Keep it up, anti-vaccine nuts, you’re your own worst enemy

If we were to no longer write anything in our blogs and just post comments from the anti-vaccine community, we probably would get more pro-vaccine bills and pro-science policies passed. Why? Because the most vocal anti-vaccine leaders out there are, quite simply, nuts.

Exhibit A is “MaMa Wendy” on YouTube. It takes her about 57 seconds before she validates Godwin’s law by comparing the vaccination of children to the Holocaust. Also, the “struggle” of the anti-vaccine club, according to this white woman, is a lot like MLK’s and Rosa Parks’ struggle for Civil Rights, or like Gandhi’ struggle for Indian independence:

Talk about lacking a sense of historical perspective.

Exhibit B are the numerous documented online rants by anti-vaccine advocates where they throw out every known conspiracy theory out there when it comes to vaccinations. Many of these rants are compiled by the “Anti-Vax Wall of Shame” and the “Things Anti-Vaxers Say” pages on Facebook.

And Exhibit C is this article from the Sacramento Bee, where we are told that even the president of the California Quacks Chiropractors Association is getting in on the action by telling people to stalk pro-vaccine people advocating for the passage of SB277, a California Senate bill requiring vaccination of all children attending public school in California and doing away with all exemptions to vaccination except for medical ones.

The article reads:

“The emotional debate over Senate Bill 277, which would make vaccinations compulsory for California schoolchildren and passed the Senate last week, has taken a personal turn in recent weeks. Lobbyists championing the bill on behalf of the California Medical Association and the California Academy of Family Physicians have attracted the attention of bill opponents, who have begun sharing information on the lobbyists and disseminating photos of their locations on social media.

California Chiropractic Association President Brian Stenzler has spurred them on, according to a letter signed by California Medical Association CEO Dustin Corcoran, with a video in which Stenzler tells an SB 277 opponent who asks about the two lobbyists to follow them “all day long – follow them to a T.””

For many years now, chiropractors have felt that vaccines are a threat to their income flow. Why wouldn’t they? More vaccinated children mean more healthy children. That translates to less visits to the chiropractor for sham treatments of infectious diseases. (Chiropractors are not trained on how to treat infectious diseases, but they sure will try to sale you on some snake oil if they can.)

There are other bits of evidence out there on the lunacy of the anti-vaccine arguments, but I think you get the gist. So we’ll leave you with this one last video by chiropractor supreme, Billy DeMoss, smooching all over Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, talking about “depopulation agendas”:

Keep it up, you nutjobs. Keep it up.

Grasping at straws to blame vaccines for an infant’s death

I will never, ever be happy that a child dies. You will never hear me say that they are in a “better place” or that there is some grander plan behind said death. And I can only imagine how tough it must be for a parent to lose a child.

What really grinds my gears is when a parent who loses a child goes to great lengths to blame vaccines. It’s one thing to grieve and want to blame something, but it’s another to waste money and resources in order to blame vaccines. This is the story of such a story:

“Rachel French did what most parents do: she took her baby to the doctor to get vaccinated. She was unaware of the associated risks that come along with these drugs and learned the hard way. She lost her adorable son less than three days after he was given eight routine vaccines.”

Of course, anything that happens after vaccination is directly a result of the vaccination, no matter what. At least that’s how anti-vaccine nuts operate in Crosby’s Labyrinth. The story gets really weird further down, but look at this part first:

“Her son’s autopsy report stated he died from asphyxiation from an undetermined cause. There was nothing obstructing his airways, nor did he have any physical signs of trauma at the time of his death.

The medical examiner and detective handling the case did not provide a good enough explanation for Rachel to understand what had happened to her baby. This led Rachel on her own journey to find out the truth. Rachel was told by the doctors that the vaccines had nothing to do with what had happened.

Years later, her lost son came through to her in a dream and eventually helped her uncover the truth. Her own investigation involving a child death investigator and pathologists proved the vaccines were responsible. This is their family’s harrowing story.”

