Antivaxers are still trying to tell us there are no vaccine safety studies! Wrong! So, we need another meme.
More info here:
Antivaxers are still trying to tell us there are no vaccine safety studies! Wrong! So, we need another meme.
More info here:
I found this great meme and feel the need to share. If you need to know more, here are two posts for background info. My friend, Eric Chow, took the picture while at Toronto Zoo. I am not sure what kind of fowl this is.
Are there really no vaccine studies done with a saline placebo? This is a common comment from antivaxers. They think vaccines cannot possibly be safe unless they are tested against an inert substance, aka the saline placebo, and there are none in existence. Therefore, vaccines are BAD.
What is a placebo and what is a saline placebo? A placebo is a harmless pill, medicine, or procedure prescribed more for the psychological benefit to the patient than for any physiological effect. Saline is something impregnated with salt. A saline placebo is basically a dose of salty water in lieu of a drug. So, the idea is that one group of study participants should get the vaccine while the other groups has a shot of salty water and neither group knows who got which. This is what is meant by double-blind, saline-placebo.
The World Health Organization has a great document explaining how placebos work and why certain substances are chosen for vaccine trials.
“Randomisation and the use of placebo interventions are designed to control for confounding effects, such that significant differences in disease incidence or adverse effects between the vaccine and control groups can likely be attributed to the vaccine. However, randomised, placebo-controlled trial designs often raise ethical concerns when participants in the control arm are deprived of an existing vaccine. Furthermore, testing a new vaccine against placebo is scientifically and ethically fraught when the hypothesis being tested is whether an experimental vaccine is more efficacious than one already in use in the same or in other settings.”
WHO goes on to detail how it may be unethical to deprive a study participant of a vaccine when an efficacious one exists. Meaning, if they are testing a new vaccine it would be unethical to test it against saline when an older, proven safe version exists. So, they can use the older version as the placebo and, therefore, not deprive the study participant of the protection. It is also considered ethical to use an adjuvant in lieu of a vaccine when the vaccine being studied has that adjuvant in it. So, you can use an aluminum adjuvant as a placebo if the adjuvant has been around enough to have been studied for safety. This is a controversial topic, with some feeling that aluminum adjuvants don’t have a proven safety record to use as a placebo. That is a topic for another blog post. This one is focused solely on saline placebo.
“Between these two poles, the use of placebo controls in vaccine trials may be justified even when an efficacious vaccine exists, provided the risk-benefit profile of the trial is acceptable. “
The rest of the document sets out a “framework sets out the conditions under which placebo use is clearly acceptable and clearly unacceptable in vaccine trials.”
That being said, this does not mean there are no vaccine studies which use a saline placebo. Many clinical trials use a saline placebo. Read inserts to learn more. And, PubMed, the online database of scientific studies organized by the USA’s National Institutes of Health, has many listings for vaccine studies which use a saline placebo.
Here are some vaccine studies which used saline placebo:
I could go on. This was from only the first two pages of my PubMed search.
So, as you can see, there are very important reasons why a scientist might not use a saline placebo in a vaccine study but there are also many vaccine studies which do use a saline placebo. As usual, antivaxers are conveying misinformation. In fact, my online friend, Mike, came up with this and I turned it into a meme. This is exactly what they do, goal shifting!
Remember to always verify claims!
This post is dedicated to Bernadette for always giving me great ideas for blog posts
This racist, who actually is from Australia, keeps harassing California Senator Dr Richard Pan. Why? I have no idea. But, screenshots of this post, from about a year ago, were sent to her then employer, Rodan and Field, a skincare and makeup company, and they fired her. She no longer has this cover photo and goes so far as to deny she was ever employed by them. A friend saved this post because the internet remembers forever.
And here is Rodan and Field’s response
You would think that losing her job for racist posts would have taught her a lesson but she still pops up on Dr. Pan’s Facebook page, from time to time. Usually, I just do my thing, posting evidence to counter her misinformation. Today, however, she contacted me by Facebook private message and so the gloves came off a bit. At first, she posted some misinformation and I sent her links to prove her wrong. Then, this happened.
Here are her messages to me on Facebook where she denies this is her. But, it is the same profile!!
I never lie. Ever. In my world, lying is the biggest sin of them all. I don’t normally get petty in my blogging but this horrible human had the gall to tell me my autistic child cannot possibly be healthy and then she sent me a slew of horrible private messages on Facebook. She is a liar and deserves to be outed. Here is the rest of her post to Dr. Pan, as of today. Dr. Pan’s page admin hides troll posts so it will likely be gone by morning.
Here is the original thread from Dr. Pan’s page, which was subsequently hidden from view by his page admin.
Screen shots live forever.
And, yes, my fully vaccinated autistic daughter is super healthy. Bite me if you disagree.
