The deceptions of Erin Marie, RN explained

Note: as you read this tale, please be aware that I will not be linking to Erin Marie Olszewski’s movie, book, or any interviews she has done. I assume you are here because you have seen something about them.  As such, we do not need to give them more traffic. The point of this blog post is to explain what Erin Marie Olszewski did and why she is so very wrong.  I watched her video myself and the points herein are an aggregate of my thoughts as well as those of others.




One of the greatest tragedies of the American response to the SARS-COV-2 pandemic (aka COVID19) has been the paranoid pseudoscience crowd’s elaborate cherry picking of science, ideas, and evidence.  One such purveyor of misinformation is Erin Marie Olszewski, a registered nurse from Florida USA. Erin spent weeks at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens New York City, called by some “the epicenter” of the American COVID19 pandemic, as a temporary nurse in various units in that hospital. She originally went because she thought the pandemic a hoax and wanted to expose “the truth” but quickly found the pandemic to be very real. She then changed her focus to be how patients were managed in New York City hospitals. In her documentary, she claims patients were mistreated, to the point of being murdered. COVID19 hit New York City hospitals very hard. By May 2, 2020,  a total of 13,831 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19–associated deaths, and 5,048 probable COVID-19–associated deaths were recorded in NYC.  Hospitals were overwhelmed but there is no evidence supporting Erin’s ideas that patients were mistreated or ignored for profit. Doctors and nurses who traveled to NYC went there to help. Erin is the only one who traveled to NYC to wear hidden camera glasses and make a documentary based on false facts.

With a documentary deal with Journeyman Pictures and a book deal with Skyhorse Publishing on the line, she switched over to using her hidden camera glasses to document what she feels is horrible care received by patients at Elmhurst. She filmed patients, their chart information, discussions with other healthcare providers, and more, without telling anyone what she was doing or asking permission, all to document what she calls murder.  In her mind, patients at Elmhurst were intubated too quickly and put on ventilators only for profit and healthcare providers did not care about the patients at all. She is also highly critical of decisions made by doctors and other healthcare providers at Elmhurst and assumes she knows more about how to treat COVID19 patients than anyone else.  Since the movie and book came out, she has made the rounds of low-brow, conspiracy shows like The Highwire with Del Bigtree.

For several months now, a team of science advocates and I have been combing through her Facebook posts, reading and watching her interviews, watching her film, and following her in the media.  We have carefully compiled information and evidence to show who Erin Marie is and why what she says in her movie and book is dangerous misinformation. This is a long story and this blogpost is just a summary of the basic facts.  More posts, with more details, will follow. *



So who is Erin Marie Olszewski and why did she go to NYC?   Why did she make a movie and write a book and what is she accusing Elmhurst Hospital of doing wrong?

Erin Marie Olszewski is a registered nurse from Florida. Public records of her license background show she originally was licensed in Wisconsin and then moved to Florida and become licensed there.  It is unclear how much she has worked as a nurse in Florida.  She is also an Army veteran, having enlisted in 2000 and remaining active for about 7 years.  She spent time in Iraq and became a nurse upon returning to USA.  There is no documented evidence she had any advanced training or experience working in an emergency department or critical care unit.

She is the mother of three young boys, one of whom she claims regressed into autism after a vaccine. She is a passionate antivaxxer and founded two groups: Florida Freedom Alliance and Nurses for Vaccine Safety Alliance, Inc.  Looking at their Facebook activity, FFA’s objective has been to thwart legislative attempts in Florida to pass any vaccine bills and NVSA seems to be a group of people who question scientific consensus. In the past few years, she has attended ACIP meetings, one of which I detail in this post, to ask that the connection between autism and vaccines be studied more.  Of course, savvy readers know vaccines do not cause autism. 

During the height of the pandemic in New York City, Erin contracted with Krucial Staffing to spend weeks in a NYC hospital as a temporary nurse. Krucial is a temporary agency which staffs various professions, including sending medical professionals into areas hard hit by COVID19.  Hundreds of nurses from all over the USA were brought with the promise that they would make up $10,000 a week in hard hit hospitals. Erin was sent to Elmhurst Hospital, considered by many to the be epicenter of the NYC outbreak because of how busy they were and how many deaths they saw. Many doctors and nurses are returning home from spending time in NYC and sharing harrowing and tragic stories of a city overwhelmed by COVID19 and of hospitals struggling to manage a novel disease with all the knowledge they could muster.  Most stories are supportive of the hospital system and acknowledge the complexity of the disease.

“It was definitely overwhelming, nothing like any health care provider has seen in their lifetime,” she said. “I’ve seen death constantly, I’ve seen death frequently, but to this magnitude? Never.”


Elmhurst Hospital, where Erin was sent, is located in the Queens Borough of New York City. Queens struggles with not enough health resources to meet needs.  Queens is a very diverse borough, with almost half of residents being foreign born.

“Queens has 1.5 hospital beds per 1,000 people, compared to 5.3 in Manhattan. Typically serving what the health care industry calls an “unfavorable payer mix” and as a result dependent on government funding, public hospitals often lack the resources of the parallel nonpublic hospital system in New York City.”


“Yet health care workers and community leaders say it is indisputable that the pandemic has disproportionately affected the Hispanic day laborers, restaurant workers and cleaners who make up the largest share of the population in an area often celebrated as one of the most diverse places on earth. Latinos comprise 34 percent of the deaths in New York City, the largest share for any racial or ethnic group, according to data released by state officials on Wednesday.

The neighborhoods also have large communities of Indian, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Filipino and Nepali people, and a score of other ethnicities that have been devastated by the pandemic.

The city-run Elmhurst Hospital Center was one of the earliest and hardest-hit by the virus. Dozens of Covid-19 patients have clogged hallways as they wait for beds, terrified, alone and often unable to communicate in English.”


No one doubts that Elmhurst, amongst other hard hit hospitals in less areas of USA, struggled with COVID19 patients during a time when little was known about the novel coronavirus and personal protective equipment (PPE) was in short supply.  No one doubts they struggled with so many patients that they sometimes had to bring in doctors and nurses and other health professionals who did not have the experience or the advanced training in infectious diseases or intensive care units.  No one doubts that they struggled with whether and how and when to intubate patients and whether or not to use drugs like hydroxychloroquine (HCQ).  Doctors and nurses struggle with making the right decisions for patients on an average day. To be working during a pandemic, when the hospital is full of patients who almost all have a NOVEL (new) kind of virus, makes the job even harder.  But, they still try hard to keep their patients alive. Erin spends the entire film arguing that HCQ should be given to patients, even arguing with doctors about it, and that patients were being intubated too fast for nothing more than simple anxiety.  No one, no doctor on earth, would put a patient on a ventilator for anxiety. Erin obviously does not understand the SARS-COV-2 (COVID19) virus and how it presents

To quote ZdoggMD, from his excellent analysis of her video, what Erin did with her video and book is become a “criminal, unprofessional con artist” in spreading misinformation and lies, to fit her predetermined agenda, in a time when people are getting sick and dying because they refuse to follow medical advice to maskup and practice social distancing. Her video and book have the purpose of instilling doubt in the minds of people who are already very concerned about the quality of medical care in America. 

So, here are her points:

  • She claims people who test negative to COVID19 are put in same area of the hospital as people who test positive, thereby exposing them to COVID19 and making them more sick.  In reality, up to 40% of negative COVID19 tests will be false. When a person comes into a hospital with symptoms of COVID19 and the test comes back false, they are often indicated as a presumptive covid patient because that leads their treatment plan. If 40% of negative tests are actually positive, you need to treat the symptoms not just the test results. If the symptoms match COVID, of course the patient is going to be put in a covid unit, particularly when the hospital is full to bursting. Erin’s claim that the hospital negligently gave people covid is a conspiracy theory not backed up by actual evidence.


  • She claims the hospital is coding patients as positive to make money off them.  Erin claims Medicare pays the hospital $29,000 for each patient who is diagnosed as positive for COVID19 and placed on a ventilator. She seems to believe $29K is enough money for Elmhurst to be coding them this way on purpose to make a profit. However, a patient in ICU will cost the hospital much more than $29,000 in care. For example, after 62 days in the hospital with COVID19, a Washington man’s bill was $1.1 million. Erin fails to mention what an actual COVID19 patient costs the hospital because this is merely a conspiracy theory of hers. Again, this idea is not backed by real evidence.


  • She claims the doctors and residents are incompetent.  At one point in the movie, Erin is heard arguing with a cardiac critical care fellow, a medical school graduate who is spending a year learning advanced care in Cardiac Surgery, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, Anesthesiology and Surgical Critical Care. Meaning Erin tries to argue about what patients need with a person in training to be an expert.  The doctor is heard patiently explaining to Erin why her ideas are not valid but instead of learning, as one would hope a nurse with no documented experience in critical care would do,  Erin continues to berate and harass this fellow, as well as other doctors in the hospital. It is remarkably unprofessional to harass people with more expertise than you. Instead of making a film and writing a book, if Erin were truly concerned about patients she could have taken her claims to the media or the federal government, as a true whistleblower. There are actual standards for how to take care of COVID19 patients, but Erin does not present that information in the film. Erin’s goal was not to save lives, however, but to manufacture a controversy. Both of these screenshots are from very early into her NYC stay.  As you can see, she went to NYC with a clear agenda to defame and libel the hospital and doctors and not with the intent of helping people.



  • Erin presumes hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), along with zinc and vitamin C, should be given to all patients. Having spent time reading her posts on Facebook now for several months, I understand she got some these ideas from disgraced former researcher Judy Mikovitz. Mikovitz came out with her own conspiracy video about COVID19 before Erin’s came out but the theme is similar: conspiracy, cherry picking evidence, treatments being hidden from public. We know, from reading many of Erin’s comments on her Facebook page, that she reveres Judy and spends time talking with her almost daily. We also know Judy espouses some crazy ideas about COVID19, all of which are easily debunked. HCQ is not currently recommendedfor COVID19 treatment, after a great deal of research done this spring, but Erin is unaware of that fact.


  • She also claimed patients were sent to nursing homes with active COVID19 infection and that led to high death rate in those places. However, as has been said time and again by Governor Cuomo, nursing homes were refusing to receive healthy and stable patients at a fear of COVID outbreaks in their facilities. so New York State made it so that patients who were stable and past the window of transmission of COVID were to be accepted by nursing homes. This was very important because we needed to keep the beds in the hospital free to take care of new and acute patients. There was a report recently done that showed that the patients who left the hospital to go into the nursing homes were not the cause of the nursing home outbreaks.