Again, losing a child is horrible, so I’m sure that “Rachel” wanted some evidence that something else, like vaccines, killed her child. It’s not that she was anti-vaccine, per se. After all, the child was vaccinated. But everything just goes flying off the rails after that dream she had:

“It wasn’t until more than a few years after Danny passed, that I had a weird dream of my son. He came to me in my dream and it is the only dream I know of him being in.

He was just sitting in his bouncy seat and a man’s voice said, “It was the ‘site-o-kin’ storm that killed me.”

I decided to Google the term and found the term cytokine storm.”

And this is where I call bullshit. Our dreams are these very impressive constructs of fantasy and reality created by our brains in order to help us file away memories in a proper manner. Dream help us sort things out that are in our heads bothering us. Without dreams, we’d go crazy in a most literal sense. This statement by Rachel tells us all we need to know. She had more than likely looked up “cytokine storm” in relation to her son’s death, or she read about the cytokine storm somewhere and associated it with her son’s death. In either case, the dream tells us that her brain was in the process of filing the information away. However, because the death of her child was so meaningful, her brain instead associated the two things, leading her to hire “experts” who must have taken her for a chump:

“Danny had blood samples taken when he was twelve months old. On the day of Danny’s well-baby visit two months later, just before he passed, the day he was given that last set of shots, they had to take his blood again because of a previous lab mix-up.

I wasn’t comfortable with the way things were going so I had requested that the samples be sent to a facility for storing.

I had kept a locket of Danny’s hair after he had passed away, some slides requested after his autopsy, and decided to send some teeth and bone fragments from his ashes to the pathologist, along with the stored blood samples I had requested be saved. I then made arrangements to have the evidence reviewed.

Everything was reviewed by three separate pathologists. All three confirmed the same findings. The pathologists stated vaccine-induced hypercytokinemia as the cause of my son’s asphyxiation.”

First, routine blood samples are kept for no more than a week after they are collected. So we’re expected to believe that they were kept for years after his death. Next, based on this likely inexistent blood, some slides, and some bone fragments, these “experts” came up with “vaccine-induced hypercytokinemia”?

I’ll give you one guess and one guess only as to who uses that term? Yep, anti-vaccine nuts.

What’s more puzzling? This:

“They were able to determine this in large part to the blood panel taken prior to Danny receiving his vaccines, in contrast with the samples I had stored.”

So the blood that was mixed up at the lab at twelve months, and the blood that was likely not available after, all helped in determining this? I repeat, Rachel states that blood was drawn at twelve months but re-drawn because of a mix-up. The re-draw she states was stored in a facility, which explains the availability of the blood. But how did she find the mixed-up blood drawn at twelve months?

The whole thing has more questions than answers.

According to Google, the child died on July 4, 2008. There was one record that matches his in VAERS (ID 573366-1). I don’t know if it is his or not, but it bares many similarities to the story on the above mentioned anti-vaccine blog. There is no information on the investigation, and there likely won’t be. VAERS doesn’t work like that.

So how did Rachel even start wondering if vaccines caused her child’s death? A friend lost a child, too:

“A friend I had met before learning the truth about what happened to Danny went through something similar with her baby. The coroner called her and said her baby’s death was a SIDS case related to the DTaP vaccine he received at two months of age.

She called the next day, got a new medical examiner who said the other medical examiner was gone, she waited eight months for the autopsy report that was filled out by a different person and it stated accidental suffocation or something along those lines.”

Once that little seed of doubt got planted, it was only a matter of time until Rachel went looking for an answer, like a hammer looking for a nail.

The rest of the blog post is the usual dreck of anti-vaccine nuttery. In their pea brains, there is a cover-up and SIDS deaths are deaths from vaccines, accidental asphyxiations are deaths from vaccines, package inserts are confessions from pharmaceuticals about the evils of vaccines, and so on and so forth. You know the drill.

All in all, I really feel bad for Rachel. Here is a mother who lost her child and apparently wanted answers. When the answers were not enough, and when someone planted the idea that it was the vaccines, it seems that Rachel went looking for definitive proof of vaccines doing something to her child. And it seems that “experts” with some sort of anti-vaccine agenda took her for a ride and sold her the idea of “vaccine-induced cytokine storm.”