Why do people act this way? I honestly do not get this level of hatred for other people. I am not a petty person. I don’t like ad hominem attacks. But, this woman keeps showing up on Dr. Pan’s facebook page, spewing the same racist and ableist and antivax nonsense, and I decided to make a lesson her. This type of person is not doing any group any favors. If this is representative of antivaxers, then you all are your own worst enemies. And, yes, I have seen many other racist, hate-filled posts from her. I only have a few screenshots.
Oh well, just shows what kind of people run in antivax circles.
This is the latest viral list coming from antivaxers. It has gone viral on Facebook this week. Let’s dissect these claims, shall we? My comments are in blue. Original comments are in black.
I Pledge to Follow the CDC’s Recommended Adult Vaccine Schedule and believe the following:
Belief is defined as trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something or an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. Science, on the other hand, is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. Do you see the difference? Science is not about belief. IT is about concrete data collected from the systematic study.
1. I believe that vaccines are safe and effective, and I am fully aware that vaccinating can cause: Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Insomnia, Eczema, Allergies, Influenza, Vertigo, Arthritis, Earaches, Anaphylactic Shock, Bronchospasms, Multiple Neurological Issues, Vasculitis, Seizures, Myalgia, Fainting, Encephalitis, Thrombocytopenia, Hair Loss, Meningitis, Measles, Anemia, Agitation, Apathy, Hemorrhaging, Deafness, Tumors, Chickenpox, Tremors, Dermatitis, Alzheimer’s, SIDS, Herpes, Thrush, Pneumonia, Death and Many other Diseases.
I have not seen any evidence vaccines cause most of the things on that list. Certainly, anything can cause anaphylaxis but hair loss? Apathy? Deafness? Thrush? Are they kidding? Here is the list of what vaccines actually cause. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects.htm
2. I believe that vaccines are safe and effective. However, in the case of injury or death, I am aware that I can NOT sue the vaccine manufacturer if the vaccine falls under a category of vaccines recommended by the CDC to children or pregnant women. I believe NOT being able to sue the manufacturer is justifiable and that any claim I may have will go before the Vaccine Injury Court which has already awarded $3.7 Billion to vaccine injured individuals.
Actually, according to the USA’s NCVIA (vaccine injury act), you can sue pharma companies for certain issues. But, why should vaccine makers be responsible for rare reactions? It is not their fault someone has a rare reaction. I didn’t get to sue anyone when Sulfa drugs caused me anaphylaxis or when Cipro caused me major GI upset. Nope. I am just noted as allergic to both these antibiotics in my medical chart. The no-fault vaccine court process has compensated 6000 claims of injury, in USA, since 1986, during which time we have given out more than 5 billion doses of vaccines. That makes risk of vaccine injury literally 0.000011%.
3. I believe vaccines do not cause autism, despite a 2015 CDC-commissioned White Paper in which Subject Matter Expert Stanley Plotkin acknowledged that autism spectrum disorders, developmental disorders, learning disorders, and 41 other serious outcomes are BIOLOGICALLY PLAUSIBLE outcomes from exposure to the CDC schedule. I acknowledge the multiple vaccine-induced autism cases already awarded in court and the thousands of cases in line.
Not sure which paper they are referring to but Plotkin wrote a paper in 2009 wherein he specifically stated vaccines do not cause autism. “
Twenty epidemiologic studies have shown that neither thimerosal nor MMR vaccine causes autism. These studies have been performed in several countries by many different investigators who have employed a multitude of epidemiologic and statistical methods. The large size of the studied populations has afforded a level of statistical power sufficient to detect even rare associations. These studies, in concert with the biological implausibility that vaccines overwhelm a child’s immune system, have effectively dismissed the notion that vaccines cause autism. Further studies on the cause or causes of autism should focus on more-promising leads.”
4. I believe that vaccinated people don’t spread disease even though manufacturers, CDC, and FDA studies all show that most vaccines are not designed to prevent colonization and transmission, and live vaccines can shed, and protection wanes, and there are non-responders, and infections like mumps and whooping cough are being spread in and by fully vaccinated populations. I am aware that over 90% of people involved in “outbreaks” are vaccinated.
Again, I am not sure where they are getting these ideas. According to CDC, 80% of measles patients in USA are unvaccinated or no history of vaccine, since 2000.
As for vaccines shedding, that happens very very rarely and has never happened with MM or R.
5. I believe that vaccines are so safe and effective that injecting aborted fetal DNA fragments into my body is totally acceptable, even though in other areas of science where human DNA is used insertional mutagenesis is recognized as a major problem. I believe this practice trumps other religious beliefs and it is our constitutional right to choose.
The constitution does not give them a right to chose not to vaccinate. As the six lawsuits against California’s vaccine bill, SB277, have all lost their cases, clearly vaccine mandates which disallow religious exemptions are not unconstitutional.
