Update June 30, 2017: Amusingly enough, Suzanne Humphries actually took the time to rebut my blog post. You can read that here. I find it interesting that she really just repeats a lot of the same things I wrote, but from her point of view these are not a big deal. Most people will survive vaccine-preventable diseases fine, after a week or so of suffering. We vaccine to prevent that suffering and also prevent the cases that will cause permanent damage or death. She also claims most people bring mumps to schools instead of catching mumps in school. So what? We know diseases are more highly contagious when people are in close quarters. I also find it interesting that she confirms that she is a licensed doctor but never links to her practice. Because, as I stated, she is not a practicing physician right now. She begins her rebuttal to me claiming I am stalking her. I would like to point out that when I was the administrator/founder of Informed Parents of Vaccinated Children, Suzanne, you came to my page more than once and engaged me in debates. This was during the time you were studying homeopathy and learning a lot from Hilary Butler. I vividly remember you writing about how you were studying homeopathy. Why you have removed this part of your life from public view is beyond me. But, I am certainly not stalking you. I only wrote about you because you came to my town.
This week, the Vaxxed rv (or, as they call it, the bus) is in Washington state, where I live. They are being hosted by Informed Choice of WA, a local antivax group. They were in Tacoma yesterday and are heading to Seattle, Redmond, Bellingham, and then Spokane where they will interview people who don’t vaccinate as well as “vaccine injured” persons or families. Headed up by known antivaxer and autism antagonist (opposite of advocate), Polly Tommey, the Vaxxed tour also includes Suzanne Humphries, a former kidney doctor who is no longer practicing medicine. They are both convinced all stories of vaccine injury are absolutely true. They will interview anyone who claims a vaccine injury and put the names of “victims” on or in the bus, to memorialize them. Supposedly, there are about 5000 names on and in the bus and many of them are babies who died of SIDS or children or adults with autism. Of course, science advocates will know that SIDS is not a vaccine injury and neither is autism. There is also a name on the bus of a baby who died of Krabbe Disease, a 100% genetic, 100% fatal disease. Her parents refused to believe doctors and, instead, blamed vaccines. Their story has been spread far and wide, by antivaxers, without regard to medical facts.
I do not doubt the suffering of these families but I fail to see how irrationally blaming vaccines helps anyone? In fact, all it does is harm. Blaming vaccines for autism harms children who are denied vaccine protection. It also causes grave harm to the autism community. Think about it. When a child is deemed “damaged” and exposed to unproven, dangerous, even illegal treatments to “undo” this “damage,” the very humanity of that child is being denied. This rhetoric damages families.
“This “deficit model” of thinking about autism, “which focuses almost exclusively on impairments and limitations, ultimately leads us to see autistic individuals as broken people who are ill and, as my child’s first psychologist explained, need to be fixed.”
“I look at autism like a bus accident, and you don’t become cured from a bus accident, but you can recover.”
Hopefully, no one looks at their autistic child and thinks about a child in a bus accident, or a child who has lost their soul, been kidnapped by autism, or that they have a damaged child. That kind of thinking is offensive to many, and hopefully more and more people.”
source: Vincent Ianelli, MD
Update: There are many parents of children with autism who do not think of their children as damaged. They do not expose them to unregulated, potentially dangerous treatments like chelation or lupron or bleach. Calling children with autism “damaged” is extremely negative, particularly when all valid science points to autism being mostly caused by genetics. One would be appalled to hear the mother of a child with cerebral palsy or microcephaly call her child “damaged” but, somehow, this crew thinks it is perfectly fine to call children with autism damaged. I find that vile. Thankfully, the majority of the autism community is on my side in that debate. I feel very sorry for the children who are exposed to these dangerous treatments. There is no valid excuse for using them on your child. Autism symptoms can be treated with valid treatments. The editor of The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, Shannon Des Roches Rosa agrees that children do not need these dangerous and unregulated.
So, I am rightfully upset that this group is now in my state, spreading this message, and I am going to follow their activities online and counter them, as best I can with, actual facts.
First up, Suzanne Humphries was on periscope this morning talking to us “vaccine religious” about how it is utter nonsense, in her opinion, that the unvaccinated spread disease. If this link does not work for you, try going to this Facebook link.
This video is so full of lies and mistruths, it’s astounding. Let’s go through them.
- Suzanne claims to have done 9 years of immunization research. She means reading. She has published no studies of any kind. Search pubmed. Nothing. Update: I should have clarified she has published nothing to do with immunizations. Also, since I don’t use my own qualifications as proof of my authority on the topic of immunizations, then my own resume is not applicable to this discussion. I link to the valid science (not cherry picked) to back my claims. That should suffice.
- She claims we vaccinated persons “almost don’t have a prayer” against diseases because of our poor, unnourished status. I challenge her to find any research backing up that claim. Update: Suzanne did not address this in her rebuttal.
- She claims “96.8% of children in WA are fully vaccinated for MMR.” I know see where she got that number. She went to the spreadsheet for K-12 immunization data and saw there isa 3.1% exemption rate for MMR for k-12 students. But, there are other places to find immunization data at the state Department of Health website. There is school data and state immunization registry data. According to the most recent state data, 90.5% of kindergartners enrolled in school for the most recent school year are fully vaccinated for MMR and 81% of 19-35 month olds in WA state have had more than one MMR while 66% of 4-6 year olds have had more than two MMR. Update: According to the state, there are 1,088,959 in public and private schools. According to the census, there are 1,632,512 children under 18 in WA state. So, there are almost 600,000 children NOT in school. That is why I prefer the statistic that only 66% of 4-6 year olds and only 90.5% of kindergartners more telling than the exemption rate of all K-12 students in public schools. Not all children in Washington state are in school. Many are homeschooled. Some are too young for school. Preschools are terrible at collecting immunization data. Therefore, no, you cannot say that 96.8% of WA children are fully vaccinated. NOT TRUE.