  • The most egregious of her actions, portrayed in the film, is the filming of patients and their medical records without permission. This is a clear violation of the health privacy law, HIPAA, and she has been reported by multiple people for having done so.  Only someone without a conscience could film people at their most vulnerable, without permission, and film their medical records for her own use. Her goal was to make herself fame and make money. Her actions should, we hope, lead to a huge fine and the loss of her nurse license in all states. That she could violate her patients’ privacy in such a way proves her motives were purely selfish.


  • Again and again, Erin demonstrates that she came to NYC with her own ideas about the virus and treatment and refuses to learn anything new. If she had been truly concerned about patient safety, there are not only reporting capabilities in place for situations where patient safety is a concern, but by law and ethical guidelines all licensed medical personnel are required to report patient safety issues to hospital administration and in some situations local law enforcement—and she did neither of those things. She cherry picks studies that make her points rather than stay up to date with current science. She spreads misinformation rather than listen to what people with greater expertise are telling her. Worst of all, she is instilling fear in people at a time when people need to be listening to healthcare professionals. She is even anti-mask.


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Thankfully, Erin Marie Olszewski was found out as the disingenuous person she is and fired from Elmhurst.  I know people have been in contact with the hospital’s attorneys about Erin but I am not sure what is happening. Attorneys often take a long time to establish a case and are not exactly going to share their thoughts with us.  She has been reported for her HIPAA violation and that action is moving forward.

Thank you to everyone on Facebook who has helped organize details used in this blog post. I did not compile or analyze all the facts herein myself. A dedicated group found most of them so that we could compile them together into a generalized area.  Their help was invaluable.

Please stay tuned for more to come. We have accounts from nurses and doctors who worked with Erin Marie Olszewski at Elmhurst we hope to share next.

Remember to #maskup!




Dear Joshua Coleman, if you hate the autism then, you hate the autistic person.



Dear Joshua Coleman,

Something that has always bothered me a lot about the antivax camp is how it is common for you all to not only believe vaccines cause autism but insist that you are working FOR the autistic community with this mind set. Just this week, you insisted that you love everyone, including people on the autism spectrum, but you hate the autism and want the person recovered, cured, or you want to prevent autism from happening in the first place.

You can watch the video on Twitter here and on Facebook here.


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Newsflash: If you hate the autism, you hate the person. 

Would you like to know why I say this? Because, I have read a great deal about autism and talked for years with people on the autism spectrum. And I have a child on the spectrum. I have friends on the spectrum. I have friends with children on the spectrum. I teach children on the spectrum. I know that adults on the spectrum almost universally see their autism as part of who they are and they like who they are. They don’t want to be cured. They don’t want to be prevented from existence. They want to be accepted. I know my own child wants to be accepted for who she is. I know the children I work with want love and acceptance.  Autism is part of the very being for autistic individuals.  Science tells us vaccines do not cause autism and the autism community is telling us they want to be accepted for whom they are. Antivax ideas have been debunked again and again.  It is not for us in the neurotypical world to judge them. We must listen to them and accept them.

From an essay on The Mighty:

But in “curing” autism, they’re removing every part of me that’s autistic. Take that away, and I’m not me anymore! My autism affects every part of who I am. It colors all my experiences.

Persons on the autism spectrum do not see themselves as a person WITH autism but as an AUTISTIC person. This is why you see so many persons on the spectrum using Identity-First language.

From an essay on The Autism Self Advocacy Network website:

In the autism community, many self-advocates and their allies prefer terminology such as “Autistic,” “Autistic person,” or “Autistic individual” because we understand autism as an inherent part of an individual’s identity — the same way one refers to “Muslims,” “African-Americans,” “Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Queer,” “Chinese,” “gifted,” “athletic,” or “Jewish.” On the other hand, many parents of Autistic people and professionals who work with Autistic people prefer terminology such as “person with autism,” “people with autism,” or “individual with ASD” because they do not consider autism to be part of an individual’s identity and do not want their children to be identified or referred to as “Autistic.” They want “person-first language,” that puts “person” before any identifier such as “autism,” in order to emphasize the humanity of their children.

So, it is with great sadness that I say to you, Joshua Coleman: you are wrong.  You are wrong in comparing autism to cancer. You are wrong in believing your antivax protests are for the benefit of autistic persons.  You are wrong.


For those of you who don’t know Joshua Coleman, let me introduce you. Josh lives in the Sacramento, California, USA area and has two sons. His first son, Otto, woke up paralyzed one morning at about age 12 months. At some point, Josh started to believe his son’s condition resulted from a vaccine injury. He has been an active antivax campaigner ever since.  He travelled with the Vaxxed movie team for a long time, on their bus, as a videographer.

Lately, Josh has been organizing protests to vaccines where he and his friends dress up in costumes or printed tees and use signs he created to protest at events like ComicCons or Immunization Conferences.  They also like to protest celebrities, like Kristen Bell and Jimmy Kimmel, who stand up for immunizations.  He has been to San Diego Comic-Con  and numerous other events.  He calls his protests V is for Vaccine and has set up a website to show the public how to make the protest signs.  Of course, I have already addressed how the signs not factual. 

Recently, he created a live post on Facebook where he tells us that autism is an injury and a disorder. [scroll up for links]  He tells about an encounter with a person “in the neurodiversity movement.” He says “the neurodiverse are people on the autism spectrum who believe that having autism is just like being black or Chinese.”  “It is not really an injury, it is just like, it is normal, that autism is normal.”  “I believe and most people believe that autism is, quote, a disorder, it is an injury, it is an impairment.” He goes on to say how just because he wants to stop autism from happening he does not hate autism.  Rather, he feels that autism is like his father’s cancer: you can love the person and still hate the health issue.


Back to you, Josh. Let’s go back to the Autism Self Advocacy Network, which is a large group of autism supporters, advocates, and actually autistic individuals, none of whom you have ever actually met.

One argument I encountered in one of the more cogently-written papers in favor of person-first language expostulates that because cancer patients are referred to as “people with cancer” or “people who have cancer,” as opposed to “cancerous people,” the same principle should be used with autism. There are some fundamental flaws with this analogy, however.

Cancer is a disease that ultimately kills if not treated or put into long-term remission. There is absolutely nothing positive, edifying, or meaningful about cancer. Cancer is not a part of a person’s identity or the way in which an individual experiences and understands the world around him or her. It is not all-pervasive.

Autism, however, is not a disease. It is a neurological, developmental condition; it is considered a disorder, and it is disabling in many and varied ways. It is lifelong. It does not harm or kill of its own accord. It is an edifying and meaningful component of a person’s identity, and it defines the ways in which an individual experiences and understands the world around him or her. It is all-pervasive.

Joshua, spend some time talking to actually autistic individuals outside your Vaxxed movement.  You will see that there is a huge difference between how antivax parents talk about their children and how autism advocates and provax persons talk about autism.  Visit the The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism and learn from people who are autistic and/or have autistic children and KNOW vaccines do not cause autism. You could also learn from the Ed Wiley Austim Library, from which the narwhals derive.

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You will also see that autism is a spectrum. Sure, there are some people on the autism spectrum who have very high needs and have not been taught to use the potty and have not been afforded the benefit of assistive communication technology. Some of them use aggressive, socially unacceptable behavior as a means of communicating frustration and confusion and anger. They do this likely because nobody helped them find another way to communicate, not because this is what autism is like. With assistive technology, picture symbols, or sign language, they could learn to communicate. They could even learn to use the potty but it takes effort. It takes therapy. It takes patience. Special Education teachers, like myself, can help. Most persons on the autism spectrum don’t meet your stereotype of autism. Most persons on the spectrum can communicate and are potty trained and do not bang their heads.  (Note: these are typical stereotypes of autism commonly used in the antivax community.)

Most people on the autism spectrum fall in the levels 1 or 2.  31% of those diagnosed on the autism spectrum also have an intellectual disability. One third are non-verbal which means they have very limited verbal abilities but can learn to communicate with technology and/or sign language. Many autistic adult bloggers are “non-verbal” but communicate just fine with technology.

Source and source

Here is a look at the three levels of autism:

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Most autistic persons fall in levels 1 or 2 but you seem to only talk about level three and even then you only seem to speak of the most highly disabled persons. I feel the autistics you know likely did not have very good therapies as children. That is a tragedy.  Most autistics, including my own child, are not like your stereotypes. My child requires some support, occasionally substantial support, so I would call her a 1.5. The vast majority of persons on the autism spectrum fall in levels 1 or 2.  Those in level three very often have co-morbidities (other diagnoses) which affect their abilities.

You do not speak for my child. You do not speak for the autism community.  You speak only for antivaxers who irrationally blame vaccines for autism.

Your words are hurtful.

Your words are harmful.

You hate autism. And, you also obviously hate people on the spectrum.

Please, spend some time learning what autism is like from the point of view of the actually autistic. #actuallyautistic will help you find them.


Learn. Grow.  Be a better person.






I got shingles and antivaxers mocked me

The morning of July 29, 2019, I woke up at 4am with an itch on my upper right ribs. Half asleep, I scratched it and felt a shooting, stabbing pain like no rash or bug bite I have ever had before. In a bit of shock (metaphorically), I went to the bathroom to look at what it was in the mirror.  I had a patch on my upper right front ribs, about the size of half a gardenburger, red, with angry-looking small bumps. Oh no. Was it shingles? I was not sure so I texted some nurse/doctor friends and described it (no I did not send them a picture) and they all agreed it sounded just like shingles. Per their recommendation, I got myself to urgent care that day and got the antiviral medicine, valacyclovir, which did a great job keeping the spread at a minimum.

What are shingles? How did I get it? Per Mayo Clinic,

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso.

Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.

While it isn’t a life-threatening condition, shingles can be very painful. Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles, while early treatment can help shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications.

I was a child in the 1970s and had chickenpox twice. There was no vaccine back then.  I knew the virus was lying dormant in me, waiting to give me shingles. And, I had tried to get the shingles vaccine last year when my new insurance started covering it but it had not been available.  It was out of stock all over the country. I got put on a waitlist. When it finally was available I was too busy helping my dad with issues related to my mom’s death to bother getting vaccinated. My goal was to get it in August of this year, after a month of staying out of state with dad. I could have gotten it when I turned 50 (I am 53) but my other insurance plan did not cover the vaccine and I could not have afforded it out of pocket. I was a divorced university student at the time. No shill money comes my way!

