For those of us who grew up watching ER, Mark Green is a household name.
But that’s not the Mark Green I’m talking about…
Who Is Mark Green?
Mark Green is a soon-to-be congressman, recently elected for Tennessee’s Seventh Congressional District.
A Republican, he is also a doctor. Specifically, he became a Army special operations flight surgeon after completing a residency in emergency medicine.
Of note, Dr. Green has also made horrible statements about transgender people, saying that they have a disease and that they are an evil that must be crushed.
Although his previous statements led him to withdraw as Trump’s pick for Army Secretary, that didn’t keep folks in Tennessee from sending him to Congress.
And now we have his comments about vaccines and autism…
At a recent town hall meeting in Tennessee, Green said:
“Let me say this about autism,” Green said. “I have committed to people in my community, up in Montgomery County, to stand on the CDC’s desk and get the real data on vaccines. Because there is some concern that the rise in autism is the result of the preservatives that are in our vaccines.
“As a physician, I can make that argument and I can look at it academically and make the argument against the CDC, if they really want to engage me on it,” Green said.
Has he apologized?
Despite some saying that he has walked back those claims, his main response has been that his comments had been “misconstrued” and that “I’ve vaccinated my kids and let others know they need to vaccinate theirs too.”
“There appears to be some evidence that as vaccine numbers increase, rates of autism increase,” Green said. “We need better research, and we need it fast. We also need complete transparency of any data. Vaccines are essential to good population health. But that does not mean we should not look closely at the correlation for any causation.”
Except for when he doubled down on his statements trying to associate vaccines with autism…
Statements which seemed to cause the Tennessee chapter of the AAP and the Tennessee Department of Health to issue statements of their own.
“Vaccines do not cause autism.”
Tennessee Department of Health Statement on Immunizations
So, is he going to really apologize for his comments, and perhaps learn a bit more about vaccines, vaccine-preventable disease, and autism?
The former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana (1983-2013) has been described as being “antivaccine through and through” and “organized quackery’s best friend in Congress.”
Dan Burton held over 20 Congressional hearings trying to prove that there was a link between vaccines and autism.
Hearings that gave a high profile platform to Andrew Wakefield and are best described as:
“carefully choreographed to generate as much negative feeling toward the vaccination system as possible.”
Arthur Allen on Vaccine The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver
Who replaced Dan Burton?
It seems to be U.S. Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL), who has been described as “vying to take over the title of the most antivaccine legislator in the U.S. Congress since Dan Burton retired.”
He got a little help from Rep. Darrell Issa, who conducted a meeting of the Subcommittee of Government Operations in 2014, Examining the Federal Response to Autism Spectrum Disorders.
“Okay. Let’s stop it right there. Because every time we have ever talked about doing one of those studies, some idiot in the media says I am suggesting that children intentionally don’t get vaccinated. And I don’t know that anybody ever has ever proposed that. But there are plenty of children whose parents will not allow them to be vaccinated. There are plenty of cultures where children are not vaccinated. And there are other reasons children are not vaccinated. And there are children who take large doses of vaccination, and children whose parents decide to have them take one vaccination at a time to avoid thimerosal. And I have not been able to ascertain that there has actually been a legitimate study done that wasn’t tainted by the touch of the international colossal scumbag Poul Thorsen.”
Rep. Bill Posey questioning NIH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. in the Congressional hearing on Examining the Federal Response to Autism Spectrum Disorders
Who else might be joining him?
There is Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
Maloney also spoke at a 2012 hearing planned by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on the federal response to rising autism rates.
“Are you looking at vaccination? Is that part of your studies? I have a question. Are you looking at vaccination? Are you having a study on vaccination and the fact that they’re cramming them down and having kids have nine at one time. Is that a cause? Do you have any studies on vaccination?”
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in a hearing on Rising Autism Rates
Rep. Carolyn Maloney was also a co-sponsor of Rep. Bill Posey’s 2015 Vaccine Safety Study Act bill, which called for “a comprehensive study comparing total health outcomes, including risk of autism, in vaccinated populations in the United States with such outcomes in unvaccinated populations in the United States, and for other purposes,” even though many experts have long pointed out the problems with using intentionally unvaccinated folks as a comparison group.
But Rep Maloney got her start long before Bill Posey ever came to Congress…
In 2006, in response to a series of articles by Dan Olmstead, who later created the website, Age of Autism, Rep Maloney held a briefing at the National Press Club where she proposed the Comprehensive Study of Autism Epidemic Act of 2006, a bill that sounds awfully similar to Posey’s Vaccine Safety Study Act.
Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) was another co-sponsor.
But we shouldn’t forget Rep. Dave Weldon MD (R-Fl), who introduced the Mercury-Free Vaccines Act of 2004 and the Vaccine Safety and Public Confidence Assurance Act of 2007. Weldon also sent a number of letters to Julie Gerberding questioning a study about thimerosal by Thomas Verstraeten, a study that was investigated and cleared by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in 2005. Because he was a doctor, Rep. Burton also had Weldon do a lot of the questioning during his hearings.
And there is also Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), who was a cosponsor when Maloney reintroduced the Vaccine Safety and Public Confidence Assurance Act in 2009.
Not surprisingly, many of these members of Congress have been getting donations from anti-vaccine organizations.
In contrast to all of the folks above, there was Rep. Henry A Waxman (D-CA), who retired after 40 years in Congress, but not before:
fighting back against Dan Burton’s misinformation in his hearings about vaccines
introducing the Vaccine Access and Supply Act of 2005
authoring the stand-alone Vaccines for Children legislation that was included in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 that created the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program
introducing the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986
But his work on vaccines has probably been the most low-profile thing that Waxman did, which is why he is often described as “one of the most important Congressman ever.”
You’ll never hear that said about Dan Burton, Bill Posey, Dave Weldon, or Carolyn Maloney…
Over the years, especially since thimerosal was removed from most vaccines, the myths about thimerosal have surprising been increasing.
“Currently, the actions taken by the vaccine manufacturers, the FDA and the CDC have increased the possible maximum childhood exposure to mercury from vaccines to twice the level that triggered the 1999 call to remove mercury from all vaccines as soon as possible!”
Rev. Lisa K. Sykes on “Ten Lies” Told About Mercury in Vaccines
Of course, none of them are true.
Myths About Thimerosal in Vaccines
To begin with, there was no “call to remove mercury from all vaccines as soon as possible.”
Instead, as a “precautionary measure,” the AAP asked vaccine manufacturers “for a clear commitment and a plan to eliminate or reduce as expeditiously as possible the mercury content of their vaccines.”
“In addition, today most tetanus shots and the multi-dose Sanofi Menomune vaccine that are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still contain 25-micrograms-a-dose mercury.”
Rev. Lisa K. Sykes on “Ten Lies” Told About Mercury in Vaccines
After “realizing” the amount of mercury in the childhood vaccination schedule recommended by the CDC exceeded all national and global maximum safety limits, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Public Health Service called for the immediate removal of Thimerosal from all vaccines on July 7, 1999. – the amount of thimerosal in the childhood immunization schedule actually only exceeded EPA guidelines and was well below the guidelines of the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry (ATSDR) or the FDA. Also, since thimerosal-free versions of DTaP and Hib have always been available, only “a minority of infants could receive as much as 187.5 mg of ethylmercury during the first 6 months of life.”
children are getting even more mercury from vaccines today than when mercury was removed from vaccines, because pregnant women and kids get flu shots now – this theory doesn’t take into account that thimerosal-free flu vaccines have been available since 2003 and until recently, many kids didn’t get flu shots. For example, during the 2008-09 flu season, only 25% infants and toddlers were fully vaccinated against flu and even fewer pregnant women got flu shots (about 15%). The only way this myth could possibly be true would be if these folks all got a flu vaccine with thimerosal each and every year.
even as thimerosal was removed from the DTaP, Hib, and hepatitis B vaccines, kids still got exposed to thimerosal from other vaccines, like Menomume, the meningococcal vaccine – Although Menomume contained thimerosal, it had only been recommended for high risk kids since it was approved in 1981. It was later replaced by Menactra and Menveo, both of which are thimerosal-free, and which were recommended to all kids as they provided better coverage. Menomume was discontinued in 2017 and it is unlikely that many kids got it once Menactra and Menveo became available.
kids still get a tetanus shot with thimerosal – yes, they did, at least until the Tdap vaccines were approved in 2006. Tdap is thimerosal-free.
Thimerosal has never undergone even one modern safety test. – although mercury can be toxic, the thimerosal in vaccines has been shown to be safe. That’s not surprising – remember, “the dose makes the poison.”
