This week, the Vaxxed rv (or, as they call it, the bus) is in Washington state, where I live. They are being hosted by Informed Choice of WA, a local antivax group. They were in Tacoma yesterday and are heading to Seattle, Redmond, Bellingham, and then Spokane where they will interview people who don’t vaccinate as well as “vaccine injured” persons or families. Headed up by known antivaxer and autism antagonist (opposite of advocate), Polly Tommey, the Vaxxed tour also includes Suzanne Humphries, a former kidney doctor who is no longer practicing medicine. They are both convinced all stories of vaccine injury are absolutely true. They will interview anyone who claims a vaccine injury and put the names of “victims” on or in the bus, to memorialize them. Supposedly, there are about 5000 names on and in the bus and many of them are babies who died of SIDS or children or adults with autism. Of course, science advocates will know that SIDS is not a vaccine injury and neither is autism. There is also a name on the bus of a baby who died of Krabbe Disease, a 100% genetic, 100% fatal disease. Her parents refused to believe doctors and, instead, blamed vaccines. Their story has been spread far and wide, by antivaxers, without regard to medical facts.
I do not doubt the suffering of these families but I fail to see how irrationally blaming vaccines helps anyone? In fact, all it does is harm. Blaming vaccines for autism harms children who are denied vaccine protection. It also causes grave harm to the autism community. Think about it. When a child is deemed “damaged” and exposed to unproven, dangerous, even illegal treatments to “undo” this “damage,” the very humanity of that child is being denied. This rhetoric damages families.
“This “deficit model” of thinking about autism, “which focuses almost exclusively on impairments and limitations, ultimately leads us to see autistic individuals as broken people who are ill and, as my child’s first psychologist explained, need to be fixed.”
“I look at autism like a bus accident, and you don’t become cured from a bus accident, but you can recover.”
Hopefully, no one looks at their autistic child and thinks about a child in a bus accident, or a child who has lost their soul, been kidnapped by autism, or that they have a damaged child. That kind of thinking is offensive to many, and hopefully more and more people.”
source: Vincent Ianelli, MD
So, I am rightfully upset that this group is now in my state, spreading this message, and I am going to follow their activities online and counter them, as best I can with, actual facts.
First up, Suzanne Humphries was on periscope this morning talking to us “vaccine religious” about how it is utter nonsense, in her opinion, that the unvaccinated spread disease. If this link does not work for you, try going to this Facebook link.
This video is so full of lies and mistruths, it’s astounding. Let’s go through them.
- Suzanne claims to have done 9 years of immunization research. She means reading. She has published no studies of any kind. Search pubmed. Nothing.
- She claims we vaccinated persons “almost don’t have a prayer” against diseases because of our poor, unnourished status. I challenge her to find any research backing up that claim.
- She claims “96.8% of children in WA are fully vaccinated for MMR.” That is what she said. Nope, big fat lie. There are two places to find immunization data at the state Department of Health website. There is school data and state immunization registry data. According to the most recent state data, 90.5% of kindergartners enrolled in school for the most recent school year are fully vaccinated for MMR and 81% of 19-35 month olds in WA state have had more than one MMR while 66% of 4-6 year olds have had more than two MMR. That is nowhere near 96.8%. I have no idea where she got that 96.8 number.
- She claims mumps outbreak in WA state has been 100% in vaccinated populations. But, for Spokane county, here is the data: 334 cases, 197 vaccinated, 15 unvaccinated, 122 status unknown. For King County, 311 cases, 64.6% vaccinated. In Arkansas, the rate of fully vaccinated who got mumps is about 35-46%. Definitely not 100%.
- She claims mumps vaccine is “impotent” because of claims it may only be 69% effective by virologists who used to work at Merck. (see this article from my friend Dorit for explanation) The claim is that the CDC and Merck say the mumps portion of MMR is about 88% effective but that may not be accurate. It may only be 69% effective. Since 69 is still a great deal larger than the zero you get from not vaccinating, I find this claim highly misleading. It is not an outright lie, but 69% is still highly effective. It just means 31% might still be susceptible. Yes, the vaccine could be better. Doesn’t mean it is “impotent.”
- She says “Vaccinated people have an inferior ability to fight off wild strains” and the best immunity is when children should get these diseases “at the appropriate age” so they get lifelong immunity. This is a fallacy. To gain natural immunity, you have to suffer disease. Suffer. Yes, suffer because all vaccine-preventable diseases cause suffering, even in mild cases. Why should we allow our children to suffer, particularly when a high percent may suffer horribly and some may die? “Cases of such “mild” childhood diseases as pertussis dropped from more than 147,000 per year to less than 7,000. Annual measles cases dropped from more than 503,000 to less than 100. Diphtheria, polio and congenital rubella nearly disappeared. And if you don’t get the diseases, you can’t die from the diseases, can’t be rendered paralyzed, blind or deaf by the diseases. The difference between vaccine immunity is the difference between prevention and treatment … and prevention is always superior.” Source: Skeptical OB
- From there, Suzanne goes on to mention several conspiracy theories. I call them conspiracy theories because there is no evidence to support them and they are based on paranoia, in my opinion. For example, she says MMR is a failure because a lot of people get measles but stay home and are not counted. This is ridiculous. They probably had Hand Foot Mouth disease or some other mild rash. And, “vaccines create a very loose net of pseudoprotection in the population” and “that is leaving those of us who are older susceptible to measles should it come back in.” I am not at all sure what she means by the “pseudoprotection” statement. I had an MMR 26 years ago, had my titers done two years ago, and still have actual protection.
- She claims babies never got measles, pre-vaccine, because they got protection from their mother’s milk, which had measles antibodies in it. She doesn’t seem to realize that not all babies, before 1963, were breastfed. My own mother, born in 1941, was not breastfed. And, I have a friend who had measles encephalitis at four months of age, before the vaccine started. Also, I went to the vital statistics data for USA for 1955 and found a measles death rate of 2.2/100,000 for American infants under age 1 year. So, clearly infants were getting measles, pre-vaccine, if 2.2 per 100,000 cases were dying.
- She claims a properly nourished child will survive diseases just fine. This puts the blame for disease suffering squarely on the shoulders of the mother. A good mother, according to Dr Suzanne, does not work but stays at home to breastfeed her baby and feed her child “nourishing” food, according some mysterious standard. I find this point of view highly offensive. First of all, it is sexist to imply that mothers who do not breastfeed and do not stay home and prepare “nourishing” meals are bad mothers. But, that is exactly what she is implying. Secondly, there is no research whatsoever supporting her claims. I am sure we can all agree that a steady diet of soda pop and Cheetohs would not be healthy but there is no data supporting what she is implying. What exactly is nourishing, to Suzanne, and what is not? It’s a mystery.
As you can see, there is a great deal of misinformation both INSIDE and outside this bus. I honestly question their motives and, also, I would love to know who is funding them.
Remember to always think for yourself,