Category: Vaccine Misinformation

Vaccines and the Holocaust

Nazis and Nazi symbolism have been in the news a lot lately.

Surprisingly, it isn’t all coming from rallies at Confederate statues.

Some of it is coming from the modern anti-vaccine movement.

Vaccines and the Holocaust

Most people understand what the Holocaust was.

Or do they…

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum defines the Holocaust as “the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.”

As often as folks in the modern anti-vaccine movement use the word Holocaust, it makes you wonder sometimes if they really understand what it means.

Among the most recent (2015) to demonstrate “the violent rhetoric of the anti-vaccine movement” has been Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., when he said that:

“They get the shot. That night they have a fever of 103. They go to sleep, and three months later their brain is gone. This is a holocaust, what this is doing to our country.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr

Kennedy certainly isn’t the only or even the first to describe a vaccine holocaust though.

That wasn’t even his first time…

As the keynote speaker at the 2013 Autism One conference, Kennedy reportedly compared Dr. Paul Offit to a Nazi war criminal and said that “To my mind this is like the Nazi death camps.” He was reportedly referring to kids who he and others thought developed autism after being vaccinated.

Paul Offit is a Nazi and should be in prison at the 2013 Autism One conference.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr implied that Paul Offit is a Nazi and should be in prison at the 2013 Autism One conference.

Actually, after calling Dr. Offit a liar, he talked about how his father would talk to him about Vietnam:

“He used to talk about Vietnam and about how we were dropping napalm on villages and he said, ‘what’s the difference between us and the Nazis. What is the difference between us and the Nazis…’

And these people, these people should be in prison…

I would do a lot to see Paul Offit and all of these “good people” behind bars.

…Is it hyperbole that I think these people should be thrown in jail?

They should be thrown in jail and the key should be thrown away.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr

And yes, in the Q&A, when asked “why hasn’t the CDC acknowledged autism as an epidemic,” even though he said in his speech that they had admitted that it was, he replied that he couldn’t get into someone else’s head to tell why they were doing something.

Robert F. Kenny, Jr describing how 'this is like Nazi death camps' when talking about kids getting autism.
Robert F. Kenny, Jr describing how ‘this is like Nazi death camps’ when talking about kids getting autism because the CDC didn’t take thimerosal out of vaccines.

Kennedy also went on and on about science and research that supports a link between vaccines and autism and continues with the idea that kids get just as much thimerosal as ever because of the thimerosal in flu vaccines, leaving out the fact that thimerosal flu vaccines are a thing…

But before Kennedy, in 2010, Claire Dwoskin of the NVIC, CMSRI, and the Dwoskin Family Foundation wrote that:

“At least his daughter is alive, smiling, educated and enjoying life. That cannot be said for the hundreds of thousands of vaccine injured children in the US. What his daughter went through is NOTHING compared to what the families of autistic children go through every day of their lives. No disease can match this record of human devastation. Vaccines are a holocaust of poison on our children’s brains and immune systems. Shame on you all.”

Claire Dwoskin

Dwoskin and Kennedy haven’t continued to say vaccines are a holocaust, at least not in public.

The one person that most commonly uses holocaust imagery when talking about vaccines, and who will likely never stop, is the Health Ranger – Mike Adams.

Adams has used the “vaccine holocaust” term for years and has now created a dedicated website exposing his ideas of a conspiracy of a “media cover-up of vaccine violence against children.”

Adams has also called for making a “Nuremberg List” of all of the people working in Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Biotech, with individuals from “mass media, politics, government regulation bodies, finance, and from wherever appropriate,” including their names and “their observed crimes against humanity.”

Surprisingly, using the term even draws some disagreement among folks who think that vaccines do cause autism and that we are in an ‘age’ of an autism epidemic.

“I haven’t read it yet, but it looks very much like the view shared by most of our readers and myself – corruption at the CDC and big pharma leading to a vaccine-induced catastrophe – a holocaust…”

Dan Olmsted on The Autistic Holocaust – The Reason Our Children Keep Getting Sick

In discussing the book, The Autistic Holocaust – The Reason Our Children Keep Getting Sick, Dan Olmsted found that one participant had “a strong view that the choice of the word “Holocaust” is not appropriate and does not serve the interests of our children.”

Another thought that “Holocaust is a word with too powerful associations to be of much use describing anything other than the crimes of the Nazis.”

