It is bad enough that folks in the anti-vaccine movement use propaganda to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.
“The anti-vaccine argument is wrong in both the scientific and moral sense.”
Sarah Kurchak on Here’s How the Anti-Vaccination Movement Hurts Autistic People
Many people also think that the anti-vaccine message is anti-autism.
How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Takes Advantage of Dead Children and Their Parents
But just when you thought that they couldn’t go any lower, folks in the anti-vaccine movement find new ways to demonstrate their lacks of morals.
As a physician, I assure you this story isn’t believable at any level. In my opinion, the “health officials” are conjuring meningitis fairy tales about an “unvaccinated” boogeyman to cover for the much more probable cause of this child’s death: VACCINES.
The much more likely cause is right in front of us: “The child had just received his 4-month-old vaccinations two days beforehand.”
“Notice that THREE of the vaccines given at 4 months are for organisms capable of invading the brain and causing MENINGITIS. Rotavirus is a live virus vaccine capable of shedding from recently vaccinated children. The vaccine pre-clinical trials lacked placebo controls and were associated with infant deaths.
It doesn’t take my medical degree to understand how flimsy are the claims in this story.”
While rotavirus is a live virus vaccine, rotavirus rarely causes central nervous system disease. And he died of bacterial meningitis. It shouldn’t take a medical degree to know that rotavirus is a virus, not a bacteria.
While two of the other vaccines routinely given at four months do actually protect you from meningitis, both Prevnar and Hib are sub-unit vaccines, so can’t actually cause disease. Unfortunately, at four months, he would have been only partially protected against Prevnar and Hib, having only received two of four dosages of those vaccines.
“They expect the general public to be ignorant of the fact that we can actually measure the presence of the meningitis causing organisms for which there are vaccines: Haemophilus influenzae, Pneumococcus, and Meningococcus. So, where are the tests that confirm the presence of one of these “vaccine preventable” organisms?! Where’s the spinal tap/CSF pathology report?
As hard as it is for a grieving family to conceive of an autopsy, I pray the family demands a confirmation of the farcical cause of death being contrived in this case.”
Has Jim Meehan heard of HIPAA?
Does he read any of the other messages when he is writing his own comments about this family?
Is Jim Meehan really a doctor? It shouldn’t take a medical degree to understand that carriers of a disease don’t usually have symptoms of the disease.
“Again, from the article: “Health care officials told Dempsey they BELIEVE an unvaccinated person was carrying meningitis and Killy happened to come into contact with that person.”
They “believe”…give me a break. It should have said, “they made-up a story to cover for the real cause.”
SECOND, people don’t walk around with meningitis. They lay in their beds in a dark room and writhe in pain.
THIRD, the likelihood that an unvaccinated individual was walking around with meningitis is vanishingly small. To even list that in the top 100 options of a differential diagnosis is pure fiction.
FOURTH, where is this hypothetical unvaccinated meningitis shedding “patient zero?” He or she would have been so obviously sick that there is no way new parents would not remember the likely suspect…unless the suspect never existed.”
In this case, with a meningococcal infection, which is what the infant is thought to have, about 10% of people are carriers, asymptomatically having the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria in their nose or throat.
In the United States, we have two types of meningococcal vaccines, neither of which is routinely given to infants:
Menactra and Menveo – meningococcal conjugate vaccines that protect against serogroups A, C, W, Y and first given when kids are 11 to 12 years old, with a booster at age 16 years.
Bexsero and Trumenba – meningococcal conjugate vaccines that only protect against serogroup B and can be given to kids at increased risk and teens and young adults who want to reduce their risk of getting MenB disease
The only other possibility, since they mentioned that exposed people received antibiotics, would be the Hib bacteria.
“In the prevaccine era, Hib could be isolated from the nasopharynx of 0.5%–3% of normal infants and children but was not common in adults.”
CDC on the Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
Again, these carriers can be contagious, even though they don’t have any symptoms.
