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.

Why we’re not covering The Kid anymore

The editorial board of this blog has come together and decided that we are no longer going to cover the anti-vaccine writings of one Jacob Lawrence Crosby. The reasons for this are many, but they boil down to one main thing: We believe that he is unable to understand the context of things he reads. As such, there is nothing that we can communicate to him without him taking it personal. The evidence for this?

A few years ago, friend-of-the-blog Ren Najera wrote a “diss rap” about Jake Crosby based on the lyrics of “Fighting Trousers” by Professor Elemental. The song is about Prof. Elemental “dissing” Mr. B, another rapper. Mr. B raps about life in Victorian England, and so does Prof. Elemental. So the professor is telling Mr. B to stop copying him. Ren re-wrote those lyrics when Jake Crosby decided to be an epidemiologist (something he hasn’t achieved, by the way) and go get his master of public health degree at the George Washington University, where Ren got his MPH. Part of the lyrics read like this:

“Let’s settle this like gentlemen: armed with heavy sticks, On a rotating plate, with spikes like Flash Gordon, And you’re Peter Duncan; I gave you fair warning”

The movie “Flash Gordon” is a science fiction movie from 1980 where the title character is put to the test against a man. They both fight on a rotating platform with spikes. They fight with sticks. So Ren is using lyrics from a rapper who is poking fun at another rapper. How did Jake Crosby interpret this?

jake_afraid

That’s right. Jake has been stating all this time that Ren physically threatened him, even writing this in a letter to different administrators at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. What was the threat? A diss rap. A spoof of a diss rap. You can read more about Ren’s interactions with Jake here.

There are other interactions with Jake by other people where his replies have made little sense, at least to us. There were his claims that Orac was being paid by Big Pharma when Orac was not being paid by Big Pharma. Orac happened to be working at a university which got research grants from pharmaceuticals, yes, but he never really got paid by said pharmaceuticals. If that were the case, that we get money from pharma because we work alongside or in an institution funded by pharma grants, then we’re all in cahoots with pharma.

Then there is the latest blog post by Jake Crosby. This one sealed the deal for us in deciding to just stop trying to refute him. In his blog post, Jake Crosby accuses a writer for The New Republic by the name of Elizabeth Bruenig as writing against anti-vaccine notions not because those notions are wrong. No, she writes them because, in Jake Crosby’s understanding, she doesn’t like Jake Crosby:

“Some “journalists” spread misinformation denying the dangers of vaccines because they are trained to by CDC, for which they deserve none of the protections intended for a free press and should be fully investigated by Congress. For The New Republic’s newly-hired Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig – who wrote hit-pieces against Rand Paul and Chris Christie while ignoring Obama contradicting himself on vaccines – the most likely reason is a lot pettier. It goes back to her years as a student at Brandeis University where she seemed to have developed a personal grudge against your humble blogger: me.”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s all about Jake Crosby:

“Letting a grudge from four years ago shape your views on an important public health issue is about as self-interested as it gets. The New Republic is already declining, but it hit a new low with the hiring of Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig.”

In his world, Ms. Bruenig writes about the anti-vaccine lies because she has a grudge against Jake Crosby.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is only but a small sliver of what Jake Crobsy has written and put out into the big bad world. His anti-vaccine writings are, in our opinion, more than just misguided. They are screeds attempting to connect things that are very, very far away from each other on many dimensions. While that is the game plan for most anti-vaccine activists, to try and put together events and concepts that are completely unrelated to each other, we believe that Jake Crosby takes it one step further. He genuinely seems to believe that the world somehow revolves around him. He claimed credit for Seth Mnookin leaving PLoS blogs, after all. If tomorrow any of us gets pulled over for a traffic citation or get some form of cancer, we wouldn’t be surprised if he claimed credit for that. If the day after that we write something he misunderstands, as he has misunderstood other things, he might lash out in ways that would not be good.

As a result of realizing that we’re dealing with someone who is not playing by the rules, who seemingly attributes everything to his existence, we have decided to let him be. Jake Crosby will have to say or do something phenomenally stupid to get our attention. The odds are 3 to 1 that he will.

Vaccine Injuries from The MMR, A Review of VAERS

If you’ve seen some of the arguments from the anti-vaccine groups out there, you’ve probably seen their claims that the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) is some kind of a cornucopia of “evidence” that vaccines are bad. I’ve examined VAERS for you before, but mostly having to do with the HPV vaccine. VAERS is a reporting system to which everyone and anyone can report. You can go file a report right now if you want to. You can tell them that you turned into the Hulk after you got your vaccine or something.

Does VAERS give clues that something is happening because of a vaccine? Yes. Does it give evidence that a vaccine is bad or has caused death and destruction? No.