But I got shingles infection instead.

I have heard horror stories about how shingles can be the worst pain you have ever felt. Luckily, antiviral medicine helped keep the rash from spreading. I used Lidocaine patches at night on the part of my back that was most painful (not the part with the rash but closer to the spine), to help me sleep. For day, the compounding pharmacy made me a cream with gabapentin and some other stuff in it.  I chose not to take the pill form of gabapentin as my pain was not that bad and I was concerned about it making me groggy. The pain was very uncomfortable and sharp and, since I am off work for the summer, I took to social media to whine. And also to remind people to get vaccinated when they can. Don’t wait!

Lucky me, anti-vaxxers found my posts. But, do you see anything wrong here?  They didn’t read it correctly.  Also, they are wishing me harm. Rather unkind!

First up is Washington’s own Jaclyn, making fun of me. She has me blocked on social media so someone in her camp shared this with her. This is from Jaclyn’s Facebook page but the screenshot of my comment was taken from my Twitter feed.

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Next up, the comments on Jaclyn’s page.  Look how they wish me harm. Such lovely people. And no, dear, I had chickenpox naturally. That’s how you get shingles.

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No, I did not have the vaccine Meredith. Learn to read better!

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No, Jillian, I did not get the vaccine. Why are you all misreading the post? Very odd.

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Sorry, Jillian, but the only way to spread shingles would be to let people scratch my rash. Why on earth would I do that?  It’s pretty easy to contain. Unlike chickenpox, shingles is not a respiratory infection. Shingles can spread to others via the fluid in the rash and cause a person to get chickenpox but, again, why would I let someone touch a rash on my ribs?


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And another one who cannot read correctly. At this point, it is kinda funny. They really think they are educated but they all misread my post? Snort.


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And, another one who has trouble reading.

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Update: Infamous antivaxer, Suzanne Humphries, has now weighed in and wished me harm. Wow.  What horrible people! Never, ever have I wished harm on anyone.  How do these people sleep at night?

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I am sharing these screenshots to make a point. Well, two points:

  1. Get your vaccines on time
  2. Antivaxers seem to have reading comprehension problems. This might explain why they misunderstand science.


There is good news to end my story. Almost three weeks later, the rash is but a shadow of itself and the nerve pain is very infrequent. No, this was not a deadly issue but it sure was an inconvenience.  I am getting the vaccine in six months, for sure, which is the soonest I can get it after having shingles infection NATURALLY.


Happy fact verifying!



Ashley Cate’s response to my review of her vaccine guide

Yesterday, I posted a review of Ashley Everly Cates’ Vaccine Guide. This is a large notebook full of what she feels is good information about vaccines.  While she has me blocked on social media, she took to her Facebook page to challenge my review. Having received screenshots, I will share and comment herein.  It would be nice if she would unblock me and engage me on my Facebook page or in comments on this blog, but lacking that a blog post in response will have to suffice.


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First of all, my blog post was not an attack. Criticism of research is not an attack. It is done all the time in every field of study.  If Ashley is as learned about research as she claims, she should know this is how research works.   It is telling that Ashley feels the need to defend how she refers to herself as a toxicologist. No matter how you portray it, Ashley, you have only a bachelor’s degree in environmental toxicology and have never published any work nor worked in the field. This does not give you the right to call yourself a toxicologist any more than my bachelor’s degree in sociology gives me the right to call myself a sociologist. The reason I bring up your lack of education as a point of clarification is you are misleading people in two ways: you mislead them with an appeal to your (lack of ) authority and you mislead them by claiming the science you present is valid based on this so-called authority. You further claim appeal to authority by implying that you know more than doctors because your child has a supposed (but never proven) vaccine injury.  Appeals to authority are deeply troubling. A good scientist is neutral in their presentation of facts as the facts should stand alone and be valid in any of themselves. Therefore, your undergraduate training doesn’t matter and appealing to it is not valid. You are asking people to respect your opinion without regard to facts.


Note: I am going to address a recent comment made to me. Please note there are three reasons I am specifying that Ashley is not a toxicologist. She has only a BS in the field, has never worked in the field, and has published no papers in the field. The BS alone is not the only factor. 


You claim “you know how to read and interpret scientific research, check for design flaws, bias, etc” but you have not proven that at all with your vaccine guide. You did not comment at all on any of the screenshots you shared, with regards to validity, design flaws, bias, etc.  You merely present a cherry-picked list of abstracts and assume the reader will take your word for it (appeal to authority) that you are sharing with them the best the science has to offer. You offer no review of any of the studies to which you link.

Thus, I call you a fake toxicologist because you have not proven to anyone in provaccine camp that you, in fact, have any authority as a toxicologist. The Society of Toxicology explains that a person with a bachelor’s degree in toxicology could find work as a lab technician or research assistant. “Depending upon your career aspirations, a bachelor’s degree may not be enough for you to achieve your goals.  According to the “Job Market Survey,” about half of employed toxicologists have a PhD Postdoctoral experience was considered an “absolute” requirement by 29 percent of the employers who planned to hire toxicologists in the next few years; an additional 38 percent listed such experience as “desired.” Postdoctoral training is a route to employment in toxicology for those with advanced degrees in other areas, such as the PhD in other biomedical sciences, the MD, or DVM.”

Thus, you are not a toxicologist.  

As I linked in my review of your Vaccine Guide, my friend Abe is an actual practicing scientist with expertise in the toxicology of pharmaceutical ingredients.  On his blog, he goes over studies in detail, demonstrating WHY each is important or not valid. There is a huge difference in detail between what he does and what you do because he has infinitely greater education and expertise and is an actual, published scientist.   He does not need to appeal to his own authority because of the detail of his writings.

You then complain that I attacked independent science as shoddy simply because it is independent. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most immunization science is independent of pharmaceutical companies; thus, attacking all of it would be irrational. The Vaccine Safety Datalink studies are independent of pharma companies, a great deal of vaccine science comes from Denmark and Germany and is independent of pharma companies.  It is a very bold lie to your readers to claim “Somehow they’ve concluded that independently funded research is to be mistrusted and discounted, while “research” funded by the vaccine manufacturers like Merck, GSK, & Sanofi.”  Perhaps if you would learn how to actually judge vaccine studies for validity, you would not need to lie about how they are funded.

“And of course they attack me because I share abstracts.”  Did you read more than abstracts? The point here is to read and judge the full study, not just share an abstract with no mention how or why it was chosen.

“Every time you find a pro-vaccine attack article, they never link to the actual source they’re attacking.”  I linked to your guide in the first sentence of my blog post. Why? Because I want people to read it and judge for themselves. No manipulation here.


No one is against informed consent. You don’t offer it, though, as you lie about vaccine study funding and appeal to your own authority in lieu of reviewing studies for validity.  That is not informed consent.


Here are more screenshots from Tara C Smith’s FB page.  Please note these did not come from Tara but from another friend.

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Here she claims that doctors don’t give patients informed consent. But, that is not true. You can ask your doctor questions before you get a prescription or vaccine or referral for a procedure. That is informed consent. My second baby was not born in a hospital so her 8 week appointment with our family doctor was our first time thinking about vaccinating her. This was around the time Bob Sears’ The Vaccine Book had come out so I was concerned about aluminum in vaccines. Our doctor used his laptop to look up aluminum limits for vaccines and talk to me about science and, in the end, she got fully vaccinated.  There were a few times I didn’t get the shots at the actual well-check but went home to think about it and talk to her father, who has an MS in toxicology (take that Ashley) and discuss pros and cons. She was vaccinated on schedule, however, as we always went back in to get them within the CDC-recommended time frame.

That is informed consent. 

Ashley, what you are doing is cherry-picking. You have found a list of points you want to make to people about the supposed dangers of vaccines but you have not quantified those points with any reasoning about their validity.  You have not presented a balanced list of studies. You have not shown your followers how literally NOT ONE SINGLE STUDY exists proving vaccines have greater risks than benefits. You have not taught your followers how they can read and understand or even access the full documents for the studies they are reading.

The bottom line

It is very clear your bachelor’s degree is simply not enough, in my opinion, to qualify you as an expert in vaccines. Think of it this way: If you were to try to get hired with only that bachelor’s degree, you would be working as a lab technician or collecting data in the field.  Any papers written about the data you collect would likely not have your name on them as your boss would be the author. “My training and expertise in investigating and determining safety and toxicity” is non-existent. You have published no papers. More to the point, your guide does not explain to people why the studies you have chosen are valid while the hundreds of thousands of other studies are not. A good review of the literature would present the pros and cons, not just cons. I know this for a fact because I have a Master’s degree in Education and wrote a thesis that reviewed the literature on my topic as well as analyzed the data I collected for the project I undertook.  You’ve let your ego get the best of you and you are harming public health for lack of humility.

Why am I criticizing Ashley? Because what she is doing is a danger to public health and well-meaning people get taken advantage of people like her and leave their children unprotected.




What is the vaccine guide?

I have been seeing more and more of the “Vaccine Guide” in social media and decided to take a look at it. What is it, who made it, what does it have inside of it?  As I am fond of doing, I am taking one for team pro-vax here by reading it myself.

The “Vaccine Guide” is a very slick, well-made looking website with a guide supposedly to everything you need to know about vaccines. You can browse the information online by clicking on the colored sections below or you can download it and take it to a printer to be printed. People also sell them, already printed, online for about $170 a pop in full color.  The guide was created by Ashley Everly Cates, an Idaho woman with a bachelor’s degree in environmental toxicology from University California Davis. She currently runs a group called  Health Freedom Idaho and, as near as I can tell, has never actually worked in toxicology nor written any papers. It should be noted that it is usual practice to only call those with a Ph.D. in toxicology a “toxicologist” but Ashley continually markets herself as a practicing toxicologist. As she has never had any experience beyond the undergraduate degree, this is misleading.

Note: I am going to address a recent comment made to me. Please note there are three reasons I am specifying that Ashley is not a toxicologist. She has only a BS in the field, has never worked in the field, and has published no papers in the field. The BS alone is not the only factor. 

I am a very visual person so I will be referring to every color by it’s Crayola name.



