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-all. Pauling 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!!