VAERS is what is called a “passive surveillance system” because those on the other side of the system don’t need to spend time and energy in looking for cases. It’s a cost-efficient way of doing surveillance for adverse events. However, once they get enough blips on the radar (enough reports that are similar), epidemiologists get to the task of looking deeper into the cases, looking for more cases, and then conducting a case-control study to see if odds of being vaccinated are different between cases and controls of a particular outcome. If the case-control study says that there is evidence that the vaccine is strongly associated with some sort of outcome, more evidence is gathered and a decision is made to act.

Contrary to anti-vaccine zealots’ claims, people at CDC really do care, and they really do want vaccines to be as safe and effective as they can be. This although they know that nothing is 100% safe nor 100% effective.

In recent days, there has been a claim on the internet that the MMR vaccine has been responsible for 108 deaths since 2005 while measles hasn’t killed anyone in the US since 2000. First, let’s look at the claim that measles hasn’t killed anyone in the US. Remember that measles was eliminated in the US around that time, so it stands to reason that there haven’t been that many cases of measles overall, so there wouldn’t be that many deaths. But what do the data say?

According to table #2 in this document, there were two deaths from measles in 2009. There were other years with deaths as well, but, for the purposes of the claim that there have not been deaths from measles in the United States in recent years, it’s case closed.

So what about the 108 deaths from the MMR? Let’s look at VAERS with the knowledge that, one, the reports can be put in by anyone at any time and for any reason, and, two, a report is not evidence of causality between vaccine and the outcome. A report is merely a “signal” in the “noise” that there was some sort of an event after a vaccine, not necessarily because of it.

After asking for all reports with an outcome of “death” going back to 1990 and associated with all known measles vaccines, I received 235 reports. Here are some of the details I found:

“On 05/07/1990 patient went to the Doctor and had a physical, which the doctor said he was in good health and doing well for his age and he also received 2 vaccinations MMR and DPT. He was congested and had a fever after receiving his shots. I gave him infant Tylenol during the day and before I put him to sleep. At 7am approximately 12 hours later I found patient in his bed not breathing and without a pulse. I performed CPR but patient died. The coroner determined that the cause of death was SIDS.”

That one had a one-day onset, but not much more information was given. Is this one report enough? Remember, there have been tens of millions of doses of MMR given in the United States. Let’s look at some more reports:

“On 31DEC90 experienced shock, renal failure, fever, convuls & pneumonia. Hospitalized & lab testing revealed a positive assay for toxic shock synd, septic shock, & disseminated intravascular coagulation. MD stated pt’s sxs not d/t vaccinatn”

This one happened 9 days after the vaccine. Could it have taken that long for such an outcome to happen? Let’s keep looking:

“Infant febrile morning of 5/18/2006 around 5:30 a.m. No other S/S per parent. Parent administered tylenol. Midday infant began seizing, mom called 911, infant transported and later pronounced dead at hospital. 7/19/06 Received death certificate which stated COD as pulmonary edema due to protracted febrile seizure. 7/28/06 Received tag-2 report from PCP. Family had moved to another state. Records accompanying report included vax records, Death Summary from ER & Autopsy Report. COD stated as non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema as the result of febrile seizures/ss”

This one happened six days after the immunizations. It’s interesting to me because so many anti-vaccine parents have stated that they want their children to have a fever, and even a febrile seizure, because it’s the “natural way” to deal with infections. Still, let’s keep looking:

“[Name] was given DPT/MMR/OPV while still on anitbiotic Pedizole and tassii organdin for otitis & bronchitis. He appeared happy & well until he died in his sleep. Shots were given on 5DEC89.”

This one happened 24 days after the immunizations. Could it have taken that long for the death to happen? Or was this child given the vaccine and then, about three weeks later, sick with otitis and bronchitis that got complicated? We’ll never know because we will never have access their private medical information. So let’s keep looking:

“adm to hosp 31AUG95 w/3wk hx progressive non prod cough,SOB & fevers;devel abd pain,diarrhea;lost 30lbs;pt had multiple diagnostic studies,devel pleural effusion,viral pneumonia & measles pneumonia;”

Oh, measles pneumonia? After receiving the MMR vaccine? This must be a red flag, right? Well, no… The rest of the report tells us that, sadly, this person had a CD4 count of less than 10 due to advanced HIV/AIDS. They were a hemophiliac, and that was likely how they were infected with HIV. (It’s the 1990’s, after all). Also, the vaccine was given four years earlier. It is very possible that this person’s immune status allowed them to catch measles at a time when measles was very active in the United States.

This one is interesting:

“”Brother states patient developed “”Transverse myelitis”” from the MMR vaccine then the patient “”Fell down and died””. Developed paralysis in legs one week after shot. 8/11/08-records received for DOS 12/12/07-1/6/08- DX: Paraparesis secondary to transverse myelitis. Death secondary to pulmonary embolism. Admitted for evaluation of lower extremity weakness for 2-3 weeks, with shooting pain in feet on 12/14/07-balance difficulties noted, tingling in left upper extremity prior to hospitalization Upgoing plantar reflex noted on right side, lower extremity reflex loss at ankles and left patella. Autopsy refused by family.””

