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Where’s the outrage?

I thank everyone for my warm welcome to the SBM community. Although vaccine myth is of particular interest to me, I promise that my posts wont all be vaccine related. There is, unfortunately, much to discuss. In fact I had a difficult time deciding which vaccine-related issue to write about for my inaugural post. In the end I came up with more of an opinion piece, but it’s an issue worth airing. Things in anti-vaccine land may be reaching a dangerous turning point.



In the very recent past, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) was what could truly be called a scourge to humanity. As recently as 1987, this particularly nasty bacterium caused invasive disease in a startling 1 of every 200 children in the U.S. under 5 years of age. Approximately two-thirds of these children developed meningitis, with a mortality rate of about 5%. Up to 30% of the survivors suffered permanent brain damage. Those children lucky enough to avoid meningitis developed pneumonia, septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, cellulitis, epiglottitis, or generalized sepsis. Fortunately I have never seen or treated a child with invasive disease due to Hib. That’s because I began my pediatric  training in 1991 when vaccination against these horrendous diseases was just beginning. What was once a common and devastating menace to children, the dreaded nightmare of every pediatrician, was quickly brought to it’s knees. By 2006, the incidence of invasive Hib disease had been cut by 99%. Within a short period of time, the very nature of pediatric medicine seemed changed forever. That’s why I was so saddened to read the Hib surveillance data from Minnesota released by the CDC in January. In 2008 five children in that state (ranging from 5 months to 3 years of age) developed invasive disease due to Hib. That is the largest recorded number since 1992, just after the vaccine was licensed. Three of those children had meningitis, one had epiglottitis, and another had pneumonia. One child, a 7 month old with meningitis, died. Of those five children, 3 had received none of the recommended doses of Hib vaccine due to parental refusal. The other 2 were too young to have completed the series, and one of these had an immunodeficiency that likely made the vaccine ineffective. At first these five cases from Minnesota seemed like an isolated fluke. Then came the news, just released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, of seven more cases of invasive Haemophilus influenzae disease since October. All were children under 5, and all were unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated. Three of these seven children have been confirmed to have died. And now news of a 3 year old in Maine who is recovering from Hib meningitis. There hasn’t been a confirmed case of Hib meningitis in Maine since 1989.

The most obvious and infuriating factor contributing to these small but concerning outbreaks is the increasingly prevalent phenomenon of parents refusing vaccinations for their children, or altering the vaccine schedule out of misguided concerns;  either about the dangers of “too many too soon“, or the cumulative exposure to vaccine constituants. This delay in vaccination, à la Dr. Sears, has created an increasing population of children with gaps in their vaccination coverage, and who are therefore vulnerable to vaccine-preventable disease. I may write more on Dr. Sears in a future post. For now, suffice it to say that more parents can probably quote Dr. Sears’ irresponsible and scientifically unfounded vaccine schedule than can name 3 reliable sources of vaccine information. My fear is that these terrifying outbreaks of Hib disease may be the canaries in the coal mine, signifying more trouble to come.

In addition to the increase in parental vaccine refusal, a second factor may also have played a role in this upswing of Hib disease. And this second factor has a particular irony to it. Since December of 2007, there has been a nationwide shortage of Hib vaccine. Merck, one of only two vaccine manufacturers producing Hib vaccine in the U.S. (Sanofi is the other), was forced to close it’s Hib manufacturing facility due to bacterial contamination detected at the plant on a routine FDA inspection. No actual contamination of vaccine ever occurred. However, the company recalled 12 lots of vaccine and was forced to close and retool it’s facility. While the anti-vaccine crowd has predictably spun this as an example of the dangers of our vaccine supply, it is actually a perfect example of how stringent and effective the vaccine safety system really is. The Hib vaccine shortage that resulted from this plant closure led the CDC to issue interim vaccination recommendations. It recommended that doctors continue to administer the primary series of Hib vaccines (at 2, 4, and 6 months of age), but to delay the booster dose, typically given between 12 and 15 months of age, until further notice. While Sanofi (the sole remaining producer of Hib vaccine) has purportedly had enough vaccine to meet this goal, pediatricians (this one included) have often found their supplies running low, and themselves unable to complete the primary series at the appropriate intervals. This shortage, coupled with faltering parental confidence in the safety of vaccines, has created a dangerous situation. And sometimes a strange one. On one recent day I had a mother call frantically to make sure her child would get the Hib vaccine on time, while on the next day a parent called to ask about spacing out her child’s vaccine schedule to make it safer for his immune system. Which brings me to the title of this post.

