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Dr. Jay Gordon – “Anti-Vaccination”

Dr. Jay Gordon is a pediatrician and one of the stars of the anti-vaccinationist movement. (Dr. Gorski wrote an exellent criticism of many of his claims recently on SBM.) He is, in fact, the pediatrician to Jenny McCarthy’s son, Evan (who she claims was injured by vaccines). Several months ago he published an “open letter on vaccinations” which is now making the rounds on anti-vaccine websites. The letter is a work of pure arrogant pseudoscience – a crafted piece of anti-vaccine propaganda. He begins:

I don’t give a lot of vaccines.

I still give DPT vaccinations to some children, chicken pox shots to kids who haven’t been able to acquire natural immunity by age ten years or so, and I give polio vaccines very infrequently. The polio vaccines are given for what I call “emotional” reasons because my exposition of the “numbers” (2000 cases of polio out of six or seven billion people) doesn’t counteract the very strong memory of a beloved aunt or uncle who had polio in fifties or sixties. And many parents feel much more comfortable traveling to India or parts of Africa with updated polio immunity for their children and themselves. By the way, 2007-2008 statistics don’t support that discomfort, but I don’t argue much.
In 2007, there were 1314 cases of polio on the planet and 127 of them were in “endemic” countries: 873 in India, 285 in Nigeria, 41 in the Congo, 32 in Pakistan and 17 in Afghanistan.

As of July 1, 2008, halfway through the year, we’re running a similar pace with 714 cases of polio reported worldwide. Nigeria has had 353 cases, India 287.

His argument is that because the risk of catching polio is so low, the benefits to the individual child are not balanced by the risks of the vaccine. His argument, however, is bogus on many levels. First, the benefits of the vaccine to the individual child do outweigh the risks. That is largely due to the fact that the polio vaccine is very safe. Serious complications are extremely rare.

Also – Gordon is not thinking clearly about the risks of contracting polio. He is basing his argument on the fact that 2000 out of 6 billion is a very low risk (equal to one in 3 million). But that is the wrong statistic to use, because it includes those who are vaccinated, which is most people. The real risk that should be considered is the risk of contracting polio among the unvaccinated only. This risk is much higher. Almost all cases of polio occur among the unvaccinated.

He also fails to point out that “endemic” countries are endemic because of low vaccination rates. In fact, the World Health Organization was on the brink of eradicating polio from the earth through an aggressive vaccination schedule. But these efforts were thwarted by vaccine fear-mongering in Nigeria. This led to an outbreak of polio in Nigeria that spread to other vulnerable countries.

Gordon also displays incredibly sloppy thinking when discussing the risk/benefit calculation of vaccines. He acknowledges that vaccines work (unlike some in the anti-vaccine movement), and pays lip service to public health when he writes : “Public health is an important topic and ignoring that aspect of the discussion is irresponsible.” However, he then irresponsibly ignores public health.

It is unavoidable that as vaccines do their job they render the diseases they protect against increasingly rare. If we are ever going to eradicate another vaccine-preventable disease (like we did with small pox) then we necessarily must pass through a period where the risk of contracting the disease is extremely low. At some point, the risk of contracting the disease must be lower than the risk of the vaccine – even for extremely safe vaccines (because no intervention has zero risk).

If Gordon had his way, however, as soon as we got close to eradicating any disease we should back off on vaccinations for that disease, which would inevitably lead to its resurgence. We would forever be playing “whack a mole” with the disease, never eliminating it completely.

To be clear, we are not at this point with polio. The advantages to the individual still outweigh the risks. If we can maintain an aggressive vaccination program, the time period during which we would need to give the vaccine even when the risk of the disease approaches zero would be very brief, long enough to make sure it is completely gone. It depends on how sure we want to be.

Some might argue that we only need to give the vaccine in endemic areas. However, we live in a global community. Travelers bring diseases from other parts of the world every year, or unvaccinated travelers abroad can become infected. The only reason they do not spread and form a local epidemic is because of herd immunity – because of the vaccine schedule.

Even if we set aside the possibility of eradication – keeping infections isolated and preventing epidemics depends upon herd immunity, which is only as effective as the thoroughness of the vaccination program. Every parent who takes Dr. Gordon’s advice weakens herd immunity, and risks not only their child but their community.

