Tag: autism epidemic

The Vaccine-Friendly Plan Book Review

The Vaccine-Friendly Plan is the latest book about vaccines that claims to offer a “safe and effective approach to immunity and health.”

What’s the problem with it?

In addition to the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any evidence in the book to support that any of its ideas are indeed safe or effective, the book pushes just about every anti-vaccine talking point out there today.

Misinformation in The Vaccine-Friendly Plan

If you want to skip or delay some of your child’s vaccines and are looking for something to help you feel better about your decision, then this is the book for you.

While Dr. Thomas and Jennifer Margulis talk about providing balanced information, it was right after he stated that “I realized we had poisoned a generation of children with a mercury-derived preservative called thimerosal” and then goes on to talk about how kids are overvaccinated.

So much for balanced information…

But Dr. Thomas isn’t just worried about vaccines. He is also worried about Tylenol, that the chemicals in plastics are endocrine disruptors, GMOs, flame retardants, pesticides, fluoride, artificial sweeteners, chemical dyes, and all of the other toxins that other doctors and the CDC supposedly ignore.

What about the “science” that supports his ideas?

Sure, he is quick to cherry pick studies that support the ideas he likes and label them as “important studies” among “a growing body of evidence,” but if the studies don’t, then they are “a handful of poorly designed, anecdotal studies.”

We see a lot of other anti-vaccine propaganda techniques in the book too.

“Giving a quadruple live-virus vaccine to a toddler is a mistake. When a toddler catches an illness naturally, he does not catch all four at once. I have serious concerns about hitting the immune system of a twelve-month-old baby with four live viruses, even though they are weakened.”

Does Dr. Thomas understand how the immune system works or how many different things our immune systems get “hit” with each and every day? Children are exposed to a lot of live, unweakened viruses and other germs every day and fight them off just fine.

Dr. Thomas also routinely downplays the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases (they all seem to be easily treatable in his world), overstates the risks of vaccines (they all seem to be full of horrible poisons in his world), makes heavy use of anecdotes, repeatedly makes it sound like every other pediatrician is doing something wrong, and again, makes full use of anti-vaccine talking points to scare parents:

To see how silly his arguments are, consider that when talking about giving any amount of formula to a baby, he is quick to say that “Cow’s milk is for calves, human milk is for human babies.”

“I also know several strapping young people who drank bottles of raw goat’s milk (instead of store-bought formula) when their breastfeeding mothers needed to be away from them for several hours…”

Raw goat milk is for kids = baby goats. Don't give it to your baby!
Raw goat milk is for kids = baby goats. Don’t give it to your baby! Photo by Shannon McGee (CC BY-SA 2.0)
But what about goat milk?

Is it just for baby goats?

You won’t hear this from Dr. Thomas, but unless your ‘kid’ is a baby goat, don’t give him raw goat milk!

So what’s the take home message about Dr. Thomas and his book?

Despite his frequently using the word science in the book, the only “science” in The Vaccine-Friendly Plan is that it is full of pseudoscience.

You can even see this in his ideas about gluten sensitivity. Why do so many of his patients show a sensitivity to gluten? He uses an IgG food sensitivity test that most experts say is basically worthless.

Making a Case for Getting Vaccinated

Perhaps the only good thing about Dr. Paul Thomas’ book is that he makes some very good cases for why you should vaccinate your kids.

Wait, what?

His introduction starts off with the story of the death of his three-year-old playmate in Africa. Tragically, the child died of measles.

Like many other pediatricians, he also talks about “the miracle that the Hib vaccine was when it was introduced in 1985.”

“Then in 2012 I had about twenty children in my practice with pertussis: eighteen were school age kids, and two were infants. Interestingly, fifteen of the twenty were fully immunized for pertussis, and the other five were from the small group of families in my practice who refuse all vaccines.”

His story about pertussis in his practice is also very interesting, but not for the reason that Dr. Thomas believes.

Consider that most kids are vaccinated, even in Dr. Thomas’ practice, so the fact that 25% of the kids who got pertussis are unvaccinated means a very high attack rate among unvaccinated children. So even with the problems of waning immunity with the pertussis vaccine, you are still much better off to be vaccinated and protected, even if that protection isn’t perfect.

“Since I opened my practice in 2008, not a single child has received the rotavirus vaccine. I refuse to stock it. Yet only one child in seven years has been hospitalized for severe dehydration. The unvaccinated children in my practice either are not getting rotavirus, or the illness is so mild that it requires no intervention.”

And so much for vaccine choice. How can his patients make a decision to get vaccinated if he doesn’t even have the vaccine?!?

But why don’t they get rotavirus? It is not because the vaccine doesn’t work or isn’t necessary. It is actually called being a free-rider or hiding in the herd.

Like most vaccines, the rotavirus vaccine works and helps create community immunity.

The Most Dangerous Advice in The Vaccine-Friendly Plan

Unfortunately, the dangerous advice in this book extends well beyond repeatedly telling parents to “say no thank you” to multiple vaccines and to delay others.

The advice to “decline vaccines” during pregnancy has to be right up there with the most dangerous advice in his book, but you be the judge…

“It depends on the medication, but the short answer is that it’s best to avoid all over the counter and prescription medications during pregnancy.”

