Vaccinations and autism: are we number 1?

It has been alleged by Great Minds such as Jenny McCarthy that the US recommends far more vaccinations than other countries.  Her precise statement was, “How come many other countries give their kids one-third as many shots as we do?” She put this into the context of wondering if our current vaccine schedule should be less rigid.  The entire piece was filled with what could charitably called less-than-truthful assertions, but examining simply this one assertion might be useful.  Dr. John Snyder has an excellent analysis of the most important assertion, that of the possible benefits of an “alternative vaccination schedule”  which I would encourage you to read.

First, we need to parse out this “more shots than everyone else” statement.  Some countries–Haiti, for example–give far fewer vaccines due not to fewer recommendations but to adverse economic conditions. Because of this, they have very high rates of vaccine-preventable diseases.  They want to vaccinate more, but can’t.  Then there are countries who can afford to vaccinate. Let’s look at what three industrialized nations recommend before six years of age.

Vaccinations, by disease and country, 0-6 years of age

Vaccine France Germany USA Iceland
Hepatitis B Yes Yes Yes No
Rotavirus No No Yes No
Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertusis Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hib Yes Yes Yes Yes
Pneumococcus Yes Yes Yes No
Polio Yes Yes Yes Yes
Influenza Not reported Not reported Yes No
Meales, mumps, rubella Yes Yes Yes Yes
Varicella No Yes Yes No
Hepatitis A No No Yes No
BCG (disseminated TB) Yes No No No
Meningococcus No Yes For some Yes

The chart, as I’ve presented it, is somewhat imprecise.  Some vaccinations are given in a single shot, others in multiple shots, but these generally represent the childhood vaccinations in each country, and the links provided will take you to the more detailed information.

If I understand Dr. McCarthy correctly, she is using the alleged difference in national vaccine recommendations to show that it is safe to vary vaccination schedules by some method or another.  I would not disagree: vaccination schedules should not be immutable but should (and do) change based on available evidence. But changes should not be based on one or another person’s “feelings”.

The other implication is that other countries, by having one-third fewer vaccinations (sic), will have lower rates of autism.  She bases her assertions about international vaccination rates and autism on a report self-published by her anti-vaccination group Generation Rescue.  In this screed, they allege that the number of “mandatory vaccines” are much greater in the U.S. (there are no “mandatory” vaccines in the US, only those that are recommended or those required for various jobs or schools).  It’s not clear to me how they arrive at their numbers.  Perhaps they count the total number of vaccinations given for each disease (i.e., each DPT counts as three vaccinations, given five times for “15 vaccinations).  Using this method, by my count France “mandates” 35 vaccinations by year six (they report 17) and the U.S. has 36, as they reported.  But this isn’t the counting method they say they used.  In the footnotes they say that:

All vaccine schedules are as of 2006. Some countries use combination vaccines. All schedule counts have been
normalized to compare to the US schedule. For example, if a country uses an MMR-Varicella combination vaccine, it
counts as “2” vaccines.

The report then goes on to try to link these supposedly vastly different vaccine schedules to supposedly vastly different autism rates in the EU vs. the U.S. (If you understand their “methods” better than I do, feel free to explain in the comments.)

European autism statistics are scarce, but high end estimates place them at up to 63/10,000, or 0.9/150, compared to a US estimate of 1/150.  This is hardly a smoking gun, and the “study’s” so-called multipliers are simply error multipliers, given the large range in prevalence estimates.

Jenny McCarthy’s senseless ramblings on health are based on more formal senseless ramblings from a special interest group whose “special interest” appears to be the promotion of infectious diseases.

Posted in: Science and Medicine, Science and the Media, Vaccines

Leave a Comment (57) ↓

57 thoughts on “Vaccinations and autism: are we number 1?

  1. kirkmc says:

    Regarding France, influenza is not recommended for children.

    Just one bit of anecdotal evidence: I’ve been living in France for 25 years (I’m a lapsed American), and only once have I seen or even heard of an autistic child in my entourage. Granted, that one was highly affected, but I’ve never even heard of autistic kids, and my wife was long involved in school issues. They could all be hidden away somewhere, but I doubt it. So i think the stats you suggest above are very “high end”.

    Autism is occasionally mentioned on the news, when they show a segment lamenting the number of schools available for the handicapped in general (ie, not just autistic kids), but they have never given any statistics.

