Antivaxers bring up Hannah Poling and vaccine safety, AGAIN

Yet again, antivaxers are bringing up the Hannah Poling vaccine injury case as proof vaccines cause autism. This time, it is because JB Handley has published a new book and he has decided that the attorneys for the government admitted that vaccines cause autism and, therefore, all the Autism Omnibus cases are wrong and every child who has autism deserves compensation for a vaccine injury.

Except he is wrong.

 

del and jb

It all started with JB Handley’s appearance on Del Bigtree’s show last week to promote his new book. I watched this 90 minute episode so you don’t have to. Guests included JB Handley, Jenny McCarthy, Rolf Hazelhurst, Robert Kennedy Jr, with Del Bigtree hosting. I will post some links at the bottom in case you want to learn more about these people. 

Here’s my summary:

JB – my book is revolutionary, blah blah
Jenny – I love JB
Rolf Hazelhurst and RFKjr discuss Poling case.
Del uses paper people to illustrate how Autism Omnibus hearings work.
Rolf says that dept of justice attorneys on his case lied about link between mercury and autism and MMR and that is the fraud. 

The end.

 

This is what they are excited about. This is a screenshot from the video. Mr. Matanoski and Ms. Ricciardella are attorneys who were involved in the Autism Omnibus hearings on the government’s side. Wiki actually has a really good explanation of these hearings, if this is new to you.

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Del and JB, et al, think Matanoski and Ricciardella were lying when they made the above statement because Hannah Poling’s family was awarded compensation for vaccines injuring her and she is autistic. But, she was not awarded compensation for autism, a fact which Del and JB, et al, clearly refuse to understand. Here is the footnote from a more recent vaccine injury case, that of Brian Hooker:

I am well aware, of course, that during the years since the “test cases” were decided, in two cases involving vaccinees suffering from ASDs, Vaccine Act compensation was granted.
But in neither of those cases did the Respondent concede, nor did a special master find, that there was any “causation-in-fact” connection between a vaccination and the vaccinee’s ASD. Instead, in both cases it was conceded or found that the vaccinee displayed the symptoms of a Table Injury within the Table time frame after vaccination. (See Section I above).

In Poling v. HHS, the presiding special master clarified that the family was compensated because the Respondent conceded that the Poling child had suffered a Table Injury–not because the Respondent or the special master had concluded that any vaccination had contributed to causing or aggravating the child’s ASD. See Poling v. HHS, No. 02-1466V, 2011 WL 678559, at *1 (Fed. Cir Spec. Mstr. Jan. 28, 2011) (a fees decision, but noting specifically that the case was compensated as a Table Injury).

Second, in Wright v. HHS, No. 12-423, 2015 WL 6665600 (Fed. Cl. Spec. Mstr. Sept. 21, 2015), Special Master Vowell concluded that a child, later diagnosed with ASD, suffered a
“Table Injury” after a vaccination. However, she stressed that she was not finding that the vaccinee’s ASD in that case was “caused-in-fact” by the vaccination–to the contrary, she
specifically found that the evidence in that case did notsupport a “causation-in-fact” claim, going so far as to remark that the petitioners’ “causation-in-fact” theory in that case was “absurd.” Wright v. HHS, No. 12-423, 2015 WL 6665600, at *2 (Fed. Cl. Spec. Mstr. Sept. 21, 2015).

The compensation of these two cases, thus does not afford any support to the notion that vaccinations can contribute to the causation of autism. In setting up the Vaccine Act
compensation system, Congress forthrightly acknowledged that the Table Injury presumptions would result in compensation for some injuries that were not, in fact, truly vaccine-caused. H.R. Rept. No. 99-908, 18, 1986 U.S.C.C.A.N. 6344, 6359. (“The Committee recognizes that there is public debate over the incidence of illnesses that coincidentally occur within a short time of vaccination. The Committee further recognizes that the deeming of a vaccine-relatedness adopted here may provide compensation to some children whose illness is not, in fact, vaccine related.”

 

As you can clearly read, the Poling case does not lead to the conclusion that vaccines cause autism.  Therefore, there is no fraud. Vaccines do not cause autism. There is no autism epidemic. There have been many, many vaccine safety studies done in the USA in the last 30 years. There are many vaccine safety studies done with saline placebo.  

 

Remember: Del Bigtree lies. His friends lie. Everything they try to say about vaccines is a lie.

 

The characters

Who is JB Handley? He’s this guy who thinks his son’s autism was caused by vaccines and he never met a bad study he didn’t love. He ignores everything contrary to his view.  Here are a few blog posts about him.

https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/j-b-handley-versus-vaccine-science-again-not-surprisingly-j-b-loses/

https://respectfulinsolence.com/2018/04/06/old-guard-antivaccine-activist-j-b-handley-loses-best-platform/

My friend, the real truther, put together a video on JB

Rolf Hazelhurst is another guy who thinks his son is autistic because of vaccines. He has gone thru vaccine court, and lost, and tried to sue the pharmaceutical company and also lost. Last I heard, he was trying to sue the doctor who gave his son the vaccine and Robert Kennedy Jr was one of his attorneys.

