Tag: history of the anti-vaccine movement

Anti-Vaccine Movement Timeline and History

After 1883, Leicester became a a stronghold for the anti-vaccination movement. Outbreaks of smallpox soon followed, as is seen in this New York Times report from 1884.
After 1883, Leicester became a a stronghold for the anti-vaccination movement. Outbreaks of smallpox soon followed, as is seen in this New York Times report from 1884.

When did the anti-vaccine movement start?

Some people will be surprised to learn that it didn’t start with Bob Sears, or Jenny McCarthy, or even with Andy Wakefield.

The anti-vaccine movement started even before we started giving vaccines.

“By the 1930s… with the improvements in medical practice and the popular acceptance of the state and federal governments’ role in public health, the anti-vaccinationists slowly faded from view, and the movement collapsed.”

Martin Kaufman The American Anti-Vaccinations and Their Arguments

But while anti-vaccinationists might have “slowly faded from view” in the 1930’s, they came back…

And that’s why we often associate the modern anti-vaccine movement with Bob Sears, and Jenny McCarthy, and even with Andy Wakefield. But who inspired them? The modern anti-vaccine movement took root with a discredited bit of research that was published by a doctor in London, but it wasn’t by Wakefield.

Anti-Vaccine Movement Timeline

Again, the anti-vaccine movement predates modern vaccines, but not surprisingly, they have always used the same arguments:

  • The Rev. Cotton Mather’s house is bombed after he started a smallpox variolation program in Boston in 1721

“Every year, thousands undergo this operation, and the French Ambassador says pleasantly, that they take the small-pox here by way of diversion, as they take the waters in other countries. There is no example of any one that has died in it, and you may believe I am well satisfied of the safety of this experiment, since I intend to try it on my dear little son. I am patriot enough to take the pains to bring this useful invention into fashion in England…”

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu On Small Pox in Turkey (1717)

  • Dr. Benjamin Mosely, who had a very busy practice inoculating people against smallpox, becomes “the first antivaccinist,” writing against Jenner’s new smallpox vaccine in 1798, warning about “cow mania” and “to guard parents against suffering their children becoming victims  to experiment.”
  • The satirical print, Admirable effet de la Vaccine, appears in France in 1801, depicting horns sprouting from the forehead of a man who was just vaccinated against smallpox.
  • Also in France, Dr. Jean Vernier and Dr. Joseph Vaume each publish pamphlets critical of Jenner’s vaccine.
  • In 1802, another satirical print appears in England, The Cow-Pock-or-the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation!, depicting people turning into cows after being vaccinated
  • The Anti-Vaccination League is created in England in response to the passage of the Vaccination Act of 1853, which made getting the smallpox vaccine compulsory
  • Dr. C. C. Schieferdecker, writes about the Evils of Vaccination in 1856 in which he set out to “prove vaccination to be nonsense before reason – a miserable illusion, in a scientific point of view, and, in regard to history, the greatest crime that has been committed in this last century.”
  • the Anti-Cumpulsory Vaccination League is founded after the passage of the Vaccination Act of 1867
  • The New York Times announced the formation of the American Anti-Vaccination Society in 1885.
    The New York Times announced the formation of the American Anti-Vaccination Society in 1885.

    Lewis Carroll argues with folks pushing anti-vaccine information about the smallpox vaccine in 1877

  • William Tebb, a British anti-vaccinationist, visits the United States in 1879 and helps start the Anti-Vaccination Society of America.
  • Alfred Russel Wallace is recruited to the antivaccination movement after reading Papers on Vaccination
  • Leicester Demonstration March of 1885 – around the time that Leicester had become “a stronghold of anti-vaccination.”
  • In 1882, Henry Bergh, founder of the ASPCA and a vocal member of the anti-vivisectionist movement, which were often anti-vaccine, writes an article against vaccines. He later helped found the American Anti-Vaccination Society.
  • Lora Little speaks out about vaccines and writes Crimes of the Cowpox Ring in the late 19th century
  • George Winterburn, like many homeopaths of the time (1886), becomes an outspoken critic of vaccines, writing the book The Value of Vaccination, in which he tries to proves “how little of scientific research it was adopted, and how much the whim of a few fashionable folk shaped its destiny.”
  • In 1890, Dr. AN Bell debates Dr. Robert A. Gunn, who had “long held that vaccination would in time be relegated to the long list of medical fallacies, and such works as I mention seem to indicate that it will not be long before that time comes,” in a series of articles over several months, “The Truth About Vaccination,” in their respective medical journals, The Sanitarian and Medical Tribune.
  • Dr. Immanuel Pfeiffer didn't think smallpox was contagious. He was wrong...
    Dr. Immanuel Pfeiffer didn’t think smallpox was contagious. He was wrong…

    William Tebb publishes the book Vaccination and Leprosy in 1893, in which he pushes the idea that an increase in leprosy is caused by smallpox vaccinations. A review in the New York Times wonders “Can it be possible that for all the years of the present century we have been believing in the potency of vaccination and been stupid enough to work in the wrong direction? Such a conclusion forms the basis of Mr Tebb’s arguments.”