Dr. Gordon also likes to pretend that he is the only one concerned about vaccine safety, or honestly and openly examining vaccine risk. This is pure hubris. Vaccine risks and benefits are carefully considered. For example, in the US the oral polio vaccine (OPV) was given rather than the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) because OPV is more effective. Widespread use of the OPV is essentially what eradicated polio from the Western hemisphere.

In 2000, however, the US changed over to IPV. This was due purely to the constant assessment of risks vs benefits. While OPV is more effective is also carries a 1 in 2.4 million risk of contracting polio from the vaccine. IPV is less effective, but does not carry this small risk. It was decided, however, that IPV would be adequate to protect against importation of the polio virus back to the US, without the small risk of the OPV.

Gordon then launches into his reasons for believing that vaccines are not safe. You would think that a doctor defending a minority opinion on an important public health issue would reference published research to defend his position. Nope – Dr. Gordon just gives us his personal anecdotal experience, and some tired rhetoric.

In 1980 I abandoned the recommended vaccine schedule. I received dozens and dozens of phone calls from moms and dads reporting that their child had received shots a couple of days ago and they were acting “a little different.” They couldn’t quite put their finger on it but their child was just not acting quite the same as before I gave the shots. They’d ask if this was okay…was it normal? Initially, as I was trained to do, I replied “yes.” After dozens and dozens and dozens of phone calls, I decided that I had better listen to these moms a lot more.

Ugh! The “mommy” gambit. RFK Jr. and David Kirby have played that card to death as well. Gordon is telling us to listen to his uncontrolled gut feelings – not the growing body of carefully collected published data which clearly indicates that vaccines are safe, that they are not associated with autism or other neurological disorders. He tries to make this scientifically bitter pill go down easier by implying that doctors claim vaccines are safe because that is how they are “trained” (like dogs are trained) – not because they can think for themselves and perhaps have a better understanding of the published literature than he does.

He also implies that it is out of compassion and open honesty that he is willing to listen to mommies, and other doctors are not. This is nothing but supreme arrogance in logical fallacy form. This issue is determined by the best scientific evidence. Gordon does not have that on his side, however, so he tries to distract with a bit of misdirection. This is a maneuver familiar to any illusionist, or creationist.

But it gets worse. He writes:

Now, when you discuss this topic with your pediatrician, he or she will clobber my ideas and me. So be it. I have watched children getting or not getting vaccines for thirty years. I won’t publish my data because I have none suitable for “peer review.” I can tell you that my very strong impression is that children with the fewest vaccines, or no vaccines at all, get sick less frequently and are healthier in general. I truly believe they also develop less autism and other “persistent developmental delays.”

First he tries to perform a preemptive strike against his critics, anticipating that they will “clobber my ideas and me.” This is clearly meant to portray himself (more arrogance) as an abused whistleblower. Maybe, just maybe, criticism of Dr. Gordon is legitimate because of his dangerous and incorrect anti-vaccine misinformation.

He reassures us that he has the data to back up his controversial claims, however. But nothing he can publish. We’ll just have to trust him. Notice the quotes around “peer review.” What does that mean? Is he denigrating all peer-review? This is not surprising. He is telling the public not to listen to science. Do not listen to the consensus of scientific opinion built upon published “peer-reviewed” data. Listen to his “very strong impressions.” He’s the guru. He knows best.

He has the audacity of reassuring us not once but twice that he is not “anti-vaccination.” This is contradicted by his “very strong impression” that children who received “no vaccines at all” are “healthier in general.” His reassurances are just more misdirection.

Next on his list of standard anti-vaccine propaganda is the toxin gambit. Even though mercury in vaccines as a cause of neurological disease has been thoroughly refuted by the data, Gordon still clings to this failed hypothesis. He writes:

Mercury has not been removed from all vaccines. Most flu shots still contain 25 micrograms of mercury as do the tetanus boosters. This represents 30-60% of the dose a baby or child would have gotten in the “bad old days” and completely invalidates the argument that “we’ve gotten thimerosal out of shots and autism has not gone down.”

