Tag: false balance

Kennedy Has a Fundraiser in the Middle of the Largest and Longest Measles Outbreak in Recent New York History

Remember when Andrew Wakefield went to Minnesota during their large measles outbreak?

It’s reminiscent of the NRA holding one of their conventions in a city after a big shooting, isn’t it?

Kennedy Has a Fundraiser in the Middle of the Largest and Longest Measles Outbreak in Recent New York History

While it seemed like a big outbreak at the time, those 13 cases would actually be considered rather small these days. In fact, a more recent outbreak in Minnesota, in 2017, had at least 79 cases!

And not surprisingly, anti-vaccine folks also visited the state to try and keep that outbreak going!

Do these folks ever learn?

Flash forward to 2019…

Since September of 2018, New York has seen over 332 cases of measles in two big outbreaks in Brooklyn and Rockland County.

So where does Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. choose to go for a fundraiser?

Where does he show up on TV to push his message about vaccine dangers?

Yup, New York City.

Lori Stokes: “Can I switch gears for a minute and talk about vaccines…”

Kennedy: “When I was a kid, we got three vaccines. That I took. My kids got 64 mandated vaccines.”

Rosanna Scotto: “How many? 64?”

Kennedy: “64”

Rosanna Scotto: “Wow!”

Kennedy: “Mandated doses. Today’s kids get 72, by the end of next year it will be 75. It’s all driven by profit. Most of these diseases are illnesses that you don’t need to be vaccinated for. “

Fox 5 Good Day New York

Wow indeed. That sounds like a lot because kids typically only get 13 vaccines that protect them against 16 vaccine-preventable diseases. We don’t even have 64 vaccines!

You only get to a number like 64 or 72 or 75 if you inflate the count to make it sound scarier.

In reality, if you count a yearly flu vaccine, kids get about 54 doses of vaccines through age 18.

Are any for diseases that you don’t need to be vaccinated for?

Which disease do you want your kids to get?

Do you want them to get tetanus, meningitis, epiglottitis, diphtheria, meningococcemia, cancer (hepatitis B and HPV infections) or to have grandchildren with congenital rubella syndrome?

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are necessary.

Ask yourself why folks like this are still allowed to push this kind of misinformation on folks, especially in the middle of an outbreak.

More on Kennedy’s Fundraisers

Who’s Who in the Anti-Vaccine Movement – 2019 Edition

We know that there will always be some folks who won’t vaccinate their kids.

“Although many may characterize all individuals who eschew vaccines as “anti-vaccine” or “vaccine deniers,” in reality, there is a broad spectrum of individuals who choose not to have themselves or their children vaccinated.”

Tara C Smith on Vaccine Rejection and Hesitancy: A Review and Call to Action 

Who are these people?

Who’s Who in the Anti-Vaccine Movement – 2019 Edition

We used to conveniently call them anti-vaccine, but that doesn’t really work.

Well, it still does, as long as you understand who you are talking about.

The thing is, the folks who don’t vaccinate their kids exist on a spectrum, from those who just need a little extra reassurance (the worrieds) or a lot of extra reassurance (parents who are on the fence or vaccine-hesitant), to vaccine refusers (will likely vaccinate during an outbreak, etc.) and deniers who likely aren’t vaccinating their kids in any circumstance and who might try to persuade others to avoid vaccines too – the vocal vaccine deniers.

So you don’t really want to bunch them all up one big anti-vaccine group, especially when you are typically talking about the vocal vaccine deniers, many of whom believe that they have a child who was injured or damaged by a vaccine.

We are still missing some folks though…

No, I’m not talking about those who like to claim that they are pro-safe vaccines, pro-choice vaccines, or vaccine skeptics, just because they don’t want to be labeled as being anti-vaccine.

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

We need to talk about the:

These are the folks who push misinformation about vaccines that scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Who's to blame for low immunization rates and continuing outbreaks?
Who’s to blame for low immunization rates and continuing outbreaks?

Do you know who I’m talking about it? Have you noticed that these folks never seem to face any consequences?

Who else do we need to talk about?

