doctor who skipped lots of continuing education?

    Did you buy a doctorate on teh interwebs?

    Or are you just some random person who spouts unsupported nonsense pretending to be educated (without evidence) by randomly placing the abbreviation of “Dr” before your very common first name?

    Because, so far, the verbal vomit you have spouted here shows you to be completely clueless.

    Really, if you want to be taken seriously (which you are not, by the way, Todd is just a really nice person to point the flaws in your very old and tired Gish Gallop), you would tell us exactly which real actual factual data that I can find my local medical school library shows that the DTaP is worse than diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (which is presently killing over a dozen American babies per year!).

    Do try, because your performance as a data dumper has been pathetic.

  154. I’m not a doctor in real life but I play one on teh intertoobs…

  155. @passionlessDrone

    Sorry for the misunderstanding. It seemed like you were taking the “if it’s not thimerosal or MMR, it must be something else in the vaccines causing autism” approach. The majority of my post, like my initial post, is directed primarily at the folks crying out that vaccines (somehow) cause autism, secondarily at the folks saying that vaccines are worse than the diseases prevented.

    I will agree that long-term effects of vaccinations are not very well understood. While vaccines are a candidate for immune problems, like allergies and so on, there are a host of other things to look at, as I mentioned before: over-sterilization, pollution, dietary changes over the past decades, etc.

    Well, the animals in the studies above were also exposed to thousands of new challenges every day; they were rats after all.

    I would venture to say that the animals in the studies are not exposed to the same level of immune challenges as the average human child. Why? Because lab animals tend to be kept in pretty sterile environments to minimize the risk of contamination that might confound the outcome of the studies.

    Here we see that researchers observed very different cytokine profiles if a child got the DTP versus the DTaP. This effect was observed to be persistent for (at least) several months. Now, considering these children were exposed to thousands of challenges every day, shouldn’t it be impossible to tell the two groups of children apart immunologically if there was no difference between vaccination and everyday exposure?

    As I read your summary of this study, a question occurred to me: what are the effects of actual infection from wild type diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis? A well-controlled examination of this would very likely be unethical (can’t rightfully purposely infect someone with the disease as it violates the Declaration of Helsinki), so what do the results of that study mean in a real sense? If we don’t know what happens after wild type infection, are the results of this study meaningful for evaluating the risk of vaccination vs. non-vaccination?

    And if our effect is time dependent as was observed in many of the studies I posted above, what does this do to your model considering the vast increases in the schedule have occurred at the two, four, and six month check ups when the MMR is often given at eighteen months?

    Did these studies account for differences in home environment? Randomization should, theoretically, take care of that, but I wonder if there were any discrepancies that may have affected the results?

    Regarding the aluminum comment, I realized after I posted my comment that I need to take a look at the claim to see what types of aluminum compounds are involved, as well as the differences in enteral vs. parenteral administration.

    As to my global warming example, yes, it does sound absurd and implausible. Yet, changes in environment of even a few degrees on average have the potential to effect physiological changes, either directly or indirectly (e.g., through changes in what other plant, animal and bacterial organisms are around, how long pollutants remain in the atmosphere, viral transmission, etc.). I was not, however, seriously suggesting that global warming causes autism. My point was just that many of the people on the anti-vax front make these same kinds of leaps of logic that have no valid evidence to support them.

    Regarding my apparent lack of concern over the scarcity of long-term followup of the effects of vaccination, it stems from the fact that vaccines have a pretty long history of working, with no significant increases in serious adverse effects. I would agree that research into whether or not vaccines are related to autoimmune diseases is a valid request, but with the caveat that people should continue to get immunized. At present, there is more evidence to support vaccinating than not vaccinated. Once that changes, then we can consider changes to the vaccine program. It’s premature to change things without evidence to justify the change.

  156. HCN

    For those who don’t mind reading a news story past the first paragraph or two, the Chicago Tribune has a couple of articles on the Geiers (rhymes with “liar”), a father and son team who came up with a novel way to treat autism: chemical castration. Enjoy.

  157. @HCN

    Can you add the link to the story? Thanks!

  158. @Todd: Click my name for the story. It’s on the front page of the Trib’s online edition right now.

    HCN was being a little facetious when saying that they’re chemically castrating the autists, but they’re using the “Lupron Protocol” developed by Geier and son going under the supposition that too much testosterone mixed with mercury is causing the autism.

    …and, oh good lord:

    This weekend, Eisenstein, Geier and his son, David, are scheduled to speak at the Autism One conference at the Westin O’Hare in Rosemont. The five-day conference, featuring a keynote speech by actress-turned-activist Jenny McCarthy, steps in where modern medicine has yet to succeed, offering answers for what causes autism and treatments with allegedly dramatic results.

    She’s giving keynote addresses!?!?!