This is just absurd. Mercury-based thimerosal was completely removed from the routine vaccine schedule by early 2002. Prior to that children received thimerosal in many vaccines, including the occasional flu and tetanus booster. Now, they are only exposed to thimerosal if they get optional vaccines that include it. And – many flu vaccines do not contain thimerosal (and fewer and fewer do) and some states, like California, have banned thimerosal completely.

This represents a significant decrease in thimerosal exposure. The original argument of the “mercury militia” who blamed autism on vaccines was that as the total thimerosal dose increased (mostly over the 1990’s) so did the incidence of autism. Well – if that were true then as the thimerosal dose decreased after 2002 so should have autism. However, autism rates continued to increase at the exact same rate as prior to 2002.

So, Dr. Gordon’s position is that as mercury increased, autism increased, Then, as mercury decreased, autism continued to increase. And this is because mercury was not completely removed from all vaccines (even though it was in some states, like CA, where autism diagnoses have also continued to increase).

This argument is so brain-dead I have a hard time with the idea that Dr. Gordon believes it himself. I guess he could be so invested in his media persona as the vaccine-skeptic to the stars that he can compartmentalize as needed. But seriously, this argument is so demonstrably absurd that by itself it establishes Dr. Gordon as a hard-core antivaccinationist.

He backs up this bit of nonsense with further coy implications:

The CDC says that one out of five children have learning disabilities. I do not know why we have so many injured children now.

One of the hallmarks of propaganda is subtly loaded language. First he cites the CDC as a reference, to make it seem as if his next statement is backed by an appropriate authority. He then makes the coy statement that he does not know why “we have so many injured children now.” Notice the assumption (without reference or justification) that children with learning disabilities are “injured.” He makes this bold claim without making it seem as if he is making a claim at all – it’s just slipped in there as an innocuous statement, which he falsely implies is backed up by the CDC.

There is no evidence to support the claim that many, most, or all of children with learning disabilities have been “injured.”

Also notice the little word at the end of the statement – “now.” Why are there so many injured children “now”. This implies that there are more than before. Therefore something must be going on.

I did acknowledge that autism diagnosis rates are increasing. However, the data supports the conclusion that this increase in diagnoses are due to a broadening of the definition of autism (casting a wider net) and to increased efforts at surveillance (we are looking for it more). There is no evidence that true autism rates are increasing. A small real increase cannot be ruled out by the data – but that is just a generic limitation of the amount and quality of the data that we currently have.

Dr. Gordon hedges his bets, however. He doubles down on the toxin gambit with the next target for the anti-vaccinationists – aluminum. He declares that there is too much aluminum in vaccines.

Aluminum is added as an adjuvant – it makes the vaccines work better. There is no evidence that the level of aluminum currently in vaccines poses any risk. And remember, vaccines and the vaccine schedule are tested and monitored for safety. There are rare cases of harmful reactions to vaccines, nothing is risk free. But the risks are very low and far outweighed by the benefits.

What evidence does Gordon have for his claim of too much aluminum? An article in Mothering magazine – he apparently does not want to taint his arguments with anything peer-reviewed.

Wait – maybe he does. He also claims (again, against the consensus of opinion built upon actual evidence) that delaying some vaccines is safer. He writes:

Some vaccination problems are completely verifiable and a strategy of delaying vaccines is, in some small way, supported by this recent article:

Delay in diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus vaccination is associated with a reduced risk of childhood asthma.
J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 Mar;121(3):626-31. Epub 2008 Jan 18.

That is some mighty fine cherry-picking, Dr. Gordon. Of course, this is one preliminary study. The implications of this have yet to be worked out. There is also a suggestion in the literature that more infections as a child reduces overall asthma risk. A relatively unchallenged immune system may predispose to asthma. Or there may be some other factor at work. So are we ready to abandon personal hygiene as well? Not quite yet.

It may turn out that the vaccine schedule needs to be tweaked to optimize benefit to risk as new data comes in. No one claimed the current schedule is perfect and written in stone. But this small slice of data in no way justifies a broad program of eliminating and delaying vaccines, as Gordon implies.

From a scientific point of view his arguments are just plain lousy.

There is so much more, but Gordon has perfected the “Gish Gallop” as it applies to anti-vaccine propaganda. It takes far less space and time to generate misconceptions than it does to correct them. This will have to do for now.

