Vaccines Revealed 1 – a provaxer’s view

If you have not heard, some chiropractors are starting to band together to put for propaganda on vaccines. I say propaganda because they are doing so in the classic sense of the term.

From Merriam-Webster

Propaganda: ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect



This is exactly what they are doing. In this post, I am going to write about Vaccines Revealed, a 9-part documentary series produced by chiropractor Patrick Gentempo. As far as I can tell, he does not practice chiropractic these days. Instead, he runs a holding company that owns, among other entities, Circle of Docs, a networking group for chiropractors. It is run by Gentempo and Beau Pierce, another chiropractor. My theory, which is mostly an educated guess, is that Circle of Docs and Vaccines Revealed are about pushing chiropractic to the next level; in other words, they are about marketing. By hooking up with “experts” who oppose vaccines, they are marketing to an audience who is already suspicious about medicine. Promoting these videos, which are basically interviews with the standard antivax players (Wakefield, Goldberg, Kennedy, Tenpenny, etc), enables them to promote their own point of view about chiropractic being a viable alternative to medicine. Simply put, they want you to see a chiropractor for your healthcare.

But, I digress. A common occurrence.

Why am I writing about these videos? Because no one will ever be able to accuse me of being closed minded. I watched Vaxxed, did I not?

Therefore, I signed up, via email, to get the free previews. And I watched them. And I rewatched them on youtube. There are 9 episodes and they all were free to view online for 24 hours. But, of course, they are all on youtube for free. Just search!

So, let’s talk about these videos.

Video one: Andrew Wakefield 


Andy starts out with a personal story of mistrusting doctors. He implies all doctors are working only for money and one must trust one’s instincts.  He spends a lot of time talking about autism, which he believes is caused by vaccines, and how debilitating it is to society to have to deal with autism. He talks about special education services and how the burden on the school system is so great that autists are becoming a burden on the social system. He believes the number or autists is growing and it will be a plague. He uses that term, “plague.” He spends some time explaining why he studied MMR. There is nothing new herein. He slanders Brian Deer, as usual.  He still feels he was wronged. Having read his book, Callous Disregard, I feel this is a tiresome argument. Why is he still trying argue that Brian Deer was wrong? There is just too much evidence against you, Andy. Move on.

Andy spends more time talking about Merck and all their evils (according to him).  He believes Merck put people at risk the interest of profit. He does not present any evidence. If you want to read about the Merck Mumps lawsuit, I recommend this blog post. If you want to learn about the CDC Whistleblower, read this fabulous post.   There is no evidence to back his claims that Merck employees should be in prison. He is really very good at hyperbole.

Andy spends some time trying to explain that public perception of vaccines is shifting from trust to anger. He refers to a Michigan study, but of course he misquotes it. Let’s look at the real study.

“One-third of parents who participated in the poll indicated they now perceived more benefits of vaccines, while one-quarter perceived vaccines to be safer now than a year ago. One–third of parents also reported being more supportive of school and daycare entry requirements for vaccination than they were the previous year.

“Over the last year there have been high-profile news stories about outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough. These news reports may be influencing how parents perceive childhood vaccines across the country,” says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the National Poll on Children’s Health and professor of pediatrics and internal medicine in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the U-M Medical School.

“For a quarter to a third of parents to say that their views on the safety and benefits of vaccines have shifted in just a year’s time is quite remarkable. Parents’ perceptions that vaccines are safer and offer more benefits are also consistent their stronger support of daycare and school entry requirements for immunizations.”

Parents were also asked their opinions about the risk of measles and whooping cough compared to a year ago. Two out of every five parents, or 40 percent, believe the risk of measles for children in the U.S. is higher than what it was one year ago. Another 45 percent say the risk is about the same and 15 percent say the risk is lower.”

Well, that certainly does not say to me that more Americans distrust vaccines.

It is fair to say that Andy Wakefield continues to be a lying liar.

Video one: Gary Goldberg. 

Hour two has Toni Bark, homeopath, interviewing Gary Goldman. Goldman is the editor of Medical Veritas, a website and journal. Goldman is often associated with Neil Z Miller, as they have authored several badly done studies on vaccines. Goldman is a computer scientist and seems to think he has expertise in data analysis. I can find no evidence he ever worked for the CDC. It appears he was contracted by third party groups to participate in a study somewhat connected with the CDC. In the video, he is described as a CDC researcher.

Goldman talks a lot about shingles rate increasing because adults no longer have contact with children who have wild chicken pox. He spends a great deal of time discussing his theory, which has been debunked. Of course, he fails to mention this fact. He spends some time talking about the monetary cost of treating chicken pox versus shingles but fails to bring up the shingles vaccine.

The next segment involves Toni Bark talking about how she went to medical school knowing she would not practice mainstream medicine because she wanted to affect change and practice Chinese medicine. This is why she studied homeopathy. She spends some time talking about how vaccine studies don’t use saline placebos. Strangely, she is wrong and does not understand this. She does not mention that most clinical trials use a saline placebo. Use Pubmed, Toni! You will find many saline placebos in vaccine clinical trials. So, is she lying or just ignorant?  She also talks about morbidity and mortality and insists that sanitation and water saved us. She even says the ingredients in vaccines breach the blood brain barrier and cause autism.  She thinks microglial activation is causing autism.


This has all been debunked.




Remember! Always think for yourself!















Matt Carey discusses Vaxxed, the film.

Today, I had the pleasure of listening to a pre-recorded conference call between Karen Ernst, the Director of Voices for Vaccines, and Matt Carey, PhD in physics, autism parent, autism advocate and blogger at Left Brain, Right Brain (LBRB). I have been reading LBRB for years, since back when it was run by Kevin Leitch. It is one of my favorite blogs.