    Interestingly, looking on a few sites about autism, there don’t seem to be any numbers here. In fact, one of the says, “If you consider American studies […] the number of people affected by autism is around 1 in 166.”

    Pourtant si l’on se réfère aux études américaines, plus poussées, le nombre de personnes atteintes d’autisme serait dans la proportion de une sur 166.

    But the whole point is to see whether there is a difference from country to country, and, if so, why. Naturally, it’s in any special-interest group’s best interest to enlarge the number of affected people, but this seems disengenious; if they don’t have numbers, they shouldn’t cite any.

    The site that had that figure calculates that 40,000 people are therefore affected in France; on the French wikipedia it’s even worse. “In France, more than one hundred thousand people are affected by autism.”

    En France, l’autisme concernerait plus de cent mille personnes…

    So it’s clearly a case of just making up numbers. (There’s no note proving where that figure came from.)

  2. Steve Norley says:

    “…a special interest group whose “special interest” appears to be the promotion of infectious diseases.”

    This has almost certainly been suggested before, but couldn’t we take a leaf out of the anti-abortion lobby’s book (i.e. ‘pro-life’) and refer to the anti-vaxxers as ‘pro-disease’?

  3. grendel says:

    You lost me at “Just one bit of anecdotal evidence”. Just because you haven’t seen them does not mean they are not there!

  4. ituajr says:

    If Jenny McCarthy says “How come many other countries give their kids one-third as many shots as we do?”, how come you later referred to the claim as “having one-third fewer vaccinations (sic), will have lower rates of autism”. Despite your “sic”, there’s a big difference between “one-third as many” and “one-third fewer”.


  5. kirkmc says:

    Of course not. But you can’t live in the US without hearing about people who have autistic kids. Here, in 25 years (and with a child who has gone through the school system), I’ve only seen one, and rarely heard about them. So if you want to pretend, as some do, that US rates of incidence apply in other countries, that would mean that, in the schools where my son went, there would have been a few autistic kids each year.

  6. bluedevilRA says:

    I have to agree with grendel on this one. An individual’s experience is limited, thus your anecdote does not matter. Schools often isolate the special education children from the “normal” population. My school district had its own “special” school where kids with autism, Down’s syndrome, etc. were sent. Thus, it is not surprising that you may have never seen one in your child’s classes.

    The lack of news stories is a bit more interesting. Perhaps it is due to the fact that, in France, there is no celebrity spokesperson/”warrior” mother to raise awareness about autism. I don’t know.

    Countries like Denmark and England have reports similar rates of autism. Why would France be any different? The cheese and wine hypothesis?

  7. kirkmc says:

    France actually has very few schools for special education. There were a couple of handicapped kids in my sons schools, but not many. It’s an issue here, because for severly handicapped kids (those with physical handicaps), there are few real solutions.

  8. Scott says:

    there are no “mandatory” vaccines in the US, only those that are recommended or those required for various jobs or schools

    I’m actually going to have to agree with Jenny on this one. (I can’t believe I just typed that!) Vaccines required to enroll in public schools may fairly be termed “mandatory”, I’d say. Certainly one can argue that there are religious or philosophical exemptions, and that not all schools (not even all public schools) require exactly the same vaccinations, but I don’t feel those points are sufficient to render it unreasonable to use the description “mandatory.”

  9. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:


    Yes, but individuals are not required to be vaccinated to be citizens or avoid prosecution. Private or home-schooling is an option. Unvaccinated children are not hunted down and shot with vaccine-darts. It can be very inconvenient to parent a child who is not vaccinated (such as the time taken off work to take care of them when they develop a variety of diseases, or having to stay home permanently if there are significant complications) but there is no absolute mandate requiring government intervention. It is not mandatory to dress like a man if you are male. It is however, mandatory to avoid murder.


    The only way of fairly testing this hypothesis (in France there are fewer kids with autism) would be reviewing medical records. There are too many confounds for anecdote to be meaningful here – papers could report it less; children could be cared for at home; definitions could be slightly different; reporting could be vastly different; the culture could place more emphasis on being ashamed of having an autistic child; it could be seen as “not a big deal” and therefore not worth making a big stink over (much like Clinton’s affairs which much of the world watched in bemusement). There is also a very, very large proportion of Algerian and other immigrants from Islamic countries where male offspring are desired if not revered. I worked with autistic and neurotypical kids and first-generation immigrant parents tended to be quite resistant to diagnosis and treatment. That’s my anecdote, but I’m not going to base any decisions on it because I know about confirmation bias, erroneous reporting, cultural differences and interpretations, etc. This underscores why solid research converging on a conclusion is so important, rather than the agenda- and preconception-driven “research” done by advocates.