One thing is clear. When Dr. Gordon repeatedly claims that he is not anti-vaccination, “methinks he doth protest too much.”

Posted in: Neuroscience/Mental Health, Vaccines

Leave a Comment (39) ↓

39 thoughts on “Dr. Jay Gordon – “Anti-Vaccination”

  1. David Gorski says:

    My goodness, Dr. Novella. It appears you may have picked up the sarcastic tendencies of Drs. Crislip and Atwood, not to mention some of my own.

    Good.

    My history with Dr. Gordon goes back over three years. Personally, I think he seems to be a nice guy and is well-meaning but, as you point out, he is utterly unscientific and full of hubris. He elevates how own “personal clinical experience” above the sciences of epidemiology, immunology, toxicology, and clinical trials, to name a few, and believes his personal experience trumps science and expert opinion. Sadly, he seems incapable of realizing that maybe–just maybe–his perception that unvaccinated children are healthier than vaccinated children or that there are lots of vaccination “injuries” is a result of confirmation bias. Reporting bias might also have something to do with it, too. Ever since he became a celebrity pediatrician vaccine “skeptic,” he’s been sought out by parents who think their children may have been damaged by vaccines. In the little bubble that he exists in, he probably sees far more children with disorders their parents attribute to vaccines than the average pediatrician, and, as he pointed out in his speech at the “Green Our Vaccines” rally, because of his status, physicians now call him about vaccine injury. Never mind that he has never published a single peer-reviewed paper about this or presented at a peer-reviewed conference, or even, it appears, looked into the scientific literature very deeply. Certainly he can’t cite papers to back up his assertions.

    He’s also in an echo chamber of groupthink, in which he interacts mainly with people who think as he does and gives speeches to explicitly antivaccine groups (such as the protesters at the “Green Our Vaccines” rally in June). Moreover, I can’t help but think that he enjoys his notoriety, in which he is the main go-to “vaccine skeptic” (and a pediatrician, to boot!) for the mainstream media in the U.S.. His media appearance schedule would dry up instantly if he started espousing science-based vaccine policy, and I bet he’d lose a lot of his patients who are the children of celebrities. Given the way he panders to their “mommy instincts” and boasts how he “listens to the mothers,” I also can’t help but think that perhaps he really likes all the adoration he gets from the women who think that their autistic children are “vaccine-injured,” not to mention his current opportunities to hob-nob with celebrities and be invited to celebrity events.

    Most telling (and disturbing) to me is a comment he made once:

    I gave a half dozen vaccines today. I gave some reluctantly but respected parents’ wishes to vaccinate.

    Couple the above quote with a quote from the article you rip apart, and it appears that Dr. Gordon actually actively tries to persuade parents not to vaccinate their children but will give in if they are insistent enough on vaccinating.

  2. isles says:

    A quick point on the run – no child would get a flu shot with 25 mcg of thimerosal – the pediatric dose is half the adult dose. Also, there is no reason for a child to need a tetanus booster until well after the age at which PDDs would become obvious, and the booster that is now recommended for adults doesn’t contain thimerosal anyway.

  3. Great post, especially the part about the “whack a mole.” I’ve once or twice seen that question raised (ie, vanishing cases vs. tiny vaccine risk), and have been frustrated when the rational respondent failed to make that point.

    Gordon, seemingly unwittingly, proposes a new “hypothesis”: that there must be an infectious agent in the vaccines (other than attenuated viruses, in some cases) to explain the early “toxicity,” as in “their child had received shots a couple of days ago and they were acting ‘a little different’.” Even the antivax crowd doesn’t propose that the “toxins” in vaccines, metal or otherwise, manifest as acute poisoning. Rather, they are said to affect neurologic development insidiously, by virtue of their chronic, low-but-still-dangerous levels.

    If that’s the case, those “toxins” couldn’t explain symptoms or signs only two days after exposure. What could, then? We know, of course, that the answer is two-fold: 1. the acute response to foreign proteins frequently involves a brief period of low grade fever and/or malaise, which is why Gordon had been correct when, previous to his antivax epiphany, he had replied “yes” to moms; 2. mistaken attribution, a common foible of human thinking.

    Since Gordon rejects both of those explanations, what’s left? I dunno about you, but I can think of only one possibility: infection! (For all of you in my generation, it’s time to play….Beat the Reaper!!)

