The Lies Anti-Vaxers Tell (and Why it Matters)

Article and photo by Colin


Lies can make complex problems look simple; anti-vaxers want to keep your eyes on their distortions, rather than looking up to take in the real world.
Lies can make complex problems look simple; anti-vaxers want to keep your eyes on their distortions, rather than looking up to take in the real world.


Thanks to Jenny McCarthy and Megan of Living Whole for proving the point: anti-vaxers are lying to parents. Jenny McCarthy is in the news lately with an op-ed that starts with a whopper: “I am not ‘anti-vaccine.’” This is absolutely not true; McCarthy has worked hard for years to scare parents away from vaccinations. The root of her campaign is her insistence that vaccines cause autism, despite the conclusion of the community of experts that there is no evidence of such a link.

It’s absurd for her to claim now that she only wants “safe” vaccinations, since the dangers she complains about are primarily in her head. Vaccines, like any medicine, can’t ever be 100% safe, but they’re “among the most safe and effective public health interventions to prevent serious disease and death.” Science can’t make a vaccine “safer” if the problems she wants fixed don’t exist. It’s as if she was telling parents not to fly until Boeing finds a way to keep gremlins off their planes. They can’t do it because gremlins, like a vaccine-autism connection, don’t exist. Nevertheless McCarthy uses those false fears to drive a wedge between parents and their doctors, depressing vaccination rates while still shamelessly claiming she’s not “anti-vaccine.”

McCarthy has been lying for years about the dangers of vaccines. If the effect of those lies is to stop parents from vaccinating, then yes, she is an anti-vaxer. But she’s not stupid; she knows that people give more credibility to voices that claim to be “in the middle” or “just asking questions.” So she lies. She claims that she’s not an anti-vaxer, even though her goal and effect is to reduce childhood vaccinations, because she’s a more credible and effective anti-vaxer if she can persuade parents she’s just asking questions about the safety of the vaccination schedule. Since those questions have long since been answered, the only reason she’s still asking them is to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about some of the safest medical products available, her pretense at a balanced stance is false and misleading.

It’s common for anti-vaxers to lie to enhance their credibility. It’s one of the only ways the movement can make progress, since the community of experts disagrees with their conclusions so fervently. One way is to claim false equivalence, as McCarthy does. But we recently saw a good example of an even bolder lie, courtesy of Megan at Living Whole.

Living Whole

When the Dear Parents piece went up, a number of people spammed the comments with links to a rebuttal at a blog called “Living Whole.” (Since Megan, the author there, has silently revised her piece at least twice already, you may want to use the cached copy.) Megan is very upset at the charge that anti-vaxers are lying to parents, and she tries to flip the accusation by claiming that the Dear Parents piece is dishonest. She fails. But she fails in an instructive way: unable to make her point honestly, she proves Dr. Raff’s.

What Lies?

There are many substantive problems with that piece, including cherry-picked data and logical fallacies. The simplest and most ironic flaw is the fact that she blatantly lies to parents in an attempt to promote the anti-vax message. Normally I’m very reluctant to accuse someone of lying; it’s really only appropriate when it’s quite clear that someone is intentionally deceptive. Here, the shoe fits. Even if Megan’s original misleading statements were honest mistakes, her conduct afterwards demonstrates that her intent is to mislead her readers.

These are not the biggest lies out there. They’re not even the most important deceptions in the Living Whole piece. But they’re so clean and clear as examples that I think it’s worth following the chain of events. The article originally claimed that “the vaccine court has rule [sic] that evidence of a causal relationship between autism and MMR exists” and that “vaccine inserts, and countless court cases have confirmed this link.” These three claims—about the vaccine court, the inserts, and “countless court cases” are each objectively false.

It’s obvious why Megan might make these claims. She’s a layperson and anti-vaxer responding to a scientist who has solid research supporting the safety and efficacy of vaccines. She needs to establish that credible, neutral third parties have looked at the evidence and agree with her position. Her story is that the courts have done so, and that even the vaccine makers themselves had to admit it. But she’s lying.

The vaccine court has never ruled that such a link exists. In fact, the omnibus proceedings it used to test the theory came out definitively the other way—the court found the anti-vaxers’ evidence and witnesses were not credible. Far from “countless court cases” agreeing with her, Megan hasn’t been able to point to even one. (I’m aware of just one, a local Italian court from the same system that convicted geologists of failing to predict an earthquake.) Nor is she correct about vaccine product inserts. No vaccine insert I’ve ever seen acknowledges a causative link to autism. I’ve seen one that states that autism has been reported as an adverse event, but such VAERS reports are not confirmation of a causative link. VAERS specifically asks for reports even where the reporter doubts causation.

The author later added a link to a vaccine court ruling, attempting to persuade readers that it supported her claim. I can’t believe that any lawyer (which she claims to be) could read that case and think it “ruled that evidence of a causal relationship between autism and MMR exists.” That court never ruled at all on the question of causation; for technical reasons it was off the table in that case. (I can’t link to the case because the author reverted the article when I pointed this deception out, but you can read my legal criticism there.) Megan was therefore throwing up a piece of legalese she must have known was irrelevant to her claims. She equally must have known most of her readers wouldn’t examine it or understand it, so would believe that it supported what she’d said.

You won’t find much discussion of these problems, or Megan’s revisionary editing, at Living Whole. When I attempted to leave comments explaining why I thought her statements were wrong and requesting citations in case I was mistaken, the author blocked them. Apparently I wasn’t the only one; other people have reported here that Living Whole censored their contributions as well. She allowed one general critique, but declined to support her claims, correct them, or permit a discussion of them. That makes sense from a certain unethical perspective: if she allowed a conversation about the facts to take place under her article, it would be hard for her to justify leaving up false statements she can’t support. Contrast this fearful conduct with Dr. Raff’s policies, which request rather than forbid substantive comments—only one of these authors is confident about the truth of her position.

Why Lie?

Megan wants people to believe that vaccines cause autism. One way to persuade skeptics that she’s right about that is to tell them that neutral arbiters, like the courts, has looked at all the evidence and agrees with her. Another way is to tell them that vaccine makers admit it in their package inserts. But these aren’t true facts. Megan may have honestly believed these things were true when she wrote the piece; she doesn’t seem terribly well educated on the issue, so she could easily have assumed the facts supported her preferred beliefs. But she obviously realized quickly that she couldn’t support those statements, and that they aren’t true.

What matters most is what she did after writing her piece. Once commenters tried to point the problems out to her, she refused to acknowledge the problem or correct her piece—steps that would have shown that her priority was giving her readers accurate information. Instead she concealed the conflicting information from her readers and shoehorned in an irrelevant document, evidently in an attempt to conceal her earlier misleading statements with more dishonesty.

It’s impossible to say with any certainty why Living Whole published these lies. The easy answer is that anti-vaxers have an ideology and they want people to share it. They would use solid facts to promote their beliefs if they could, but when the facts don’t cooperate unscrupulous believers often create a story that does. Megan wants to create that story for her readers—vaccines are scary and awful and wrong, and even the courts and the vaccine makers have admitted it.

That’s probably not the complete answer. Megan is very proud of her lifestyle, which rejects all non-“natural” medicines, not just vaccines. That lifestyle is easier to maintain, and more righteous, if vaccines are actually unreasonably dangerous. It must be fiercely tempting to believe that vaccines are so dangerous, even if the facts don’t support that story. Or maybe it has something to do with her credentials as a “Doctor of Naturopathy” and “Certified Natural Health Educator.” The time and effort she’s invested in developing these alternative medicine credentials was better spent, and the credentials themselves more meaningful, if science-based medicine can’t be trusted. Again, this provides a powerful motivation to disbelieve and even distort facts that are inconsistent with what she prefers to be true. Although it’s beyond the scope of this piece, I suspect Megan is being rationally irrational, a fascinating economic model of human behavior I’m working on for a book. Obviously this is all just speculation. We can’t really know Megan’s beliefs or motives, because we can’t see inside her head (or, obviously, trust her representations on this score).

Why Should I Care?

It was easy for the Living Whole author to lie to parents. From her perspective all she did was tell a little lie and delete some comments. It’s much harder to show that she was lying; it took a long, complicated writeup and a platform to publish it on. It still won’t persuade many people. I can say with nearly absolute certainty that we and/or Megan will get commenters saying that of course she’s telling the truth, or that the lies don’t matter so we must be mean Big Pharma shills to call her out in the first place.

Worse, people who read her lies (or who fed them to her in the first place) will go from this place and lie some more. For a long time to come, commenters around the internet will drop into vaccine-related articles and blithely, obliviously, falsely say just what Megan wants them to believe: courts and the product inserts admit that vaccines cause autism. We can’t stop that by refuting one blogger’s iteration of the fable.

Despite that, I don’t think this writeup is futile. A lot of commenters on the Dear Parents piece chided Dr. Raff as being too combative. They apparently didn’t read the title of the blog and have never seen her left hook. Those commenters weren’t necessarily wrong—strong, direct language like in the Dear Parents piece and this one won’t persuade committed anti-vaxers. Megan is more likely to become defensive and intractable than to come clean.

But we were never going to reach Megan, no matter our tactics. That was never the point. She’s committed to a lifestyle that strongly biases her towards the anti-vax movement. Admitting that she’s wrong, that the movement is wrong, would require thinking critically about whether she’s made the best choices for her kids, and that would be a miserably difficult process for her. At this point it would even require admitting her own dishonesty. Few people have the strength for such brutal honesty, and we can’t expect it from her now. It gets harder, not easier, the more time and effort and heartache she invests in those beliefs.

The point is to reach the undecided parents who are nervous about vaccines but haven’t yet consigned their kids to the mercy of measles. We’ve seen plenty of them in the comments here. I’ve thought extensively about the best way to reach such parents, and the most important lessons are empathy, honesty, and good information. Nothing about that precludes calling a lie a lie.

In fact, it’s an important step. Anti-vaxers’ greatest weapon may be their claim to false equivalence. People want to believe that there are two sides to every story. All that Megan or Jenny McCarthy have to do is make a claim boldly to make it true to someone who doesn’t already know better. If that person later hears another version of events—like, say, “The courts looked at the evidence and rejected the anti-vaxers’ theories” or “the childhood vaccination schedule has been investigated and found to be safe”—then it just sounds like there are two competing voices. A lot of people, in that situation, won’t know which side to choose, so try not to rule out either side. Consequently dishonest anti-vaxers preserve their credibility by telling bold lies. Identifying those lies when we see them, even if you know it won’t make a difference to the liar, makes it easier for those on the fence to see which voices they should discount.