Today’s conversation was recorded live and there was an opportunity to call in and ask questions about the film Vaxxed. For those of us who missed the live version, you can listen to the recorded version at this link. You will want to open it with music player for google or podcast app or something similar.

To remind you, Vaxxed is the film Andrew Wakefield, Polly Tommey, and Del Bigtree made about the “cdcwhistleblower” controversy. I saw it and wrote my own review, which you can read here. You can also read the full facts (or lack thereof) in Vaxxed at Harpocrates Speaks Blog. 

I am not going to transcribe the whole conversation but here are some of my notes. It was definitely worth a listen.

Matt and Karen discussed the facts from the film and the controversy, including going in-depth into what William Thompson actually said and what he did not say. Matt also discussed the idea that the data was thrown away (it was not). Matt has written quite extensively about all of this, on LBRB. For example, herein he writes about how there was not really any whistle to blow.

The first caller was antivaxer Sherry Saunders who came on at about minute 37:00.  She stated that she used to work as a security guard at Huntsville [sic] Hospital and claimed it was part of her job to take care of hysterical parents who had brought a child in having seizures after a vaccine. She asked how she could convince parents the vaccine is not the problem and that the doctors and nurses are not at fault. My first reaction was that she could not be telling the truth because she stated she used to work at the hospital but then asked the question as if she still does work at the hospital.  She switched back and forth in tenses a lot, as if this is not a real story.  She went on to say that she was the security supervisor in the ICU and had to restrain the parents because they were hysterical about their child’s vaccine reaction. She claimed she had to restrain them and call the police and  that she had a stun gun. Because the parents were hysterical. Had. All past tense. Then, she asked what she is supposed to say to the parents since she is being told by doctors to keep them far away from the child in ICU and call the police. Present tense. 
At this point, I am making my “what the….” face and I can hear Matt, in the background, laughing. Here is what my “what the….” face looks like:
Matt answered by telling her the doctors need to be the ones talking to the parents, not her, and Sherry responded by saying the hospital told her to keep the parents far away from the kids and call the police. At this point, Matt and Karen told her they did not believe her story and they hung up on her. 
A few more calls and questions were taken, including a nice discussion about how most parents of children with autism know vaccines don’t cause autism and how The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism is a great Facebook page and has a marvelous website for respectful talk about vaccines, autism, and advocacy. Matt also explained thoroughly how the idea that African American boys have a greater risk of autism is simply not backed up by data.
The last caller was Joshua Coleman, who identified himself as a member of the Vaxxed team.  Joshua is, in fact, the videographer who went on tour with the Vaxxed team in their bus for the last few months.  He was up at minute 66:34. Joshua is the person who recently ambushed Dr Paul Offit at breakfast and video recorded him without permission.  Joshua began to talk about Del Bigtree showing the film to Senator Ben Allen, but Karen redirected him to stay on the topic of the content of the film Vaxxed.  So, he brought up how we only know MMR and thimerosal don’t cause autism, that the rest of the ingredients and other vaccines, he said, have not been tested. Joshua mentioned the (now retracted) Wakefield 1998 paper. He stated that provaxers often use that paper as proof that Andrew Wakefield said vaccines cause autism. Joshua said these two facts, that vaccines don’t cause autism and Wakefield says they do, are both blatent lies.  This, he says, was his first clue that provaxers lie. He asked Matt to explain to him how this is okay and not a major red flag that there is some deceit going on here. 
Matt responded first by making the point that he, Matt, has published over 100 papers and none have ever been retracted.  Matt then brought up how many papers Wakefield has had retracted and then made a very valid point that the Vaxxed fans and team tend to forget to bring up how many papers Wakefield has had retracted.  Matt explained how Wakefield went in to the press conference for the 1998 paper and made statements that were “wildly extrapolated and wildly irresponsible” and antivaxers never explain about this fact. Matt also reminded Joshua that we can easily go through Wakefield’s public records and find many statements where he has stated, in one form or the other, that vaccines cause autism.  The 1998 Lancet article, Matt states, tends to be the only thing antivaxers want to talk about, not the fact that the work he did for that paper was a result of the ethics violations that were found proved and which cost him his medical license.  We are not talking about an upstanding researcher, said Matt.  
After Matt answered Josh’s question, Josh ignored him and began to argue with Matt. Basically, Matt answered the question in full but, somehow, Josh missed it and claimed his question was not addressed. He was arguing so much, that Karen hung up on him. 
This led to a nice conversation between Karen and Matt about how antivaxers tend to distract and divert by arguing “itty bitty” details.
The final comment made by Matt is that he is not provax, he is an autism parent and wants to counter misinformation that is used to damage his community. He feels antivaxers use vaccines as a tool to damage the autism community.
Karen made very good point that we need to make a place at the table for parents of autists who are harmed by this assault, by this myth getting perpetuated that vaccines cause autism. Matt agreed and pointed out that autists are more medically fragile than the general public and his own child has been hospitalized many times because a minor infection which set off his epilepsy. He made the point that a serious infection like measles could kill his son and not vaccinating puts everyone in danger. Matt concluded by saying how he got into this provax fight not because of vaccines but because of wanting to protect his own son and others in the autism community from the harm that antivaxers cause by not vaccinating and also by thinking of autism as damage. 
All in all, this was a very worthwhile listen.  Thanks Karen and Matt.
Remember to always think for yourself!

ETA: For another look at this call and the output connected with it, here is a storification from @jkellyca of twitter responses using the hashtag,  #vfvcall.





USA does not vaccinate more than other countries



Have you seen this blog?