Was it the MMR? It was given in September of 2007 and the person died in January of 2008. I mean, since the brother says so, it must be true, right? Let’s look at the rest of the evidence:

“Lung cancer 2 years with chemotherapy 8/11/08-records received- NCV abnormal evidence of primary muscle disorder. Glucose elevated, AST and ALT elevation of 144 and 177. MRI normal. CSF leukocytosis. Culture negative. on 1/6/08 began hypo” (Report cuts off.)

Do you think that maybe, just maybe, the lung cancer may have caused a pulmonary embolism? Is it possible that the cancer may have metastasized and caused the nervous system injuries that led to his condition? Nah. It was the MMR vaccine.

Here’s a 49 year-old male:

“Per translator client died 2 to 3 hrs. after receiving vaccines on 7/2/09. Autopsy is pending to determine cause of death. Due to language barrier unable to get more information.7/21/09-Nancy with Med Exam office called with preliminary COD: Coronary Artery Disease with no other significant conditions contributing to death. 8/13/09 Cause of Death: Coronary artery disease. Manner of death: Natural. Autopsy report summary of findings: I. Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. A. Calcific coronary artery disease, marked, involving three major vessels and left main. B. Aortic atherosclerosis, mild to moderate. II. Nephrosclerosis. III. Right rib fractures consistent with resuscitation efforts.”

It wasn’t the clogged arteries, ladies and gentlemen… It was the vaccines. It’s always the vaccines.

I could keep going, but you know where this goes. Someone had a vaccine, then something bad happened to them, and then someone filed a report because it must have been the vaccine, nothing else. Anti-vaccine activists will tell you that this is all ignored by CDC. However, if you look at the reports, you can see that the names of the vaccine manufacturers and lot numbers, when available, are presented right in the reports. Furthermore, you can see from the reports that CDC personnel took the time and made the effort to follow-up on all of these cases, even the ones where someone called them and had a chip on their shoulder. Why? Because they care. They wouldn’t be doing the work that they do if they didn’t.

Look, there are going to be times when someone will have a bad reaction to a vaccine, any vaccine. But these reactions are extremely rare. If they do happen, it is even more rare that it ends in death. Has someone ever died from a vaccine? I’m sure someone has. It is not unreasonable to think that it has happened. But it is unreasonable to think that it is so common that it is going to happen to me or you tomorrow or the day after if we get a vaccine. What is more likely to happen is the death or permanent injury of a child if we don’t vaccinate, if we don’t protect the herd.

Survival of the fittest, vaccine preventable diseases and autism

We all know that anti-vaccine activists, especially the really rabid ones, have very little knowledge of science. They think that they can figure out the intricacies of the human immune system just by reading what Age of Autism or some other trashy website full of lies has to say on vaccines. They also think that they know what evolution is all about.

Here is “concerned momma” telling the minions at Age of Autism all about survival of the fittest:

survival_fittest

That comment is in the discussion section of a most vile post by head anti-vaccine taskmaster JB Handley. Here’s the whole comment text:

“Oh! CNN actually is daring to let both sides speak on the issue and a woman mentioned the CDC whistleblower. An Arizona doctor even stated (and I quite agree with him) that his children are not responsible for the health of children with leukemia etc. I love that he just came out and said it. It seems to me that risking healthy children for all those that have grave health problems and may not live anyhow is not sensible. Survival of the fittest is rough but it is nature’s way and it’s that way for a reason. Pharma just loves to play on this angle, meanwhile they don’t give a damn about none who is vaccine- injured. How convenient for them.”

According to “concerned momma”, you can’t risk the 1 in a million chance of some reaction to a vaccine in a healthy child just to keep healthy children with leukemia or some other immunosuppressive disease. If I were an insufferable douchebag, I’d ask her right back: Why should we care at all about your vaccine-injured kids? They couldn’t take a vaccine, so it’s only “survival of the fittest” that those of us who can take a vaccine go on to live.

But I’m not an insufferable douchebag, like JB Handley. I don’t write idiotic statements like:

“…I also have a much simpler explanation for why the messaging by the pro-vaccine community is backfiring:

They’re fucking lying.

There, I said it. It really is that simple. You can’t suppress truth forever, no matter how hard you try. Richer, more educated parents vaccinate less because they are smarter and have more resources and their bigger brains and pocketbooks give them the time and money to research the issue and when they do they are scared shitless that vaccines might trigger Autism in their child. They compare that risk to measles and guess what? Bye bye MMR.”

Yeah, we’re lying, JB. All 99.9% of scientists, healthcare providers, epidemiologists, and everyone else involved in saving children from infectious diseases are liars. Oh, but you figured us out, JB. Hooray for you! You win a prize.

Asshat.

