Dr. Sears has been a well-known pediatrician for many years, writing books about breastfeeding, fussy babies, and sleep, and advocating for co-sleeping and attachment parenting before most people even knew what those things were.
He also advocates for vaccines.
“Because of my “historical” perspective, I have grown to appreciate the value of vaccines as a necessary public-health measure. Currently in our pediatric practice, we follow the vaccine schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”Dr. William Sears on Ask Dr. Sears: Vaccination/Immunization Concerns
If you are a little confused, that’s because you may not have known that Dr. Bob Sears’ father is also a pediatrician. In fact, they practice together, even if they don’t seem to agree on everything.
Who is Bob Sears?
“I created my alternative vaccine schedule that allows parents to go ahead and vaccinate, simply in a more gradual manner. And I find a lot of worried parents who otherwise would refuse vaccines altogether are very happy to go ahead and vaccinate if they’re doing it in a way that they feel safer about.”Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer
Dr. Bob appeared to have noble goals when he wrote his vaccine book – to convince more parents who were on the fence to get vaccinated – or at least to eventually get vaccinated, even if they had to delay some vaccines to get there.
“As parents’ fears of vaccines grow, I think we may see fewer and fewer parents decide to vaccinate. And then we could see what used to be very rare illnesses become more common. We might see measles escalate. We might see diphtheria come back into the United States. God forbid, we might see polio come back. Then children are going to start dying. And then a lot of those parents that had chosen not to vaccinate might change their mind, and they might start vaccinating again, and then new parents might be more inclined to vaccinate their babies if we see these diseases come back.
Now, I hope and pray that doesn’t happen. I hope that we can maintain adequate herd immunity in our country so we don’t see these diseases return. But that worry of diseases coming back into our country, and the worry of diseases running rampant and killing a lot of babies, I don’t think that supersedes the parents’ basic right to choose what they want to do for their children. And if parents want to accept the disease risk because they don’t trust the vaccines, I think they have the right to make that choice.”Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer
It didn’t work.
It may just be a correlation, but vaccine rates went down after he wrote his book, especially among clusters of worried parents, some of whom would walk into their pediatrician’s offices carrying his book or the immunization schedule he made up.
The Bob Sears Snare
More than anything though, it seems like he has contributed to parents not trusting vaccines.
“What I do instead is I give two vaccines at a time, at 2 months, 4 months and 6 months. I also give two of the vaccines that I’m skipping on alternative months: 3 months, 5 months and 7 months. And I’m avoiding a big overload. I’m giving only a couple vaccines at a time. I feel that babies will experience fewer vaccine reactions; I think babies’ bodies can handle them better. Their immune system can handle them better that way, and I think a lot of parents simply feel more safe about that kind of approach.”Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer
See what he did?
Instead of reassuring parents that vaccines don’t overload a baby’s immune system, Dr. Bob tells them that his schedule avoids a “big overload.”
If they weren’t scared about vaccines before they heard of Dr. Bob, they probably were after reading some of his stuff.
And once you fall into the snare and get scared, it is hard to get out.
What makes it even more frustrating?
The things he scares parents about aren’t even true!
Dr. Bob misrepresents science and gets parents to believe that vaccines aren’t well tested, that vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t dangerous, and that vaccine ingredients, like aluminum are dangerous.
And although he talks about choice and informed consent all of the time, by misinforming parents about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, he is actually taking away their ability to make an informed choice.
Not surprisingly, even Dr. Bob seems to have been snared by his rhetoric about vaccines.
“As a doctor, I don’t like to undermine the CDC and to help parents mistrust the CDC. Obviously the CDC does so much good for us. They have our best intentions in mind, and they do so much research. And I think parents can overall trust what the CDC says.”Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer
He went from saying in a 2010 interview that parents should trust the CDC and that “There’s so much safety research behind vaccines that most parents should feel very confident in their safety” to now giving presentations at anti-vaccine conferences on How to Counter the Lies Politicians and the Media Use to Pass Mandatory Vaccination Laws.
What’s the worst thing about Dr. Bob though?
It’s not that he actually predicted what would happen if too many people began to follow non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedules, but that he thinks he is an expert on autism.
“By trying to say that there is no significant increase, is the government hoping to reassure people that autism isn’t a significant problem? That the rising number of children with autism isn’t something that anyone has to worry about? Are they trying to avoid a panic?”Dr. Bob Sears
In a recent report about autism rates, there was no conspiracy, as Dr. Bob suggests. Unlike Dr. Bob and some others, the CDC was simply trying to not mislead people into thinking that the change from 2.24 to 2.76% meant something that it did not.
What to Know About The Bob Sears Snare
The Bob Sears Snare is a technique that anti-vaccine folks use to misrepresent science so that you actually think you are doing the right thing for your kids by skipping or delaying vaccines and leaving them unprotected.
More on Bob Sears
- Vaccine Misinformation from Bob Sears is Not Harmless
- Did Bob Sears admit that he doesn’t “waste my breath” talking about the benefits of vaccines?
- More Questions to Help You Become a Vaccine Skeptic
- Answers To Frequently Asked Questions About Immunizations
- Making Sense of Anti-Vaccine Arguments
- What Are the Pro and Con Arguments for Vaccines?
- What Are the Greatest Tricks Anti-Vaccine Folks Use to Persuade Parents to Skip Vaccines?
- Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer
- The Problem With Dr Bob’s Alternative Vaccine Schedule
- The Disneyland measles outbreak: “Dr. Bob” Sears says measles isn’t that bad, and an antivaccine activist invokes the Brady Bunch fallacy
- Don’t just blame Jenny McCarthy for the measles outbreak, blame Dr. Bob too
- “Dr. Bob” Sears profiled: A cynical vaccine-averse pediatrician who accepts no blame for the results of his antivaccine message
- Dr. Robert Sears vaccine info misleads parents about measles