Unbelievably, Dr. Thomas really seems to say that pregnant mothers should try to stop their antidepressants because “women respond differently to pregnancy hormones and some who struggle with mental health issues find the high estrogen and progesterone of pregnancy actually improve mood and mental health.”

He also thinks that it is “reasonable” to skip your baby’s vitamin K shot because of “worrisome ingredients,” like polysorbate 80 and aluminum.

“If bilirubin levels remain extremely high – above 20 – for over a week or two, some of the bilirubin can enter the brain, where it can cause permanent brain damage called kernicterus.”

Hopefully most parents are aware that you don’t want to wait “a week or two” to seek treatment if you baby’s jaundice level is above 20.

And hopefully most parents also understand that:

  • the cutoff for fever in newborns is 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, not 100.6°F (38.4°C)
  • co-sleeping and letting your baby sleep on your chest are not safe things to do
  • skipping an evaluation and antibiotics when mom is GBS positive after delivery and she develops a fever (possible chorioamnionitis) is not a safe thing for baby, especially if mom already skipped getting antibiotics during her delivery  – it’s called gambling that the baby won’t develop early-onset invasive group B streptococcal disease. Several studies have found very high numbers of newborns in this situation with positive blood cultures, even though they had no symptoms.
  • if your pediatrician recommends that your child needs treatment for congenital hip dysplasia (which is actually now called Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip), then you should probably listen, instead of hoping it goes away on its own by wearing “your baby on your front or back with his legs splayed.”
  • you shouldn’t put your baby in direct sunlight without sunscreen for ten to fifteen minutes every day
  • there is no need to routinely check your baby’s vitamin D level – just give a supplement if you are exclusively breastfeeding
  • until polio is eradicated, the risk of getting polio is higher than zero and that all of his unvaccinated kids are at risk even if they don’t travel outside the US, like the outbreak among the Amish in 2005
  • children die from meningococcal disease because it is a severe and terrible disease that progresses very quickly, not because “we pediatricians – so quick to intervene in other, unnecessary ways – fail to listen to a worried mother, dismiss her concerns as “hysterical,” and send a sick child home…” In one study, “Most children had only non-specific symptoms in the first 4-6 h, but were close to death by 24 h.”
  • preschoolers do not need to routinely take 2,000IU of vitamin D each day – the current recommendation is 600IU if they are not getting enough from the foods they are eating and drinking and 2,000IU only if they have been diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency
  • about 4,200 women die of cervical cancer in the United States each year, something Dr. Thomas fails to mention when he says that “some strains of HPV can lead to slow-growing, highly treatable cancers.”

Although the whole book is dangerous, these are serious errors that can harm kids, and it is unbelievable that Penguin Random House would publish this book as a Medical/Parenting book. After all, this is the same company that published NeuroTribes!

Conspiracy Theories in The Vaccine-Friendly Plan

No good anti-vaccine book would be complete without some good old conspiracy theories.

Dr. Thomas doesn’t disappoint!

“It took me years to realize something I still wish were not true but which you cannot ignore if you want to have a healthy baby in America today: Our government officials and a handful of well-positioned M.D.’s who advise them have ignored some of the most important peer-reviewed studies and most relevant scientific information about immunity and health, both during pregnancy and throughout infancy.”

Dr. Paul Thomas

What else has he got?

  • the polio vaccines didn’t eliminate polio in the US, instead, it could have been “chlorinating water in public swimming pools” – it wasn’t
  • “severe reactions to the HPV vaccine are actually much more common than parents are being told” – they aren’t, even Diane Harper says the HPV vaccines are safe
  • rotavirus deaths in the pre-vaccine era are “inaccurate and misleading” because they are estimated numbers “based on a retrospective study that looked at morbidity associated with diarrheal disease between 1968 and 1991,” – except that Dr. Thomas looked at the wrong study. The estimates for hospitalizations and deaths in the pre-vaccine era come from a different study that looked at “Hospitalizations and Deaths from Diarrhea and Rotavirus among Children <5 Years of Age in the United States, 1993–2003.” Oops.
  • most flu-like illnesses are not really the flu, which “makes it impossible to distinguish influenza infections from other viruses,” unless you go to his office, where he tests kids for the flu – except that using the influenza-like illness (ILI) case definition has a high positive predictive value during flu season and many doctors and hospitals also do rapid flu testing

Do you really believe that it was the chlorine in swimming pools that eliminated polio in the United States? Or that he has found a magic way to avoid autism by drinking filtered water, avoiding GMOs, eating organic, whole foods, and following a non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedule?

What to Know About The Vaccine-Friendly Plan

The Vaccine-Friendly Plan is a dangerous book that not only panders to parent’s fears about vaccines, it goes out of its way to increase those fears by pushing misinformation, telling parents to skip and delay vaccines, and giving other unsafe pediatric and parenting advice.

The only reason to pick it up is because you are looking for some confirmation bias to make you feel better about a decision to not vaccinate your child. If you read it because you were on the fence about vaccines, please consider doing a little more research.

More on The Vaccine-Friendly Plan

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. Kennedy, 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