First up, yellow-orange section or VAERS, etc.  I notice that Ashley has linked to some good information on the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) until I realize she has only put up screenshots of pages, not actual links to the actual data. Furthermore, none of the screenshots come with explanations of why they were chosen. There is also a screenshot of a report from Harvard Pilgrim medical group on VAERS reports but the report is not explained in any detail. I feel it would be difficult for the average person to understand the implications of the report and the validity of the data. In actuality, Harvard Pilgrim is a Vaccine Safety Datalink member and they are charged by the US government to monitor vaccine safety. Within their system, they found some underreporting of vaccine adverse events but it is not clear, by reading the study, if this underreporting has any significance on public health, is an artifact of just their system, or is perpetuated by other VSD members.  I feel strongly it is disingenuous to post this study without clarification.

Update: It has come to my attention that I missed the word source on each page of Ashley’s guide. My apologies.  Thus, one can, in fact, link out to the original sources if you use her website. However, if you print the guide and/or buy it as a notebook, you will only get the screenshots. I have edited this post to reflect this correction.

Next up, neon carrot section: vaccine inserts.  This is just URLs linking to the inserts without any explanation of their validity or what they really mean. Nothing is mentioned about how inserts are only written about clinical trials and how they do not list proven side effects. With that in mind, here are some great links on how to read vaccine inserts.

Vaxopedia      or     Skeptical Raptor

The third section is mango tango: It is about vaccine ingredients. First off is a list of vaccine ingredients or excipients.  Then, Ashley has put some links to screenshots about specific ingredients. What I notice right away about the screenshots is that there is nothing about why she thinks they are valid?  This is what we call cherry-picking – choosing studies that make your point but not checking them for actual validity. Validity is incredibly important. Maybe Ashley did not learn this at Davis? As an undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine, I certainly learned the importance of judging a study for validity. Here is a very good read on the basics of how to judge a study for validity.

What Ashley has done is list a bunch of studies showing the supposed dangers of aluminum adjuvants but she has not quantified why she thinks those studies are valid nor compared to other literature. This kind of analysis is shoddy and would have earned her a very bad grade in her research methods class.

In reality, aluminum adjuvants are very safe. My scientist friend, Abe, otherwise known as the Blood-Brain Barrier scientist, has done an excellent job of explaining on his blog. Abe gets to actually refer to himself as an expert as he has a Ph.D. in molecular medicine and is a professor at Texas Tech University.  Abe also has a blog where he explains aluminum adjuvants, among other subjects. Herein, Abe discusses junk science (cough what Ashley shares cough) and why it is junk. As I was taught by the esteemed Dr. Linton Freeman, professor emeritus at University California, Irvine, you have to be able to critically analyze pros and cons of studies, validity, and reliability and explain this in detail, if you want to be taken seriously. Anything less is shoddy work and deserves and F. Lint is a hardass, but I got the only As in his classes for a reason. Man is a genius.

The rest of the ingredients section is more negative thoughts on ingredients, screenshots of papers decrying ingredients, and nothing explaining validity at all. It is intellectually dishonest to try to persuade people with an emotional argument and not present valid arguments to make your point. Ashley has presented nothing valid at all. Just screenshots.

For more on vaccine ingredients, I would recommend the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education website as well as Scientist Abe’s website. Todd has also done a nice job at his blog, Harpocrates Speaks.  I share these links because they are more than screenshots – the explain the ingredients in full and link outside to more information.

The wild watermelon section is called Asymptomatic transmission and shedding.  Again, we have more screenshots without explanations. As the average reader is not trained in how to read studies for validity, I again find this disingenuous.  I am somewhat knowledgeable about how to read studies but I do not have a Ph.D. so I ask for help when I need it. I have resources to help me understand what I am reading. Ashley is relying on the appeal to her authority and assuming readers will simply take her word for why these studies indicate vaccines should be avoided.

Here is the problem with Ashley’s motive: lawmakers and policymakers are going to rely on actual experts in the field to inform them on risks, benefits, and issues therein.  When it comes to understanding the FDA pertussis studies on baboons, many antivaxers assume the two studies indicate baboons shed vaccine-derived pertussis to others when nothing could be further from the truth.  The FDA studies with baboons concluded that vaccinated baboons protected their newborns from pertussis, did not get a severe infection when exposed, did not shed the vaccine, but could colonize pertussis infection in their throats without symptoms. In other words, the worst that can happen with pertussis vaccine is you might get a mild pertussis infection or you might have the bacteria in your throat with no symptoms.  So, being vaccinated doesn’t prevent 100% of pertussis infections but it prevents babies from dying and prevents the 100-day cough. Does Ashley explain these facts?  NOPE!  Bad form!!

Ashley then goes on to cite a very few rare examples of vaccines shedding but does not tell readers how rates chickenpox, flu, rotavirus, rubella, measles, mumps, etc are all extraordinarily low THANKS TO VACCINES. Read The Pink Book for infection data.

Again, this is extremely disingenuous! This is borderline lying, in my book, as it is implying vaccines cause disease without explaining the validity of these actual case studies. One study, for example, is about a boy who got chickenpox vaccine, got the very rare pox, and his pregnant mother also got an infection. This could only have happened if she had been touching her son’s pox. This is extremely rare but also very easily avoidable – don’t get your toddlers vaccinated for chickenpox if you are pregnant and, if you are, don’t touch the pox!  There is a very good reason disease rates are low and it’s name is VACCINES.

The fuschia section is called Effectiveness.  This section is, as usual, only screenshots of studies, often just abstracts. Why she thinks abstracts are enough to read is confounding.  Abstracts are tiny summaries. One must read the full study to judge. Again, did Davis not teach her this fact?? This section could easily fool people until they read the full studies and compare to rates of actual disease, look at genotypes and strains, and realize the whole dang section is proof vaccines work! Also, most of the links therein are not vaccine strains anyway.

Ashley also links to information on pertussis outbreaks and herd immunity.  This is a common trope from antivaxers – the idea that if vaccines don’t work 100% then they are useless. For example, she cites a Fordham University mumps outbreak. There were 13 cases, all vaccinated, out of 10,000 undergraduates. Thus, the vaccine had a hugely effective rate and protected most all students. Vaccine win.

Necessity of vaccination, the royal purple section, is Ashley’s attempt to convince people vaccines are not necessary. For some reason, it starts off with a screenshot of a report from the Royal College of Ireland in 1959. Baffling. I guess she feels this is proof measles is harmless?  I prefer to link to this paper by Walter Orenstein, et al, which analyses the death and complications rates in the USA.

Ashley goes on to link to some more papers questioning the contribution vaccines made to history. For example, she links to a paper on the CDC history of drinking water. As measles, diphtheria, flu, and more are respiratory infections, clean water did not affect them.  She further links to mortality (death) statistics without quantifying that while Americans were dying less of preventable diseases, they were suffering more. As the Orenstein, et al, paper indicates, measles rate was higher in 1950s USA than any other decade in the USA. People were dying less because of medical care but they were still suffering.

Another abstract to which she links is entitled “Human milk mucin inhibits rotavirus replication and prevents experimental gastroenteritis.” As the full study is not linked, the implication is that breastfeeding prevents gastro infections. I am here to tell that is 100% false. Read my tale here.

Plus, again, it is not genuinely informative to link only to an abstract. What does the rest of the paper say? Is it valid? Are the methods they used valid and reliable? Ashley does not cover any of these topics.

The rest of this section has some information on how vitamins might help cure diseases like measles and polio but we know that, for example, vitamin A is only used with measles to lower the complication and rate. It does not eradicate the risks. With viral diseases, there is no good evidence vitamins prevent suffering. Vitamin C does not cure a cold.  Vitamin C is not a cure-allPauling was wrong. Just because some guy in the 1930s gave polio patients vitamin C and some of them did not die does not mean vitamin C is a cure-all.

The navy blue section is on adverse reactions.  This is, once again, more screenshots of abstracts with no explanation as to validity. I have been over how autism is not caused by vaccines many times. You cand read more here and here. Ashley is lying to her readers to say vaccines cause autism and not explain the validity of the abstracts she has screenshot or link to more current research. This is unbelievable maddening. Shameful!  This entire section is an embarrassment to the University of California. Honestly, they should revoke her degree. Linking only to abstracts and not explaining reliability is egregious. She lists few, rare side effects documented but does not link to the vast number of positive outcomes from vaccines? Compared to the number of vaccines given, the USA has compensated 0.0000011% of vaccinees for injury. That is an INCREDIBLE safety rate.

Ashley is not sharing with her readers any accurate science. She is lying.  She shares a screenshot of a badly done analysis of SIDS rates without quantifying that SIDS rate is at a historic low in the USA and the more we vaccinate, the fewer babies die.

The final section is pine green and called Incentives.  This is where the conspiracy theories start. There is a link to a HuffPo article SPIDER, a made-up controversy that went nowhere. There is a link to the badly done Cochrane HPV review that led to a kerfuffle and some careers tanking. There is a link about the ICAN HHS lawsuit that went nowhere. I wrote about that here.

She further goes on to discuss provider incentives but does not explain them at all. I explain how they work here and my friend, Vince, does so here.

In conclusion, this is a sad bunch of cherry-picked, screenshots of abstracts with no explanations as to the validity, nothing is given to readers to inform them why what they are reading is important. Ashley is duping her readers and relying on their gullibility. Most parents want their children to be safe and healthy and Ashley is using scare tactics to influence parents into not vaccinating.


She should be thoroughly ashamed of herself.

For more on this guide, be sure to read Science-Based Medicine’s post on it.

Remember to always verify claims. This is a perfect example!!



V is for vexatious; antivaxers and their misinformation campaigns

What has been happening in anti-vax land lately?  As you can see from the pictures below, they have decided to have cosplay protests, complete with matching, themed outfits, and professionally-printed posters.  It started with the Disneyland protest in California, moved to Washington for the Hoopfest protest, and the most recent was the San Diego Comicon protest.

Disneyland in California


San Diego Comicon


Spokane, WA Hoopfest


Now, the main instigator in California, Joshua Coleman (California anti-vaxxer) is taking it to the internet so an anti-vax group near you can do the same! He has started a new website called V is for Vaccine.   His says his website is a grassroots campaign to raise public awareness. The website will be selling “basic facts” and “vaccine poster” graphics.  So, this will be a money-making venture for Joshua.