We do wonder who these “pathologists” are that confirmed this diagnosis. Are they board-certified, and, if so, does the medical board of the state where they practice know of these shenanigans?

In case you were wondering how evil the anti-vaccine cult can get

I know that you probably won’t be surprised to hear how evil the anti-vaccine zealots can get over the topic of vaccination. But, just in case you think that theirs is a religion of peace, let’s take a look at what is happening in California right now.

State Senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician, has proposed legislation that does away with the personal belief exemption from vaccination requirements for school. That’s all the bill does. If an anti-vaccine parent wants their precious little snowflakes to go to school with the rest of society, then they need to due their civic duty and protect the most vulnerable from vaccine-preventable diseases. Hey, everyone does this for them, so it’s time that they do it for others.

In no place within the bill does it state that children would be forced to be vaccinated. There are no civil or criminal penalties for not vaccinating. Anti-vaccine cult members can continue to not vaccinate their children, but they can’t take advantage of herd immunity provided by the children of responsible parents. They also can’t erode herd immunity at a school level.

Sorry, creeps, but we took a vote, and we want you to be responsible if you’re going to be part of our society.

Of course, the anti-vaccine priests came out in full force and decided to brand Dr. Pan a traitor, a Nazi, and other choice adjectives, just like they do so much with Dr. Paul Offit. As a result of their anger, the California Capitol has had to be under a state of alert because…

“Emotions have flared as deliberations begin on SB 277 and anti-vaccine advocates lobby aggressively against the bill. At a raucous committee hearing last week, where several audience members were ejected, Democratic senators Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles and Bill Monning of Carmel chided opponents for calls to their offices that they said crossed the line.

The office of Sen. Ben Allen, a Santa Monica Democrat who is a co-author of Pan’s bill, declined to comment on whether he was also receiving threats or additional security.

Pan blamed the “vitriol” of prominent anti-vaccine advocates, such as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who apologized this week for calling the rise in autism, which he believes is linked to vaccines, a “holocaust.””

See, when a high priest like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., stands up in front of his congregation and proclaims that vaccines are bringing about a “holocaust,” many if not all of the congregation members are going to collectively lose their goddamned minds. There’s no science in what RFK Jr. says. There’s no good evidence of what he stands for (or against, really). But why listen to evidence when the lies make you feel more comfortable?

RFK Jr. is not the only one stoking the flames. There are plenty in the anti-vaccine cult who are thirsty for blood. So stay safe out there, as you continue to fight the good fight.

Which is it, Mr. Handley?

For the uninitiated, JB Handley may not be a familiar name. It certainly wasn’t for me up until about seven years ago. Mr. Handley is one of many people behind “Age of Autism” and “Generation Rescue.” Both anti-vaccine groups who seek to link vaccines to an innumerable number of conditions. They also seek to link vaccines to autism.

Mr. Handley’s story of how he became such an ardent anti-vaccine activist varies depending on who you ask. Heck, it varies depending on what he feels like writing about it. For example, in the Generation Rescue page I linked above, the story is this:

“When Lisa and JB Handley’s son was diagnosed with autism in 2004, they simply did not believe it would be [child]’s lifelong destiny.  They committed themselves to healing their son.

Lisa and JB pursued all of the theories and avenues they could find, educating themselves as fully as possible as they reached the most likely conclusion:  the combination of antibiotics and vaccines administered to [child] in his first 18 months of life had overwhelmed his system and triggered his body into a state of being that we currently call autism.”

Note the key component of the story: It was “the combination of antibiotics and vaccines” given to their child “in his first 18 months of life.”

In February, 2015, JB Handley penned an article titled “An Angry Father’s Guide To The Measles Vaccine” where he wrote:

“Be informed. Please. I wish I had, 10 years ago, and my life and my family’s life would be much different today.”

Okay, so 2004 and 2005 are close. Maybe it was 10 years ago (2005) and not eleven (2004). I’m splitting hairs. But then there’s this:

“Man, did I get played by the CDC. It was the winter of 2003. You couldn’t turn on the T.V. without reading about another child dying from the flu: it’s a particularly bad strain, children are at high risk, flu shot supply is strained, get your child vaccinated while you still can!