Parental vaccine refusal endangers lives. Here we have a situation in which an unavoidable shortage of a vital vaccine, has combined with an irrational parental mistrust of expert scientific opinion to create a critical mass of vulnerable children. The result, so far, is four dead children. But in the absence of any shortage, vaccine myth and the poor parental decision making it breeds has already had a profound impact, with the potential for more to come. In the never-ending wake of Wakefield, measles outbreaks have occurred in pockets of under-immunized children in areas of New York, San Diego, and Milwaukee.  Particularly in communities where parents know how to do their own “research” about vaccines. Many more children have suffered unnecessarily in the U.K. and elsewhere as a result of the spreading wave of panic over fictionalized vaccine dangers. In fact, as bad as this wave of vaccine parananoia is in the U.S., it’s far worse in Europe and the U.K. where vaccine mythology is rampant, and the threat of vaccine preventable epidemics is very real. This widening circle of vaccine fear across the Atlantic is a major threat to children in this country.  Imported cases of vaccine-preventable disease can now find increasing populations of under-immunized children in which to take root.

To see children fall ill and die from completely preventable diseases because of irrational fear and a belief in myth should truly make us angry. Those of us who have the knowledge and experience to speak out publicly should do so. We should seek every opportunity at our disposal to speak with a clear and unintimidated voice to say that we’ve had enough. Enough of the armchair pseudoscience. Enough of the misinformed journalists. Enough of the celebrity grandstanding. That parents in this day and age would arrange a chicken pox or a measles party so that their children could actually get these diseases rather than have them safely vaccinated makes me want to scream. The hours I spend trying to correct the massive amounts of misinformation foisted on parents who believe a seemingly endless array of conjured myth is mind-numbing. We should be calling out the phoney mavericks, charlatans, and know-nothings for who they are. Robert Kennedy, Jr., David Kirby, and J.B. Handley believe they are fighting the noblist of fights. What they are doing, of course, is endangering lives. But more broadly, their rhetoric endangers the already fragile relationship society has with an evidence-based approach to understanding the world. It is our responsibility to make it known that the controversy is over. No, that there never was a controversy in the first place. That science and reason will not allow another child to die or suffer needlessly. Really, where is the outrage?

Posted in: Public Health, Science and Medicine, Vaccines

Leave a Comment (51) ↓

51 thoughts on “Where’s the outrage?

  1. David Gorski says:

    We should also be calling out politically connected ignoramuses like this:

    http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20090215/ARTICLE/902150349/2107/BUSINESS

  2. Citizen Deux says:

    The fear of harm from institutions, due to past history, has been capitalized in the vaccine scare. SO few people have really taken a hard look at this issue and brought it to light for what it is, group paranoia being fueled by a dangerously misguided group (including those who are profiting from this panic – see Wakefield).

    SBM has had some great posts about the origins of this mistrustful attitude and the ignorance exhibited by proponents and the duped parents of children put at risk. I had no idea about Hib, as both my children are post vaccine. I imagine there is a whole generation of parents who suffered prior to this medicine being available.

    It is amazing how quickly we forget the horrors of even our recent past.

  3. DevoutCatalyst says:

    “…Hundreds of thousands of fearful Ukrainians have refused vaccines for diseases such as diphtheria, mumps, polio, hepatitis B, tuberculosis, whooping cough and others this year, according to official estimates…”

    “…Around the world, health officials say they are struggling with the repercussions of vaccine fears they call unwarranted and dangerous…”

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iJnoCvLEOV9fG5CkDnfhJmwqGOmgD9750RGO0

  4. John Snyder says:

    Quoting from the link above:

    “Experts blame the Ukrainian scare on government mismanagement and irresponsible media coverage”

    “Activists including members of the homeopathic and alternative healing industries blamed his death on the vaccination.”