  • In 1902, Dr. Immanuel Pfeiffer, argues that smallpox wasn’t contagious, was allowed to visit the Gallop’s Island smallpox hospital in Boston. A few weeks later, he was found to be critically ill at his home – with smallpox.
  • Dr. Reuben Swinburne Clymer, an osteopath, in 1904, writes Vaccination Brought Home to You, which “tells what vaccine is and how it is procured from the calf; tells how some have been killed and others made to suffer untold miseries by being inoculated with pure vaccine [poison]; gives facts and figures showing the results of vaccination… All of which show that vaccination don’t prevent small-pox, but rather tends to increase it. It exposes some of the lies of the wily Medicoes.” Clymer was also an occultist, an Rosicurcian (a self-proclaimed community of mystics who study and practice the metaphysical laws governing the universe, but more commonly called a fake secret society), and wrote about alchemy.

“Here I would like to say a word or two upon one of the most terrible of all acute infections, the one of which we first learned the control through the work of Jenner. A great deal of literature has been distributed casting discredit upon the value of vaccination in the prevention of small-pox. I do not see how anyone who has gone through epidemics as I have, or who is familiar with the history of the subject, and who has any capacity left for clear judgement, can doubt its value…

I would like to issue a Mount-Carmel-like challenge to any ten unvaccinated priests of Baal. I will go into the next severe epidemic with ten selected, vaccinated persons and ten selected unvaccinated persons – I should prefer to choose the latter – three members of Parliament, three anti-vaccination doctors (if they can be found), and four anti-vaccination propagandists. And I will make this promise – neither to jeer nor jibe when they catch the disease, but to look after them as brothers, and for the four or five who are certain to die, I will try to arrange the funerals with all the pomp and ceremony of an anti-vaccination demonstration.”

Sir William Osler, MD Man’s Redemption of Man (1910)

  • The anti-vaccine American Medical Liberty League is founded in 1918 by D.W. Ensign, the owner of Ensign Remedies (which sold mail-order cures to all diseases), and works against the American Medical Association, employs Lora Little and Charles M. Higgins of the Anti-Vaccination League of America
  • Mahatma Gandhi writes A Guide to Health in 1921 and states  that “vaccination is a violation of the dictates of religion and morality”
  • Dr. John H Tilden writes the book Toxemia Explained: The True Interpretion of the Cause of Disease in 1926 and explains that “Every so-called disease is built within the mind and body by enervating habits.” In addition to pushing germ theory denialism, he is of course, anti-vaccine, calling vaccines poison.
  • Louis Siefgried, a Brooklyn chiropractor, writes The Quest Against Vaccination and Cruel Vivisection in 1926 and is soon arrested for refusing to vaccinate his daughter
  • George Barnard Shaw wrote that “vaccination is nothing short of attempted murder” in a 1944 letter to the Irish Times

“I think it can be said that this demonstrates a conscious over-anxiety to appease what I may call the vaccine-damage lobby, which may have led to decisions being biased against the vaccine.”

Justice Murray Stuart-Smith on Dr David Miller’s DPT study (1986)

  • Dr. John Wilson of London, in 1973, presents to the British Pediatric Association and later publishes an article, “Neurological complications of pertussis inoculation,” in the Archives of Disease in Childhood describing “36 children, seen in the past 11 years, who are believed to have suffered from neurological complications of pertussis inoculation.” While Wilson actually supported immunizations, like Wakefield, he later took to the media to scare parents because he had “seen too many children in whom there has been a very close association between a severe illness, with fits, unconsciousness, often focal neurological signs, and inoculation.” What followed was a drop in DPT vaccinations in many countries and vaccine lawsuits, even though his study was later found to be seriously flawed, with most having no link to the DPT vaccine.
  • Rosemary Fox, forms the Association of Parents of Vaccine Damaged Children, for which Wilson becomes an adviser. Fox, who believed that her daughter was “damaged by vaccination,” distributed questionnaires to the parents of suspected vaccine injured children, many who were seeking compensation in lawsuits, and many of which were then used in the National Childhood Encephalopathy Study by Dr Gordon Stewart and Dr David Miller.
  • Jack Ashley MP begins asking questions in Parliament about adverse events after vaccinations, soon after Wilson’s paper is published in 1974, supported by Rosemary Fox and almost 300 families from her Association of Parents of Vaccine Damaged Children.
  • Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, one of the first celebrity, anti-vaccine pediatricians, was a frequent guest on Donahue and other talk shows during the 1970s and 80s, prompting the AAP Committee on Infectious Disease to call him out in a “Red Book Update” published in Pediatrics in 1982, stating his “views are counter to scientific evidence and clearly they do not reflect Academy policy or recommendation.”
  • Dr. David Miller publishes a study in 1981 that showed a link between seizures in kids and receiving the DPT vaccine. A link that could not be confirmed in any other studies and a study that was published before all of the data had been completed. Like Wilson’s study, the Miller study quickly fell apart upon closer examination, including a finding that of seven children reportedly having vaccine damage, “three of the children had been incorrectly labeled as brain damaged when in fact they were normal both before and after vaccination.”
  • Lea Thompson‘s anti-vaccine documentary DPT: Vaccine Roulette aired in 1982 and is often credited as helping start the modern American anti-vaccine movement, but would she have been able to make her documentary without the groundwork laid out by Wilson and Miller?
  • Mirroring the work of Rosemary Fox, Barbara Loe Fisher, with Kathi Williams, soon form the group Dissatisfied Parents Together (DPT) shortly after watching Vaccine Roulette. They later changed their name to the NVIC, which was once described as the “single most powerful anti-vaccine organization in America.”
  • The press in Great Britain, when articles from daily and Sunday papers from 1982 were analyzed, were found to be “irresponsible in their attitude” towards vaccines and often depicted “rare, negative events.”