The DNA argument is silly. It comes from a single, self-published study from Theresa Deisher, of Seattle, WA. Deisher is a pro-life activist whose work has not been replicated and was self-published in a very low-brow journal. There is no reason to believe there is human DNA in vaccine nor that this causes any concerns. We eat, breathe, drink and are injected with foreign DNA all day, every day, for our entire lives. Having sex with men means you are injected with foreign DNA. This argument is irrational.
6. I believe vaccines are safe and effective, even though they’re not tested for Cancer, DNA mutation, or infertility.
This comes from reading vaccine inserts, which are records of what was noted during clinical trials. There is a great deal of other research done on vaccines and ingredients. The studies on these topics can be found at the EPA IRIS database.
All vaccines go through preclinical (in vitro) testing for mutagenic, carcinogenic, and fertility impairment potential. If a potential is shown then they have to go through clinical animal testing to figure out the specifics and see if it can be avoided or the risk reduced. The part of the insert that says they have not been through testing is for clinical animal testing and it is actually a good thing that nothing is ever there.
7. I believe that injecting Weed Killer, Formaldehyde, Aluminum, Mercury, Monkey Kidney Cells, Salt, Glucose, Fungus, Acetone, Alcohol, Antibiotics, Disinfectant, Castor oil, E.coli, Guinea Pig Cells, Urine, Pig Protein, Canine Cells, MSG, Germicide, Yeast, Shark Liver oil, Human and Cow Blood, Tar, Methanol, Antacid, Chloroform, Acids, Vitamins and Aborted Fetus DNA into my body is completely safe.
This made me laugh. There is no weedkiller in vaccines. There is NO elemental aluminum nor elemental mercury. The person who made this list has chemophobia. They need to learn about dose toxicity.
8. I believe we should trust the CDC, an independent company that owns several vaccine patents even though they have been caught lying and falsifying documents.
This one is hilarious. The CDC is a non-profit, governmental agency that does research and holds patents on technologies it develops. They lease those patents out which generates more research revenue for them. They do not own patents for whole vaccines, because vaccines are made up of many technologies, and they have never been caught lying or falsifying documents.
9. I believe that vaccines are safe and effective, even though the Department of Health and Human Services has been sued (and lost) because they have not filed any vaccine-safety-improvement reports to Congress in the last 32 years –as they are required by law to do.
This one is a very ignorant statement. A group called ICAN filed a lawsuit with the Health and Human Services Department of USA when they had failed to reply to a FOIA (freedom of information act) request for records relating to vaccine safety reports. HHS agreed to a stipulation, meaning they did not lose the lawsuit, that there are not reports submitted to Congress. That does not mean there are not vaccine safety studies. Details here.
10. I believe the (maybe) two hours of vaccine education doctors receive in medical school is suﬃcient. I believe doctors lie and bully parents into vaccinating because deep down inside they really care. I believe that the $40,000 bonus their clinic receives for vaccinating patients is not a factor for them.
11. I believe and trust our government is honest and transparent. I also believe that the media is never manipulating, and we can trust in those whom we can NOT hold liable, because pharmaceutical companies are the most honest, reliable, and benevolent companies on the planet, working only for the greater good, and never, ever put profits before health.
No vaccine advocate takes the government at their word. We read vast amounts of scientific literature to ascertain whether vaccines are safe and effective or not. This is not about zealotry, as the above statement implies, but concrete evidence. We agree that profits should not be put before health. Insurance companies like vaccines very much because they are much less expensive than outbreaks. Same with universal healthcare. Vaccines work at keeping infectious disease rates low.
12. I believe that the vaccines my children receive “Save Lives,” so, therefore, I agree to do my part and get the 88 or more vaccines recommended for Adults by the CDC (in order to “catch up”).
Not sure where she is getting 88 vaccines. The CDC adult immunization schedule certainly does not recommend that many.
I acknowledge the 2011 U.S Supreme Court’s opinion declaring vaccines “Unavoidably Unsafe.”
Vaccines are an unavoidably unsafe product, but they are not unsafe. And, the Supreme Court never ruled vaccines unavoidably unsafe. These two links explain.
As you can see, this list is silly and irrational and not backed by sound science. Typical of antivaxers.
Remember to always verify your claims,
I could be antivax. Why am I not? Why do some people become antivax and others do not?
I have all the markers. I have been hurt by medical professionals. I have had issues with medical professionals that could have led me to mistrust them all completely. I was a vegetarian for a while. I was very crunchy, in my early parenting years. I shopped only at the organic food coop for years!
I have been harmed by doctors and had my health compromised by their actions.
I had a bad reaction to the MMR.
I had an anaphylactic reaction to an antibiotic once.
