Ah, that “Daily Web Newspaper of the (nonexistent) Autism Epidemic” never fails to entertain me and give me a good laugh. This time, “Tanner’s Dad” (aka Tim Welsh) has written his list of twenty reasons why he questions vaccine safety. Like every good anti-vaccine activist, it is full of misinformation. The casual reader coming upon this list might be tricked into thinking that Tim Welsh has done his homework… That his reasoning is sound.
His reasoning is so flawed that I had to laugh. So let’s break down the list one-by-one, shall we?
20. “I read Jenny McCarthy’s Story” – Really, Tim? Her story is that compelling? Which part was it, Tim? The part where her child was an indigo child? Or her new rewriting of history whereby she claims she is not anti-vaccine and never has been? If that’s reason #20, the rest should be really fun to read.
19. “I see the rise in autism prevalence rate.” – Of course you do, and you probably think that a rise in autism prevalence signals an epidemic. It has been explained time and time again that prevalence rises when identified cases don’t leave the population. It’s like a bucket being filled with water. So long as the water doesn’t escape, the bucket will fill over time. The only reason to have prevalence go down would be for children to “recover” from autism (thus showing that they were never autistic to begin with) or to die. Since so many so-called autism advocates are whitewashing the murder of autistic children, it wouldn’t surprise me if this seemed to them like a reasonable thing to do.
18. “I believe Aidan Quinn.” Like Jenny McCarthy, Aidan Quinn is another actor who believes that the MMR vaccine caused his daughter’s autism, and outfits like “Age of Autism” are very happy about that, it seems. It must be because they think that a famous person believing in Andrew Wakefield’s gut feeling somehow legitimizes it.
17. “I can see it’s “Still Controversial”, Nancy (You and others now work for a pharmaceutical giants)”. I’ve got nothing on this. I don’t even know what it means.
16. “I read “All I Can Handle” by Kim Stagliano” Ah, yes, Kim Stagliano, one of the editors at AoA. One of her daughters has autism, though that daughter was not vaccinated. In order to obey the mantra that it’s always the vaccines, Kim has stated that it was the vaccines that she took which gave her daughter autism. Yeah, it sounds like an authority on why you shouldn’t trust vaccines.
15. “I know we are not allowed to enter real court.” This is one of the favorites of the anti-vaccine activist. They say that because they have to go through the vaccine court first, they will never get the relief they seek in regular courts, especially when the vaccine court finds their claims to be outrageous and/or unfounded. Never mind that it was the anti-vaccine activists who helped create the vaccine court (which has a lower burden of proof on the plaintiff than a regular court). So now that they don’t have what they wanted, they want to go back to the old system, where cases went on for years and the only ones who got all the money were the lawyers. And never mind that, should the parents of a child who has been injured by a vaccine not find the relief they want in the vaccine court, they can still go to a regular trial. After all, anyone can sue anyone else in these United States.
14. “I know we are not allowed legal discovery.” See #15 above.
13. “I read “Callous Disregard” and “Evidence of Harm”. Two books written by Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, who was found to have conducted fraudulent research in order to either get his own measles vaccine on the market without the competition of the MMR, or help some lawyers in England win a case agains the vaccine manufacturers… Or maybe it was just because he has some big balls. I guess Tim wanted to read something that confirmed his bias, so he did. I wonder if he’s ever read a science book? I have a feeling my question is about to be answered…
12. “I read “Vaccine Epidemic”. Another book written by anti-vaccine activists. Confirmation bias? You betcha.
11. “I studied the Material Data safety sheet for Thimerosal (Mercury) and Aluminum”. Well, I read them, too. They don’t say anything about vaccines or autism. And notice how he tries to tell you that thimerosal is mercury. It would be like me telling you that table salt is only sodium, or that sucrose is a poison. Theatricality and deception, remember?
10. “I was told by our Doctor.” What? What were you told? This doesn’t make any sense.
9. “I heard the accounts of other parents.” So he stepped into an echo chamber and liked what he heard. Again, confirmation bias.
8. “I googled “Simpsonwood” and “Vaccines”” I really laughed out loud at this one. He places it higher on the list than being told by his doctor something. In the anti-vaccine mind, googling something that confirms your bias is more important and stronger evidence than being told (something) by your doctor. Does he believe in UFOs because he googles “UFOs” and “Rosswell”?
7. “I reviewed scientific studies listed on the Canary Party website and Pub Med.” Confirmation bias again and again and again. Because he read it on the canary party, a list that has been widely debunked and doesn’t say what the anti-vaccine activists say that it says, it must be true.
