What does God know about vaccines?

I don’t like to discuss religion. I don’t like to discuss the existence of nature of a god or the God. Those are all philosophical things that have no place in scientific discourse and, in non-scientific discourse, usually end up getting us all up in arms about this or that. However, we need to acknowledge that an enormous proportion of us humans believe in God or gods, or, at the very least, believe that we are not in charge of our destinies, at least not 100% percent.

There are times when anti-vaccine and anti-science types try to use religion as a way to promote their ideas. Take for example this post by “Megan“. Megan’s about page reads like something out of a quack’s dream:

“I have a degree in Political Science, a law degree, and am a Naturopath, Certified Natural Health Educator, Registered Power Yoga Instructor, writer, and stay-at-home mama. My better-half holds a biology degree, chemistry minor, is a Family Practice Physician, and is a Captain in the United States Air Force. Together we have four kids under three; and yes, we plan to have more.”

Four kids under three?! I’m not a mathematician, but that’s more than one kid per year. Get a hobby, you two.

Oh, and get a clue. Her “better-half” has those degrees but is a “Family Practice Physician”? Either Megan forgot to mention the “doctor of medicine” or “doctor of osteopathic medicine” degree, or we have some shenanigans going on here. I’m inclined to call shenanigans because she goes on and write:

“We eat a gluten, dairy, meat, sugar, and genetically modified free diet; yet, our food still tastes good!”

Nothing genetically modified? I didn’t know people could live on sunshine alone. Apparently, people do. (Of course they don’t.)

Megan goes on:

“We do not vaccinate. We do not medicate… We advocate natural medicine in most situations.”

Which is it, Megan? Do you medicate or not? To me, Megan reads like a Poe. I ran her profile by several rational people, and we agree that it doesn’t make sense. Her husband is a physician but they don’t medicate? Does he medicate his patients? If so, he’s a hypocrite. He’s in the Air Force but they don’t vaccinate? I know first-hand that the military does not ask you if you want to be vaccinated. You kind of just get vaccinated, even against smallpox. So, yeah, hypocrisy again. Furthermore, Megan is a naturopath, and all those other things, but:

“I became interested in natural medicine six years ago when I was hospitalized and diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Determined to avoid drugs, surgeries, and horrible side-effects I sought alternative therapies and a major lifestyle change; and it worked. I no longer have Crohn’s disease and have been symptom and medication free since. I’ve also recovered from candida, hashimotos thyroiditis, liver disease, gastroparesis, kidney infections, adrenal insufficiency, pituitary hypo function, polycystic ovary syndrome, a horrible skin condition, weight problems, hypoglycemia, dysthymic and postpartum depression, infertility, and more…naturally.”

Holy shit. Pardon my French. People that list these many conditions are what we call “train wrecks” and there usually is a strong psychogenic component to being so sick.

Finally:

“[Her website] is meant to build-up, empower, and encourage you to channel your inner crunch.”

Your inner crunch? I can’t… I JUST CAN’T, OKAY?!

Anyway, I just took ten minutes to myself to relax and be able to write about Megan’s post on how God doesn’t like vaccines. She begins:

“Christians, we need to talk. If you are not a Christian, this post is not for you.”

Because, you know, Jesus only preached to Christians.

“No judgment here, but I need to speak to my Jesus peeps. You see, there’s this little thing called a religious exemption, and it’s being threatened.”

No judgment, then proceeds to judge. More hypocrisy. The whole post is full of it. She goes on to write about religious exemptions and how they’re being done away with a little at a time. Like all of that is a bad thing.

“Then there’s the propaganda by religious leaders geared towards people like us. If your pastor says it’s okay…then it must be okay right? No…because your pastor isn’t Jesus and probably hasn’t read the vaccine inserts or additives list.”

But guess who is about to pretend she’s Jesus (or knows as much as Jesus)? You got it…

“We actually think “we” hold the key to improving upon His design… as if He forgot something when He created the immune system.”

Well, it’s not so much that God forgot. It’s more like He dropped us into a world filled with pathogens, many of them deadly. The immune system can only take so much. If the immune system was perfect, then we wouldn’t get sick at all. Heck, if God really wanted to cover all the bases, he would have just done away with pathogens.