And still, the site he founded continues to publish articles like:

  • A Dozen Things We Can Do RIGHT NOW to Help Stop the Vaccine Holocaust
  • Rabbi Handler on Vaccines, Politics and the Autism Holocaust

Yes, they interviewed an anti-vaccine Rabbi who is upset with the CDC and NYC health department over their warnings about metzitzah b’peh (oral suction) during traditional bris milah (circumcision). The concern is that oral suctioning can spread herpes (cold sores) to the newborn baby, which can be fatal. And it still does

“Webster’s dictionary defines a holocaust as follows: “great or total destruction of life, especially by fire.”

Yes, there is a vaccine-triggered holocaust of autism and autoimmune diseases, like asthma, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and various forms of ADHD and brain damage.

As one of the last living survivors of Hitler’s Nazi Holocaust, I am outraged that the Anti-Defamation League and other politically-Liberal Jewish organizations have claimed exclusive ownership of this very powerful English word and blocked its use by Autism activists.”

Rabbi William Handler

Rabbi Handler has been called out for other controversial opinions too, including that he supported a Rabbi who molested his own daughter and that he is against child protective services investigating and the state prosecuting those who physically abuse or sexually abuse children in the Orthodox Jewish community, instead advocating that a rabbinical counsel should do it instead.

Dr. Bob has even gotten in on the Holocaust imagery to scare parents about California’s vaccine laws:

“…So I tell them they don’t have to whisper. They can say it loud and clear, with confidence. Ya, I guess you don’t want to advertise it around the neighborhood – that will come soon enough. Scarlet “V” anyone? No, not scarlet. Let’s make it yellow. And not a V – a star would be better. That way everyone can know at first glance who is safe to be around and who is not. That way, if your old doctor and his children are walking down the street, they can easily identify your kids and quickly cross to the other side before they get too close.

Ask your Assemblyperson which color and shape they think would be most appropriate.

Disclaimer: This post is not intended as a reference to a holocaust. Rather, it’s intended to raise the issue of prejudice and discrimination. Others have likenend vaccine injury to a holocaust. Instead, we are talking about families who choose to not vaccinate. No holocaust here.”

Dr. Bob Sears on The Vaccine Whisperers

And unbelievably, there are others.

Also in California, Wakefield‘s anti-vaccine movie Vaxxed was introduced at a screening in Roseville by a speaker who said that:

“It is WE who are going to have to work non-stop to put an end to this ever-increasing medical tyranny, this abominable Vaccine Holocaust, this present evil…

For those who think “holocaust” is too strong a word, I assure you it is not.

“Holocaust” is defined as “destruction or slaughter on a mass scale”, and that is indeed what vaccinations are doing to those who receive them, which can often be observed in the short term, always in the long term, and for generations to come as you will learn as you study these issues more.”

Laura Hayes

And if it isn’t the Holocaust, many anti-vaccine folks still find ways to invoke Godwin’s Law – “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler rapidly increases.”

There is even a band about refusing vaccines with a song called Vaccine Gestapo.

Rob Schneider calling California lawmakers Nazis after they passed a vaccine law that didn't even involve mandates to be vaccinated...
Rob Schneider calling California lawmakers Nazis after they passed a vaccine law that didn’t even involve mandates that kids be vaccinated…

Remember when Rob Schneider tweeted that California lawmakers were Nazis for passing a law that required parents to get educated before getting a vaccine exemption?

“Mandates effectively use schoolchildren as research subjects without informed consent, in violation of the Nuremberg Code.”

AAPS Executive Director Jane M. Orient, M.D.

Schneider also talked about the Nuremberg Laws. That one was surprising, as most other folks who are anti-vaccine invoke the Nuremberg Code instead.

Of course, both are offensive. As is bringing up the Holocaust when talking about vaccines, vaccine mandates, or autism.

What to Know About Vaccines and the Holocaust

That they would invoke the Holocaust when talking about vaccines and autism, and compare doctors and lawmakers to Nazis, tells you a lot about the modern anti-vaccine movement.

More on Vaccines and that Holocaust

Are Vaccines Tested Together?

If you are on the Fence about vaccines, one issue that might have you scared is that the idea that vaccines aren’t tested together.

So maybe they tested the Prevnar vaccine, but did they test it with the Hib vaccine?

And did they test the Prevnar and Hib vaccine with the Pediarix vaccine?