  10. Galadriel says:

    If you want to get anecdotal, kirkmc, I’ve lived in the US somewhat more than 30 years, in a number of different states. I’ve known one person I’m sure had Asperger’s, though we never talked about it. I haven’t met anyone else with any form of autism–or at least, who told me of it or had any apparent (to a layperson) symptoms.

    Not personally knowing anyone with autism is no evidence at all of its absence. “You can’t live in the US without hearing about people who have autistic kids”? Well, maybe, but hearing about them isn’t the same as encountering them personally.

  11. mikerattlesnake says:

    RE: US vs France

    There has been a HUGE push in recent years for “mainstreaming” special needs students in the US. It seems to be based on a combination of decreased budgets, flawed and incomplete educational theory (the level of evidence necessary for the education community to adopt an idea as gospel is pathetic), and wishful thinking. I think this is one of the primary factors in people noticing a rise in autism. Thankfully there has been some acknoledgement in the educational literature lately (though I only taught for two years and got out, so I’m not as up on it as some) that mainstreaming is disasterous for pretty much everyone involved. I worked in a middle school for two years and it was a pretty lousy experience.

    I grew up (not that long ago, we’re talking the 90’s) with special ed rooms. I also encountered very few or almost no autistic kids in my school career, though all studies have shown that the rate of autism should have been the same at the time. If France has a similar system at all, it’s very possible that your child is having a similar experience.

  12. kirkmc says:

    My point was not that it’s just about my child, but that my wife, who has been involved with school issues since our son started school, said the same thing when I asked her: she can’t remember any mention of autistic kids at all. Sure, they may be hidden away, and the lack of news about autism may be a cultural taboo. But It’s also possible that the numbers in the US should not be taken as applying around the world.

    FYI, certain vaccines are mandatory in France for kids to be allowed in school. (I’m not sure exactly which ones.)

  13. windriven says:

    Jenny McCarthy got her facts wrong? My world is crumbling! I think I’ll get into a nice warm bath and slit my wrists.

  14. windriven says:

    Absent meaningful numbers on the autism rate in France, what are we even talking about here? Even if the autism rate in France was zero would that suggest a causal link with vaccination? It would be as likely that eating cheese made from unpasteurized milk would account for it as would vaccination protocols.

  15. Scott says:

    @ William:

    I’m not saying that “mandatory” is necessarily the only proper term. I’m saying that it is not an unreasonable term. And whatever additional things could be done to make it MORE mandatory, “required to enroll in public school” is sufficient to make it not an unreasonable description.

  16. edgar says:

    I learned in public health school, that emerging nations sometimes have a very novel approach to vaccination. They will hold ‘vaccination week’ in which there will be a mass national vax campaign. They do this every so often. Obviously, the risk for re-vaxing is pretty high, yet I have heard nothing about the correlation between this an autism…Interesting.

    And on a interesting note, warring factions have agreed to cease fire during this week!

  17. AlexisT says:

    It’s my experience that when people make this comparison, they’re being extremely selective about “other countries”. In particular, they like to point to the Nordic countries, which have relatively light schedules (and relatively delayed ones–DTaP given at 3/5/12 months, for example).

    BTW, I have been told that in France BCG is no longer routine. (The French schedule on confirms this.) DTaP and polio are required by law.

  18. edgar says:

    The only way of fairly testing this hypothesis (in France there are fewer kids with autism) would be reviewing medical records.

    This would be meaningless as well. It behooves parents to have an autism diagnosis in the US.

  19. Chris says:

    kirkmc, anecdotes really mean nothing. Though I do have a countering anecdote from this week. I recently ran into someone I had not seen for a while. I learned her son was in a school that has a very well thought-of program for children with Down Syndrome. Even though her son is a fourth grader at the school and she participates she had no clue about it, nor had she really noticed the special ed. children at the school.

    The person to ask would be Dr. Fombonne, who is from France and taking a guess I checked on PubMed. There are six hits, and he did do a survey in the early 1990s.

  20. Chris says:

    Ugh, it looks like html fail. Aaargh. The paper is:
    Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 1992 Aug;27(4):203-10.
    Prevalence of infantile autism in four French regions.

