Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Sometimes I read an article which I wish I had written. This is one such excellent analysis.
First They Came for the Anti-Vaxxers
April 23, 2015
Earlier this year I spent a few days at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with my daughter who was having an EEG done. On our way home, I learned that there had been an outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria while we were there, that it had infected seven people and killed two of them. My daughter and I were fine – the infection having been limited to people using a particular kind of duodenoscope.
When the story hit the news, I fully expected nationwide outcry similar to that inspired by the recent measles “epidemic” that began at Disneyland. That outbreak killed no-one, yet set the country on fire with calls for mandatory vaccination and even prison sentences for parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. Drug-resistant “superbugs” kill nearly15,000 people a year in the US and a recent report predicts that they could kill as many as 300 million people by 2050. Surely this far more deadly health threat would lead to similar widespread outrage and calls for those even remotely responsible to be held accountable.
I expected to see editorials calling for anyone who engaged in theoveruse of antibiotics to be shunned by society; doctors who prescribedthem unnecessarily (around 50% of all prescriptions by some estimates) to be censured and perhaps lose their licenses; parents who asked forantibiotics every time their child had an ear infection – despite the fact that the vast majority are not bacterial and are unaffected by antibiotics – to be thrown in jail for endangering the rest of us. But I saw nothing along these lines. Why not?
The manipulation of the conversation around vaccines in the mainstream media has been nothing short of a tour de force. If you read only mainstream publications, you might come away with the impression that outbreaks of measles are the most serious public health crisis since the Black Death. You might think that those who do not vaccinate are uneducated, superstitious, “anti-science” zealots who get their information from daytime talk shows. You might even start to feel outrage at these people who – for no good reason at all – have decided to endanger everyone else by refusing to do what every doctor knows is perfectly safe, effective and the socially responsible thing to do.
The presentation of this issue has been a study in just how easy it can be to generate mass hysteria around a particular threat – even while much more serious threats inspire no such response. It’s as if every mainstream reporter has been given the same playbook to use in putting together their articles about vaccines – a playbook designed to elicit the above response from the public. I’ve tried to imagine what this playbook must look like and I think I’ve come up with a pretty decent facsimile. Here it is, along with my own annotations:
1. Make it clear that parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are only getting their information from Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carey and other celebrities with absolutely no scientific credentials.
Pretend that doctors and scientists who are critical of vaccines – doctors like Dr. Suzanne Humphries, Dr. Robert Sears, Dr. Kenneth Stoller, Dr. Robert Rowen, Dr. Janet Levatin, Dr. Stephanie Cave, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, Dr. Meryl Nass, Dr. Jay Gordon, Dr. Jane Orient, and many of the members of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, CDC researcher Dr. William Thompson, and all of the doctors and scientists listed here and here – don’t exist. Because really, if you don’t write about them, they don’t.
2. Always equate the views of the CDC, medical journals and pharmaceutical company spokespeople with “science.” Some people will try to tell you that science is a method, not a conclusion, that scientific truths cannot be determined by consensus or by appeal to authority, but you can just ignore them.
As one (self-proclaimed) scientist put it:
“In my personal and scientifically backed opinion, the war against disease is a hundred fold more important than the mum-led war against vaccines. Do you want your child to die a slow, painful, agonizing death? If not, then shut the f*** up with your so called ”˜facts’ you got from Yahoo Answers and get your kid vaccinated.
“I am going to sound derogatory, but if you don’t have formal education in at least biology, you have no role to talk about the way vaccines should be done.” (Sic.)
In other words, if you don’t have the same training we do, you don’t get to be part of the discussion. Even when the topic of that discussion is whether or not we get to forcibly inject things into your bodies and the bodies of your children. Just shut up and trust the scientists. But not these scientists – they are all anti-science scientists. Only trust these ones.
3. Remind your readers that, however heart wrenching or tragic, anecdotal accounts are just that. They are not scientific, they don‘t say anything about relative risk, and should play no role in influencing your opinion about vaccines.
Until you want to tell them the heart wrenching story of how author Roald Dahl lost his daughter to measles, or about the death of a young girl from rotavirus that inspired Dr. Paul Offit to develop a vaccine for that disease.