Link to his vaccine court case: https://www.autism-watch.org/omnibus/hazlehurst.pdf

Robert F Kennedy Jr has lately taken up a very distorted view of vaccines and has lumped them together with his environmental causes.  Good read about him here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-robert-f-kennedy-jr-distorted-vaccine-science1/

Jenny McCarthy is a former actress/playmate who founded Generation Rescue with JB. She claimed her son was autistic but healed but many think she is not telling the truth about his health.

Del Bigtree is, well, Del. I have written about him often. You can read here and here and here.

Remember to always think for yourself. Always verify claims. Never take youtube videos as fact.

 

Kathy

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Yes, HHS has safety studies

duckeric

 

I found this great meme and feel the need to share. If you need to know more, here are two posts for background info. My friend, Eric Chow, took the picture while at Toronto Zoo. I am not sure what kind of fowl this is.

 

http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2018/07/alternative-facts-from-court-the-anti-vaccine-edition.html

 

https://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/anti-vaccine-ican-settles-hhs-meaning/

There are no vaccine studies with saline placebo?

Are there really no vaccine studies done with a saline placebo? This is a common comment from antivaxers. They think vaccines cannot possibly be safe unless they are tested against an inert substance, aka the saline placebo, and there are none in existence. Therefore, vaccines are BAD.

 

saline-di-trapani

What is a placebo and what is a saline placebo?  A placebo is a harmless pill, medicine, or procedure prescribed more for the psychological benefit to the patient than for any physiological effect. Saline is something impregnated with salt. A saline placebo is basically a dose of salty water in lieu of a drug. So, the idea is that one group of study participants should get the vaccine while the other groups has a shot of salty water and neither group knows who got which. This is what is meant by double-blind, saline-placebo.

The World Health Organization has a great document explaining how placebos work and why certain substances are chosen for vaccine trials.

“Randomisation and the use of placebo interventions are designed to control for confounding effects, such that significant differences in disease incidence or adverse effects between the vaccine and control groups can likely be attributed to the vaccine. However, randomised, placebo-controlled trial designs often raise ethical concerns when participants in the control arm are deprived of an existing vaccine. Furthermore, testing a new vaccine against placebo is scientifically and ethically fraught when the hypothesis being tested is whether an experimental vaccine is more efficacious than one already in use in the same or in other settings.”

WHO goes on to detail how it may be unethical to deprive a study participant of a vaccine when an efficacious one exists. Meaning, if they are testing a new vaccine it would be unethical to test it against saline when an older, proven safe version exists. So, they can use the older version as the placebo and, therefore, not deprive the study participant of the protection. It is also considered ethical to use an adjuvant in lieu of a vaccine when the vaccine being studied has that adjuvant in it. So, you can use an aluminum adjuvant as a placebo if the adjuvant has been around enough to have been studied for safety. This is a controversial topic, with some feeling that aluminum adjuvants don’t have a proven safety record to use as a placebo.  That is a topic for another blog post. This one is focused solely on saline placebo.

“Between these two poles, the use of placebo controls in vaccine trials may be justified even when an efficacious vaccine exists, provided the risk-benefit profile of the trial is acceptable. “

The rest of the document sets out a “framework sets out the conditions under which placebo use is clearly acceptable and clearly unacceptable in vaccine trials.”

That being said, this does not mean there are no vaccine studies which use a saline placebo. Many clinical trials use a saline placebo. Read inserts to learn more. And, PubMed, the online database of scientific studies organized by the USA’s National Institutes of Health, has many listings for vaccine studies which use a saline placebo.

Here are some vaccine studies which used saline placebo:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25371534
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29443825
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29239682
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29217375
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28720281
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28522338
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28498853
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28376743
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27895921
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26411885
I could go on. This was from only the first two pages of my PubMed search.

 

So, as you can see, there are very important reasons why a scientist might not use a saline placebo in a vaccine study but there are also many vaccine studies which do use a saline placebo. As usual, antivaxers are conveying misinformation. In fact, my online friend, Mike, came up with this and I turned it into a meme. This is exactly what they do, goal shifting!

no true scotsman

 

Remember to always verify claims!

 

Kathy

This post is dedicated to Bernadette for always giving me great ideas for blog posts

Racist keeps harassing Dr Pan

This racist, who actually is from Australia, keeps harassing California Senator Dr Richard Pan. Why? I have no idea. But, screenshots of this post, from about a year ago, were sent to her then employer, Rodan and Field, a skincare and makeup company, and they fired her. She no longer has this cover photo and goes so far as to deny she was ever employed by them. A friend saved this post because the internet remembers forever.