    “The Ukrainian Health Ministry and World Health Organization concluded that the boy died of septic shock from a bacterial infection unrelated to the vaccine.”

    Sound familiar? This is a global crisis of major proportions, and an example of how deadly serious the public ignorance of science truly is.

    In 1998 the WHO predicted the eradication of polio by 2002. Because of a myth in a small, impoverished province in India (which accounted for almost 70% of the world’s polio cases) that the polio vaccine campaign was really a government attempt to sterilize it’s children, the hope of erradicating polio was thwarted.

    The difference in the U.S. and in other socioeconomically advantaged countries is that our vaccine myths are propegated by a supposedly educated citizenry. The damage that may result from this ignorance has the potential to be massive.

  5. pmoran says:

    I have forwarded John’s piece to one of the newsgroups I frequent –a place that THESE mothers’ stories won’t otherwise reach.

  6. David Gorski says:

    Oh, great. You didn’t forward it to misc.health.alternative, did you? We’re in for an influx of antivax loonies, if you did. :-)

  7. pmoran says:

    Where else, David?

  8. tmac57 says:

    Good article John, and thanks Dr Gorski for the Herald article link. One thing about that Herald article was that if you only read 1/2 the way down, the way some do, you might have missed the part that exposed “Dr” Gary for what he really was. I wonder how many people missed it?

  9. storkdok says:

    Nicely said. I am outraged. I live in the midcoast of Maine. We have a lot of anti-vaxxers here. One well known one called me up in January to ask if I could help her find a child with chicken pox. She wants to expose her “vaccine-damaged autistic son” to it. Where she ever got the idea I would help her is beyond me, I am well known as a very pro-vaccine anti-DAN parent. She complained to me that the CDC of Maine told her they couldn’t condone her plan when she called them to ask for names of children exposed to various vaccine-preventable diseases. As she is one of the more virulent anti-vaxxers who called on her minions to threaten Dr. Paul Offit and his family, I have no doubt she would do the same to me or any other physician who doesn’t agree with her.

    These people live in an alternate reality. Any attempt at discussing the science and what it really shows is met with so much anger, I have at times feared I would be physically attacked.

    Thank you so much for your first post! It is excellent!

  10. gwen says:

    HiB was one of our ‘bread and butter’ diseases in the PICU where I began my career a long time ago. It left a devastation of brain damaged children in it’s wake. We were all so very happy when a vaccine was developed. I can’t imagine ever voluntarily going back to those awful days again!

  11. CulturalIconography says:

    Thank you very much for the great post. People should be outraged.

    It is, or should be, instructive, that many impoverished countries around the world take childhood disease seriously enough to have vaccine campaigns where massive outreach efforts take the vaccine and vaccinators out into the countryside. In the smallest villages, parents will line up and wait for hours to get vaccine protection for their children.

    Why? Well, I think (and this is my very unscientific guess) it’s at least partially because they’ve seen the horror of these diseases firsthand; either they or someone they know has lost a child to polio, measles or pertussis. These people don’t have the luxury of watching celebrities spew nonsense about vaccines–and they’ve seen death with their own eyes–all too much of it. The health worker comes to the village, and the parents know that in order to protect their children’s health, it’s time to get them vaccinated.

    I wonder what these parents would think if they knew that affluent Western parents, who have easy access to modern health care, are refusing the very same vaccines? Would they be incredulous? Horrified? Maybe they just wouldn’t believe it…”Refusing shots? Parties where you expose your child to other sick children? You’re making this up, aren’t you?”

  12. Well, I’m outraged. A culture of blame has helped to create this situation. Who are these anti-vaccine parents going to blame when they bring their children to a hospital with an Hib infection?

  13. Dr Benway says:

    I haz an angry.

    SBM not gud fer blud presher.

    Oh but i maded a pie chart . Please visit for I am lonely.