My second child was birthed out of the hospital, at a free-standing birth center, with a midwife. I have used naturopaths for healthcare. I once questioned whether aluminum adjuvants were safe. I once thought chicken pox vaccine was not necessary. I once thought flu vaccine lowered our resistance to infection and led to more illness in flu season. I have been, in the past, prescribed too much medication and that led to immune dysfunction. A naturopath helped me heal my gut.
Why am I not antivax?
It is because of this guy.
René Descartes (1596–1650) was a creative mathematician of the first order, an important scientific thinker, and an original metaphysician. I am not being pretentious. I was a math major in college, for a while, and then got a BA in sociology because I love the way math, rational thinking, statistics, and the study of humans intertwine. I minored in French. I am extremely rational, to the point of often not getting jokes or sarcasm. I read numerous of Descartes’ writings as an undergrad and as a graduate student in education. Descartes is considered the “father of rational thinking” for a reason.
And by that, I mean that regardless of what I went through I kept thinking rationally about it and that is why I never became antivax or anti-medicine, despite my negative experiences.
Let’s visit the back story.
First of all, I was a really healthy kid.
Yep, that is me with pooka shell necklace in 3rd grade. Look at that tan. In the 70s, we didn’t realize tanning was dangerous.
I was a healthy California beach kid. I spent most of my time, other than at school, outdoors, mostly barefoot. We roamed the hills, we played with gourds and thistles and we were gone from home as much as possible. Mom fed us mostly whole grains and fresh food. Occasionally, she would buy us Oreos or Ding Dongs but that was rare. We were eating bulgur wheat and brown rice and whole grain bread as soon as we had teeth. Mom never bought us soda or sugary cereal except on rare occasions when camping in summer. And I was a healthy kid. I had chicken pox twice, as a kid, but never broke any bones. I was in the ER for stitches a bunch as a toddler (I was incorrigible) but was never hospitalized nor had anything serious happen to me, ever, as a child. I had a few ear infections or cases of bronchitis, in elementary school, but nothing very serious. And, I had been fully vaccinated more than the standard schedule because I lived in Central America as a young child. So, unlike most California 70s kids, I had smallpox and other travel vaccines on top of regular vaccines.
But, I was a healthy kid!
As a teen, I was also healthy. I ate healthily, was slim, played sports, got a few sinus infections, but was mostly healthy. Rarely missed school.
By age 18, I was accepted to University of California Irvine, I was done with varsity tennis, I had passed the AP English and Biology exams, and I had a job as a Lancome counter girl at the local department store. I was working out almost daily. I was an advanced skier. I was very fit and healthy. I worked out daily, either running or ballet or a the gym for aerobics. I was an almost vegetarian and rarely ate junk food.
In early August 1984, I got infectious mononucleosis (EBV) and I was very sick. I ended up bedridden for 6 weeks, I had hepatitis, I had to quit my job, I had to go to the MD weekly for blood work, I was inches away from being hospitalized, according to my family MD. I was in so much pain from hepatitis I could not stand up straight. I had so little energy that I needed help getting out of bed and getting downstairs.
It took about six weeks but I recovered from EBV and started my freshman year of college and thrived except that I started having allergy issues. By mid-year 1985, I was referred to an allergist and started allergy shots and meds. I developed a few sinus infections and, once, had an anaphylactic reaction to the medication ( sulfa drugs). I lost trust (long story) in the first allergist but I trusted our family doc and he sent me to another allergist.
The new allergist handled every bad cold the same way. I would get an x-ray, he would confirm sinus infection, and he would prescribe antibiotics and steroid nasal spray and prednisone. The two years I spent with him, I went through this routine an average of 7 times each year. So, in two years, I went through 14 sinus x-rays, 14 rounds of antibiotics, 14 rounds of steroid nasal spray, and 14 rounds of prednisone. It is a wonder I was still able to work and be a full-time student and even live in France as an exchange student, but I did all of that and maintained a GPA of 3.8 and I graduated cum laude.
By 1987, I was immune compromised, had systemic yeast infections, had chronic thrush, and was sicker than well. I managed to get through graduate school, while working full time but was still suffering from chronic infections.
In 1991, there was a measles outbreak on my university’s campus and I had to get another MMR. I had a bad reaction to it and ended up with my arm in a sling for a week and on pain meds. My arm swelled up like there was a tennis ball in it, at the injection site. It took a week to go away.
By 1992, I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.
At this point, I could have become anti-modern medicine. They certainly were not doing anything to help me get better! They never had answers for me, just pills for my symptoms.