Published studies have shown that Thimerosal and its mercury breakdown product contribute to: Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, Asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Arthritis, Food Allergies, Premature Puberty, and Infertility. – thimerosal in vaccines doesn’t cause any of these things, but you can probably find a published study somewhere saying that thimerosal causes Alzheimer’s, cancer, or food allergies, etc., but that just points to how important it is to look to trusted sources of information, as almost anyone can publish a bad study
Contrary to sound bites you hear on the nightly news, to be “anti-mercury” is not to be “anti-vaccine.” – if this is true, then why did Robert F. Kennedy, Jr write an editorial against University of Colorado students who passed a resolution for meningococcal B vaccines, which are thimerosal-free? And why push so much propaganda about thimerosal?
Corresponding to the sharply increasing level of mercury in the immunization schedule globally, which started in the late 1980’s, there has been an increasing rate of autism among children. This also explains why autism among 40-, 50-, 60-, 70- and 80-year-olds is not epidemic, but rather rare. – this is one of the main problems of the anti-vaccine movement… if you believe that autism is an epidemic, then there must be a cause and it becomes easy to blame vaccines. You also have to ignore the fact that there are plenty of autistic adults.
Among the Amish who do not vaccinate, the rate of autism is strikingly low. – there are autistic Amish
Unused vaccines with a preservative level of Thimerosal, however, are considered hazardous waste because of their high mercury content. If not injected into patients, discarded vials of these mercury-preserved vaccines, therefore, must be disposed of in steel drums, by law. – this is not true – at all… you also don’t have to call a Hazmat team if you break an unused vaccine vial with thimerosal…
…instead of requiring immediate removal, the CDC allowed the pharmaceutical companies to save money by using up their inventories of mercury-containing vaccines. By 2003, the industry had finally used up stocks of thimerosal-containing vaccines and Thimerosal is no longer used in these three vaccines. – the only basis for this statement is that the last thimerosal containing DTaP, Hib, and hepatitis B vaccines expired in 2003, but it is important to keep in mind that most vaccines are used well before their expiration date. In fact, many doctors order vaccines every month, so as to not keep large supplies of vaccines in their office, and since thimerosal-free versions were already available, those likely would have been ordered.
The term “trace amounts” means less than 1 microgram (mcg). Thimerosal-containing flu shots contain what in biochemical terms is actually a massive dose of mercury: 25 mcg. – vaccines labeled as having a trace amount of thimerosal have less than or equal to 1mcg, while others are clearly labeled as having up to 25mcg.
Why do I call that massive? Because the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum exposure limits for methyl mercury is .1 microgram per 1 kilogram of bodyweight, which means a baby would have to weigh 550 pounds to safely absorb 25 micrograms of mercury. At these levels, a growing fetus in a mother receiving the flu shot could get up to a million times the EPA’s safe levels. – wait, what? First, that is the maximum recommended daily exposure limit based on the assumption that the exposure to mercury will continue for long periods of time. That’s not the case when a pregnant woman gets a one time flu shot. And it is the pregnant mother who is getting the flu shot, not the baby. Although some thimerosal will cross the placenta, it is still not in levels that will cause harm, so calling the dose massive ends up just being an obvious propaganda tool to scare folks.
Autism and mercury poisoning have the same symptoms. – they don’t… In fact, there are many reports of epidemics of mercury poisoning throughout history that weren’t associated with autism, including in Minamata and Niigata, Japan, exposures from mercury in teething powders and worm medicines (pink disease), and food contamination in many countries.
“Yet mercury had long been the every-day treatment of infants at the time of teething in the form of teething powders.”
Ann Dally on The Rise and Fall of Pink Disease
Although it is hard to believe now, mercury wasn’t taken out of teething powders until 1957, after which time pink disease quickly disappeared. Why was mercury in teething powders in the first place? Unlike thimerosal in vaccines, I don’t think it was acting as a preservative, as it sounds like it was present in very high doses. So there was a lot of risk with no benefit.
Sounds like the opposite of what we had with thimerosal in vaccines – lots of benefit (vaccines didn’t get contaminated) with no risk.
But taking thimerosal out of vaccines was risk-free too, wasn’t it?
Nope. That’s another myth.
“Unfortunately, the precautions taken by the AAP and CDC calling for thimerosal removal from vaccines appears to have led to unintended risks. In particular, inappropriate recommendations by autism advocacy groups regarding treatment of autism (e.g., use of chelation) and avoidance of vaccines (e.g., influenza vaccine) may mislead parents to place children at unnecessary risks.”
Hurley et al on Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines and Autism: A Review of Recent Epidemiologic Studies
“In today’s world, smallpox has been eradicated due to a successful vaccination program and vaccines have effectively controlled many other significant causes of morbidity and mortality. Consequently, fear has shifted from many vaccine-preventable diseases to fear of the vaccines.”