After all, kids get all of those vaccines at their two, four, and six month well child checkups.

Vaccines Are Tested Together

It is not hard to find evidence that most combinations of vaccines are in fact tested together.

For example (and this is not a complete list):

  • Rotarix was tested with Pediarix (DTaP-HepB-IPV), Prevnar, and Hib
  • Prevnar 13 was tested with DTaP, IPV, hepatitis B and Hib
  • Prevnar 13 was tested with MMR, Varicella, and hepatitis A
  • MenC with DTaP-IPV-HepB-Hib
  • MenC with MMR
  • MMR and Varicella with Hib, Hepatitis B, and DTaP
  • hepatitis A and hepatitis B with either MMR or DTaP-IPV-Hib
  • HPV vaccine for babies
  • Flumist with MMR and Varicella
  • Kinrix (DTaP-IPV) with MMR and Varicella
  • HPV9 with Tdap and Meningococcal vaccines
  • Tdap with influenza vaccine
  • Meningococcal vaccine with influenza vaccine

And even after a vaccine is added to the immunization schedule and it is given together with other vaccines, our post-licensure vaccine safety monitoring systems, from VAERS to the Vaccine Safety Datalink, kick in to make sure that they are indeed safe and effective.

The Myth That Vaccines Aren’t Tested Together

If it is clear that vaccines are in fact tested together, then why do some folks still believe that they aren’t?

Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment
Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment Vaccines: A Bad Combination?

Hopefully everyone sees the irony in Dr. Bob saying something about vaccines being untested, as he is infamous for pushing his own made up and completely untested alternative vaccine schedule.

“Babies get as many as 6 or 7 vaccines altogether…and the CDC is admitting that they don’t always research them that way.”

Dr. Bob Sears on Fox & Friends Vaccines: A Bad Combination?

When did they admit that???

“We’ve researched the flu vaccine in great detail and it seems safe when it’s given alone, but the CDC has never researched the flu vaccine when you give it in conjunction with all the other infant shots…and that’s what we’re worried about. ”

Dr. Bob Sears on Fox & Friends Vaccines: A Bad Combination?

So, what about the flu vaccine?

A 2013 report from the Institute of Medicine found that there was no evidence that vaccines caused ADHD.
A 2013 report from the Institute of Medicine stated that “Each new vaccine considered for inclusion in the immunization schedule is tested within the context of the existing schedule and reviewed by clinical researchers, who analyze the balance of demonstrated benefits and risks.”

While most kids get their flu vaccine by itself, just before the beginning of flu season, some might get it when they see their pediatrician for a regular checkup, at the same time they are due for other vaccines.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Bob was wrong, and several studies have shown that the flu vaccine can be safely given with other vaccines.

And don’t forget, any problems with co-administration of vaccines would show up in post-licensure vaccine safety testing.

That’s how a very small increased risk of febrile seizures was found during the 2010-11 flu season in toddlers who received either DTaP or Prevnar and a flu shot at the same time.

The very small extra risk doesn’t mean that you still can’t get the vaccines at the same time if your child needs them all though. Remember that febrile seizures “are temporary and do not cause any lasting damage.”

It will be even more reassuring to some parents that another study “examined risk of febrile seizures (FS) after trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV) and 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) during the 2010-2011 influenza season, adjusted for concomitant diphtheria tetanus acellular pertussis-containing vaccines (DTaP)” and found no extra risk for febrile seizures.

“Vaccines can generally be co-administered (i.e. more than one vaccine given at different sites during the same visit). Recommendations that explicitly endorse co-administration are indicated in the table, however, lack of an explicit co-administration recommendation does not imply that the vaccine cannot be co-administered; further, there are no recommendations against co-administration.”

Summary of WHO Position Papers – Recommendations for Routine Immunization

Also remember that “there are no recommendations against co-administration of vaccines,” unless of course, you are getting your advice from Bob Sears…

 

What To Know About Vaccines Being Tested Together

Vaccines are thoroughly tested for both safety and efficacy and they are also tested in many of the different combinations on the routine childhood immunization schedule.

More On Vaccines Being Tested Together

Who is Meryl Dorey?

Meryl Dorey and her Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network have been found to push misleading and inaccurate information about vaccines.
Meryl Dorey and her AVN have been found to push misleading information about vaccines.

Haven’t heard of Meryl Dorey?