This is a product of Generation Rescue.  The title refers to a quote from vaccine advocate, Amanda Peet, who said there are (were at the time) 14 good studies showing vaccines don’t cause autism.  Now, there are more than 107 studies showing vaccines do not cause autism. And, despite protestations from people opposed to vaccines, there are no studies demonstrating vaccines do cause autism.

But, what was really interesting on this website is the claim that the USA vaccinates more than any other country. We do not.

In this post from 14 Studies, they say

“The United States has the highest number of mandated vaccines for children under 5 in the world (36, double the Western world average of 18), the highest autism rate in the world (1 in 110 children, 10 times or more the rate of some other Western countries), but only places 34th in the world for its children under 5 mortality rate. What’s going on?”

They  provide a list of the number of vaccines given in several major Western countries. For example, they list USA as giving 36 mandatory vaccines, Iceland, Sweden, and Japan all give 11, Norway 13, Finland and Denmark 12 each, and France and Israel 17 each. They also list the autism rate per country, with USA’s being the highest, according to them.  But, are these statistics correct?

None of their information is correct. One cannot even begin to determine how they got this erroneous information because they simply linked to the wiki page for each country, as supposed proof. None of the wiki pages say anything about immunization statistics nor autism data.

Here is the (incorrect) data from 14 studies:


Country # vaccines in schedule under age 5 Autism rate Autism rate by percent Mortality rate per 1000 children under 5 mortality rate worldwide
USA 36 1 in 110 0.0091 7.8 34
Iceland 11 1 in 1100 0.0009 3.9 1
Sweden 11 1 in 862 0.0012 4.0 2
Japan 11 1 in 475 0.0021 4.2 4
Norway 13 1 in 2000 0.0005 4.4 5
Finland 12 1 in 719 0.0014 4.7 6
France 17 1 in 613 0.0016 5.2 11
Israel 11 1 in 1000 0.0010 5.7 17
Denmark 12 1 in 2200 0.0005 5.8 18

Here is the up-to-date data:

Country # diseases vaxed for under age 5 Autism rate (2013-2015) Autism rate by percent Mortality rate per 1000 children under 5 mortality rate worldwide Start date of universal healthcare
USA 14 1 in 68 0.012 7.0 56 never
Iceland 10 120 in 10,000 0.012 2.0 3 1990
Sweden 9 1 in 862 0.001 3.0 8 1955
Japan 14 161 in 10,000 0.016 3.0 2 1938
Norway 11 80 in 10,000 0.008 3.0 5 1912
Finland 11 54 in 10,000 0.005 2.0 6 1972
France 11 37 in 10,000 0.004 2.0 14 1974
Israel 14 48 in 10,000 0.005 4.0 21 1995
Denmark 9 22 in 10,000 0.002 4.0 18 1973
Australia 12 1 in 52 0.019 4.0 37 1984
Canada 14 1 in 68 0.015 5.0 46 1966

As you can see, there is quite a bit of difference from the 14 studies page and the reality.  Since 14 studies only linked to wiki pages, I have no idea where they got the numbers they shared. It would be that, for USA, they counted number of diseases vaccinated for as one vaccine. But, why did they not do that for all countries?  At the end of this post, you will find an extensive set of links to all the data I put in my chart.

Look carefully at my data. The number of vaccines we give, in the USA, is not much different from other developed countries. Japan, Israel, and Canada give the same number. Look at the autism rates. The USA’s is not the highest.

Simply put, 14 studies website is not telling the truth.


Please think for yourself. Always check sources for claims made.






CDC Immunization schedule

European Immunization schedules

Japan Immunization schedule

Israel Immunization schedule

Australia Immunization schedule

Canada Immunization schedule

USA autism rate

Iceland Autism rate

Sweden Autism rate

Japan Autism rate

Norway Autism rate

Finland Autism rate

Israel Autism rate

France Autism rate

Denmark Autism rate

Australian autism rate

Canada Autism rate

Child mortality rate under 5

International Infant mortality rate

Start date of universal healthcare



This is part 3 of a three part blog series about USA infant mortality rates, vaccines, and autism. Be sure to check out part 1 and part 2.






USA Infant Mortality Rate is low. Part 2

There are claims, by those opposed to vaccines, that vaccines are the cause for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). According to the Mayo Clinic, “Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old. SIDS is sometimes known as crib death because the infants often die in their cribs.” Some people think that the only thing that caused infants to die, 50 or more years ago, was poor nutrition and unclean water. This could not be farther from the truth.


As you can see, infant mortality rates in USA. Please visit Part 1 for details.




Even when presented with this evidence, persons opposed to vaccines will claim that the rate would be lower if the USA did not have ‘the highest vaccination rate in the world.’ Or, they will claim the USA ‘is the only country on earth to vaccinate newborns.’  (I am paraphrasing from what I have read online.)  So, does the USA have the highest vaccination rate in the world? Are we the only country on earth to vaccinate newborns? Let’s take a look.

Australia: Hep B at birth, infant schedule a lot like USA’s

Israel: Hep B at birth, infant schedule a lot like USA’s

Amongst other European countries, the following routinely give Hep B at birth to all infants: Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Spain. The following countries routinely give tuberculosis (BCG) as well as Hep B vaccine to newborns:  Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Slovenia. All of the rest of European countries do give these vaccines to newborns but only in recommended groups. All of these countries also give vaccines for pertussis, diphtheria, polio and tetanus to infants in the early months. The following countries also give rotavirus to infants, some as young as six weeks: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland and the United Kingdom.

What about in Asian countries or thereabouts?