I remember speaking with my mother about vaccines, and at one point in our discussion, she claimed a link existed between vaccines and autism. In response, I presented evidence from the CDC which claimed directly in large bold letters, “There is no link between vaccines and autism.” Within the same article from the CDC on their official website, extensive evidence and studies from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) were cited. Most would assume when confronted with such strong proof, there would be serious consideration that your views are incorrect. This was not the case for my mother, as her only response was, “that’s what they want you to think.”

Ethan Lindenberger

There are also the folks who are pushing an anti-science agenda, making you think that mainstream doctors are bad and that anything holistic and natural must be good. Until the damage these folks are doing is seriously addressed, it won’t matter if we get a few anti-vaccine folks off of Amazon, Facebook and Pinterest.

Learn to be more skeptical. Do real research. Vaccinate your kids.

More on Who’s Who in the Anti-Vaccine Movement – 2019 Edition

False Balance About Vaccines at the Chicago Tribune

As more folks are calling out vocal vaccine deniers, many are also learning the role of the media in helping fuel the anti-vaccine movement.

“Whatever you think about Andrew Wakefield, the real villains of the MMR scandal are the media.”

Ben Goldacre on The MMR story that wasn’t

Believe it or not, there likely would not have been a big scare over the DPT vaccine in the 1970s and 80s or concerns about the MMR vaccine if the media hadn’t given so much attention to the anti-vaccine players involved.

False Balance About Vaccines at the Chicago Tribune

Folks in the media have learned their lesson though, right?

“Balance? There is no balance. There is mainstream, superstrong consensus about the value of vaccination, and on the other side … nothing else, since there is no other side. The media have made parents worry about vaccines in a lame effort to provide balance and all points of view.”

Arthur Caplan on There is no other side to the vaccine debate

Well, apparently not all of them…

If you are quoting anti-vaccine activists, then you are doing something wrong...
If you are quoting anti-vaccine activists, then you are doing something wrong…

Why would the Chicago Tribune devote nearly 20% of an article to a parent who is against vaccines, especially without correcting her misinformation?

Why haven’t they learned that spreading this kind of misinformation is what scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids in the first place?

Are vaccinations about parent choice or public safety? That’s the title of the Chicago Tribune article. And maybe that’s why Illinois is among top 5 states for measles as debate heats up, the rest of the title…

How about we give parents a chance to make informed choices without being influenced by propaganda and misinformation?

More on False Balance About Vaccines at the Chicago Tribune

Preparing for a Public Debate About Vaccines

Need some advice about preparing for a public debate about vaccines?

That’s easy.

“If you are invited for a public discussion you must first decide whether or not to accept the invitation.”

How to respond to vocal vaccine deniers in public

Don’t do it.

Preparing for a Public Debate About Vaccines

Wait, why wouldn’t you want to have a debate about vaccines?

Remember, a good debate implies that there are two valid sides to the issue. Or at least that one side has some arguments that aren’t based on myths and misinformation.

What are you debating?

That vaccines are safe, with few risks, and that they are necessary.

What’s there to debate?

Don’t allow false balance to create a fake debate.

Think about it.

Should Robert F. Kennedy, Jr be given an opportunity to tell folks his opinions about the “perceived dangers” of vaccines, when those perceived dangers include that vaccines are associated with autism, have been untested on pregnant women, are sold by the CDC, and a lot of other conspiracy type stuff?

“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

Remember, Kennedy is the guy who published the retracted Deadly Immunity article. And he continues to focus on the dangers of mercury in vaccines, even though only a very small minority of flu shots still contain thimerosal and studies have shown that the thimerosal that kids have been exposed to in vaccines is not a danger.

He’s an environmental lawyer who continues to focus on vaccines in the age of climate change and as EPA regulations are being rolled back.

Neither Kennedy nor anyone else in the anti-vaccine movement should be given a stage to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

The debate was canceled because of negative attention.

Update – Fortunately, they weren’t. The “debate” was canceled.

More on Preparing for a Public Debate About Vaccines

What Is the One Conversation Vaccine Event?

Anti-vaccine folks are always interested in having debates about vaccines.

Why?

It helps create the impression that all views about vaccines are equally valid – the facts and science of those who support vaccines and the misinformation and pseudoscience of the anti-vaccine movement.

Of course, they aren’t.

There is no longer a debate. Vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary. Anti-vaccine points have been refuted time and again.