  159. @drksky

    That conference announcement is frightening. Hopefully there will be some sane people there.

    As to the Geiers, I wonder if they’re going to seek medical approval for the use of Lupron to treat autism. I get the vague feeling that their promoting it runs afoul of a few regulations. I would venture to say, also, that without proper Phase I and II trials, they are guilty of more than a few ethical violations.

    I’ll need to give the article a closer read and see what else is going on around it. Thanks for the link and the heads-up!

  160. I read the whole thing, and it sounds as though they’ve already been using their protocol and have opened a bunch of “autism clinics” in order to administer it.

    They’ve even got one in Washington that’s run by, get this, a documentary filmmaker. Those two really need to get some FDA people crawling up their, well, you know.

  161. @drksky

    Yep, just finished reading the article. Wow. Just…wow. I wonder how long it’s going to be before we get medical malpractice suits going. I mean, a documentary filmmaker, last I checked, typically is not authorized to prescribe drugs or practice medicine.

    One of the problems as far as FDA going after the Geiers, they are not the manufacturers or distributors, so there’s really not a whole lot FDA can do. If the manufacturer began advertising that Lupron can treat autism, then there’d be a case. I think the AMA might be more appropriate, stripping them of any right to practice medicine. Malfeasance cases might also be an approach that people could take.

    I also noted in the article that they make a false dichotomy: either psychoactive meds or Lupron. They’re leaving out applied behavior analysis completely. The New England Center for Children (just one of numerous centers that uses ABA) works very hard to wean kids off of psychoactive meds. When it comes to aggression and masturbation, they use behavioral programs to teach them what is appropriate (e.g., go to the bathroom if you’re going to masturbate).

    What’s really sad is that some insurance companies will cover this treatment but not ABA. I can see why it would be attractive to parents. I just kept wondering, though, if they cry out that there are no studies showing vaccines are safe and effective, how the hell can they support this carp [sic]? The mind boggles.

  162. For those who want the link to the article on the Geiers and don’t want to click on drksky’s name, here’s the link: http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/chi-autism-lupron-may21,0,242705.story

  163. Jerry

    I just went to Pubmed and typed in thimerosal and 1293 published papers came up. Non of them were too nice concerning the neurotoxic consequences of this product, except of course epidemiology from the mainstream medical profiteers.

    As far as the Geiers go there is nobody mainstream medicine hates more than people stealing away their lifetime profit centers (whuich they call autism, ADHD, bi-polar, etc.)

    As far as conflicts of interest go, it must be nice to investigate yourself (using taxpayor dollars of course).

  164. @Todd: I sent that link to Orac, and he surprised me by sending me three of his blogs posts from three years ago about this same thing. Apparently, it’s not something new, except to mainstream media like the Trib.

  165. @drksky

    Yeah, I came across a post on neurodiversity blog about the Geiers’ research into Lupron. Apparently, the IRB that approved the study was formed a year after the study was completed and consisted of Mark and David Geier, Mark Geier’s wife, a trial lawyer that represents vaccine injury claimants and for whom Mark Geier serves as an expert witness, a physician who was a co-defendant with M. Geier in a medical malpractice suit, and a couple others. Of the total, only two would have been allowed to vote on whether to approve the study.

    Here’s the link: http://neurodiversity.com/weblog/article/98/an-elusive-institute-significant-misrepresentations-mark-geier-david-geier-the-evolution-of-the-lupron-protocol-part-two

    Talk about unethical research practices!

  166. HCN

    drksky said “HCN was being a little facetious when saying that they’re chemically castrating the autists, ”

    No I wasn’t, I was being serious. This is a story that I have been following on Neurodiversity and Orac’s blog for years (Todd, Kathleen Seidel has a whole series of blog posts, she has a “Contents” page in article number 109, which is accessible by clicking “Related articles” on the title of the page you posted). I hate putting in URLs because of the automatic moderation… but check out what Steven Novella says on his blog Neurologica, where he says:

    “The second source of apparent improvement in children treated with Lupron is that Lupron, given at the doses the Geiers are using, which is 10 times the dose used for childhood conditions of excess testosterone, do amount to chemical castration. Testosterone is a masculine hormone that increases energy, aggression, and sexuality. Castrated males become more docile, calm, and less sexual.”

    Yep, these parents are paying big bucks to have the Geiers chemically castrate their children.

  167. HCN

    Jerry showing how idiotic he is said “As far as the Geiers go there is nobody mainstream medicine hates more than people stealing away their lifetime profit centers (whuich they call autism, ADHD, bi-polar, etc.)”

    Oh, yeah like the Rite Care clinic where my son got over three years of free speech therapy. By the way if health insurance covers speech therapy it is usually with an annual cap of about $1000 to (if they are really generous) $5000 (about two months worth).

    How are speech therapy clinics “profit center”? Give us the full details.

