Tag: autism

Larry King on Vaccines

Most pediatricians can remember the increase in calls to their office from scared parents after these Larry King Live shows, such as when:

  • Bill Maher appeared in 2005 saying the flu shot is dangerous because it contains mercury and that getting  “a flu shot is the worst thing you can do”
  • Jenny McCarthy appeared in April 2008 to discuss vaccines and autism
  • Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey appeared in April 2009 to discuss vaccines and autism

Like Oprah and some others, Larry King has provided a high profile platform for many anti-vaccine celebrities and “to promote anti-vaccine pseudoscience.”

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Gregory A. Poland on Vaccines

Gregory Poland, MD is well known for many things that he has done in his long career as a pediatric infectious disease specialist and vaccinologist, including receiving the Charles Merieux Lifetime Achievement Award in Vaccinology from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases in May 2006.

He has published over 350 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and chapters in books and he is the Editor-in-Chief for the journal Vaccine.

As Director of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, Dr. Poland has a focus on “vaccinomics,” or the “development of personalized vaccines based on the increased understanding of immune response phenotype-genotype information,” working “to explain how vaccine-induced immune responses and vaccine-related adverse events may be genetically determined — and therefore predictable.”

He is sometimes known for being misquoted by anti-vaccine groups, who use his words out of context, sometimes even in testimony against state vaccine laws, because of his article highlighting some of the limitations of the measles vaccine.

Some pediatricians and vaccine hesitant parents may also know Dr. Poland for these quotes:

The way forward is clear. Because no credible evidence during the past 13 years supports the hypothesized connection between the MMR vaccine and autism disorders, it is bereft of credible evidence and must be discarded.

To continue pouring money into futile attempts to prove a connection to the MMR vaccine when multiple high-quality scientific studies across multiple countries and across many years have failed to show any hint of a connection, and in the face of biologic nonplausibility, is dangerous and reckless of lives, public funding, and ultimately public health.

At some point, a point I believe we have well passed, the small group of people who claim such connections, who have no new or credible data, and for which their assumptions and hypotheses have been discredited must simply be ignored by scientists and the public and, most importantly, by the media, no matter how passionate their beliefs to the contrary.

At this point, the antivaccine groups and conspiracy proponents promoting such an association should be ignored, much as thinking people simply ignore those who continue to insist that the earth is flat or that the US moon landing in 1969 did not really occur.

There is no law against being foolish, nor any vaccine against ignorance; however, in the meantime the health of millions of children in the United States and worldwide is being placed at unnecessary and real risk through continued deliberate misinformation and discredited unscientific beliefs, and that should be a crime.

Having given us all clear advice on how to deal with “antivaccine groups and conspiracy proponents,” hopefully he can now focus on vaccinology and vaccinomics.

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Dan Burton on Vaccines and Autism

Dan Burton, a 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.”

In an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, Burton said:

My grandson got nine shots in one day, seven of which had mercury in them, and he became autistic in a very short period of time.

The problem with that statement, in addition to all of the studies that have shown that vaccines don’t cause autism, is that we never had seven vaccines with mercury.

The only vaccines routinely given to children with mercury, or thimerosal to be precise, were:

  • seasonal flu
  • hepatitis B
  • DTaP
  • Hib

It wasn’t 25 to 30 vaccines as Dan Burton has said. In fact, there are only 25 to 30 vaccines all together, and most never, ever had thimerosal, even before thimerosal began being phased out of vaccines in 1999.

And the vaccines that Burton’s grandson received were DTaP, MMR, OPV, and Comvax (Hib-HepB). Of those, MMR, OPV, and Comvax were always thimerosal free. So he only received one shot, DTaP, that could have contained thimerosal – not seven, as he continues to claim. That’s not even taking into account that there have always been some thimerosal free versions of DTaP available too.

Dan Burton held over 20 Congressional hearings trying to prove that there was a link between vaccines and autism. More than a dozen were held between 2000 and 2002.