She is the Rosemary Fox of Australia.

Rosemary Fox?

She is the Barbara Loe Fisher of the UK.

Just as Fox formed the Association of Parents of Vaccine Damaged Children and Fisher formed Dissatisfied Parents Together (which later became the NVIC), Meryl Dorey formed the Australian Vaccination Network.

Basically, if you look at their roles in the history of the anti-vaccine movement, they all work to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Who is Meryl Dorey?

Meryl Dorey takes it to a whole other level though.

“Court orders rape of a child. Think this is an exaggeration? Think again. This is assault without consent and with full penetration too.”

Meryl Dorey

Why was she talking about rape?

A court had sided with a father who wanted his daughter vaccinated, even though his ex-wife, with whom he shared custody, didn’t.

Does that sound anything like rape to you?

Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network

The Australian Vaccination Network was formed in 1994.

The AVN was later ordered to change its name because it was too misleading and they chose the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network.

“Fair Trading acted in this matter after receiving numerous complaints, including from the Australian Medical Association, that the AVN name was misleading given its overwhelming focus on the publication of anti-vaccination messages and information.”

Minister for Fair Trading Agency Anthony Roberts

Of course, they haven’t stopped pushing anti-vaccination misinformation.

And if you didn’t think someone could go lower than the rape analogy, Meryl Dorey has actually harassed a family whose 4-week-old baby died of whooping cough!

What else has she done?

  • when discussing a campaign slogan to help associate vaccines with shaken baby syndrome, Meryl Dorey suggested using “Shaken Maybe Syndrome” as a great sound bite
  • also suggested using the catch phrase “Shaken from the inside” to help highlight what she thinks is the “devastating internal adverse reactions from vaccines” and what are causing shaken baby syndrome
  • Meryl Dorey said that getting measles is the equivalent of getting a hang nail, although “hang nails can be a bit more painful!”

After an investigation in 2014, Meryl Dorey and her group also received a warning from the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission.

“The Commission has established that AVN does not provide reliable information in relation to certain vaccines and vaccination more generally. The Commission considers that AVN’s dissemination of misleading, misrepresented and incorrect information about vaccination engenders fear and alarm and is likely to detrimentally affect the clinical management or care of its readers.

Given the issues identified with the information disseminated by AVN, the Commission urges general caution is exercised when using AVN’s website or Facebook page to research vaccination and to consult other reliable sources, including speaking to a medical practitioner, to make an informed decision.

The Commission has recommended that AVN amend its published information with regard to the above issues and the Commission will monitor the implementation of these recommendations.”

NSW Health Care Complains Commission on the AVN

Most recently, Meryl Dorey’s group hosted the Vaxxed Down Under Tour, which ended up getting Polly Tommey, one of the producers, banned from returning to Australia for at least three years!

What To Know About Meryl Dorey

Like most folks in the anti-vaccine movement, Meryl Dorey and her AVN group push “misleading, misrepresented and incorrect information about vaccination” that helps scare parents away from the vaccines that could help protect them from vaccine-preventable diseases.

More on Meryl Dorey

Who is Julie Gerberding?

Dr, Julie Gerberding was the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2002 to 2009, when she was replaced by Tom Frieden.

Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH

A medical doctor with a Masters in Public Health, who had done a fellowship in clinical pharmacology and infectious diseases, she was well trained for the notable issues she faced during her tenure include anthrax bioterrorism, avian flu, SARS, natural disasters, and concerns about autism and vaccines.

Gerberding's CDC did a lot of work to get autistic kids diagnosed early including the 'Learn the Signs, Act Early' campaign.
Gerberding’s CDC did a lot of work to get autistic kids diagnosed early, including starting the ‘Learn the Signs, Act Early’ campaign.

One thing in particular that anti-vaccine folks continue to bring up is the mistaken idea that Dr. Gerberding actually said that vaccines cause autism on CNN following the Hannah Polling case.

GUPTA: And one of those 4,900 cases was the case of nine-year-old Hannah Polling, which has been making a lot of news lately. Luckily, we have the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Julie Gerberding here.

We’re talking a lot about autism, as you know. I should remind people that the — my understanding is the federal government conceded that vaccines caused her autism like symptoms. First of all, is there a difference? I mean, does she have autism or autism like symptoms? What’s the difference?