  14. TsuDhoNimh says:

    John -
    I was working in large hospitals before the vaccine. Knowing that of every 10 babies you admit with HiB, 1 will leave through the morgue and of the 9 that go out the door with their parents, 3 will be starting first grade in the classes for the handicapped (blind, deaf, retarded or any combination of those) really sucks.

  15. daedalus2u says:

    Storkdoc, If you are a mandated reporter, you have to report that to DSS. Trying to expose an unvaccinated child to a vaccine preventable disease is clear child abuse.

  16. Calli Arcale says:

    I had meningitis when I was four. I’m told that based on clinical presentation, it was probably viral, but since the hospital (overloaded by an influenza outbreak) managed to lose both samples taken of my cerebrospinal fluid, I can’t be sure. Since the hospital couldn’t be sure either, they put me in isolation, just in case it was HiB. I spent the first week in that plexiglass cell, barely aware of my surroundings. (How out of it was I? I actually didn’t realize I was in isolation until my mom mentioned it fifteen years later, and that’s despite the fact that I vividly recall becoming friends with the girl in the next bed. We were separated by glass, and I didn’t even realize it.)

    I came out of there with no long-term ill effects. (I do have ADD, but this is probably not related, since about 50% of my extended family also has it.) But it was a harrowing couple of weeks. I would not want any child to go through that.

    The HiB vaccine came out a year or two later. I remember my dad (a family practice doc) got a little rubber Haemophilus influenza toy (a cartoonish representation of a pathogen, looking more like an insect than a virus) as part of the promotional materials for the vaccine, and it became a major boogeyman when I’d play with my action figures. ;-)

    My kids definitely got their HiB vaccines on time.

    Regarding chickenpox parties, I have friends who got chickenpox in the same outbreak as me and were utterly miserable. I got off fairly light (perhaps because I had actually had chickenpox once before, as an infant, but not developed adequate immunity) but I had friends who had pox inside their eyelids, down their throats . . . . They were utterly miserable. Totally apart from the very real risk of death or lifelong impairment (I’m amazed none of my friends wound up with vision loss), I don’t understand why someone would subject their child to that when there is a much more comfortable alternative in vaccine form.

  17. Citizen Deux says:

    I recall the day my mom invited my best friend over to get us exposed to Varicella. It was in 1974. Bill F. came over and it was wierd as my mom insisted that ALL the kids play with him.

    Sure enough, we all contracted simultaneously. What’s funny is I am not sure that my dad had contracted the disease before. Later in life he has had recurring issues with shingles.

    For every anti-vax parent, they should read gwen’s post

    # gwenon 26 Mar 2009 at 10:24 pm
    HiB was one of our ‘bread and butter’ diseases in the PICU where I began my career a long time ago. It left a devastation of brain damaged children in it’s wake. We were all so very happy when a vaccine was developed. I can’t imagine ever voluntarily going back to those awful days again

  18. Mojo says:

    “Activists including members of the homeopathic and alternative healing industries blamed his death on the vaccination.”

    Here, of course, we have one of the most obvious problems with the idea of “integrative” or “complementary” medicine.

  19. Joe says:

    Thank you. I had no idea.

  20. storkdok says:

    @Deadalus

    It’s already been done. ;0)

  21. “if you only read 1/2 the way down, the way some do, you might have missed the part that exposed “Dr” Gary for what he really was”

    Precisely:

    He started his own shipping business and went bankrupt at 30. Five years later, he was a chiropractor with a single clinic, paying off a loan guaranteed by his father-in-law.

    By 40, he had figured out how to build a lucrative chain of clinics, tapping into a controversial state law that requires car insurers to pay up to $10,000 for auto accident treatments that health insurers such as Medicaid will not cover, including massage and chiropractic work.

    He quadrupled his client base by launching 1-800-ASK-GARY, a hot line that refers accident victims to one of his clinics and a lawyer. The cable advertising blitz for the call line was so aggressive that lawyers who participated were punished by the Florida Bar Association.

    With his earnings, Kompothecras began attending political fundraisers.