In 1994, I got married. My husband and I wanted to have children but he worried I was on too many medications. So, I decided to give something new a try – a naturopath. At the time, we lived in Seattle which was then home to the Bastyr University clinic. Growing up in California, I had never heard of a naturopath. Believe it or not, Washington state is much more liberal about licensing alternative healthcare practitioners than California. Being literally desperate, I gave the Bastyr clinic a try. I ended up with Nooshin Darvish, who was amazing and helpful and very respectful of me putting limits on the scope of her practice. To this date, I credit her with helping me be alive today and have two children. She was wonderful.
Okay, okay, you are wondering how the hell I could speak positively about a naturopathy. They are so wooey! They practice pseudoscience! Well, Nooshin did two things with me that solved pretty much everything. She sent me for bloodwork and she had me get a sample of my poop and tested it. I had been to multiple medical doctors, over the years, and no one had ever done either of those things. I even had a camera put down my throat and a barium enema xray and no one ever analyzed my stools for anything. With the bloodwork, Nooshin discovered I was anemic and had very low thyroid. With the stool sample, she discovered that I had yeast overgrowth in my digestive system. Given the fact that I still occasionally got thrush in my throat, this was not a surprise. She put me on iron supplements, probiotics, Synthroid, and had me go on an elimination diet. I discovered that corn and wheat products made my digestive system ache so I avoided them, as well as alcohol and sugar not related to a few servings of fruit a day. I ate this way for about two years. I probably didn’t need to go that long on this diet but I was afraid to stop because, within six months, I was feeling well again! She also introduced me to the neti pot and sinus lavage. By 1996, I was healthy enough to start thinking about having children! We bought our first house and, instead of having kids right away, we spent 5 years fixing up a major fixer, but I was healthy again and that was the point. Also, nothing Nooshin did with me was super wooey (at my request). I purposely avoided homeopathy and acupuncture and anything I felt was not well supported by published studies.
But, again, at this point, I could have gone into the deep end and become anti-medicine and anti-vaccine. It is really only through my insistence on paying attention to evidence that I stayed the course. I always asked her to give me evidence for whatever she wanted to do and we would discuss it. After she graduated and I switched to a private practice ND, Dr Paris Preston in Seattle, I stayed the same course – evidence first. There really are some good naturopaths, you see, ones that base their ideas on scientific evidence. (some can be found at NDs for Vaccines). I no longer live in Seattle and my children and I see a family doctor for our healthcare now, but I do credit naturopathy for where I am today.
So, my question is, why do some people stay rational and others stop? Why do some people become antivax and others do not? What can we do to stop this or help them?
Remember to think for yourself!
Are you aware that there is a new darling in the antivax movement? James Lyons-Weiler. I have been fascinated with him for a few years, when I found him on disqus comments. He is on both disqus and Twitter as lifebiomedguru.
Here is his linkedin
On October 12, 2017, Del Bigtree, a former producer of the television talk show, The Doctors, producer of the film Vaxxed, and founder of something called the Informed Consent Action Network (ICANDecide), sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wherein he outlined what he perceives as their “failure of HHS to conduct the proper science required to demonstrate vaccine safety.” This letter accuses HHS of everything from ignoring vaccine risks to not doing proper safety testing. For those of us who understand vaccine science, this letter almost seems like a parody. Alas, it was not only real but Del threatened HHS with a civil suit if they did not make the changes he suggested in the letter. He also made demands, such as wanting “vaccine safety advocates” to comprise half of HHS’s vaccine committees. The letter was co-signed by 58 antivaccine organizations, including Weston A Price Foundation and World Mercury Project.
After October 12, nothing much happened at ICANDecide. In fact, not much has been heard from ICANDecide in a while. Even their Facebook page has been quiet.
Earlier this week, a notorious antivax crusader (I will refer to him as Pant) who despises Del Bigtree posted a link to a pdf he had created with the response from HHS to Del Bigtree. Pant claimed he was able to get the response through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The response is from Melinda Wharton, MD, MPH, Acting Director of the National Vaccine Program Office, whom I have confirmed is real. The letter includes responses to all of Del’s claims and accusations, every single one of them proving Del knows nothing at all about vaccine safety. All of his claims were disproven and all of his requests were denied.
This letter is a glorious piece of vaccine gold and when you read it you will understand completely why Del let this ball completely drop, pop, fizzle into nothing, and fade away.
For your reading pleasure, I bring you the HHS response to Del Bigtree.
Antivaxers are lately taking the position of very strongly spreading fear and misinformation about the use of vaccines during pregnancy. One source for this information is Informed Choice Washington (ICW), an organization based near Seattle and run by two women who believe vaccines injured their children. Bernadette Pajer believes her grown son’s dairy allergies were caused by vaccines and Drella Stein believe her grown son’s autism was the result of a vaccine injury. They have made it their mission “to educate and advocate for vaccination policies that serve the best interest of the public and the individual patient.” The problem is that they don’t espouse good science, and instead, cherry pick only what fits their antivax agenda. They believe they support medical freedom and, as such, are members of something called the Coalition for Informed Consent, a network of other antivax (“medical freedom”) organizations.