Marian Siddiqui et al on the Epidemiology of vaccine hesitancy in the United States
Surprisingly, there often isn’t anything specific that they are scared of. That’s unfortunate, as it makes it harder to offer reassurance when they don’t have specific questions or concerns.
Still, something is scaring these parents, sometimes to the point that they have panic attacks if they even think about vaccinating their kids.
“…many parents are inundated with horror stories of vaccine dangers, all designed to eat away at them emotionally while the medical and scientific communities have mounted their characteristic response by sharing the facts, the data, and all of the reliable peer-reviewed and well-cited research to show that vaccines are safe and effective.”
Federman on Understanding Vaccines: A Public Imperative
And why trust that you should vaccinate your kids when you are likely inundated with messages about vaccines being poison, a Big Pharma conspiracy, or that you can just heal your child with some garlic and essential oils if they get sick?
Reducing Anxiety from Vaccinations
Have any ideas on how to get over your anxiety about vaccinations?
To start, learn that vaccines are safe, necessary, and they work to protect your kids and that all of the messages you are hearing about vaccines that have been scaring you aren’t true. You have probably already realized that on some level, but there are cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies that work together to change our perception of risk, keep us believing things aren’t true, and in this case, can keep you from vaccinating and protecting your kids.
It can also help to learn to think critically and be more skeptical about the things you see and read about vaccines, especially if you aren’t sure about the source of the information.
“The Internet has been identified as an important source for parents to seek and share vaccine information. There are concerns that parental fears or hesitancy on childhood immunizations are increasing due to the popularity of social media and exposure to online antivaccination sentiment.”
Tustin et al on Internet Exposure Associated With Canadian Parents’ Perception of Risk on Childhood Immunization: Cross-Sectional Study
Don’t let a small, yet vocal anti-vaccine minority scare you into a poor decision about your child’s vaccines.
What to Know About Being Too Scared to Vaccinate Your Kids
Parents who are inundated with anti-vaccine messages and misinformation sometimes get too scared to vaccinate their kids, fearing vaccines more than they fear the diseases they prevent.
Well, there have been studies warning people about giving Tylenol before vaccines. It had nothing to do with side effects though. They suggested that a vaccine might be less effective if the child got Tylenol before his vaccines. It is important to note that they never really found that the vaccines didn’t work as well, as all of the kids in the study still had protective levels of antibodies, they were just a little lower than kids who didn’t get Tylenol.
Other studies have found the same effect if Tylenol was given after a child got his vaccines. Although interestingly, other studies have found that giving Tylenol after vaccines does not affect antibody titers.
“Antibody titres to diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and pertussis bacteria of the placebo (n = 25) and acetaminophen (n = 34) groups did not differ significantly from each other. It is concluded that acetaminophen in a single dose schedule is ineffective in decreasing post-vaccination fever and other symptoms.”
Uhari et al on Effect of prophylactic acetaminophen administration on reaction to DTP vaccination
The only thing that this had to do with side effects though, is that the kids who got Tylenol had a little less fever.
What about the association of MMR, Tylenol and autism? Although one study did suggest that to be true, the study, a parental survey, was found to be “fatally flawed.”
Can I Give My Kids Tylenol When They Have Their Vaccines?
So, can you give your kids Tylenol when they get their vaccines?
The better question is, should you give your kids Tylenol either before or after they get their vaccines?
Notwithstanding the very small chance that giving Tylenol might cause decreased immunogenicity (lower antibody production) if you give it before your kids get their vaccines, since there is a good chance that they won’t have any pain or fever and won’t even need any Tylenol, then why give it?
Skip the “just in case” dose and wait and see if they even need it.
What about afterwards?
If your kids have pain or fever and are uncomfortable, then you should likely give them something for pain or fever control, such as an age appropriate dose of either acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Will that cause lower antibody production? Maybe. Will that mean that their vaccines won’t work. That’s doubtful. It certainly won’t lead to increased side effects though, unless they a reaction to the dose of Tylenol itself.
Should you give a pain or fever reducer after a vaccine “just in case?” Again, there is a good chance that your kids might not need it, so it is likely better to wait and see if they do, instead of giving a dose automatically after their shots.
There is even some evidence that giving acetaminophen or ibuprofen before vaccines, or as a routine dose right after, especially with booster shots, doesn’t really prevent side effects that well anyway. They work better if given on an as needed basis instead, and these kinds of doses are less likely to be associated with decreased antibody production.
What to Know About Tylenol and Vaccines
Giving a pain or fever reducer either before or after your child’s vaccinations likely won’t affect how it works, but since it often isn’t necessary, it is likely best to only given one, like Tylenol or Motrin, if it is really needed.