The main instigator in Washington is Jaclyn Gallion, of Spokane. She is on the Board of The Informed Choice of Washington group.

(note: I am not sure if the Spokane ladies got their ideas from Joshua)


Let’s debunk the posters, shall we?

I am going to list them and debunk them, one at a time.

  1. Vaccine mandates violate bodily autonomy
  2. Vaccines makers are exempt from liability
  3. Vaccines mandates are the path to the dark side
  4. Vaccines are unavoidably unsafe
  5. There is no escape. Forced vaccination is imminent.
  6. Children received 24 vaccines in 1988 and not receive 69 vaccines. Also, children received 10 vaccines in 1977 and not receive 72 vaccines.
  7. Vaccines are not placebo safety tested
  8. Vaccines can cause injury and death; $4 billion paid out by US Gov for vaccine injuries and death
  9. Vaccines are made with aborted fetal cell. Also, vaccines are made with aborted fetal DNA
  10. Vioxx, opioids, vaccines – all have the same makers
  11. Vaccine injuries are not rare, they are rarely reported
  12. Pharma profits should not outweigh individual rights
  13. Live viruses, vaccines shed and spread
  14. Vaccine ingredients cause cancer and autoimmune diseases
  15. Average FDA testing: drugs 4.5 years, vaccines 4.5 day


Vaccine mandates violate bodily autonomy

How? In all 50 US states and in every country I know of, you can choose not to vaccinate. Just because there is a consequence like you have to homeschool or you do not get your tax credit that does not mean your bodily autonomy is violated. This is an example of anti-vaxxers acting like drama llamas. They want their way or the highway. I say, stop being selfish and own your choices.

Vaccines makers are exempt from liability

No, they are not. In the USA, per NCVIA, you can sue in certain situations and also after you go through the no-fault Vaccine Injury Compensation Progam (VICP). For example, here is a case, with Robert F Kennedy Jr on the legal team, where a lawsuit has been filed against Merck and Kaiser for vaccine injury. The plaintiff, Jennifer Robi, has already gone through VICP and lost. Also, other countries have their own laws and ways of dealing with vaccine injury.

Vaccines mandates are the path to the dark side

That is just silly

Vaccines are unavoidably unsafe

One of my favorite bloggers, The Logic of Science, put it this way: “Basically, it means that there is nothing that can be done to make the product safer without compromising the function of the product. The term comes from the legal document, “Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 402A,” and it is about protecting manufacturers from frivolous law suits, not about providing consumers with health information. The basic idea is simply that companies cannot be held accountable for an injury that arises from unavoidably unsafe products because there was nothing that the company could have done to prevent that injury (inherent in this term is the requirement that the product was manufactured correctly, labeled correctly with adequate instructions for how to administer it, etc.).”


There is no escape. Forced vaccination is imminent.

They are reading the Healthy People (USA) 2020 plan and having a meltdown because they did not read it correctly. There is no plan in the USA nor any other country (that I am aware of) for vaccinating all citizens by force.

Children received 24 vaccines in 1988 and now receive 69 vaccines. Also, children received 10 vaccines in 1977 and now receive 72 vaccines.

This is also silly. In the USA, we vaccinate children for 13-16 vaccines, between ages 4 and 18.  That is not a bad thing. Vaxopedia (Dr. Vincent Ianelli’s great blog) has gone over this and you can also read the CDC Immunization Schedule for Children here. Is it a bad thing that we protect children from more diseases? No. You can also compare to other country’s vaccine schedules in my post: The USA does not vaccinate more than other countries.

Vaccines are not placebo safety tested

This claim has two parts: placebos and safety.

This is some silliness started by Del Bigtree.  His organization, Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) sued the US Government’s Health and Human Services division, asking for a report to one of two committees describing vaccine safety in the USA.  No reports to those committees were found but that does not mean there is no vaccine safety data. In fact, there are vaccine safety and efficacy studies done all over the world and, in the USA, vaccine safety is monitored by the independent members of the Vaccine Safety Datalink. It is a complete lie to say there are no vaccine safety studies.

As for placebos, Bigtree claims vaccines are not studied with an “inert placebo.” He has even testified, in many US states, that “Very basically – not a single childhood vaccine in our program of 16 vaccines has ever been through a double-blind inert placebo study – it’s never been done. That is the gold standard of science for all drugs, vaccines are not going through it.” His claim is that only saline solutions are completely inert and that, in clinical trials, vaccine studies don’t always use a saline placebo. Therefore, he claims, vaccine clinical trials are of no value to society. But, there are important reasons why some vaccine clinical trials do not use a saline placebo. (some do, by the way)  The World Health Organization has guidelines for when saline placebo can and cannot be used:

“Placebo use in vaccine trials is clearly acceptable when (a) no efficacious and safe vaccine exists and (b) the vaccine under consideration is intended to benefit the population in which the vaccine is to be tested. In this situation, a placebo-controlled trial addresses the locally relevant question regarding the extent to which the new vaccine is better than nothing, and participants in the placebo arm of the trial are not deprived of the clinical benefits of an existing efficacious vaccine.

Placebo use in vaccine trials is clearly unacceptable when (a) a highly efficacious and safe vaccine exists and is currently accessible in the public health system of the country in which the trial is planned and (b) the risks to participants of delaying or foregoing the available vaccine cannot be adequately minimized or mitigated (e.g. by providing counselling and education on behavioural disease prevention strategies, or ensuring adequate treatment for the condition under study to prevent serious harm). In this situation, a placebo-controlled trial would not address a question that is relevant in the local context, namely how the new vaccine compares to the one that is currently in use, and participants would be exposed to unacceptable levels of risk from delaying or foregoing a safe and effective vaccine that is accessible through the public health system.”

Thus, it is clear that using another vaccine or an adjuvant as a placebo is ethical and valid, in some vaccine studies.  I addressed more of the issues here, here, and here.

Vaccines can cause injury and death

Well, yes, they can but vaccine-preventable diseases have infinitely greater risks. According to vaccine injury data in the USA, the risk of vaccine injury is literally minuscule.  The USA has given out 6631 total vaccine injury awards between 1989 and 2019.  The USA has given 3,454,269,356 doses of vaccines between 01/2006  and 12/2017 and compensated 6363 vaccine injuries in that period. That means the risk of vaccine injury in the USA is 0.000018%. Disease risks are infinitely greater.

Vaccines are made with aborted fetal cell. Also, vaccines are made with aborted fetal DNA.

Cells are used to grow viruses for vaccines. Before they are used in vaccines, the viruses are removed from the cells. Some of these cells come from legal abortions done decades ago. Even though this is not an issue with the Catholic church or any other major religion, a small group of anti-vaxxers finds this a moral issue.  One person who has recently made a big deal of this issue is Teresa Deisher. Dr. Deisher lost her son, a few years back, to cancer and has, ever since, devoted her research to proving DNA from fetal cells in vaccines caused his cancer. This is pseudoscience. She even took her case to the vaccine court and lost. The special master did a very thorough job reviewing the evidence Deisher presented and found vaccines did not cause her son’s Burkitt lymphoma. That some vaccines are made using aborted fetal cells is not an ethical issue. Vaccines save infinitely more lives. The court also found the idea that there is residual DNA in vaccines is not supported by sound evidence.

Vioxx, opioids, vaccines – all have the same makers

This is saying anti-vaxxers have a paranoia about corporations. Since vaccines are international and there is science from all over the world, I find this claim too paranoid to bother addressing.

Vaccine injuries are not rare, they are rarely reported

This claim relates to the idea that anti-vaxers believe vaccines cause autism and SIDS and everything else under the sun. There is no good evidence to support their claims. There is no autism epidemic and the claims that vaccines cause autism are not grounded in sound science. SIDS risk is cut in half by vaccines and SIDS rate is at an all-time low in the USA and other Western countries. There was a study done by one of the Vaccine Safety Datalink members, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, which found that, within that system, reports of vaccine adverse events were low. VAERS and HHS readily admit that minor vaccine reactions are underreported. As of now, we don’t have good evidence that serious vaccine reactions are underreported nor do we have evidence to support claims made by anti-vaxers that vaccine cause autism, SIDs, etc.

Pharma profits should not outweigh individual rights

This claim is about deep-seated paranoia that no one could possibly support vaccines unless they are paid by pharmaceutical companies. This is silly. Nobody pays me to support vaccines. I experienced what vaccine-preventable diseases are like in children not vaccinated.  I am pro-vax because #vaccineswork. There is no good evidence that every doctor, nurse, healthcare organization, medical and nursing association, medical school, nursing school, research organization, WHO, UNICEF, and millions of doctors, scientists, and nurses are paid by “big pharma.” That is just silly.

And, the public has a right to avoid preventable diseases. In the USA, all court challenges to vaccine mandates have failed because individual rights do not trump the rights of the public. For example, six challenges to California’s SB277 have failed in courts. Here is an analysis of one of those cases.

Also, the argument that drug makers only make vaccines for profit is not grounded in reality. Vaccines are not the most profitable drugs, not by a long shot. From an Atlantic Article,  “But that argument is historically unfounded. Not only do pediatricians and doctors often lose money on vaccine administration, it wasn’t too long ago that the vaccine industry was struggling with slim profit margins and shortages. The Economist wrote that “for decades vaccines were a neglected corner of the drugs business, with old technology, little investment, and abysmal profit margins. Many firms sold their vaccine divisions to concentrate on more profitable drugs.””

Live viruses, vaccines shed and spread

Ugh. I get really tired of this argument. Page five of the Merck MMR insert states: “There are no reports of transmission of live attenuated measles or mumps viruses from vaccinees to susceptible contacts.”  The National Vaccine Information Center, an anti-vax group in the USA, has a document outlining the rarity of vaccines shedding and causing actual disease. Reading through it, you get a picture of just how rare it is for chickenpox, rotavirus, or smallpox vaccines to shed to others and cause disease. Measles, mumps, rubella, and flu don’t shed to others at all unless you count one case of rubella shedding via breastmilk to a baby. But, this is why we don’t ever vaccinate pregnant or nursing women anymore! Honestly, this argument is so tiresome.