I know. I know. I can feel the atheists rolling their eyes. But that post is not for you, remember? So humor me.

“God is pro-life. This is an un-contested issue. There is zero scriptural support to the contrary.”

There is also zero scriptural support to rejecting vaccines.

“If you’re a Christian, you might be surprised to know that more than 23 vaccines contain cells, cellular debris, protein, and DNA from aborted babies, including: Adenovirus, Polio, Dtap/Polio/HiB Combo, Hep A, Hep A/Hep B Combo, MMR, MMRV Pro Quad, Rabies, Varicella, and the Shingles vaccines.”

I know for a fact that scripture warns against lying, Megan. There are no fetal cells from “aborted babies” in vaccines. The viruses that are used to create the vaccines are grown in cell cultures. Those cell cultures are derived from other cells. Those other cells are derived from even other cells, and so on all the way back to, like, the 1960s. As someone with so much education, Megan, you and your husband should realize the amount of bullshit you’re spreading. As a Christian, you should be pretty much afraid of eternal damnation right now.

“First of all, sacrificing the few for the many is biblically unjustifiable.”

Like Jesus’ sacrifice for the world? Like the flood, in which the world was sacrificed for Noah et al to repopulate the Earth? Like Samson sacrificed himself by taking down the pillars? No, nothing in the Bible about sacrifice.

“In fact, aborted babies are being used everyday to create new cell lines for more vaccines.”

Lies.

“It’s true… most Christians don’t question vaccinations and haven’t thought about God’s take on the issue. I used to be one of them. Regardless of your denomination, we all serve the same God, and God does not support vaccines.”

Well, all we have to do is ask God to get rid of vaccines or vaccine-preventable diseases. After all, it states in the Bible that He will answer our prayers, right, Megan?

Perusing through the rest of Megan’s blog, I came to the conclusion that she is, indeed, a big hypocrite. She used a verse from the Bible about how blood is supposed to remain pure and not contaminated, not even with other human blood, but then she writes this on a post appropriately titled “Everyone Needs a Good Quack Doctor“:

“I’m not anti-modern medicine. I think prosthetics and organ transplants and the doctors who help us pick up the pieces from our poor lifestyle choices and sew our legs back on after car accidents are great.”

Ah, so Megan hypocritically tells us that “contaminating” our bodies with organs from another human is okay, but God forbid we get cells into us through vaccines.

Finally, Megan concludes with this enormous lie:

“Modern medicine is an epic fail; and to be honest, the medical community that claims to be ahead of the game is so far behind the curve it’s not even funny. Consider this, we haven’t a single cure for any chronic disease, nor do we know (or acknowledge) the causes either.”

So there’s no cure for diabetes? We don’t know that diabetes is caused by overweight and obesity or pancreatic failure? We don’t know that losing weight or going on a diet cures it? We have ignored that insulin and other drugs control blood glucose to the point that diabetes can be cured?

Nah, we don’t know nothing about none of that.

So I’m calling shenanigans. In my opinion, based on her screeds, Megan is not any of the things she claims to be, not even a Christian. A true Christian, as devout as she claims to be, would be afraid of lying so much. I think she’s a plant to try and bring out the crazy in her readers.

I think she’s a troll. I think she’s Craig Egan.

Just in case there was any doubt

Ren wrote a great post on his blog the other day on what makes an epidemiologist. He didn’t mention The Kid (a.k.a. Jake Crosby) by name, but I’m pretty sure that’s who Ren was talking about. It seems that Jake Crosby, on account of having earned a Master of Public Health degree from the George Washington University, fancies himself an epidemiologist. I agree with Ren that people like Jake Crosby are not and never will be epidemiologists. Jake Crosby is not an epidemiologist because he does not work as one — to the best of my knowledge — and, most importantly, he is not an epidemiologist because he believes that vaccines should be eliminated altogether. Anyone with an ounce of decency and common sense in their bodies would not call for the end of something that has saved countless lives.