    Then compare it to the numbers from the Chicago Tribune article:
    “To treat an autistic child, the Geiers order $12,000 in lab tests, more than 50 in all.”
    and
    “The cost of the Lupron therapy is $5,000 to $6,000 a month”

  168. @HCN: I wrote that before I read the whole article. I retract the statement about you be facetious.

    It simply blows my mind that they are able to do this stuff without proof of efficacy or legal reprisal.

  169. HCN

    I understand, drksky. It is a wonder that nothing has happened to them, but nothing much has happened to Roy Kerry who killed a kid with chelation several years ago. Kerry even qualified as a “DAN!” doctor after the death.

  170. Jerry

    You’re right HCN, Kerry screwed up and one kid died. Not from chelation though but from using the wrong drug. Unfortunatley, medical screwups cause over 100,000 deaths in this country every year. How many people die from chemotherapy each year? Should we stop this just because of the thousands that die every year. This would have a major detrimental assualt on our economy!

  171. HCN

    Rethinking fail Jerry… Kerry never ever stocked any other chelator, plus he used a push IV. How is that not dying from chelation?

    It is hard to grab the wrong bottle when you only keep EDTA in the cupboard. From actionforautism.co.uk/2008/12/01/the-wrongs-and-rights-of-reply/…

    “72. Respondent stated to Inspector Reiser that disodium EDTA is the only form of EDTA that he stocks in his office.

    73. Respondent admits that CaNa2EDTA is available but he has never used this agent.”

    Total incompetence. And yet he became a DAN! doctor afterward.

    Now how does saying chemotherapy does not work all the time (and if you go to Orac’s blog you will find lots of comments from people who are now alive because of chemotherapy) show that chemically castrating children has any validity?

  172. Greg in Austin

    Jerry said,

    “I just went to Pubmed and typed in thimerosal and 1293 published papers came up. Non of them were too nice concerning the neurotoxic consequences of this product, except of course epidemiology from the mainstream medical profiteers.”

    Thanks for sharing your opinion. I went to Pubmed and looked for “thimerosal toxicity brain human” which is what I was asking. That search returned 7 results, one of which includes the following:

    The evidence for the safety of thiomersal in newborn and infant vaccines.
    Clements CJ.

    Centre for International Health, The Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health Ltd, GPO Box 2284, Commercial Road, Melbourne, Vic. 3004, Australia. john@clem.com.au

    While a number of studies remain to be completed, evidence is mounting that there is no demonstrable risk for infants immunized with vaccines containing thiomersal. Epidemiological studies in the US have shown no developmental or other central nervous system abnormalities resulting from exposure to vaccines containing thiomersal. During the initial evaluation of thiomersal in vaccines during 1999, the toxicological profile of ethyl mercury was unknown and presumed to be the same as that of methyl mercury. Enough evidence has accumulated since then to indicate the profiles of the two compounds are different in crucial aspects. To date, one study has measured blood levels of total mercury in vaccinated infants and reports only a brief low-level exposure with rapid excretion of mercury. It is not yet known for sure how much (if any) vaccine-derived ethyl mercury in the blood crosses the blood-brain barrier. For the most part, the use of thiomersal as a vaccine preservative has been convincingly shown to be safe. The scientific evidence is not yet sufficiently strong to provide the same level of assurance for thiomersal-containing vaccines for use in pregnant women or the premature or low birth weight infant. There is an increased sensitivity of the fetal brain to mercury whether it is ethyl or methyl mercury. While there is no evidence to support the contention, it is at least theoretically possible that very low birth weight premature infants may be at increased risk from thiomersal-containing vaccines. Until such time as the scientific evidence is to hand, thiomersal-free presentations of hepatitis B are to be preferred for the birth dose. Given the same levels of exposure, adults are at much lower levels of risk because of increased body mass. It is not possible to prove that thiomersal is completely safe-epidemiology can only quantify a risk, not prove its absence.

    So, that contradicts both parts of your statements that, “none of them were too nice,” and , “except of course epidemiology from the mainstream medical profiteers.”

    By the way, a search at Pubmed for “marshmallow” returns 64 results, but “marshmallow toxicity” returns 0.

    8)

  173. Barney

    I would like to ask the group some relatively simple questions:

    (1) What does the term “anti-vaxxer” mean when you use it?
    (2) What does the term “pro-disease” mean when you use it?

    Now let me describe a hypothetical family: Fred and Wilma have a daughter, Pebbles. Both Fred and Wilma had chicken pox when they were children. Wilma demand-feeds Pebbles for several years (meaning that Pebbles can breastfeed whenever she wants). The research done by Wilma indicates that the mother provides immune protection to Pebbles during the ages when she is demand-feeding. The research indicates that chicken pox can be harmful when a child is very young or after they reach puberty, but for a healthy child in-between, it is annoying but not dangerous. The research also indicates that the best way to avoid chicken pox as an adult is for the adult to have had it already when they were younger. More effective than a chicken-pox vaccination.