“…because so many parents refuse, either out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear, to allow their children to be immunised, we still have a hundred thousand cases of measles every year…

It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised.”

Roald Dahl Death of Olivia (1986)

  • Lisa Bonet, of The Cosby Show, appeared on Donahue in 1990 and said that vaccines could “introduce alien microorganisms into our children’s blood and the long-term effects which could be trivial or they could be quite hazardous”
  • Barbara Loe Fisher writes A Shot in the Dark in 1991
  • Heather Whitestone becomes the first deaf Miss America, winning the Miss America pageant in 1994, and promptly gets media coverage for her ‘vaccine injury,’ which was really caused by a Hib infection. Not surprisingly, the true story, that her deafness wasn’t caused by a vaccine injury, didn’t get nearly as much media coverage.
  • Andrew Wakefield publishes his first study trying to find a virus that was causing inflammatory bowel disease in 1992, “Detection of herpesvirus DNA in the large intestine of patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease using the nested polymerase chain reaction.” He moves on to the measles virus the next year with his study, “Evidence of persistent measles virus infection in Crohn’s disease.”
  • Andrew Wakefield publishes his first Lancet article in 1994, “Perinatal measles infection and subsequent Crohn’s disease.” The next year, he gets another study published in Lancet, “Is measles vaccination a risk factor for inflammatory bowel disease?” Foreshadowing what was to happen with his later “autism” study, his research was found to be “flawed because of biases from differential loss to follow-up and case ascertainment in the vaccinated and unvaccinated cohorts.” The findings of his study also could not be replicated by others and was flagged for “epidemiological weaknesses and lack of biological plausibility.”

“It would be most unfortunate if the publication of this controversial work led to public anxiety over the safety of measles vaccine.”

KC Calman on Wakefield’s 1995 Measles Vaccination Study

  • Beginning from at least 1995, and over the next 10 years, 37% of all vaccine safety articles “had a negative take-home message.”
  • Katie Couric does a segment on the NBC News show Now with Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric about DPT “hot lots.”
  • David Miller writes a letter to the BMJ about a study he did, “Measles vaccination and neurological events,” and in which he concluded that “these findings provide no evidence of a risk of long-term neurological damage associated with measles vaccine.” Not surprisingly, Wakefield took issue with Miller’s study, but many will be surprised about one of  Wakefield’s problem – ” a reaction to vaccination resulting in regressive autism is likely to be a rare event, so the number of cases used for Miller and colleagues’ analysis is woefully inadequate to investigate such a reaction.”
  • At one of the first anti-vaccine conferences of the modern era, the First International Public Conference on Vaccination, in September 1997, Andrew Wakefield gives a presentation and Lea Thompson gets an award.
  • Andrew Wakefield publishes another study in the Lancet in 1998, setting off a media frenzy by stating that “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.” Although widely discredited, his paper isn’t formally retracted until 2010.
  • In 1999, ABC’s 20/20 airs a segment about the hepatitis B vaccine, “Who’s Calling the Shots?,” which has been described as “a program that deeply scared the American public.” ABC’s Nightline also does a segment on vaccine injury featuring Barbara Loe Fisher.
  • Beginning in 2000, Dan Burton begins holding Congressional hearings trying to prove that there is a link between vaccines and autism
  • Also in 2000, Andrew Wakefield appears on the 60 Minutes segment “The MMR Vaccine”
  • And that’s the year that Cindy Crawford appeared on Good Morning America with her celebrity pediatrician, Dr. Jay Gordon, after which he said “They edited the segment to make me sound like a vaccination proponent. We also have to understand the impact of a person as well-known as Cindy Crawford delaying vaccines for over six months.”
  • The CBS Evening News begins their four year run of “extremist views of vaccines and autism,” including going “after vaccine makers and the make-believe link between vaccines and autism, taking up the cause of trial attorneys on the one hand and glossing over the scientific data demonstrating no relationship on the other.” This 2004 segment by Sharyl Attkisson, on “Vaccine Links to Autism?,” featured a ‘landmark study’ by Dr. Mady Hornig about overdosing  mice with thimerosal.
  • Bill Maher appears on Larry King Live in 2005 and warns people about flu shots
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. gets his “error-laced” expose “Deadly Immunity” published in Rolling Stone magazine in 2005 (it is later retracted). He also appears on the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather.
  • Jenny McCarthy appears on Oprah, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, and 20/20 in 2007 to promote her book about how she cured her non-Indigo autistic son who got the “autism shot”