This is who we’re dealing with, ladies and gentlemen. We’re dealing with people who think it’s okay for children to die because “survival of the fittest” (which has very little to do with evolution) and with people who think everyone but them is lying. And with the insufferable douchebag who is “scared shitless” over autism.

You know what’s worse than autism? Dying from holes in the brain as the measles virus works its way through it.

It’s a small world after all!

When Andrew Jeremy Wakefield told us that it was his gut feeling that the MMR vaccine caused autism, I doubt that he had any idea of what he was about to unleash on the world. I really don’t think that he wanted to trigger outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in places where vaccines had suppressed those diseases out of epidemic range and into sporadic range. I bet he was in it for the money. Get people to take less of the MMR and more of the vaccine that he was trying to patent. Like any industrialist, he wanted to crush the competition and give the people a reasonable alternative.

That’s my theory, anyway. The truth could be more sinister and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield really was trying to cause outbreaks of measles like the one that engulfed Wales in 2012-13. That outbreak resulted in a little over 1,200 reported cases. The true number is probably higher, since not everyone sick was tested and a lab confirmation is necessary to call a case a “confirmed case.” In a country of just over 3 million people, the incidence of measles during the time period of the outbreak was about 40 cases per 100,000 residents. If you ignore the differences between Wales and the United States, this would translate to an outbreak of 128,000 confirmed cases in eight months in the United States. Like in the US, measles was declared eliminated in the United Kingdom at the beginning of this century when the incidence rate was less than one case per 100,000 residents per year.

Because so many people decided not to vaccinate with MMR anymore in Wales after Wakefield’s fraudulent paper on MMR and autism, herd immunity against measles (a very, very infectious disease transmitted through the air) ended, bringing about the Wales outbreak. That outbreak caused a lot of people to become sick and at least one death. (The death rate from measles is about 1 in 1,000, so it stands to reason that 1,200 confirmed cases would lead to one confirmed death.) In the nightmare “all things being equal” scenario in the United States, we could expect about 128 people to die from measles.

Death is not the only measure by which reasonable people should measure the impact of a disease on the population. There are other costs as well. There is the cost of parents missing work because they have to tend to sick children. There is the cost of medical care for those sick children. There is also the cost of tracing the contacts of the cases, and the people who are quarantined because they may be infectious will miss work and school. In the years before vaccines, this all used to cost a ton of resources to our societies. In the time since vaccines, we have been able to devote those resources to other things. It’s why we are living longer. It’s why you can sit comfortably in almost any place in the world and read this blog.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard about the measles outbreak that seems to have as its epicentre “the happiest place on Earth”, Disneyland. Look at this news report from the San Diego Union-Tribune online:

“San Diego County now has 10 active measles cases, all of them linked to Disneyland visits in December, public-health officials confirmed Thursday.

Six siblings, 22 months to 18 years in age, had arrived Wednesday at the Sharp Rees-Stealy urgent care center in La Mesa with rashes and other signs of measles. Shortly afterward, the county’s Health and Human Services Agency learned of a case involving an adult older than 50.”

The only person in that bunch who was fully vaccinated against measles was the adult over 50. That’s it. The six siblings are not up to date on their vaccinations and, according to the news report, they are not enrolled in any public schools in San Diego County, California. Now there’s a list of places where they went while they were infectious. (A person is infectious before any symptoms appear.) Public health officials are asking anyone who is not vaccinated and was at those places to seek medical attention in order to contain the outbreak. The outbreak now stands at over two dozen people with more cases coming, according to my sources in public health at a national level.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, folks. This has the potential to turn into the Wales outbreak but at a scale for a country of almost 320 million people. Last year we saw the most cases of measles in a year since the disease was eliminated from the United States. There were over 600 cases and over 20 outbreak. As Ren pointed out, a drop of just one or two percentage points in the proportion of people immunized raises the number of people in an outbreak significantly:

“A paper published in the American Journal of Epidemiology looks at these outbreaks and analyzes what it would take for measles to come back and be endemic in the United States again, or, at the very least, cause sustained epidemics. The paper is titled “Identifying Postelimination Trends for the Introduction and Transmissibility of Measles in the United States” by Blumberg et al. The authors looked at the sizes of transmission chains in outbreaks of measles and developed a mathematical model for determining the infectivity of measles and what several milestones would be for sustained transmission. In the paper, the authors concluded that the average size of a transmission chain is about 2 cases and that about half of cases are imported to the United States. In other words, a case goes out and brings measles and then infects one more person here, on average. Some chains are considerably larger. Other chains are not chains at all but single cases who return to highly immune communities. This assumes that all cases are properly reported to public health, which is not always the case from my experience.