“It’s likely that these “health officials” are covering for the pharmaceutical/vaccine industry that pays them so well. It’s “health officials” like this that for decades have pretended that sudden unexplained infant death syndrome (SUIDS), not only has no explanation, but it couldn’t possibly be related to the injection of neurotoxic doses of aluminum into the bodies of tiny baby humans. They can ignore the clustering of infant deaths that occurs around the same times that CDC recommends multiple (5-13) vaccines at one visit, but I won’t.”
Why is a family that just lost their child getting harassed by anti-vaccine folks?
One clue is that Jim Meehan is pushing the idea that there is a Big Pharma conspiracy behind this child’s death.
And there are many anti-vaccine parenting groups that are helping spread his message around.
Of course, this isn’t the first time this has happened.
Anti-vaccine folks routinely hound parents who die of SIDS and shaken baby syndrome, working to convince them that vaccines caused their deaths.
For any study, you have to review and judge the quality of the evidence it provides.
Is it a case report (a glorified anecdote), case series, or animal study (lowest quality evidence)?
Or a systemic review or meta-analyses (highest quality evidence)?
“The first and earliest principle of evidence-based medicine indicated that a hierarchy of evidence exists. Not all evidence is the same. This principle became well known in the early 1990s as practising physicians learnt basic clinical epidemiology skills and started to appraise and apply evidence to their practice. Since evidence was described as a hierarchy, a compelling rationale for a pyramid was made.”
Murad et al. on the New Evidence Pyramid
What about case control studies, cohort studies, and randomized controlled trials?
They lie somewhere in between on the hierarchy of evidence scale or pyramid.
And there are other factors to consider when judging the reliability of a study.
“Ultimately, the interpretation of the medical literature requires not only the understanding of the strengths and limitations of different study designs but also an appreciation for the circumstances in which the traditional hierarchy does not apply and integration of complementary information derived from various study designs is needed.”
Ho et al. on Evaluating the Evidence
For example, you might also have to take into account the sample size of the study.
A study can be underpowered if it doesn’t have enough subjects. Unfortunately, even an underpowered study will give you results. They likely won’t be statistically significant results, but folks don’t always realize that.
Even a meta-analysis, usually considered to be at the top of the hierarchy of evidence pyramid, can have problems that make their results less useful, such as not using appropriate inclusion criteria when selecting studies and leaving out important studies.
All in all, there are many factors to look at when reading a medical paper and considering if the results are valid and should influence what you do and how you think. This is especially true when looking at low quality vaccine papers, many of which the anti-vaccine movement uses to scare people, even though they are often poorly designed, and several of which have been retracted.
What to Know About the Hierarchy of Evidence
Learning about the hierarchy of evidence can help you better evaluate medical studies and vaccine papers and understand that there is more to doing your research about vaccines than searching PubMed and reading abstracts.
They instead turn to alternative medicine when their kids get sick and for their preventative care.
Those Times Alternative Medicine Got It Wrong
While it is true that science gets it wrong sometimes, these people seem to fail to consider that alternative medicine does too.
“…there’s no such thing as conventional or alternative or complementary or integrative or holistic medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t. And the best way to sort it out is by carefully evaluating scientific studies – not by visiting Internet chat rooms, reading magazine articles, or talking to friends.”
Paul Offit, MD on Do You Believe in Magic
More than that, they hardly ever get it right.
Need some examples?
