To remind you, Vaxxed is the film produced by Andy Wakefield that makes claims about MMR causing autism. I watched it and reviewed it here. The Vaxxed bus is an RV decorated thematically to resemble the DVD package. It travels America with a revolving team of antivaxers, interviewing people who claim a vaccine injury or have unvaccinated children they believe are very healthy. The main player is Polly Tommey, who fervently believes the MMR caused her son’s autism and that vaccines murder children and pediatricians are murderers. She believes every story told to her and requires no proof to verify any claims. She films the stories and also allows the names of the “vaccine injured” to be written on the bus in white. You can see some of them below.
Here is why I believe that nearly all Vaxxed stories are not really vaccine injuries: there is not only no evidence to verify most of the claims, there is often evidence to the contrary.
Note: I don’t doubt these are stories of real health issues and I feel tremendous sympathy for all these families. I don’t think they are lying about the health issues but I do think there are too many holes in their claims to take them seriously. I also believe they are doing harm to both public health and their children’s health by denying the reality of the health issues. For example, we know SIDS risk is cut by 50% in vaccinated children. Blaming vaccines for SIDS and not vaccinating infants for that reason puts them at greater risk for SIDS.
Let’s look at some of the more public examples of Vaxxed injury claims. I will not be violating anyone’s privacy and will only share names and pictures that are on public sites.
Ariella Aisha Talha’s story first came to my attention in mid 2015. She is number 1229 on the Vaxxed bus. Reading the story, it seemed pretty obvious to me that the child had Krabbe Disease, a 100% fatal genetic condition. The parents, however, refused to believe and, instead, blamed her vaccines. As her condition deteriorated, they continue to seek attention for her supposed “vaccine injury,” including fundraising quite a bit for natural treatments for her. Meanwhile, public posts about her continued to show her condition deteriorating as expected with Krabbe Disease. Ariella passed away in August of 2016, shortly after her baby sister was born. Rumor has it that the baby was conceived because they wanted to use stem cells from her to cure Ariella. And, unfortunately, it appears the most recent baby also has Krabbe Disease. Since she is unvaccinated, this time they are saying she has suffered damage from toxic mold. They have been raising funds to pay for a doctor who supposedly treats patients for toxic mold-related illnesses.
Hannah Robinson is #20 on the Vaxxed bus. Her story has gotten quite famous, even appearing in the news in her state. Screenshots I have seen from her pages show her to have gone through multiple trips to the emergency room for paralysis, seizures, pain, and other reported issues. Each time, tests are run and doctors find nothing wrong with her. Her family hints that doctors want to refer to a psychologist, but they have refused to take her to one. They took her to multiple different specialists and she had to drop out of school, due to her health problems. I would guess she had a conversion disorder, which is not a made up illness but a disorder where “the physical symptoms are thought to be an attempt to resolve the conflict the person feels inside.” But, since her parents refused to take her to a psychologist, they never considered this diagnosis. Hannah also claimed she was infertile. Meanwhile, she had a baby boy earlier this summer and appears to have recovered from a great many of her health issues. Finally, her claim of vaccine injury was denied for lack of evidence and because the “record neither reveals a “Table Injury” nor contains a medical expert’s opinion or other persuasive evidence indicating that her injuries were caused by a vaccination.”
Colton Berrett is another story of HPV injury. I found his video interview but not his number on the bus. Three weeks after his third HPV vaccine, on February 21, 2104, he started to experience symptoms of neck soreness. He was diagnosed with transverse myelititis. His family has not, to date, filed a vaccine injury claim. At this point, the statute of limitations for filing has passed. Still, Colton and his mom continue to believe the HPV vaccine caused his TM and not that it could be caused by a wild virus, which is much more likely. I am not sure which number he is on the bus.
This weekend, I followed an antivaxer named Lu Drago who was trolling a provax Facebook page back to her profile to see why she is so ardently opposed to vaccines. I found her son, #527 on the bus, a survivor of congenital heart disease, a child with clear epicanthal folds on his eyes (sign of Down Syndrome or some other genetic disorder), and autistic. Rather than blame genetics, apparently his autism is the fault of vaccines. Meantime, several genetic disorders that include epicanthal folds among symptoms are comorbid ( existing simultaneously with) autism. This woman is devoted to the idea that vaccines are the greatest evil on earth. Why doesn’t she spend her time on something more positive, like support for children with genetic disorders?
Look at all these names.
Supposedly, there are now 6000 names on the bus and the Vaxxed bus tour continues. I have not read all 6000 stories but I have a few hundred. Only one was an actual, bonafide vaccine injury, compensated in court. When Polly interviews these families, she never asks for any evidence. In fact, she makes a big deal about how parents should be trusted and doctors should not. Parents know what is best. Polly preaches to her followers that doctors are not to be trusted. How does that help children? How does that help children live longer and healthier? We know that SIDS and infant mortality rates are at time lows in developed countries, including USA. Why doesn’t Polly know this? Why doesn’t she know that there is no autism epidemic, that diagnosis change is responsible for much of the rising rate.
Most importantly, what has happened in these people’s lives that they do not believe what science is telling them, that they believe their opinions over evidence?
If you want me to believe you or your child are vaccine injured, you better pony up some actual evidence. I am fully aware that vaccines can cause injury, but at a rate of 5500 claims compensated and 3 plus billion vaccines given, in the last 30 years in USA, the risk of vaccine injury is literally 0.000016%. This bus and it’s list is not helping keep children healthy.
Remember to always think for yourself,
PS This is another good post about the veracity, or not, of vaccine injury stories. Written by another Kathy.
PPS: I welcome comments from all walks but any comments that call me nasty names, threaten me, refer to the possibility of me burning in hell for all eternity, or harass me in any similar manner will be trashed.