Vaccine ingredients cause cancer and autoimmune diseases

See Deisher argument above for debunking of cancer claims. As for autoimmune disease, this claim comes from the research funded by Dwoskin Foundation and The Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute (funded by Claire Dwoskin). They have had many studies retracted but they won’t say that on their website. My blogging friend, Abe, has spent quite a deal of time debunking their poop, err, studies. Dr. Abe Al-Ahmad is on faculty at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center school of pharmacy and holds a Ph.D. in integrative molecular medicine. He has published many studies related to these issues and also has written about them on his blog. He has explained how aluminum adjuvants are not crossing the blood-brain barrier. He has explained how polysorbate 80 works in vaccines.  And he has addressed many of the studies published by Shaw, Exley, and others funded by CSMRI as well as the vastly unscientific explanations of those studies by “vaccines papers.” Vaccine ingredients DO NOT cause cancer or autoimmune disease.

Average FDA testing: drugs 4.5 years, vaccines 4.5 days

Vaccines go through 10-15 years of research and testing. This claim comes from clinical trial data in vaccine inserts. Antivaxers apparently only read vaccine inserts, and not vaccine safety studies, so they are oblivious to the decades of research outside of clinical trials. Pretty sad.

As you can see, it is pretty easy to debunk the claims made by Josh and Jaclyn.


If you ever see costumed antivaxers with fancy protest signs, now you have a guide to debunking them





Of antivaxers and misinformation (mean girls part 2)

Things are certainly heating up in the legislature in the USA.  All over the country, vaccine bills are being proposed, mostly in favor of vaccines, in reaction to measles outbreaks. With over 300 cases of measles in the USA, as of March 21, 2019, we definitely need to do something to improve community immunity.  This is making those who are opposed to vaccines (antivaxers) very concerned and they have stepped up their social media presence. In other words, the mean girls are actively attacking more and more provaxers.



All over the internet, vaccine misinformation is starting to be limited by corporations feeling the heat for allowing dangerous ideas to proliferate. Gofundme has cut Larry Cook, leader of Stop Mandatory Vaccines, off from his primary sources of income, Gofundme and Facebook ads.

Pinterest has also started limiting antivaccine misinformation, as has Amazon and Instagram.

Antivaxers are thoroughly flummoxed about why this is happening. Their best theory? Pharmaceutical companies have bought everyone off.



I am, apparently, completely paid off by pharmaceutical companies, too,








I guess they don’t really understand that CDC Immunization Champion Awards only go to people NOT connected to the pharmaceutical industry.


But, what those opposed to vaccines do not understand is how very much they do indeed spread misinformation. Take these posts, as examples, which are written by a leading antivax leader in my state, Washington, in regards to pro-vaccine legislation currently in the works. She literally cannot fathom how a few representatives who spoke misinformation against the bill were not taken seriously by the other representatives who voted in favor of it. She cannot fathom that anything other than pharmaceutical company coercion is behind these bills.








Taking it further, let’s look at what she considers good information.








1.Measles virus sheds for 1-13 days:  measles virus from the vaccine can be detected in the urine of some individuals. What she does not say is there are zero cases of measles virus shedding to others; aka there are no outbreaks caused by measles vaccine.

2. Measles in fully vaccinated school kids: this is a study from before the USA recommended two MMR vaccines for children. Before the 1990s, there were a few outbreaks of wild measles in those who had had one MMR. Now that we give two MMRs to children, literally 80% of more of measles cases in the USA are in unvaccinated.  And they are all wild measles strains.

3. Measles in a vaccinated group in Ireland: This is another study of children who had only one measles vaccine. It is well known that one measles vaccine provides immunity for life to only 93-95% of recipients so well vaccinated means two MMRs in childhood, not one.

4. “Measles vaccinated child responsible for outbreak in British Columbia” is actually the case of one child getting measles possibly from her vaccine, weeks after the shot, mystifying doctors.  There is no other case on record. She did not infect anyone else.

5. New  York measles outbreak linked to vaccinated is the only case on record of a twice vaccinated woman getting wild measles and passing wild measles to others.

6. Measles among the vaccinated is, again, cases from back before two MMRs were recommended.

Notice how much Jaclyn Gallion, Board member of Informed Choice Washington (ICW), aka Jaci Knutz, gets wrong. The person in New York was a woman, not a man. The cases from before 1996 were back when only one MMR was recommended. Now that we give two, measles is very rare in vaccinated persons. The Disney outbreak in 2015 was in 88% unvaccinated persons.  In Europe, there were 82,000 cases of Europe last year and 87% of patients were unvaccinated.  There were 72 deaths from measles last year.  In Clark County, Washington state USA, there have been 73 cases of measles and only three had one vaccine. The rest were unvaccinated.

Why does this group and its leaders post so much misinformation?  I have addressed their misinformation about vaccines and pregnancy but they are also spreading dangerous misleading misinformation about all vaccines. They claim to post only good facts.


On their website, they post some information about how measles had a relatively low death rate before vaccines. Apparently, they are unconcerned with the 30% complications rate and, instead, they post some vastly dangerous information from a group called Physicians for Informed Consent (PIC). Then, they run an ad for a class they are offering on natural immunity.

So, what is wrong with all of this? For starters, PIC is a vastly ignorant and dangerous group. Their propaganda was debunked by our friend, Dr. Vince Ianelli, here. “The Physicians for Informed Consent even talks about benefits of getting measles, but somehow leaves out any talk about the risk of getting SSPE after a natural measles infection.

What else do they leave out? The idea that people who survive a measles infection can have some immunosuppression for up to two to three years! This measles-induced immune damage puts them at risk of dying from other diseases and helps explain why kids who are vaccinated against measles are also less likely to die from other childhood infections.”

ICW even goes so far as to claim that having a wild illness is better for the immune system than vaccine immunity.  Yet, there is literally 100% international scientific consensus that vaccines have far greater benefits than risks.

Are they lying? No. They honestly believe what they post. They are dangerously ignorant and far too conceited to consider they might be wrong. They cannot step outside their agenda to even consider that they don’t have any real understanding of how to read scientific studies. They perpetuate long ago debunked ideas, like the blurb about Johns Hopkins Hospital. This is the hospital’s current policy on vaccines and visitors:

 Siblings must be supervised by an adult family member at all times. Siblings under age 2 may not visit. Siblings who are 13 or older may visit between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. while those aged 2-12 may visit on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday during designated times. Siblings under 2 years old may not visit. Siblings 2-12 years of age must have a NICU Sibling Visitation Screening Form completed by their regular health care provider before their first visit. Siblings whose vaccinations are not current will not be allowed to visit. Those who have received the chicken pox vaccine and developed a rash may not visit until the rash is gone. Those who have not had the chicken pox vaccination nor a documented case of the chicken pox will be screened before each visit for possible exposure within the last four weeks and will not be allowed to visit if exposure has occurred. Sibling visitation may be suspended completely on the advice of the Infection Control Department or during times of unit emergency.”

This is why it is a very good thing that social media giants are limiting their posts. They post misinformation right and left. They cannot fathom they could be wrong. They are so paranoid they think “big pharma” must be trying to control us. They are the reason we have measles back in the USA.

Please do your part and always verify claims.



Idaho vaccine debate

Tonight, I was able to watch a debate between a provaccine pediatrician from Idaho, Dr. Alicia Lachiondo, and a woman with a bachelor’s degree in toxicology, Ashley Everly Cates. I have embedded the 45-minute show for you here, should you wish to watch.  It was an interesting and well-done debate. The two hosts, CBS Boise News staff members Brent Hunsaker and Natalie Hurst, did a fine job asking meaningful questions and soliciting answers from both ladies.

Click on the link below to watch the debate yourself.

First of all, who are the participants?


Dr. Alicia Lachiondo is a pediatrician at St. Lukes Treasure Valley Pediatricians in Boise, Idaho. She is a Boise Native who went to Notre Dame for undergraduate studies and the University of Washington School of Medicine for medical school. She is a member of Get Immunized Idaho.


Ashley Everly Cates graduated from UC Davis with a degree in environmental toxicology. She currently runs Health Freedom Idaho. She does not have any advanced degrees. According to her LinkedIn, she has not had actual employment in the field of toxicology.

Sidebar: not sure why Ashley is called a “blood toxicologist” in the title.

Alicia is the doctor.

Ashley is the “toxicologist”

Here are my notes on the debate:

Host: Where do you stand? Ashley says parents are not given adverse reaction information about vaccines. Dr. Alicia says every parent is given a vaccine information sheet and she warns them all about common side effects and is open to discussing risks and benefits. 

Host: Are vaccine info sheets enough?  Ashley says no, they don’t reflect independent research or latent effects, especially about aluminum and autoimmunity. She says children are sicker than ever, more cancer than ever. She cites the 300% increase in the number of vaccine doses given since the 1980s and how vaccines are not tested for cancer or mutagenicity, nor are ingredients tested.  She is, apparently, not familiar with the EPA IRIS database, which is very strange for a “toxicologist”

Dr. Alicia explains how she looks at research and how the CDC makes recommendations. She explains about good research and Ashley nods and says mm, hm, in the background. Dr. Alicia talks about HIB meningitis and other serious side effects of infectious diseases. Alicia explains risk analysis.