Ayurvedic treatments can be contaminated with toxic metals
biomed treatments for autism – from restrictive diets and chelation to coffee and bleach enemas, these “cures” and treatments have not been shown to be safe, are sometimes known to be dangerous, and don’t even work
Cannabis Oil for kids with cancer – while marijuana-derived products might help some medical conditions, it doesn’t cure cancer
chiropractic neck manipulation of newborns and infants has no benefits and has caused deaths
chronic Lyme disease is not a recognized condition in modern medicine, but that doesn’t keep some ‘Lyme literate’ practitioners from recommending and charging patients for all sorts of unnecessary and sometimes harmful “treatments”
faith healing is still allowing children to die of very treatable conditions, from diabetes and appendicitis to common infections and premature babies
Gerson protocol – often discussed with other forms of cancer quackery this “radical nutritional program combined with purges (particularly coffee enemas)” is believed by some to cure cancer – it doesn’t
HIV denialism – yes, this is a thing, and tragically took the life of Christine Maggiore, her daughter, and many others who eventually died of AIDS
homemade baby formula – notorious for leaving out important nutrients, from iron vitamin D to enough calories for a growing baby
Hoxsey treatment – a natural treatment for cancer that has been around since the 1950s and has never been shown to work, except in people who never actually had cancer
laetrile for cancer – in the late-1970s, kids with treatable forms of cancer had parents who were convinced that this latest fad cure was better. It wasn’t.
naturopathy – although mostly looked at as a holistic alternative to other providers, some of these treatments include vitamin injections, hydrogen peroxide injections, and alternative cancer therapies
shark cartilage – this was the fad cancer cure in the 1990s that was killing kids who’s parents sought alternative cancer treatments. It didn’t work.
What’s the harm with these treatments?
Many, like Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Reiki, and Reflexology, etc., aren’t necessarily dangerous on their own. In fact, most don’t do anything at all, but they can lead people away from real treatments. And that essentially leaves people untreated.
Getting a fake treatment might not be a big deal when it is a condition that can go away on its own, like when Angelina Jolie talked about getting acupuncture when she had Bell’s Palsy, but it often leads to disastrous consequences when a life-threatening condition goes untreated.
Many people who push these alternative “treatments” often also recommend against standard treatments, like vitamin K shots for newborns, RhoGAM shots for their moms, and vaccines.
Those Times Anti-Vaccine Experts Got It Wrong
It shouldn’t be surprising that many of the folks who think that vaccines are dangerous, aren’t necessary, or that they don’t even work also believe in holistic or alternative treatments.
It also shouldn’t be surprising that they are also wrong a lot:
Meryl Dorey – equates vaccination with rape, something many of her followers aren’t even comfortable with
Mark and David Geier – this father and son pair are infamous for pushing a chemical castration treatment (Lupron) for autistic children, a treatment that led to Mark Geier losing his medical license (he’s a geneticist) in several states.
Jay Gordon, MD – once made the comment that “Heaven help us if we have a generation of kids who get a hepatitis B vaccine and a HPV vaccine and they think that now unprotected sex is okay…” Not surprisingly, studies have found that this doesn’t happen. In fact, teen pregnancy rates are at their lowest levels ever.
Suzanne Humphries, MD – a nephrologist who became a homeopath and now pushes anti-vaccine talking points, believes that vaccines don’t work and that polio never really disappeared, and that we don’t “see it anymore” because we changed its name to acute flaccid paralysis.
Neil Z. Miller – a psychologist who has written many anti-vax books, gives lectures at chiropractic associations, and published his daughter’s book, Ambassadors Between Worlds, Intergalactic Gateway to a New Earth, which describes how they are both able to talk to intergalatic beings because she has been doing it for multiple lifetimes. No word yet if folks from the Pleiadians vaccinate their kids…
Tetyana Obukhanych, MD – the Harvard trained immunologist who believes that Immunology has no theoretical or evidence-based explanation for immunity.
Viera Scheibner – the micropaleontologist who thinks that getting a vaccine-preventable disease is good for kids, that vaccines are contaminated with amoebas, and that they cause SIDS and shaken baby syndrome
Stephanie Seneff – the MIT doctor (she has a doctorate in electrical engineering) who thinks that half of kids will have autism in eight years and that glyphosate causes everything from autism to school shootings and terrorist bombings.
Yehuda Shoenfeld, MD – an immunologist who heads the Zabludowicz Center for Autoimmune Diseases and is on the scientific advisory board for the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute. He is the latest to blame adjuvants for causing disease – his Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants (ASIA), which is often described as being a “basically a made-up syndrome that isn’t generally accepted.”