Arthur Allen, in his book Vaccine The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver, describes Burton’s hearings as:

carefully choreographed to generate as much negative feeling toward the vaccination system as possible.

Dan Burton is also featured extensively in Paul Offit’s book Autism’s False Prophets, where we learn that:

The American media loved Dan Burton’s hearings.

That helped give Andrew Wakefield, who appeared at his hearings, and others who were pushing anti-vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories a “very high profile platform.”

Fortunately, Burton’s last hearing was in 2012. That was well after the IOM reports and many other studies had found that there was no connection between vaccines and autism. So not surprisingly, he didn’t find a link…

He has since become a lobbyist for the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a group co-founded by the Church of Scientology, and which is against conventional psychiatric treatments, stating that “psychiatric disorders are not medical diseases,” and that psychiatry is “an industry of death.”

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IOM Vaccine Reports

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public.

“With the start of the new school year, it’s time to ensure that children are up to date on their immunizations, making this report’s findings about the safety of these eight vaccines particularly timely,” said committee chair Ellen Wright Clayton, professor of pediatrics and law, and director, Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.  “The findings should be reassuring to parents that few health problems are clearly connected to immunizations, and these effects occur relatively rarely.  And repeated study has made clear that some health problems are not caused by vaccines.”

They occasionally issue reports and safety reviews about vaccines:

Reading these reports will help you to understand why vaccine experts argue that vaccines do not cause autism, SIDS, or multiple sclerosis, etc.

For More Information On IOM Vaccine Reports:

Who is Andrew Wakefield?

Andrew Wakefield infamously published a paper in the journal Lancet, which was later retracted, that some say started the modern anti-vaccine movement.

At the press conference for the study, in 1998, he said:

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

Since then, Wakefield:

  • created a company to make a replacement for the MMR vaccine (1999)
  • watched rates of MMR vaccination drop to new lows in the UK
  • has 10 of 13 co-authors of his paper issue a partial retraction (2004)
  • observed increasing numbers of measles outbreaks in the UK (2006)
  • gets investigated by the General Medical Council (2007)
  • has his paper fully retracted by the Lancet and he is erased from the medical register (2010)

Wakefield then moves to the United States to become an autism “expert” and later begins to make anti-vaccine movies.

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Correlation and Causation

Some people think vaccines cause autism simply because we are giving more vaccines, and protecting kids against more vaccine-preventable diseases, just as more kids were getting diagnosed with autism.

So it has to be the vaccines. Correlation implies causation.

Not really. The saying is “correlation does not imply causation.”

Nate Silver explains it very well:

Most of you will have heard the maxim “correlation does not imply causation.” Just because two variables have a statistical relationship with each other does not mean that one is responsible for the other. For instance, ice cream sales and forest fires are correlated because both occur more often in the summer heat. But there is no causation; you don’t light a patch of the Montana brush on fire when you buy a pint of Haagan-Dazs.

Correlation does not imply causation. Just because we don’t know what causes autism, it doesn’t mean that it is vaccines. That is especially true since so many studies have shown that it is not vaccines.

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Epigenetics and Vaccine Injuries

Most people are aware of terms like genome (your complete set of genetic material ), chromosomes, DNA, and genes, etc.

What about your epigenome and epigenetics?

Are you clear on how they work?

Probably not, and that’s how some folks get away with scaring people away from vaccinating their kids by talking about epigenetics.

Unlike mutations, which change the DNA sequence, epigenetic changes occur when particular chemical compounds are added to genes, attach to DNA, and modify the genes function. It’s what helps determine whether one of our cells, which all contain the same DNA, becomes a skin cell or a heart cell or a muscle cell, etc.

Epigenetics also helps explain why identical twins usually don’t look exactly the same.

And like a mutation, it is thought that these epigenetic changes can be inherited, although most are reset when we pass them on to our kids.

Epigenetics does not explain vaccine injuries. There is no link between epigenetics, vaccines, and autism.

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