That does require that when we call out a lie, we do so (a) credibly, with good and verifiable information, (b) calmly, since angry or bitter responses reinforce the perception that it’s all just a spat between equal sides, and (c) truthfully, without overstating our case or making unwarranted assumptions. (And as a corollary, when we make mistakes—which we certainly will—owning up to them.) But none of that precludes us from doing it firmly, straightforwardly and forcefully.

Dr. Raff was right. Parents are being lied to, by Jenny McCarthy and Living Whole and a host of other anti-vaxers. There’s no easy solution, but the first step is calling a lie a lie.



146 thoughts on “The Lies Anti-Vaxers Tell (and Why it Matters)

  1. David Colquhoun April 14, 2014 / 5:12 pm

    Excellent. You tell is as it is, and don’t hesitate to use the word “lies”. Keep up the good work.

  2. Rosalyn April 14, 2014 / 5:57 pm

    Succinct and absolutely right. You’ll never reach people by being polarising, smug and shrill. “Empathy, honesty and good information” – exactly!

  3. Anonymous April 14, 2014 / 6:32 pm

    Such lies, I’ve seen the Tripedia insert on the FDA site. I’ve also seen the the injury claims. You try to debunk by statements rather than evidence.

    • Colin April 14, 2014 / 6:39 pm

      Speaking of evidence, would you link to that insert?

    • Colin April 14, 2014 / 6:53 pm

      Never mind my request for a link–I see why you didn’t provide it. It is exactly what I was talking about above. It lists autism as an “adverse event reported,” and makes no concession whatsoever regarding a causative link. As the piece notes, VAERS reports are intended to capture any “adverse event” — any bad thing — that happens after a vaccination, even if the reporter doesn’t necessarily think the vaccine caused it. The insert even cautions readers not to assume that the reports are indicative of causation, while simultaneously acknowledging evidence of causation for genuine side effects.

      • Mike Stevens April 25, 2014 / 2:41 am

        Let us see – the Tripedia information does list autism as one of the adverse events noted after vaccination in the trials. But as explained below, that doesn’t mean it was caused by the vaccine – it is likely to be purely coincidental, seeing as how repeated studies have failed to find any link.

        But wait! I see that the Tripedia vaccine must also “cause” other problems too, according to your narrative:

        “In the German case-control study and US open-label safety study in which 14,971 infants received Tripedia vaccine, 13 deaths in Tripedia vaccine recipients were reported. Causes of deaths included seven SIDS, and one of each of the following: enteritis, Leigh Syndrome, adrenogenital syndrome, cardiac arrest, motor vehicle accident, and accidental drowning.”

        So yes, it is clear that Tripedia causes drowning, and makes Mommy crash her car. Shouldn’t something be done about those terrible things?

    • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:07 am

      Well, at least you were kind enough to tell us lies were coming in your post.

  4. Joe April 14, 2014 / 6:53 pm

    Very good piece and right on the money.

    • Colin April 15, 2014 / 1:06 pm

      Thanks, we appreciate all the support and any shares.

  5. Beckie April 14, 2014 / 8:24 pm

    The o my person telling lies here is the author. She are your facts? Did you bother to even do any research on the numbers of vaccine n jus children and adults? If all you can come up with is ‘parents don’t vaccinate because of Jenny McCarthy’ then you are even more ill informed. It seems to me that you’ve been reading too much of the media and not enough science!

    • Anonymous April 14, 2014 / 10:45 pm

      I think a fairer way to summarise the article would be to say that “some parents don’t vaccinate because of lies spread by liars like Jenny McCarthy”. Generally people read the media and not the science, which makes it seem like every idiot with an opinion is as valid as anyone with a post-grad degree in immunology, and emotions speak louder than facts. Jenny McCarthy and “Living Whole” should feel some responsibility for the unnecessary harm experienced by thousands of un-vaccinated children. THIS should be the emotional issue rather than the perceived, unfounded harm from non-existent, make believe side effects of vaccines.

      • plasmarules April 15, 2014 / 7:36 am

        It’s true, most people just read the media and come off like idiots, which is perfectly illustrated by how many people posted this website’s article on parents being lied to.

    • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:09 am

      No, this author was telling the truth. I know it is hard to recognize it if you are reading mostly antivaccine information because none of it is ever truthful.

  6. gewisn April 14, 2014 / 8:26 pm

    Excellent. The question now becomes, “How do we get the message out that vaccines reduce suffering and save lives, including possibly your child’s and others’ children in your neighborhood?” As you know, there’s some recent research showing that the effort so far has not helped vaccine rates.

    Certainly, primary care practitioners (PCP) are on the front lines of this, but in most places and plans there is still on way to get physicians paid to take the time to do the teaching and refuting the questions that come up because others have lied to parents. I’m not suggesting “it’s all about the money,” because no one entering primary care practice in the last 25 years really thought they would get rich doing it. And it is still true that taking 20-30 minutes to try to explain the reasons, answer the questions, and then try to refute the claptrap in the internet means 2-5 other patients were not seen. If it is a fee-for-service model, that can cut deep into the schedule for just 2 pt’s per day. If it is a capitated system, the PCP has to eventually answer why those other pt’s could not be seen on any given day. But PCP’s income has been largely stagnant or dropping in terms of buying power over what it was 20+ yrs ago, and we all know the student loans have not gone away. One physician put it this way, “Are my kids not allowed to go to a good state university?”

    Even if PCP’s were the primary educators on this issue, they are not generally equipped for the job. Many are not gifted teachers, and understandably. They got into medicine to do things, not talk about them. Nurses and other staff may be more appropriate at times, but the same problems apply. And 1:1 teaching may well be the least efficient method of teaching about such a public health issue.

    Perhaps we already have more useful models for getting this message out.
    If we look at other public health campaigns of the last 30 years (anti-smoking, drunk driving, HIV/AIDS testing, and drug abuse), we can get some idea as to what works and what doesn’t. My casual observation (which should Not be taken as worth anything more than that), is that “Just Say No” was a complete waste of money, and the anti-smoking and drunk driving campaigns that probably worked were starkly visual, sometimes even grotesque, and they were personal. They were individual stories, with photos and voice-overs of people affected. And the more recent anti-smoking ads utilize photography that can turn your stomach, and then allows those patients to look straight into the camera and talk to you, just you, eye to eye.

    Our brains are still designed for effective communication with the family/clan and culture is still primarily spread by individual story-telling. That is not the best way to figure out what is true and what is not (the scientific method is still our best option for finding the truth), but face-to-face is still the best way to spread an idea. And TV and Social Media allow us into people’s living rooms and into their hands. Public leaders’ support (which today, of course, means celebrities) can be helpful, but I have doubts about whether that can sustain a campaign. “Just say no” used lots of celebrities, but seems to have had little/no impact.

    The science of vaccines is really quite clear.
    Now we have to use the same scientific method to figure out how best to design the message, and that message will have to change and adapt (evolve?) to meet the changing landscape of the culture.
    Maybe the science of health education is going to be the largest and most important public health challenge of the next 20 years.

    I realize what I’ve just written is almost entirely speculation and contains nary a speck of evidence. Therefore, it’s not only open to challenge, it begs for it.

    • Maria April 15, 2014 / 9:39 am

      The in your face one to one education is happening, but on the opposite side. Parents doing their own vaccine research are starting out by looking at scientific facts – ingredients, possible reactions, natural disease prevalence vs vaccine reintroduced diseases – then we “walk” into a chat room of parents who’s perfectly healthy, normally developing children regressed, collapsed or died minutes or days after receiving the 3rd dose of something, and we begin to really take notice of the amount of constantly sick, (asthmatic, allergic, diabetic, autistic, etc) children around us these days, it’s not that hard to see the connection between injecting babies with poisons and the decreased health of the general population. The only one’s gaining are the ones that are creating life-long customers: the doctors who want to make sure you keep coming back, and the pharmaceutical companies that funded their medical schools in the first place, there by ensuring they learn and subsequently teach the importance of vaccines and other chemical concoctions, while learning almost nothing about the importance of nutrition and naturally acquired immunity.

      • Scott Nelson April 15, 2014 / 10:05 am

        For JerryA-and here we have yet another case of the Dunning-Kruger effect. You do realize that the same data set could be generated by correlating when children ate their first banana, drank water from a cup, took their first steps-except that parents don’t regard these as traumatic events and so they don’t register.

      • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:11 am

        See, the problem is that we are healthier right now than any time in history and actually as a person living in the US you are less likely to die from any cause than you were in any other time in history. So, it is difficult to correlate the imaginary to vaccines.

      • Chris January 13, 2017 / 3:01 am

        Didn’t you know nappies are the real cause of autism? Almost all children with autism wore nappies!

    • Colin April 15, 2014 / 1:20 pm

      Thanks gewisn, these are very interesting comments. I attended an anti-vax conference recently, with some pretty reprehensible people giving parents awful advice and being treated like rock stars. (For example, one guy told parents the reason their autistic children aren’t sleeping at night could be all the EM radiation from their routers.) The audience was pretty explicit about why they loved these quacks despite the fact that their services were overhyped, expensive, and demonstrably ineffective in reversing autism: “You listen to us.”

      The obvious answer is that doctors practicing science-based medicine should listen more, but you’ve identified the unfortunate logistical problems with that approach.

      Your comments deserve a lot more thought than I’ve had time to give them. Would it be fair in your mind, though, to tell a PCP that they simply aren’t delivering effective medical care if they don’t take that 20-30 minutes with a parent?

      And you’re also right that 1:1 communication is not the right way to reach a mass audience. But don’t discount it as a tool; every parent persuaded to vaccinate is a conduit for the information that persuaded him or her. I teach negotiation skills and we focus heavily on that concept: you’re never talking to just one person. You’re talking through that person to everyone they know. Personal communication alone may not be the most efficient method of disseminating public health messages, but it has to be a part of any effective method.

      I also think you’ve hit the nail on the head with respect to the need for a scientific method for designing the message, by which I take you to mean testing the results and incorporating that evidence in the process. The recent study on the ineffectiveness of certain types of doctor-patient education is a good example. The problem is that anti-vaxers aren’t stupid, and the ones who are willing to lie can adapt their message more quickly than doctors and scientists can. It complicates the process because they can disseminate misleading talking points so quickly that effective communication becomes difficult.

      The solution is to listen to anti-vaxers and adapt to their messages. For example, I’ve seen lots of pro-medicine advocates pointing out that there’s more aluminum in breast milk than a vaccine. The anti-vax counterpoint is that there’s a difference between ingestion and injection. The next time we advocate for vaccines, we need to bear that in mind and cite directly to the studies monitoring aluminum loads or calculations pointing out that injected aluminum doesn’t even approach the safety limits.