6. “I saw the film “Trace Amounts”” Again, did he see “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and now believes in aliens? (Maybe he does believe in aliens, and here I am making fun of him.) Films don’t amount to evidence, Tim.
5. “I read Age of Autism daily web newspaper of the Autism epidemic.” Ah, but one of the big supporters of the site, Jenny McCarthy is not anti-vaccine, Tim. What are you going to do now? Where will you get your echo chamber? It will still be AoA, of course. It’s always the vaccines. The troubles in Ukraine? Vaccines. The Syrian civil war? Vaccines. (Polio, I bet.) What happened in Rwanda? Vaccines. The missing Malaysian flight? It probably had a vaccine on board.
4. “I read the book “The Age of Autism”” Sigh. More confirmation bias.
3. “I read Vaccine Package inserts which still list Autism as side effect on FDA website.” Oh, really? It’s not in this package insert for the MMR from Merck. Or this other MMR from Merck. I know. I know. It’s probably in this one for Hepatitis B vaccine. Nope, it’s not. Ah, since “The Refusers” say that it’s in the DTaP vaccine package insert from Sanofi Pasteur, that’s where it is, right? It’s not. The only one I found that in was the DTaP Tripedia which was discontinued. It reads: “Adverse events reported during post-approval use of Tripedia vaccine include idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, SIDS, anaphylactic reaction, cellulitis, autism, convulsion/grand mal convulsion, encephalopathy, hypotonia, neuropathy, somnolence and apnea. Events were included in this list because of the seriousness or frequency of reporting. Because these events are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequencies or to establish a causal relationship to components of Tripedia vaccine.” In other words, because it was reported after the vaccine was licensed, they put it in the package insert. But, you know what, I’ll give Tim the benefit of the doubt and say that he was referring to this outdated, no longer circulating vaccine’s package insert when he wrote this, especially because I couldn’t find it anywhere else.
2. “I saw Congressional Committee question HHS officials multiple times over multiple years.” And? Where are the results of these Congressional investigations? Where are the reports? We got a report for the 9/11 attacks, so why not over this so-called epidemic, an epidemic so large that some claim that 2 in 1 children will have autism by 2050 if the rate keeps going up like it has. (Get the joke? “2 in 1”?) The blowhards in Congress can question and investigate all they want, especially if anti-vaccine types wine and dine them into doing so, but you will never see a report come out supporting your views, Tim. Because it’s a fantastical view.
1. “I saw my son Tanner react and regress.” So did I. To your list.
Now, here is why I believe in the utility of vaccines:
1. When an a virus, bacteria, fungi, whathaveyou, enters your body, your white blood cells react to the invader. One kind of cells “eats” the intruder and “presents” to another kind of cells the bits and pieces of the intruder. We call those bits and pieces “antigens”.
2. We are exposed to billions of antigens everyday. From the food that we eat, to the water we drink, to the air that we breathe, we are being bombarded by microbes and their antigens.
3. Our immune systems make antibodies against certain antigens and could care less about others.
4. If we do make antibodies, the antibodies will attach to current and future microbes and “tag” them for destruction by yet another set of white blood cells… Or the microbes are rendered useless by having their antigens blocked by antibodies.
5. For the whole process I described above to happen in nature, we need to be exposed and infected with some really bad things. These bad things, like polio, measles and smallpox, can and will kill many people, make many others sick, and cause lifelong disability in others. To trigger this immunity without infection, without death, there had to be something better.
6. In the late 1700’s, a physician by the name of Edward Jenner discovered that you could infect someone with one kind of virus and the immune system would protect that person against another kind. As the centuries went on, this technique was refined to the point that we give children a few of the antigens of a bad bug, and their immune systems will make antibodies to that bug then and for an extended period of time.
7. In the course of those centuries, the science and technology behind vaccines has advanced by leaps and bounds, and so has the science behind safety and efficacy. We give less antigen now than ever, and we survey the population like never before to see if there are any safety problems with the vaccine. This has led to an excellent record of safety for all vaccines currently in the market.
8. We, epidemiologists, have done research time and again into whether vaccines cause an increased risk in adverse events, including autism. Guess what? There is no evidence that this is happening. It’s been done so much that some of us are quitting on it and moving on to more pressing matters, like getting rid of polio.
9. I am yet to hear a professor at any respectable institution of public health declare that vaccines are unsafe or ineffective. There is yet to be written a definitive, peer-reviewed research article that proves all of “TannersDad’s” misconceptions about vaccines.
10. There is yet to be something scientific or medical proven to be true by a book, a movie, a blog, or a social media web page written/funded/founded by crunchy moms or self-righteous dads.