Singapore: Hep B and BCG at birth, infant schedule a lot like USA’s

Hong Kong: Hep B and BCG at birth, infant schedule a lot like USA’s

The World  Health Organization has a search engine for immunization schedules. The following additional countries to routine Hep B immunization for newborns: Algeria, Botswana, Bhutan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Nigeria, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Thailand, China, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.

All of these countries also routinely give children most, if not all, of the same vaccines we give in USA.

As you can see, it only takes a bit of leg work to disprove the myth that American babies are dying more than ever and that USA vaccinates more than other countries. American babies are LIVING more than ever and we DO NOT vaccinate more than the rest of the world.


Remember to always think for yourself!




Be sure to read part 3: USA does not vaccinate more than other countries

USA Infant Mortality Rate is low. Part 1

Lately, I keep reading comments from people saying that the hepatitis b vaccine for newborns, along with the rest of the infant vaccines, is causing massive infant deaths in USA. They say that vaccines are the reason the infant mortality rate is abysmally low. They say that vaccines are murdering babies.


This is confounding when you look at the actual evidence. Infants in USA are not dying. They are living more than ever before in history. SUID and SIDS rates are both at all time lows.  Look at these two graphs.




In 1935, the infant mortality rate (IMR) was 55.7 deaths per 100 live births. In 2000, it was 6.9. In 2015, it was 5.87 deaths per 1000 live births. From 55.7 to 5.87 in less than 100 years is an astounding decrease.

According to the CIA World Factbook, the USA currently ranks 167th best, out of 224 countries, for Infant Mortality. The worst is Afghanistan at 115/1000 and the best is Monaco at 1.82/1000.  But, look at the countries close to our statistics:


We are much closer to the best countries than we are to the worst. There are many countries in the same 5 range as  USA. Pretty much all the countries with better IMRs have socialized medicine and far less poverty (meaning more welfare and higher taxes) than USA. Plus, there is an additional reason the USA has a higher IMR than some of the best countries: we count premature births differently and we have significant issues with regards to income and other demographics. According to Chen, Oster, and Williams, some European countries count very premature infants who then die not as infant deaths but as miscarriages. We count them as infant deaths, in USA. Also, there are dramatic differences, in USA, between socioeconomic groups. “Digging deeper into these numbers, Oster and her colleagues found that the higher U.S. mortality rates are due “entirely, or almost entirely, to high mortality among less advantaged groups.” To put it bluntly,” says the Washington Post,  “babies born to poor moms in the U.S. are significantly more likely to die in their first year than babies born to wealthier moms.”


April 2017 Update:   A new report shows infant mortality rate decreased 15% in the last ten years. That is astounding!


As you can see in this graph, the race difference is profound:



Now, some people opposed to vaccines like to say that SIDS is a made up diagnosis, one that did not exist before vaccines. That is because we used to call it cot death or crib death and it was poorly understood. It is clear, however, by looking at the above graphs that infant mortality is lower than ever before in USA. We may vaccinate more, we may have only recently started to vaccinate newborns, but it is indisputable that babies are dying less and less in USA. And that is wonderful news.

And, lest you still think vaccines might be associated with SIDS, read this study. Vaccines cut the risk of SIDS in half.  That’s astounding!

Stay tuned for part 2, coming soon: Many countries vaccinate newborns.


Remember to think for yourself!





There is no autism epidemic


One argument made by people opposed to vaccination is that autism is new, caused by vaccines, and is an epidemic. In the film Vaxxed, which I watched and reviewed here, the filmmakers quote Dr Stephanie Seneff, a computer scientist, as saying that by 2032, 80% of boys, 50% of all children, will be on the autism spectrum.  Respectful Insolence blog has done a nice job of debunking Seneff’s claims. Even though we know Dr Seneff is wrong, there are people who worry she could be correct.

I have already shown you how vaccines do not cause autism.  That argument involved looking at autism and immunization science. Some people don’t trust the science. If you discount the science because you do not trust it, there is another way of making this argument and it debunks the idea that autism is new and an epidemic. This way uses logic, which is reasoning conducted or assessed according to strict principles of validity. This is not about feelings. This is like how Mr Spock from Star Trek talks and reasons.



Logic statements have rules or conditions. They are called conditional statements. for example,  “If all philosophers are thinkers and John is a philosopher, then John is a thinker,” is logical because if one is true and the other is true, then the third must be true.

 If the mental retardation and schizophrenia rates in USA used to be 3-5% and the current diagnosis of similar behavior is now called autism or intellectual disability and rates are currently 3-5%, then the autism rate is not increasing. 

Autism is not new. Mental retardation and schizophrenia rates have decreased as autism and intellectual disability rates have increased. This is because we have new terms for behaviors which have been in humanity for all eternity. A current diagnosis of autism includes behaviors we formerly diagnosed as mental retardation. Look at this meme from RtAVM. It makes the point visually.



First, a bit of history. Prior to the early 1900s, we did not have many good tools for diagnosing and treating people who had any differences from the “norm” with regards to their thinking and behavior. Gradually, the fields of psychiatry and psychology, as well as other social and behavioral sciences, have learned more and more about human behavior and the brain.  In his book, Neurotribes, Steve Silberman goes through the “earliest days of autism research” and he  chronicles “the brave and lonely journey of autistic people and their families through the decades.” I highly recommend this book as a starting place for anyone wanting to learn about the history of autism.