      Pardon me if my response rambles a bit, and thanks for such a thought-provoking reply.

  7. Kate April 15, 2014 / 1:07 am

    Interesting article. I get the point about autism, and I think it’s really important to report facts correctly on both sides of the argument. But isn’t one of the problems with vaccines is that they are just brought out onto the market without clinical trials to check their safety?
    And wasn’t there just a trial done with monkeys (university of Pennsylvania maybe???) that injected monkeys with a vaccine and they then developed autism?

    • ischemgeek April 15, 2014 / 6:14 am

      No, and no. Vaccines are held to rigorous safety standards, for one, and for two, there is no observable link between vaccines and autism. It is possible that the study you allude to exists, but for science to be accepted, it has to be repeatable, and over and over the repeatable result is that there is no link between vaccines and autism. Every large-scale study done on the subject shows no link. All of the studies that claim a link are small-scale where statistical error may be significant, or they had significant flaws in their methodology, or, as in Wakefield’s case, they were demonstrably fraudulent.

      Those are two of the sorts of lies the author refers to in the article. Whoever told you that was misleading you, either purposefully or because they themselves were mislead.

      • plasmarules April 15, 2014 / 7:32 am

        No-one has compared rates of ASD between fully vaccinated and fully unvaccinated children, therefore there are no large-scale studies to speak of. Your claim is demonstrably false.

        • JerryA April 15, 2014 / 9:57 am

          This misunderstanding by plasmarules was utterly destroyed the first time he mentioned it two blogs posts ago. His coming back to repeat the same lie reflects poorly on his opinion of the intelligence and memory of other readers. Retrospective studies were done, with group sizes in the hundreds of thousands- absolutely no link between autism and vaccines. Prospective studies putting children at risk of preventable diseases is not only unethical, but it will never satisfy people with no scientific training like plasmarules.

          • Colin April 15, 2014 / 1:23 pm

            As I said above, all an anti-vaxer has to do is say it boldly and someone will believe it. He’s not commenting to inform, but to plant the seeds of doubt. There is no response you could make that will prevent him from repeating the same misleading pseudoinformation again, and again, and again, because it’s not about what’s true. It’s about what he wants people to believe.

        • ischemgeek April 15, 2014 / 1:57 pm

          You’re wrong.

          What I’ve linked above is a review of twenty large-scale epidemiological studies. There are several.

      • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:17 am

        She is talking about that horrible study where a primate behavioral specialist used a very small amount of macaque infants and gave them vaccines and then they supposed got autism like symptoms. For one, the lead researcher has a ton of conflicts that she didn’t state, she misled the ethics board about the monkeys, and then gave some of them 13 MRIs over their first months of life. The dyes used for MRIs are known to cause damage to a developing brain and doctors use them very sparingly.

    • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:13 am

      No, that is not true so couldn’t be a problem.

  8. Katie Sears April 15, 2014 / 1:33 am

    Those of us against vaccines have nothing to gain monetarily, but big pharma and doctors have a lot to lose. What we do have to gain is healthy, unaffected children. You want us to ignore the thousands and thousands of stories from parents whose children were greatly harmed after receiving their vaccinations? I don’t think so.

    • mike vlachos April 15, 2014 / 2:53 am

      The cost of an ICU bed is $8,000 a day where I work as a paramedic. That cost doesn’t count the medications, the machines used, the tests run, the Dr time, the food or anything else. So I’m wondering just how the vaccines make more than this? The profit margin on Morphine (or other pain killers) and other drugs is much higher than it is for vaccines.

    • Joe Seatter April 15, 2014 / 2:54 am

      If big pharma were plotting to get you vaccinated when you didn’t need one, or the doctors were behind it, people in countries with public health care and a weaker pharmaceutical lobby would have smaller vaccination programs. That simply isn’t the case. Additionally, the cost of vaccines is incredibly low, between $15-30 for MMR in the US. The cost of the entire MMR vaccination for the US is roughly $300 million per year. The estimated cost of treating the diseases that would occur without those vaccinations is between ten and twenty times that, $3.8-7.9 billion per year. If pharmaceutical companies wanted to make a ton of money, they’d lobby not to vaccinate anyone, and just treat the illnesses that resulted.

      The thousands of stories are why science is required. Humans are really good at finding patterns. We’re so good at it, that we find them even when they aren’t there. It’s the same basic trait that leads to paredolia, seeing faces and images of people in random noise. Combine this with a basic desire to know what caused something bad to happen, and it’s easy to latch on to vaccination or other events as the cause of unrelated illnesses. But are the illnesses connected? The problem with relying on anecdotes is that it leads to a highly biased sample. You, or a friend has a child who’s illness started on or near the date when they were vaccinated. So it’s natural to suspect the vaccine. You go to a support group, and your encounter thousands of others who suspect the same thing. But what of the hundreds of millions who didn’t have a reaction? Their families don’t go on those sites. And why is the parent suspecting the vaccine? Did it only correlate in time? This is why studies are done.

      Before a drug is introduced, a controlled trial is conducted. After it’s introduced, retrospective studies are conducted – by bodies not controlled by the drug company. And drugs are often recalled. Vaccines have been recalled, altered, or suspended due to things that were noticed in those studies. We used to use a whole-cell pertussis vaccine, and it caused severe reactions in too many children. Far fewer than would have gotten badly ill or died from whooping cough, but too high a number. So they reformulated that portion of the DTaP vaccine. It now doesn’t last as long, but it’s significantly safer. A problem was noticed with the rotarix vaccine. It was suspended for over a month, until it was determined that the contamination was harmless. But study after study, from independent researchers from various countries, have show that vaccines are safe and effective. Are some children harmed by vaccines? Absolutely. But a far smaller number than would be harmed by the illnesses they’re vaccinated against.

      Your doctor should certainly tell you about the risks associated with any medication or medical procedure. They should also tell you about the benefits of that procedure, and the risks of not getting it. In the case of vaccines, unless you have specific allergies or a compromised immune system, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

      • Cindy April 15, 2014 / 4:52 am

        Thank you for this clear explanation!

      • plasmarules April 15, 2014 / 7:37 am

        Logical fallacy, pharmaceutical companies don’t treat patients with measles in hospital, doctors and hospitals do.

        • Michael Johnson April 15, 2014 / 9:49 am

          Um… Dr. Raff is not a pharmaceutical company. The original complaint was that doctors have a lot of money to lose on the vaccination issue. (Yes, it talked about pharmaceutical companies too, but follow me on this one, Fallacy Man.) The insinuation was that Dr. Raff is lying for profit. Joe Seatter nicely points out that that reasoning makes no sense. Maybe the same argument can’t be made for pharmaceutical companies, but again… Dr. Raff is not a pharmaceutical company.

          • Jennifer Raff April 15, 2014 / 10:13 am

            “Dr. Raff is not a pharmaceutical company.” Indeed not!

        • mike vlachos April 15, 2014 / 12:02 pm

          And yet most doctors and hospitals favor vaccinations…

        • Joe Seatter April 15, 2014 / 2:24 pm

          And typically they treat them with… drugs. From pharmaceutical companies. In less serious cases, they’ll get a saline drip. In more serious ones, they’ll get anti-virals, anti[-biotics for secondary infections, sedatives, etc.

      • Katie Sears April 15, 2014 / 12:06 pm

        Twenty eight YEARS ago, I had to pay $50 for the MMR shot for my twins. I had to come up with $100 out of my pocket. So prices have come down? Anyway, I’m suffering permanent damage from the H1N1 shot, so selling me on vaccinations isn’t going to happen. I live in a small community (1,300) where autism and Aspergers is practically the norm. All were fine until after their immunizations. If that’s the new normal, I don’t want my new grandchild to be normal.

        • thirdwarning April 23, 2014 / 3:44 pm

          Thirty-plus years ago, vaccines for my son cost me four dollars apiece. Until the controversy over the whole cell DPT vaccine caused some manufacturers to leave the market and others to raise prices to cover the cost of defending against lawsuits. I know the cost because our insurance at the time didn’t cover well-child visits, so it was all out of pocket.
          However, twenty-eight years ago, for his kindergarten checkup, the cost of the whole office visit was $70, up from the $23 (checkup and one vaccine) that we had been paying. It’s very likely, Katie, that you got caught in that same situation. Many things have changed since then, and it’s very possible that prices have come down.

    • claireclair April 15, 2014 / 11:20 am

      Or, Katie, you could take notice of the millions and millions of healthy, unaffected children who have been vaccinated. And the thousands who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons who have managed to come through childhood unscathed by infectious diseases (which are preventable) because there are fewer children suffering these diseases who can pass them on to others.
      If there were more people who refused vaccination around, we’d still have smallpox around.

    • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:20 am

      That is also not true. A lot of the people who are misleading the antivaxxers are involved in a multibillion dollar industry that sells natural products like Mercola.

  9. Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 2:17 am

    This post is so biased in favor of industry. You are too deep in your dogma to be saved at this point. Good luck and make sure you get all your boosters every 2 to 5 years which we know most of you pro-vaxers don’t do. Hypocrites. This whole argument is ridiculous. Most non-vaxers that I know are very intelligent and respectable leaders in their communities. They are physicians, entrepreneurs, scientists. They have done their due diligence and see the holes in the science. Most don’t even know who Jenny McCarthy is. Evidence-based vaccine science is a hoax. There is no such thing. The main reason for this post is because people are waking up. Megan’s post continues to reach tens of thousands new people every day and this one will go nowhere. You are getting desperate. You lost the battle and you will lose the war. This post is nothing more than lies, quackery, pseudoscience and pure gobbledygook.

    • Cindy April 15, 2014 / 4:53 am

      “The main reason for this post is because people are waking up. ” No, it’s because people are dying.

    • Michael Johnson April 15, 2014 / 10:04 am

      I’m confused. Anti-vaxxer writes article claiming that court rulings and vaccine inserts support her. That’s not true. When confronted with evidence, she secretly amends her post to hide the lies, and censors critics pointing out the problems. She posts irrelevant documents to defend herself, when she presumably knows they’re irrelevant and misleading.

      This post points out the lies and deception. How is that in favor of anything but critical reasoning?

      It’s a red herring to say that most anti-vaxxers you know are physicians and scientists. Most physicians and scientists are pro-vaxxers.