    He shot from political no-name to one of Gov. Crist’s best supporters, helping throw a glitzy fundraiser for him at the Sarasota Ritz-Carlton, and renting out his private jet for Crist’s campaign. He made himself the largest individual donor to the governor’s property tax cut plan, Amendment 1. He donated $114,000 to get it passed, putting him second only to Florida Power and Light and the Florida Association of Mortgage Brokers.

    In other words, “Dr” Gary got very rich by turning quackery into a big business, heavily subsidized by the state. And now he uses that quack money to push the state to legislate for more quackery. Floridians should be very angry.

  22. tmac57 says:

    Dr Atwood: “Floridians should be very angry.”
    I say earthlings should be very angry. I (Texan) am !

  23. gr8blessings says:

    Thank goodness for you Dr. Synder! I’m a PhD infectious disease specialist and the thought that anyone would refuse a vaccine totally dumbfounded me. Fearing that perhaps I was “brainwashed” by my education, I have been reading anti-vaccine forums to get an idea of why these parents think vaccines are a bad idea. The amount of misunderstanding, misconceptions, and logical fallacies is astounding. These parents think their “research” is leading them to reject vaccines and they have no idea that the basis for their conclusion is completely and utterly wrong.

    I also get frustrated by those that say they have done their “research” and then ask “what is a titer?” or “what is adjuvant?” or “why is the chicken pox vaccine called varicella vaccine?” and refer to an anti-vax site to support their conclusions.

    I cannot get over how they think they know more about vaccines then the experts on government committees all over the world that recommend vaccination as a good idea. Conspiracy theories are rampant.

    I’m very reassured to read in the comments here that chicken pox parties are indeed perceived as child abuse. This has been my belief and I’m glad you can report parents that expose children to infectious diseases. That parents would prefer the wild virus over a vaccine just further proves how misinformed these parents are.

    I’ll be looking forward to all your comments that support vaccines. Keep up the great work! I also do my bit to dispel the misinformation whenever I can.

  24. HCN says:

    gr8blessings, you might find this website amusing:
    http://jabsloonies.blogspot.com/

  25. Dacks says:

    Just wondering – is there any evidence about whether the chicken pox vaccine is as effective in precluding later infections of chicken pox as having had the disease? There have been yearly outbreaks in my children’s schools, and a number of the children who get the disease have been vaccinated. My children were infected at a young age (before the vaccine was recommended) and I have been under the (possibly mistaken) impression that having had the virus provides better protection against further infection.

    Note: I am not implying that deliberately getting the infection is in any way a good idea, but curious whether it might have any small benefit in retrospect. And, luckily for us, both children had quite mild cases of chicken pox.

  26. storkdok says:

    Dr. Snyder, I have a question for you. What is the ethical course of action as a mandated reporter if you have good evidence of a physician advising his patients’ parents in his pediatric practice that they should not immunize? Should we be reporting him to the medical boards? How about reporting to the specialty boards?

    And what is your opinion on DAN! doctors, should they be reported to the medical boards for their treatment of autistic children that include chelation and nicotine patches and HBOT? What is our obligation?

  27. Joybobington says:

    I just visited a DAN! lecture where I heard about the Nicotine Patches for autistic children. So I can confirm storkdok’s story.

    Where in the hell do they get these ideas?

    p.s. The lecture was semi-officially hosted by the Medical Board, the organizer, who is not DAN! reccomended I write to the Board.

  28. storkdok says:

    @Joybobington

    Prometheus blogged about the nicotine patches http://photoninthedarkness.com/?p=166

    The Maine CDC has been duped into a conference with a few DAN! doctors. A DAN! mom arranged it without really telling the head person anything about the biomedical movement. Our developmental pedi told me about it and asked me who they were, and I told her and gave references. She was appalled at the DAN! protocol. I gave her Offit’s book and Fitzpatrick’s book “Defeating Autism:A damaging delusion”. She strongly advised the ME CDC head to not have the three original speakers. They uninvited a couple of them, but are still having Dr. Poling and Dr. M. Herbert. Our doc is presenting the genetics. It is supposed to be for physicians in ME to learn about autism treatments. I emailed the head of ME CDC about my concerns, she has not replied. I suspect she knows this could blow up in her face. I will be attending.