JULIE GERBERDING, DR., CDC DIRECTOR: Well, you know, I don’t have all the facts because I still haven’t been able to review the case files myself. But my understanding is that the child has a — what we think is a rare mitochondrial disorder. And children that have this disease, anything that stresses them creates a situation where their cells just can’t make enough energy to keep their brains functioning normally. Now, we all know that vaccines can occasionally cause fevers in kids. So if a child was immunized, got a fever, had other complications from the vaccines. And if you’re predisposed with the mitochondrial disorder, it can certainly set off some damage. Some of the symptoms can be symptoms that have characteristics of autism.

GUPTA: Yes, I have a two-and-a-half-year-old and a one-year-old as you know. And you know, you know, you think about this all the time. Are we ready to say right now as things stand that childhood vaccines do not cause autism?

GERBERDING: What we can say absolutely for sure is that we don’t really understand the causes of autism. We’ve got a long way to go before we get to the bottom of this. But there have been at least 15 very good scientific studies on the Institute of Medicine who have searched this out. And they have concluded that there really is no association between vaccines and autism.

As many people are aware, Hannah Polling was awarded compensated for a table injury in Vaccine Court. She was not awarded compensated because vaccines caused her to be autistic.

And Dr. Gerberding certainly did not admit or say that vaccines cause autism. You can read that into her statements during the CNN interview if you like, but that isn’t what she said.

She also did not resign “in shame from her post under the Obama regime as director of the CDC in 2009 to return to Merck’s vaccine division.”

As often happens when a new president is elected, President Obama simply brought in a new team to the CDC and many other agencies after he was inaugurated on January 2009.

Dr. Gerberding was appointed by President George Bush.

And while she did become the president of Merck’s vaccine division, it wasn’t a return. She had been at the CDC since 1998 and before that, she directed the Prevention Epicenter at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).

Dr. Gerberding is currently the Executive Vice President and Chief Patient Officer, Strategic Communications, Global Public Policy, and Population Health at Merck, where she also has responsibility for the Merck for Mothers program and the Merck Foundation.

What To Know About Julie Gerberding

The first woman to lead the CDC, Dr. Julie Gerberding is an infectious disease expert with a Masters in Public Health who is now the the Executive Vice President at Merck. She never said that vaccines could trigger autism while on CNN or anywhere else.

More Information About Julie Gerberding

Competing Anti-Vaccine Autism Theories

Vaccines don’t cause autism.

We know that.

donald-trump

Well, most of us know that.

But did you know that there are actually competing theories from anti-vaccine folks about how they think vaccines ’cause autism?’

Wakefield and MMR Causes Autism Theory

On one side, you have the followers of Andrew Wakefield who think that the MMR vaccine is to blame.

To be clear, they seem to think that the problem isn’t necessarily vaccines, but rather the combination of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines into one.

“Again, this was very contentious and you would not get consensus from all members of the group on this, but that is my feeling, that the, the risk of this particular syndrome developing is related to the combined vaccine, the MMR, rather than the single vaccines.”

Andrew Wakefield

Wakefield had even filed a patent on his own vaccine replacement – a measles vaccine.

No, Thimerosal Causes Autism Theory

Then you have folks like Robert F Kennedy, Jr who claim that it is thimerosal in vaccines, which was actually removed in the late 1990s, that is to blame.

The thing is, although RFK, Jr believes that kids are still exposed to lots of thimerosal in vaccines, the MMR never ever contained thimerosal. So, if the MMR vaccine causes autism, it isn’t because of thimerosal.

And if thimerosal causes autism, then you can’t really blame the MMR vaccine…

No, Glyphosate Causes Autism Theory

And believe it or not, some folks don’t even blame vaccines!

Dr. Stephanie Seneff, with a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, believes that exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is causing kids to become autistic.

“Is there a toxic substance that is currently in our environment on the rise in step with increasing rates of Autism that could explain this?… The answer is yes, I’m quite sure that I’m right, and the answer is glyphosate.”

Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D.

Well, they still blame vaccines.

They think vaccines are contaminated with glyphosate.

Stephanie Seneff actually believes that autism will “afflict 50% of American children by 2025.”

That’s right, she thinks half of all kids will be autistic in just 8 years.

It’s Everything About Vaccines That Causes Autism Theory

And lastly, you have folks who just want to blame anything and everything about vaccines.