And, we were listening closely. For my oldest son, turning 4 and healthy, we weren’t too worried. But for my younger son, our baby [child], at 15 months old, we were very concerned. He was sick all the time. This could be a real problem for him. They are talking about death here, and [child] seems to qualify as high risk.”

So now it’s 2003, and the child is 15 months old. Okay, it jives with the narrative. Then this:

“The first shot was in December. Our Christmas videos that year show a very normal [child] — excited about Santa’s arrival and closely tied to his older brother. The booster was in January.

By March, [child] was gone.”

Gone where? Ah, yes, gone nowhere. JB Handley seems to be the kind of person who sees children with special needs as “gone” or “missing” or “dead.” None of which is true. Those children are still alive and there, and many reach milestones which allow them to look back on their parent’s statements about them, something that saddens me as a child should never be referred that way by someone who loves them. But I digress.

Note that this article is about the measles vaccine. JB Handley, an angry father by his own description, wants to warn us about the measles vaccine, but here he is plainly telling us that is was the influenza vaccine in the winter of 2003-2004 that made his child be “gone.”

JB Handley spends the rest of the article using misinformation and intellectual dishonesty to tell us how vaccines don’t work, how they’re dangerous, blah, blah, blah. Typical anti-vaccine stuff. But note that his son was “sick all the time” and that this is why he and his wife opted to have the child vaccinated.

Now read this from an interview he gave in 2005:

“A Lafayette couple, certain that chelation therapy has helped their autistic son, stepped squarely into the controversy surrounding the causes of autism and its treatment Tuesday as they joined 150 other parents in launching an international support group that will aggressively promote the treatment.

[Child] was a happy, healthy baby who reached all his developmental milestones until he turned 18 months, his parents said. Then, he started spinning in circles and standing on his toes and no longer responded to his name. They were eventually told he was autistic — one of an increasing number of children over the last decade to be diagnosed with the disorder, which severely impairs a child’s ability to interact with others.”

So which is it? Was he sick all the time at age 15 months and that’s why he was vaccinated against influenza, or was he happy and healthy until 18 months? Remember, this is 2005, a little over a year has gone by. Recall bias may be at play, but it’s only a little over a year. (The child is said to be three years old at the time of the interview.)

By the way, the article is horrible. It claims that JB Handley’s child “returned” from autism in 2005. (Remember that part.)

In 2010, JB Handley wrote this in a post for AoA:

“More commonly, I hear from parents about a chronic slide into autism with a progression of health issues accompanying the slide. This was certainly true for my son. The eczema and bad bowels came immediately after the 2 month visit and his twelve month vaccine appointment (MMR, Varicella, Hep B, and Hib in his case) was what really seemed to push him over the edge, but it was a full year before we got a formal diagnosis. From 2 months forward, it was just a slow motion loss of everything.”

So now it’s a story that the child was sick starting at two months and got worse from there. But he was healthy and happy until 18 months according to JB Handley in 2005. This doesn’t make sense!

The thing that bothers me most about this is that many of the people at Age of Autism make a big deal when anyone writes about their children, but then they use their own parenting experiences and anecdotes as definitive proof that vaccines cause autism. For Kim Stagliano, one of the editors of AoA, even her unvaccinated daughter has autism because of vaccines: Because of the vaccines that Ms. Stagliano received before her daughter was born.

I would very much like it if children did not become entangled in this whole mess because those children will one day reach a place in their lives where their names will be associated with some pretty “interesting” conspiracy theories. (Nothing stays hidden on the web.) Many, too many, of those children will read that they were “lost” or “dead” because they were born autistic, even if their parents swear up and down that vaccines caused their autism. And many, too many, children will be the target of unproven, unscientific, sometimes unethical treatments for something that cannot be “cured.”

I truly wish JB Handley and others stuck to the evidence and left their children out of it. But, as you can see, their desire to use anecdotes only helps to show the inconsistency and lack of reliability to eye witness accounts and the necessity for objective, science-based evidence of what is really going on.