Sherri Tenpenny, DO – described as an anti-vax “expert” whose advise is “chock full of vaccine pseudoscience.” Once board certified in emergency medicine, Dr. Tenpenny now sells DVDs and supplements on her website, speaks at chiropractic health events, and provides holistic medical care. In a rant about freedom of choice in vaccination, she talks about General Robert E. Lee, Southern war hero and postwar icon of the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy,” the extinction of humanity, and about slavery and eight veils that must be pierced if you want to see what is really going on in the world – that the Illuninati and other secret organizations control us and that they are being controlled by time traveling dragons, lizards, and aliens.
Tim O’Shea, DC – a chiropractor, he speaks at anti-vax conferences and wrote an anti-vaccination book called The Sanctity of Human Blood: Vaccination is not Immunization. Dr. O’Shea does not believe that germs make us sick (germ theory denialism), thinks that vaccines cause peanut allergies, and he sells supplements and seminars.
Kelly Brogan, MD – a holistic psychiatric who recommends that patients wean off their prescribed medications and has talked about HIV denialism.
Erin Elizabeth – is pushing the idea that holistic practitioners are being murdered
Tragically, the pseudo-scientific arguments on many anti-vaccine websites can sometimes be persuasive, especially if you don’t understand that they are mostly the same old arguments that the anti-vaccine movement has been using for over 200 years to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.
Sites that are considered anti-vaccine by most people and that push propaganda and myths include:
Age of Autism
Child Health Safety (The facts about vaccine safety your government wont give you)
There is a hierarchy of evidence, from weakest to strongest, that help folks make decisions about science and medicine.
That’s why you can’t just search PubMed, read abstracts, and say that you have done your research. For any study, you have to review and judge the quality of the evidence it provides.
Is it a case report (a glorified anecdote), case series, or animal study (lowest quality evidence) or a systemic review or meta analyses (highest quality evidence)?
What about case control studies, cohort studies, and randomized controlled trials? They lie somewhere in between on the hierarchy of evidence scale.
Anecdotes as Evidence
And where do anecdotes fit in?
“Anecdotes are uncontrolled subjective observations. I have often criticized reliance on anecdotes, which is especially problematic in medicine. The problem with anecdotes is that they are subject to a host of biases, such as confirmation bias. They are easily cherry picked, even unintentionally, and therefore can be used to support just about any position. For every anecdote, there is an equal and opposite anecdote.”
Steven Novella on The Context of Anecdotes and Anomalies
Anecdotes are not scientific evidence.
Unfortunately, some people use anecdotal evidence to make some very serious decisions, including skipping or delaying their children’s vaccines, leaving them unvaccinated and unprotected.
“An anecdote is a story – in the context of medicine it often relates to an individual’s experience with their disease or symptoms and their efforts to treat it. People generally find anecdotes highly compelling, while scientists are deeply suspicious of anecdotes. We are fond of saying that the plural of anecdote is anecdotes, not data.”
Steven Novella on The Role of Anecdotes in Science-Based Medicine
Believing that anecdotes are important scientific evidence is also what often drives some pediatricians to pander to fears that parents may have about vaccines, helping them create non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedules.
What else do you need to know about anecdotal evidence?
“With little or no evidence-based information to back up claims of vaccine danger, anti-vaccine activists have relied on the power of storytelling to infect an entire generation of parents with fear of and doubt about vaccines. These parent accounts of perceived vaccine injury, coupled with Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent research study linking the MMR vaccine to autism, created a substantial amount of vaccine hesitancy in new parents, which manifests in both vaccine refusal and the adoption of delayed vaccine schedules.”
Anecdotes, although they are easy to believe, are not scientific evidence, and certainly shouldn’t persuade you that vaccines aren’t safe, that vaccines aren’t necessary, or that vaccines are associated with autism.