“When a well-meaning parent like Jenny McCarthy blames vaccines for her child’s autism, placing the fear of God into every parent who has a baby, it’s not only irresponsible – it’s dangerous. Why? It’s simple math: vaccines are less effective when large numbers of parents opt out. And the more who opt out, the less protected ALL our children are.

Celebrity books come and go . . . but the anxiety they create lives on in pediatricians’ offices across the country. A small, but growing number of parents are even lying about their religious beliefs to avoid having their children vaccinated, thanks in part to the media hysteria created by this book.”

Ari Brown, MD on The New McCarthyism in the Wall Street Journal (2007)

  • Dr. Bob Sears publishes his Vaccine Book in 2007 which leads vaccine hesitant parents across the country to request that their pediatricians follow Sears’ non-evidence based alternative immunization schedule instead of the standard CDC schedule, leaving these kids unprotected from many vaccine preventable diseases
  • In 2008, Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey lead the Green Our Vaccines rally in Washington, D.C.
  • The pilot episode of Eli Stone aired on ABC in 2008, a show described as “anti-vaccination idiocy about autism.”
  • The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, airs a segment in 2008, “How Independent Are Vaccine Defenders?,” pushing the idea that “strong financial ties” between vaccine manufacturers and the AAP and other groups pushing the idea that “industry ties could impact the advice given to the public about all those vaccines.”
  • Jenny McCarthy in Time magazine in 2009 and appears again on Larry King Live
  • Matt Lauer interviews Andrew Wakefield on Dateline in 2009 in the hour-long episode “A Dose of Controversy”
  • Barbara Loe Fisher discussing “Forced Vaccinations” on Lou Dobbs Tonight in 2009
  • Bill Maher again warns people about flu shots in 2009 (during the H1N1 pandemic), this time on his own show Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Bill Gates gives a Ted Talk in 2010, says that “The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s heading up to about nine billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care & reproductive health services, we could LOWER that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent,” and folks think he has a plan to depopulate the world using vaccines.

“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. At the same time, autism is a public health concern that must be addressed by enhancing research funding and directing that funding toward studies of credible hypotheses of causation.

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.”

Gregory A. Poland, MD on Vaccine Nihilism and Postmodern Science (2011)

  • The Greater Good movie, which has been described as “pure, unadulterated anti-vaccine propaganda,” debuts at the Dallas International Film Festival in 2011
  • Rep. Michele Bachman in a 2011 interview on Fox News discussing the HPV vaccine, says that “There’s a woman who came up crying to me tonight after the debate. She said her daughter was given that vaccine. She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine. There are very dangerous consequences. It’s not good enough to take, quote, ‘a mulligan’ where you want a do-over, not when you have little children’s lives at risk.”
  • Katie Couric has a segment about HPV on her show Katie in 2013 in which she “promotes dangerous fear mongering”
  • In 2014, the Dwoskin Family Foundation creates and funds the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute, which is reported to fund much of the anti-vaccination research that is done over the next few years. Previously, much of that research was funded directly through the Dwoskin Family Foundation itself.
  • Robert DeNiro appears on the TODAY Show in 2016 to discuss why his film festival pulled Andrew Wakefield’s movie about the CDC Whistleblower, VAXXED
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. who has said both that he is “not anti-vaccine” and that after kids get vaccinated, “their brain is gone. This is a holocaust…,” also claimed, in 2017, that he is to lead Donald Trump’s “vaccine safety commission.”

While the names change and we now have anti-vaccine propaganda on the internet instead of hand printed pamphlets, the key messages they use to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids are surprisingly the same.

What To Know About the History of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

As you follow the anti-vaccine movement from the very beginning, it is easy to see the common threads that connect all of the players from the Victorian Age to the 21st Century. Germ theory denialism. Alternative medical providers. The media.

What else?

Fear, especially fear of vaccine-injury.

And although George Bernard Shaw once wrote that “the antivaccinist is facing very serious persecution without any prospect of personal gain,” you just have to look at all of the eBooks, eCourses, conferences,  seminars, supplements, and autism “cures” many of them push and sell to know that isn’t true.

The modern anti-vaccine movement certainly also has a wider forum these days, making them an even more vocal minority. Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. E-books.

But not much else has changed.

One can’t even really say that the names have changed. Folks in the modern anti-vaccine movement continue to bring up the work of long discredited anti-vaccinated propagandists from the past, even going so far as continuing to believe that germs don’t really cause disease, vaccines don’t really work, and that vaccines aren’t really necessary.