 

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And here is Rodan and Field’s response

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You would think that losing her job for racist posts would have taught her a lesson but she still pops up on Dr. Pan’s Facebook page, from time to time.  Usually, I just do my thing, posting evidence to counter her misinformation.  Today, however, she contacted me by Facebook private message and so the gloves came off a bit.  At first, she posted some misinformation and I sent her links to prove her wrong. Then, this happened.

Here are her messages to me on Facebook where she denies this is her. But, it is the same profile!!

 

harvey1 copy

 

harvey2 copy

harvey7

I never lie. Ever. In my world, lying is the biggest sin of them all. I don’t normally get petty in my blogging but this horrible human had the gall to tell me my autistic child cannot possibly be healthy and then she sent me a slew of horrible private messages on Facebook. She is a liar and deserves to be outed. Here is the rest of her post to Dr. Pan, as of today. Dr. Pan’s page admin hides troll posts so it will likely be gone by morning.

Here is the original thread from Dr. Pan’s page, which was subsequently hidden from view by his page admin.

Screen shots live forever.

harvey3 copy.jpgharvey4 copy.jpgharvey6 copy

 

And, yes, my fully vaccinated autistic daughter is super healthy. Bite me if you disagree.

 

Why do people act this way? I honestly do not get this level of hatred for other people.  I am not a petty person. I don’t like ad hominem attacks. But, this woman keeps showing up on Dr. Pan’s facebook page, spewing the same racist and ableist and antivax nonsense, and I decided to make a lesson her. This type of person is not doing any group any favors. If this is representative of antivaxers, then you all are your own worst enemies. And, yes, I have seen many other racist, hate-filled posts from her. I only have a few screenshots.

 

Oh well, just shows what kind of people run in antivax circles.

 

Kathy

THE ADULT (ANTI) VACCINE PLEDGE

This is the latest viral list coming from antivaxers. It has gone viral on Facebook this week.  Let’s dissect these claims, shall we?  My comments are in blue.  Original comments are in black. 

2015 Adult Combined Immunization Schedule - United States

I Pledge to Follow the CDC’s Recommended Adult Vaccine Schedule and believe the following:

Belief is defined as trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something or an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. Science, on the other hand, is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. Do you see the difference? Science is not about belief. IT is about concrete data collected from the systematic study. 

1. I believe that vaccines are safe and effective, and I am fully aware that vaccinating can cause: Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Insomnia, Eczema, Allergies, Influenza, Vertigo, Arthritis, Earaches, Anaphylactic Shock, Bronchospasms, Multiple Neurological Issues, Vasculitis, Seizures, Myalgia, Fainting, Encephalitis, Thrombocytopenia, Hair Loss, Meningitis, Measles, Anemia, Agitation, Apathy, Hemorrhaging, Deafness, Tumors, Chickenpox, Tremors, Dermatitis, Alzheimer’s, SIDS, Herpes, Thrush, Pneumonia, Death and Many other Diseases.

I have not seen any evidence vaccines cause most of the things on that list. Certainly, anything can cause anaphylaxis but hair loss? Apathy? Deafness? Thrush? Are they kidding?  Here is the list of what vaccines actually cause. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects.htm

2. I believe that vaccines are safe and effective. However, in the case of injury or death, I am aware that I can NOT sue the vaccine manufacturer if the vaccine falls under a category of vaccines recommended by the CDC to children or pregnant women. I believe NOT being able to sue the manufacturer is justifiable and that any claim I may have will go before the Vaccine Injury Court which has already awarded $3.7 Billion to vaccine injured individuals.

Actually, according to the USA’s NCVIA (vaccine injury act), you can sue pharma companies for certain issues. But, why should vaccine makers be responsible for rare reactions? It is not their fault someone has a rare reaction. I didn’t get to sue anyone when Sulfa drugs caused me anaphylaxis or when Cipro caused me major GI upset.  Nope. I am just noted as allergic to both these antibiotics in my medical chart. The no-fault vaccine court process has compensated 6000 claims of injury, in USA, since 1986, during which time we have given out more than 5 billion doses of vaccines. That makes risk of vaccine injury literally 0.000011%.  

https://www.hrsa.gov/vaccine-compensation/data/index.html

3. I believe vaccines do not cause autism, despite a 2015 CDC-commissioned White Paper in which Subject Matter Expert Stanley Plotkin acknowledged that autism spectrum disorders, developmental disorders, learning disorders, and 41 other serious outcomes are BIOLOGICALLY PLAUSIBLE outcomes from exposure to the CDC schedule. I acknowledge the multiple vaccine-induced autism cases already awarded in court and the thousands of cases in line.