They may have blamed the MMR vaccine or thimerosal at one time, but may have moved on to other vaccine ingredients, like aluminum or formaldehyde, or simply getting too many vaccines at the same time.

Or they may believe in combinations of theories, with all of the ‘toxins‘ in vaccines supposedly having a synergistic effect – causing autism.

In many cases, they might not even be sure what it is about vaccines that causes autism, but they are still sure it is vaccines.

Why are there so many competing theories about how vaccines could cause autism?

Could it be because vaccines don’t cause autism?

What To Know About Anti-Vaccine Autism Theories

Whichever anti-vaccine expert is pushing their theory, remember that vaccines still don’t cause autism.

For More Information on Anti-Vaccine Autism Theories

Who was Ignaz Semmelweis?

Anti-vaccine folks don’t seem to like most medical doctors.

There are some that they simply love though.

No, I’m not talking about Andrew Wakefield

This is about Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis.

Never heard of him?

Who was Ignaz Semmelweis?

Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was a doctor in the early to mid 19th century who discovered that hand washing with a chlorine solution before surgery and delivering babies could keep people from getting sick and dying, including the women who gave birth in Dr. Semmelweis’ maternity ward.

“Due to his new ideas and his passionate tone his views were rejected and attacked by the majority of Hungarian doctors and doctors from abroad as well.”

Semmelweis University on Ignác Semmelweis

Surprisingly, no one believed him.

Why not?

Although the germ theory of disease was first proposed in 1546 by the Italian physician Girolamo Fracastoro, in the early 19th century, most people still believed in the miasmatic theory of the Greek physician Galen of the early Roman Empire.

In 1847, most people didn’t even know about bacteria yet, even though Antonie van Leeuwenhoek had seen them in his microscopes and described them as early as 1676.

So if you believed that the miasma, or bad air, caused disease, what difference would it make if you washed your hands? And would you really believe Semmelweis and his new theory that medical students were carrying “cadaverous particles” on their hands from the autopsy room to the delivery room and making new mothers sick?

Doctors at the time didn’t think that childbed fever was contagious anyway.

What is childbed fever? It is a postpartum infection of the uterus or genital tract that is usually caused by streptococcal bacteria, and which can lead to sepsis.

“Semmelweis’s findings did not immediately improve sanitary conditions in hospitals, but surgeons gradually adopted aseptic and antiseptic techniques and became leading innovators of techniques to reduce patients’ susceptibility to postoperative infections.”

Richard E Dixon, MD  on Control of Health-Care-Associated Infections, 1961-2011

He should have been believed, as he was able to correlate lower death rates in the maternity wards with hand washing, but he likely wasn’t because he never proved causation.

“By nature I am averse to all polemics. This is proven by my having left numerous attacks unanswered. I believed that I could leave it to time to break a path for the truth.”

Ignaz Semmelweis in The Etiology, Concept, and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever

Another problem?

Semmelweis didn’t answer all of the attacks of his critics, including that a large number of women in his maternity wards died between 1856 and 1858, even though the doctors were washing their hands. The deaths were later traced to poorly laundered linen though, not the doctors, after the laundry service for the hospital had been “released to the minimum bidder.”

Semmelweis published his book The Etiology, Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever in 1860.
Semmelweis waited 13 years to publish his book, The Etiology, Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever.

It also didn’t help that he waited years to formally publish anything about his work. In fact, his treatise, The Etiology, Concept, and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever, wasn’t published until 1860, which amazingly, is 13 years after he made his discovery!

There was also a lot of political stuff going on in Hungary and the Austrian Empire at the time, including the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.

So instead of doctors believing him, he was said to have been driven out of the medical profession, although he still taught medical students, and he eventually died in an insane asylum.

It was at about this time that Louis Pasteur was doing his experiments on germs, disease, and pasteurization. Also, Robert Koch and his Koch’s postulates would soon help doctors and scientists identify which germs were causing a specific disease. And it wasn’t long before Joseph Lister promoted the ideas of antiseptic surgery.

“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”

Pierre Pachet

That’s not to say that everyone believed Pasteur, Koch, or Lister right away either.

The Semmelweis Reflex

Although most people didn’t believe him before he died, a paradigm shift soon came and Semmelweis became known as one of the early pioneers of antiseptic policies and procedures.

This reactionary short-sightedness gave rise to the the term The Semmelweis Reflex: “the reflex-like tendency to reject new evidence or new knowledge because it contradicts established norms, beliefs or paradigms.”