Tragically, we are also mostly fighting the same vaccine-preventable diseases.

More About the Anti-Vaccine Movement Timeline and History

Updated on June 12, 2017

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The Leicester Method and Smallpox Eradication

Did you know that the Leicester Method helps prove that the small pox vaccine didn’t really help eradicate small pox?

It’s true – well, at least it’s true among “mythical history of vaccination” types.

A Brief History of Smallpox

First developed in the 1870s in Leicester, England to help control smallpox, many people don’t have a good understanding of how it worked, or they wouldn’t use it as an anti-vaccine talking point.

“There is very good reason why the “Leicester Method” is so often quoted by those who are opposed to compulsory vaccinated; for the essential characteristic of the “Method” – that which indeed constitutes its most distinctive feature – is that it professes to suffice for the control of small-pox without resort to universal vaccination, the one measure which is regarded as all-important in most places.”

C. Killick Millard, MD – Medical Officer of Health for Leicester 1904

To understand the Leicester Method, it is important to understand the history of smallpox and smallpox eradication:

  • 2nd millenium BC – earliest evidence of smallpox infections
  • 10th-18th Century – use of variolation
  • 1746 – London Small-Pox and Inoculation Hospital established
  • 1796 – Edward Jenner‘s smallpox vaccine (using cowpox virus)
  • 1840 – 1871 – Vaccination Acts in Great Britain made smallpox vaccination increasingly compulsory
  • 1898 – Vaccination Act of 1898 in Great Britain adds a conscientious objector clause
  • 1967 – Intensified Eradication Program
  • 1977 – last case of wild smallpox
  • 1980 – smallpox declared eradicated

On the way to eradication, some folks fought first inoculation and then smallpox vaccination – the birth of the anti-vaccine movement.

Although the Anti-Vaccination League and Anti-Cumpulsory Vaccination League had been protesting vaccination for years, Leicester had become “a stronghold of anti-vaccination.”

Those anti-vaccine feelings were evident in the Leicester Demonstration March of 1885, which has been described as “one of the most notorious anti-vaccination demonstrations. There, 80,000-100,000 anti-vaccinators led an elaborate march, complete with banners, a child’s coffin, and an effigy of Jenner.”

The Leicester Method and Smallpox

So does the Leicester Demonstration March help prove that folks in Leicester refused to have the vaccine any more?

The Leicester Method never attempted to do entirely without smallpox vaccination.
The Leicester Method never attempted to do entirely without smallpox vaccination. Adapted from Wellcome Library

Did the people in Leicester simply rely on good sanitation and a system of quarantine?

Not exactly.

Originally formulated in 1877, The Leicester Method was modified by Dr. C. Killick Millard, the Medical Officer of Health for Leicester, who tells us that the patients were quarantined in the Leicester Small-pox Hospital, where all of the staff were vaccinated so that they wouldn’t get smallpox!

And most people in Leicester were already vaccinated. That changed in 1883, when it went changed a “well-vaccinated town” to a “Mecca of the anti-vaccinationists” after a new Board of Guardians was elected on an “anti-vaccination ticket.” So even though vaccination dropped after that point, most people in town were already vaccinated and protected against smallpox.

Another thing that people don’t discuss about the Leicester Method? The fatality rate in Leicester in the late 19th century and early 20th century was 1 to 2% for those who were vaccinated. What was it for folks who were unvaccinated? It was 8 to 12%!

Why are both so low? That is because, at the time, it was “the mild type of of small-pox which has prevailed and still prevails in Leicester.” Historically, smallpox had a fatality rate of 30% or higher. But that was for variola major, not variola minor – the mild type of smallpox.

What else do folks leave out about the Leicester Method? That in addition to relying on good sanitation and a system of quarantine, they also “induced” contacts to get vaccinated!

The Vaccination of Contacts part of the Leicester Method is usually left out by anti-vaccination folks.
The Vaccination of Contacts part of the Leicester Method is usually left out by anti-vaccination folks.

The Leicester Method is starting to sound more familiar.

It sounds an awful lot like the ring vaccination method that was ultimately used by the Intensified Smallpox Eradication Program to eradicate smallpox.

Other Myths About Smallpox

Have you heard any of these other myths about smallpox?

  • Getting Edward Jenner’s smallpox vaccine would turn you into a cow.
  • Edward Jenner’s eldest son did not die after his father vaccinated him with his smallpox vaccine – he died of tuberculosis.
  • Smallpox vaccination campaigns caused smallpox outbreaks. They didn’t. The smallpox vaccine doesn’t even contain the smallpox virus – it is made with the vaccinia virus.
  • Smallpox was a mild disease. It wasn’t. As late as 1900, 894 people died of smallpox in the United States. Globally, at least 300 million people died of smallpox during the 20th century.
  • Vaccine experts wanted to reintroduce the smallpox vaccine in 2002 in response to bio-terrorism threats after 9-11. While some did, others, like Dr. Thomas Mack and Dr. Paul Offit, didn’t.
  • Dr. Thomas Mack didn’t think the smallpox vaccine helped eliminate smallpox. He did, stating that “Prophylactic vaccination of contacts is an important containment strategy,” and just didn’t think we needed mass vaccination campaigns.