Prior to the 1970s, we did not have special education in the USA. Two legal cases from the early 1970s, Pennsylvania Assn. for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (PARC) and Mills v. Board of Education of District of Columbia, paved the way for more laws that have led to what we know today as special education. In 1972, Congress decided to investigate how children with disabilities were living and found many problems, including lack of education. In 1975, they passed The Education for All Handicapped Children Act. Congress has since amended and added to it and renamed it IDEA, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Since 1975, more and more children are now educated in schools and, in order to do so, many changes have been made to medical and educational diagnoses for behavior and disabilities.  When I was a young child, in the early 1970s, we did not find any children with disabilities in the schools. My mother paid for private tutoring for my brother, who had a mild reading issue. There was no reading specialist in schools. Children with severe disabilities were institutionalized and children with mild disabilities struggled and often dropped out of school. Children with behavior issues fared poorly in school. Many school-related issues were blamed on the child or on parenting practices. All that has changed, thanks to IDEA, including the labels we give to children to enable them to get the services they need.

Before IDEA, a diagnosis of autism was rare. More likely, children with severe symptoms were labelled “mentally retarded” or “schizophrenic.” Yes, you read that correctly. Please continue to read as I explain.

In an analysis of the prevalence of mental retardation, Dutch epidemiologists Roeleveld and Zilhuis looked at rates for severe MR as well as mild from 1939 through 1986. They concluded, from looking at data from many countries, including USA, that the rate of mental retardation in children was 3%.

Now, look at the graph below. Yes, I know some of you don’t like Autism Speaks, but I am using this graph to make a point. The rate of autism appears to have risen dramatically since 1975. But, Autism Speaks published this graph and stated “approximately 53% percent of the increase in autism prevalence over time may be explained by changes in diagnosis (26%), greater awareness (16%), and an increase in parental age (11%).”  They acknowledge how the increase has many factors behind it.


Today, in 2016, the Autism Science Foundation says the rate of Autism in USA is 1 in 68, which is 1.47%. Others think the rate of autism is 1:45, which is about 2%.  As of 2014, an estimated 5.4% of children between ages 5 and 17 qualify as disabled in some way. This includes hearing and vision disabilities as well as ambulatory disabilities and all other categories of disabilities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 14% of public school children qualify for special education services under IDEA. This includes children with speech and language impairments, learning disabilities, and many other categories. (Remember, none of these children would have had services at all prior to IDEA). Of those 14%, 8% are labelled autistic and 7% are labelled with an intellectual disability (ID). Thus, 1.12% and 0.98%, respectively, of public school children are autistic or have an ID. This comes to 2% of public school children. Doubtless, there are also children with ID or autism diagnosis not in public schools so, for the sake of the argument, let’s assume the autism plus ID rate is at least 2% in real life, in USA.

We no longer use the term “mentally retarded.”  So, what happened to it?  Are there no longer any children suffering symptoms we used to label “MR?”  Far from it. We changed the diagnosis from mental retardation to autism and intellectual disability. We know a lot more today than we used to about how intellectual quotient (IQ) tests are not the best way to define a person’s abilities.  In 1941, mental retardation was defined as social incompetence associated with deficits in mental ability. In 1959, it was “subaverage general intellectual functioning which originates during the developmental period and is associated win adaptive behavior.” In 1973, the definition changed again, to subaverage general intellectual functioning.

Meanwhile, according to Autism Speaks,  in the 1970s, autism was beginning to be understood as “a biological disorder of brain development.” In the 1980s, the diagnosis manual (DSM-III) first distinguishes autism from childhood schizophrenia and then the DSM-IIIR showed a checklist of criteria for diagnosing autism. By 2000, the DSM-IV and DSM-IV-TR had expanded the definition of autism to include Asperger’s syndrome. In 2015, a Danish study found the “vast majority of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders today would never have qualified under the 1980 classification, and no formal classification separate from schizophrenia existed before then.” Dr Jess P Shatkin writes that most of the early work on childhood “schizophrenia” was really about autism. We also know that in the 1940s, Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger delineated two forms of autism out of the pool of schizophrenia psychoses. Back then, anyone who would today have been labelled Aspergers would have just been called odd. Aspergers did not become an official diagnosis until 1994. Currently, we no longer commonly diagnose children as schizophrenic. Today, this is a very rare diagnosis.

Since the 1970s, thanks in part to IDEA and related research, the diagnosis of mental retardation has been used less and less. Gradually, the shift was made to using the term intellectual disabilities. In 2013, the term “mental retardation” was struck from federal registers by President Obama. It was replaced with the term “intellectual disability.”

So, here is what we know:

  • mental retardation and schizophrenia rates in USA used to be 3-5%
  • current (2016) autism rate is 1.47-2%
  • approximately 1% of public school children are identified as intellectually disabled
  • mental retardation diagnosis was replaced by intellectual disability or autism diagnosis
  • Aspergers was not commonly diagnosed until recently
  • 1+2=3
  • There is a small percentage of children diagnosed as autistic or intellectually disabled who are in private schools. They are not accounted for in the federal special education statistics. Let’s say they would be 1-2%.
  • 3+2=5

If we add all of that together, what I see is that the rate of severe autism has not changed much in the 100 years we have been tracking these kinds of diagnosis. We have just changed the name for it. Three percent (3%) of public school children fall in the autism or intellectual disability diagnoses. This is a similar rate to the mental retardation and schizophrenia rates of yesteryear.


Autism is not new.



Remember to think for yourself.










Haters gonna hate

Why do some people opposed to vaccines have hate in their hearts for those who advocate for vaccines? Are some humans are just really mean people or are these persons opposed to vaccines like wounded animals: they are hurt and acting mean as a self-defense mechanism. What is the explanation for creating memes like this?  How do people justify  writing horrible things about vaccine advocates?


panran copy

I really don’t know who created this meme. It has been shared many times all over the internet. This is just the most recent tweet of it I could find.  It’s a picture of Dr Richard Pan, California state senator and one of the authors of the vaccine bill SB277. They make memes and say thinks like this about him all the time. He is compared to Hitler, all sorts of evil characters, and worse.