The math used by the authors took into consideration vaccine coverage in the United States as reported by CDC. If they dropped vaccine coverage by 1%, the average infection chain becomes 2.8 people. Bring that coverage down to 93.9% from 95.9% (a decrease of two percentage points), and the chain jumps to a whopping 4.3 people on average. Let that sink in a little. A simple drop in two percentage points in our current MMR coverage pretty much doubles the number of people infected with measles from people who bring it from overseas, according to the mathematical model presented by the authors.”

How low is the immunization rate in the counties in California where the outbreak started? It’s scarily low:

“The trend is especially pronounced in Orange County, where the proportion of kindergartners with their full shots fell from 92.9 percent in 2003 to 89.3 in 2012, and particularly in the county’s wealthy beachfront communities.”

This is way below the threshold analyzed by the paper that Ren reviewed. It’s about 6 percentage points lower, meaning that the outbreak chain on average will be about 60 cases, if you follow the math from the model in that paper. In a civilised society where the vaccine is widely available, those kinds of numbers are nothing short of insane.

So who is to blame for all this? Is it just Andrew Jeremy Wakefield bringing his MMR fearmongering to the United States after being so soundly rejected in Britain, stricken off the medical record and regarded as nothing better than a self-righteous quack? Is it the douchebag pediatricians who for some reason kowtow to “crunchy” moms and dads who are afraid of vaccines? Is is the other douchebag pediatricians who pull “alternative vaccine schedules” out of their asses and tell non-vaccinating parents that it’s okay to “hide in the herd”? Is it the fire science graduates who bloviate about the so-called dangers of vaccines and try to make themselves sound important when they’re nothing more than warm piss flowing down the drain of the truck stop restroom that is anti-vaccine activism?

Yes, it is their fault, but there is more blame to be spread.

It’s the fault of people who think that it is a good idea for anti-vaccine loons like Sherry Tenpenny to travel to Australia and give talks about vaccines, spreading a dangerous message. It’s also the fault of well-intentioned public health professionals who want to defend her free speech right to do so. (Wink, wink, Ren.) People who know that vaccines work but don’t want to engage with the anti-vaccine nutjobs are also to blame for not speaking up and correcting the lies put out there by those hacks. Elected politicians who get a lot of money donated to them by anti-vaccine special interests are also to blame for something that reeks of corruption.

In short, everyone is responsible for this shameful chapter in public health history. We had measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases beat, but we’ve allowed them to come back because we seem to think that parents are the best judges of what is good and what is bad for their children. They’re not. They may be the best advocates for their children, people we can trust will act with in the best interests of the children 99.9997% of the time. However, if they are misinformed fools who think that vaccines are toxic or vaccines make people toxic, or cause autism and whatnot, then they will act wrongly when it comes to what is best for their children and for society in general.

These idiots are walking around with their college degrees in non-science fields thinking that they somehow are knowledgeable in science-related matters because they can google terms and read websites and blogs that confirm their biases without a shred of evidence. They think that they can skip vaccines because, hey, people survived vaccine-preventable diseases all the time. Most of the people who went to war returned from that war. It doesn’t mean that war is not deadly, painful, scarring, and costly beyond human comprehension.

So take a good look at yourself in the mirror right after you read this and ask yourself if you did everything possible to counter the lies and misinformation put out by anti-vaccine luminaries like the morons at Age of Autism or RKF Jr. and his anti-thimerosal brigade. Did you donate to organizations like Every Child By Two, Voices for Vaccines, or Immunize.org? Will you counter your friends and neighbors on whatever medium if they say that vaccines don’t work?

The ball is in your court. It really is, no matter how much or how little you think you influence the world. Eradicable diseases like measles are not being eradicated because the most infectious thing, fear, is being allowed to spread without countering it with the most effective thing against it, knowledge.

What’s with the fear of the flu vaccine?

We’re right smack in the middle of flu season. The number of reported cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from influenza this season seems to be at its peak, meaning that we have about 6-8 more weeks of heavy influenza activity before it all ends. Those are just the reported cases. Not all cases get reported, and deaths associated with influenza in adults are not as closely observed as deaths associated with influenza in children. Many get classified as deaths from natural causes because a flu test is not done, though, many times, the person may have been complaining of flu-like illness.

The best thing we have against influenza is the flu vaccine. It’s not as good as it could be, but it’s the best thing we have. Short of the vaccine, we can also focus on washing our hands constantly, and staying away from sick people (or, if we’re sick, keeping away from people). But all those other things require us to make a conscious effort day in and day out during the yearly epidemic. If you sit and watch people, we’re quite nasty. We scratch our face, wipe our nose or mouth, and we touch things with unwashed hands all the time.

Even before the 2009 influenza pandemic, there were plenty of people who were afraid of the influenza vaccine. They saw a list of side-effects reported during the clinical trials of the vaccine and thought that all of those side-effects occurred at rates higher than stated. They were also convinced by anti-vaccine and anti-science activists that the vaccine was nothing but pure poison. They were told that the vaccine kills when, in fact, the vaccine saves lives.