    (a) When Pebbles is very young and potentially vulnerable, she is protected by the immune system of her demand-feeding mother.
    (b) When Pebbles is no longer nursing, Fred and Wilma see that she is strong and healthy, and they decide not to vaccinate Pebbles for chicken pox.
    (c) When they hear of friends who have chicken pox or shingles, they try to expose Pebbles to this disease so that she can get it at a time when it is relatively harmless for her.
    (d) If Pebbles reaches puberty and has never gotten the chicken pox, they will work with her to decide whether to vaccinate for the chicken pox.
    (e) Wilma and Fred believe that humans have evolved alongside diseases and it is not necessarily bad for their strong healthy child to catch most diseases.

    So now let me ask some more questions.

    (3) Would you call Wilma and Fred “anti-vaxxers”? Is this consistent with your original answer to (1)?
    (4) Would you call Wilma and Fred “pro-disease”? Is this consistent with your original answer to (3)?
    (5) If you heard this anecdote about Wilma and Fred’s strategy regarding Pebbles and chicken pox, would you say that Wilma and Fred “have reality on their side”? I am referencing Phil’s language near the end of his original post.
    (6) If you are interested in convincing people to vaccinate more, have you tried to understand exactly why many parents have chosen not to follow the whole vaccination package? It is very easy to resort to generalizations and name-calling, but is it really the best way to accomplish your purpose?

  174. @Barney

    For myself, click on my name to go to the full version of my initial post, which includes a note on what I mean by “pro-disease”. An anti-vaxer would be synonymous: people who actively argue against vaccines or whose arguments have the effect of reducing vaccination rates. So, in your example, I would say that Fred and Wilma would probably not be anti-vaxers, unless they also tried to convince others that vaccinations were somehow dangerous or ineffective or that getting the disease naturally is better than vaccination. I’d say they were misguided and misinformed.

    First off, Pebbles can still get chicken pox, even though she is nursing (http://www.kellymom.com/health/meds/vaccine-protection.html). It may be a mild case, but she can still get it.

    Second, as far as purposely exposing her to other kids with the disease, Fred and Wilma are playing Russian roulette. There are a number of very serious complications that can arise from chicken pox, even in healthy individuals. Here is an excerpt from the Mayo Clinic ():

    A common complication of chickenpox is a bacterial infection of the skin. Chickenpox may also lead to pneumonia or, rarely, an inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), both of which can be very serious.

    The risk of those complications is higher in infants, teens, adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems.

    Acording to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/varicella/vac-faqs-gen.htm), many people do not realize that chicken pox can be a serious disease, and that the vaccine has a very significant impact on infection rates:

    Prior to the availability of varicella vaccine, approximately 4 million cases of varicella occurred each year in the U.S. Although varicella is frequently perceived as a disease that does not cause serious illness, especially among healthy children, many persons are not aware that an average of 10,600 (range 8,000-16,500) hospitalizations and 100 to 150 deaths due to chickenpox occurred every year in the United States before the varicella vaccine became available. The majority of the severe complications and deaths occurred in previously healthy individuals.

    The availability of the varicella vaccine beginning in 1995 and its subsequent widespread use has had a major impact on reducing varicella disease. In states consistently reporting cases to the national surveillance system, rates of varicella in 2004 were 53%-88% lower compared to the pre-vaccine era. In two sites with active surveillance for chickenpox, incidence declined across all age groups, with an overall decline of ~90% from 1995-2005. Chickenpox-related hospitalizations in 2002 were 88% less compared with rates in 1994-1995; in addition, the age-adjusted rates for varicella deaths dropped 66% from 1990-2001. Deaths declined more than 90% among children 1-4 years of age and more than 70% among persons younger than 50 years of age.

    (e) Wilma and Fred believe that humans have evolved alongside diseases and it is not necessarily bad for their strong healthy child to catch most diseases.

    Here they are rather misinformed. While humans have evolved alongside diseases, the diseases also evolve to bypass the defenses; that’s why we still get sick from the disease. Also, there are certain diseases that live primarily in other animals without causing harm. However, when these diseases enter a human host, they wreak havoc because of the incompatibility of the bacteria/virus/parasite’s form evolved to coexist in one environment put into an alien environment. For example, malaria is caused by a parasite. This parasite exists benignly in mosquitoes, causing no harm to the bug (someone correct me if I’m wrong). However, the parasite causes devastating consequences when it enters a human and some other animals. (This is just off the top of my head, so apologies for any mistakes.)

    (5) If you heard this anecdote about Wilma and Fred’s strategy regarding Pebbles and chicken pox, would you say that Wilma and Fred “have reality on their side”?