“But I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop moving
It’s like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, “It’s gonna be alright.”

‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heart-breakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

I never miss a beat
I’m lightning on my feet
And that’s what they don’t see, mmm-mmm
That’s what they don’t see, mmm-mmm ”

I think this must be Dr Pan’s inner theme song because he and his team really do just keep on moving, even when haters post hateful images and comments about him.


panthreat copy

This one is from Dr Pan’s page yesterday.  If a child made a comment like this in school today, we would have no problem considering this child a bully. What makes grown adults think it is acceptable to make comments like this online? And, don’t they realize comments like this can be saved forever? What if this person goes to apply for a job and her potential employer does a google search?  He or she will find comments like this and think what? What will they think? This is not going to make this person look very good, I think.

I know that when I first started using the internet, more than 20 years ago, I took a seminar called “The internet and the law.” I was interested in using computers in educational settings. The attorney running the seminar made a living representing school districts and others when they got in trouble for doing something stupid online. He tried to fix their mistakes and he also counseled school districts how to protect themselves and students from harm. He advised us to never post anything thinking it would be private. Everything can be hacked. Always use protections, like antivirus and malware software, always back things up, always post statements we would be okay with our mother reading. That one stuck with me. When you post online, don’t post anything that can later be used against you to make you look bad. No threats, no nastiness, no nudity, no porn, nothing illegal, nothing secretive. This is especially important advice for kids who practically live on line. Future employers can and will Google you. They can find the things you think are secret.

So, why don’t grown up antivaxers realize this lesson? Why do they think it is okay to engage in online terrorism against people of opposing positions? Twitter is the worst place simply because they have much more lax rules about harrassment than Facebook and forums.


More nasty memes made about Dr Pan, this time including Dr Dorit Rubinstein Reiss,  Dr Paul Offit, and long-time vaccine advocate, Liz Ditz. These are all kind people in real life. People who have tremendous expertise in their fields, people who never engage in nastiness towards others. Dorit, especially, is very kind and patient with people opposed to vaccines. I am fortunate to know them all and call Dorit my friend.


And, yet, they make pictures about her like this one above. I am not even sure what it means but it doesn’t look positive. The floating head in the helmet is the Skeptical Raptor. 

They can’t even take a joke.  Dorit and a friend once posed, in jest, in front of a Pfizer sign.  It is pretty funny. For someone who is called a “pharma shill” and a “troll” every day, Dorit handles it all with grace. Yet, early this week, prominent antivaxer, Ginger Taylor, felt the need to steal the photograph and post it on her own wall on Facebook.


When it comes to healthcare and science and medicine, what matters is the science. But, to some of the people opposed to vaccines, it is perfectly acceptable to mock and belittle a person’s looks, accent, even the way their children look.


Yes, they stole a picture of Dr Reiss’ child and mocked and belittled it. They took a picture of a lovely, healthy child with rosy cheeks and decided he is vaccine injured and sickly.  What kind of person does this? And who thinks this is going to make anyone respect their opinions?

I am posting all of this to shame them. They should be ashamed. They should grow up and mature and learn that either you have an argument or you do not.  When you devolve as a human and debase your opponents with childish putdowns and mockery and threats you are proving you are among the worst of humanity.

I hope that by sharing these images, someone will realize this is not a group they want to join. This is a cult run by people who never matured past middle school bullying.

And, yes, they do it to me, too.  I got this one today on Dr Pan’s Facebook page.

kathythreat copy


My advice to provaxers when you see these comments? When you see the hateful remarks, don’t join their party. Rise above, be respectful, be the change you want to see. If they threaten you or steal your images, report them.




Remember to always think for yourself!


Do doctors get paid to vaccinate?


Lately, people opposed to vaccines have been very upset about a recent finding that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has a Performance Recognition program for provider incentives, including paying $400 to providers for every fully vaccinated two year old in their practice.  This screen shot comes from page 16 of the document:




As you can see, the target is 63% of patients, so people opposed to vaccines think this means that if a provider can vaccinate at least 63% of two year olds in his or her practice, they will receive $400 per patient. As many pediatricians have between a few hundred to 1000 patients, people opposed to vaccines postulate that providers could be earning as much as $80,000 extra a year for vaccinating.

There are many problems with this claim.  First of all, most people opposed to vaccines  (POTVs) are not recognizing or posting that this program is only for BCBS of Michigan providers and only if they join the incentive program, called the Physician Group Incentive Program.  Secondly, POTVs are not clarifying this only works for patients insured by BCBS, with providers enrolled in the program. Thirdly, they are also not clarifying that the program is comprehensive and involves many different healthcare outcomes, not just vaccines. There are incentives for helping patients achieve healthy weight, healthy diabetes control, hypertension control, and more. Finally, POTVs are not sharing that these programs SAVE the insurance company money.



Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a non-profit company.  Saving $155 million a year is considerable and enables them to make healthcare more affordable for all enrollees.  They have done a seemingly tremendous job creating partnership programs with providers that save money and keep people healthy. Pediatricians earn a good living, but compared to most specialties, they earn considerably less. The average pediatrician earns $175,400 a year while cardiologists earn $525,00 a year and orthopedic surgeons earn almost that much. Clearly, pediatricians could earn far more money with other medical specialties. Furthermore, BCBS of Michigan doesn’t come anywhere near paying out the $80,000 per provider POTVs estimate because this benefit only applies to a few children.