- She claims mumps outbreak in WA state has been 100% in vaccinated populations. But, for Spokane county, here is the data: 334 cases, 197 vaccinated, 15 unvaccinated, 122 status unknown. For King County, 311 cases, 64.6% vaccinated. In Arkansas, the rate of fully vaccinated who got mumps is about 35-46%. Definitely not 100%. Update: In the rebuttal, she posted a lot of statistics about how mumps outbreaks still affect the vaccinated and how the vaccine is not 100% effective. Moot point. She claimed mumps outbreaks are in 100% vaccinated and she was wrong. Suzanne spent about 10 minutes going on and on about all the classification statuses. I do not care about that. My point was the outbreaks are not in 100% vaccinated. Period. So, yes, that 100% was still a lie. Or a mistake. On her part.
- She claims mumps vaccine is “impotent” because of claims it may only be 69% effective by virologists who used to work at Merck. (see this article from my friend Dorit for explanation) The claim is that the CDC and Merck say the mumps portion of MMR is about 88% effective but that may not be accurate. It may only be 69% effective. Since 69 is still a great deal larger than the zero you get from not vaccinating, I find this claim highly misleading. It is not an outright lie, but 69% is still highly effective. It just means 31% might still be susceptible. Yes, the vaccine could be better. Doesn’t mean it is “impotent.” Update: She tried to defend this choice of wording, in her rebuttal, but 69% is not impotent. Impotent means helpless or powerless. 69% is not powerless. 69% is far better than nothing, which is what all the literature concludes. I am 100% confident Dr Stanley Plotkin would agree with me.
- She says “Vaccinated people have an inferior ability to fight off wild strains” and the best immunity is when children should get these diseases “at the appropriate age” so they get lifelong immunity. This is a fallacy. To gain natural immunity, you have to suffer disease. Suffer. Yes, suffer because all vaccine-preventable diseases cause suffering, even in mild cases. Why should we allow our children to suffer, particularly when a high percent may suffer horribly and some may die? “Cases of such “mild” childhood diseases as pertussis dropped from more than 147,000 per year to less than 7,000. Annual measles cases dropped from more than 503,000 to less than 100. Diphtheria, polio and congenital rubella nearly disappeared. And if you don’t get the diseases, you can’t die from the diseases, can’t be rendered paralyzed, blind or deaf by the diseases. The difference between vaccine immunity is the difference between prevention and treatment … and prevention is always superior.” Source: Skeptical OB Update: Here, again, Suzanne missed the point. The point is that wild disease causes suffering and natural immunity is not worth going through that suffering.
- From there, Suzanne goes on to mention several conspiracy theories. I call them conspiracy theories because there is no evidence to support them and they are based on paranoia, in my opinion. For example, she says MMR is a failure because a lot of people get measles but stay home and are not counted. This is ridiculous. They probably had Hand Foot Mouth disease or some other mild rash. And, “vaccines create a very loose net of pseudoprotection in the population” and “that is leaving those of us who are older susceptible to measles should it come back in.” I am not at all sure what she means by the “pseudoprotection” statement. I had an MMR 26 years ago, had my titers done two years ago, and still have actual protection. Update: In the Disney California outbreak, 88% of patients were unvaxed or no history of vaccine (likely unvaxed). So, I feel pretty good about MMR’s protective abilities.
- She claims babies never got measles, pre-vaccine, because they got protection from their mother’s milk, which had measles antibodies in it. She doesn’t seem to realize that not all babies, before 1963, were breastfed. My own mother, born in 1941, was not breastfed. And, I have a friend who had measles encephalitis at four months of age, before the vaccine started. Also, I went to the vital statistics data for USA for 1955 and found a measles death rate of 2.2/100,000 for American infants under age 1 year. So, clearly infants were getting measles, pre-vaccine, if 2.2 per 100,000 cases were dying. Update: Suzanne did not actually state, in the first video, that breastmilk protects infants. I assumed that was implied because I am so familiar with her stance on breastmilk protecting infants. You can read about that on her website. Furthermore, she never addressed the fact that babies did die of measles before 1955.
- She claims a properly nourished child will survive diseases just fine. This puts the blame for disease suffering squarely on the shoulders of the mother. A good mother, according to Dr Suzanne, does not work but stays at home to breastfeed her baby and feed her child “nourishing” food, according some mysterious standard. I find this point of view highly offensive. First of all, it is sexist to imply that mothers who do not breastfeed and do not stay home and prepare “nourishing” meals are bad mothers. But, that is exactly what she is implying. Secondly, there is no research whatsoever supporting her claims. I am sure we can all agree that a steady diet of soda pop and Cheetohs would not be healthy but there is no data supporting what she is implying. What exactly is nourishing, to Suzanne, and what is not? It’s a mystery.
As you can see, there is a great deal of misinformation both INSIDE and outside this bus. I honestly question their motives and, also, I would love to know who is funding them.
Remember to always think for yourself.
And Suzanne? Vaccines do not cause autism. Autism has always been here.