Case and point: Their Vaccination during pregnancy page. This purpose of this page is to mislead women into not vaccinating during pregnancy, despite good evidence supporting its benefits and low risks.
The page starts off with a melodramatic and inaccurate video from Del Bigtree, a man with no science background whatsoever) tell viewers the CDC knows flu vaccine during pregnancy causes abortion. This is in reference to a study the CDC detailed here. This one study found that women who had been vaccinated for flu two years in a row suffered a miscarriage at a higher rate than others. They noted “this study does not quantify the risk of miscarriage and does not prove that flu vaccine was the cause of the miscarriage” They also noted that earlier studies have not found a link between flu vaccination and miscarriage.
Instead of focusing on the facts, ICW plays up the possibility of a risk and creates a conspiracy theory by accusing the CDC of purposely delaying to release this study. They also ignore the FIVE studies that showed no link between miscarriage and flu vaccine.
This is a classic tactic from ICW and Ms. Pajer, to play up the risks and ignore the studies which do not confirm her biases.
She also makes the point that Currently, no vaccine is approved specifically for use during pregnancy to protect the infant. (her bolding, not mine). It has been explained to Ms. Pajer many times that the FDA approved flu vaccines TDAP and then post-licensure studies demonstrated efficacy and safety during pregnancy, but that does not require relicensing. The vaccines are already licensed. They do not need to be specifically licensed for use during pregnancy. Still, she feels the need to do this on her website:
Yes, big bold letters warning you of a fictional issue. This is deceptive. On purpose. Further, they cite a paper by David Ayoub and F. Edward Yazbak, both MDs, as evidence the vaccine is dangerous. This paper has a lot of misinformation in it. First of all, it is about the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) annual report from 2004, which was written before much of the research upon which the current recommendations are based were published. Currently, both ACIP and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and these are based on recommendations from 2016. To cite a review of recommendations from 2004 is deceptive. Again, ICW is deceiving people on purpose.
Another ICW concern is immune activation. This is a relatively new concern from antivaxers and is code for “vaccines cause autism.” They are concerned that giving vaccines to pregnant women could trigger immune activation thus leading to neurodevelopmental issues in all babies whose mothers were vaccinated. They compare the risk of dying from flu to the risk of immune activation in 100% of vaccinated babies.
These statistics are based on the number of babies and women who died compared to the general public.
It should be noted that there is no evidence that giving a vaccine to pregnant women causes immune or neurodevelopmental issues in the newborn.
ICW also has the usual concerns about vaccine ingredients being dangerous and inserts not specifically stating vaccines are licensed for pregnancy or have been tested during pregnancy. As we have told you many times, inserts are only written about clinical trials. Studies on vaccines for use during pregnancy occurred after licensure, after clinical trials, and are, therefore, not represented in inserts. Inserts have serious limits. Always read more than them.
Ms. Pajer further has concerns that some of the CDC-cited studies were not randomized clinical trials. She has been told by yours truly, several times, that it would be unethical to do randomized clinical trials on pregnant women. The studies which have been done, with willing volunteers, are valid and strong. She criticizes and finds flaws in each of the 13 studies she reviews, which is okay, but does not take them as a body of literature. This is typical of what we call a ‘cherry picker,’ a person who reads studies with a bias in mind and only agrees with studies which confirm her pre-existing bias. So, because no one study meets all her exacting criteria, then none will satisfy her. However, the medical community looks at the ever-growing body of literature showing the safety and efficacy of vaccines during pregnancy. Hence, the recommendations from CDC, ACIP, and ACOG. Again, this is a disingenuous attempt by ICW to mislead people away from vaccinating.
The final concern from ICW is the aluminum salt in vaccines that is used as an adjuvant. The aluminum in vaccines is not a heavy metal. It is not even in a metallic form as portrayed by vaccine fearmongerers. It is in the form of a salt, usually aluminum hydroxide. The aluminum in aluminum hydroxide is not readily bioavailable and retention is extremely low from both ingestion and injection
This is a great explanation.
It should be noted that we get actual aluminum in our food, including in antacids pregnant women take for acid reflux, a common pregnancy symptom. And, the aluminum salts are about 2 um or 2000 nm, in diameter, as per the work of Christopher Exley. That is much too large to cross the placenta (or the blood-brain barrier, for that matter). According to my friend with a master’s in chemistry, aluminum salts don’t fit the definition of nanoparticles because they are over 100 nm in any 1 direction.
Here is some reading about the permeability of the placenta.
Most of the literature I’ve seen puts the pore size for the placenta at under 50 nm, and given the size of the adjuvant, I wouldn’t expect it to diffuse across the placenta.