  29. John Snyder says:

    Dacks:
    The varicella vaccine is first given at 12 months of age, after which 85% to 90% of children develop immunity. A second dose is given between 4 and 6 years of age, after which >99% of children achieve sufficient antibody levels to be immune to infection with wild varicella. Although long-term immunity hasn’t been studied in the absence of exposure to wild virus (which is presumed to have a boosting effect) immunity from the vaccine is believed to be long lasting. It has been studied for about 20 years linger in Japan than it has here, and protection seems to persist through adulthood. The fact that some children who have been immunized get chickenpox when exposed in school outbreaks is not surprising. What you need to remember is that an unimmunized child has close to a 100% chance of becoming infected when exposed, while a vaccinated child has less than a 10% chance. Also, post-vaccine chicken pox is a very mild infection with a small number of lesions that are minimally or not at all uncomfortable.

    Storkdok:
    I think that any licensed professional who engages in dangerous treatments that are unsupported by evidence is guilty of misconduct. That certainly would include chelation for autism, as well as recommending the withholding of vaccines. I would report such practitioners, although I doubt much would come of it.

  30. storkdok says:

    Dr. Snyder:

    Thanks. That is what I also believe.

  31. Joybobington says:

    Thanks for the link Storkdok; it certainly seems like we were duped as well.

    It was advertised as a “Educational Lecture” on Autism, again by a combination of DAN! doctors/mothers. Excellent bait and switch; I had previously dealt with the lecturer so I had an idea what the nature of the content would be.

    In addition to the nicotine patches, which I hadn’t heard about, they also reccomended:

    * Pioglitazone
    * Low Dose Naltrexone
    * Spironolactone
    * Ketotifen
    * Secretin
    * Oxytocin
    * IV B12 Methyl
    * Fytotherapy (?)
    * Homeopathy
    * Vitamin C
    * Accupuncture
    * Hyperbaric Chambers

    I don’t think anyone would have thought things would have gotten to this point.

  32. Dr Benway says:

    Joybobington,

    I see kids with complicated medical histories on complicated medication regimens. I barely keep up with my duties. Add to my day the need to debunk chelation, B12, or some other WTF idea I’ve never heard of, and I’m sunk.

    Until this past year, when a parent or SPED official advocated for something odd, I could simply reply, “that’s not accepted practice,” and go on with my work.

    But now that Harvard has integrative medicine, now that my local hospital offers Reiki, now that organized groups of board-certified MDs hawk these quacky ideas directly to the public, I’m robbed of this appeal to my own authority. I can’t be dismissive. I must rebut.

    The practice of medicine requires a community of MDs capable of offering a consensus opinion regarding what’s plausible and what’s not plausible. If we “integrate” anti-science into our community, there will be no time to care for patients.

  33. daedalus2u says:

    If it is medical malpractice to treat someone with an unapproved or discredited treatment such as chelation, secretin, or homeopathy, then it certainly has to be medical malpractice for anyone licensed to teach them as being effective.

    Why is Poling invited to speak? Is he a pediatrician?

    If an MD teaches something that is discredited or counter to the standard of care, shouldn’t they be reported to the various medical boards?

    If the ME CDC is charging people and granting CME credits for this, people who attend should get a refund.

    That might be a good strategy to counter woo as CME, get MDs to pay and attend, then complain and demand their money back. If the organizer refuses file a class action lawsuit.

  34. Joybobington says:

    daedalus2u,

    I’m guessing they could argue that it counts as off-label use.

  35. Dr Benway says:

    If an MD teaches something that is discredited or counter to the standard of care, shouldn’t they be reported to the various medical boards?

    That’s my point.

    Medical boards appeal to the literature and to what’s taught at leading academic centers for standard of care. Once Harvard and other top medical schools say, “integrative medicine is good for patients,” any quackery integrated meets standard of care.

    That’s why we all need to call bullshit on this “integrative” lie right now.

  36. The Blind Watchmaker says:

    I agree with Dr. Benway.