Think about this:  How many fully vaccinated, two year old children are there in a pediatrician practice?  Pediatricians see patients from age newborn to 21. Even if they are getting $400 per fully vaccinated two year old, pediatricians usually have a case load of 1000 patients each so that would be about 45 two year olds per practice. They are not going to all be fully vaccinated. The threshold is 63% and not all providers will meet it. Assuming they do meet it, 63% is 28 two year olds so that could mean $11,000 a year, but only if they  meet the threshold. After taxes, that would be an extra $7000 a year, perhaps? And, remember, the insurance company IS SAVING MONEY by offering this and other incentives. In fact, if you browse the brochure, they pay out more for vaccines than anything else. That tells me that vaccination saves them MORE money than the other health indicators.

So what if insurers pay out providers a benefit when they vaccinate? This is about saving money, in the long run. Insurance companies save money when children are healthy. They lose money when children are chronically ill or hospitalized. This incentive is PROOF that vaccines work and save insurance companies money.

Always think for yourself.








Hepatitis B vaccine is safe & necessary

There is a reason one should not take healthcare or medical advice from daytime talk show producers with no college education: they don’t do science. And this is a real problem when they have some influence among people who do not vaccinate.


Yes, that is this week’s message from Del B.  He crashed the Assembly Select Committee on Infectious Diseases in High Risk Disadvantaged Communities meeting, this week, in Sacramento, California, hosted by Assemblyman Mike A Gipson. State Senator Dr. Richard Pan was a speaker, as were numerous other experts on Hepatitis infections. Towards one hour, 40 minutes, the public were allowed to make 2 minute comments and that is when Del Bigtree speaks first. He questions the statistic that 10,000 kids under age 10 were infected, not by their mother,  with Hepatitis B before the vaccine was introduced. Del goes so far to imply Dr Pan made this up this data about Hepatitis B risk and that as long as women are tested for the disease, and are not carriers themselves, then newborns do not need this vaccine at all. Further, he makes some pretty outrageous claims that might lead someone to not choose this vaccine for their child:

  1. He infers the vaccine is the cause of USA having “highest infant infant death rate than all other western nations combined” and asks why we are not investigating that risk;
  2. Education alone could reduce Hepatitis B risk;
  3. The vaccine was only tested for 4 days during pre-licensing phase;
  4. The vaccine has 5X the recommended amount of aluminum;
  5. The vaccine wears off after 6 years;
  6. Saving 10,000 children a year (pre-vaccine numbers) from Hep B is not worth risking millions of other children’s lives by giving them this “dangerous” vaccine.

I am not sure why Del thinks this statistic is Dr Pan’s making ( he seems to think the science behind the California vaccine mandate law, SB277, all originates from Dr Pan) but I have taken some time to help Del understand the Hepatitis B risk and the vaccine safety.

What is Hep B?

Hepatitis B is a bloodborne pathogen transmitted through contact with blood or other bodily fluids. It can also be sexually transmitted but to say it is only transmitted via drugs or sex is incorrect.  It is a potentially life-threatening liver infection and a major global health problem.  An estimated 850,000–2.2 million persons in the United States have chronic hepatitis B virus infection. The rate of new HBV infections has declined by approximately 82% since 1991, when a national strategy to eliminate HBV infection was implemented in the United States. The decline has been greatest among children born since 1991, when routine vaccination of children was first recommended.



Del’s concern 1: first day death

Del is concerned the vaccine is the cause of USA having “highest infant infant death rate than all other western nations combined” and asks why we are not investigating that risk.  Currently, the USA ranks 168 out of 224 countries in the infant mortality statistics (224 being the best infant mortality rate).  Monaco has the best IMR, at 1.82 deaths per 1000 live births, Afghanistan is the worst at 115.08 deaths per 1000 live births, and USA is in the top 1/3rd at 5.77 deaths per 1000 live births. Looking at the list, there are many countries in the 3-5 deaths per 1000 live births range, so USA is absolutely not faring the worst of all western countries nor has the highest IMR of all western nations combined. The CIA defines IMR as infants dying before age one.

For first day of life deaths, I looked at a report by published by Save the Children in 2013 that was funded by Johnson and Johnson, Gates Foundation, and Mattel. Having googled, this is the source cited by many news reports and likely what Del is quoting from. According to the report, the USA does have a high first day death rate with 11,300 newborn deaths a year. “This is 50% more first day deaths than all other industrialized countries combined.” Poverty and racial/ethnic makeup are linked to prematurity, low birth rate, and high first-day death rate. Prematurity is the single largest cause of first day death.  By far the most first day deaths occur in India, with several African countries, China, and Afghanistan also in the top ten worst countries. Somalia has the worst first day mortality statistic, at 18 deaths per 1000 live births. Being a larger country, India has more deaths but a lower statistic, at 11 deaths per 1000 live births. Iceland, Sweden, Singapore, Estonia, Cyprus, and Luxembourg have the best statistics, at less than 0.5 deaths per 1000 live births.

And where is the USA?  Three first day deaths per 1000 live births. We share that ranking with 19 other countries.  Yes, we could do better but it is not THAT bad. I would be more than willing to pay higher taxes to offset poverty and racial issues, insuring that all Americans have access to good food, decent living conditions, and universal healthcare. That would improve our IMR and first day death statistics tremendously.

The single greatest reason cited for our first day death statistic is poverty and race, both of which are also risk factors for prematurity. This has absolutely nothing to do with vaccines. 

Del’s concern 2: education

This is inexplicable to me. Does he really think education will prevent toddlers from biting each other and sharing their teething toys? Will education alone lead to people telling their partners about their disease status instead of hiding it and inadvertently spreading it? Education will do nothing for women who test negative for Hep B but really are positive. False tests results is a real issue.

