Tag: autism

The Bob Sears Snare

Dr. Sears has been a well-known pediatrician for many years, writing books about breastfeeding, fussy babies, and sleep, and advocating for co-sleeping and attachment parenting before most people even knew what those things were.

He also advocates for vaccines.

“Because of my “historical” perspective, I have grown to appreciate the value of vaccines as a necessary public-health measure. Currently in our pediatric practice, we follow the vaccine schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

Dr. William Sears on Ask Dr. Sears: Vaccination/Immunization Concerns

If you are a little confused, that’s because you may not have known that Dr. Bob Sears’ father is also a pediatrician. In fact, they practice together, even if they don’t seem to agree on everything.

Who is Bob Sears?

Dr. Bob Sears believes that alternative immunization schedules are safer than getting vaccinated on time, mostly because he seems to think that most vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t that serious.

“I created my alternative vaccine schedule that allows parents to go ahead and vaccinate, simply in a more gradual manner. And I find a lot of worried parents who otherwise would refuse vaccines altogether are very happy to go ahead and vaccinate if they’re doing it in a way that they feel safer about.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

Dr. Bob appeared to have noble goals when he wrote his vaccine book – to convince more parents who were on the fence to get vaccinated – or at least to eventually get vaccinated, even if they had to delay some vaccines to get there.

“As parents’ fears of vaccines grow, I think we may see fewer and fewer parents decide to vaccinate. And then we could see what used to be very rare illnesses become more common. We might see measles escalate. We might see diphtheria come back into the United States. God forbid, we might see polio come back. Then children are going to start dying. And then a lot of those parents that had chosen not to vaccinate might change their mind, and they might start vaccinating again, and then new parents might be more inclined to vaccinate their babies if we see these diseases come back.

Now, I hope and pray that doesn’t happen. I hope that we can maintain adequate herd immunity in our country so we don’t see these diseases return. But that worry of diseases coming back into our country, and the worry of diseases running rampant and killing a lot of babies, I don’t think that supersedes the parents’ basic right to choose what they want to do for their children. And if parents want to accept the disease risk because they don’t trust the vaccines, I think they have the right to make that choice.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

It didn’t work.

It may just be a correlation, but vaccine rates went down after he wrote his book, especially among clusters of worried parents, some of whom would walk into their pediatrician’s offices carrying his book or the immunization schedule he made up.

The Bob Sears Snare

More than anything though, it seems like he has contributed to parents not trusting vaccines.

“What I do instead is I give two vaccines at a time, at 2 months, 4 months and 6 months. I also give two of the vaccines that I’m skipping on alternative months: 3 months, 5 months and 7 months. And I’m avoiding a big overload. I’m giving only a couple vaccines at a time. I feel that babies will experience fewer vaccine reactions; I think babies’ bodies can handle them better. Their immune system can handle them better that way, and I think a lot of parents simply feel more safe about that kind of approach.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

See what he did?

Instead of reassuring parents that vaccines don’t overload a baby’s immune system, Dr. Bob tells them that his schedule avoids a “big overload.”

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

If they weren’t scared about vaccines before they heard of Dr. Bob, they probably were after reading some of his stuff.

And once you fall into the snare and get scared, it is hard to get out.

What makes it even more frustrating?

The things he scares parents about aren’t even true!

Dr. Bob misrepresents science and gets parents to believe that vaccines aren’t well tested, that vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t dangerous, and that vaccine ingredients, like aluminum are dangerous.

And although he talks about choice and informed consent all of the time, by misinforming parents about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, he is actually taking away their ability to make an informed choice.

Not surprisingly, even Dr. Bob seems to have been snared by his rhetoric about vaccines.

“As a doctor, I don’t like to undermine the CDC and to help parents mistrust the CDC. Obviously the CDC does so much good for us. They have our best intentions in mind, and they do so much research. And I think parents can overall trust what the CDC says.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

He went from saying in a 2010 interview that parents should trust the CDC and that “There’s so much safety research behind vaccines that most parents should feel very confident in their safety” to now giving presentations at anti-vaccine conferences on How to Counter the Lies Politicians and the Media Use to Pass Mandatory Vaccination Laws.

What’s the worst thing about Dr. Bob though?