“…we have been recently convinced through the promise of technology and corporate prowess that processed food is more reliable, nutritious, and beneficial. We’ve been convinced that Hamburger Helper is better for our families than a homemade Bolognese.”
For some reason, she does not seem to be vegan, as one might expect. Not even vegetarian…
She does seem to believe that people with mental health conditions not should be treated with medication. In fact, she thinks the medications that are routinely used to treat common mental health conditions are behind some of the biggest tragedies happening today.
“The records also listed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as one of his medical conditions” the proverbial smoking gun of every mass shooting in this country.”
Kelly Brogan on the Sutherland Church Shooting
And she was mentored, not by a psychiatrist, but by a doctor who pushed “a largely dietary treatment for cancer including an individualized organic diet, large amounts of supplements, and pancreatic enzymes,” a regimen that was actually studied and found to be harmful and reduced the quality of life for people with a deadly form of cancer.
Who Is Kelly Brogan?
Kelly Brogan is a holistic psychiatrist.
“Eastern wisdom tells us that when we think we know, we don’t. But when we admit ignorance, we achieve enlightenment. The most profound part of my departure from conventional medicine has been the depths of my surrender to all that we do not, cannot, and must not understand about the body and its experience. Humble awe and wonder are truly the only appropriate states for approaching the complexity of the human condition.”
Do holistic psychiatrists use a different definition for the word humble?
“All suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness or satisfaction.”
I’m actually surprised that she hasn’t written about RhoGAM. Maybe she hasn’t gotten around to it. But she doesn’t disappoint. She has shared an article on her Facebook page that claims that the RhoGham shot is just a “Big Pharma Profit Ploy.”
Kelly Brogan is a holistic psychiatrist that wants you to live a medication free life. I guess that could have made her some kind of psychoanalysist, but that doesn’t seem to be the route she went.
“In fact, ‘treatment’ with chemotherapy and radiation not only disrupts a complex process that needs to actually be supported, but also it induces secondary harm, both psychically and physiologically. When we interfere and war with the body, we keep the fight alive – you can’t win the battle against yourself.”
Is she telling people to stop their cancer treatments?
Do folks get a lot of training in treating cancer in their psychiatry residency these days?
And she advises that you “think long and hard about vaccination.”
“As we discover more about the near infinite sophistication of your interconnected bodily systems, and the hyper-individuality of any cause and effect process resulting from a healthcare decision, the one-size-fits-all, indemnified vaccine program may begin to make less and less sense to you. Educate yourself before you make a choice that could change everything for you and your family. Trust your body. Invest in your immunity. And explore a mindset shift that offers you a fear-free way to understand health and wellness.”
Shortly after talking about informed consent, she lets you know how she really feels about vaccines.
“Don’t buy into the lore, don’t make assumptions, and understand that the philosophical underpinnings of the vaccination program are predicated on an antiquated perspective: warring against and attempting to eradicate bad germs. Science has left that childlike notion in the dust, and so should we.”
“One of my favorite medical terms, anosognosia, means lack of awareness of a deficit. I have come to find this useful in description of so many of my colleagues who practice the medicine they were trained to practice without conscious acknowledgement of its gross limitations and even hazards.”
Does anyone else think that it is wildly ironic that anosognosia is Kelly Brogan’s favorite medical term?
Can a psychiatrist be suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect?
I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure that a holistic psychiatrist can.
A history-making case report? Considering that case reports are the weakest type of scientific evidence, just above YouTube videos and articles on her website, that’s not likely.
Kelly Brogan is a holistic psychiatrist who has flirted with HIV denialism.
You can get educated about vaccines if you are on the fence, but it won’t be from Kelly Brogan, a women’s health holistic psychiatrist.
What to Know About Kelly Brogan
Kelly Brogan is a holistic psychiatrist who seems to charge folks a lot of money in private consultations to help them know that she has faith in their potential to heal themselves naturally – with her help.