Not sure which paper they are referring to but Plotkin wrote a paper in 2009 wherein he specifically stated vaccines do not cause autism. “

Twenty epidemiologic studies have shown that neither thimerosal nor MMR vaccine causes autism. These studies have been performed in several countries by many different investigators who have employed a multitude of epidemiologic and statistical methods. The large size of the studied populations has afforded a level of statistical power sufficient to detect even rare associations. These studies, in concert with the biological implausibility that vaccines overwhelm a child’s immune system, have effectively dismissed the notion that vaccines cause autism. Further studies on the cause or causes of autism should focus on more-promising leads.”

https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/48/4/456/284219

4. I believe that vaccinated people don’t spread disease even though manufacturers, CDC, and FDA studies all show that most vaccines are not designed to prevent colonization and transmission, and live vaccines can shed, and protection wanes, and there are non-responders, and infections like mumps and whooping cough are being spread in and by fully vaccinated populations. I am aware that over 90% of people involved in “outbreaks” are vaccinated.

Again, I am not sure where they are getting these ideas. According to CDC, 80% of measles patients in USA are unvaccinated or no history of vaccine, since 2000.

   https://www.cdc.gov/measles/pubs-mmwr.html

As for vaccines shedding, that happens very very rarely and has never happened with MM or R. 

https://vaxopedia.org/2016/09/17/shedding-and-vaccines/

5. I believe that vaccines are so safe and effective that injecting aborted fetal DNA fragments into my body is totally acceptable, even though in other areas of science where human DNA is used insertional mutagenesis is recognized as a major problem. I believe this practice trumps other religious beliefs and it is our constitutional right to choose.

The constitution does not give them a right to chose not to vaccinate.  As the six lawsuits against California’s vaccine bill, SB277, have all lost their cases, clearly vaccine mandates which disallow religious exemptions are not unconstitutional. 

http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/california-sb277-vaccination-law-litigation-update-1/

The DNA argument is silly. It comes from a single, self-published study from Theresa Deisher, of Seattle, WA. Deisher is a pro-life activist whose work has not been replicated and was self-published in a very low-brow journal.  There is no reason to believe there is human DNA in vaccine nor that this causes any concerns. We eat, breathe, drink and are injected with foreign DNA all day, every day, for our entire lives. Having sex with men means you are injected with foreign DNA.  This argument is irrational. 

https://respectfulinsolence.com/2015/08/24/more-horrible-antivaccine-science-from-theresa-deisher/

6. I believe vaccines are safe and effective, even though they’re not tested for Cancer, DNA mutation, or infertility.

This comes from reading vaccine inserts, which are records of what was noted during clinical trials. There is a great deal of other research done on vaccines and ingredients. The studies on these topics can be found at the EPA IRIS database. 

https://www.epa.gov/iris

All vaccines go through preclinical (in vitro) testing for mutagenic, carcinogenic, and fertility impairment potential. If a potential is shown then they have to go through clinical animal testing to figure out the specifics and see if it can be avoided or the risk reduced. The part of the insert that says they have not been through testing is for clinical animal testing and it is actually a good thing that nothing is ever there.

7. I believe that injecting Weed Killer, Formaldehyde, Aluminum, Mercury, Monkey Kidney Cells, Salt, Glucose, Fungus, Acetone, Alcohol, Antibiotics, Disinfectant, Castor oil, E.coli, Guinea Pig Cells, Urine, Pig Protein, Canine Cells, MSG, Germicide, Yeast, Shark Liver oil, Human and Cow Blood, Tar, Methanol, Antacid, Chloroform, Acids, Vitamins and Aborted Fetus DNA into my body is completely safe.

This made me laugh. There is no weedkiller in vaccines. There is NO elemental aluminum nor elemental mercury. The person who made this list has chemophobia. They need to learn about dose toxicity. 

https://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center/vaccine-ingredients

8. I believe we should trust the CDC, an independent company that owns several vaccine patents even though they have been caught lying and falsifying documents.

This one is hilarious. The CDC is a non-profit, governmental agency that does research and holds patents on technologies it develops. They lease those patents out which generates more research revenue for them. They do not own patents for whole vaccines, because vaccines are made up of many technologies, and they have never been caught lying or falsifying documents. 

https://www.cdc.gov/od/science/technology/techtransfer/index.htm

9. I believe that vaccines are safe and effective, even though the Department of Health and Human Services has been sued (and lost) because they have not filed any vaccine-safety-improvement reports to Congress in the last 32 years –as they are required by law to do.

This one is a very ignorant statement. A group called ICAN filed a lawsuit with the Health and Human Services Department of USA when they had failed to reply to a FOIA (freedom of information act) request for records relating to vaccine safety reports. HHS agreed to a stipulation, meaning they did not lose the lawsuit, that there are not reports submitted to Congress. That does not mean there are not vaccine safety studies. Details here. 

https://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/anti-vaccine-ican-settles-hhs-meaning/

10. I believe the (maybe) two hours of vaccine education doctors receive in medical school is sufficient. I believe doctors lie and bully parents into vaccinating because deep down inside they really care. I believe that the $40,000 bonus their clinic receives for vaccinating patients is not a factor for them.