  4. overshoot says:

    For all of you in my generation, it’s time to play….Beat the Reaper!!

    I have an almost complete set on CD now. Although they’re wonderful for convincing my (adult) kids and their friends that they’ll never out-weird their elders, I have to confess:

    They’re just not as good when you’re straight.

  5. maus says:

    Jenny McCarthy is one of the worst parents out there.

    When she first had her kid, she stated that he was an “indigo child” – (http://skepdic.com/indigo.html) and encouraged his misbehavior and let him do anything he wanted to do. I assume that her poor parenting skills led to a poor choice in doctors and an eventual misdiagnosis, then to yet another quack.

    I can’t stand it when broken parents break their children and blame “the system” for their failings.

  6. Matt says:

    Stating, “I am not anti-vaccine” means little. One can be either making an outright falsehood or be in denial.

    I believe it has been stated before, but the persistent claims of “I am not antivaccine” by various individuals brings to mind a quote by Eleanor of Aquitane:

    “Trees are not known by their leaves, nor even by their blossoms, but by their fruits”

    The fruit of Dr. Gordon’s efforts are those of an anti-vaccinationist.

    Similar claims can be made for the statements of Jenny McCarthy, David Kirby, JB Handley, Mark Blaxill…the list is unfortunately too long.

  7. storkdok says:

    I can’t believe he actually admits in public that he has parents who have to beg him to give their child a vaccination.

    Isn’t all this grounds for the CA Medical Board to investigate his practice? He isn’t practicing in accordance with the medical standards and is endangering public health. What more do they need for an investigation to be started? Do we need to send all this information to the Board? Would they do anything about it?

  8. wertys says:

    Good point storkdok.

    If he’s on record as admitting he refuses to follow the vaccine schedule he should be investigated not only by his state board but by the American Academy of Pediatrics, assuming he is a member.

  9. wertys says:

    On a lighter note, this should have been a photo of Jenny McCarthy…
    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/44260

  10. isles says:

    Unfortunately–and I admit I’m not a student of this topic–it seems to me that in order to get disciplined by a state medical board, a person pretty much has to molest a patient in broad daylight while scarfing down self-prescribed narcotics, and then double-bill Medicaid for it.

    If Gordon is this clueless about vaccination (the value of which is readily grasped by kindergarteners I know) how can he possibly be giving good medical advice on other topics?

  11. DLC says:

    So, Dr Gordon “Reluctantly” treats his patients.
    Nice. he reluctantly does something that will actually protect them.
    the California licensing board should “Reluctantly” remove his license.

  12. David Gorski says:

    Unfortunately–and I admit I’m not a student of this topic–it seems to me that in order to get disciplined by a state medical board, a person pretty much has to molest a patient in broad daylight while scarfing down self-prescribed narcotics, and then double-bill Medicaid for it.

    Yeah, pretty much.

    After all, look what it took for Dr. Rashid Buttar to finally be disciplined.

  13. Militant Agnostic says:

    He doesn’t seem to understand that placing his observations and gut feelings above the conclusions of large scale studies done by people who understand how to interpret statistics is the height of arrogance. His association with celebrities also feeds this arrogance. When it comes to understanding the data regarding vaccines he is “Unskilled and Unaware”.

    I think Dr Gordon’s “uncontrolled gut” would benefit from a fecal transplant :)

  14. marnica says:

    Hmmmm there is soooooo much wrong with the “facts” the you have presented here i don’t even know where to start. You assume that every person out there that has concerns or questions the sacred cow that is vaccines is a quack or doesn’t know what they are talking about so you rip them to shreds.
    Let me take a few of your points and address then if I may. You state that smallpox was eradicated by the smallpox vaccine. If that is the case explamin to me how while the population of England increased 16% during the years of compulsory vaccination smallpox deaths INCREASED 160%. The only complete series of official records of Europe revealed that the decrease of smallpox mortality paralleled the DECREASED use of the vaccine. In addition some of the most severe epidemics on the continent ocurred after the onset of compulsory vaccination. Back in the 1920′s the BMJ reported that 80% of admitted cases of smallpox to the hospitals were among persons who had been vaccinated as oppsed to 20% of those admitted who were unvaccinated. Dr. Tom Mack, a smallpox expert testified to the CDC in 2001 that “even without mass vaccination, smallpox would have dies out anyway.”
    This is in fact the case with Many of the VPD. Many if not most of them saw a steep decline well before a vaccine was ever introduced. I suppose improved sanitation, better food and clean water had nothing to do with that?
    You state that there is a “growing body of carefully collected published data which clearly indicates that vaccines are safe, that they are not associated with autism or other neurological disorders.”. I think it’s interesting that when these studies are featured in the media and held up as “proof” that vaccines are safe that it is not disclosed that many of the people that conduct these studies have direct financial ties to the vaccine/pharmacuetical industries. If one actually is interested in the subject and starts digging one will find NUMEROUS aticles in peer reviewed journals that suggest that vaccines are problematic and at the very least should be studied more before claiming that they are safe. Of course these studies are not highlighted in the media.
    Now lets talk about herd immunity. Herd immunity was the term coined by A.W. Hedrich in 1933 after he studied the dynamics of measles outbreaks in boston between 1900 and 1930. He observed that when 68% of children contracted measles, the outbreaks stopped. The concept of herd immunity was intended to be applied to a poplulation that had become immune to a disease through natural infection. Herd immunity has been conveniently applied to vaccination by assuming that vaccination confers the same type of protection as a natural infection. Outbreaks of many VPD continue to occur in populations that have a vaccination rate approaching 100%. This is well documented in the literature as well.
    You state ” Mercury-based thimerosal was completely removed from the routine vaccine schedule by early 2002. ” This is also not true. Trace amounts of mercury still remain in several of the routine vaccines on the schedule.
    You state “There is no evidence that the level of aluminum currently in vaccines poses any risk”. There may be no definitive evidence of this, but there are studies that suggest that alumimun in vaccines may be harmful. It at least warrent further study.
    You state “vaccines and the vaccine schedule are tested and monitored for safety.”
    Contrary to what you would have all of us believe, vaccines are not proven “safe” by the same standards applied to other drugs. Ther are no double blind placebo controlled studies on vaccines. The “placebo” used in vaccine trials is another vaccine!!. It is interesting that in vaccine trials it is common practice for investigators to simply discard any part of the data that suggests a problem. (check out the clinical trial for Comvax.)
    Also when traisl are done they are done on a few thousand healthy children. Any child with a problem (allergies, neurological issues, seizures etc) are not included, yet once approved these vaccines are given to all chldren regardless of any problems. (in untested populations). Also side effects from vaccine trials are followed on average 5-14 days . Many adverse reactiosn to vaccines occur after this period. If they are reported they are automatically said to be “unrelated” to the vaccine. Im not saying Im a dr. Gordon fan, but he is not as full of it as you would have everybody believe.

  15. Harriet Hall says:

    marnica,

    You have obviously been brain-washed by the anti-vaccine propagandists. The “facts” you offer about smallpox are taken out of context and you are disregarding the compelling body of evidence that shows the eradication of smallpox was not only due to vaccination but was one of the greatest triumphs of modern medicine. You say things that are demonstrably not true, like the idea that vaccines are not tested by the same standards as other drugs. You claim that many adverse reactions to vaccines occur after 14 days, but you offer no evidence to support that. You do raise some valid questions, like the possibility that children with health problems might react differently to vaccines, but in the absence of any such evidence, it would be foolish to deny children the known protection of vaccines.

    It is your facts that are wrong, not Dr. Novella’s. Those of us who have been following this controversy have heard all your arguments before and we have seen them debunked. You only look foolish when you repeat the same tired claims of the anti-vaccine zealots without offering any new evidence and without refuting the previous debunking of those old claims.

  16. David Gorski says:

    Yeah, marnica’s “commentary” (if you can call it that) reads as though it were cut and pasted from various antivaccine sites, which it probably was.