The future of science and technology in this country and the world

It’s been almost a moth since I last brought you the story of a woman who compared herself to victims of the Holocaust because she thinks she’s being persecuted for being irrational and acting like she’s insane when it comes to vaccines an anti-vaccine zealot. Since that time, I took a walk in the wild, so to speak, to get a feel for where I want to go with this whole struggle against anti-vaccine groups and anti-science misinformation permeating just about every form of media out there. You might not be surprised if I told you that all of this is exhausting.

It is exhausting because I keep reading the same lies and misinformation over and over and over and over and over again. Anyone who promotes the proper use of vaccines is in the pockets of Big Pharma. Anyone who opposes the idea that vaccines cause autism is disrespecting families of autistics. And anyone who sees autistic children and adults as not lost and not stolen somehow doesn’t understand autism. Those are just a few of the things that are floating out there.

There are, of course, other lies being perpetuated. The government is trying to kill us. Bill Gates is trying to depopulate the planet. (Good luck with that one. We keep multiplying and cramming ourselves into cities.) And, naturally, Monsanto is trying to feed us genetically modified organisms whether we like it or not.

Oh, and the Apple Watch will give us all cancer.

I’m really tired of it all. I could use my time for better things because, frankly, everything that needs to be said on the subject of vaccines has been said, or other people are saying it. But what about the next anti-scientific thing on the horizon? Quacks don’t sleep. (If they do, I hope they don’t sleep well.) They’re going to come up with some scheme to get rich quick and they don’t care much about who they hurt in the process.

There will always be suckers who will fall for whatever the quacks will sell to them. I don’t mean “suckers” in that it’s their fault that they fall for these things. Often times, these “suckers” are people who are desperate for a cure or relief for whatever ails them or their children. Often times, these “suckers” are people who cannot accept the established answers for whatever is going on and so they look for an answer that is more palatable.

Thinking about all this has me thinking about the future of science and technology in this country and the world. Can a child of an ardent anti-vaccine activist ever grow up to be involved in science and technology? Sure, there are physicians who are anti-vaccine, and there are plenty of scientists who believe in the vaccine-autism lie. But can a child really contribute to the body of knowledge that is science if their parents raise them in an anti-science household? We’ve all seen what “The Kid” has become, how hard he seems to work to destroy anything that is reasonable about the science and evidence of autism.

I’ve also been listening to some of the stupidity coming out of the Republican party pre-presidential candidates. They deny global climate change. They think that STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) are not subjects that should be taught in school. (They want religion to be taught instead, because the Earth is so 6,000 years old or something.) Sadly, more and more people are seeing things their way, electing more and more of them to positions of authority.

Lucky for me, I’m a hopeful kind of person. We’ve been in these types of scientific darkness kind of days before. Unfortunately, something has happened that shakes us all out of the apathy of not caring about science. I just hope it doesn’t take another world war or space race or cold war to do that. I hope it doesn’t take an outbreak of something more serious than measles to get us to vaccinate at adequate levels again. People shouldn’t die so we can continue our march forward as human beings.

So, for now, I’ll continue to wander in the wilderness and evaluate what my role in this whole thing is.

To the “Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice,” vaccine requirements are exactly like the Holocaust (UPDATED)

UPDATE #2 (2/24/15, 9pm): Heather Barajas, the woman in the picture below, has taken down her picture and her Facebook profile, so the links below are dead, but I have the screenshot:

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.32.37 PM

Dear anti-vaccine zealots, if you can’t take the heat, don’t do these idiotic comparisons.

UPDATE (2/23/15, 11pm): It gets worse. The woman comparing her decision to not vaccinate to the Holocaust was a pre-med student at California State University, San Bernadino, according to her Facebook page. That’s right. She wants to be a physician. God help us if she gets into med school.

Have you ever been to a Holocaust museum? I was in grade school when I went to one in my hometown. I was an adult when I went to the one in Washington, DC. In both cases, my mind couldn’t grasp the enormity of what happened in Europe under the Nazi regime. People of different races and ethnicities, of different sexual orientations, and those with any kind of disability were rounded up, put on trains and shipped out to concentration camps. In total, over 12 million men and women were systematically killed because they were deemed to be unworthy of being alive. Half of them were Jewish.