    Anyway, I clicked on the side of the page to a paper that referred to Fombonne’s 1992 paper and got this:

    In summary, counting autistic children is complicated.

  21. wales says:

    Curious that the author of this post arbitrarily chose three “industrialized” nations for comparison, but omitted the UK. The Uk schedule resembles Iceland’s much more than that of the US (no Hep B, no rotavirus, no influenza, no varicella, no Hep A…. )

  22. qetzal says:

    Aside from the whole ‘correlation is not causation’ fallacy, that Generation Rescue report is a horrid jumble of incomparable figures.

    In their comparison of autism rates (Table 3), the US data is based on the number of 8-year-olds with autism-related diagnoses in 2000 and 2002. But the data for many of the other countries in their list are much older. E.g. the Swedish data is for kids aged 13 or less in 1988. The Japanese data is for kids aged 5 in 1994. The French data is for kids born between 1976-1985. (Of course, none of that is discussed in the report; I had to dig through their references.) Given the known increases in autism diagnoses over time, isn’t it convenient that the US data is so much more recent?

    Strangely, they managed to omit a 2006 study by Baird et al. that found a prevalence of 1 in 86 among English 9-10 year olds. Yet, according to their own table, UK requires on 20 vaccines vs. 36 in the US.
    They also “missed” a 2006 study by Fombonne et al. that found a prevalence of 1 in 154 for Canadian kids born between 1987-1998. Canada “mandates” on 28 vaccines.

    Wouldn’t you think England and Canada might be a little more relevant to the US than countries like Iceland, Sweden, Japan, Norway, Finland, France, Israel, & Denmark?

  23. lizditz says:

    The anthropologist R. R. Grinker published an excellent book, Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism Autism in France is discussed in several passages. Until 2004, autism was defined as a psychosis and treated with psychoanalysis. the underlying assumption is that autism is caused by parental psychopathology.

    Grinker mentions two organizations, using English translations of their names: Autism-France Association organizations (which I believe is Autisme-France ) and the French Autism and Infantile Psychoses Federation (which I believe is

    In very meaningful ways, autism is defined culturally.

  24. lizditz says:

    In this screed, they allege that the number of “mandatory vaccines” are much greater in the U.S. (there are no “mandatory” vaccines in the US, only those that are recommended or those required for various jobs or schools). It’s not clear to me how they arrive at their numbers. Perhaps they count the total number of vaccinations given for each disease (i.e., each DPT counts as three vaccinations, given five times for “15 vaccinations).

    Silly you, expecting some form of consistency in counting from the Society for Promotion of Vaccine-Preventable Infectious Diseases! The answer is simple: count them in whatever way is most scary.

  25. passionlessDrone says:

    Hello friends –

    It might be nice to know how many times each vaccination is given in a country. In other words, does everyone who gives Hep B give it three times? The timing of vaccines could also be important information.

    The bigger problem is that the autism prevelance numbers are pretty much like pretzel dough; whatever your favored conclusion, you can find a set of numbers that can be folded into the shape you’d like.

    – pD

  26. Wolfy says:

    Ahh, yes, another fascinating article written by Jenny McCarthy highlighting the positive epidemiological correlation between autism and childhood vaccination.

    How wonderful to be a Hollywood actress: beautiful, talented, rich, and have an intellect that far exceeds those who dedicate their lives to science and medicine.

    She should really stick to contributing to periodicals that highlight her true expertise. I seem to recall one catering to the male population circa 1993. . . :)

  27. qetzal says:


    It would be even nicer to have a decent scientific reason to think autism might be linked to vaccines before we go trolling for correlations.

  28. Zoe237 says:

    How does the U.S. compare to Canada and U.K. Do they have hepatitis B, varicella, hep A, rotavirus, prevnar, influenza “mandatory” for the under two set? And are most of them given at 2,4, and 6 months? When is mmr given? Just curious how it works in a universal health care system.

  29. Scott – I think it varies by state, but in my state here is the vaccination exemption policy for schools. “A child is exempt if a parent of the child presents a written statement to the administrator of the child’s school that the child should not be immunized because of religious convictions or other objection to immunization. ”

    To me, that does not seem mandatory. just IMO

  30. mikerattlesnake – “Thankfully there has been some acknoledgement in the educational literature lately (though I only taught for two years and got out, so I’m not as up on it as some) that mainstreaming is disasterous for pretty much everyone involved. I worked in a middle school for two years and it was a pretty lousy experience.”