Then the 2009 influenza pandemic happened and the anti-vaccine crowd had a collective orgasm (allegedly) when it was announced that the vaccine for that strain was going to be “experimental” or approved by FDA under an “experimental” protocol. They went nuts saying that we were being “experimented” on or that we were taking a risk by taking a vaccine that was not “fully tested” before it was given. Those and other statements just made it clearer that they didn’t know what they were talking about, even if they should know better.

A friend of mine gave me the example of pies as vaccine. We know what goes in an apple pie. We know what goes in a cherry pie. The difference in the two is the filling. Likewise, the difference in a flu vaccine is the strains it contains. For the 2009 vaccine, all they did was change the strain. Everything else about the vaccines was the same. It’s not like they went and created a new way of delivering the vaccine or a new way of growing the virus strains. That came later, and those vaccines underwent extensive testing, more than the testing that goes into a vaccine when strains are changed.

The anti-vaccine cultists will say that the flu vaccine has thimerosal. When you tell them that there is a thimerosal-free version, they’ll say that the vaccine has aluminum. (SEE COMMENT BELOW ON ALUMINUM.) When you tell them that aluminum covers the whole world, they say it has formaldehyde. Then you tell them that a pear has more formaldehyde than a vaccine, they’ll come up with some sort of bullshit like “it’s not natural formaldehyde like the formaldehyde in a pear.” Right. Because the body can tell the difference of where the formaldehyde came from.

I really wish that anti-vaccine cult members just stopped lying. That’s all. Stop lying and don’t get vaccinated if you don’t want to. But to lie and misinform so openly and so happily, associating vaccines with just about anything that happens to anyone at any time? That right there will earn you a special place in whatever hell you believe in. And, if you don’t believe in hell, we’ll still laugh at you in decades to come as yet another deluded person who thinks they know more than they do. (I’m looking at you, Sherry Tenpenny.)

What worries me the most is that there are a number of groups of nurses who are trying to stop mandates for them to get the influenza vaccine at their place of employment. On its face, it seems ridiculous that they wouldn’t want to do what they need to do to protect their patients. But, like so many other people around the world, they’ve been convinced of monsters under their beds by anti-vaccine activists. Either that’s the case, or their nursing schools really, really suck.

Either way, fears of the influenza vaccine are founded in lies and misinformation from anti-vaccine groups. Many of those fears are founded on fantasies about toxins and inexistent injuries. While some people do react badly to the vaccine, their numbers and proportions are astronomical tiny compared to the toll that influenza exacts on humanity year after year. Chances are that these people would have had a similar, if not worse, reaction to getting the actual disease.

But I’m preaching to the choir, aren’t I?

All the fail you can fit into an infographic

Friends on social media pointed me to this infographic the other day. It states that it wants to “set the record straight” on vaccines and autism, and it uses all of the tricks that we know anti-vaccine cult members use to try and deceive those who are uninitiated. So let’s take it one panel at a time and dissect this thing for all the fail that it is.

fail_1

The answer from the paper was not “yes.” The answer from the paper, as I’ve told you before, is that there was no association between the MMR vaccine and the syndrome (chronic enterocolitis). It was Andrew Jeremy Wakefield who stated that it was his gut feeling that this association existed, and that chronic enterocolitis led to autism. Now, that whole thing about Walker-Smith being absolved and so should Wakefield, well, it’s not that simple. When two people commit a crime in tandem, finding that one was duped by the other into committing the crime doesn’t absolve the duper, only the dupee. And, of course, Wakefield was never “charged” with research fraud because it’s not a chargeable offense. His peers and independent investigators found that his research was a fraud, which is different than charging him.

Now, notice how the authors of this infographic try to explain to us what the study was all about. They call pathology reports “statistical data.” What the hell is that? They’re trying to say that the data was somehow valid, but it wasn’t. It was taken from children who underwent invasive procedures to get pathology samples. There is also the issue of a control group. Of course it was needed. A control group is always needed to ascertain associations and causation. If I take nine people off the street and note that they all wear size 9 shoes, can I say that all people on the planet wear size 9 shoes? No, I’d go to another city and take a bigger sample of people from there and measure their shoe size. But that would have been too much work for Andrew Jeremy, I guess.

Let’s go on to the next panel, because this one did a piss-poor job of defending the Wakefield fraud.

fail_2

A “rush”, huh? There was no such rush. If anything, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield’s study was rushed. Other studies looking at vaccines and autism — the serious and credible ones — take months to design and months to conduct. They’ve looked at rates of autism in vaccinated and unvaccinated. It’s the same rate. They’ve looked at rates of vaccination in autistics and neurotypical kids. It’s the same rate. They’ve looked at how many vaccines and at what age autistics get their vaccines. It’s the same number and at the same age as neurotypical kids. Everything has been explored, but, because the cult of anti-vaccine activists need a demon to fear, they keep clamoring for more and more “research.” When the findings of said research doesn’t pan out, it’s not because there is no association between autism and vaccines. It’s because, in their mind, there is a big, huge conspiracy directed by a guy with horns and hoofed feet.