The concerns about aluminum in vaccines are cherry picked and not based on sound science. Here is some excellent reading from learned friends of mine.
Please don’t be scared by antivax websites. Get the facts. Understand cherry picking does not an argument make.
Here are links to more safety studies on vaccines recommended to pregnant women.
Remember to think for yourself!
The Andrew Wakefield documentary, The Pathological Optimist, popped up on Amazon Prime this weekend. So, I chose to watch it.
The film starts out with us watching Andy do yoga while media accounts of his fraud and the study retracted are shown. Interesting dichotomy, of a man easing his tension with yoga while the world discusses his malfeasance.
The rest of the film seems to follow him suing the British Medical Journal and Brian Deer, the journalist who wrote about his malfeasance for the Sunday Tims of London newspaper. Apparently, Andy chose to sue these British citizens and entities in the US state of Texas because he was living in Texas at the time and his reputation in Texas had been besmirched.
Some background information
Left Brain Right Brain blog explains the SLAPP suit here.
The outcome of the SLAPP suit here.
The film appears to be a melodramatic look at Andy’s feelings about the SLAPP suit and his life thus far. He is shown pondering thoughtfully quite a few times. This is juxtaposed with him being treated with adulation by fans at a book signing. News reports about the study, fraud, and Brian Deer are shown repeatedly but Andy’s opinion is this only happened in the USA and was simply about the fact that he now lives in the USA. Thus, this is the reason his SLAPP case was taken on by the law firm DiNovo Price Ellwanger & Hardy.
An interesting fact in the film is that the money for his legal fight against Deer and the BMJ came from what Andy refers to as the “autism community.” From the film, it appears the money came from Autism One conference fundraisers. Autism One is the “autism quackfest,” as ORAC calls them, and it makes sense that they would sponsor the effort to redeem Andy’s reputation.
Ironically, as soon as I type this, Andy starts reading and talking about Orac.
Throughout the film, Andy and his wife, Carmel express their opinion that Andy’s troubles are because Brian Deer lies, that the study from 1998 was not fraudulent at all, and pharmaceutical companies are out to get him. When Judge Amy Meachum, in Texas, throws out his attempt to sue the British journal and related persons for libel, Camille brings up that Meachum’s husband is a lobbyist for pharma. This conspiracy theory was even published on the autism hate blog, Age of Autism. The Poxes blog exposed this ridiculous conspiracy theory for what it is, ridiculous, but still, the filmmakers made sure to include this point in the film.
The point of the film seems to be to portray Andy Wakefield as a fallen hero deserving of redemption. It’s calculated, in how they use conversations between Andy and his mother and Andy and his wife. It’s emotionally manipulative but subtle. In many ways, the film rehashes much of what Andy wrote about in his book. Callous Disregard, although the film is better made and easier to watch than the book is to read. I did read the book, but never blogged about it. Dr Harriet Hall, however, did write about how she read it.
She writes: “In his concluding epilogue, he says
In the battle for the hearts and minds of the public, you have already lost… Why? Because the parents are right; their stories are true; their children’s brains are damaged; there is a major, major problem. In the US, increasingly coercive vaccine mandates and fear-mongering campaigns are a measure of your failure — vaccine uptake is not a reflection of public confidence, but of these coercive measures, and without public confidence, you have nothing.
How ludicrous: he is clearly the one who undermined public confidence, not the scientists and agencies that are doing their best to reduce the incidence of preventable diseases and to protect the public from alarmists like him.
In my opinion, the whole book is an embarrassing, tedious, puerile, and ultimately unsuccessful attempt at damage control. Wakefield has been thoroughly discredited in the scientific arena and he is reduced to seeking a second opinion from the public. Perhaps he thinks that the truth can be determined by a popularity contest. Perhaps he thinks the future will look back at him as a persecuted genius like Galileo or Semmelweis. Jenny McCarthy thinks so; I don’t.”
The film, like the book, is basically a means for Andy to voice his excuses for why he should not have been struck from the register and why the study was not fraudulent. He even gets his son, James, and his wife, Carmel, to make excuses for why it was no big deal to take blood from James and his mates during James’ 10th birthday party. They all act like it is no big deal to pay children 5 pounds to take their blood at a birthday party, without ethical approval. One wonders why any of them think that this is a valid way to collect any kind of sample for a scientific study. It’s really hard to understand. Andy spends quite a bit of time, in the film, arguing that taking these blood samples was ethical.
As I get halfway through the film, I remember that the filmmaker, Miranda Bailey, maintains that the film is not about proving Andy right or making vaccines look bad and, yet, she spends quite a bit of time painting Andy as a loving family man. He is filmed cooking for his children and spending time with the family, the whole family participates in the interviews, and he is often filmed sitting in front of a large array of family photographs.
The point of this film is obviously to make us see Andrew Wakefield as a victim.