I have dealt with these claims before. Doctors learn a great deal about vaccines.  And the $40,000 bonus is bogus. 

11. I believe and trust our government is honest and transparent. I also believe that the media is never manipulating, and we can trust in those whom we can NOT hold liable, because pharmaceutical companies are the most honest, reliable, and benevolent companies on the planet, working only for the greater good, and never, ever put profits before health.

No vaccine advocate takes the government at their word. We read vast amounts of scientific literature to ascertain whether vaccines are safe and effective or not. This is not about zealotry, as the above statement implies, but concrete evidence. We agree that profits should not be put before health. Insurance companies like vaccines very much because they are much less expensive than outbreaks. Same with universal healthcare. Vaccines work at keeping infectious disease rates low. 

12. I believe that the vaccines my children receive “Save Lives,” so, therefore, I agree to do my part and get the 88 or more vaccines recommended for Adults by the CDC (in order to “catch up”).

Not sure where she is getting 88 vaccines. The CDC adult immunization schedule certainly does not recommend that many. 

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/adult.html

I acknowledge the 2011 U.S Supreme Court’s opinion declaring vaccines “Unavoidably Unsafe.”

Vaccines are an unavoidably unsafe product, but they are not unsafe. And, the Supreme Court never ruled vaccines unavoidably unsafe. These two links explain. 

https://injury.findlaw.com/product-liability/what-is-an-unavoidably-unsafe-product.html

http://momswhovax.blogspot.com/2013/11/vaccines-and-unavoidably-unsafe-products.html

 

As you can see, this list is silly and irrational and not backed by sound science.  Typical of antivaxers. 

 

Remember to always verify your claims,

 

Kathy

Why I am not antivax

I could be antivax. Why am I not? Why do some people become antivax and others do not?

I have all the markers.  I have been hurt by medical professionals. I have had issues with medical professionals that could have led me to mistrust them all completely. I was a vegetarian for a while. I was very crunchy, in my early parenting years.  I shopped only at the organic food coop for years!

I have been harmed by doctors and had my health compromised by their actions.

I had a bad reaction to the MMR.

I had an anaphylactic reaction to an antibiotic once.

My second child was birthed out of the hospital, at a free-standing birth center, with a midwife. I have used naturopaths for healthcare. I once questioned whether aluminum adjuvants were safe. I once thought chicken pox vaccine was not necessary. I once thought flu vaccine lowered our resistance to infection and led to more illness in flu season. I have been, in the past, prescribed too much medication and that led to immune dysfunction. A naturopath helped me heal my gut.

Why am I not antivax?

It is because of this guy.

220px-Frans_Hals_-_Portret_van_René_Descartes

René Descartes (1596–1650) was a creative mathematician of the first order, an important scientific thinker, and an original metaphysician. I am not being pretentious. I was a math major in college, for a while, and then got a BA in sociology because I love the way math, rational thinking, statistics, and the study of humans intertwine. I minored in French. I am extremely rational, to the point of often not getting jokes or sarcasm. I read numerous of Descartes’ writings as an undergrad and as a graduate student in education.  Descartes is considered the “father of rational thinking” for a reason.

And by that, I mean that regardless of what I went through I kept thinking rationally about it and that is why I never became antivax or anti-medicine, despite my negative experiences.

Let’s visit the back story.

First of all, I was a really healthy kid.

29790569_214243605824079_8024306855318650880_n

Yep, that is me with pooka shell necklace in 3rd grade. Look at that tan.  In the 70s, we didn’t realize tanning was dangerous.

I was a healthy California beach kid. I spent most of my time, other than at school, outdoors, mostly barefoot. We roamed the hills, we played with gourds and thistles and we were gone from home as much as possible. Mom fed us mostly whole grains and fresh food. Occasionally, she would buy us Oreos or Ding Dongs but that was rare. We were eating bulgur wheat and brown rice and whole grain bread as soon as we had teeth. Mom never bought us soda or sugary cereal except on rare occasions when camping in summer. And I was a healthy kid. I had chicken pox twice, as a kid, but never broke any bones. I was in the ER for stitches a bunch as a toddler (I was incorrigible) but was never hospitalized nor had anything serious happen to me, ever, as a child. I had a few ear infections or cases of bronchitis, in elementary school, but nothing very serious. And, I had been fully vaccinated more than the standard schedule because I lived in Central America as a young child. So, unlike most California 70s kids, I had smallpox and other travel vaccines on top of regular vaccines.

But, I was a healthy kid!

As a teen, I was also healthy. I ate healthily, was slim, played sports, got a few sinus infections, but was mostly healthy. Rarely missed school.

kathyhighschool

By age 18, I was accepted to University of California Irvine, I was done with varsity tennis, I had passed the AP English and Biology exams, and I had a job as a Lancome counter girl at the local department store. I was working out almost daily. I was an advanced skier. I was very fit and healthy. I worked out daily, either running or ballet or a the gym for aerobics. I was an almost vegetarian and rarely ate junk food.