And of course, there is the myth that the smallpox vaccine didn’t work to eradicate smallpox, which is ridiculous. Vaccines work.

What To Know About the Leicester Method and Smallpox

The Leicester Method of dealing with smallpox does not support the idea that smallpox was eradicated solely with good sanitation and quarantine folks with smallpox. They used vaccines too.

More Information on the Leicester Method and Smallpox

About All Of Those Holistic Doctors Being Murdered

Folks continue to push the conspiracy theory that there is a connection between the deaths of holistic doctors.
Folks continue to push the conspiracy theory that there is a connection between the deaths of holistic doctors.

Did you know that someone is going around the country and murdering holistic doctors?

The Health Nut even has an Holistic Doctor Death Series featuring all of the cases. She is up to over 60 murders in her death series.

And that’s just in the past year, but since the story starts in 2015, that isn’t quite true.

Are Holistic Doctors Being Murdered?

Is anything about her story true?

Right off the bat, you notice that she has far fewer than 60 who have died on her list. That’s because 29 or 30 of them were part of a group attending a German homeopathy conference who were ‘poisoned’ by Aquarust, an hallucinogenic drug that is used recreationally, but it was never determined if they took too much intentionally or were actually poisoned. Either way, these 29 homeopaths weren’t seriously harmed and definitely weren’t murdered.

Dr. Ron Schwartz was indeed murdered, but even the Health Nut states that “We don’t know if he was holistic.” It seems like he is on the list because “he ran an organic lawn service on the side.”

Dr. Lisa Riley was also murdered, and again, the Health Nut admits that “Besides being an Osteopath, I have no idea if she had any holistic or “alternative” training or beliefs.” She is still on the Holistic Doctor Death Series though.

So were any of the other holistic doctors murdered?

Some were, but more often than not, the person who did it was found and can’t be linked to some grand conspiracy. Many others committed suicide or suffered accidents. And again, some weren’t even holistic doctors!

That so many of the first deaths were from Florida gives you a good idea of how the conspiracy got started though (frequency illusion).