Bob Sears warned everyone that measles would come back if too many people listened to him in The Vaccine Book
Bob Sears warned everyone that measles would come back if too many people listened to him in The Vaccine Book

It’s not that he actually predicted what would happen if too many people began to follow non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedules, but that he thinks he is an expert on autism.

“By trying to say that there is no significant increase, is the government hoping to reassure people that autism isn’t a significant problem? That the rising number of children with autism isn’t something that anyone has to worry about? Are they trying to avoid a panic?”

Dr. Bob Sears

In a recent report about autism rates, there was no conspiracy, as Dr. Bob suggests. Unlike Dr. Bob and some others, the CDC was simply trying to not mislead people into thinking that the change from 2.24 to 2.76% meant something that it did not.

What to Know About The Bob Sears Snare

The Bob Sears Snare is a technique that anti-vaccine folks use to misrepresent science so that you actually think you are doing the right thing for your kids by skipping or delaying vaccines and leaving them unprotected.

More on Bob Sears

Getting Vaccinated to Protect Those Who Can’t Get the Vaccines

Most people get vaccinated because those vaccines have the direct benefit of reducing their risk of getting a life-threatening vaccine preventable disease. Protecting those who can’t get vaccines is a secondary benefit.

Should you get vaccinated to protect those who can't get the vaccines?
Does rationalizing your decision in anti-vax Facebook groups help you feel better that you are putting kids with cancer at greater risk to get sick?

A secondary benefit that anti-vax folks go to great lengths to convince themselves isn’t real and justify their decision to leave their kids unvaccinated and unprotected..

Getting Vaccinated to Protect Those Who Can’t Get the Vaccines

Of course, none of their explanations really hold water.

None of the vaccines that are routinely used on the CDC immunization schedule are a risk if you are around kids with cancer or other immunodeficiencies, except for FluMist and those with severe issues, like being in a bone marrow transplant unit.

One of the biggest misconceptions though, is that in getting vaccinated, parents are putting their own kids at great risk to protect someone else.

Don't set your kid on fire to keep mine warm!
Don’t set your kid on fire to keep mine warm!

Of course, that’s not true.

Remember, vaccines are safe, with few risks.

That why the analogy of setting their own kids on fire to keep others warm doesn’t make any sense.

After all, unlike vaccinating their own child, setting their child on fire offers them no benefit!

And they should understand that the one and only reason that their kids don’t get more vaccine-preventable diseases in this dog eat dog world is because the vast majority of us vaccinate and protect our kids.

Herd immunity is indeed real. In addition to protecting those who can’t be vaccinated, it protects the free-riders, those who just don’t want to get vaccinated.

What about the idea that it is unrealistic for folks who are immunocompromised to expect that they can lead normal lives and avoid infections?

You can't avoid all risks of infection, but why not avoid those that you can?

While it is true that there are other infections out there besides those that are vaccine-preventable, wouldn’t you want to at least reduce those risks that you can?

But could it be, as much as they seem to believe in shedding, that they think they are being altruistic in not vaccinating their kids?

Anti-vax folks are all about the shedding...
Anti-vax folks are all about the shedding

They aren’t.

In most cases, there are no restrictions on vaccinating people who have contact with those with immune system problems.

What about the idea that vaccines cause cancer?

Vaccines prevent cancer!
Vaccines prevent cancer!

That isn’t true. In fact, there are several vaccines that prevent cancer!

What other misconceptions do they have?

Most of the reasons folks use to avoid vaccines have been refuted a thousand times.
Most of the reasons folks use to avoid vaccines have been refuted a thousand times.

Let’s look at those last few issues…

  • vaccines are not associated with autism
  • vaccines aren’t perfect, but they do work very well
  • vaccines do help those with immune system problems, sometimes directly and more often because of herd immunity
  • people who have cancer are often vaccinated before they have chemo, but that protection gets wiped out during treatment and they can’t get caught up until after they have completed all of their treatments
  • kids with cancer might get some vaccines, but typically don’t get live vaccines

What about the idea that your unvaccinated child isn’t sick, so can’t get anyone else sick?

While that is a very common argument among anti-vax parents, it is very important that if your child is unvaccinated, then they are at much greater risk to catch a vaccine-preventable disease. And since you are often contagious even before you show symptoms, they might unknowingly expose many other people before they even realize that they are sick.