Just in case there was any doubt of his stance on vaccines, on his blog, this is what Jake Crosby wrote when one of his readers suggested that we (humanity) vaccinate no more:

end_vaccines_comment

The book in question is a new book by RFK Jr. about vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders. As you can see, Jake Crosby and his reader appear to have developed a macropapular rash when the book is quoted as lauding vaccines for the “achievement in medical science” that they are. “That ingredient” is thimerosal, a compound that contains mercury but is touted as being nothing but mercury by people like Jake Crosby and others. Jake Crosby is apparently angry because one of his (apparently former) idols, Robert Kennedy Jr., is promoting a book about thimerosal causing, among other things, autism but doesn’t go as far as to call for the end of vaccines.

There was a time, way back when, when I would have given Jake Crosby the benefit of the doubt and chalked his anti-vaccine screeds to him just being fed anti-vaccine lies by his friends at Age of Autism. Today, Jake Crosby is an adult who has attended a four-year college and a two-year master’s degree, has been given all the tools of epidemiology to use, has been given all the evidence when it comes to vaccines, and he still calls for the elimination of the vaccine program. How he can classify himself as an epidemiologist after writing those things is beyond me, and beyond reason.

I think Ren went lightly on Jake Crosby’s antics. Me? Not so much. Jake Crosby will never be an epidemiologist because epidemiologists read the evidence and come to the reasonable and proper conclusions. They don’t see monsters under the bed or chase windmills. They don’t call for the elimination of the vaccine program and thus, in essence, call for the return of diseases that would kill thousands upon thousands of children worldwide every day. It’s par for the course for anti-vaccine types, however.

One physician comes back from the dark side, sort of, while another goes over, kinda

Remember that “pediatrician to the stars” that I mentioned to you a while back? The one that has his doubts about vaccines and has even used “The Brady Bunch” as his basis for the severity of mumps? He’s (probably) coming back from the dark side. He posted this summary on his blog of a study on the safety of vaccines. Is he coming back? Is he going to stop it with the questioning of the evidence of the safety of vaccines?

We’ll see. We’ll see.

On the other hand, we have this article from this physician about mandatory influenza vaccination of healthcare workers. Unfortunately, she hits a lot of the anti-vaccine talking points in her disagreement with hospitals’ policies on having their employees vaccinated against the flu:

“But I choose to take the flu vaccine realizing that the vaccine won’t necessarily protect me against all the different strains of the flu virus, and knowing too that I could suffer severe side effects.”

Ah, the “severe” side effects of the flu. You’ve probably heard about them and how “common” they are. (They’re not that common, and they’re not that severe.) The worst side effect from a flu vaccine in terms of mortality is Guillain-Barré Syndrome. It can be very severe and life-threatening, but you can also get it from a viral infection alone. This leads us to believe that it’s not the vaccine, per se, but the immune response to viral infection.

The article continues:

“I’ve always agreed with the general recommendation that people who work in health care should be vaccinated against the flu, but that still needs to be a personal decision, not a government mandate. Each person has individual responsibility to make decisions about safety issues of all kinds — whether or not to smoke, to eat that second piece of cake, to get the tires checked on the car before the road trip. While we acknowledge that bad decisions may put others at risk to a greater or lesser degree, in America we still believe that personal decisions are just that: personal.”

This is the “freedom gambit.” On its face, it makes sense that it’s up to us whether or not to make the decision to be safe. In this case, we’re not making a decision to be safe for ourselves. This is a decision that also affects the safety of others, i.e. the patients. Equate this to washing your hands. It’s your decision, but woe be unto you if you don’t wash your hands in a healthcare setting. You’re placing in jeopardy your safety and that of your patients. I’d say to Dr. Sibert that people who work in healthcare chose to be in a profession where their “freedom” can very well kill people. If she, or others in healthcare, cannot deal with that, they’re more than welcome to exercise their freedom in other professions.

She adds:

“If I should become ill with a strain of influenza that hasn’t been covered by this year’s vaccine, since I’ve been vaccinated I don’t have to wear a mask though I could be quite contagious for at least a day before I develop overt symptoms.”

Well, now we have a quadrivalent vaccine, Dr. Seibert, so you can take that to further reduce this theoretical situation of yours from happening. I mean, the odds of it happening are pretty low already because the way we select the strains to go into the vaccine have been very good for the Type A (and more severe) strains. The type B selection was tricky, I’ll admit it, but the quadrivalent vaccine takes care of it.