Also, as was explained in the now deleted comments of the infographic, epidemiological studies can be both about associations and about causation. (Correlation is not something you get from a study. You get that from simply plotting data on graph paper.) If Andrew Jeremy Wakefield’s study was so ground-breaking, why did his published paper not talk about causality? They never made sure to say that the kids were free of enterocolitis before they had autism. They just said, “Hey, these autistic kids have enterocolitis.” Period.

fail_3

You have to give it to the anti-vaccine fanatics. They really do think that CDC is the end-all, be-all of things epidemiological. It’s not. It’s a big institution, yes, but not all research is conducted there. In fact, most research on vaccines and vaccine safety is done by universities and the manufacturers themselves. But these people think that a group of sadists sit around and find ways to create a product that will harm the most people for the lowest price. Those cases mentioned in this panel are laughable examples of “rampant fraud.” First, the CDC whistleblower clearly doesn’t seem to understand biostatistics. Tom Verstraeten? He himself explained why the data were analyzed the way they were. Hint: It was to get at the truth and not be confused by confounders. The Merck lawsuit? Let the Skeptical Raptor explain it better than I ever could:

“The heart of this is that there is no evidence that vaccine effectiveness is, in fact, lower than described. In fact, there’s evidence against that.

  • The number of mumps cases is still very low. Before the vaccine, the United States had over 150,000 cases a year. The outbreaks reported now are in the single thousands – the 2006 outbreak had 6500 cases total, and the 2009-2010 about 3500. With respect to the 2014 mumps outbreak, the CDC stated that “from January 1 to August 15, 2014, 965 people in the United States have been reported to have mumps.”

  • There is more than a little evidence suggesting that the problem – if any – with the mumps vaccine is waning immunity, rather than ineffectiveness when given. This evidence includes most of the outbreaks in question occurred on college campuses, i.e. long after immunization and not among school children, which supports waning immunity, rather than initial low effectiveness, as the problem.

  • Other evidence supports the claim of waning immunity as the likely culprit rather than lack of effectiveness.

  • Also, the major textbook, Vaccines, states that “such estimates may also be indicative of waning of immunity, which is not a factor in controlled clinical trials with a relatively short follow-up period.” (See Page 435.)”

Somehow, because the vaccine is less effective in the real world than in the lab, it must all be a conspiracy.

Paul Thorsen? So he stole money and was an author on a paper. So what? There have been plenty of papers written that confirm those paper’s findings. Bringing his actions up is just a way to trick people away from things that bother anti-vaccine activists.

fail_4One of the things that make me laugh about the anti-vaccine crowd is that they think that they’re “free thinkers” just because they go against facts. Going against facts doesn’t make you a “free thinker” or even smarter than anyone else. It just makes you that weird uncle who believes in UFOs, especially when there is plenty of evidence against your claims. What is even more laughable is that whoever created this infographic wants to come off as intelligent when it comes to science and math by writing “…and these U.S. parents statistically have collegial educations”. Statistically what? Significant? Are you trying to write “statistically significant” as in “there is a statistically significant proportion of non-vaccinating parents who are college educated”? So what? Being college educated doesn’t save you from being gullible to anti-vaccine fabricated pseudofacts.

Also, 1.8% may opt out completely from vaccination, but there are plenty of pockets were more than enough opt out of vaccination to bring us below the “not presumed but factual” herd immunity threshold. (Anti-vaccine people with fears of persecution like to deny that herd immunity exists much like Tea Party Conservatives like to deny that CO2 causes global warming.) And those “1000s of credible studies”? Well, search PubMed and you get a few hundred:

Totally not thousands

Totally not thousands

But that’s what anti-vaccine, irrational people do. They inflate the numbers… Or, as you will see, they deflate them as well.

fail_5 fail_6

Notice how in both instances the “fully vaccinated” in outbreaks were in the minority. If you look up a couple of panels, the same people claim that anti-vaccine people are in the minority. Which is it? Proportionally, more anti-vaccine people — or unvaccinated people for whatever reason — will be part of an outbreak. They will represent more than their share of cases. Why? Because they’re not protected.

And that measles graph that supposedly shows that measles was gone before the vaccine? It only shows that deaths from measles were in decline. We got good at keeping people alive over the years. A better, more honest graph is this one:

measles

Cases of measles dropped precipitously when the vaccine was given. When a second dose was recommended in the 70s, the cases dropped to almost nil in the United States. But you won’t see that graph (published all over credible science websites) from anti-vaccine paranoids because it blows their argument out of the water. I mean, what, is it a happy coincidence that the vaccine went to market and cases dropped to nothing? Furthermore, we once thought that measles was done here in the US, but those pockets of unvaccinated people are bringing it back in a roaring fashion.

