Tag: Robert Mendelsohn

Who Are the Anti-Vaccine Pediatricians?

Surprisingly, not all of the members of the American Academy of Pediatrics are on the side of advocating for vaccines!

Who Are the Anti-Vaccine Pediatricians?

Sure, except for a few outliers, most of the members of the AAP are typically strong advocates for vaccines.

In fact, one of the very first actions of the AAP was to establish the Committee on Immunization Procedures in 1936. They soon published the first vaccine recommendations for kids in the 1938 pamphlet, Routine measures for the prophylaxis of communicable diseases.

So what happened?

How did we end up with anti-vaccine pediatricians?

In 1954, Dr. Roger L. J. Kennedy, the president of the AAP, declared that he would not allow his own children to get Salk’s polio vaccine during the Polio Pioneer trials.

New York Times April 8, 1954.

Was he right, considering what happened with the Cutter Incident?

Since none of the polio vaccines produced directly by Jonas Salk caused any problems, no, Kennedy wasn’t right and could have put the whole trial at risk if folks had listened to him.

We next saw Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, a pediatrician who was against many standard practices, including ultrasounds in pregnancy, “water fluoridation, immunization, coronary bypass surgery, licensing of nutritionists, and screening examinations to detect breast cancer.”

He appeared on Donahue in the early 1980s, making claims that “The greatest threat of childhood diseases lies in the dangerous and ineffectual efforts made to prevent them through mass immunization.”

mendelsohn
The AAP Committee on Infectious Disease called out Dr. Robert Mendelsohn in a Red Book Update published in Pediatrics in 1982

Mendelsohn also appeared as an “expert” in Vaccine Roulette, falsely calling the pertussis vaccine “probably the poorest and most dangerous vaccine that we now have.” Of course, none of the claims against the DPT vaccine ended up being true, but we are still left with the DTaP vaccine which is less effective.

Although he wasn’t the last anti-vaccine pediatrician, he was the last to be formally called out by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Jay Gordon, a celebrity pediatrician in California and Fellow of the AAP, appeared on Good Morning America with Cindy Crawford in 2000, saying afterwards that “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.”

Jay Gordon thinks infants should get vaccines slower, with fewer shots at one time.
Delaying vaccines and leaving infants at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease doesn’t make any sense to most pediatricians.

Since then, he has continued to push the idea that kids should get vaccines on a slower schedule, perhaps only getting one or two at a time.

Also in California, Dr. Bob Sears,  also a Fellow of the AAP, published his Vaccine Book in 2007, pushing his own alternative vaccine schedule and creating a list of vaccine-friendly pediatricians.

Bob's warning about not sharing their fears appeared in the first edition of his book.
Bob’s warning about not sharing their fears appeared in the first edition of his book.

Although the AAP hasn’t formally called out today’s disease friendly pediatricians by name, they have repeatedly stated that there are no alternative immunization schedules.

“There is no ‘alternative’ immunization schedule. Delaying vaccines only leaves a chil​d at risk of disease for a longer period of time; it does not make vaccinating safer. 

Vaccines work, plain and simple. Vaccines are one of the safest, most effective and most important medical innovations of our time. Pediatricians partner with parents to provide what is best for their child, and what is best is for children to be fully vaccinated.”

Karen Remley, MD, MBA, MPH, FAAP, Executive Director, American Academy of Pediatrics​

And the AAP has said that the views of pediatricians who push alternative immunization schedules “are counter to scientific evidence and clearly they do not reflect Academy policy or recommendations.”

“No alternative vaccine schedules have been evaluated and found to provide better safety or efficacy than the recommended schedule, supported by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the CDC and the Committee on Infectious Diseases of the AAP (the committee that produces the Red Book).

Pediatricians who routinely recommend limiting the numbers of vaccines administered at a single visit such that vaccines are administered late are providing care that deviates from the standard evidence-based schedule recommended by these bodies.”

Countering Vaccine Hesitancy

Are there others?

Unfortunately, there are.

“Most of my patients make the educated decision not to give one vaccine-hepatitis B – to their infants. This is because you catch hepatitis B from sex and IV drug use so if a child is born to a mother that does not have hepatitis B, the child is at no risk of getting this disease. Preschool and young school-aged children are not at risk for hepatitis B, which is why most countries in the developed world only recommend this vaccine for at-risk groups and not for everyone.”

Paul Thomas

Paul Thomas is another pediatrician and Fellow of the AAP who has written a book about vaccines that pushes his own alternative vaccine schedule.

And even though he has written a book about vaccines, it seems clear that he doesn’t really know which vaccines most countries in the developed world actually give to their kids.

Larry Palevsky spoke at an anti-vaccine rally in New York in the middle of a record setting measles outbreak.

Then there is Larry Palevsky, the pediatrician “who utilizes a holistic approach to children’s wellness and illness…”

Some folks are likely wondering how Larry Palevsky still has a medical license after the things he said at the so-called vaccine symposium in Rockland County this year. Yeah, that Rockland County with the longest active measles outbreak since the endemic spread of measles was declared eliminated.

“The pediatrician who spoke on Monday night, Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, is regularly cited in pamphlets circulated in New York City that urge women not to get their children vaccinated. His views have no basis in science, experts said.”

Despite Measles Warnings, Anti-Vaccine Rally Draws Hundreds of Ultra-Orthodox Jews

Most others who are familiar with things he has said in the past aren’t surprised by his statements though. After all, he was an “expert” for the anti-vaccination movie The Greater Good.

Are you really going to pay extra for a pediatrician that follows a made up schedule that leaves your kids at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease?
Are these alternative pediatricians encouraging parents to only give their kids one vaccine at a time?

And they are familiar with other holistic and integrative pediatricians who are obviously anti-vaccine.

What Makes a Pediatrician Anti-Vaccine?

Although none consider themselves anti-vaccine, preferring to think of themselves as pro-safe vaccine, pro-vaccine choice, or pro-informed consent, as they continue to push myths and misinformation about vaccines, it should be clear who they are and what they are doing.

No, a pediatrician isn’t anti-vaccine just because some of their patients follow a non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedule. They are anti-vaccine if they encourage parents to skip or delay vaccines, scaring them away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

“The American Acade​my of Pediatrics is dedicated to the principle of a meaningful and healthy life for every child. As an organization of physicians who care for infants, ​​children, adolescents, and young adults, the Aca​demy seeks to promote this goal by encouraging ​and assisting its members in their efforts to meet the overall health needs of children and youth; by providing support and counsel to others concerned with the well-being of children, their growth and development; and by serving as an advocate for children and their families within the community at large.”

preamble to AAP Constitution​​

It’s time that more pediatricians call them out, even if they aren’t members of the AAP, as we see more outbreaks and more parents following their advice, leaving more kids unvaccinated, unprotected, and at risk to get vaccine-preventable diseases.

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