Issues of vaccine effectiveness aside, this argument of hers that there maybe, possibly, probably, in some weird situation be a strain that is not covered is hogwash. If there was some big problem with the vaccine not covering a strain, we epidemiologists would make it known to her and her colleagues so that everyone exercises the proper precautions at all times.

And then this:

“No hospital (to my knowledge) is requiring patients’ visitors and families to provide evidence of flu vaccination or wear masks, though they go in and out of patient care areas at will. If we are really to be logical and scientific about flu transmission, either we all should wear masks or none of us should bother.”

Wow! Just, wow! Replace masks with “hand washing” and see where she goes off the deep end on her argument. “None of us should bother?” Excuse me, doc, with all due respect, YOU CHOSE THIS PROFESSION. You also come into contact in a more direct way with a lot more patients that a visitor. And, if you look into isolation precautions, you’ll note that visitors to patient areas where there are severely sick and immune-compromised people are required to wear masks and gowns and gloves. You should have really consulted with your facility’s infection preventionist. You really should have.

Finally:

“Many of us in clinical health care have good reason to resent the obvious HIPAA violation that is taking place when health care workers are required to divulge whether or not they’ve been vaccinated against this year’s most likely influenza strains. Apparently, HIPAA only applies to some patients, not to all.”

What? Yeah, so her whole argument is that her private and protected medical information is being divulged to the public when she is required to either wear a badge that states she’s been vaccinated or wear a mask if she refuses to be vaccinated. You’ve probably seen this anti-vaccine argument before. It stems from the “sacred and impenetrable” relationship between a provider and their patient. However, there are two things at work here. Number one, she is not a patient. Whether or not she is vaccinated is not between her an a healthcare provider. It’s between her and her employer. And, number two, exclusions to HIPAA are allowed in matters of public health (as this so obviously is) and when the information needs to be divulged in order to operate the hospital in a better way. What do you think we, the public, think when we see someone with a cast over their arm? We think that they broke it. No HIPAA violation there. Why is it a HIPAA violation if we see your badge (if you got vaccinated) or your mask (if you’re not)?

If you feel like it, go read the article yourself, but, if you want to keep your sanity, stay away from the comments section. There’s even more anti-vaccine insanity there.

Autism is like Alzheimer’s?

Think about that for a little bit.

Done?

The same people who tell us time and time again that death is better than autism is now telling us that autism is like Alzheimer’s disease. Sure, they slapped on the qualifier “4 many,” but how much is many? Too many, sadly.

Do I need to compare and contrast these two things? I hope not.

Submitted for your approval

Imagine that you are a parent, and that your child has autism. Now imagine that you have swallowed the lie that your child’s autism is some sort of a curse, something so bad an unimaginable that you need to “do your own research” and get to the bottom of it. Then imagine that you have swallowed more lies about vaccines and about conspiracies between Big Pharma and the Government. Finally, to top it all off, imagine that you have been allowed to give a public comment at a committee hearing where people are coming together to figure out how to best help improve the lives of autistic children and adults.

What would you say?

Here is a mother who is convinced that vaccines had everything to do with her child’s autism. In her latest blog post, she writes:

“We testified this week at the IACC, although i know it might not mean much, its a feeling of healing that has helped me thus far. I am at peace. I know all things happen for a reason.

Its hard living this life, and having my son not be able to be a normal 8 year old,but thank The Lord he is alive, breathing, walking, running, and laughing.

I am so thankful for my daughters being able to speak on behalf of their brother, and many many other children that cannot speak for themselves.

These children are vaccine injured.”

And here is video of her testimony to the IACC, where she calls for “the leader” (of the committee?) to be taken away to jail for “obstruction of justice.”

I got the video from the Facebook page of one of the woman’s friends, so all credit goes to her. (I downloaded it because these kinds of things tend to disappear when they’re brought out to the light of day.)

So there you have it. Make of it what you will, but do tell me in the comments section below how many anti-vaccine points she hits in her brief statement.