What Is the One Conversation Vaccine Event?

But that’s what the One Conversation Vaccine Event in Atlanta was supposed to be.

And instead of a debate, as organizers Shannon Kroner and Britney Valas originally planned, their “esteemed panel” consists of a who’s who of the modern anti-vaccine movement:

Where’s RFK, Jr and Wakefield? And Kelly Brogan?

But Shelly Wynter, the prominent FM Radio Talk Show Host who is moderating the One Conversation Event will make sure that things don’t end up leaning to any one side, right?

“Next up were Bro. Tony Muhammad and his friends who are helping to get the word out about vaccines. The point being made by the anti-vaccine advocates is the message that the vaccines are poison. Not one of them was making the argument that vaccines are not necessary; but that the CDC and its government masters are poisoning the vaccines. History tells us that this should not be thrown out so easily as a conspiracy theory. It must be investigated more and we should not be so quick to believe the “Government” over credible doctors who have blown the whistle.”

Shelly Wynter

I wouldn’t bet on it…

What about the organizers?

Shannon Kroner hosted a screening of VAXXED... with Brittney Kara, the woman who said God is against vaccines.
Shannon Kroner hosted a screening of VAXXED… with Brittney Kara, the woman who said “believing in vaccines is a mental disorder.”

Can’t be any bias against vaccines for Shannon Kroner or Britney Valas, right?

The Children's March for Humanity implied that vaccines are the cause for all childhood chronic diseases.
The Children’s March for Humanity implied that vaccines are the cause for all childhood chronic diseases.

Integrity? Neutrality? Sure…

Even the idea that funding from individual donations couldn’t bias the event is suspect.

“To maintain the integrity and neutrality of One Conversation, the One Conversation organizers purposely chose to not publicly fund raise nor tie the event to a specific organization or special interest group. Funding for One Conversation is provided by ticket sales and individual donations of which are heavily contributed personally by Dr. Kroner and Ms. Valas.”

Individual donations from whom?

Big donations from just a few individuals, like Claire Dwoskin of the CMSRI and Barry Segal of Focus for Health, would likely help fund a big event like this, but certainly wouldn’t do much to help maintain its integrity or neutrality.

So what can you expect from the One Conversation Vaccine Event?

Pay just $115, and you can find out.

In addition to “learning” about Public Health and Immunity from folks who have said that vaccines are full of toxins, you will get dinner and 2 drinks.

Or skip dinner and pay just $15 for the event.

“One Conversation” provides the platform for questions to be addressed among an esteemed panel of participants who specialize in a spectrum of specific focuses and expertise.

Will you get a real conversation about vaccines?

It’s doubtful.

“One Point of View” might have been a better name for the event…

More on the One Conversation Anti-Vaccine Event

Why Are You Still Worried About the MMR Vaccine?

We know why most folks got scared of the MMR vaccine.

Who's to blame for low immunization rates and continuing outbreaks?
Who’s to blame for low immunization rates and continuing outbreaks?

And most of us remember when most folks welcomed the MMR vaccine the end of endemic measles in the United States.

Why You Were Worried About the MMR Vaccine

Of course, that all changed when Andrew Wakefield spoke at the press conference for his 1998 Lancet paper and said:

“And I have to say that there is sufficient anxiety in my own mind of the safety, the long term safety of the polyvalent, that is the MMR vaccination in combination, that I think that it should be suspended in favour of the single vaccines, that is continued use of the individual measles, mumps and rubella components… there is no doubt that if you give three viruses together, three live viruses, then you potentially increase the risk of an adverse event occurring, particularly when one of those viruses influences the immune system in the way that measles does. And it may be, and studies will show this or not, that giving the measles on its own reduces the risk of this particular syndrome developing… the risk of this particular syndrome developing is related to the combined vaccine, the MMR, rather than the single vaccines…. People have been saying for some time, people on the periphery of autism, have been saying for some time that this may well be related to bowel damage.”

Although there was no evidence for any of that, vaccination rates went down and measles rates went up – the Wakefield Factor.

MMR vaccination rates had dropped below 80% by 2003, when the first measles outbreaks in the UK began. They didn't fully recover until 2012.
MMR vaccination rates had dropped below 80% by 2003, when the first measles outbreaks in the UK began. They didn’t fully recover until 2012.