    As a parent and daughter of an 20 year educator, I wanted to put in my two cents.

    The federal education policy – IDEA ( Individuals with Disabilities Education Act “further provides that States must have in place procedures assuring that, “to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.” Since 1975

    As far as I know this is not based on any flawed educational philosophy, it is based on the law that insures that people with disabilities have equal access to public resources. I believe this was brought about because many school districts found it a bit too convenient to set up “special classes” for children with disabilities that were no more than daycare.

    Of course, it is not always easy for teachers to teach a child with disabilities alongside those without. And school districts often set class sizes based more on cutting budgets than building academics, but you will notice that the law only provides for other accommodations based on what is satisfactory for the child’s educational outcome. Not for what is easier for the teacher or cheaper for the school district.

    Currently, my child is not mainstreamed, next year he will be partially mainstreamed, possibly the following year he will be completely mainstreamed with support. With good surgical outcomes, it is possible that he will have no special education needs at all by age nine or ten. But, if he were secluded into a “special class” for 3 or 4 years, just so that he can have speech, language/literacy support, it would make his transition to a typical classroom much more difficult or less likely.

    I’m sorry your two years teaching Middle School was unpleasant. I went to Middle School for three years (6-8) and I also found it unpleasant. :) Middle Schoolers are a pain in the rear, even to other Middle Schoolers.

  31. Just to point out that influenza may be recommended in the U.S. but I’ve never seen it required, mandate, mandatory… in fact, sometime it is not even available.

  32. Sullivan says:

    That pseudo paper put out by Generation Rescue is discussed here:

    They did a few amazingly bad things. These are obvious flaws in reasoning, and exactly the sort of misdeeds that Generation Rescue accuses others of doing.

    As such, I find it difficult to believe that these mistakes were made without the knowledge of the author.

    First, they compare childhood mortality in the US to other countries. They ignore the fact that the U.S. uses a different methodology than other countries–we could every live birth.

    Quoting Bernadine Healy (a favorite source for Generation Rescue)

    While the United States reports every case of infant mortality, it has been suggested that some other developed countries do not. A 2006 article in U.S. News & World Report claims that “First, it’s shaky ground to compare U.S. infant mortality with reports from other countries. The United States counts all births as live if they show any sign of life, regardless of prematurity or size. This includes what many other countries report as stillbirths. In Austria and Germany, fetal weight must be at least 500 grams (1 pound) to count as a live birth; in other parts of Europe, such as Switzerland, the fetus must be at least 30 centimeters (12 inches) long. In Belgium and France, births at less than 26 weeks of pregnancy are registered as lifeless.

    The real problems with the paper involve a shell game where they compare autism rates worldwide–from vastly different eras.

    For example, the paper cites Iceland. ( They compare the data from that study, which is for birth cohorts in 1984-1993. They compare this to the autism rate from the US for kids born in 1994.

    Similarly, they use data from Japan for 1988 birth cohorts, Finland with birth cohorts going back to 1979, France 1976-85…

    If their premise is that the real incidence of autism is going up with time, they can’t compare the “rates” from 1976 to 1994.

    It is just plain dishonest.

    The whole purpose of that paper was as a suprise attack when JB Handley appeared on the TV show “The Doctors”. Mr. Handley quoted all these statistics and acted like everyone should know them.

    From what I can tell, he didn’t release his psuedo paper until after the episode was taped.

    Mr. Handley and company pressured “The Doctors” to not allow any dissenting voices on the show.

  33. Sullivan says:

    Just to point out that influenza may be recommended in the U.S. but I’ve never seen it required, mandate, mandatory… in fact, sometime it is not even available.

    Also to note, Rotavirus is not required by any state in the U.S.

    The reason is basically the same as for influenza. The mandates are based on school admission. There is no point in requiring a previous season’s flu vaccination, since it probably has little or no effect this season. Most kids get rotavirus before they start school. So, again, no point in requiring the vaccination.

  34. TsuDhoNimh says:

    if a country uses an MMR-Varicella combination vaccine, it counts as “2” vaccines.

    So what is this disease called MMR?

    By my count, that would be 4 diseases in one inoculation.

  35. EricG – I wonder if the different educational systems encourage or discourage diagnosis of autism or other delays. Within the U.S a child has to have a documented delay or disability to receive any special services or accommodation.

    If children in another education system were either given services or accommodations without a formal documentation process OR if services and accommodations were not available regardless of a documented delay or disability you may end up with alot less children with documented Autism, PDD or LD.