You read what you want to read

A few weeks ago, I told you about a secret group on Facebook that has been planning to have children infected with, among other things, chickenpox and measles. They’re actively looking for cases of these diseases in order to bring their un-vaccinated children to exchange air and body fluids with infected children in the hopes that their un-vaccinated children catch the disease and get immunity that way. Let me be clear that this is nothing short of child abuse. To knowingly infect a child with an infectious disease defies the laws of logic and moral decency.

In that post, I never once mentioned that these parents were going to be reported to “Protective Services” (CPS?). Instead, I wrote this in the first post:

“I am looking into each and every one of those names there, and I will not hesitate to contact the proper health protection authorities in the places where they live.”

And I wrote a follow-up post that also talked about their insane way of looking at diseases vs. vaccines. I did not mention Child Protective Services, nor reporting to anyone, in that post.

True to form, however, one of the members of that secret group has taken to an online forum to complain that I am trying to intimidate her:

“I’m popping over here because I belong to the N/s/d group on facebook and I also belonged to the Chicken pox immunity network. CPIN was a group where you could locate case of chicken pox to expose your kids for natural immunty. The group has strict vetting guidlines. The group was originally just a closed goup on facebok and later changed to a secret group. A provax blogger screen shot the members list when the group was closed and a few days ago posted on his blog that he would be contacting Protection services for every member listed in the group. THere have ben an onslaught of attacks of vaccine choice groups on facebook. Great mothers questioning vaccine 2 group was recently hacked and all admins were deleted and screen shots were takenin the group and posted to provax sites. The original admins eventually regained control of the group but safety was compromised. A couple MMR immunity groups were also compromised during all of this. I just wanted to inform everyone that it seems like a big war is on the horizon trying to bar us from sharing information. Please be careful ladies.”

Here’s the screenshot:

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She follows up with another post mentioning this blog:

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 11.38.44 AM

Here’s a tip, Coral: If you link to my blog, I will be able to track your link down and see what you write. If you mention my blog, Google picks up that mention and reports it to me. If you don’t want anyone to know your anti-vaccine activism, the solution is simple: Don’t do it.

For example, don’t tell us that you’re guilty of knowingly reporting a Facebook group for no real reason other than your feelings being hurt:

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 11.48.47 AM

I know, I know, it’s hard for you to follow simple solutions to complex problems, judging by your unwillingness to vaccinate (a simple solution) against vaccine-preventable diseases (complex problems).

Never once did I threaten anyone to report them to CPS. I probably should because willingly wanting to infect your children is nothing short of child abuse. Instead, I compiled all the names and sent them to a colleague in California and other states. It’s up to the proper authorities to do their due diligence in trying to stop the spread of disease. So I don’t know what that means for you and your friends, Coral.

The rest of the comments are the usual anti-vaccine hodgepodge of conspiracy theories about secret groups being infiltrated and hacked by everyone from the government to Bill Gates on down. I guess everyone sees the monsters under the bed that they want to see, yet not the monsters in the mirror.

Yes, you should be concerned that measles is back

When we last met, I told you how the anti-vaccine crowd were not the only ones to blame for the current resurgence in vaccine-preventable diseases. One of you mentioned how pediatricians who cater to anti-science views are to be blamed as well. I almost forgot about the likes of Dr. Jay Gordon and Dr. Bob Sears, and others. Thanks for reminding me. The one thing I did not do was absolve the anti-vaccine activists from any blame. Certainly, when you are outspoken about things that have been proven to be wrong to you, when you write about them here and there and post videos on YouTube and other places to continue to try and convince people of lies, then there is plenty of blame to come your way.

Hat tip to “Lilady” for a pointing me to this ridiculous blog post over at Age of Autism, the daily web newspaper of the non-existent autism epidemic. Remember, for them to continue to exist there must be an autism epidemic, and for them to continue to be supported by anti-vaccine luminaries like Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, this “epidemic” must be caused by the MMR vaccine. They certainly walk a fine line by also blaming thimerosal, which was never in the MMR vaccine. Look at it this way: If any of the thousands of studies done to find a causal link between thimerosal and autism were proven to be true, then the MMR-autism causal theory would get blown out of the water. It’s a fine line indeed.