In early August 1984, I got infectious mononucleosis (EBV) and I was very sick. I ended up bedridden for 6 weeks, I had hepatitis, I had to quit my job, I had to go to the MD weekly for blood work, I was inches away from being hospitalized, according to my family MD.  I was in so much pain from hepatitis I could not stand up straight. I had so little energy that I needed help getting out of bed and getting downstairs.

It took about six weeks but I  recovered from EBV and started my freshman year of college and thrived except that I started having allergy issues. By mid-year 1985, I was referred to an allergist and started allergy shots and meds. I developed a few sinus infections and, once, had an anaphylactic reaction to the medication ( sulfa drugs).  I lost trust (long story) in the first allergist but I trusted our family doc and he sent me to another allergist.

The new allergist handled every bad cold the same way. I would get an x-ray, he would confirm sinus infection, and he would prescribe antibiotics and steroid nasal spray and prednisone.  The two years I spent with him, I went through this routine an average of 7 times each year. So, in two years, I went through 14 sinus x-rays, 14 rounds of antibiotics, 14 rounds of steroid nasal spray, and 14 rounds of prednisone. It is a wonder I was still able to work and be a full-time student and even live in France as an exchange student, but I did all of that and maintained a GPA of 3.8 and I graduated cum laude.

By 1987, I was immune compromised, had systemic yeast infections, had chronic thrush, and was sicker than well. I managed to get through graduate school, while working full time but was still suffering from chronic infections.

In 1991, there was a measles outbreak on my university’s campus and I had to get another MMR. I had a bad reaction to it and ended up with my arm in a sling for a week and on pain meds.  My arm swelled up like there was a tennis ball in it, at the injection site. It took a week to go away.

By 1992, I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.

At this point, I could have become anti-modern medicine. They certainly were not doing anything to help me get better! They never had answers for me, just pills for my symptoms.

In 1994, I got married. My husband and I wanted to have children but he worried I was on too many medications. So, I decided to give something new a try – a naturopath. At the time, we lived in Seattle which was then home to the Bastyr University clinic.  Growing up in California, I had never heard of a naturopath. Believe it or not, Washington state is much more liberal about licensing alternative healthcare practitioners than California. Being literally desperate, I gave the Bastyr clinic a try. I ended up with Nooshin Darvish, who was amazing and helpful and very respectful of me putting limits on the scope of her practice. To this date, I credit her with helping me be alive today and have two children. She was wonderful.

Okay, okay, you are wondering how the hell I could speak positively about a naturopathy. They are so wooey! They practice pseudoscience!  Well, Nooshin did two things with me that solved pretty much everything. She sent me for bloodwork and she had me get a sample of my poop and tested it. I had been to multiple medical doctors, over the years, and no one had ever done either of those things.  I even had a camera put down my throat and a barium enema xray and no one ever analyzed my stools for anything. With the bloodwork, Nooshin discovered I was anemic and had very low thyroid. With the stool sample, she discovered that I had yeast overgrowth in my digestive system.  Given the fact that I still occasionally got thrush in my throat, this was not a surprise. She put me on iron supplements, probiotics, Synthroid, and had me go on an elimination diet.  I discovered that corn and wheat products made my digestive system ache so I avoided them, as well as alcohol and sugar not related to a few servings of fruit a day. I ate this way for about two years. I probably didn’t need to go that long on this diet but I was afraid to stop because, within six months, I was feeling well again! She also introduced me to the neti pot and sinus lavage.  By 1996, I was healthy enough to start thinking about having children! We bought our first house and, instead of having kids right away, we spent 5 years fixing up a major fixer, but I was healthy again and that was the point. Also, nothing Nooshin did with me was super wooey (at my request).  I purposely avoided homeopathy and acupuncture and anything I felt was not well supported by published studies.

But, again, at this point, I could have gone into the deep end and become anti-medicine and anti-vaccine. It is really only through my insistence on paying attention to evidence that I stayed the course. I always asked her to give me evidence for whatever she wanted to do and we would discuss it. After she graduated and I switched to a private practice ND, Dr Paris Preston in Seattle, I stayed the same course – evidence first. There really are some good naturopaths, you see, ones that base their ideas on scientific evidence.  (some can be found at NDs for Vaccines). I no longer live in Seattle and my children and I see a family doctor for our healthcare now, but I do credit naturopathy for where I am today.

So, my question is, why do some people stay rational and others stop?   Why do some people become antivax and others do not? What can we do to stop this or help them?

Discuss!

 

 

Remember to think for yourself!

Kathy

 

Who is James Lyons-Weiler?

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Are you aware that there is a new darling in the antivax movement? James Lyons-Weiler.  I have been fascinated with him for a few years, when I found him on disqus comments. He is on both disqus and Twitter as lifebiomedguru.