Pertussis is also one of those things that lack of complete vaccine coverage has brought back. And, no, there are no findings that state that “the unvaccinated are not to blame” or that “pertussis vaccines do not control whooping cough”. This is all cherry-picking findings in studies. Just because there are some outbreaks with vaccinated people in them doesn’t mean that the vaccine is worthless. That’s the Nirvana Fallacy that a lot of these anti-vaccine types live in. They want all vaccinated to be disease-free (any disease) or the vaccines are not to be trusted.

The truth is simple. If you are fully vaccinated, you are less likely to get vaccine-preventable diseases, and, if you do get them, you are less likely to be part of an outbreak. Those two panels up there actually said that, in so many words. Note how in both panels the “fully vaccinated” are in the minority when it comes to cases and cases in outbreaks.

fail_7

Again, almost immediately, the creator of this infographic fails. Chemicals are only toxic at certain concentrations. At the concentrations found in vaccines, they are not toxic. Hell, some of them are downright inert. But these people want you to believe that you are bring injected with Satan’s own semen, it seems. “Live viral agents!” Jesus Christ! The LIVE VIRUS VACCINE is going to have “LIVE VIRAL AGENTS” because that’s how the vaccine works. And those “live viruses” are attenuated to the point that they cannot cause disease.

Then, the recommendation for the flu vaccine is for people 6 months and older, including pregnant women. It’s not just “6 months old & those who are pregnant.” It’s everyone. Thimerosal at the concentrations found in vaccines is safe. And that claim that the injection is not the same as daily contact is a truism. Daily contact with one of these things can kill, whereas vaccines won’t. Shedding? It only happens with certain attenuated virus vaccines, not with killed virus vaccines like injectable influenza, the tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccine, and others. And, again, the live viruses have been attenuated to not cause disease. (Also, the MMR vaccine so feared by Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, though he was working on his own measles vaccine, never had thimerosal in it.) This panel is nothing but lies and fearmongering, plain and simple.

fail_8

Is there something that vaccines don’t cause? Nope, apparently not. Never mind that there is no evidence of most of these things (or that they think that “sequela” is a bad thing). Likely, these people took the package inserts, which must post everything that participants experienced after getting the vaccine in the clinical trials, and ran with it. I also can’t help but notice a couple of things that have not been proven but are talking points by people who sell “natural” supplements to treat these things.

So made this infographic?

fail_9

Ah, yes, Ms. Heather White. She shows up once in a while in anti-vaccine gatherings and blogs to talk about her knowledge of science, which always ends up giving me a chuckle. Ms. White more than likely has no formal training in science, which explains all her misconceptions about vaccines and autism (and thinking that “sequela” is a disease)… And her misunderstanding of numbers.

Ms. White, there are not “thousands” of studies linking autism to vaccines, especially not in a causal way. There are maybe a handful of those, and most are by cranks who’ve chemically castrated autistics and spread far and wide by people who see autism as an excuse to kill a child. And there are not “hundreds of thousands” of children with vaccine injuries. There just aren’t. Just like there are no monsters under your bed.

 

Just in time for Halloween, an anti-vaccine “expert” rises like a zombie

I was looking through the blog’s stats the other day, and I found out that a ton of people were checking out the post about Peter Doshi, PhD. You know the one? The one where I explain to you that Peter Doshi, PhD is not an epidemiologist and how his attempt at epidemiology, at explaining to his audience that the flu is not that bad and that flu deaths were not really flu deaths, how all of that was pretty goddamn awful. Well, his screeds are back, and the anti-vaccine and conspiracy theory websites are plastering it all over the place. Lucky for humanity that people are skeptical about his claims, go and Google his name, and come to this blog.

Some of the most recent visitors are coming over from a blog called IO9. They are coming over specifically from a post by Tara Haelle about the myths and facts about the flu vaccine. It’s a good post. My only objection to it is the number of myths she’s trying to debunk all at once. There’s a lot of them, and blog readers are usually TL;DR kind of people. Keep it snappy and keep it short, says the guy who once wrote a 6,000-plus blog post on diabetes. Someone in the comments mentioned an article by Peter Doshi, PhD. It’s the same article from years back, but it has been resurrected, like a zombie, to try and scare people away from the flu vaccine.

I’m glad that so many are skeptical of Peter Doshi, PhD, and I truly hope that someone asks him about the AIDS denialist bit in his history. After all, we wouldn’t want a current professor at the University of Maryland and associate editor at the BMJ being an AIDS denialist, do we? It would be a little bit bad for science. So thanks for the natural news whackaloons for resurrecting Peter Doshi’s article from last year. It’s always fun to deal with zombies.

Happy Halloween! And don't forget to get your flu shot!

“Scary” Peter Doshi, PhD (taken off the conspiracy website and altered a bit)