    I would say they do not have reality on their side. Some of the information they have is nominally correct, but their actions are largely based on misinformation and a misunderstanding of how vaccines and diseases work.

    As long as Fred and Wilma did not actively promote their misguided view of things, I would not label them as anti-vaxers or pro-disease (though the pox party bit borders on it) off the bat. I would, however, try to show where they are wrong, point them to reliable evidence showing why they are wrong, and hope that we can have a calm, rational conversation.

  175. Greg in Austin

    (1) What does the term “anti-vaxxer” mean when you use it?
    I don’t use it, but my definition would be someone who believes (based on emotional, anecdotal evidence, not scientific evidence) that vaccines cause more harm than good.

    (2) What does the term “pro-disease” mean when you use it?
    I don’t use it, but my definition would be someone who believes, and has stated their belief, that allowing some deadly diseases to return (by not vaccinating) would benefit society in some way.

    What happens to Pebbles if she’s never exposed to any other diseases (because she lives in a cave) until one day she meets Bam-Bam. Bam-Bam, on the other hand, traveled half way across Pangaea and back, and is carrying something far worse than chicken pox. While Fred and Wilma are deciding on whether or not to vaccinate their pre-teen daugter, she’s already caught it. The symptoms don’t show up for two weeks, by which time, the vaccine is useless.

    What’s worse, is what if Pebbles survives to adulthood without getting vaccinated, and without building an immunity, and then marries Bam-Bam and they have children of their own. If Pebbles is unable to provide any immunity to her child, what is to prevent that child from catching (and now spreading) something worse than chicken pox?

    8)

  176. I think it’s absolutely irresponsible and idiotic for those in the “pro-poisoning of children and infants” ranks to be talking about parents that are concerned about their children. I also feel that many of you will think quite differently when it happens to someone you love and at a rate of more than 1 out of 100 children diagnosed, that could happen pretty easily.
    More than 1300 cases against vaccines have been conceded in the federal vaccine courts, a great number of them have been autism, PDD-NOS, ADEM etc. all cause symptoms that placed these children on the autism spectrum (if they didn’t die).
    Where is the compassion for those children in your tiny little minds? Your precious government (that mandates these vaccines) that you trust so much has conceded these cases!!!! get a grip you idiots!!!!
    You all love to spout off about the 5000 families that were denied compensation in the omnibus hearings, yet Bailey Banks case was conceded recently and NEVER recieved any press whatsoever…you’re all a bunch of idiot lemmings.
    you want science? Manitoba Canada study, simply by delaying DTP by three months dropped the asthma rate in children by 54% ! JLO, (who you all probably worshhip) has a campaign to save children from whooping cough by stressing vaccination. 6000 Americans a year die from asthma, most of them children! you’re all pathetic, mindless lemmings……

  177. @curt linderman sr

    More than 1300 cases against vaccines have been conceded in the federal vaccine courts, a great number of them have been autism, PDD-NOS, ADEM etc.

    FYI, ADEM is not autism. Take a look in the DSM-IV and you will find that ADEM is not listed anywhere under autism. Is it a developmental disorder? Yes. Then again, so is dyslexia. That’s not autism either, by the way. To date, the Vaccine Court has yet to award any money for a claim of vaccine-caused autism. Please provide citations to show me otherwise, though.

    Secondly, let’s just assume that those 1300 cases all involved awards for autism. That’s 1300, spread over a couple years, out of, what, several million doses administered yearly? That alone suggests pretty slim odds of autism. But, that’s not exactly a scientific approach, so let’s see the science that supports your claim.

    you want science? Manitoba Canada study, simply by delaying DTP by three months dropped the asthma rate in children by 54% !

    Okay. You claim that vaccines cause autism, then as evidence, you give us a study about vaccines and asthma? I’m not sure you understand how this “support your claim with evidence” thing works. Oh, and just saying “there’s this study” doesn’t cut it. We need the name of the study and that author’s name, at the least, so readers can check it out themselves. A link to the study would be even better.

    6000 Americans a year die from asthma, most of them children!

    Citation, please. According to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/asthma.htm), it looks like there are a total of roughly 22.9 million people (adults and children combined) who have asthma. They report the number of deaths as being 3,613 (a little over half the number you quoted). That’s a rate of 1.2 deaths per 100,000.

    In 2005 (the last year for which death data were available), there were 25,616 cases of pertussis, resulting in 31 deaths. That’s a rate of 1.2 deaths per 1,000 (or for comparison’s sake, 121 deaths per 100,000). – (CDC Pink Book – http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/Pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/G/cases&deaths.pdf)

    So while there may be some justification for delaying the DTP vaccine by 3 months, assuming several other studies replicated that one Manitoba study to establish a definite link between the delay and reduction in asthma rates, and assuming that all asthma cases are caused by vaccination, it is still much wiser and safer to give the vaccine on time than to delay it. It is certainly much wiser to give the vaccine than to avoid it at all!