  17. marnica says:

    Harriet,

    I have not been brainwashed at all. I have educated myself and don’t blindly listen to the medical establishment. Mr. Gorski my comments have not been cut and pasted from anywhere. As I said you assume anyone that has concerns and questions vaccinations are total morons that have been brainwashed. Any evidence that has been put forth from any doctor or researcher that deviates from the norm is instantly set out to be proved wrong and that person is labled a quack. They are fired from their jobs or their research funding is suddenly cut off. Convenient.
    You state that I offer no evidence for my statements that vaccines are not tested for safety as stringently as other drugs are. They aren’t… there are no double blind placebo-controlled studies. If there are please post a link to one beacsue Id like to read it. Also as I said it is common practice for investigators to simply discard any part of the data that suggests a problem. Did you go read the clinical trial for Comvax like I suggested before you decided to attack me? I doubt it. As for offering evidence that serious side effects can occur after 14 days, you are correct. I cannot offer any evidence that serious side effects can occur after 14 days because any side effect that is reported after that time frame (which has been arbitrarily assigned) is discounted and automatically ruled to be unrelated. That is also convenient. I knew I’d get lambasted by posting my commets, and can’t say I’m suprised. Most doctors have so much invested in the dogma of universal vaccination that they rarely will consider a critical viewpoint from a colleage or God forbid a concerned parent. They find it much easier to patronize and lecture.
    I am not against vaccines. I am for informed consent which is NOT happening. I used to be a blind follower and worshiped mainstream docs and allopathic medicine like most Americans. I got tired of it failing me time and time again and have ultilized alternative medicine to restore my health. I am not alone. There are MILLIONS of people out there that have done the same and more and more are trying things that may have less “scientific” evidence behind it each day. It’s funny how we are the ones that are feeling better and are healthier and no longer “need” to rely on drugs and “treatments” to live our lives. Oh I know that is only anecdotal evidence so should be ignored. You know what else is funny. When I encounter people that are on tons of drugs to function because they have some chronic condition but don’t seem to find any relief or a parent that vaccinates their child on schedule but finds that they have unexplained illnesses, I don’t try and prove them wrong and go out of my way to make them feel like crap by insulting them. I don’t even think those things in my head. I think that every parent out there is doing the best they can for their children and are making choices based on what they have learned and feel to be right. Whatever side that falls on is ok with me as long as they feel they have been fully informed. You are both totally condesending and will not tolerate any views and impressions that deviate from your own. How sad. I am not a zealot Harriet and you labelling me as one based on the one and only post I have made here makes you look like the zealot and a close minded fool. Don’t worry I won’t be back as anything I have to say or anyone else that may have a differing opinion will be shot to Hell and fall on deaf ears anyway. HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!!!!!

  18. HCN says:

    marnika said: ” I have educated myself”

    I guess that explains the lack of paragraphs, interesting sentence structure and the general stream of conscientiousness devoid of real evidence.

  19. David Gorski says:

    Marnica,

    The nonsense you posted sounds so much like the nonsense I’ve seen on many antivaccinationist websites and contains so much of the hysterical big pharma conspiracy mongering with which I’ve become all too familiar that you’ll have to forgive me for assuming you did indeed just cut and paste it from Whale.to.

    Don’t forget, I’ve been at this for a few years now; I’ve seen just about every half-baked dubious antivaccination bit of misinformation and pseudoscience there is out there, and that’s the sort of stuff you posted, whether you realize it or not. It’s all been refuted many times before, and sometimes I get a little short when I see the same canards yet again and again; sometimes I just don’t have the patience to carefully march through and explain why each point of yours is wrong. For one thing, it wastes my time. Antivaccine advocates are a lot like creationists, expert at the Gish gallop, and there are always a seemingly endless number of canards to shoot down.

    However, I do not apologize for my tone. Antivaccinationist pseudoscience is one of the most dangerous forms of pseudoscience there is. it puts public health at risk for no benefit.

  20. weing says:

    Marnica suggests that a doctor’s livelihood depends on vaccination. What a joke! That is wrong on at least 2 counts. First, I lose money or at best break even by giving vaccinations. Second, our livelihood is improved by not-vaccinating and then treating the diseases.

  21. qetzal says:

    Marnica said:

    You state that I offer no evidence for my statements that vaccines are not tested for safety as stringently as other drugs are. They aren’t… there are no double blind placebo-controlled studies. If there are please post a link to one beacsue Id like to read it.

    Here are two, with full-text links.