      And what does the fact that Megan’s post will have wide influence prove other than that the anti-vaxxers are and will continue to be effective with their lies? You only have to count the number of children who’ve died from vaccine-preventable illnesses to see that that’s true.

      • Jennifer Raff April 15, 2014 / 10:16 am

        To reassure you, Megan’s post is having considerably less influence than our discussions here. She may be getting “tens of thousands” of visitors, but visitors here number in the millions.

        • Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 10:51 am

          Yes we know non pro vax or even pro safer vax people are not in the majority. Their beliefs are NOT mainstream. Is it really necessary tooting your horn by how many visitors you have? People that question vaccines are going against the grain even though they are hated. Non vaxers are not in the majority and they know that.

          • Jennifer Raff April 15, 2014 / 10:57 am

            Nope! But I was accused of “being desperate”, and I thought I should make it clear that I’m not.

        • Anonymous April 16, 2014 / 4:19 pm

          Have you seen the likes on her blog posts? Thousands. How do you know how many visitors she has? I’d say she’s quite influential but still, why are we attacking individuals (whether it be her or Jenny McCarthy) instead of the real issues?

          • Colin April 16, 2014 / 4:51 pm

            We aren’t “attacking individuals.” Living Whole is complaining mournfully about how unfairly they’re being beaten up, but being called on a lie doesn’t make one a martyr. It’s just as I predicted in my piece: “Megan is more likely to become defensive and intractable than to come clean.”

            The point of the piece is to illustrate the kinds of lies Dr. Raff identified in her Dear Parents post. I don’t think calling a lie a lie is an “attack.” It’s not a question of opinion–the vaccine court hasn’t ruled that the evidence supports a vaccine/autism link. “Countless” other courts haven’t either. The vaccine inserts don’t. And yet, Living Whole’s post still makes these claims, and Megan is still (to judge from the out-of-place complaints on her most recent plaintive piece) deleting comments to steer the conversation away from such deceptions. Again, as I wrote, given a choice between becoming defensive and becoming honest, she predictably chose the former.

            Addressing the real issues means having a conversation about real facts. Blogs like Living Whole exist to prevent that from happening, both by telling lies and by attempting to censor the conversation about such lies.

            How many likes does it take to turn a lie into the truth?

          • Jennifer Raff April 21, 2014 / 5:53 am

            Megan, why are you commenting as “anonymous” and talking about yourself in third person? That’s really weird. One might even say…deceptive. You forget that I can see everyone’s IP addresses.

    • Scott Nelson April 15, 2014 / 10:08 am

      Could we have names of ” physicians, entrepreneurs, scientists”, along with their expertise, who are anti-vaccine?

    • claireclair April 15, 2014 / 11:24 am

      “Evidence-based vaccine science is a hoax.” Peer reviewed evidence based science of any sort is that which the majority of people who have checked the science and found it works. How can the majority of scientists who have researched a particular theory and found it true, be part of a hoax. Because you say so? All the evidence in the world – all hoaxes (like climate change no doubt)?

    • Colin April 15, 2014 / 1:41 pm

      “Megan’s post continues to reach tens of thousands new people every day and this one will go nowhere.”

      They say a lie can go halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on.

    • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:24 am

      Anon, people are waking up, but it is not in the way you are hoping. Regular people can see with their own eyes that everything antivaxxers say is false and they are tired of it. Even the people I know that once kind of put up with antivaxxers and could see some of their points are over it.

  10. Brewil April 15, 2014 / 2:18 am

    Dear Katie, The next time your child hurts themselves on rusty metal, I am sure you will insist that he or she get’s no tetanus shot as it goes against your opinion.

    • Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 7:14 am

      With all do respect, you don’t get tetanus (which his very rare) from rusty nails. Secondly, it can be treated with oxygen (from hydrogen peroxide) and cold water. No vaccine is required BUT there is a tetanus immunuglobulin available should one need is post-exposure. Seems like this would be a much better route than a horrible Dtap/Tdap shot.

      • Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 7:16 am

        The cut* can be treated with cold water and hydrogen peroxide to kill tetanus bacteria.

        • Jennifer Raff April 15, 2014 / 8:20 am

          If your child contracts tetanus and is not treated by a physician, you are dooming him or her to one of the worst deaths I can imagine. Please, please reconsider your views on this.

          • Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 8:53 am

            Why would they not be treated by a physician? We are not in a third world country. It seems you are using worst case scenarios. The recommendation per the CDC is to get the vaccine plus TiG which is a dose of actual tetanus antibodies if you are exposed to tetanus. Getting tetanus is incredibly rare. Let’s not hype this up.

        • Korrin April 16, 2014 / 9:15 pm

          This is absolutely true. Tetanus Immunoglobulin is also available should one in rare case actually be exposed to tetanus.

      • Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 1:31 pm

        Do you mean due respect?

      • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:28 am

        I actually got tetanus in a tiny little scrape from a juice machine when I was in my early 20s and working as a server. Lucky for me I was only a little over a year overdue on my booster so it was very mild. They did not give me tetanus IgG they gave me the vaccine.

    • plasmarules April 15, 2014 / 7:32 am

      And what about the next time her child suffers a vaccine-induced encephalopathy causing permanent brain damage?

      • JerryA April 15, 2014 / 9:59 am

        What about the 1,000x times greater risk of encephalopathy from the disease?

      • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:30 am

        Why would a small increased risk of encephalopathy be a reason not to vaccinate against a disease with a large risk of encephalopathy?

  11. Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 7:11 am

    I’m confused, you said you state your position calmly to discourage the perception of a spat but this entire post attacks individuals not a position in which you end up calling Jenny McCarthy and Megan liars? Sure seems like bitterness and anger to me. I checked out her site and you also left off the fact that she’s an attorney. That’s a “legitimate doctorate” is it not so why didn’t you include it? What are your credentials? What are the credentials in your opinion required for a parent to raise their child?

    You also said she revised her post several times but then said she didn’t change her post when you confronted her. Which is it? There’s a comment policy on this blog, I read hers. Many of the comments posted in the original “Dear Parents” post were derogatory at best.

    It’s sad that you wasted an extensive amount of time trying to refute and attack these individuals personally in this post and then tried to justify it using the same moral or emotional lack of science arguments you accuse others of doing. I suggest sticking the topic at hand next time.

    • anotherone April 15, 2014 / 7:57 am

      Anonymous 7:11am. Did you actually read this article?

      The author calls McCarthy and Meghan liars because “Anti-vaxers’ greatest weapon may be their claim to false equivalence” and she believed that calling a spade a spade in this instance was the best way to reach non committed people who might be lead to believe there is an equivalence between pro and anti vaccine views.

      Her point is that anti vaccine advocates repeatedly distort and omit information.

      The author also outlines which aspects of their post McCarthy and Meghan did and did not change.

      The author allows that McCarthy and Meghan may have allowed some broad negative comments, but not specific references pointing out the innacuracies and distortions of their article.

      I must say that I’ve started doing quite a bit of reading in this area, myself, and have become amazed by the distortions and lack of scientific approach of anti-vaccers. I don’t know how people can repeatedly go around quoting that a paper proves something when it so clearly doesn’t.

      The purpose of the article is to outline the deceptive practise of some anti vaccers, as an example of a broader dishonesty/ inability to address fact.

      Truth matters, I’m afraid.

    • Colin April 15, 2014 / 1:50 pm

      I won’t duplicate anotherone’s response, so let me just add that I would appreciate your reading the article before you complain about it. I do, for example, specifically mention that she claims to be a lawyer. Similarly, I think it’s clear from the post that she revised her article to add a deceptive link–doubling down on a lie–then reverted it back to its original state when called on it. (Probably because not citing anything is safer for a liar than citing something that can be pointed to and explained.) In other words, she changed her post at least twice but didn’t remove or justify her false statements.

      I took the time to refute the Living Whole piece for exactly the reasons I wrote about above. It’s strategically, morally, and ethically appropriate to call a lie a lie. We aren’t the editors to the world and can’t do it for every blatant misrepresentation, but that doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time when we can do it.

  12. plasmarules April 15, 2014 / 7:34 am

    Linking to the IOM’s 2013 report as though it answers questions about the safety of the current vaccine schedule is laughable – I read this report’s pre-pub last March and one of the first things I noticed was its acknowledgement of no studies being done on the schedule as a whole, their rather peculiar conclusion is based on individual studies. So what you’re saying is, if 1 glass of water is safe to drink so too is 100 glasses of water?

    • Colin April 15, 2014 / 1:58 pm

      The IOM recommends more research into the schedule as a whole, but it’s deceptive to say that it doesn’t “answer questions about the safety of the current vaccination schedule.” No one has studied whether owning both Fords and Chevies causes autism, for example, but a study of whether owning either did would reveal that fact.

      Your comment also reveals a common effort among anti-vaxers to spread fear where no evidence of harm exists–it’s more as if you were saying, “1 glass of water is safe to drink, but the scientific community has never studied whether 10 glasses of water will drown you!”

  13. plasmarules April 15, 2014 / 7:38 am

    “if science-based medicine can’t be trusted.”

    You mean the science-based medicine and trusty government regulatory agencies that brought us Vioxx?

    • JerryA April 15, 2014 / 10:02 am

      The same agencies also took Vioxx off the market. The same agencies which are legally blocked from regulating the very highly profitable supplements industry (which promote an anti-science mindset, speaking of profits and conflicts of interest).

      • Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 11:02 am

        What supplements in your opinion are anti-science? Sooo if it’s not a pharmaceutical drug you don’t trust it?

        • Jennifer Raff April 15, 2014 / 11:23 am

          Here is a meta-analysis of studies examining the effects of antioxidant supplements in 296,707 subjects:

          Authors’ conclusions: “We found no evidence to support antioxidant supplements for primary or secondary prevention. Beta-carotene and vitamin E seem to increase mortality, and so may higher doses of vitamin A. Antioxidant supplements need to be considered as medicinal products and should undergo sufficient evaluation before marketing.”

          Did you get that part? INCREASE mortality. Why shouldn’t these products be regulated by the FDA?

          • Anonymous April 16, 2014 / 9:18 pm

            So what do you think the body subsists on if not for vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and other various nutrients? Why do we even eat food and why are diets so instrumental in influencing one’s health? The FDA can’t regulate grass and pharma can’t patent a naturally occurring substance…oh wait, guess who is a pharmaceutical company’s biggest competitor? Hmm…

          • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:34 am

            I believe all the fat soluble vitamins are toxic at certain doses.