    You’ve yet to produce any shred of evidence that shows that it is safer to not vaccinate (or even delay) than to vaccinate (on schedule).

  178. Birgit Calhoun

    The argument goes both ways. Comparing shouting “fire!” to what Jenny McCarthy says about vaccination, is not a good analogy. I don’t believe Jenny McCarthy is saying “don’t vaccinate!”. She is saying “vaccinate safely!” Pharmaceutical companies with only a profit motive may be the ones shouting “fire!” by telling everyone that an epidemic is coming when there is hardly any evidence for it. People are being scared into getting their flu vaccines, not realizing that many vaccines have not gone through proper safety screening (especially when it comes to Thimerosal).

  179. @Birgit Calhoun

    not realizing that many vaccines have not gone through proper safety screening (especially when it comes to Thimerosal).

    I’m assuming you have some citations to back this up? Every medical product (drug, device, vaccine, etc.) must go through clinical trials when first marketed and meet periodic random lot checking. The clinical trials must show both safety and efficacy. The lot checking must show that the lots are not adulterated. Furthermore, any changes in labeling must be approved by FDA before the manufacturer can include the changes in their products. These are just a few of the regulations that must be followed. I could go on, but I don’t think you would be that interested.

    I don’t believe Jenny McCarthy is saying “don’t vaccinate!”. She is saying “vaccinate safely!”

    Her lips say “Green our vaccines” but her heart says “vaccines are evil, filthy, vile things stealing our children from us”. The long and the short of it is that her arguments and actions boil down to just that, “don’t vaccinate”. She may say all she wants that she’s not telling people not to vaccinate, but at the same time she screeches that “vaccines cause autism! They cause autism! Manufacturers are solely in it for the money and don’t give a s*** about our health!” She is also on record saying that she thinks it would be a right skippy thing if vaccine preventable illnesses came back with a vengeance. On top of it all, she speaks as if she has some scientific merit behind her, when all she’s got is bumpkus and a lot of swearing. So, yes, she is yelling fire in a crowded theater.

    Pharmaceutical companies with only a profit motive

    My mind boggles that people use this as an argument against vaccines. Seriously. If the anti-vaxers got their way, and vaccination rates dropped, allowing lots of diseases to come raging back, the pharmaceutical companies would be raking in the cash from all the products they sell to treat the diseases. There are IV fluids, the bags, catheters and needles to administer them, diagnostic equipment, hospital beds, analgesics, face masks, antitoxins for some diseases (like tetanus), all amounting to hundreds of dollars per person, possibly going up to thousands of dollars for the really serious cases, like those who get encephalitis from measles.

    I wonder how much Jenny’s getting paid by Big PharmaTM to scare people into not vaccinating…

  180. Birgit Calhoun

    Thimerosal (still used used in many vaccines) has never been tested properly. It was grandfathered in. The test done with Merthiolate (same thing as Thimerosal, just a different brand) ca. 1929, was done on 22 meningitis patients who all died. I have read the study.

    I’ll leave it up to the curious mind to find the source. I just don’t feel like looking for it again. It took some googling and then going to Lane Library at Stanford University to find the hard copy. My source is accurate.

  181. @Birgit Calhoun

    Thimerosal (still used used in many vaccines)

    Excuse me? Many vaccines still use thimerosal? Not sure where you’re getting your information (I got mine at http://www.fda.gov/cber/vaccine/thimerosal.htm#t1), but Thimerosal is currently used in the finished product in non-trace amounts in only two vaccines, both of them for influenza. Only two other vaccines, one for influenza and one for DTaP, have trace amounts. All other vaccines currently used in the U.S. are thimerosal-free, including a thimerosal-free version of a flu vaccine. Furthermore, all live-virus vaccines (e.g., MMR) never contained any thimerosal at all. That makes the rest of your post moot, at this point.

    I have read the study.

    Great! Tell us what the title of the article is, the name of the author and when it was published.

    I’ll leave it up to the curious mind to find the source. I just don’t feel like looking for it again. It took some googling and then going to Lane Library at Stanford University to find the hard copy. My source is accurate.

    Ah, so we’ll just have to take your word for it, then. Or stab blindly in the dark trying to guess which study you read. Sorry, it doesn’t work like that. Gotta cite your sources.

  182. Birgit Calhoun

    The following cite is from: JOSEPH COUNTER and THERESA COUNTER, Individually and as Next Friend of JOSEPH ALEXANDER COUNTER Plaintiffs v. ABBOT LABORATORIES, et al. Defendants. I can’t send you the url because Discover probably won’t let me publish it. The case is worth reading though. The http://www.whale.to/v/elililly.html gives you a good idea what was done at the time.