Carl Hendrick on The Semmelweis Reflex

The Semmelweis Reflex.

There’s your explanation for why anti-vax folks like to invoke Ignaz Semmelweis.

They think that since the ideas of Semmelweis were rejected, but ultimately proven to be right, then every crank and quack who thinks that vaccines don’t work, that vaccines are full of toxins, or that vaccines cause autism must be right too.

And since most are also anti-vaccine, all of the people who believe in autism bio-med cures must be right too.

“Today’s vaccine injury denialism is a modern-day Semmelweis reflex. Pediatricians who care passionately about the welfare of children understandably find repulsive the idea that autism is largely iatrogenic.”

Louise Kuo Habakus and Mary Holland in Vaccine Epidemic

They are all Semmelweis!

Of course they aren’t.

Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis had data and statistics showing that he was right. On the other hand, we have data and statistics showing that the anti-vax heroes, including those who push autism biomed cures, these Semmelweis wannabes, are wrong.

“This rhetorical sleight-of-hand, which is sometimes referred to as the Semmelweis Strategem, is a variation of the Galileo Gambit, whereby someone whose work is debunked argues that the fact that Galileo’s work was also debunked proves he is actually correct. Semmelweis is frequently invoked by anti-vaccinationists.”

Seth Mookin in The Panic Virus

Want to know the real irony in their invoking Semmelweis?

Many anti-vaccine folks don’t even believe in germ theory!

That’s right, germ theory denialism is a thing, with advocates discounting the work of Joseph Lister, Robert Koch, Louis Pasteur, and Ignaz Semmelweis.

What To Know About Ignaz Semmelweis

Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was ahead of his time in the mid-19th Century when he tried to get doctors to wash their hands to avoid getting their patients sick.

More About Ignaz Semmelweis

Who Is Tetyana Obukhanych?

It isn’t very hard to figure out who Tetyana Obukhanych really is.

Who Is Tetyana Obukhanych?

Every anti-vaccine article you read that is either about her, or by her, goes out of their way to make sure that you know that she:

  • has a Ph.D. in Immunology: working in the lab of Dr. Michel Nussenzweig, she presented her thesis on Immunologic Memory to Polysaccharide Antigens to the faculty of The Rockefeller University in 2006, in which she proved that vaccines work
  • trained at Harvard: started her postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School, which can lead to a tenure-track faculty position (it didn’t)
  • trained at Stanford: did some of her postdoctoral training in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Science at the Stanford University School of Medicine, which again, can lead to a tenure-track faculty position (it didn’t)
  • has 8 published peer-reviewed research articles: that she co-authored with many others and only one has her as the primary author, in which she concluded that “As the generation and regulation of immunologic memory is central to vaccination, our findings help explain the mode of action of the few existing polysaccharide vaccines and provide a rationale for a wider application of polysaccharide-based strategies in vaccination.”
  • wrote a book about vaccines: that she self-published for the Kindle
  • frequently lectures about vaccines: which are basically interviews and talks that push classic anti-vaccine misinformation, despite her having “studied immunology in some of the world’s most prestigious medical institutions”

Not surprisingly, the modern anti-vaccine movement loves her.

“All throughout my PhD training I was a faithful believer in vaccination. I believed for almost two decades that the reason I had contracted measles and whooping cough during my teenage years was because I wasn’t vaccinated against these diseases. Then, when I had to check my childhood vaccination records, I discovered that I was in fact fully vaccinated for both measles and whooping cough, and the resulting contradiction necessitated me to reexamine all my previous beliefs about the immunologic theory behind vaccination.”

Tetyana Obukhanych, Ph.D.

While getting a vaccine-preventable disease after being vaccinated might make some folks question the whole “immunologic theory behind vaccination,” for most others, they would simply question other factors that might have led to this possible vaccine failure.

Was she fully vaccinated according to the US immunization schedule (two doses of a measles containing vaccine and four doses of a pertussis containing vaccine, with a booster as a teenager)? Were the vaccines equivalent? Were there outbreaks going on?

Outbreaks?

Although it is not clear when she came to the United States to pursue her education, Tetyana Obukhanych was born in Ukraine and likely lived through the “massive epidemic” of diphtheria and other vaccine-preventable diseases in the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

“This epidemic, primarily affecting adults in most Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union, demonstrates that in a modern society diphtheria can still spread explosively and cause extensive illness and death.”