Here is his linkedin

As you can see, he started off with a pretty decent education, doing work on genetics and statistical modeling. He was at the University of Pittsburgh for a long time and then left and founded his own company: IPAK.
He wrote a book on Ebola and now has written one on autism.  He sent me a copy of it last year. It is called The Environmental and Genetic Causes of Autism.  I will be writing a review of it this weekend.
Earlier this year, he got into a public spat with Leslie Manookian, which ORAC chronicled.
He keeps saying his own children are vaccinated just fine so I have no idea where this all comes from. But, he is truly now the darling of the antivax world. If you look at his Facebook pages (he has at least three profiles and two pages), you see he’s been to the anti CDC rallies and met up with the Vaxxed team and all the key players in the AV world, including Marcella Piper-Terry.  Mary Holland, the attorney, is on the board of his company.  He is also very involved in supporting two Michigan mothers who are in custody trials that involve vaccination considerations.
He has an alias: Jack Knight  (yes that is definitely him, apparently, this is his nickname).
He has teamed up with the Vaxxed team to give pediatricians copies of the Vaxxed movie along with his new book on autism. I never did hear if any peds actually read it.
Check out the rest of the ipak website. He has a database you can buy access to and is planning a vaccine safety conference for this year and you can donate to support his research.
He also has a personal website.
I have been working on debunking his citations for the “CDC ignored” chapter of his book. I have read the book but I was busy with my own studies (special education) and got waylayed. I now have a break and will be blogging more!
I have a pet theory that something happened at his last job and he had to leave in disgrace. Finding this niche, in the antivax world, is his last ditch attempt at making a living.  Yes, that is a tad conspiracy-ish of me, but I enjoy my theory.  I did write about him once already and he actually posted in comments.
Happy reading and remember, #vaccineswork

 

Kathy

Del Bigtree is not a scientist

On October 12, 2017, Del Bigtree,  a former producer of the television talk show, The Doctors, producer of the film Vaxxed, and founder of something called the Informed Consent Action Network (ICANDecide), sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wherein he outlined what he perceives as their “failure of HHS to conduct the proper science required to demonstrate vaccine safety.” This letter accuses HHS of everything from ignoring vaccine risks to not doing proper safety testing. For those of us who understand vaccine science, this letter almost seems like a parody. Alas, it was not only real but Del threatened HHS with a civil suit if they did not make the changes he suggested in the letter. He also made demands, such as wanting “vaccine safety advocates” to comprise half of HHS’s vaccine committees.  The letter was co-signed by 58 antivaccine organizations, including Weston A Price Foundation and World Mercury Project.

DEL is not a scientist

After October 12, nothing much happened at ICANDecide. In fact, not much has been heard from ICANDecide in a while.  Even their Facebook page has been quiet.

Until now.

Earlier this week, a notorious antivax crusader (I will refer to him as Pant) who despises Del Bigtree posted a link to a pdf he had created with the response from HHS to Del Bigtree. Pant claimed he was able to get the response through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.  The response is from Melinda Wharton, MD, MPH, Acting Director of the National Vaccine Program Office, whom I have confirmed is real. The letter includes responses to all of Del’s claims and accusations, every single one of them proving Del knows nothing at all about vaccine safety.  All of his claims were disproven and all of his requests were denied.

This letter is a glorious piece of vaccine gold and when you read it you will understand completely why Del let this ball completely drop, pop, fizzle into nothing, and fade away.

For your reading pleasure, I bring you the HHS response to Del Bigtree.

 

Happy reading!

Kathy

Spreading fear and misinformation to pregnant women

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Antivaxers are lately taking the position of very strongly spreading fear and misinformation about the use of vaccines during pregnancy. One source for this information is Informed Choice Washington (ICW), an organization based near Seattle and run by two women who believe vaccines injured their children. Bernadette Pajer believes her grown son’s dairy allergies were caused by vaccines and Drella Stein believe her grown son’s autism was the result of a vaccine injury. They have made it their mission “to educate and advocate for vaccination policies that serve the best interest of the public and the individual patient.”  The problem is that they don’t espouse good science, and instead, cherry pick only what fits their antivax agenda. They believe they support medical freedom and, as such, are members of something called the Coalition for Informed Consent, a network of other antivax (“medical freedom”) organizations.

cherrypicking

Case and point: Their Vaccination during pregnancy page. This purpose of this page is to mislead women into not vaccinating during pregnancy, despite good evidence supporting its benefits and low risks.

The page starts off with a melodramatic and inaccurate video from Del Bigtree, a man with no science background whatsoever) tell viewers the CDC knows flu vaccine during pregnancy causes abortion. This is in reference to a study the CDC detailed here.  This one study found that women who had been vaccinated for flu two years in a row suffered a miscarriage at a higher rate than others. They noted “this study does not quantify the risk of miscarriage and does not prove that flu vaccine was the cause of the miscarriage”  They also noted that earlier studies have not found a link between flu vaccination and miscarriage.