    On July 24, 1930, Powell and Jamieson submitted their results for publication to The American Journal of Hygiene, and their article was published in January 1931.

  183. @Birgit Calhoun

    I can’t send you the url because Discover probably won’t let me publish it.

    You can submit whatever links you want. The only thing that will happen is that your post will go into moderation, until Phil takes a look and lets it through. Links to sites inappropriate for kids/schools will probably kill your post, but generally speaking, your post will be approved.

    The case is worth reading though. The http://www.whale.to/v/elililly.html gives you a good idea what was done at the time.

    The link you provide only shows one motion from the plaintiffs in the case. It does not provide the full summary of the final ruling. The plaintiff’s document is, of course, going to take whatever legal measures it can to paint the defendants in a bad light. Quite apart from that, it’s not scientific evidence of anything.

    On July 24, 1930, Powell and Jamieson submitted their results for publication to The American Journal of Hygiene, and their article was published in January 1931.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have access to the full text of the study. The first page of the study is available at http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/pdf_extract/13/1/296. Earlier, about this study, you said:

    The test done with Merthiolate (same thing as Thimerosal, just a different brand) ca. 1929, was done on 22 meningitis patients who all died.

    What was the actual question being investigated? IIUC, the primary question was whether it was a good agent for killing/preventing the growth of germs that might contaminate medical products, with a secondary question being whether it would work as a treatment for meningitis. Without access to the actual study, though, I can’t comment on the study itself or its validity regarding the current discussion. Perhaps you have something more recent to support your arguments? Something that is not from an era when the FDA lacked any substantive power to do anything, something post-Declaration of Helsinki?

  184. Birgit Calhoun

    These tests were done in Cleveland. The people doing the tests needed the money that Ely Lilly gave them to do the studies. So there was a potential conflict of interest. The question being investigated was whether Merthiolate was “safe” and didn’t show harm to the test subjects. Tests were done on animals beforehand. The first tests were done on rabbits.

    Mercury was used extensively for medical purposes at the time, and dying form illnesses was not unusual. Mercury in those times was considered a medicine and not a poison by many physicians.

    The rabbits that were given Merthiolate were observed for a few days. Fewer than half died within a week or so. That meant that the animals “tolerated” the Merthiolate. Afterwards the animals were killed. Subsequently the 22 meningitis patients were given Merthiolate. The fact that they died was of course thought to be due to meningitis and not Merthiolate.

    The problem with the way the tests were done is that it takes probably at least five to six weeks for a strong dose of ethyl mercury to kill. Mercury in any form takes a long time to kill because it eventually kills by rendering enzymes non-functioning. I am not even talking about other organ failure. Very small doses of dimethyl mercury have been known to take almost a year to kill.

    The tragedy with people in Iraq in the ’70s who ate seed grain laced with mercury preservatives was that they didn’t believe that the reddish kernels could kill because they tested them on chickens. The chickens didn’t die after six weeks. So they butchered the chickens and ate them. Then they made bread from the mercury-preserved grain and fed it to the elderly and children. Many of them died.

    The last paragraph is only meant to serve as another example of the lack of proper respect for organic mercury.

  185. @Birgit Calhoun

    You bring up a study for which the full text is difficult to find, which is really freakin’ old and therefore does not represent the current state of knowledge and mention other forms of mercurial compounds with very different toxicologic profiles and pharmacodynamics/pharmacokinetics than ethyl mercury. These are not accurate representations of the issue at hand.

    Similarly, you mention the incident in Iraq with grain that used mercuric preservatives, yet fail to mention anything about exactly why that occurred, nor that it was methyl mercury in that case as well. Here’s what happened, for anyone that might be reading our posts: grain treated with methyl mercury as a fungicide was sent to Iraq as aid. However, the warning labels indicating the presence of the fungicide were not written in the local language, so the folk that received the grain didn’t understand. Further, the grain had a red dye, which indicates the presence of the fungicide, however the folks using the grain thought that as they washed off the dye, they also washed off the poison. (http://www.ehponline.org/members/2002/suppl-1/11-23clarkson/EHP110s1p11PDF.pdf)

    You also fail to point out that in the Iraq case, while people did die and were hospitalized, and while women gave birth to babies with epilepsy and mental retardation, no one developed autism, no children were born with increased risk of autism. And, keep in mind, the Iraq incident occurred because of miscommunication and improper handling of the treated grain. (http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/dc/Immunization/vaccinesafety/Offitpiece.pdf)

    I agree that a proper respect is necessary for organic mercury compounds. But having a proper respect means also paying attention to and accepting the results of studies. Once again, studies that have looked at thimerosal and autism have found no connection. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

  186. Birgit Calhoun

    The studies done in 1929 are the only ones that were ever done on Thimerosal. I am actually not interested in arguing with you any longer. I do not have the time to write a book. If you don’t want to accept the fact that mercury is a toxic substance, that’s your own business. The circular arguments you are using don’t get us anywhere.