Hopefully you now understand it was never really a question.

That's why you get vaccinated, to protect those who can't get the vaccines!

Vaccinate and protect your kids.

If you don’t, in addition to putting them at risk to get sick, you put everyone around them at risk, including some who are at very high risk for severe complications from vaccine preventable diseases.

More on Risks from Unvaccinated Kids

A California Pediatrician Who is Not a Hysterical Anti-Vaxxer Wrote a Letter to the Governor…

Did you think it was over, now that SB 276 has been passed and Governor Newsom said that he would sign it, as long as a companion bill with a few added amendments also gets passed?

I'm glad Elisa Song vaccinates some of her kids, but I wonder how many exemptions she has written since SB 277 passed...
I’m glad Elisa Song vaccinates some of her kids, but I wonder how many exemptions she has written since SB 277 passed…

Of course, it’s not…

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

While many of us wanted Governor Newsom to sign SB 276 in its original form, as he had promised, without the added amendments that weaken the law, most see it it as an acceptable compromise.

And then there are the anti-vaccine folks who want Newsom to veto SB 276 so that kids can continue to get inappropriate medical exemptions and remain unprotected and at risk against vaccine preventable diseases.

“I am a pediatrician trying to do the best I can for the children in my practice. And the best is not simply repeating that vaccines are “safe and effective.” Because they’re not 100% safe. Because they’re not 100% effective. Because parents are asking questions. Because parents are afraid and want to do the best for their children. And because we, as primary care physicians, need to be able to practice the art and science of medicine to the best of our abilities, for the child sitting in front of us, without bureaucratic handcuffs and fear of retribution.”

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

No one says vaccines are 100% safe and effective, but they are very effective with few risks.

Parents are afraid because of the anti-vaccine rhetoric and misinformation they see and read on the Internet and sometimes from holistic type doctors who pander to their fears.

“SB 276 continues to place the decision regarding an individual child’s vaccine risk/benefit assessment and whether or not that child qualifies for a vaccine medical exemption in the hands of the government.”

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

This is not true.

SB 276 simply says that you can’t make up your own reasons for why kids can’t get vaccinated and protected.

“SB 276 continues to too narrowly limit the criteria for “appropriate” vaccine exemptions to those contraindications detailed by the CDC, AAP and ACIP. These criteria do not take into account the emerging field of vaccinomics pioneered by the Mayo Clinic and the latest research on increased risk for various chronic illnesses including autoimmunity after vaccination in certain vulnerable populations. Epigenetics is making it increasingly clear that the one-size-fits-all CDC schedule will not work. “

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

As other states have done, SB 276 and SB 714, set rules on what counts as a medical exemption.

“SB276 continues to essentially eliminate all medical exemptions, even those consistent with the CDC, ACIP or AAP guidelines. By arbitrarily limiting the number of medical exemptions a physician may write to 4 in any calendar year before triggering investigation, SB 276 will deter physicians from writing ANY exemptions for fear of irreparable damage to their professional reputation, financial security, and emotional trauma, even if ultimately found innocent. How will a physician decide which 4 children are “deserving” of medical exemptions each year, in order to prevent an automatic investigation once they write that 5th exemption?”

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

Since few children should actually need a true medical exemption, the limits in SB 276 are hardly arbitrary. And since what counts as a true medical exemptions is rarely arbitrary either, doctors who write five or more true medical exemptions in a year will have nothing to fear when those exemptions are reviewed.

“A Harvard study has found that 2.6% of people vaccinated will have a vaccine injury. California’s current medical exemption rate of 0.7% falls far below this number, implying that there are many children whose vaccine injuries could have been avoided if an appropriate medical exemption were written by their physician.”

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Inc. report did not find “that 2.6% of people vaccinated will have a vaccine injury.”

It actually found possible reactions in 2.6% of vaccinations. And I hope that everyone is aware that a possible reaction is not the same as a vaccine injury…

Also, in addition to the fact that current rate of medical exemptions in California is far higher than 0.7%, it is the clusters of medical exemptions in many schools that are the problem.

“Until such time when vaccine risks and benefits can be clearly defined in broader terms that take into account personal and family history and epigenetics, this risk needs to be taken on by each parent and each child. And where there is risk, there must be choice. And where there is uncertainty, the BEST person to help that parent navigate vaccines is the person who knows that child’s medical and family history best – THEIR PHYSICIAN.”