        • JerryA April 15, 2014 / 2:35 pm

          Homeopathy (classed as a supplement) has been tested by NCCAM several times, to the point they won’t do any more studies. It does not work in any way, shape, or form. The concept of homeopathy is anti-science because it does not make sense. It is based on 19th century vitalism, not biology or chemistry. Most herbs tested do not have a reliable dosage of their active ingredient, if there is anything to be active. Most herbs tested don’t have the medicinal effect that they claim, to the point that some manufacturers lace their herbs with real drugs without putting them on the label (a dangerous & illegal practice). Some herbs have awful side effects, e.g. echinacea, clematis, snake root. The problem with the supplement industry is that unless harm is proved, they can still keep selling the trash as medicine, without having to prove efficacy. The FDA is legally blocked by law from protecting people from snake oil with no effectiveness, but can only regulate real medicine.

      • Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 11:09 am

        Also, if I might add another question: Why are drugs taken off the market? I thought they are subjected to rigorus testing and safety standards. Shouldn’t they never need to be taken off the market if they are adequately tested for safety?

        • Michael Johnson April 15, 2014 / 11:38 am

          Nobody should be allowed to drive a car. They *claim* that cars are tested rigorously for safety standards, so they should never be recalled, if that’s true. But cars do get recalled. Therefore, the standards don’t work and we should blow it up! No cars for anyone! Mutatis mutandis, food.

        • Scott Nelson April 15, 2014 / 11:50 am

          I don’t know-why do they have car recalls? Aren’t they adequately tested for safety prior to release?
          Per FDA:
          “Phase 1 studies are usually conducted in healthy volunteers. The goal here is to determine what the drug’s most frequent side effects are and, often, how the drug is metabolized and excreted. The number of subjects typically ranges from 20 to 80.

          Phase 2 studies begin if Phase 1 studies don’t reveal unacceptable toxicity. While the emphasis in Phase 1 is on safety, the emphasis in Phase 2 is on effectiveness. This phase aims to obtain preliminary data on whether the drug works in people who have a certain disease or condition. For controlled trials, patients receiving the drug are compared with similar patients receiving a different treatment–usually an inactive substance (placebo), or a different drug. Safety continues to be evaluated, and short-term side effects are studied. Typically, the number of subjects in Phase 2 studies ranges from a few dozen to about 300.

          At the end of Phase 2, the FDA and sponsors try to come to an agreement on how large-scale studies in Phase 3 should be done. How often the FDA meets with a sponsor varies, but this is one of two most common meeting points prior to submission of a new drug application. The other most common time is pre-NDA–right before a new drug application is submitted.

          Phase 3 studies begin if evidence of effectiveness is shown in Phase 2. These studies gather more information about safety and effectiveness, studying different populations and different dosages and using the drug in combination with other drugs. The number of subjects usually ranges from several hundred to about 3,000 people.”

          If a drug had adverse side effects in 1/5000 of the population-you’re not going to see it-statistically it would occur in 0-1 patients, and you don’t know if its an outlier or the start of a trend. The other thing that happens is that with prolonged use, adverse side-effects pop up in specific populations, that may or may not be in the studied population. That’s why all drugs undergo post-release surveillance, to catch the rare events. Bear in mind that the drug company bears all the costs of development up to release- $100,000,000’s including discovery, large scale synthesis under GMP conditions, phase 1, 2, 3 testing-and many drugs washout along the way. The FDA could impose a 20 year testing period on all drugs-but that would make them so expensive that no one would ever see it.

          Yes, drugs are tested for safety-as are cars-but things happen that nobody ever thought about-that’s why drugs sometimes are recalled

          • Michael Johnson April 15, 2014 / 11:58 am

            Yeah, sorry, Poe’s law, apparently I’m indistinguishable from an actual anti-vaxxer. The car analogy was an *attempt* at a reductio (hence bringing in food at the end… ridiculous to suggest no one should eat food…). Sorry, I’ll go back to comedy camp. Better next time, I promise.

        • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:33 am

          How could you get millions of people for a safety study? I think you should go back and ask some more elementary science questions if you are not being disingenuous because your lack of understanding could be part of the problem.

  14. Scott April 15, 2014 / 11:41 am

    Oh, so many points to make…
    1. Vaccine-preventable diseases are not rare! Without vaccines, they are the most common infections around. In the “olden days” everyone expected to get measles, polio, whooping cough, and occasionally smallpox or yellow fever. People lived in fear of the dirty cut that could lead to lockjaw. Everyone had friends and relatives that died or were disabled from these. EVERYONE. In many countries these are still part of the everyday experience. If you want to “live naturally”, move to northern Nigeria or Chad, let your children be exposed to polio and tetanus.
    2. If you really wanted to “live naturally” you wouldn’t worry about autism or food sensitivities. You’d worry about just getting food, and about not dying from diarrhea, or being eaten by lice and dogs. One of the main post-renaissance ideas is that of progress, and it’s a package deal. Science, medicine, and how to live together as a civilization.
    3. Cold water and peroxide? Seriously? You may deserve tetanus, but your children don’t. Anyone else who has watched a newborn die of tetanus can argue with me. If you haven’t, go away.
    4. “Big Pharma” is real, I deal with them everyday. Budgets control everything today. Almost–the ethical framework is still in place. Vaccines are still the best deal for the marketplace, as far as cost/unit/prevented morbidity. Seriously, Pharma and hospitals would make a lot more money by treating ANY vaccine-preventable disease than they do currently by trying to prevent it.

    • Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 12:00 pm

      They know that too. But they wouldn’t really be doing their job now would they. As the acronym spells out center for disease control. Big pharma doesnt treat patients, they make drugs.

      • Colin April 15, 2014 / 2:01 pm

        Has there ever been any case of a pharma company withholding a cure for profit? How many people would have to be in on that conspiracy for it to even work?

  15. informedmama April 15, 2014 / 12:14 pm

    I am one of the hated – a non-vaxing mother of 2. I didn’t make that decision lightly and I sure as hell didn’t make the decision because of Jenny McCarthy or any other individual, famous or not. I made the decision for many reasons, first triggered by having worked for Big Pharma for many years pre-children, taking AE reports (on Vioxx and any other drug mentioned during the phone calls we received), and in mktg for vaccines (and other products). It is a BUSINESS. These companies do NOT care about my children – they care about money (of course! They are trying to stay IN BUSINESS).

    My children are healthy and in a low/no-risk group for many reasons and I am grateful to be able to make a choice for them and I fear for this country if that choice disappears. I am not pro-vax or anti-vax for anyone outside of my family; I am pro-vax CHOICE for all. Make informed decisions for yourselves in all areas of parenting.

    • Colin April 15, 2014 / 1:05 pm

      Hi informedmama,

      You aren’t hated. You aren’t a martyr. And if you think that vaccine manufacturers’ profits aren’t directly tied to the benefits of their products, you aren’t terribly well informed.

    • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:37 am

      You are not hated. You are trying to inflate your status here and it is not cute. I just feel sorry for your children and the other people that think you know anything about immunology or vaccines. It makes me sad to see people make such important decisions based on complete ignorance of the subject.

  16. Katie Sears April 15, 2014 / 1:02 pm

    For the record, I am not against the normal vaccines infants used to get. I vaccinated my girls without incident. DPTs at two months, four months and six months. An MMR at 15 months and another DPT at 18 months and a booster for Kindergarten. It’s all this other stuff they’ve introduced in the past two decades I’m uneasy about. Unless their mother is infected, a newborn infant does NOT need a hep B shot before leaving the hospital. And yet, they want to give them one. I couldn’t believe the number of shots a child gets by their 6th birthday these days. It’s a heck of a lot more than mine got. Back then we didn’t know anyone who had a child with all these behavioral conditions. Now they’re coming out of the woodwork. So if it isn’t the new vaccines, what IS causing it?

    • Colin April 15, 2014 / 2:05 pm

      The same doctors and institutions that recommended the “normal vaccines infants used to get” are recommending the normal vaccines infants now get. Why did they suddenly become untrustworthy?

      As for giving newborns Hep B vaccines, do you really not understand the rationale? Can I ask you to explain what you think their rationale is–what a doctor would say if you asked her?

    • ischemgeek April 15, 2014 / 2:13 pm

      Increased public education and recognition of already-existing issues is responsible for a lot of it. Many famous historical figures were well-known to be eccentric in ways strongly suggestive of developmental disabilities or had famously difficult times learning to read or write.

      In some mythologies, they talk of “changelings” who look like normal children but develop into wild beings that are prone to wandering off and might not learn to talk or if they do learn to talk, they’re always strange and don’t fit into normal society. Interesting how well that story parallels modern autism rhetoric.

      In some cases – dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and dyslexia all come to mind – disability wouldn’t have been discovered because it probably wouldn’t have been a disability in an illiterate and innumerate world. In others, it might have just been written off as being clumsy or careless (dyspraxia and other motor planning disorders).

      Behavioral disorders would be (still are) written off as being a spoiled brat in children, or as being eccentric or high strung or hot-tempered in adults.

      People with disabilities have been here all along – it’s just that, thanks to science, the rest of you are starting to recognize that we exist instead of chalking up our difficulties to moral failings.

    • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:43 am

      Giving HepB to infants is good sound science. Liver infections are hard for children under 5 to clear while most adults clear them easily. Liver infections that are not cleared can lead to liver failure and liver cancer. Most people who have chronic liver infections contracted them before the age of five. HepB is a liver infection which can be spread through blood and other bodily fluids. It can remain on surfaces for over 50 hours. Over 20% of children infected with HepB have no risk factors. When the HepB vaccine was first licensed different countries started to administer it to 2.5-4 year olds. This was not enough to reduce the incidence so they kept bringing it down. Now all countries give it either at birth or 2 months. In high endemic countries, giving it at 2 months reduces the incidence in children by over 80% but giving it at birth reduces it by over 90%. Don’t listen to what other people are telling you. They do lie. This is very good science.

  17. Colin April 15, 2014 / 1:04 pm

    Just a quick note–if you don’t see your comment posted, please let us know–it’s probably in the spam queue.

  18. Judy Simon April 15, 2014 / 1:32 pm

    Why is this debate constantly limited to autism and vaccine safety? Noam Chomsky explains this well when he said, “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….”

    Autism and the safety of vaccines are but a small piece of the pie. Please tell us more about how much you know about viral fragments and what effect they have when injected in out blood streams. Tell us about the pestivirus, and all the other, yet-to-be-known wild, non-human viruses contaminated in the vaccines. Tell you readers about how get most of our vaccines from China, and how their facilities are only “inspected” every 13 years…and by inspected, I mean, when the FDA goes to China, does not enter the plant at all, but has the plant manager come out and inform them, “all is well”.