On the 70th anniversary of the battle at Iwo Jima, one of the many battles where members of my family fought to save the world from the horrors of the Axis Powers, a picture was posted on the Facebook page of the “Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice.” (I won’t link to their Facebook page or their website. I won’t give them that kind of publicity. Instead, read about what they’re all about from Todd W. here.) Here is that picture:

vaccine_badge

That is the picture of two Jewish children and a Jewish man on the left wearing the Star of David as a symbol of being Jewish. It was a way for the Nazis to mark Jews as a form of public intimidation in the months leading to the Holocaust. On the right is a woman wearing a badge of a syringe with a “no” symbol, meaning that she and the child are not immunized. You see, in her world, the laws and regulations requiring that children and adults be immunized before they can participate in public programs is just like the Holocaust. This is what she wrote with the picture:

“I’m a biological terrorist. I don’t care about the health of others. I’m a moron, idiot, scum of the earth who can’t understand science. I should be fined, jailed, taxed extra because of the burden I put on society. I should have my child taken away because obviously, I don’t care about her health.

I should be shipped off somewhere to live with my diseases. My child shouldn’t be allowed in school or around others. My address should be made public so that all can know and do who knows what. I should be tackled in the street & forcibly vaccinated. I’m the reason the diseases are being spread, the reason people are suffering and something must be done about me.

What’s next? Should all non-vaxxers be forced to wear some sort of visible insignia to identify us to the general public? Should we be segregated from others? Detained somewhere away from the general populace? Hmm, is this starting to sound familiar?

When people say things like I mentioned above, when they think them, they are saying them about me. They are saying them about my daughter. Some are saying I should be killed because I’m such a huge threat & danger. Does making a medical decision for my family justify a death sentence?

This is no longer about pro-vax vs. non-vax. This is about freedom of choice for medical procedures. Our bodies belong to us, not the government. Measles is not a deadly disease. It is not sweeping the nation, killing thousands, as the media hysteria seems to have some believing. It’s being used as a scare tactic. It’s being used to turn people against each other.

If SB 277 {or, in our case, S9 and H212} passes, it will be very bad. Not even homeschooling will be safe, since in CA it’s considered private school. Everyone will be forced to vaccinate, adults as well. They have many new vaccines in the making that you will be forced to get.

I promise you, if you send the message that the government owns your body, you will regret it. What happens if they decide anyone with any kind of mental illness must be force medicated with whatever they deem as best? What if they start making medication that people with certain disabilities must take, whether they want to or not?

I’m not being dramatic. I’m not over-exaggerating. I’m being very serious & trying to get a message across as bluntly as possible. Keeping our rights to our bodies is a must. I shouldn’t have to live in fear in a supposed free country. But I do. I shouldn’t feel anxiety every time I hear a police car, helicopter, or plane pass by. But I do. I shouldn’t fear taking my daughter to the doctor. But I do. I shouldn’t have to wonder if/how my family will suffer, be hurt, or even tortured because we make a medical decision that’s different. But unfortunately, I do, every day.

I will fight for your right to choose, even if you will not fight for mine. Forced vaccination infringes on our constitutional rights, on our religious freedoms, and so much more. It is not the answer, and it never will be.”

The bills she is referring to are bills in the California legislature aimed at reducing the number of “personal belief” exemptions to immunization, making it harder for people to just say they don’t believe in vaccines in order to be exempt from being immunized before participating in public programs.

I hope that I don’t have to explain to you how vaccine requirements are not at all like the Holocaust. If I do, then you march yourself right over to the Holocaust museum and ask a Holocaust survivor or their family how it’s not.

I also hope that this woman gets the care that she seems to need. After all, parts of that screed (like “I shouldn’t feel anxiety every time I hear a police car, helicopter, or plane pass by. But I do.”) point to some sort of a pathology in the way that she views the world, this idiotic comparison with the Holocaust aside.