  1. Jeff Bradstreet, MD – the only true outspoken anti-vaccine doctor on this list, Dr. Bradstreet, originally from Florida, also claimed that vaccines cause autism and “claimed he could effectively cure kids of their autism, cancer and other maladies simply by injecting them with protein shots.” The day before his death, his office had been raided by authorities looking into his GcMAF cure, as had a clinic he had links to oversees where 5 patients died. His death was ruled a suicide. At least one family member still believes that he was murdered, after reviewing the evidence with a ‘private forensic scientist.’
  2. Baron Holt, DC – only 33, the North Carolina chiropractor who had been struggling with non-life threatening health issues, died on a trip to Florida to “seek correction for his own spine”
  3. Bruce Hedendal, DC – the Florida chiropractor, age 67, was found dead in his car, reportedly of natural causes
  4. Theresa Sievers, MD – with formal training in integrative and functional medicine, the Florida doctor was certified in transcutaneous acupuncture and had become interested in energy healing – she was murdered by two men, one of whom was a boyhood friend of Mark Sievers, the doctor’s husband, who had five insurance policies totaling more than $4 million on his wife, with whom he had lived in an open marriage.
  5. Patrick Fitzpatrick, MD – a retired ophthalmologist (??? holistic doctor) who went missing while hiking in Montana in 2015 and has never been found
  6. Lisa Riley, DO – an ER doctor, she (??? holistic doctor) was murdered by her husband (he has been found guilty already) who was sentenced to life without parole
  7. Dr. Ron Schwartz – a gynecologist (??? holistic doctor) in Florida, he was robbed and murdered by two men who had worked washing Schwartz’s cars and boats and doing other odd jobs for the doctor.
  8. Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez – offered a coffee enema based treatment for cancer and died of an apparent heart attack
  9. Abdul Karim, DDS – an holistic dentist, he died of a heart attack while jogging
  10. Jeffrey Whiteside, MD – a respected pulmonologist (??? holistic doctor), his death was ruled a suicide after he went missing for three weeks
  11. Mary Bovier, DO – a geriatrician (??? holistic doctor), she was murdered in a vacant home she owned
  12. Mitchell Gaynor, MD – an holistic cancer specialist, he was found dead behind his country home in upstate New York – the sheriff’s office said he had killed himself.
  13. Marie Paas, DC – a chiropractor in Alabama, she reportedly killed herself
  14. Jerome E. Block, M.D. – an integrative doctor, he jumped to his death from a 20 story office building. He had recently been fined just over $100,000 for submitting false Medicare claims
  15. Jamie Zimmerman, MD – a doctor who focused on meditation medicine and a medical reporter for ABC, she drowned while on vacation in Hawaii
  16. Christopher D. Robert, DO – an anesthesiologist (not a holistic doctor), it is thought that he fell while walking home from a Christmas party and that alcohol was a factor. He was found on the side of a freeway.
  17. Mark Ernsting, PhD – a biomedical engineer (not holistic, he was working on a nanoparticle based delivery system to deliver drugs to tumors) who worked at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, he was stabbed to death in what has been described as “a random attack, a crime of opportunity” and for which the attacker is being charged
  18. John Marshall, MD – a surgeon at the Spokane VA hospital (not an holistic doctor), his body was found in the Spokane River and his death was ruled an accident, although a private investigator suspects foul play.
  19. Rod Floyd, DC – his wife, in a monthly magazine she publishes, describes his death as “accidental and totally unexpected. My only solace is that he felt no pain and died peacefully.”
  20. Alan Clarke, PhD – a cancer researcher (not a holistic doctor) in the UK, he was found hanging from a tree
  21. Paige Adams, FNP – outspoken against vaccines, this holistic Nurse Practitioner died from complications of her Lyme disease
  22. Cheryl Deboer – a chemist who worked at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (not a holistic center), she killed herself
  23. Armon Anthony Bert, DC – died after having a heart attack
  24. Dr Nadeera De Silva – (??? holistic doctor) was not murdered and his death was drug related
  25. Dr. Weidong “Henry” Han – the herbalist, his wife, and 5-year-old daughter were murdered by Pierre Haobsh, a business acquaintance.
  26. John A. Harsch, MD – (??? holistic doctor) was killed while riding his bicycle as a car attempted to pass another car on a turn and then hit Dr. Harsch from behind
  27. Dr Rose Polge – (??? holistic doctor) a junior doctor in the UK, she killed herself
  28. Vibeke Rasmussen, DC – a retired chiropractor, she was stabbed to death by her 24-year-old neighbor who confessed to the murder
  29. Curtis Clogston, MD – missing for weeks, he was finally found in an overturned car that had crashed and ended up in some brush, just off the road to his home.
  30. Jykri Suutari, DC – a chiropractor in Southern California who killed himself in his garage
  31. Alex Shvartsman, DDS, ND – an holistic dentist who killed himself in his home
  32. Mary Louise Yoder, DC – was murdered – she was poisoned by one of her employees
  33. Robert Sowers, DC – was murdered – he was shot in his office by one of his own patients after an argument
  34. Tiejun Huang Ph.D./MD – was murdered by a man who thought the doctor was having an affair with his wife.
  35. Jenny Shi – the acupuncturist was murdered – she was stabbed 41 times by her sister-in-law, who “had made a series of threat against her husband and had gotten in argument with her sister-in-law in the last year,” and had also “been arrested in China after she got in to a fight with Shi’s business employee”
  36. John Louis Lombardozzi, DC – he died in a motorcycle accident, even though he was wearing a helmet
  37. Dr Sebi – an herbalist and self-taught healer, not a doctor, Alfredo Darrington Bowman (his real name), Dr Sebi died in an Honduran prison where he had been arrested after being charged with money laundering.
  38. Jameth Sheridan, ND – there may be a conspiracy around the death of Jameth Sheridan (his real name is reportedly James Guenthur Dina), but not about how he died, well not that he was murdered as part of a holistic doctor conspiracy. Turns out the supplement company he founded never told anyone that he died and continued to sell and market his products. Anyway, he had apparently stepped down from the company to go “off the grid” to heal his body of kidney cancer naturally, but he had to go to the hospital because he eventually developed a wound/serious blood infection and went into septic shock. It was supposedly the complications of being treated in an ICU that killed him. The Health Ranger, no relation to the Health Nut, reports that he died because his products contain heavy metals that can cause cancer.
  39. Dr. Silvio Najt – an holistic cardiologist in Argentina, he reportedly died of heart failure
  40. Tricia McCauley – an actress, herbalist, and yoga instructor, she was murdered after disappearing on Christmas day by Adrian Duane Johnson
  41. Robert Ashton, MD – a cardiothoracic surgeon, he died after he jumped off the George Washington Bridge and is talked about by the Health Nut in her series of Holistic Doctor Murders because Dr. Ashton and Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a medical reporter for ABC News, had recently divorced. And… the previous medical reporter for ABC, Dr. Jamie Zimmerman, MD, who focused on meditation medicine, drowned while on vacation in Hawaii. See the connection???
  42. Juan Sanchez Gonzalez, ND – although the Health Nut led with the idea of how many times Dr. Gonzalez talked about Big Pharma wanting him to get “hit by a bus,” he was murdered by the husband of a woman who had died after Dr. Gonzalez had “guaranteed he could cure the man’s wife of cancer.”
  43. Robert Mark Buller, MD – a bioterrorism expert and professor at St. Louis University (definitely not a holistic doctor!), he worked on poxviruses and died after he was hit by a car while riding his bike.
  44. Psalm Isadora – a tantric healer who says that her practices helped her overcome anxiety, depression, and a previous suicide attempt – tragically, she killed herself

Does that put an end to the idea that someone is killing holistic doctors?