    Lets talk about how no one has died from the measles in the U.S since 2003. Do millions of children die in third world countries from “vaccine preventable” diseases? Yes. And they can just as easily die from a sneeze. So, how about instead of fear-mongering, we discuss the difference between living in America, and living in Africa…as if we already don’t know. The difference is clean water, sanitations proper nutrition. These things, including the discovery of the importance of washing hands, is what saved us and lowered the death rate from these diseases DRAMATICALLY, not vaccines!! Vitamin A deficiency and/or a compromised immune system is associated with adverse reactions or death associated with measles. This is why the CDC uses global data. Americans aren’t getting the whole truth. The CDC is constantly manipulating data to promote fear. For instance, they claim that thousands of people die in the U.S from the flu. But this isn’t true, they lump flu deaths in, with pneumonia because it’s a bigger, scarier number.

    All the diseases we get vaccinated for are mild and offer TRUE lifelong immunity and are a NECCESSITY in the building of our immune system. Take the much feared Polio, 90% have ZERO symptoms. Yet, we vaccinated 100% of the population when only approximately 2-3% have paralysis, which isn’t always permanent. Is it not more likely that very small percentage is the exception, not the rule? Isn’t it more likely that they have a compromised immune system? But that’s just the beginning…I recommend people do more research into these mild diseases and their histories.

    And what about the godfather of spreading vaccines to the poor, Bill Gates saying, “if we do a really great job on new vaccines… we could lower [world population] by 10 or 15 percent.” Now, maybe I am just really stupid, but how would a brilliant man plan to use something that can save lives to LOWER the population??? Also note, that he has been caught sterilizing women in Africa through the tetanus vaccine…that was only given to women between the ages of 4-45…hmmmm….Oh, and lets not forget the 46,000 in India with VACCINE-INDUCED polio. Can we say, Eugenics??

    And please tell me how it is, with all these vaccines, we have, we still have one of the HIGHEST infant mortality rates? Parent’s like to say their children are vaccinated, don’t have autism and are fine. Let’s define “fine”. Is fine the epidemic levels of asthma, SEVERE allergies, auto-immune disease, leaky gut, behavioral problems, neurological disorders, diabetics, cancer, tumors, SIDS, etc.? Most, if not all of these were unheard of or extremely rare a hundred years ago.

    Clearly, we are doing something wrong. Are we going to rely on vaccines from here until the rest of eternity? Are we out to eradicate all bacteria in our environment or to strengthen our defenses against bad bacteria? Are we out to fight disease in it’s invisible realm, or strengthen our immune systems to prevent it’s overcoming us? After all, the terrain is more important than the germ.

    I almost forgot, perhaps you should explain how all these “safety” studies are done. They simply compare one group of vaccinated people’s to that of another group of peoples reaction, to a different vaccine….sound ligit…not.

    And for the record, I have never listened to or read anything about Jenny McCarthy on vaccines, and I don’t even know who the other lady you named was…but nice cop out.

    The science is out there, and so are the doctors, scientist and researchers who question vaccine safety, and I will leave you with a small amount of peer reviewed studies.

    • JerryA April 15, 2014 / 2:19 pm

      You lost any hope of being believed by the historically knowledgeable when you argued that vaccine-preventable diseases are “mild” and that in your opinion ‘only’ a 2-3% paralysis rate from polio was not a big deal. Those diseases crippled or killed more people than all the wars and the Holocaust and Stalin and Mao’s insanities combined. The relatively poor country of India announced just this month that it is proud of the fact that their major, very expensive polio eradication effort succeeded due to a major vaccination effort. You are historically and scientifically illiterate and a danger to others.

      • Judy Simon April 15, 2014 / 2:45 pm

        And JerryA….you do realize there were 46,000 cases of VACCINE-INDUCED Polio in India… tell me more about how it has been eradicated?????? And just so you know, the vaccine virus is much deadlier than the wild virus.

        • Colin April 15, 2014 / 3:05 pm

          Please refrain from leaving duplicate comments. And please cite your sources going forward. The Hindu reported a child testing positive for vaccine-derived polio in 2013, and noted that he was the fourth such case that year (as of July). Even one such case is more than we’d like, but that’s a rate of >10/year, which is an enormous improvement over the wild disease.

        • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:46 am

          No, there is not. There was a problem where the Indian government was giving up to 6 oral polio vaccines to a single child in a year and that does apparently increase the risks. This is in no way recommended by anyone.

      • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:45 am

        On a side note. WWII was the first war that the US lost more soldiers on the battlefield than to infectious diseases.

  19. Colin April 15, 2014 / 2:19 pm

    Hi Judy,

    That’s a long and exciting rant. It might have been fun to write, but it’s not really making cogent points. For example, we don’t just vaccinate out of the fear of death–measles is a dangerous and awful disease even when it doesn’t kill its victims. And of course, the reason people in industrialized nations don’t die from it is largely because so few of us get it–and that’s down to vaccines.

    Similarly, I’ve seen the Gates thing before. It’s not really hard to understand what he was saying, but you have to think about it rather than work it into the anti-vaccine narrative. The theory (as far as I know, the data is good, but I haven’t looked into it myself) is that when infant mortality rates are high people have more children. Vaccines bring infant mortality down, which reduces some of the pressure to have lots of kids.

    Regarding the polio vaccine, I’m not sure your numbers are right–but even if they are, you’re not building a serious analysis with them. If even just 2-3% of polio victims get even temporary paralysis, that’s a big deal. In 1952, there were nearly 60,000 polio cases and over 20,000 were paralytic. Were did you get the idea that this was a mild disease? Probably not from a survivor! (Many of whom, by the way, are now experiencing post-polio syndrome. It’s a disease that keeps on giving.)

    • Judy Simon April 15, 2014 / 2:41 pm

      When it comes to Polio, and only a small percent of people becoming paralyzed, the point I was making is, why don’t we look into what makes them different? Why do only a very small percent have that reaction? But we don’t look into it, we just vaccinate everyone. You are FAR more likely to die from an auto mobile accident, but I don’t see anyone banning vehicles. You may want to look more in depth on the very high spike of Polio cases we had in 1952….you see, DDT was being sprayed everywhere, we didn’t realize at the time how deadly it was. In fact, the symptoms of DDT poisoning are the same as Polio…thanks for pointing that out!

      I by no means think it’s no big deal for anyone to get sick, die or have paralysis. However, these viruses are naturally occurring. So, it would seem to be best to strengthen our immune systems, rather than poisoning ourselves with toxic chemicals. I just don’t understand how people can say there should be an ACCEPTABLE amount of poisons we can knowingly inject into our bodies. Also, we can not eradicate death, nor can we eradicate diseases. They claim Polio is gone, but no, it just has a new name.

      • Colin April 15, 2014 / 2:58 pm

        Judy, have you looked into whether such research has been done? Let’s assume that we could detect in advance who would be paralyzed by the disease–it would still be worthwhile to vaccinate broadly for it, given (a) the unreliability of such tests in the real world, (b) the need to protect people who can’t be immunized via herd immunity, (c) the need to protect those for whom the vaccine fails through herd immunity, and (d) the non-paralytic harms of polio such as post-polio syndrome. Epidemiologists do consider the costs and benefits of vaccinations, and do not recommend blanket immunization for diseases like rabies and yellow fever. The polio vaccine is recommended for a reason. Incidentally, you initially called polio a “mild” disease. Do you still think that?

        I don’t quite understand your second paragraph. Are you suggesting that we fight polio by “strengthen[ing] our immune systems”? That’s what vaccines do. I’m not sure what you’re proposing.

        Finally, there is an “ACCEPTABLE amount of poisons” you can knowingly inject into your body. The periodic table isn’t divided into “POISONS!!!!” and “NATURAL” elements. All substances are potentially poisonous, depending on the dosage. And many, many things you eat or inject contain scary-sounding ingredients, like the chlorine in table salt or the formaldehyde in apples. Scientists study and research to find out what the safe exposure levels of those substances are.

    • Judy Simon April 15, 2014 / 2:47 pm

      From the CDC : The symptoms of measles generally begin about 7-14 days after a person is infected, and include:

      Measles RashImage of measles infection
      Skin of a patient after 3 days of measles infection.

      See Photos of Measles for additional images.
      •Blotchy rash
      •Runny nose
      •Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
      •Feeling run down, achy (malaise)
      •Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth (Koplik’s spots)

      A typical case of measles begins with mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and sore throat. Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots (Koplik’s spots) may appear inside the mouth.

      Three to five days after the start of symptoms, a red or reddish-brown rash appears. The rash usually begins on a person’s face at the hairline and spreads downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. When the rash appears, a person’s fever may spike to more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

      After a few days, the fever subsides and the rash fades.

      • Colin April 15, 2014 / 3:02 pm

        Please cite your sources. You appear to have taken that list from the “signs and symptoms page at the CDC. That’s obviously not going to discuss the complications, which are noted to include ear infections, corneal scarring, encephalitis, and pneumonia. The CDC notes that “one or two out of 1,000 die.” That’s much, much more dangerous than the vaccine.

    • Judy Simon April 15, 2014 / 2:51 pm

      If someone dies from a rash, then CLEARLY something is not right. Compromised immune system fro vaccines and or antibiotics? Probably so. You people obviously know nothing about theses diseases if you are willing to trade a rash for a damaged brain and immune system. I mean, what the hell kind of logic is that.???

      • Colin April 15, 2014 / 3:04 pm

        No, Judy. They die from the complications such as pneumonia, or are permanently injured by complications such as corneal scarring and encephalitis. If you didn’t understand that already, and honestly believed that doctors are primarily concerned about the rash, then you do not have an informed opinion on the subject.

        • Judy Simon April 15, 2014 / 3:14 pm

          This also happens, at a much higher rate, from vaccines. And that very small percent of people who have these complications from measles do not have a healthy (normal) immune system….and vaccines destroy our immune system. Geez.

          • Colin April 15, 2014 / 3:22 pm

            I see three factual assertions in that comment:

            1. Complications occur at a higher rate from vaccinations;
            2. People who get complications from measles do so because they don’t have normal immune systems; and
            3. Vaccines destroy our immune systems.

            Can you support any of them with evidence?

          • Judy Simon April 15, 2014 / 5:52 pm

            Colin, you people exhaust me. Ya’ll do no research, but want me to find a source for EVRYTHING.

            Anywho, I left out the part about measles death being related to vitamin A deficiency. I am sharing with you the first study that I pulled up…..feel free to do some more probing of your own.

