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?
After a 4-month-old died of bacterial meningitis, anti-vaccine folks pushed the idea that it was a vaccine injury instead of an infection.
And they push their views that everything is a vaccine injury on everyone, even though most folks understand that vaccines are not associated with SIDS, shaken baby syndrome, autism, and most other things.
Sure, everyone and everything in anti-vaccine world is the very best, except if they are, then why are they trying so hard to convince you of that… So maybe you will agree with some of their more far-out claims, suggestions, and conspiracy theories?
Do you think it is okay to put infants who are too young to be vaccinated at risk for measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases because you don’t like the choices you have been given between getting your kids vaccinated and protected or keeping them out of school?
What about the parents of the kid who is being treated for cancer who gets exposed to chicken pox because someone else made the choice to not vaccinate their kid? Do you think that’s fair?
The modern anti-vaccine movement is only about choice when it is about their choices and doesn’t seem to care about the risks their unvaccinated kids pose to others.
Believe it or not, the modern anti-vaccine movement also equates getting vaccinated with rape…
Don’t believe me?
Do you agree?
What else do most folks in the modern anti-vaccine movement believe?
They believe that:
vaccines don’t work, but are somehow still able to cause shedding for long periods of time
“When I undertook the study with the current vaccine strain on my own two triple-negative children and their three playmates, also triple- negatives, I thought: “I am going to do this very carefully now,” and, like Dr. Gear, I set up certain time schedules. I said: “I am going to start to give the vaccine now.” Every time I said “I am going to start to give it” and did not give it, two to three or four days later they came down with either pharyngitis, vomiting and abdominal pain, or a little fever.
I waited for approximately six weeks for those children to stop having some sort of febrile episode. I finally gave up. It so happened that after they got the vaccine they did not have any such episode.”
Albert Sabin on Recent Studies And Field Tests With A Live Attenuated Poliovirus Vaccine
When Albert Sabin was first researching his oral polio vaccine, he understood the problem. How could he really know if any signs or symptoms that occurred after he gave someone his vaccine were really caused by the vaccine, or just a coincidence?
“However, a report later to be given by Dr. Smorodintsev will deal with approximately 7,500 children who had received the vaccine and were carefully followed, as compared with another group, in similar number, who had not, for various types of illnesses which were occurring during the period.”
Albert Sabin on Recent Studies And Field Tests With A Live Attenuated Poliovirus Vaccine
The solution? They studied kids who had not gotten his vaccine.
You can just look at the background rate of a symptom or condition, and compare the periods before and after you start using a vaccine.
For instance, consider this study from Australia about using the HPV vaccine in boys, in which they made some predictions of what would happen after introducing the HPV vaccine.
Assuming an 80% vaccination rate with three doses per person — which equates to about 480 000 boys vaccinated and a total of 1 440 000 doses administered nationally per year in the first 2 years of the program — about 2.4 episodes of Guillain-Barré syndrome would be expected to occur within 6 weeks of vaccination. In addition, about 3.9 seizures and 6.5 acute allergy presentations would be expected to occur within 1 day of vaccination, including 0.3 episodes of anaphylaxis.
Clothier et al. on Human papillomavirus vaccine in boys: background rates of potential adverse events.
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.
When correlation doesn’t equal causation, then it’s probably a coincidence. Or it’s at least caused by some other factor.
And coincidences happen all of the time.
Is It a Vaccine Injury or a Coincidence?
That something could be a coincidence is not typically want parents want to hear though, especially if their child has gotten sick.
What does it mean that something happens coincidentally?
“Most sudden cardiac deaths that remain unexplained after necropsy are probably caused by primary cardiac arrhythmias.”
Sudden death in children and adolescents
Often it just means that it is unexplained. And that it is chance alone that it occurred as the same time as something else.
“In the absence of a specific etiology for ASDs, and a tendency among parents of children with a disability to feel a strong sense of guilt, it is not surprising that parents attempt to form their own explanations for the disorder in order to cope with the diagnosis.”
Mercer et al on Parental perspectives on the causes of an autism spectrum disorder in their children
Again, when folks blame vaccines, it is often because they have nothing else to blame.
“In some fraction of the American population, however, the belief in a link remains. One reason is a coincidence of timing: children are routinely vaccinated just as parents begin to observe signs of autism. Most vaccines are administered during the first years of life, which is also a period of rapid developmental changes. Many developmental conditions, including autism, don’t become apparent until a child misses a milestone or loses an early skill, a change that in some cases can’t help but be coincident with a recent vaccination.”
Emily Willingham on The Autism-Vaccine Myth
Think that it is too big of a coincidence that some infants develop spasms shortly after their four month vaccines?
Dr. William James West first described these types of infantile spasms in the 1840s!
And the “Fifth Day Fits,” seizures that began when a newborn was five days old, was described in the 1970s, well before we began giving newborns the hepatitis B vaccine.
But SIDS was only discovered after we began vaccinating kids, right?