Anecdotal accounts of people suffering from vaccine-preventable illnesses are fine. Anything else though is just irrational. Take for example the thousands of stories from parents whosechildren were perfectly healthy until they received one or more vaccines and then suddenly lost the ability to speak, to walk, to feed themselves, or who started having seizures, stopped breathing or died. Many of the parents in these cases report that their doctors insist the vaccines had nothing to do with their child’s injury, even when no other explanation is apparent. Indeed, the vaccine manufacturers and the CDC insist that most such cases are simply coincidences and have nothing to do with the vaccines. But given the well-documented degree of conflict of interest and fraudulent practices within the CDC and the medical research community as a whole, many parents are understandably skeptical of such claims.
4. Remind your readers that “correlation is not causation.”
Unless you want to show them this graph and tell them it proves that vaccines save lives:
Whatever you do though, make sure you don’t accidentally show them this graph instead:
To listen to the mainstream media, one would think that measles was a deadly affliction on a par with Ebola or the plague. Vaccine advocates distort the dangers of measles by pointing to adverse effects experienced by populations in underdeveloped countries, where even the mildest of diseases can be deadly due to things like poor nutrition and sanitation.
By the 1950s in the United States though, measles was considered a mild childhood disease that nearly everyone caught before adulthood and lived through with no serious consequences. Says Dr. Donald Miller:
“With good sanitation and nutrition, the pre-vaccine mortality rateof measles in the U.S. was less than 1 in a million (compared with 14 deaths per 100,000 in 1900); seizures occurred in 1 in 3,000 people; and encephalitis, 1 in 100,000, with full recovery in 75 percent of those cases.”
It is also worth noting that the CDC’s statement that “(f)or every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it” relies on reported cases of measles. A more accurate estimate puts the death rate at closer to 1 out of 10,000 cases.
Meanwhile, in the past ten years there have been only a handful of measles deaths in the US, but VAERS data report 109 deaths associated with the measles vaccine since January of 2004, and the US Court of Federal Claims has settled 111 claims related to harm from the MMR vaccine in that same time.
Not only is measles a relatively benign illness for healthy people living in developed countries, contracting and surviving the disease confers benefits to the immune system – as well as strengthening herd immunity – in ways that vaccines cannot.
Far from protecting the most vulnerable demographic groups, widespread vaccination hasincreased the risk of serious harm from measles in some of these populations: Infants and very young children, as well as adults. Normally, measles wouldn’t appear in these age groups – but now it does, thanks to the vaccine. As Lawrence Solomon reported in the Financial Post last year:
“In the pre-vaccine era, when the natural measles virus infected the entire population, measles ”” ”˜typically a benign childhood illness,’ as Clinical Pediatrics described it ”” was welcomed for providing lifetime immunity, thus avoiding dangerous adult infections. In today’s vaccine era, adults have accounted for one quarter to one half of measles cases; most of them involve pneumonia, one-quarter of them hospitalization.
“Also importantly, measles during pregnancies have risen dangerously because expectant mothers no longer have lifetime immunity. Today’s vaccinated expectant mothers are at risk because the measles vaccine wanes with time and because it often fails to protect against measles.
“…The danger extends to babies, whose bodies are too immature to receive measles vaccination before age one, making them entirely dependent on antibodies inherited from their mothers. In their first year out of the womb, infants suffer the highest rate of measles infections and the most lasting harm. Yet vaccinated mothers have little antibody to pass on ”” only about one-quarter as much as mothers protected by natural measles ”” leaving infants vulnerable three months after birth, according to a study last year in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. [Emphasis mine.]
“Factors such as these increased the death rate for adults and the very young, helping to reverse the decline in deaths seen in previous decades, according to a 2004 study in the Journal of Infectious Disease, authored by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.”
As discussed below, childhood illnesses like measles and mumps can help to develop the immune system in ways that help to protect against things like asthma, autoimmune disease and even cancer. So the proposition that eliminating measles – rather than simply reducing its deadliness – is a worthy public health goal is a questionable one.
5. Whenever possible, present the debate as if there are no legitimate reasons to choose not to vaccinate – only “personal beliefs” and “irrational fears.”
NOW, to read the rest of the article, go to the SOURCE at Lew Rockwell