            #1 I don’t think I even need a study to show you that there are more complications to vaccines than the measles, seeing as how no one has died from the measles in the U.S in eleven years. The fact that the federal government pays out billions annually to vaccine injured families (which is estimated to only be 10-20% of the actual cases) tells you (your common sense does this) that there are an exponential amount of complications.

            2#3 One reason it is so hard to give you people “proof” is that we very much lack in adequate studies on vaccines. This is where the problem lies, we know very little about vaccines impact on our bodies. There is so much that is unknown, yet we are constantly told, “No further research needs to be done. Vaccines are safe and effective.” That is a very obtuse statement to make. If you ever hear someone say, “we have come to a conclusion the end” in ANY field of science. they are either ignorant or have an agenda. If vaccines are effective, then how is it these “outbreaks” consist of very high vaccination rates? Like the mumps outbreak in Ohio, 97% were vaccinated. You see, vaccination does not equal immunity. And how about you show me a study proving they don’t damage the brain and immune system (because actually vaccines evoke an immune response, which in turns, cause inflammation in the brain that can lead to brain damage. See Russell Blaylock). You surely aren’t going to argue that just because you can’t find any, doesn’t make it so. That doesn’t fly for the people who understand that vaccines are unnecessary, unsafe, and ineffective.

            Here is one study showing vaccines hinder/damage/weaken the immune system.

          • Colin April 15, 2014 / 6:18 pm

            I cannot imagine where you got the idea that we “do no research.” We do exhaustive research for the things we write. I littered my post, and my comments here, with links to my sources. Dr. Raff does the same. And yes, we do want you to find a source for everything. We’re here talking about the misapprehensions anti-vaxers spread, and data are the cure for that.

            Thanks for the Science Daily link. I don’t think it says that “measles death” is “related to Vitamin A deficiency.” I think it says that vitamin A deficiency contributes to premature mortality generally, and separately that vitamin A supplementation can reduce the incidence of measles. They’re two separate points. What I understood you to be saying originally was that complications from measles are primarily found in people with compromised immune systems; that doesn’t seem to be anywhere in the article you cited.

            Your comment re: no one dying from the measles in the U.S. in eleven years is a bit confusing. Do you understand that the reason for that is that the measles vaccine has made the disease vastly rarer than it would be otherwise? The comparison should be between the people who would have the disease but for the vaccine and the harm caused by the vaccine, not the people who get the disease despite the vaccine and the harm of the vaccine. Please let me know if I haven’t explained the logic there clearly.

            As for 2 and 3, why do you say there aren’t sufficient studies? It sounds like your primary complaint is that you can’t find research supporting what you believed to be true. That might be due to inadequate research, but it’s also possible that your preconceptions were wrong. I suspect the latter is true, given the thorough research into vaccine safety.

            No one, no one, no one, no one is saying “no further research needs to be done.” The IOM report I linked above makes numerous, specific recommendations for exactly what further research needs to be done. What people are telling you is that the research that has been done is fairly conclusive as to many of the complaints anti-vaxers make. But I think you’ll have to lift a lot of rocks to ever find a scientist willing to say further research is unnecessary.

            Vaccines aren’t 100% effective or safe. No medicine is, or can be. The question is whether the benefits outweigh the harms. The overwhelming consensus of experts, the people with the most exposure to and understanding of the data, is that they do. The IOM report, which is an analysis of much of the existing research, is a great place to start reading.

      • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:49 am

        Vaccines don’t compromise your immune system and antibiotics only mess with your intestinal flora of commensal bacteria. This is part of your defense, but not a main one.

  20. Judy Simon April 15, 2014 / 2:44 pm

    And JerryA….you do realize there were 46,000 cases of VACCINE-INDUCED Polio in India… tell me more about how it has been eradicated?????? And just so you know, the vaccine virus is much deadlier than the wild virus.

    • Colin April 15, 2014 / 2:48 pm

      Would you cite your sources, please? The Hindu reported a child testing positive for vaccine-derived polio in 2013, and noted that he was the fourth such case that year (as of July). Even one such case is more than we’d like, but that’s a rate of >10/year, which is an enormous improvement over the wild disease.

      • Judy Simon April 15, 2014 / 3:10 pm

        I am looking, as it is a third world country with limited documented facts, especially considering they were given the oral polio vaccine that we stopped using years ago due to it being contaminated with the SV40 virus as well as being responsible for vaccine induced polio. They are even forced (sometimes at gun point) on these countries to get vaccinated. If poor people in these countries are refusing vaccines, shouldn’t that say something? It’s real simple to take credit for saving people and feeling good about it. But it’s not as black and white as people make it out to be. With all the millions, if not billions, Bill Gates has spent on his “vaccine and seed” (seed being GMOs) agenda, he could have already taken these people out of poverty by providing clean water, sanitation and proper nutrition. Which, again, saved us from disease…NOT VACCINES. All the data shows the STEADY decline of deaths associated with theses diseases BEFORE vaccines came onto the science. You just have to look at the proof, up close, instead of repeating everything you read and hear (propaganda).

        • Colin April 15, 2014 / 3:19 pm

          Judy, first you said “there were 46,000 cases of VACCINE-INDUCED Polio in India.” Now you’re looking for a source? I think you have things backwards–first you find the source, then you share the information!

          You can find some good information regarding SV40 here.

          You can find some good information regarding the “vaccines didn’t save us” meme here.

          Those links, by the way, provide information that comes from people who have actually researched the question, and have the best and most contact with the actual data.

          • Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 3:29 pm

            You repeatedly provide links to biased sources. Chop? Do you know who reviews that website? Paul Offit. He is the co-creator of the Rotavirus vaccine and the loudest voice for vaccines. He stated once that it is safe to give 10,000 shots at once. I’m sorry I don’t have the exact quote in front of me. He is a completely biased individual with a HUGE agenda. I cannot trust anything that man says or reviews. Please provide less biased sources Colin.

          • Colin April 15, 2014 / 3:52 pm

            It is hardly surprising that an infectious disease specialist would be a voice for vaccines; the evidence is that they’re safe and effective in preventing infectious diseases. You have not demonstrated that he is biased, you have demonstrated that he favors vaccines. (To be biased, he would need to be unable or unwilling to consider the opposite viewpoint; given how few (are there any?) infectious disease specialists oppose vaccines, the fact that he doesn’t is hardly indicative of bias.)

            You say that you refuse to trust “anything that man says or reviews,” but you haven’t actually rebutted the SV40 information. The source is even cited in that piece: Ferber D. Monkey virus links to cancer grow stronger. Science 2002;296:1012-1015.

            Are you seriously analyzing the data, or constructing a narrative that allows you to discard facts that are inconvenient to your preconceptions?

          • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:53 am

            Anon, Paul offit is qualified to speak on vaccines. So much so that he has a place to speak on vaccines for all of our children. This is a person you should be listening to if you really want facts. Also, he never said that an infants could get 10,000 shots at once. He figured out the antigenic load the average human infant’s immune system could handle and it was the equivalent of the antigenic load in 10,000 vaccines.

        • Joe Seatter April 15, 2014 / 3:28 pm

          Yes, there was a steady, slow decline in infections before vaccines. And as soon as vaccines were introduces, there was a precipitous drop to near-zero. Or do you think that people only learned to wash their hands in 1960?

  21. Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 3:22 pm

    With regard to the car or carseat analogy, saying that they are not 100% safe either is still comparing apples to oranges. People are forgetting a few important things. Incentive. Car manufacturers and car seat manufacturers are always improving their products. They have to. There are other companies they are competing with. They want their product to be the best and safest. They do not want lawsuits. But pharmaceutical companies are protected from liability with regards to vaccines. No incentive to make them safer. No competition. Do you mean to tell me there is no room to make them safer? Please compare a more similar product to vaccines (if one exists) if you are in fact going to make a comparison.

    • Colin April 15, 2014 / 3:38 pm

      It’s not actually true that vaccine manufacturers (a) have no incentive to improve their vaccines, or (b) don’t improve them. There are a lot of different industries that are protected, wholly or (like vaccine makers) only partially, who all still have incentives to improve their products. Vaccine makers’ incentives come from the normal desire to compete (and competition isn’t just whether there’s another product on the market, but reducing a competitor’s incentives to develop a product by improving your own), post-licensure regulatory and academic studies, and the desire to overcome known safety issues. I found one published reference indicating that pharma companies making vaccines spend 5% of their R&D budgets on vaccines. It also notes that vaccine mfg facilities are “upgraded on a regular basis,” apparently moreso than other pharma production facilities.

      We can actually test the idea that vaccines don’t improve by looking at whether vaccines have actually improved over time. And they have. Since the 1980s, improvements in the pertussis vaccine reduced the immunogenic proteins in vaccines from over 3,000 to less than 200.

      Finally, the actual statistics indicate that vaccines are already an extremely safe product. While they are improving, there may not be much room for established vaccines to do much better. As I noted above, demanding that vaccines be 100% safe is unrealistic; no product is. And the specific harms anti-vaxers fret about are largely illusory, making it impossible to eliminate them.

    • Sullivanthepoop April 23, 2014 / 10:55 am

      Wow, there is an incentive to make them safer. It is the US government who doesn’t want liability. That is why it is harder to get new vaccines approved here than anywhere on earth.

  22. Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 3:53 pm

    I don’t buy the idea that they are as safe as they can be. They can still be highly reactive. But I guess if one believes that the ingredients in them are totally ok then you will never listen to an opposing argument. What statistics are you referring to that say they are extremely safe? And what illusions are you referring to? I agree that they can probably never be 100% safe. But they can still be made safer. I will not settle for what they are right now. Until someone close to you is vaccine injured, I suppose you will never think twice about those people.

    • Colin April 15, 2014 / 3:56 pm

      “Until someone close to you is vaccine injured, I suppose you will never think twice about those people.”

      This does not merit a response.

      “But I guess if one believes that the ingredients in them are totally ok then you will never listen to an opposing argument.”

      I believe that what makes an ingredient scary isn’t its name, but whether it actually has an adverse impact that outweighs the positive impact of the substance. And I believe that can be, has been, and continues to be empirically tested. I listen intently to counterarguments because I’m particularly interested in the communication strategies employed by scientists and anti-science advocates, but I’m also open to accepting arguments as true if the data support them. That’s the missing piece that anti-vaxers have been unable to muster.

      • Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 4:06 pm

        Can you explain to me what is causing our society to experience so many auto immune disorders, neurological disorders, autism etc. If vaccines are not at least part of the equation then what is? I think that is what people really want to know. You don’t think that there are too many toxins in our environment? There is something or some things causing a rise in these diseases, disorders. 1 in 68 children now has Autism. Are you only interested in disproving non vaxers or would you like to find out what DOES cause Autism etc. I would and that is the bigger picture here.