Note: My readers will know that American children are healthier than ever. 
Host: Is herd immunity real? Ashley says it only applies to natural infections and vaccines cannot provide herd immunity as they do not trigger the immune system the same way real disease does. Antibodies will wane. She claims we can have high vaccination rates and outbreaks, such as the outbreak in NYC in 2011 where patient zero was a 22-year-old vaccinated woman.
She is, of course, speaking of a study we have discussed where a twice vaccinated person got measles and spread it. It was written up as a medical marvel, her being the first time on record this has occurred.  Ashley does not mention this fact. Instead, she acts as if this is normal and all measles outbreaks are in vaccinated persons. 
Alicia explains how herd immunity is like viruses in computers. If you have malware, she explains, the virus cannot enter your computer. I like this analogy except she got it a bit backward. What she means is a vaccine is like an anti-virus software program in that it prevents the invasion from a computer virus.  She explains waning immunity in pertussis, how influenza virus changes, but measles is different and we can run titer studies. Titer studies have been done on many vaccines and we know which vaccines need boosters and which do not. We know that some vaccines don’t last a lifetime but we vaccinate infants for those diseases because they are most vulnerable and need that temporary immunity.
Ashley brings up how those vaccinated for pertussis could be asymptomatic carriers. She claims the vaccines leave infants more vulnerable. She is speaking about something many antivaxers are concerned about but which our favorite reptilian blogger has oft-debunked. 
Alicia counters that infants who are immunized are much less likely to contract pertussis. She says population studies show babies who get pertussis and end up in PICU are unimmunized and have unimmunized parents. She mentions TDaP in pregnancy as efficacious at preventing pertussis in infants. Ashley brings up aluminum toxicity from vaccines and the “research” about it. I put that in quotations because Ashley seems to be very fond of studies funded by anti-vax groups, most of which have been retracted and/or proven shoddy methodology. 
Host: What would happen if we eliminate vaccines? Alicia says her practice would go from mostly preventing fires and educating to mostly putting out fires. (fires as an analogy for disease). Her job would be about triage instead of prevention. Alicia explains how she does not have to worry about nearly as much illness now as her older colleagues did when they were new doctors. She gets to spend more time talking about education and prevention now. She is also asked if aluminum is toxic and explains how exposure in the industry, metal smelting, for example, can cause aluminum toxicity but vaccines do not and there is no evidence aluminum is increasing in blood serum.
Ashley says aluminum is not trapped in the blood so blood serum levels are not accurate. She says it goes to the brain. Alicia asks how those studies are done. Ashley mentions rabbit studies. Alicia brings up dose dependency. Alicia points out how nutritional supplements are not studied but these ingredients are well studied and continue to be studied.  The implication from Alicia is clear: aluminum in vaccines is not a health concern and no valid science says otherwise. It should be noted that Ashley is referring to Exley studies
Host: Asks Ashley if people should never take vaccines. She says she does not feel comfortable taking a stance but that good nutrition is the most important factor in recovery from illness. The host clarifies that this means you won’t avoid illness but you could recover. Ashley says yes. And she says most vaccine-preventable diseases train your immune system to avoid cancer. She says people only die of measles if they are malnourished. She mentions Vitamin A as reducing the risk of complications and death; thus, she claims, these diseases are not harmful to those who are well nourished. Alicia points out that nutrition is important but we know, based on outbreaks in Europe, that measles still can cause harm and death. Ashley claims half of Americans are deficient in Vitamin A.
Sidebar: Here are a few readings on topics related to what Ashley is discussing, from our favorite Texas Pediatrician, Dr. Vince Ianelli.
The host and Alicia agree that nutrition is a component of disease management but the quality of care is another component. Alicia explains how secondary infections are an issue as well as the fact that measles wipes the immune memory, making one susceptible to all the other diseases you may have already had. Alicia clarifies how she is not just trying to prevent death but also prevent suffering in the child and the family members.
Ashley talks about measles and immune amnesia. She, again, brings up Vitamin A, as if that would prevent immune amnesia. She did not provide any research to back her claims. She claims doctors are not looking at Vitamin A and secondary infections. Alicia begs to differ on all of Ashley’s claims.
Alicia brings up cystic fibrosis patients who cannot absorb fat and cannot absorb vitamins like A and K. We would expect them to have higher rates of measles if extra vitamins alone were the answer, and yet they do not have higher rates of measles.
The host asks Alicia about how AAP recommends repeal exemptions other than medical exemptions. She answers that she would vote for that, as a voter. She talks about how non-medical exemptions put people at risk, particularly those who are immune compromised. When you don’t vaccinate, you make decisions for others who cannot vaccinate. Your choice affects them. Ashley, of course, says the opposite. She talks about those who have vaccinated their child and have seen them suffer an adverse event. She claims VAERS reports are underreported and, thus, we should not force anyone to vaccinate when we do not fully understand vaccine risks.
Ashley says her son has a genetic defect that makes him more susceptible to vaccine injury as he cannot detoxify easily. She says that taking away these exemptions is, in effect, mandating harm. She is, of course, thinking of the MTHFR gene, which is much ado in anti-vaccine circles. 
My favorite Seattle Naturopaths have addressed both the MTHFR gene mutation claim as well as the immune system issues with measles.
Ashley is asked if there is even one vaccine she would say is important. She likes that Idaho is for parent’s rights and that people are not aware of how much harm vaccines can cause. So, she will not pick a vaccine to recommend.
They are each asked to summarize.
Ashley says we are not given enough information on how dangerous vaccines can be. She infers we cannot trust the CDC. She infers vaccine manufacturers are not trustworthy. She says people need to consider all the variables and keep an open mind.
Alicia says her bottom line is that over 90% of us choose to vaccinate. She agrees there is a lot of information and some cans of worms. She wants people to think about who they trust and she hopes they trust their doctor. She says every piece of advice she gives is based on science and risks and benefits and that vaccines have the most benefits and the lowest risks and the most research behind them.
My take:
I think Ashley and Alicia both presented themselves as calm, reasonable, and dedicated to the topic.  Ashley, however, presents herself as an expert when she actually has little to no experience in toxicology. Her knowledge comes only from a classroom and not from actual field experience. She has never worked for a public health agency or environmental agency.  My own brother has degrees in environmental studies and horticulture and he has worked for years as a California state environmental scientist. He would never call himself an expert because he has not published anything nor led any actual research.  My children’s father has multiple degrees in scientific fields, including an MS in biology, and works in aquatic toxicology but still does not call himself an expert.  When I think of someone being able to call themselves a toxicologist I think of a person with a Ph.D. in toxicology or a related field, someone who has conducted a great deal of research and published many papers. A woman with a bachelor’s degree is not an expert.
That Ashley espouses so many anti-vax tropes and tries to qualify herself as a toxicologist is deeply troublesome. It is a false balance.
Dr. Alicia, on the other hand, is an actual doctor. She has expertise in the field of medicine. There is literally no comparison between these two ladies.
As always, think for yourself and verify claims!!  And be sure to join us at Vaccinate Washington if you live in or near Washington state and want to help our community be healthier.
[click on pic to go to the vaxwa website]



The fight for public health begins


Measles has taken hold in Washington state and, as there are outbreaks in other states,  bills are being introduced to affect positive change in immunization rates. One bill is House Bill (HB) 1638 in Washington and public comment was heard on it today in the house healthcare committee. Today was only about public comment. The bill will have a few more dates in the committee before they send it forward. You can see the schedule here:



Today, the bill was introduced in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee and Chair Eileen Cody heard public comment.  Representatives Paul Harris and Monica Stonier introduced the bill by talking about how Clark County has been impacted by measles.

You can watch the committee meeting here.

The pro side began with John Wiesman, Secretary of the Washington Department of Health.  He spoke about how this outbreak is larger and spreading faster than he has ever seen and the outbreak is not about a specific cultural group but about unvaccinated children. He spoke on how outbreaks are very expensive and a drain on resources. He spoke on the safety of the MMR vaccine and how measles is a serious infectious disease.

Next up was Dr. Rupin Thakkar, President of the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He spoke about how the unvaccinated import measles into Washington state and spread it to other unvaccinated persons. He spoke about how measles is extremely contagious, even before one has symptoms, and how the measles vaccine protects not only the person immunized but those who are too young for the vaccine and those who have immune deficiencies. He explained the idea of community immunity, aka herd immunity.

Roy Magnuson, MD, spoke third. He is a Vice President at PeaceHealth. He spoke as the representative of Peace Health Medical System in Clark County, Washington. Peace Health is the largest medical provider in Clark County and the largest employer. He explained how Peace Health has been providing care for those with measles while protecting the public and staff from the disease spreading. Their infection control team has been working night and day and there are 51 cases now. He spoke about how this outbreak could have been prevented had the patients all been vaccinated.

John Blom, County Council for  Clark County spoke about the safety of the MMR vaccine. He highlighted how 86% of those with measles in Clark County are completely unvaccinated. He explained how schools, businesses, and medical centers are all experiencing a diversion of resources to contain the outbreak. The cost has been great in that they have had to move resources from important programs to manage the outbreak. And, people have been quarantined at home, affecting school and wages.

Gary Goldbaum, from the Washington State Medical Association, spoke of his experience as health officer in Snohomish County and the value of vaccines. He spoke of his experience with polio, as a child, and how his brother suffered grave injury from polio infection.

For the antivax side, first was Dr. Toni Bark, Illinois MD. She claims to have treated patients suffering from vaccine injury and spoke about epigenetics and how medicines affect people individually.  She is of the opinion that 1% to 15% of individuals are susceptible to vaccine injury but there is no evidence I could find to support this claim. She also claims vaccines are legally classified as “unavoidably unsafe” and vaccine manufacturers are not liable for the deaths and injuries they cause. She claims there have been only 2 measles deaths since 2003 but more than 400 deaths from MMR. She misquoted Dr. Gregory Poland as saying that measles cannot be eliminated by MMR and that most outbreaks around the country are in vaccinated persons.

She is completely wrong on all counts.  First of all, according to CDC Wonder Database of mortality statistics, there have been 39 deaths from SSPE, a 100% fatal complication of measles, in the last ten years in the USA. And there has been at least one death from measles, which was an immune compromised woman in Washington state exposed to measles, in her doctor’s clinic, by an unvaccinated person. You can learn more about measles mortality here.

Secondly, vaccines are not legally classified as unavoidably unsafe. A Supreme Court case, Bruschewitz V. Wyeth, noted that vaccines, like antibiotics, are in the category of medicines that are not 100% safe but they are so necessary and vital that they are “unavoidably unsafe.” You can read about that here.

Thirdly, vaccine makers are liable for the problems they cause. If they knowingly put out a vaccine that has been prepared incorrectly, for example, they can be held liable for any injuries. They are not liable for rare reactions which are not their fault and there is no reason they should be held liable for health issues which arise as a result of a rare reaction. We have a law which covers all of this, NCVIA.  Finally, Dr. Poland has written on the topic of how we might need a better measles vaccine to eliminate measles from earth but he has fully acknowledged that the current vaccine is very good and should be continued.

Also, as evidenced by MMWR measles outbreak data, the vast majority of measles patients in the USA since 2000 have been unvaccinated.

Is Dr. Bark lying?  She claimed a New York City outbreak occurred a few years ago, started by a 22-year-old vaccinated woman and all the patients got vaccine strain. This is a total lie. A twice vaccinated woman got wild measles and spread wild measles to others. So, not only is Dr. Bark coming from out of town to talk about something which does not affect her at all, as a resident of Illinois, but she has misconstrued the data.