    “Efficacy of Influenza Vaccination in HIV-Infected Persons” (randomized double-blind trial comparing influenza vaccine to saline placebo): http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/131/6/430

    “Adverse Reactions to Influenza Vaccine in Elderly People: Randomised Double Blind Placebo Controlled Trial” (comparing influenza vaccine to saline placebo): http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=8241913

  22. cloudskimmer says:

    Yesterday, I was with two other employees having a conversation about their special-needs children. One was talking about how her child had many shots within a short period of time, prior to developing problems. Then followed recommendations to the other parent about seeing a “very expensive” Doctor Mielke (Pleasanton, CA) and how her child has been tested and found to have high levels of metals–mercury, lead and one other I don’t remember–and how the child is doing chelation therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and dietary restrictions (wheat and milk.) The other person seemed very interested, is not happy with his doctor giving the child anti-seizure and other medications, plus the fact that, despite treatment, his child is still having numerous medical problems which fail to improve. It seemed in bad taste to confront the first employee about the dubious effectiveness of chelation, diet, and hyperbaric treatment, but when she had gone, I made an attempt to urge the other person to thoroughly research such unproven, and, I said, dangerous treatments, such as chelation. Both of these people have one special needs, and one normal child, and have probably had them vaccinated, but the fact that one is “special needs” evidently has persuaded one parent that vaccines are to blame. She said that the treatments have “saved” her child, but it also seems that the child is still has severe problems. She seems largely persuaded by the charisma of Dr. Mielke, the fact that so many people go to see her, and, unfortunately, that she is so expensive. I felt badly that the kid is probably being abused by repeated testing for heavy metals, being fed a restrictive diet, and forced to sit in a tent for about four hours each week (the doctor recommended far more time in the hyperbaric chamber.) I’m hoping that I can give some good referrals to the as-yet-unconvinced other parent before they throw away huge amounts of money for something that, in the end, probably won’t help their child. I realize that this ties in only tentatively to the thread of vaccines, but can anyone help with referrals on the validity–or not–of such unproven therapies? The only headway I was able to make with the convinced parent was when she was angry that her medical insurance refused to pay for ‘unproven’ therapies, and I pointed out that it is very difficult to demonstrate effectiveness, despite the fact that her treatments of choice had been available for so long (fifteen years!), because large, controlled, double-blind studies are hard to conduct. Googling such things as autism/chelation brings up a lot of woo websites, and I’m afraid that one could find support for any belief they have. Words of wisdom, anyone?

  23. qetzal says:

    @cloudskimmer,

    I don’t think I can offer much wisdom, but if this Dr. Mielke claimed to have found high levels of mercury & lead, that can be double-checked and proven or disproven. The parent could get another test done by a mainstream doctor. Or, more simply, the parent could just request the heavy metal test results and have another doctor review them to confirm they’re high and that the test was legitimate.

    Of course, if a second doctor says they’re not legitimate, and/or can’t confirm high heavy metals upon retest, will the parent believe them, or will they still believe Dr. Mielke? You can probably guess my prediction.

    In theory, if a doc made a bogus claim of high heavy metals, I’d think that would be grounds for discipline by the appropriate medical board. In practice, I’m skeptical that would happen, but I’m not an MD, so I can’t really say with confidence.

  24. The Blind Watchmaker says:

    “Of course, if a second doctor says they’re not legitimate, and/or can’t confirm high heavy metals upon retest, will the parent believe them, or will they still believe Dr. Mielke? You can probably guess my prediction.”

    I have done this before. I have tested a patient who was claimed to have heavy metal poisoning. In this case, the tests were negative. After pointing this out, the patient became fairly angry with me. After all, neither I or my lab was taking this seriously. I doubt that I will ever see this patient again. I have learned a lesson, though. Never appear to be a debunker. Take peoples fears seriously. Explain things to the best of your ability with empathy. If this is not enough, refer to a specialist in the particular field that you know is rational and will take an empathetic approach as well.

  25. weing says:

    I’ve had a similar experience recently with a patient who was diagnosed with hypothyroidism by a naturopath. All her tests were normal. She still wanted to believe the naturopath was right and is taking the natural herbal medicine for it. I asked her how she will determine that the “hypothyroidism” is responding? The best that I could get out of her is that she’ll feel better. BTW, the patient is a nurse.

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