Anyway, the blog post in question is titled with the ridiculous question of “Should we be concerned”? (No question mark on their title, though.) It is written by the first half of this pair of American Loons. The reasonable person’s answer to that question is “Yes! Yes, we should be concerned. I mean, my God, we almost eradicated the goddamned virus, why the hell is it back?” But the authors at AoA and a majority of their readers don’t seem like reasonable people for me. So, of course, articles like that will find a natural home in that blog.

The post starts and continues will all manner of errors, misunderstandings and misinformation about measles:

“Prior to 1960, most children in the United States and Canada caught measles. Complications from the disease were unlikely. Previously healthy children usually recovered without incident.”

Notice how he makes it out to be that measles is a perfectly normal thing that every child got through. It’s not normal. It’s a viral infection. It causes complications and even death. You forgot to mention that, you lunatic! The post is also filled with convoluted reasoning like this:

“Authorities also claim that unvaccinated people are contracting the disease and spreading it to others. However, a study published this year in Clinical Infectious Diseases showed that people who are fully vaccinated against measles can spread the disease to other people who are fully vaccinated against measles. Thus, vaccinated people are vectors for the disease.”

Did you catch it? He is trying to tell us that the unvaccinated are not to blame because there were a handful of cases where vaccinated people caught it and spread it. Like the two things are mutually exclusive. Of course vaccinated will still catch measles. The vaccine is not 100% effective. There will always be those for whom the vaccine doesn’t trigger immunity. But, because people are willingly not getting vaccinated, the number of non-immune is bigger than it has to be.

Then there is this enormous misunderstanding of how relative risk works:

“It is also important to note that in nearly every outbreak of measles, large percentages of the cases occur in people who were fully vaccinated against the disease. For example, in 1988, 69% of all school-aged children in the U.S. who contracted measles were adequately vaccinated. In 1995, 56% of all measles cases in the U.S. occurred in people who were previously vaccinated.”

In every single outbreak of a disease for which the large majority of people are immunized, there will be a majority of people who are immunized and are cases. However, when you break it down to relative risks, those who are vaccinated are less likely to be part of the outbreak. In 1995, there were 301 confirmed cases of measles in the United States. That’s an important number because, at the time, it was the lowest number of cases in the country since we started keeping more accurate records of measles in 1912.

But facts and figures and statistics don’t seem to bother Mr. Miller, the “health pioneer” and “independent researcher.” Also, vaccines don’t save anyone:

“Today, most developing nations require their infants to receive several inoculations, including a measles vaccine at 9 months of age. They have very high vaccine coverage rates (a percentage of the target population that has been vaccinated), yet their infant mortality rates are dreadfully unacceptable. For example, in 2011 Gambia, a poor country in Africa, required its infants to receive multiple vaccines, vaccinated 90% to 96% of its infants (91% received measles vaccines), yet 58 of every 1000 infants still died before their first birthdays. Ghana also required its infants to receive several vaccines, vaccinated 91% to 98% of its infants (91% received measles vaccines) yet also had a dismal infant mortality rate: 52 of every 1000 infants died before their first birthdays.”

Ah, yes, silly us. We thought that children who have to deal with malnourishment, malaria, HIV/AIDS and all sorts of other existential threats could do without measles, but Mr. Miller smashes all causes of death together to tell us, basically, that we should stop vaccinating because children are still dying. The level of flawed reasoning is astounding. “Yet 58 of every 1000 infants still died before their first birthdays,” he writes. You know what they DID NOT die from? Measles. Mr. Miller doesn’t tell us how much higher the death toll would be if these children also had to face vaccine-preventable diseases.

Another frequent reader of this blog, “Todd W.”, decided to step into the murky waters of the comments section, and I applaud him for that. But you can read for yourself that it is hopeless. Immediately, his credentials were questioned, and they wondered if he was being paid to comment. He was told that he reads “like a CDC commercial”. (Have you seen any commercials brought to you by CDC?) But, again, that’s par for the course for the quacks and hacks that know very well how to manipulate words and numbers to please their crowd.

Don’t be fooled. Age of Autism is all about pleasing the kind of people who want to believe in monsters under the bed. They are now even catering to the “chemtrail” crowd:

chemtrail_age_of_autism