“But, with millions upon millions of doses given each year to infants in the first 6 months of life across industrialized countries and with sudden infant death syndrome being the most common cause of infant death among infants 1 month or older, the coincidence of SIDS following DTP vaccination just by chance will be relatively frequent. When the two events occur, with SIDS following vaccination, well-meaning and intelligent people will blame the vaccine. They seek order out of randomly occurring events.”
Jacobson et al. on A taxonomy of reasoning flaws in the anti-vaccine movement
Of course not.
Cases of SIDS have been described throughout recorded history and have been well studied to prove that they are not associated with vaccines.
“Some events after immunisation are clearly caused by the vaccine (for example, a sore arm at the injection site). However, others may happen by coincidence around the time of vaccination. It can therefore be difficult to separate those which are clearly caused by a vaccine and those that were going to happen anyway… Scientific method is then used to determine if these events are a coincidence or a result of the vaccine.
Vaccine side effects and adverse reactions
It is easy to blame a vaccine when something happens and a child was recently vaccinated. That is especially true now that anti-vaccine folks turn every story of a child’s death or disability into a vaccine injury story.
“Autism was known well before MMR vaccine became available.”
Chen et al. on Vaccine adverse events: causal or coincidental?
Blaming vaccines when it is clear that vaccines aren’t the cause doesn’t help anyone though. It scares other parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids. And it doesn’t help parents who need support caring for a sick child or help coping with the loss of a child.
What to Know About Vaccine Injuries vs Coincidences
While all possible adverse events after getting a vaccine should be reported to VAERS and your pediatrician, remember that just because something happened after getting vaccinated, it doesn’t mean that it was caused by the vaccine.
“To our community, Andrew Wakefield is Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ rolled up into one.”
J. B. Handley
He is the guy who published the 1998 paper in Lancet in the UK that started folks thinking that the MMR vaccine is somehow associated with autism.
In 1998, a major medical journal based in the UK, The Lancet, published a report headed by Andrew Wakefield, who was at that time a gastroenterological surgeon and medical researcher. The report implied a causal link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and the development of autism combined with IBD in children, which Wakefield described as a new syndrome he named “autistic entercolitis”.
Andrew Wakefield’s Harmful Myth of Vaccine-induced “Autistic Enterocolitis”
But he didn’t actually say that the MMR vaccine caused autism in that paper, did he?
If not for the press conference, which in itself was unusual, and all of the media attention over the next few years, his small study, which was “essentially a collection of 12 clinical anecdotes,” would have gone nowhere.
But there was no “Wakefield Factor” on immunization rates in the UK, was there? Didn’t measles cases continue to go down in the 10 years after his Lancet paper was published?
Despite the heroic efforts of some folks to manipulate the data, it is clear that MMR vaccination rates dropped and measles cases jumped in the years after Wakefield’s MMR scare.
But even if his paper scared people away from vaccinating and protecting their kids, he was never really found guilty of fraud, was he?
How do you define fraud?
“The Office of Research Integrity in the United States defines fraud as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism.13 Deer unearthed clear evidence of falsification. He found that not one of the 12 cases reported in the 1998 Lancet paper was free of misrepresentation or undisclosed alteration, and that in no single case could the medical records be fully reconciled with the descriptions, diagnoses, or histories published in the journal.
Who perpetrated this fraud? There is no doubt that it was Wakefield. Is it possible that he was wrong, but not dishonest: that he was so incompetent that he was unable to fairly describe the project, or to report even one of the 12 children’s cases accurately? No.”
Fiona Godlee on Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent
But those charges from the General Medical Council were later all overturned, weren’t they?
While charges against John Walker-Smith, a co-author of Wakefield’s study, were dropped on appeal, that doesn’t exonerate Wakefield in anyway. Remember, John Walker-Smith was actually against blaming the MMR vaccine and unlike Wakefield, he and another co-author actually published their own press release stating continued support of the use of the MMR vaccine.
But the other coauthors have stood by the results of the paper, haven’t they?
“We wish to make it clear that in this paper no causal link was established between MMR vaccine and autism as the data were insufficient. However, the possibility of such a link was raised and consequent events have had major implications for public health. In view of this, we consider now is the appropriate time that we should together formally retract the interpretation placed upon these findings in the paper, according to precedent.”
Retraction of an Interpretation
They stood by the idea that it is important that research be done so that gastrointestinal problems in autistic children can be recognized and treated. Almost all of them retracted Wakefield’s interpretation of the paper though.
Yeah, but other studies have proven Wakefield to be right though, haven’t they?
No, they haven’t. In fact, other labs could not even replicate Wakefield’s original study.
But Wakefield’s Lancet paper wasn’t retracted because it’s findings were wrong…
Yes it was!
“Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation. In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were “consecutively referred” and that investigations were “approved” by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.”
Retraction—Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children
Their false narratives and myths attempt to rewrite history and make you forget that he doesn’t just scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids, he hurts autistic kids and their families.