Brian Hooker, Ph.D. spoke about his research but he failed to mention the studies which have been retracted, such as his very bad take on the “CDC whistleblower” data.  He claims he has a vaccine injured son but, in reality, he has an autistic son and lost his vaccine injury claim in court a few years ago because the child’s own medical records proved there were developmental issues in keeping with autism from a very young age, much earlier than MMR is given.

Dr. Hooker claims the vaccine does not work and that wild measles is benign. This is false.  He claims he death rate from measles in Washington state was zero for years before the vaccine. He criticized state immunization data and quoted the student survey as valid data. (students take a survey but who knows if their answers are accurate). He claims the scientific literature proves the MMR is very unsafe.

Dr. Hooker is wrong.  He lost his vaccine injury claim. MMR is safe. His take on the data is all wrong. You can access the data here.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, spoke on the ethical issues, asking if we want to be a country which forces parents to engage in a medical intervention without informed consent and he asked “will mandating vaccines cause more harm than good?” He said that the measles death rate is really 1 in 100,000, not 1 in 1000. He says that the Washington State Department of Health data indicates there were zero deaths per year from measles in the 12 years before school vaccine mandates. He stated that vitamin A cures measles and only immune compromised are at risk for death, which is not true. You can read about the limited benefits of Vitamin A for measles here.  He says we do not know the risk profile of MMR, which he claims is deliberate. He claims NCVIA of 1986 gave pharmaceutical companies no reason to make vaccines safe. He implied vaccines cause ADD, ADHD, autism, and that now 54% of children are sick. Of course, I have addressed this issue in my blog post that children are actually healthy! He claims there is no safety testing, which is patently false.

Kennedy’s take is very strange to me. He is an attorney and perhaps he looks at issues from the point of view of how they can be litigated. I am not sure how else to interpret his extremely invalid point of view. Vaccines do not violate any international treaties designed to protect people from being used in experiments against their will. If they did, why would every government on earth be pro-vaccine? When you go to the doctor, you have the opportunity to ask questions, which gives you informed consent. The doctor does not have to sit down with you for an hour and go over every possible risk that could happen and detail every ingredient and describe clinical trial data to you. No doctor has time for that! Vaccinating is extremely ethical and to imply otherwise is to illustrate why most people don’t like attorneys – they look at the world as if there is lawsuit possibility everywhere.

Also, Kennedy’s take on the data is confusing. Where does he get the idea that measles kills 1 in 100,000 instead of the 1 in 1000 the CDC mentions?  His idea comes from an antivax group called Physicians for  Informed Choice. They put out a very badly done propaganda sheet on measles, which was debunked here by my pediatrician friend, Dr. Vincent Ianelli.

Kennedy’s take on the Washington State Department of health data comes from a misinterpretation of the facts by antivax group, Informed Choice Washington. As you see by reading the data yourself, here,  which shows us that there were zero deaths a year from measles between 1973 to 1983. But, if you average the deaths per year from 1952 to 1983, you do get 1-2 deaths per 1000 rate.

Therefore, Kennedy’s statements are completely false. 

Lastly, Mary Holland, professor of law from New York State, spoke about community immunity. She has a son with autism and believes vaccines are the reason. Of course, we know vaccines do not cause autism and there is no autism epidemic. She thinks we cannot achieve community immunity with vaccines so we have to focus on control and quarantine.  She also mentioned that those who do not vaccinate are not going to vaccinate if the personal belief exemption is taken away. But, she is wrong. We have seen vaccine rates rise in California since SB277 was passed.

This brings me to a concluding thought. Why did Informed Choice Washington bring in “experts” from out of state to talk about community immunity in Washington state?  The answer is money. Informed Choice Wa is registered as a charity in Washington state as “American Citizens for Health Choice DBA Informed Choice Washington.” This means the antivax group, Health Choice, is doing business as (DBA) Informed Choice Washington. A check at the IRS website gives us access to their 2016 990-EZ form which indicates they were given $83,000 in donations that year. One can presume their donation base has increased in recent years.  Their leadership base is made up primarily of parents who believe their autistic children are vaccine injured and that vaccines cause autism. Many of them were part of the Autism Omnibus group or they lost their case in vaccine court due to lack of evidence. I find this tragic.  Autism is not a vaccine injury and the belief that autism is vaccine damage is ableist and leads to parents subjecting their children to unproven and dangerous “cures” to remove the autism or train their children out of the behavior. That they are using their influence and money to lobby against public health legislation is doubly tragic, in my opinion. They not only do not accept neurodiversity but they are putting public health at risk with their beliefs.


I  mince no words: the belief that vaccines cause autism is the driving force behind the anti-vaccine movement. 


Always verify your claims!



PS Join us here to fight for neurodiversity, sound science, and protecting the public from preventable diseases:




American children are healthy



For years now, I have seen antivaxers make the comment that 54% of American children are sick, therefore children are sicker than ever.  For example, in his most recent letter to Health and Human Services, (HHS), Del Bigtree states:

The stated purpose of vaccination is to improve the overall quality of health of Americans and reduce mortality. Yet, the increase in HHS’s childhood vaccine schedule over the last 30 years from 8 vaccine injections to 50 vaccine injections (plus 2 injections during pregnancy) has occurred in lockstep with the increase in the rate of autoimmune, developmental and neurological disorders in children from 12.8% to 54%. HHS has no explanation for why U.S. children today are plagued with a chronic disease and disability epidemic. 

People like Del believe all children’s health problems stem from vaccines and are vaccine injuries. Rising rates of autism, learning disabilities, special services, allergies, and you name it are all the fault of vaccines, to Del. This is irrational and there is no reason for HHS to take his complaints seriously.

I have long wondered where this comment originated and finally found it. This 54% claim comes from a study of referrals to insurance companies for services. This study was originally published on the Age of Autism blog in 2011 and has since become a huge part of the antivax rhetoric machine. You can read the full study here.

The aim of this study was to evaluate national and state prevalence of health problems and special health care needs in US children; to estimate health care quality related to adequacy and consistency of insurance coverage, access to specialist, mental health and preventive medical and dental caredevelopmental screening, and whether children meet criteria for having a medical home, including care coordination and family centeredness; and to assess differences in health and health care quality for children by insurance type, special health care needs status, race/ethnicity, and/or state of residence.

The gist is here in this figure.



Most of the children in the study who required special services are obese. 43.2% as of May 2011 when this study was published.  That has nothing whatsoever to do with vaccines. Risk of developmental delay is likely linked to the number of premature babies surviving birth and the number of drug-addicted babies surviving birth, not vaccines. This study was conducted with children born before vaccines were recommended in pregnancy so there is no link there. Allergies and asthma have been shown not to be caused by vaccines.  Peanut allergies are more likely resulting from the late introduction of solid foods.  Pollution and lack of exposure to the microbiome are also thought to be causes of allergies and asthma.

When I was a child in the 1970s, there were definitely children who should have been treated for what we now call learning disabilities, ADD, ADHD, autism, anxiety, depression, Asperger’s, PDD, and Tourette but they were ignored. There was no special education so there was no need to diagnose their behavior.  The first special education law was enacted in 1975 in USA and took decades and numerous lawsuits to get to where we are today. These things are not new. We are just only now defining, diagnosing, and treating them.  High school graduation rate in USA has gone up from 41% in 1960 to 89% in 2017 which proves to me that the more we diagnose and treat and define and TEACH children, the better they fare.

I have also blogged about how there is no autism epidemic, how the rate in autism has risen because of shifting diagnosis.  We used to diagnose 3% of American children mentally retarded but we no longer use that term. Those with low cognitive functioning are now diagnosed as intellectually disabled (ID) or some are on the autism spectrum (ASD).  Of course, most people on the autism spectrum are not low cognitive functioning, so when we look at special education statistics today and see that 1% of those receiving services are ID and 1.5% are ASD, we know that there are far FEWER children today with what we once called mental retardation. One major reason is that vaccines prevent the diseases which used to be one cause of mental retardation.  We used to have institutions with children who were injured by these diseases.

Infant mortality and SIDS rates are at all-time lows in USA. I blogged about that here and linked to the data. Child hospitalization rates are down.  Child cancer rate has not changed much since 1970 but the cancer survival rate is higher than ever.

Why don’t antivaxers pay attention to these statistics?  From the perspective of this mom, autism mom, special education teacher, and informed human, LIFE IS BETTER NOW THAN EVER.

But, again, antivaxers don’t pay attention to details and they never verify claims.  They just want to blame everything on vaccines because that sounds easy. They passionately want to believe that humans would be perfectly healthy if we all had clean water, flush toilets, some CBD oil, Plexus Pink drink, a small fortune in supplements, weekly chiropractic adjustments, and some magic crystals. (I am not kidding, that is the impression I get from them)

As of this writing, I am nearing my 53rd birthday. I got my first real job at 17 and that was as a teaching assistant in a Montessori school. I got my teaching certificate and Master’s in Education at 27 and have been a teacher ever since. I recently got my special education degree and now teach high school special education. I have never seen vast numbers of unhealthy children around me at any time in my career. I have known one student, in all these years, who had a severe peanut allergy. Otherwise, I have never had any child in any of my classes with any severe allergies. I am not denying they exist. I am merely saying they are not common.  I have students with asthma inhalers. It is routine, these days, to have at least one per class. I don’t see students missing school a lot because of chronic illness. I don’t see them coming down with chicken pox or gastro viruses en masse. I don’t see them coming down with respiratory infections en masse. I see attendance is high and children, at most, may have a minor cold during winter.  We have occasional outbreaks of flu or norovirus, in schools, but otherwise, kids are healthy and in attendance. From my perspective as a mom and teacher, children are healthier than ever. We no longer see them getting every vaccine-preventable disease and missing weeks or months of school. This is a very good thing.


What troubles me the most about the claim that 54% of American children are sick is that this belief is ableist. By calling children with autism, learning disabilities, vision or hearing issues, developmental delays, speech issues, or behavior problems sick, antivaxers are denying the wide range of the human experience. They are assuming children would be like dolls, perfect in every way, without vaccines. This is deeply troubling to those of us who respect neurodiversity and value variety to the human experience. Instead of respecting the differences around us, antivaxers seem to despise their own children and those who do not meet their ideals of perfection.  To many of us, this is deeply troubling and the worst aspect of the antivax movement.

Update to add that Science-Based Medicine has also addressed this 54% claim and nicely linked to this post. Thanks Dr. G!

Always verify claims,