        • Colin April 15, 2014 / 4:11 pm

          This is an empirical question. There are answers out there. Have you looked for them? I’m curious what you think a scientist or doctor would say if you asked them. If you don’t know what their answer would be, then you don’t know enough for your question to be a serious argument against vaccination.

          • Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 4:17 pm

            I was an honest question not really a rhetorical one. I am honestly curious as to what you’re thoughts are on the questions I asked.

          • Colin April 15, 2014 / 4:35 pm

            Assuming you’re the same “Anonymous,” you seem to have been using the increase in autism diagnoses as support for your believe that vaccines are too unsafe for you to accept. I’d like you to consider that if you don’t understand the perspective of doctors and scientists on these questions, you don’t understand the issue well enough to have an informed objection to their recommendations in favor of vaccines.

            There’s an interesting analysis of the statistics here, but be warned it’s long, dense and somewhat polemical. Another writeup is here.

            The long and short of it is that part of the increase is illusory–kids are being diagnosed with autism who would not have been ten or twenty years ago with the same symptoms. But there’s no guarantee that all of the increase is illusory, and (as far as I know) no consensus on how much is real or what the reasons for it are.

            The science is pretty clear, though, that vaccines haven’t caused the increase.

  23. Anonymous April 15, 2014 / 3:59 pm

    For some reason I cannot add a reply directly under some comments. I’m sorry but Paul Offit has a dog in this fight. I will not blindly go by whatever he says or reviews without verifying it with other credible resources. His title does not make him immune to greed. All I asked is that you provide sources to a less biased source. Because surely you would not accept a biased source from the non vax side. Surely you must have other sources with the same information.

    All people have to do is research Paul Offit themselves. Of course a vaccine inventor is going to be pro vaccine.

    • Colin April 15, 2014 / 4:09 pm

      It’s a limitation of the comment system–it only permits a certain number of indentations. If you go up to the closest “Reply” button above the comment you’re trying to respond to, you can leave reply in that same level. It’s not ideal, sorry.

      There’s a difference between “I will not blindly go by whatever he says” and “I cannot trust anything that man says or reviews,” which was your original objection. Verify his work all you like, but if he says SV40 hasn’t been present in vaccines since 1963, citing a source, and you can’t find any evidence to the contrary, your refusal to believe him is more indicative of an ideology than a reasoned position.

      “Of course a vaccine inventor is going to be pro vaccine.” But that works both ways. Someone who believes in vaccines is more likely to put the work into developing one. You could ask instead, what does Offit stand to benefit from increasing polio vaccination rates? Not a whole lot.

      Personally, I think the primary driver of his pro-vaccine stance is, as I said, the fact that he’s an infectious disease doctor. The doctors who oppose vaccines tend to be anything but. When the medical field is virtually unanimous in supporting vaccines, but the sub-specialists in that precise field are particularly supportive of them, it speaks strongly for their safety and efficacy.

      In other words, plumbers tend to be biased in favor of indoor plumbing. They know it, they’ve seen it, they’ve seen what happens without it–they’re all in favor of it. Does that make them less credible? Does that make the anti-plumbing activist advocating an all-natural corner-pooping method more credible?

      • Scott April 15, 2014 / 5:23 pm

        Nice reply.
        I am an infectious disease specialist. I have worked on vaccination campaigns in third-world countries, as well as in the US (which is firmly second-world at best in matter of public health). I have seen typical AND complicated cases of polio, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, yellow fever, typhoid, chicken pox, and cervical cancer, and I have seen people die from several of these. If there were more vaccines available, I would give them!
        Yes, companies make things so that they can sell them and make money. They have kids to feed, too. Do you avoid groceries? Even Whole Foods is in it for the bottom line…

        And autism… the research has been done, THERE IS NO LINK TO VACCINES. Read! There are lots of reasons autism is increasing. The biggest one is that now we have a name and definition for it. There have always been “different” children, usually shunted away from public life, or into more menial professions.

        Ban cars? Ok, if you think they’re that dangerous, don’t drive, don’t ride, stay away. If you haven’t noticed safety campaigns, and seat belts, and airbags, and no-texting laws, and dozens of other car safety items, your opinion on anything relevant to modern life is hardly relevant.

        Yes, nothing in life is perfect, including vaccines. It would be nice if they were 100% effective with 0% complications. Every version gets better. To stay on the automobile idea: do you avoid seat belts because they will not always save your life, and there might be a situation where they hurt you? (You might, huh?) It’s a matter of relative risk. A tiny (infinitesimal) risk with a enormous amount of benefit. In the US vaccines are generally administrated by state departments of health. If the risk falls low enough, vaccines are dropped. You notice we don’t do smallpox anymore? These guys would love to stop bothering with measles and polio, they should be easy enough to eradicate. There are always other programs where those resources could be used (obesity and diabetes!), but there are always holdouts, ready to spread the diseases back into the rest of the population…

  24. Jen April 15, 2014 / 8:29 pm

    Is mercury in vaccines?

    • Colin April 15, 2014 / 10:23 pm

      A chemist or biologist could give you a better answer, but as I understand it some vaccines (none of the vaccines on the current children’s schedule) contain mercury in the form of compounds called organomercury. Thimerosal is a kind of organomercury. It’s used as a preservative. It breaks down into ethyl mercury, which is a relatively safe compound in the doses that you might find in a vaccine.

    • JerryA April 16, 2014 / 9:17 am

      Jen- does it help you to know that there is more mercury in a tuna sandwich than in vaccines? There is more mercury in one serving of tuna or swordfish than in all childhood vaccines combined. It’s an old fear turned into a lie in the anti-vax circles. (I’m not saying that mercury is good for you, just that our bodies can tolerate a little bit coming from many sources, including vaccines and dinner and sandwiches.)

  25. Colin April 21, 2014 / 2:29 pm

    An update: Megan, the author discussed in the post above, has apparently been commenting on various articles at Violent Metaphors under a variety of names: Megan, Cara, Korrin, and maybe a dozen anonymous comments all come from the same IP address and display the same writing style.

    First, that’s dishonest. Using multiple accounts is an attempt to make it appear as if a comment or position has more support than it actually does, without taking responsibility for any statements.

    Second, it’s pathetic. Many of those obfuscated comments are thinly veiled boasting, such as the ones above touting Megan’s JD degree and the “thousands” of “likes” for Living Whole. (Not to toot the VM horn, but she’s got a long way to go to seriously compete in terms of quality, quantity, and popularity of content.) A side point, in response to one of those sock puppet comments above: no, your JD is not a “legitimate doctorate” that compares to a PhD or MD when it comes to analyzing scientific issues. And frankly I’m not persuaded you’re a qualified attorney, given the substantive inaccuracies in your scanty legal analyses.

    Third, it’s unnecessary. Violent Metaphors doesn’t censor comments as Living Whole does. Just comment under your own name, and be responsible for your own inanities.

  26. lovelyevangeline September 3, 2015 / 11:29 am

    “The author later added a link to a vaccine court ruling, attempting to persuade readers that it supported her claim. I can’t believe that any lawyer (which she claims to be) could read that case and think it “ruled that evidence of a causal relationship between autism and MMR exists.” That court never ruled at all on the question of causation; for technical reasons it was off the table in that case. (I can’t link to the case because the author reverted the article when I pointed this deception out, but you can read my legal criticism there.) ”

    When you say “read my legal criticism there” can you point out where “there” is? I see this argument come up alot by anti-vaxers (I’m guessing she was pointing out the Hannah Poling case?) so I’d love to read why that particular case is not an example of the court ruling in favor of a vaccine/autism link. Thanks!

  27. Colin September 3, 2015 / 12:42 pm

    Hmmmm. Comments on that thread have gotten hard to weed through; we sort of broke WordPress. But I can explain the concept easily enough.

    The vaccine court has a table of injuries that are known to come from vaccines–everything from soreness to encephalopathy. The court’s designed to make it easier for parents to get compensated for injuries, not harder, so the rules are intentionally biased in their favor. If a parent alleges that their kid has a table injury, then all they have to do is prove (a) that the table injury occurred, and (b) that the table injury happened within a certain time of the vaccination.

    So if the parent proves that the kid got a febrile seizure (I think that’s on the table) a day after vaccinating, that’s it. Case over. They don’t have to prove what would be the hardest step in normal court: that the vaccines caused the injury. It’s a huge advantage for the parents.

    Courts don’t waste time on non-essential questions. They won’t make people submit evidence on things that aren’t relevant, and won’t rule on things where no evidence has been submitted. So in table injury cases, the court never rules on causation. It’s not relevant, and no one even argues it.

    So if someone tells you that the vaccine court ruled that vaccines caused autism, look to see what injury they’re compensating for. If it’s a table injury (the ruling should say so) then you’re being lied to–that case isn’t about causation at all. Causation was never even a factor in the decision. Causation is a non-event for table injuries, because making parents prove causation makes their cases much harder.

    In the Poling case, if I remember right, the government settled. It was an encephalopathy, which is not autism, and which is a table injury. Causation was not ever conceded or even considered by the court.

    If I remember right, Megan didn’t cite to the Poling case but some other table injury case. No idea which one, though.

    If autism and the vaccine court come up in conversation, point the other person to the “Autism Omnibus Proceedings.” I can’t recall the actual name of the case, but searching that will take you to the wikipedia article. The NVICP gave anti-vax claimants multiple chances to prove that vaccines cause autism. They got to choose the best cases in which to test their theories, and they got to proceed on three separate theories at the same time. (That is, there were three different cases, each of which proposed a different theory of how vaccines cause autism.) They got to bring the best experts money can buy. And they failed, hard. The court had nothing nice to say about the experts, and found the causation theories were meritless.

    In other words, when the legal system really scrutinized the autism/vaccine theory, and both sides had a chance to put all their evidence on the table, the anti-vax movement turned out to not have much of a case at all.

    • lovelyevangeline September 3, 2015 / 3:40 pm

      Thanks! I believe the Hannah Poling case was about a mitochondrial disorder, and it being triggered by vaccines. Do you know where it says it was a settlement?

      • Colin September 3, 2015 / 5:07 pm

        I think HHS conceded, I’m just assuming that was pursuant to a settlement.

      • Chris September 3, 2015 / 6:46 pm

        Mitochondrial disorder is genetic, and it can be triggered by any fever.

        The Polings will not release the ruling, so it remains unpublished.

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