    We, as clinicians are forced to spend more and more valuable patient time disputing quack claims. Instead of counselling patients, we are arguing with them. I get the chills every time I walk into a room and parents/patients are sitting there with Google search downloads ready to dispute the legitimate treatments that I recommend.

  37. storkdok says:

    Here is the conference: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/autism_conference_5_12_09.shtml

    Poling is a neurologist, he speaks at a lot of DAN meetings, pushes the anti-vaccine agenda, even though his daughter was diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder, not autism. Kathleen Seidel has a lot written about it on her Neurodiversity blog.

    Martha Herbert, pedi neurologist, is in the DAN camp, she talks all the time at DAN meetings, believes environmental causes are a bigger problem than the genetics. As she is from Harvard, I don’t think anyone will challenge her as an “expert”.

    Tim Buie, pedi GI, is not a DAN believer. My son has been seeing him since 2002. I quiz him every time we see him. He will be a good speaker on the co-morbidities without getting into the DAN woo, I think.

    I just ran into Dr. Margaret Baumann a couple of months ago. She heads the Siblings Study my younger son is in. She still believes it is genetic, vaccines are not implicated in the evidence. I wish they would have invited her to speak.

    Our developmental pedi is quite disturbed by this conference. She was pressured in the beginning to give the stamp of approval as the head of the dept. She asked me about it, I gave her the evidence of what they would talk about, and she told them to disinvite the three main speakers, which included Poling. They disinvited two of them, and she thought Poling was not going to be speaking until I saw her recently, and told her the conference was finally on the website with Poling as a speaker. She was shocked and disappointed.

    I get the messages behind the scenes on my listserv. The DAN mothers are all atwitter about their “win” in getting the DAN supporters invited. They are using this to push their agenda, which includes the anti-vaccine view. I read about their latest “medical approach” all the time. They live in an alternate reality. They only speak to other DAN believers, they are completely brainwashed. They also got spooked a couple of weeks ago, thinking the govt was trying to get them, when some of them got called for a poll about whether they vaccinate their children or not. They were literally ready to go down into the bomb shelter, so to speak. Completely paranoid. I was born and raised and trained in CA. I had no idea there were as many quacks here as in CA. In fact, my state has the most home deliveries with lay midwives as compared to any other state. I have an Oprah GYN woomeister living down the road.

    So, getting back to the OP, the Hib case in my state of ME is not surprising. We have a HUGE anti-vaccine crowd here, and the quacks to support it. Combine that with the Hib vaccine shortage we had, and it was bound to happen.

  38. storkdok says:

    Did my comment with the link to the conference get hung up?

  39. daedalus2u says:

    Looking at the conference brochure, there may be some serious woo there,

    “Some areas that will be covered include some of the murky areas in causes and treatment of autism, particularly those treatments that parents embark on with or without the knowledge, guidance or approval of the child’s physician. Examples include DAN, special diets, and avoiding vaccines. By addressing these more controversial areas, we hope to address one of the overall goals of helping to break down the barriers between physicians and parents in order to ultimately provide more comprehensive and collaborative care for children with autism.” (emphasis added)

    The conference is being video taped, so there will be a record.

    There is no information posted on the program for during lunch, the “voices of autism” section.

  40. storkdok says:

    I have voiced my concerns to Dr. Dora Mills about the conference. I feel it is very serious and I stated that. I plan to contact the ME pediatric society as well this week. I don’t know what else I should do. Any suggestions?

  41. beatis says:

    Measles parties??
    What’s next I wonder – Rubella parties for pregnant women?

  42. tmac57 says:

    gr8blessings: “That parents would prefer the wild virus over a vaccine just further proves how misinformed these parents are.”

    My guess is that they are viewing this in an ‘all natural’ paradigm .

  43. DevoutCatalyst says:

    “My guess is that they are viewing this in an ‘all natural’ paradigm.”

    How do anti-vaxers deal with the success against smallpox and the herculean efforts to rid humanity of polio? When polio is eradicated, on the eve of its destruction, will there be candlelight vigils? Have these ‘all natural’ parents ever thought about why they can’t hold polio parties for their tots here in North America? I’m sure there is a BS retort for this, as well.