“Doctors who first worked with children with regressive autism back in the early 1990s found that one of the biggest “wows” came from treating intestinal yeast overgrowth, and this benefit holds true today. Children whose diarrhea doesn’t go away with the GFCF diet usually show resolution with yeast medication.”
Bob Sears, MD on The Autism Book
From restrictive diets and antifungal drugs for yeast infections to bleach enemas and detox therapies, these books often push expensive, often unproven, sometimes disproven, and dangerous non-evidence basedbiomedical treatments and cures on hopeful parents of autistic kids.
Don’t help them by buying or promoting their books.
Instead, look for better books by folks who are really helping autistic kids and don’t think they are damaged, or books by someone who is actually autistic.
What to Know About the Epidemic of Bad Autism Books
There are a lot of good books out there with helpful information if you think that your child is autistic, has been recently diagnosed, or if you simply want to learn more about autism. It’s time to stop the epidemic of bad autism books.
These CDC reports should even take away any last idea that they are.
If there was any association with vaccines, then why are autism rates so widely different in the 11 states that are tracked by ADDM?
Are immunization rates different in those states?
Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network
Anyone who has read the latest report on autism rates understands that it “is not a representation of autism in the United States as a whole, but is instead an in-depth look at the 11 communities in the ADDM Network.”
Those communities have changed for each report, but this time they were in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
Even then, the ADDM Network doesn’t look at all of the children in those states. They are mostly looking at children near large institutions that are hosts for the ADDM Network, such as the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, and Rutgers University, etc.
The 325,483 8-year-olds in the latest ADDM Network report were born in 2006 and live in:
part of Maricopa County in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona
75 counties in Arkansas
Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson counties in Colorado
Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties in Georgia
Baltimore County, Maryland
parts of two counties (Hennepin and Ramsey) including the large metropolitan cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota
Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles, St. Louis, and St. Louis City counties in Missouri
Essex, Hudson, Union, and Ocean counties in New Jersey
Alamance, Chatham, Forsyth, Guilford, Orange, and Wake counties in North Carolina
Bedford, Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Marshall, Maury, Montgomery, Rutherford, Robertson, Williamson, and Wilson counties in Tennessee
Dane, Green, Jefferson, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Rock, Walworth, and Waukesha counties in Wisconsin
“Autism prevalence among black and Hispanic children is approaching that of white children,” said Dr. Stuart Shapira, associate director for science at the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “The higher number of black and Hispanic children now being identified with autism could be due to more effective outreach in minority communities and increased efforts to have all children screened for autism so they can get the services they need.”
It shows that “there continue to be many children living with ASD who need services and support, now and as they grow into adolescence and adulthood.”
Immunization Rates and the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network
It also helps to dispell any last ideas that vaccines are associated with autism…
Just look at the immunization rates in the ADDM Network counties (4 doses of DTaP, 3 doses of IPV, one dose of MMR, 3 doses of Hib, 3 doses of HepB, 1 dose of Varicella, 4 doses of Prevnar, flu shot, and 1 dose of HepA by age 36 months) and compare them to the autism rates in those same counties.
If vaccines were associated with autism, what should you see? Higher rates of autism in the areas with the highest immunization rates. You don’t see that in any of this data though, do you?
The counties in New Jersey, with the highest rates of autism, have good immunization rates, but they aren’t much different from the immunization rates in Colorado counties or Arizona counties with much lower autism rates.
Some other things we know about vaccines and the latest autism report?
in 2006, when those kids were born, New Jersey had one of the lowest rates for getting newborns a hepatitis B shot on their first day, as recommended, at just 23%. Arizona, with a much lower rate of autism, did much better, getting 65% of newborns their birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine on time. In fact, Maricopa County had one of the highest rates, at 71%.
fewer than half of their mothers likely received a flu shot during their pregnancy, even though they had been recommended since the 1990s
extremely few of their mothers received a Tdap vaccine during their pregnancy, as this didn’t become a routine recommendation until 2011
Does any of this surprise you?
How can vaccines be associated with autism, when counties that have higher immunization rates have lower rates of autism?
What to Know About Vaccines and the Latest Autism Prevalence Report
The latest Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network report on autism prevalence from the CDC shows a rate that has increased to 1 in 59 children. And as county level trends in vaccination coverage show no correlation to those autism prevalence rates, folks will hopefully stop trying to associate vaccines with autism.
More on Vaccines and the Latest Autism Prevalence Report