    All I am trying to say is that just because people want to make vaccines safe does not mean that they are dumb or haven’t tried to figure out what the scientific community does not want to address and why they don’t want to address it. The studies that were done (I have read most of them, and I understand what they say) are epidemiological studies. They have too many variables to reliably tell the whole story.

    The study from 1929 is the only one in which Thimerosal was ever tested on humans. Could you at least spend your energy on convincing the powers that be that Thimerosal should be replaced by another better thoroughly tested preservative. That is what some of us are asking for. And if you really think that mercury preservatives are not used anymore, you should first go to work at a place where they make vaccines. I have reason not to trust pharmaceutical companies. Thimerosal has never been recalled. If that were the case I would be much less likely to be so skeptical. Why aren’t people finding a substitute so that that part of the argument can be eliminated?

  187. @Birgit Calhoun

    If you don’t want to accept the fact that mercury is a toxic substance, that’s your own business.

    Mercury by itself is toxic. Certain mercury compounds are toxic, as well, but only above certain levels, as far as current research shows (note, PubMed and clinicaltrials.gov are good places to find studies, e.g., those examining how thimerosal acts in the body).

    The circular arguments you are using don’t get us anywhere.

    What circular arguments? Please point them out.

    All I am trying to say is that just because people want to make vaccines safe does not mean that they are dumb or haven’t tried to figure out what the scientific community does not want to address and why they don’t want to address it.

    And I am not saying that they are dumb, rather just misinformed and misled by others who are misinformed and lying. Also, what exactly is meant by “safe”? Do you mean 100% safe with no chance at all for any adverse reactions? Because, if that’s what you mean, then keep dreaming, because it will never happen. Anything that acts on the body has the potential for adverse reactions. Even vitamins can be toxic.

    Furthermore, scientists do not operate as a cohesive conglomerate, all out to hush up something. If you think that, then you need to reevaluate your perceptions of reality and realize that a) scientists are human and not some hive collective and b) “outing” other scientists and scooping them is a pretty frequent thing. When a scientist comes out with some idea, others will try to replicate the study and show him or her as potentially wrong.

    The studies that were done (I have read most of them, and I understand what they say) are epidemiological studies. They have too many variables to reliably tell the whole story.

    What particular variables do they not account for? Please voice specific criticisms about specific studies. Vague “they aren’t reliable” comments don’t help anything and certainly do not persuade. Show where they fail, and I might agree with you, if your criticism is a valid one.

    Could you at least spend your energy on convincing the powers that be that Thimerosal should be replaced by another better thoroughly tested preservative.

    Well, thimerosal has already been removed from the finished products of nearly every vaccine in the U.S. So, I don’t think I need to do a whole lot in that regard.

    And if you really think that mercury preservatives are not used anymore, you should first go to work at a place where they make vaccines.

    Thimerosal is still used in some of the raw ingredients, but it is removed from the finished product, so exposure either never happens, or only trace amounts are left (see my previous comment about amounts in vaccines). I’ll ask again, which vaccines do you think still have thimerosal in them a) at levels above trace amounts and b) at toxic levels. Please cite your sources.

    Thimerosal has never been recalled.

    And why should it be? Until valid evidence surfaces that it causes serious adverse events, that it puts people at unacceptable risk of injury and that the risks outweigh the benefits, it should not be recalled. Aleve, a common pain reliever, puts people at increased risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular injury. That one has actual data to support it (http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm124311.pdf). It is still on the market, as it should be, because it serves a specific purpose, and when used as directed, is generally safe. Thimerosal, also, is generally safe when used as directed. You have yet to provide any evidence that it is harmful (and the study published in 1931, for this forum, will not suffice, because it is not readily available to readers and, as such, we cannot examine what the study design was, what the variables were, etc., not to mention the small sample size).

    Why aren’t people finding a substitute so that that part of the argument can be eliminated?

    With all the public brouhaha about it, I would be surprised if some company weren’t working on an alternative. Do you have evidence that no one is working on one? If you do, present it, otherwise, please avoid questions like this that serve only to mislead and misrepresent the issue.

    Now, if you have specific evidence, as I’ve asked for before, that shows that a) thimerosal is toxic at the amounts in vaccines and b) the specific effects of thimerosal toxicity, please share it. The current scientific understanding, based on numerous studies, is that thimerosal does not appear to have any connection with autism. Now, some study could come along that shows it does, but until then, no one can claim it does with any degree of validity. Show us the science.

  188. Whoa, whoa: in order to reduce the possible effects of thimerosal, they reduce the amount of thimerosol in the vaccine? Are they not familiar with even basic homeopathic science? Someone should warn them…

    /snark

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