But it is not working for me. I am getting upset as I watch it. I am upset that he cannot admit he did anything wrong. I am upset that he continues to con people with these lies and mistruths. And I am upset that Andy continues to allow these lies and mistruths to be perpetuated, giving fuel to the antivaccination fire. Truly, if it were not for him, I believe we would not have such a large antivaccination movement and we would have a far smaller group of people who think vaccines cause autism. We likely would also have far fewer dangerous “cures” and treatments for autism. Autistic persons would not be seen as damaged and people would not be trying to remove the autism from them. Andy even says, at one point in the film, that he is very lucky that his own children are healthy and have no developmental disorders. The implication is that a developmental disorder is a horrible thing. Again, he is perpetuating the notion that autism is horrible.
The part of the movie I found the most annoying is the tale of Andy’s experience trying to confront Brian Deer in Wisconsin in October 2012. Included in this part of the film is the story of Cade, the son of Jennifer VanDerHorst-Larsen. Cade was typically developing, in her words, until he had his 15-month vaccines. Between 15 months and 19 months, Cade became autistic, according to his mother. For some reason, the filmmakers chose to show Cade’s mother fangirling over Andy, inviting him into her large, luxurious home, where Cade is shown stimming and enjoying their pool. Cade seems to have a lovely life, which includes two dogs, a huge home and pool, and his own art room. Cade is a very cute boy, perhaps about 12 in the film. By the very sad music, I gather we are supposed to feel sorry for his family but my take is Cade has a blessed life.
In the film, Brian Deer is invited to a journalism school to talk to journalism students. Andy feels it is appropriate to show up to the college uninvited to give “the other side.” Ms. Larsen truly believes, in her own world, that pharmaceutical companies are paying Deer to ruin Andy’s career because they want to bury a link between autism and MMR. So, Andy is shown yelling at a small crowd of supporters and being called a hero.
Melodramatic music plays in the background.
I gather we viewers are supposed to take these moments seriously and see Andy as the fallen hero but all I see is a charismatic liar. I also have a very hard time with the moms fangirling Andy. As someone who has read a great deal of the scientific literature and someone who has an autistic child and knows vaccines have NOTHING to do with it, I find the adulation of him disturbing. He even goes so far as to blame governments for the increase in measles incidence. He says that because they have removed the single measles vaccine from the market, they gave parents no other choices. He fails to acknowledge that parents are choosing not to vaccinate with MMR because of his opinion that MMR causes autism.
The film returns to the appeal of the SLAPP suit being dismissed. Andy’s lovely Austin home is shown. It is a large estate in Austin, Texas, with a great deal of land and more than one home on it. For all the complaints from Carmel about money, the house the Wakefield’s are shown in is a multi-million dollar plus estate, according to public tax documents. Carmel is showing walking around the estate with her daughter, discussing their lack of funds. It is a confusing scene. How could they have money for such a large estate if they have no money?
One clue comes towards the end of the film when Andy states he is $350,000 in debt and he realizes that another source of money, other than autism community, is needed. He states that another “target” is needed, “another group of people who get it.” And that target is the chiropractors. This fully explains Andy’s recent involvement with chiropractor associations and the chiropractor associations recent interest in “health freedom” advocacy. Andy reels them in by explaining to crowds of chiropractors that investigating the connection between autism and vaccines ends people’s careers, that Andy needs their financial help to fight the powers of evil. Andy is shown at a chiropractor conference in San Diego, where $50,000 is raised and everyone who donates over $500 gets to enjoy dinner with Andy. He gets a standing ovation.
At the end of the film, Andy does admit that he believes that MMR causes autism. To the filmmaker’s credit, they do cite that there are over 100 studies demonstrating no link between vaccines and autism. But it is only one line in an hour and a half of Andy explaining otherwise.
The film ends with Andy taking to the woods with his ax, in hot pink shorts and a tank top, to chop some wood. Apparently, chopping down his woods is how he relieves stress.
As far as documentaries go, this is a fairly well-made film. It was fascinating to get a behind the scenes look, albeit a contrived one, at Andy’s life at home. The point of the film is obviously to make the viewer sympathetic to Andy and I do believe the filmmakers did a good job of this, with their choices of where to film (in front of family photos) and how they portray Andy himself. This makes it very obviously a film focused on the antivaccine message, the message that Andy Wakefield is a hero and the MMR and other vaccines are evil. This is not a message based on sound science. It is emotionally manipulative, just like all the other antivax films. In that respect, I find this film very annoying and the producer, Miranda Bailey, to be highly disingenuous in her statements that she was not setting out to make an antivax film.
It should be noted that Brian Deer wrote about this film and the idea that he was asked to participate in it. It is an interesting read. As you might expect, the filmmakers were not truthful.
Remember to think for yourself!