  44. Chris says:

    DevoutCatalyst: “How do anti-vaxers deal with the success against smallpox and the herculean efforts to rid humanity of polio? ”

    Usually they claim that the diseases are still with us only with different names. Something like monkeypox, or aseptic meningitis. Basically they lie.

    Which leads to the attitude and naming of this website:
    http://ratbags.com/rsoles/vaxliars1.htm

  45. daedalus2u says:

    Can the director ask all the keynote speakers about COIs, and ask them to be prepared to disclose and discuss any financial interests and financial ties they have with autism advocacy and treatment. Poling had a big COI that he didn’t disclose in the paper he published about his daughter, and everyone else involved was very pissed about it. Given his admitted lapses in this regard, asking him straight up if he got compensated by lawyers for anything is not unreasonable. If he takes offense, maybe it is because he has something to hide.

    Can you get someone to speak about medical ethics?

    Is it malpractice if a child gets a vaccine preventable disease because the MD didn’t vaccinate according to the guidelines?

    Is it malpractice if an MD’s patient that is not vaccinated according to the guidelines gets a vaccine preventable disease and infects someone else?

    Maybe get a medical malpractice insurance representative to speak about these issues? Local legal staff?

    Someone from DSS to speak about child abuse reporting for non-vaccination or for deliberate exposure to vaccine preventable diseases? Off label treatments like nicotine?

    There are CME credits being issued for this conference. Who determines if those are appropriate?

    A handout with FAQ of what is abusive?

  46. skepticat says:

    Great post, thanks very much.

  47. wales says:

    I read your piece with interest.

    “Here we have a situation in which an unavoidable shortage of a vital vaccine, has combined with an irrational parental mistrust of expert scientific opinion to create a critical mass of vulnerable children. The result, so far, is four dead children.”

    Apparently the assumption is that the 3 deaths in PA and the case of Hib in ME are a direct result of vaccine exemptions. However, there is some information missing here. From my reading, the cited Pennsylvania health dept report regarding the 3 Hib related deaths in the past 6 months does not specify why the deceased children were unvaccinated or undervaccinated. The report makes no mention of religious or medical exemptions or vaccine shortages. Perhaps the children were immunocompromised individuals who were unvaccinated for medical reasons. If you are privy to additional information, please do tell all.

    Is the assumption that in the health dept report “southeastern Pennsylvania” is a euphemism for “Amish” and therefore that religious exemptions were chosen? The report does not specify which Pennsylvania counties were affected and because southeastern Pennsylvania includes the county of Philadelphia (the most populous county) it is not a given that the children are from the Amish community (primarily in Lancaster county).

    Regarding the case of Hib in Maine as reported in the Bangor Daily News: The cited article states “….the child had not undergone the full four-injection series of Hib vaccines recommended by the federal CDC….” How many doses did the child receive? The article does not say. The article further states “Mills [the director of the Maine CDC] would not comment on whether the sick child’s parents had decided not to complete the Hib series or whether other factors contributed to the situation.” Thus it is unclear if the Maine case of Hib is related to any kind of vaccine exemption. However, it seems likely that the CDC would take the opportunity to publicize the fact that religious or philosophical exemption was the reason for partial vaccination rather than taking a “no comment” stance.

    There is not enough factual evidence here to support the conclusion that the 3 PA deaths and the ME case are related to religious or philosophical vaccine exemptions. More information is needed in order to distinguish fact from opinion and evidence from assumption.

  48. Chris says:

    More from Pennsylvania:
    http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/pennsylvania-state-department-health-announces-cases-measles-southwest-region/

    The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed three cases of measles in a Westmoreland County family.

    Two of the individuals are under the age of 5 and had not received the Measles, Mump, Rubella (MMR: 4.54, -0.18, -3.81%) vaccine. Their father, 33, received only a single dose of MMR as a child.

    Investigation of these cases is under way, and the source of the infection is unclear. However, the most probable source of exposure is likely Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where the family spent several hours in the waiting area of the emergency room on March 10 and March 11. There is no history of travel outside the area indicating the infection was locally acquired.

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