    Just a thought.

  36. Steve says:

    The more we debate preposterous claims on an individual basis the more we support the idea that these claims have significant merit. It empowers Anti-Vacc nut cases. Nothing short of a polio epidemic will convince these people that vaccines are helpful. It is not that long ago that Iron Lungs were commonplace and children died regularly from these diseases. I propose that the anti-Vaccine proponents look a haitian mother in the face who has lost her child to a preventable infectious disease and tell them how horrible it is that that their child is alive with autism.

  37. trrll says:

    The only way of fairly testing this hypothesis (in France there are fewer kids with autism) would be reviewing medical records.

    You could also look at adults, since every autistic adult presumably was once an autistic child. A recent survey in Great Britain of adults found an ASD prevalence of about 1%. This is probably an underestimate, since the study design would not have picked up individuals too low functioning to answer a phone survey. The advantage of the study design was that it used a standardized diagnostic survey, and thus was not biased by changes in diagnosis patters. Notably, the prevalence did not change appreciably among older age groups, arguing against the idea that modern increases in vaccination have created an increase in autism.

  38. SimonH says:

    Not sure that it is necessary to bother to refute the rantings of a mad woman. There is NO evidence that MMR or thiomersol OR rotavirus vaccine cause autism. The incidence/prevalence for individual countries will vary depending on the quality of their diagnostic services (ie paediatricians, child psychiatrists). There are also individual “cultural” variations in certain diagnoses – ie ADHD diagnosed more in US than some other countries, but that doesn’t mean there is some extrinsic factor causing the ADHD, it means the criteria are interpreted differently.

    It is interesting that the debate seems to be switching from MMR to rotavirus vaccine now… what next?

    As a paediatrician I tell all the parents of my patients that: (1) we paediatricians all immunise our kids, and (2) The government hates giving out stuff for free so there must be evidence that it is cost effective

  39. Sir Eccles says:

    Has anyone done an in depth study comparing the different diagnostic frameworks used in different countries?

    The US essentially uses DSM-IV to characterize diseases etc and a lot of that is tied to insurance companies in the sense that doctors know what they will and will not pay out for which may conceivably skew their thinking.

    Does the UK, France, Germany, rest of the world use the same diagnostic criteria? What are the influences on doctors? Do parents in the rest of the world “doctor shop” until they find a doctor that agrees with them or do they stick with their family doctor?

  40. Sullivan says:

    The Generation Rescue “study” is part of Mr. Handley’s campaign–which, in his own words is:

    With less than a half-dozen full-time activists, annual budgets of six figures or less, and umpteen thousand courageous, undaunted, and selfless volunteer parents, our community, held together with duct tape and bailing wire, is in the early to middle stages of bringing the U.S. vaccine program to its knees.

    He is working, and proud of it, to “bring the U.S. vaccine program to its knees”.

    If Mr. Handley is successful, people will die. What more needs to be said?

  41. Th1Th2 says:


    “If Mr. Handley is successful, people will die. What more needs to be said?”

    When did vaccines become man’s physiologic need? This board is hilarious.

  42. EricG says:


    i was surprised to find a comment directed to me on a topic i had not yet commented on…

    resisting the urge to…holler….many jokes…

  43. Peter Lipson says:

    I hesitate to feed the troll, but WTF is “a phylogenic need”?

  44. David Gorski says:

    Dude, do you need glasses? He said “physiologic need.” :-)

    It’s still ridiculous, of course, and he’s still trolling.

  45. Chris says:

    S.he/it obviously believes that protection from infections is not a physiologic need! S/he/it is an obvious troll.

  46. wales says:

    Thanks to DG for clarification on “physiologic” vs. “phylogenic”, I thought I needed glasses. But come on guys, let the readers decide for themselves about “trolling” based upon the comments themselves. The repeated warning announcements are annoying and unnecessary.

  47. wales says:

    I mean if it is so bloody “obvious” why does it need repeating? And the s/he/it label is hackneyed as well.

  48. EricG – I just really thought you needed to know that :)

    Not. Sorry about that! I was actually directing my comment to kirkmc. I have no idea why my fingers typed EricG – probably some form of minor demonic possession.

  49. Deetee says:

    Peter Lipson,
    Since when did rotavirus vaccine become a “shot”?