But no, it wasn’t one person at a press conference that us lead down a decade of worry about the MMR vaccine.

“And then the nurse gave my son that shot. And I remember going, “Oh, God, no!” And soon thereafter I noticed a change. The soul was gone from his eyes.”

Jenny McCarthy on Oprah

Andrew Wakefield had plenty of help!

Not only from anti-vaccine celebrities, but from the media and their scare stories.

Why Are You Still Worried About the MMR Vaccine?

But that is all old news.

Over and over again, we see new studies that show that the MMR vaccine is safe and is not associated with autism.

Andrew Wakefield’s work was never replicated.

The MMR vaccine never contained thimerosal and doesn’t even contain aluminum, which I mention only because those are ingredients that some folks get scared about, not because they are harmful.

Vaccines are safe. The MMR vaccine is safe.

And more and more, as predicted, we are seeing why vaccines are necessary – more and more outbreaksOutbreaks that are proving to be deadly.

Why are you still worried about the MMR vaccine?

Because anti-vaccine folks are still scaring you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids!

Don’t listen to them!

More on MMR Vaccine Fears

What Ever Happened to the Lyme Disease Vaccine?

A Lyme disease vaccine, LYMErix, was approved by the FDA in 1998.

Unfortunately, the manufacturer stopped making it a few years later.

What Ever Happened to the Lyme Disease Vaccine?

Although Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection, the bacteria is transmitted to people through tick bites. Not surprisingly, the original Lyme disease vaccine didn’t attack ticks, it attacked the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria in those ticks, before they could cause an infection.

A new Lyme disease vaccine would be welcomed in the 14 states where the majority of Lyme disease cases are reported.
A new Lyme disease vaccine would be welcomed in the 14 states where the majority of Lyme disease cases are reported.

After three doses, LYMErix was found to be 78% effective at preventing Lyme disease.

Unfortunately, unverified reports of vaccine side effects, especially arthritis, were hyped by the media and anti-vaccine groups and led folks to avoid the vaccine.

In their article, “Concerns Grow Over Reactions To Lyme Shots,” The New York Times even gave equal time to doctors from the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society, who push the idea that folks need treatment for chronic Lyme disease.

Another vaccine, ImuLyme, didn’t even bother applying for FDA licensure at the time.

“In 2002, in response to low vaccine uptake, public concern about adverse effects, and class action lawsuits, SmithKline Beecham withdrew the vaccine from the market despite the fact that both pre- and post-licensure safety data showed no difference in the incidence of chronic arthritis between those who received the vaccine and those who had not.”

The History of the Lyme Disease Vaccine

Interestingly, a more current article in The New York Times, “Lyme Disease Is Spreading Fast. Why Isn’t There a Vaccine?,” doesn’t mention the media’s role in bringing down the vaccine.

“But the company took it off the market less than four years later, citing low sales, amid lawsuits from patients who said the vaccine caused severe arthritis and other symptoms… The high cost of the vaccine and confusion over who should get it and how many doses were needed didn’t help its prospects.”

Lyme Disease Is Spreading Fast. Why Isn’t There a Vaccine?

And that’s likely why we continue to see false balance in their reporting, as we see them interview a group who is “skeptical about the new vaccine.”

A new vaccine that hasn’t even made it into phase II trials yet!

“Whatever you think about Andrew Wakefield, the real villains of the MMR scandal are the media.”

Ben Goldacre on The MMR story that wasn’t

The media’s role in scaring folks about vaccines isn’t new.

Unfortunately, the impact of the media on the anti-vaccine movement has been felt far beyond Andrew Wakefield, the MMR vaccine and measles outbreaks.

“As we ask how to weigh public health benefits of interventions against potential risks (notably incurred by identifiable individuals), the LYMErix case illustrates that media focus and swings of public opinion can pre-empt the scientific weighing of risks and benefits in determining success or failure.”

The Lyme vaccine: a cautionary tale

Hopefully, folks have learned their lesson though. How many people have developed Lyme disease since LYMErix was withdrawn from the market? After all, Lyme disease should still be a vaccine-preventable disease.

More on the Lyme Disease Vaccine