Instead of focusing on the facts, ICW plays up the possibility of a risk and creates a conspiracy theory by accusing the CDC of purposely delaying to release this study. They also ignore the FIVE studies that showed no link between miscarriage and flu vaccine.

This is a classic tactic from ICW and Ms. Pajer, to play up the risks and ignore the studies which do not confirm her biases.

She also makes the point that Currently, no vaccine is approved specifically for use during pregnancy to protect the infant(her bolding, not mine). It has been explained to Ms. Pajer many times that the FDA approved flu vaccines TDAP and then post-licensure studies demonstrated efficacy and safety during pregnancy, but that does not require relicensing. The vaccines are already licensed. They do not need to be specifically licensed for use during pregnancy. Still, she feels the need to do this on her website:

CAUTION: No vaccine is currently licensed by the FDA for protection of the infant.

Yes, big bold letters warning you of a fictional issue. This is deceptive. On purpose. Further, they cite a paper by David Ayoub and F. Edward Yazbak, both MDs, as evidence the vaccine is dangerous. This paper has a lot of misinformation in it. First of all, it is about the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) annual report from 2004, which was written before much of the research upon which the current recommendations are based were published. Currently, both ACIP and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and these are based on recommendations from 2016. To cite a review of recommendations from 2004 is deceptive. Again, ICW is deceiving people on purpose.

Another ICW concern is immune activation. This is a relatively new concern from antivaxers and is code for “vaccines cause autism.” They are concerned that giving vaccines to pregnant women could trigger immune activation thus leading to neurodevelopmental issues in all babies whose mothers were vaccinated. They compare the risk of dying from flu to the risk of immune activation in 100% of vaccinated babies.

  • Risk of flu-complication death for pregnant women: .000125%
  • Risk of flu-complication death for pregnant women in a pandemic year: .001875%
  • Risk of newborn death under three months during a non-major outbreak year: .00015%
  • Risk of newborn death under three months during a major whooping cough outbreak: .000375%

These statistics are based on the number of babies and women who died compared to the general public.

It should be noted that there is no evidence that giving a vaccine to pregnant women causes immune or neurodevelopmental issues in the newborn.

ICW also has the usual concerns about vaccine ingredients being dangerous and inserts not specifically stating vaccines are licensed for pregnancy or have been tested during pregnancy. As we have told you many times, inserts are only written about clinical trials. Studies on vaccines for use during pregnancy occurred after licensure, after clinical trials, and are, therefore, not represented in inserts. Inserts have serious limits. Always read more than them.

Ms. Pajer further has concerns that some of the CDC-cited studies were not randomized clinical trials. She has been told by yours truly, several times, that it would be unethical to do randomized clinical trials on pregnant women. The studies which have been done, with willing volunteers, are valid and strong. She criticizes and finds flaws in each of the 13 studies she reviews, which is okay, but does not take them as a body of literature. This is typical of what we call a ‘cherry picker,’ a person who reads studies with a bias in mind and only agrees with studies which confirm her pre-existing bias. So, because no one study meets all her exacting criteria, then none will satisfy her. However, the medical community looks at the ever-growing body of literature showing the safety and efficacy of vaccines during pregnancy. Hence, the recommendations from CDC, ACIP, and ACOG. Again, this is a disingenuous attempt by ICW to mislead people away from vaccinating.

The final concern from ICW is the aluminum salt in vaccines that is used as an adjuvant. The aluminum in vaccines is not a heavy metal. It is not even in a metallic form as portrayed by vaccine fearmongerers. It is in the form of a salt, usually aluminum hydroxide. The aluminum in aluminum hydroxide is not readily bioavailable and retention is extremely low from both ingestion and injection
This is a great explanation. 

It should be noted that we get actual aluminum in our food, including in antacids pregnant women take for acid reflux, a common pregnancy symptom. And, the aluminum salts are about 2 um or 2000 nm, in diameter, as per the work of Christopher Exley. That is much too large to cross the placenta (or the blood-brain barrier, for that matter).  According to my friend with a master’s in chemistry, aluminum salts don’t fit the definition of nanoparticles because they are over 100 nm in any 1 direction.

Here is some reading about the permeability of the placenta.

Most of the literature I’ve seen puts the pore size for the placenta at under 50 nm, and given the size of the adjuvant, I wouldn’t expect it to diffuse across the placenta.

The concerns about aluminum in vaccines are cherry picked and not based on sound science. Here is some excellent reading from learned friends of mine.

Aluminum adjuvant in vaccines – let’s go cherry picking

Torturing more mice in the name of antivaccine pseudoscience, 2017 aluminum edition

Mothers’ Flu Vaccination In Pregnancy Protects Newborns, Even The Second Time Around

Please don’t be scared by antivax websites.  Get the facts. Understand cherry picking does not an argument make.

 

Remember to think for yourself!

 

 

Kathy