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

Elisa Song talks a lot about the risks of vaccines, or at least what she thinks puts kids at risk, including family history and epigenetics.

“I believe in public health, yet I care for individual children and families who sit across from me everyday, trusting that I am giving them valid, scientific, evidence-based information that will keep their individual baby safe and healthy, and believing that I am providing them with true informed consent.”

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

It would be great if she truly were giving her patient’s “valid, scientific, evidence-based information” and “true informed consent.”

She’s not…

“I learned how to integrate conventional pediatrics with functional medicine, holistic nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine and essential oils – and it changed my life!”

Elisa Song

Notice anything missing?

$267 for a home remedy kit filled with homeopathic treatments???

She never talks about the risks of getting a vaccine-preventable disease.

And she overstates the risks of vaccines.

“While the media and common public opinion are quick to say that the link between vaccines and autism has been absolutely disproved, they have not done their due diligence research.”

Measles: Know the Facts by Dr. Elisa Song, M.D.

It is hard to make a truly informed decision when your doc downplays the risks of natural disease, makes you afraid to get vaccinated, and tries to sell you natural therapies that we know won’t prevent infections and won’t actually boost your immune system.

More on Anti-Vaccine Pediatricians

What Makes Someone Anti-Vaccine?

Few people like to call themselves anti-vaccine.

Even Jessica Biel says that she isn't anti-vaccine...
Even Jessica Biel says that she isn’t anti-vaccine…

They instead choose other labels for themselves, such as pro-safe vaccine, pro-vaccine choice, pro-informed consent, or that they are a vaccine skeptic.

What Makes Someone Anti-Vaccine?

Don’t be fooled though.

Most people think that Jessica Biel is anti-vaccine.

Most of these folks are clearly anti-vaccine.

Do you think Jenny McCarthy is anti-vaccine?
Do you think Jenny McCarthy is anti-vaccine?

How can you tell?

Folks who are anti-vax push myths and misinformation about vaccines.

Whether it is because they believe that vaccines aren’t safe, aren’t necessary, or that they don’t work, they work to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

“You don’t have to dig far to know that vaccines have caused tremendous harm. Have they had benefits? Absolutely. Which is why I remain somewhat on the neutral side in saying that I am not anti-vaccine,” said Dr. Paul Thomas. “I’m pro-safe vaccines. I’ve progressed along to the point where I now don’t believe there is such a thing.”

Still not sure of the differences?

Does that sound like he isn't anti-vaccine?
Does that sound like he isn’t anti-vax?

You can typically tell if someone is anti-vaccine by how they answer common questions about vaccines. Ask about shedding, MTHFR, or SV40, etc.

Even Jim Carrey said that he wasn't anti-vaccine!
Even Jim Carrey said that he wasn’t anti-vax!

Remember when Kat Von D said she was going to raise her baby without vaccinations?

“Just to set the record straight from the beginning, I just want to say I am not anti-Semitic, and I am not an anti-vaxxer.

Kat Von D

Does that mean she is now vaccinating her kid?

“What I am is a first-time mother. I am one of those moms that reads everything. Anything that is going in my baby or on my baby, I research like a complete and total nerd. After doing a bunch of research and reading the ingredients, naturally I experienced some hesitancy.”

Kat Von D

Nope.

“Since then, we have decided as parents to consult with our pediatrician and just let him educate us and guide us. But, unlike before, I have learned my lesson and I am choosing not to make our decision or any of our baby’ s health records public.”

Kat Von D

Hopefully she chose a pediatrician who isn’t anti-vaccine…

Celebrities Who Say They Aren’t Anti-Vaccine

Who else has said that they aren’t anti-vax?

  • Robert “I’m not anti-vaccine. I want safe vaccines.” DeNiro
  • Mayim “we are a non-vaccinating family… but I’m not anti” Bailik
  • Jenna “I’m not anti-vax” Elfman
  • Kirstie “I’m not ANTI vaccines but we MUST take responsibility 4 choosing which ones WE give OUR children & ourselves. They aren’t ALL harmless” Alley

Anyone else?

More on What Makes Someone Anti-Vaccine?