    Part of the idiocy that is Jenny bubblehead et al is to say vaccines are dangerous because they deliver toxins “directly into the bloodstream”. Their corollary is that the rather more substantial exposure infants get to environmental substances by mouth (be they aluminium, formaldehyde, polysorbate, or whatever) can be disregarded, because they cannot make their way into the bloodstream/brain.

    Now they want to equate rotavirus vaccine with the other evil injectable vaccines, so they paradoxically call it a “shot”.

    It isn’t a “shot” by my definition of one, so don’t fall into their trap of labelling it as such.

  50. Deetee says:


    I think they mean that MMR-V counts as 2 vaccines, because 2 doses of the combination are given, one at 12 months, and one at 5 years.

    But most often they wish to count individual vaccines, and break things down to the ridiculous extremes. So MMR-V is 4 vaccines, two doses is 8 vaccines.
    But then what about flu? Is that one vaccine, or 3 vaccines (it’s a trivalent vaccine)? What about pneumococcal vaccine (even more serotypes)? :)

    How does one “count” vaccines?

  51. Deetee says:

    I just checked the Iceland vaccination schedule, since that’s the one GR highlights most, using the source that they use.
    GR claims there are 11 vaccines up to 5 years. Funny, I count 13.

    Is everything else they claim as innacurate? Probably.

  52. DeeTee said: “Is everything else they claim as innacurate? Probably.”

    Good catch! The way I see it is that using multiple exaggerated, inflammatory, and blatantly false claims suits their purpose well for some of the following reasons:

    1. The media loves it.
    2. It riles up their base supporters and gives them more garbage fodder to argue their point. They (like the media) care little about the truth.
    3. It helps to make sure that they continue to recruit only the folks who are the most brainwashable and susceptible to conspiracy theories, who in general do not care about the facts. These people are easy to retain with fear mongering.
    4. It gets the skeptics off of the main arguments, like the fact that their main premise that vaccines cause autism is FALSE (the red herring effect). In fact, I imagine that Jenny McC would be smiling if she saw this blog discussion because it is a lot of energy spent on just one of her many exaggerations.

    Clearly the facts support the skeptics’ stance, but the anti-vacc movement is undeniably winning the PR battle. We can only hope that one day reason will reign.

  53. BillyJoe says:


    “I mean if it is so bloody “obvious” why does it need repeating? And the s/he/it label is hackneyed as well.”

    Because the cause keeps repeating and the source IS s/h/it



    “Part of the idiocy that is Jenny bubblehead et al is to say vaccines are dangerous because they deliver toxins “directly into the bloodstream”.”

    And mindlessly repeated but that creature alluded to above

  54. Todd W. says:


    Is everything else they claim as innacurate?

    Generally, yes. They like to play fast and free with numbers. They say that there are something like 35 (recalling from memory, so I may be off) vaccines on the U.S. schedule, which is far from true. Even if we count individual diseases, there are only 14 (16, if you include influenza and HPV) on the schedule. But many of those are wrapped up in combination vaccines, like DTaP, MMR-V, etc. So there are really even fewer vaccines than 14.

    But, as illustrated, they like to count a single dose of a single part of a single vaccine as “one vaccine”. So, one dose of MMR-V, as mentioned, is counted as “4 vaccines”.

    If every recommended dose is received (including influenza and HPV), it amounts to about 34 for ages 0-6yrs and 16 for ages 7-18, for a total of about 50 doses from 13 vaccines (less if some newer combo vaccines are used) preventing 16 diseases, in the U.S.

  55. qetzal says:

    In the particular report discussed in Dr. Lipson’s post above, it’s pretty clear that Gen Rescue’s figure of 36 refers to recommended doses. You can compare their Table 1 here with the CDC Recommended Immunization Schedule for Persons Aged 0 Through 6 Years here.

    For example, they count MMR and varicella as “two vaccines” each because there are two recommended doses for each. The fact that MMR targets 3 pathogens and varicella targets only one aren’t relevant in this counting. Similarly, Hib counts as “4 vaccines” because there are 4 recommended doses.

    The ‘MMR-V = 4 vaccines’ is their laughable attempt to ‘normalize’ between countries that recommend separate MMR and V vaccines (e.g. the US), and countries that recommend a combined MMR-V vaccine. It’s not that MMR-V=4 based on M+M+R+V; it’s MMR-V=4 based on 2 doses of MMR (in the US) + 2 doses of V (in the US).

    Goofy, isn’t it? The sad thing is that they probably sincerely believe that’s an appropriate way to normalize in this situation.

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