Del’s concern 3: safety testing

Del is concerned that the Hep B vaccine was only tested for 4 days during pre-licensing phase. This comes from the insert, of course, and it is actually stated that children in the clinical trial were monitored for 5 days after the vaccine. Of course, we know the limitations of vaccine inserts.  Del, however, seems to be unaware of the safety and efficacy testing that is done after the insert was written. Let me give you a little research hint. If you want to find studies related to a vaccine, go do the CDC’s page for that vaccine and click on the information for providers and healthcare professionals. This is where they list the safety and efficacy studies.  The parent information section is written much more simply.  In the provider section, you can find a lot of research information, including the link to the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization (ACIP)’s document on Hepatitis B virus and vaccination. This document has a long list of safety and efficacy data, including data analysis from the vaccine safety datalink (VSD) and the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). A great deal of safety study has been done AFTER the clinical trial.

Del’s concern 4: The vaccine has 5X the recommended amount of aluminum

The Hep B vaccine has between 0.225 to 0.5 mg/dose of aluminum. An FDA study found that the maximum amount of aluminum an infant could be exposed to over the first year of life would be 4.225 milligrams (mg), based on the recommended schedule of vaccines.  According to the Vaccine Eduction Center,  “infants receive about 4.4 milligrams of aluminum in the first six months of life from vaccines, they receive more than that in their diet. Breast-fed infants ingest about 7 milligrams, formula-fed infants ingest about 38 milligrams, and infants who are fed soy formula ingest almost 117 milligrams of aluminum during the first six months of life.” Thus, the vaccine does not have 5X the recommended amount of aluminum. It is likely Del is thinking of the recommended amount of aluminum for intravenous solutions. This is comparing apples to oranges. Vaccines are not IVs.

Del’s concern 5: The vaccine wears off after 6 years

Del need not worry. “Studies indicate that immunologic memory remains intact for at least 20 years among healthy vaccinated individuals who initiated hepatitis B vaccination >6 months of age. The vaccine confers long-term protection against clinical illness and chronic hepatitis B virus infection. Cellular immunity appears to persist even though antibody levels might become low or decline below detectable levels.” (source)  The populations at risk for Hep B as adults are being studied to determine actual immunity rate. The first infants vaccinated with this vaccine are now in their early 20s and 30s, a great age to begin studying them for risk of Hepatitis B and duration of immunity with vaccination. To test immunity, scientists have to study those with Hep B infection to see if they were vaccinated. Del does not understand how this is done because he is, after all, a former producer of a day time talk show. One would not expect him to have any actual knowledge in science.

Del’s concern 6: This is a dangerous vaccine

The ACIP study included analysis of reports of adverse events and found no association between the vaccine and reports of chronic illness, alopecia, diabetes, Guillain-Barré syndrome, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or SIDS.  In other words, the Hepatitis B vaccine does not cause any of those health issues. The study also mentions the possibility of a yeast allergy connection. “Hepatitis B vaccination is contraindicated for persons with a history of hypersensitivity to yeast or to any vaccine component (92,189–191). Despite a theoretic risk for allergic reaction to vaccination in persons with allergy to Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s yeast), no evidence exists that documents adverse reactions after vaccination of persons with a history of yeast allergy.”  So, there is no reason to worry about a yeast allergy with the Hep B vaccine.

Del also wondered at the veracity of the number, 10,000, of children who were found to have Hepatitis B yearly, not from their mothers, pre-vaccine. This data comes from a study called Childhood Hepatitis B virus infections in the United States before Hepatitis B immunization.  If you have access to the full document, as I do through my university, you will see that vaccination for at-risk infants began in 1982 and was broadened to include all children in 1994.   Before the vaccine was recommended for all children in 1994,  30% of infected adults had no risk factors. Vaccinating only those infants from at-risk groups was not halting the spread of the infection to children. This was because of incomplete maternal screening and a “substantial proportion of infections occurred in children of Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAG)-negative mothers.” Let that sink in a bit. A substantial number of infections in children came from mothers who had tested negative. You got it. Testing all mothers doesn’t help. The study estimates that 16,000 children under the age of ten were infected with Hep B a year and that does not include the additional 15,000 children a year who acquired Hep B from their mothers, perinatally. Most of these 16,000 children had clinically silent infections that will lead to chronic liver infections later in life, with 25% leading to death.  The study concludes that routine vaccination of infants will save 2700 deaths a year.


It is clear to me, in reading all of the above, that the Hepatitis B vaccine has a strong safety record, does not contribute to US first day death rate nor SIDS rate nor infant mortality rate and does very much lead to healthier lives for American children.  What are the actual risks associated with the vaccine? Minor soreness for a few days or a mild fever are most common. Anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) is possible with anything but they are very rare with this vaccine and would occur within a few hours.

As always, remember to think for yourself!












Yes I have read vaccine inserts

Quite often, in vaccine debates, a comment will be made by someone opposed to vaccines, “you obviously have not read a vaccine insert!”



Actually, I have read pretty much all the vaccine inserts and, no, I am not freaking out. Here is why:


Please feel free to use and share the above meme all you like.

Yep, that is it, in a nutshell. Vaccine inserts are legal documents, they list a whole bunch of things reported during the clinical trials, but they are saying nothing about what vaccines actually cause. They list adverse events reported, not side effects. Basically, they are like rumors not verified by any facts. Yet. When the further research is done and the facts are verified, then we know what vaccines can possibly cause and these are listed as side effects on the vaccine information sheets (VIS).

Stop using them as arguments to not vaccinate.

If you want to learn more, two other bloggers have in-depth posts fully explaining the nitty gritty details.

Harpocrates Speaks

Skeptical Raptor


Remember to think for yourself!!