Diphtheria in the Former Soviet Union: Reemergence of a Pandemic Disease

In Ukraine alone, there were 17,387 cases of diphtheria and 646 deaths from 1992 to 1997. Also high, were cases of measles (over 23,000 cases in 1993) and pertussis (almost 7,000 cases in 1993).

Even if she had already left Ukraine, those outbreaks are great evidence that vaccines work and that vaccines are necessary.

Tetyana Obukhanych on Vaccines

Instead of discussing them, Tetyana Obukhanych operates using an appeal to authority to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

As an immunologist, isn’t she really an authority though?

Consider that even though she might be a Harvard trained immunologist with a PhD, there are:

  • over 7,600 members of the American Association of Immunologists
  • just over 8,000 residents and postdoctoral fellows at Harvard
  • 1,279 postdocs at Standford School of Medicine

and few, if any, agree with anything she says about vaccines.

“Research has repeatedly confirmed that vaccinations are safe and highly effective for all healthy children and adults, and any suggestions to the contrary have been discredited. Ongoing vaccine research continually reaffirms its safety and efficacy, including the number of vaccines administered at any one time and the recommended vaccination schedule.”

The American Association of Immunologists Statement on Vaccines

Now if “more than 7,600 basic and clinical immunologists, strongly support the use of vaccines to prevent disease,” then why would you even think about listening to just one who doesn’t?

We actually know why.

It’s called confirmation bias.

“Many questions in science and medicine are confusing and frustrating, but fortunately, the question of vaccination need not be one of them. Because for vaccines, the verdict is already in: guilty of being safe, effective, powerful, and highly recommended.”

Vivian Chou is a Ph.D. student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program at Harvard Medical School.

So what does Tetyana Obukhanych think about vaccines?

  • A pic of a cherry on the cover would have been more appropriate, as a lot of cherry picking of studies and references goes on in the book.
    A pic of a cherry on the cover would have been more appropriate, as a lot of cherry picking of studies and references goes on in her e-book.

    that experts overlooked that the smallpox vaccine didn’t provide life-long immunity, even though it was known by the end of the 19th century that boosters could be needed and that was well before any other vaccine was developed

  • that Immunology has no theoretical or evidence-based explanation for immunity – she should read the book Immunity by William E. Paul, MD – an internationally renowned immunologist
  • that instead of simply helping vaccines work better, adjuvants are necessary to help vaccines work at all, because “purified protein antigens do not have an ability to induce antibody production in humans or animals (the recipients) on their own.”
  • that adjuvants are necessary to develop allergies, including food allergies – because “without an adjuvant, there will be no immune response to a food protein or peptide, and it will not become an allergen.”
  • that vaccines are only monitored for two or three weeks to make sure they are safe
  • that titer tests or “a positive serological test is a proof of immunity only in the absence of vaccination. In vaccinated individuals, a serological test of immunity is biologically meaningless.”
  • that we have created a so-called vaccine paradox, in which “vaccines reduce the overall incidence of childhood diseases, yet make them infinitely more dangerous for the next generation of babies.”
  • that homepathy works
  • that “for most communicable viral diseases there is no herd immunity in post – elimination era.”

Being Harvard trained can certainly be a big deal. After all, John Enders, “The Father of Modern Vaccines,” who won the Nobel Prize for his work on the cultivation of the poliomyelitis viruses and who developed the first live measles vaccine, trained at Harvard.

“The apparent absence of major viral epidemics in the U.S. is now due to the absence of endemic viral exposure, not herd immunity.”

Tetyana Obukhanych, PhD on Vaccine Illusion

Some would wonder if Tetyana Obukhanych even knows who John Enders was…

Tragically, as Dr. Tetyana Obukhanych, the Harvard trained immunologist from Ukraine goes on and on about how vaccines don’t work, Ukraine is facing outbreaks of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases due to parents not vaccinating their kids and limited supplies of vaccines.

Unfortunately, they aren’t lucky enough to have an “absence of endemic viral exposure,” or in other words, herd immunity.

What To Know About Tetyana Obukhanych

While she is a Harvard trained immunologist with a PhD, Tetyana Obukhanych pushes classic misinformation about vaccines that you would be hard pressed to get any other immunologist or Harvard grad to agree.

More on Tetyana Obukhanych