Probably not. Those who believe in conspiracy theories will still likely believe that these accidents and suicides were staged.

When writing about chiropractors in car accidents, the Health Nut states that “It could be a big coincidence, but I’ll just report the facts.”

What about the murders that have already been solved? Those can’t be linked to a conspiracy, can they?

What about the doctors who aren’t even holistic doctors?

When their children, grandchildren, or other family members look on the Internet to get more research about a deceased love one, are they going to have to find conspiracy theories about Big Pharma?

What To Know About the Holistic Doctor Murder Conspiracy Theory

The holistic doctor murder conspiracy was thoroughly debunked when it first started, back in 2015.

It is obvious now that it should have ended then, but understanding that it continues will hopefully help folks question (or even better, dismiss outright), anything else they see on sites that continue to push the idea of a holistic doctor murder conspiracy.

More On The Holistic Doctor Death Conspiracies

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Vaccine Timeline and History of Vaccines

Smallpox was officially declared to have been eradicated in December 1979.
Smallpox was officially declared to have been eradicated worldwide in December 1979.

Most people are aware of the big historic dates and events related to vaccines.

For example, they might now when Edward Jenner first tested his smallpox vaccine (1798), when the first polio vaccine was licensed by Jonas Salk (1955), or that we just got a Meningococcal B vaccine (2014).

But few likely now that we have had rabies vaccines since 1885, a flu vaccine since 1945, or that the last case of wild polio in the United States was in 1979.

“It is hard to fully appreciate how vaccines have revolutionized modern medicine. The long schedule of vaccines may seem like a hassle, and rumors about harmful effects unnerve parents. But, the fact is, vaccines have helped save millions and millions of lives. Just a few generations ago, people lived under the constant threat of deadly infectious diseases, like smallpox, polio, and hepatitis.

Let’s look at the greatest infectious scourges of the past 1,000 years and how vaccines have mitigated or even eradicated the danger.”

Public Health Understanding Vaccines

From historical safety concerns, like the Cutter Incident in 1955 or the withdrawal of the first rotavirus vaccine in 1999, to improvements in vaccine safety and the control, elimination, and eradication of vaccine-preventable diseases, understanding the history of vaccines can help you understand how important vaccines really are to us all.

More Information About Vaccine Timelines

Lora Little

Lora Little’s son Kenneth died of measles and diphtheria when he was seven-years-old. She didn’t blame those vaccine-preventable diseases though. Instead, she blamed the smallpox vaccine that he had gotten to go to school earlier that year.

She soon became one of the most vocal anti-vaccine spokespeople of her time – the late 19th century. Her son was vaccinated in 1895.

In addition to speaking out against rules requiring vaccination to attend school, Little wrote a pamphlet, Crimes of the Cowpox Ring.

She even got an anti-vaccination law passed in Minnesota in 1903, one that made it so that children could not be made to get vaccinated as a condition to attend school. Not surprisingly, the state saw a smallpox epidemic in 1906.

For More Information on Lora Little:

  • Pox: An American History
  • Deadly Choices
  • Vaccine

Bill Maher on Vaccines

Bill Maher is well known for his anti-vaccine views.

On his own show, Real Time with Bill Maher, and when appearing on other shows, he has said that:

  • A flu shot is the worst thing you can do. (Larry King Live)
  • I don’t believe in vaccination either.
  • Measles is not really that deadly a disease.
  • I don’t understand why this is controversial? Why we have this emotional debate about something that—there is science there. It astounds me that liberals, who are always suspicious of corporations… and defending minorities, somehow when it comes to this minority that’s hurt, it’s like, ‘You know what? Shut the fuck up and let me take every vaccine that Merck wants to shove down my throat.’
  • I’ve never argued that vaccines don’t work. I just don’t think you need them… (Playboy interview)

Although he often says that he is not anti-vaccine, it is easy to see that Maher is hitting many classic anti-vaccine talking points, including that vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t that bad (they can be,  in fact, deadly), that vaccines injuries aren’t rare, and that vaccines aren’t necessary.

Maher also rejects the germ theory of disease that was first proposed by Louis Pasteur.

And in responding to critics of his views on vaccines, Bill Maher had this to say:

Now, sometimes its OK to fuck with nature — I believe “intelligent design” is often anything but intelligent; that “God’s perfect universe” is actually full of fuck ups and design flaws, like cleft lips and Down Syndrome — so correcting nature is sometimes the right thing to do. And then, sometimes its not. For me, the flu shot is in the “not” category.

As much as I dislike the high profile platform that he has to push his anti-vaccine views, the way he characterizes Down syndrome actually bothers me much more.

And that wasn’t even the only time he got into trouble talking about children with Down syndrome. In 2013, the National Down Syndrome Society and many others expressed their “deep disappointment and concern with your ongoing attacks on people who have Down syndrome.”

For More Information on Bill Maher:

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.”

For More Information On Larry King: