Tag: Andrew Wakefield

Kennedy Has a Fundraiser in the Middle of the Largest and Longest Measles Outbreak in Recent New York History

Remember when Andrew Wakefield went to Minnesota during their large measles outbreak?

It’s reminiscent of the NRA holding one of their conventions in a city after a big shooting, isn’t it?

Kennedy Has a Fundraiser in the Middle of the Largest and Longest Measles Outbreak in Recent New York History

While it seemed like a big outbreak at the time, those 13 cases would actually be considered rather small these days. In fact, a more recent outbreak in Minnesota, in 2017, had at least 79 cases!

And not surprisingly, anti-vaccine folks also visited the state to try and keep that outbreak going!

Do these folks ever learn?

Flash forward to 2019…

Since September of 2018, New York has seen over 332 cases of measles in two big outbreaks in Brooklyn and Rockland County.

So where does Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. choose to go for a fundraiser?

Where does he show up on TV to push his message about vaccine dangers?

Yup, New York City.

Lori Stokes: “Can I switch gears for a minute and talk about vaccines…”

Kennedy: “When I was a kid, we got three vaccines. That I took. My kids got 64 mandated vaccines.”

Rosanna Scotto: “How many? 64?”

Kennedy: “64”

Rosanna Scotto: “Wow!”

Kennedy: “Mandated doses. Today’s kids get 72, by the end of next year it will be 75. It’s all driven by profit. Most of these diseases are illnesses that you don’t need to be vaccinated for. “

Fox 5 Good Day New York

Wow indeed. That sounds like a lot because kids typically only get 13 vaccines that protect them against 16 vaccine-preventable diseases. We don’t even have 64 vaccines!

You only get to a number like 64 or 72 or 75 if you inflate the count to make it sound scarier.

In reality, if you count a yearly flu vaccine, kids get about 54 doses of vaccines through age 18.

Are any for diseases that you don’t need to be vaccinated for?

Which disease do you want your kids to get?

Do you want them to get tetanus, meningitis, epiglottitis, diphtheria, meningococcemia, cancer (hepatitis B and HPV infections) or to have grandchildren with congenital rubella syndrome?

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are necessary.

Ask yourself why folks like this are still allowed to push this kind of misinformation on folks, especially in the middle of an outbreak.

More on Kennedy’s Fundraisers

Who’s Who in the Anti-Vaccine Movement – 2019 Edition

We know that there will always be some folks who won’t vaccinate their kids.

“Although many may characterize all individuals who eschew vaccines as “anti-vaccine” or “vaccine deniers,” in reality, there is a broad spectrum of individuals who choose not to have themselves or their children vaccinated.”

Tara C Smith on Vaccine Rejection and Hesitancy: A Review and Call to Action 

Who are these people?

Who’s Who in the Anti-Vaccine Movement – 2019 Edition

We used to conveniently call them anti-vaccine, but that doesn’t really work.

Well, it still does, as long as you understand who you are talking about.

The thing is, the folks who don’t vaccinate their kids exist on a spectrum, from those who just need a little extra reassurance (the worrieds) or a lot of extra reassurance (parents who are on the fence or vaccine-hesitant), to vaccine refusers (will likely vaccinate during an outbreak, etc.) and deniers who likely aren’t vaccinating their kids in any circumstance and who might try to persuade others to avoid vaccines too – the vocal vaccine deniers.

So you don’t really want to bunch them all up one big anti-vaccine group, especially when you are typically talking about the vocal vaccine deniers, many of whom believe that they have a child who was injured or damaged by a vaccine.

We are still missing some folks though…

No, I’m not talking about those who like to claim that they are pro-safe vaccines, pro-choice vaccines, or vaccine skeptics, just because they don’t want to be labeled as being anti-vaccine.

Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment "Vaccines: A Bad Combination?"
Remember when Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment “Vaccines: A Bad Combination?”

We need to talk about the:

These are the folks who push misinformation about vaccines that scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Who's to blame for low immunization rates and continuing outbreaks?
Who’s to blame for low immunization rates and continuing outbreaks?

Do you know who I’m talking about it? Have you noticed that these folks never seem to face any consequences?

Who else do we need to talk about?

I remember speaking with my mother about vaccines, and at one point in our discussion, she claimed a link existed between vaccines and autism. In response, I presented evidence from the CDC which claimed directly in large bold letters, “There is no link between vaccines and autism.” Within the same article from the CDC on their official website, extensive evidence and studies from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) were cited. Most would assume when confronted with such strong proof, there would be serious consideration that your views are incorrect. This was not the case for my mother, as her only response was, “that’s what they want you to think.”

Ethan Lindenberger

There are also the folks who are pushing an anti-science agenda, making you think that mainstream doctors are bad and that anything holistic and natural must be good. Until the damage these folks are doing is seriously addressed, it won’t matter if we get a few anti-vaccine folks off of Amazon, Facebook and Pinterest.

Learn to be more skeptical. Do real research. Vaccinate your kids.

More on Who’s Who in the Anti-Vaccine Movement – 2019 Edition

About Those Lawsuits That Almost Put Vaccine Manufacturers out of Business

So you likely know that there were a bunch of lawsuits against manufacturers of the DPT vaccine in the early and mid 1980s.

“As the number of lawsuits grew to hundreds during the early 1980s, the pharmaceutical companies making vaccines saw their liability insurance bills soar. Worried not only about multimillion-dollar settlements, but also even the legal costs of defending themselves successfully, several companies simply stopped making vaccine.”

How a Media Scare On Vaccine Started a ‘near-Epidemic’

That’s why the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Act passed in 1986, creating the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and the Vaccine Court.

About Those Lawsuits That Almost Put Vaccine Manufacturers out of Business

But did those DPT vaccine lawsuits prove that vaccines aren’t safe?

Is that why vaccine manufacturers needed help to limit their liability?

“The total amount claimed in 1984 DTP vaccine suits ($1.3 billion) is more than 20 times the total value of 1984 sales of DTP vaccine at the market price of $2.80 per dose.”

Hinman on DTP Vaccine Litigation

Of course not!

While the older DPT vaccine did cause more local reactions, pain, and fever than the newer DTaP vaccine that replaced it, all of the serious reactions that triggered the lawsuits were later found to not be caused by the vaccine.

Most of the DPT lawsuits were thought to be frivolous.

That’s not surprising, as the same vaccine lawsuits that were succeeding in driving vaccine manufacturers out of business in the United States were failing in the UK and Canada!

This included the Loveday judgment in Great Britain’s High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division and the Rothwell judgment in the Supreme Court of Ontario, Canada, both decided in 1988, with justices ruling that there was “insufficient evidence to demonstrate that pertussis vaccine can cause permanent brain damage in children.”

Similar cases were succeeding in the US though..

“The number (and dollar value) of suits increased in 1982, a year when broadcast and print media began to devote considerable attention to the alleged hazards associated with the use of pertussis-containing vaccines. Most of the media coverage has emphasized alleged risks of pertussis vaccines and has given relatively little attention to the benefits of their use.”

Hinman on DTP Vaccine Litigation

Most experts knew that most of the lawsuits were frivolous, but they weren’t able to stop the damage that was to come, as:

  • the DPT: Vaccine Roulette special aired on TV
  • Barbara Loe Fisher, believing that her child was damaged by the DPT vaccine, formed the Dissatisfied Parents Together organization and wrote the book DPT: A Shot in the Dark, which later influenced Bob Sears
  • there were temporary shortages of DTP vaccine in 1984, as “two of the three American manufacturers of the product decided to halt or restrict its sales.”

What else happened? I mean besides all of the studies proving the DPT vaccine was safe?

Parents who had been scared by the DPT controversy were ready and primed when Andy Wakefield showed up and told them that they had something new to worry about – the MMR vaccine and autism.

And of course, pertussis is now returning, as more parents are scared to vaccinate their kids and the newer DTaP vaccine isn’t as effective as DPT.

More on Those Lawsuits That Almost Put Vaccine Manufacturers out of Business

If It’s Vaccines, Then Why Are There Autistic Kids Who Are Unvaccinated?

Although we know that vaccines aren’t associated with autism, anti-vaccine folks can’t let go of the idea.

Paul Thomas misses the one thing his data is telling him...
Paul Thomas misses the one thing his data is telling him…

So how do they explain all of the autistic kids who are unvaccinated?

If It’s Vaccines, Then Why Are There Autistic Kids Who Are Unvaccinated?

Of course, anti-vaccine folks have a ready answer – it’s vaccines, but it’s not just vaccines.

I guess that’s how they explain the fact that there are so many autistic adults too! Well, actually no. Most anti-vaccine folks are surprised when you point out that there are so many autistic adults, as it doesn’t fit in with their idea that autism is new and caused by kids getting more vaccines than they used to.

Well, I guess mostly caused by giving so many more vaccines than we used to – there are also the autistic kids who were never vaccinated.

How do they explain those kids having autism?

Like their competing theories about how vaccines are associated with autism (it’s the MMR vaccine, no it’s thimerosal, no it’s glyphosate contaminating vaccines, etc.), they have a lot of ideas about how everything else causes autism. From fluoride and chlorine to acetaminophen and aluminum-lined containers, plus mercury, arsenic, aspartame, MSG, and the vaccines your child’s great-grandmother received – they think that just about anything and everything can cause autism. Or at least anything that they think they can sell you a treatment for, such as their supplements, special diet plans, or other “cures.”

Makes you wonder why they still focus on vaccines…

But they do, even as more studies have shown that vaccines are not associated with autism. And since vaccines don’t cause autism, it shouldn’t be surprising that there are unvaccinated children with autism. The only reason there aren’t more is that most parents vaccinate their children, so, of course, most autistic children are going to be vaccinated.

Another reason is that some parents stop vaccinating their kids once they have an autistic child. But since vaccines aren’t associated with autism, which is highly genetic and inheritable, younger unvaccinated siblings born after older siblings were diagnosed often still develop autism.

Now if vaccines didn’t cause autism in these unvaccinated kids, why would anyone still think that they caused autism in their older siblings?

“I must admit that it was through conversations with a coworker that I began to suspect something might be wrong with my youngest son. It concerned me so much that I started looking for information online. I read some of the stories and they sounded similar to what I was experiencing with my son – with the symptoms, the regression and the age at which it all started to become apparent.”

Lara’s Story: Growing Up Anti-Vaccine

Unlike some other stories you might read online, Lara’s story is about her unvaccinated autistic child.

She isn’t alone. You only have to look at personal stories and posts in parenting forums to see that there are many cases of autism among unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children:

  • “It is highly likely my 4-year-old son is autistic. And he is completely 100 percent vaccine-free. And I am just at a total loss.”
  • “I have unvaxxed kids on the spectrum, and my friend does as well.”
  • “A good friend’s son is autistic. He is totally non-vaxxed.”
  • “I seriously delayed vaccinating my son, so had very few vaxxes at the time he was diagnosed”
  • “We have autism in our unvaxxed children”
  • “I know two little boys who are both autistic, completely non-vaxxed”
  • “I have two unvaccinated children who are on the autism spectrum and have never vaccinated any of my children.”
  • “I am not sure what caused my son’s autism, but autistic he is. He is completely unvaxxed as we stopped vaxxing 10 years ago.”
  • “I have a 10 year old daughter with autism spectrum disorder… My daughter has never had a vaccine, a decision I made shortly after she was born, after much research.”

Unfortunately, while realizing that unvaccinated children can develop autism does help some parents move away from anti-vaccine myths and conspiracy theories, others get pushed deeper into the idea that it is just about toxins. It is not uncommon for some of these parents to blame vaccines they got while pregnant or even before they became pregnant, Rhogam shots, or mercury fillings in their teeth, etc.

Fortunately, most don’t though.

Take Juniper Russo, for example.

She “was afraid of autism, of chemicals, of pharmaceutical companies, of pills, of needles” when she had her baby. She just knew that vaccines caused autism when she first visited her pediatrician after her baby was born and knew all of the anti-vaccine talking points. She also later began to realize that her completely unvaccinated daughter had significant developmental delays. Instead of continuing to believe that vaccines cause autism, Ms. Russo understood that she “could no longer deny three things: she was developmentally different, she needed to be vaccinated, and vaccines had nothing to do with her differences.”

And she understands that her autistic child isn’t damaged, as hard as folks in the anti-vaccine movement still try to push the idea that she is.

More on Autistic Kids Who Are Unvaccinated

Six Degrees of Anti-Vaccine Separation

You know about the Kevin Bacon thing, right?

Six degrees of separation? The idea that most people are connected by six or fewer degrees of separation.

Six Degrees of Anti-Vaccine Separation

Not surprisingly, you don’t have to beyond a few degrees to see the connection between many anti-vaccine folks.

“Parents from around Southern California choose Gordon for his outspoken and controversial stance on vaccinations, driving from as far away as Santa Barbara and Long Beach.

They know he will lend a sympathetic ear to their concerns about the possible adverse side effects of childhood vaccinations — even though several large scientific studies have failed to find a connection.

His openness to alternative approaches has earned him an avid following. With thousands of patients, his practice is so busy that he no longer accepts new patients.”

Los Angeles Times on Doctor Contrarian

Especially the vocal anti-vaccine folks.

Few folks likely remember, but in 2000, just after Andrew Wakefield released his now retracted study, Dr. Jay Gordon and Cindy Crawford appeared on Good Morning America to discuss vaccines and how she had decided to delay vaccinating her baby.

After the segment, Dr. Gordon stated:

They edited the segment to make me sound like a vaccination proponent. We also have to understand the impact of a person as well-known as Cindy Crawford delaying vaccines for over six months.

March 1997 article in the LA Times describing how media savvy “skeptics” were attacking vaccines.

So while a lot of folks like to give credit to Bob Sears and Jenny McCarthy for starting the modern anti-vaccine movement, Dr. Jay and Cindy Crawford were on the scene far earlier.

Dr. Jay had even been featured in the LA Times before Wakefield published his paper!

Speaking of Jenny McCarthy, it is interesting to note that Jay Gordon was her pediatrician!

“Right before his MMR shot, I said to the doctor, I have a very bad feeling about this shot. This is the autism shot, isn’t it? And he said, “No, that is ridiculous. It is a mother’s desperate attempt to blame something on autism.” And he swore at me. . . . And not soon thereafter, I noticed that change in the pictures: Boom! Soul, gone from his eyes.”

Jenny McCarthy

Well, Dr. Jay is almost certainly not the pediatrician that swore at her after giving her child an MMR vaccine.

“Yes, there have been cases of Disney spread from Measlesland. I will give MMRs to kids 3 yrs+ if parents are worried.”

Jay Gordon

But it’s not hard to guess where she got some of her ideas about vaccines.

“Would any scientist give SIX vaccines at once to a baby? Asking for trouble. One at a time makes so much more sense.”

Jay Gordon

It probably makes even more sense if it is your pediatrician saying it…

“My name is Brittney Kara and my husband and I are parents who have chosen not to continue vaccinating our children. After thoroughly investigating and carefully weighing the risks and benefits of each vaccine, we have concluded that the current vaccines are not safe for our children and that they are not required for the optimum health of our children.”

Brittney Kara

Especially when you have a pediatrician who has said “I think that the public health benefits to vaccinating are grossly overstated” and who recommends that parents “Wait until a child is clearly developmentally “solid” before vaccinating because we just don’t know which children will react badly to immunizations.”

Is that where Brittney “Why Aren’t Vaccines Mentioned in the Bible?” Kara got her ideas about vaccines?

“I began researching vaccines in 2007 when I was pregnant with our first child. Dr. Jay Gordon was my pediatrician growing up and since I have always held him in a high regard he was the first person I turned to. He was very cautious about the current CDC schedule and his research inspired me to start my own. I began following the work of Dr. Russell Blaylock, Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, and Dr. Suzanne Humphries, among others.”

Brittney Kara

What about Alicia Silverstone and Mayim Bialik?

How many celebrities got their ideas about vaccines from Jay Gordon?

Suspicions about the DPT were not confirmed. In fact, it was found that the DPT vaccine did not cause any of the neurological problems that folks claimed, something that seemed to trigger the anti-vaccine feelings in some pediatricians.

How many other people have been influenced by the anti-vaccine celebrities that Jay Gordon has inspired?

More on Six Degrees of Anti-Vaccine Separation

The History of Vaccine Exemptions

As we are starting to see some states get rid of their exemptions with new vaccine laws, it is important to understand that many non-medical exemptions came on the scene relatively recently.

After vaccine mandates to start school helped eliminate measles in the United States, over just a few years, from 1998 to 2000, 15 states added personal belief vaccine exemptions. Texas and Arkansas added theirs a little later, during the 2003-04 school year.

The History of Vaccine Exemptions

What happened in 1998 that made state lawmakers in 15 states allow parents to use personal belief vaccine exemptions to opt out of vaccinating and protecting their kids?

Andrew Wakefield happened in 1998...
Andrew Wakefield happened in 1998…

Oh yeah, that’s when Andrew Wakefield published his infamous paper in Lancet that was later retracted.

That’s right, these exemptions had their origins in perhaps the biggest anti-vaccine myth of them all!

Not that there weren’t warnings. Many of us knew adding the exemptions was a bad idea at the time…

The Austin American Statesman published an editorial in 2003 urging Legislators to fix the mess they had just created.
The Austin American Statesman published an editorial in 2003 urging Legislators to fix the mess they had just created.

And now, here we are with rising rates of vaccine-preventable disease as folks use and abuse their exemptions.

So while you are thinking about whether or not your state legislators should be taking away your personal belief vaccine exemption, a better question would likely be why they added them in the first place.

More on the History of Vaccine Exemptions

Ask 8 Questions Before You Skip a Vaccine

As anti-vaccine folks get more attention because of the rise in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease, in addition to more folks getting vaccinated, we are seeing some of the leaders of the anti-vaccine movement get more vocal.

Are measles outbreaks a sign that the anti-vaccine movement is “winning?”

Meetings, dinners, rallies…

They are doing everything they can to get their misinformation and propaganda out so that you don’t vaccinate and protect your kids.

Ask 8 Questions Before You Skip a Vaccine

If you see any of these folks, ask them a few questions…

  1. If Andrew Wakefield was right, and the MMR vaccine is associated with autism, then why are you worried about thimerosal? The MMR vaccine never contained thimerosal…
  2. If Robert F. Kennedy, Jr is right, and it is all about thimerosal, then why are you worried about the MMR vaccine? The MMR vaccine never contained thimerosal…
  3. If you are worried about thimerosal and aluminum, then why are you worried about the MMR vaccine? Not only has it never contained thimerosal, as a live vaccine, but it has also never contained aluminum.
  4. If vaccines are associated with autism, then why don’t the counties with the highest immunization rates have the highest rates of autism?
  5. If better hygiene and sanitation got rid of vaccine-preventable diseases, then why didn’t it do it for all diseases at the same time? And why hasn’t it gotten rid of RSV, Ebola, Zika, HIV, Norovirus, and all of the diseases that we don’t have vaccines for?
  6. If measles is so mild, then during the measles epidemics from 1989 to 1991 in the United States, why were 11,000 people hospitalized and why did 123 people die?
  7. If you are concerned about vaccines that have a distant association with abortion, then why don’t you vaccinate your kids with all of the vaccines that don’t use WI-38 and MRC-5 cells lines?
  8. If your arguments are so solid, then why do you need to keep moving the goalposts (it’s autoimmune diseases they are worried about now, not autism) and why are they so easy to refute (vaccines aren’t associated with autoimmune diseases either)?

The answers will be predictable.

They will revolve around three basic core beliefs of the anti-vaccine movement.

  • The belief that vaccines are toxic, full of poison, and always cause damage and injuries.
  • The belief that vaccine-preventable diseases are mild and you are better off getting natural immunity.
  • The belief that vaccines don’t even work.

Is that what you believe?

Will you let those kinds of beliefs scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids?

Are you going to put our kids at risk because you believe those things?

Are you really making an informed choice to skip or delay a vaccine when all of the scary things that people are telling you about vaccines aren’t even true?

More on Questions to Ask Before You Skip a Vaccine