Monday, March 24, 2014

New York Times: vaccinating America against liberty

The media's attack on parental rights continues - this time in the far-left New York Times. Not surprisingly they are leaping upon a bandwagon demonizing non-vaccinating parents and adopting the extremist position that calls for an end to vaccine exemptions.

I came across this pathetic editorial as I was checking my news feed today and had to respond.

It is written by a one Kristen A. Feemster a pediatric infectious diseases physician and health services researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. In other words a public health do-gooder that has no respect for your rights as a parent. She begins
At the crux of this question is whether individual choice can be subverted for public good
First let’s cut through this “public good” facade and expose it for what it is: simply what one group of people want – often at the expense of another group.

We have inalienable rights to control what is injected into the bodies of our children and ourselves. There is no debate and there is no balance to be achieved between liberty and some amorphous concept of the common good. Our property right in our own body and our right to raise our own children are self- evident. To overcome such obvious realities requires more than some feeble appeal to common goodism.

She continues:
Personal and religious belief exemptions should be curtailed because some people, whether because of age or compromised immune systems, cannot receive vaccines. They depend on those around them to be protected.
As to the dependence gambit, no one can force their dependence on others. If someone willingly feels they can help by vaccinating and contributing to herd immunity that is fine, but they cannot be compelled to risk their own heath to satisfy the wants of others

Moving on she writes:
Vaccines work by protecting individuals, but their strength really lies in the ability to protect one’s neighbors.
The claim that the fundamental benefit of vaccination lies in its ability to create herd immunity is absurd. Herd immunity is an ancillary product of individual vaccination. Since almost everyone can be vaccinated today and since the establishment claims vaccines are effective, only a tiny number "benefit" from herd immunity while thousands must pay the price of a never-ending series of unwanted vaccines to generate it

Next are a series of bad analogies meant to justify an even more draconian set of compulsory vaccination than we already have. She states:
Vaccines aren’t the only situation in which we are asked to care about our neighbors.
First, there is no asking, there is compulsion backed by state force. Using ask in this context is yet another example of the dishonesty inherent in the vaccine extremist movement. And caring isn't the same as vaccinating. I can care about them without subjecting my child to a lifetime of unwanted medical treatments.

Next is the comes the bromide about having to obey traffic laws. (This is a popular one with vaccine fanatics) 

There are two arguments applicable to this analogy and both do not support your position. If roads were private, it would again be a decision of the road company and its customers as to what would be allowed on private property. If on the other hand you take the position that roads are a legitimate function of government, rules pertaining to the use of those roads would be justified since using such roads in an unsafe way could put other users at risk. The nature of the good – in this case the road – is a function of the rules that manage its use. Without rules it could be argued it would not even be a road since chaos would ensue and the road would turn into a parking lot. Whatever rules put in place cannot however violate fundamental rights since the very purpose of rules is to protect rights. To violate some to protect others would be contradictory.

Returning to the road only functioning with rules. This is not the case with vaccines for school - they function quite well without vaccine requirement - and children are not acting to create risks whereas a driver without rules could act to generate risks for others.

Screaming children are analogous to your road analogy because that negates the purpose of the institution. Vaccination to attend is not even in the same realm. Flu shots are not mandatory in most schools and those schools function quite well. Same with schools that existed for decades without mandatory vaccination laws. The state cannot punish children by denying the public education they have a right to as a way to force parents to vaccinate them against their will.

She then goes on to something about drug tests at work

This is a private matter between employer and employee and is not analogous to vaccinations for school. School is a public product and as such children have a right to it without having to medicate themselves to use a service that he or she has a fundamental right to.

And finally here examples conclude with this.
paying taxes - these may go against our beliefs and make us bristle, but we ascribe to them because without this shared responsibility, civil society doesn’t work
 First of all you use "ascribe" incorrectly. Perhaps you meant submit or relent or acquiesce.

You have not explained where this “responsibility” comes from so until you do we can dismiss the claim that it exists.

Civil society does not work when one group uses state force to confiscate the assets of others through taxes – you seem to be using one immoral act to justify another. Civil society is based on refraining from the use violence against the innocent to achieve your desires at their expense. Voluntary, not coerced actions, are the foundation of a free society.

Leaving the analogies behind,  she offers an unconvincing argument in an attempt to justify the nation's insidious mandatory vaccination policies.
To justify the subversion of individual choice to public good, there are some conditions that need to be met. The behavior or intervention needs to be safe and effective, and the risk of not participating in the behavior needs to outweigh any risk from the behavior.
Absurd. This is simply argument by assertion and a recitation of some shopworn utilitarian claptrap. You are justifying state force and coercion to achieve your goals at the expense of my goals. Just as a common thug would. There is no way you can objectively argue your desires carry more moral weight than the desire of those who do not want to vaccinate. You can’t even state what the concrete “benefits” would be. You are just limited to generalities and feel-good slogans

It goes on:
public health community's responsibility to support the health of patients and ensure the health of the communities in which they live.
The do-gooder feels they have this responsibility, but neither their own delusions of grandeur not the voters acquiescence grants them the moral right to use state force to exercise this self-serving goal because their actions very often violate the fundamental rights government exists to protect. As a component of the government, public health is constrained to protecting the rights of individuals not their health. People can protect their own health through voluntary means. Only when rights are being violated in, for example, a quarantine situation, can government claim a role.

This piece reveals what should be common knowledge: the common gooders that comprise the vaccine establishment are totalitarians at heart. Our liberty is nothing more than an obstacle to them and a such they will, to achieve their own self-serving goals, use any means necessary to subvert that liberty. It's time America wakes up to this fact and rejects the notion that freedom from a few cases of the measles is grounds to surrender the freedom upon which this nation was founded.

*Correction. This editorial is one of four discussing the issue of vaccine exemptions. Therefore I should have directed my response towards the author of the piece advocating for the abolition of exemptions rather than the paper itself. That having been said, the call to end exemptions is just one step beyond the Times' established position calling for tougher restrictions on exemptions

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Looney and the Beast: deconstructing the ramblings of a vaccine extremist

We’ve been getting some requests to respond to this piece of trash that recently appeared on the on-line rag, The Daily Beast.

It is written by a looney doctor who, like almost all vaccine militants is consumed with bitterness and anger. In a previous screed written for the same rag he snarls, “vaccinate your kids—or get out of my office!”

The piece we’ll examine today is chock full of ignorance, misinformation and abject stupidity.

He begins by calling us crazy for not spending our lives going to the doctor for vaccine, after vaccine, after vaccine (many of which are of questionable efficacy) to stop illnesses for which we are either at very low risk or that are generally mild – and, for that matter, almost non-existent. Yet he offers no explanation as to why ours is not the rational choice.

He continues by advancing a common tactic of the vaccine extremist: the attempt to demonize and objectify parents by labeling anyone who decides to not lap up as much vaccine as Merck can produce as, not a person, but an “antivaxxxer.”

Scapegoating fellow Americans in such a way is of course reprehensible, but because the cult of vaccination has such weak and decrepit arguments to support their position, they have no choice but to attack people rather than defend their own claims.

Interestingly this coward has no problem slandering parents while hiding his own name. The name he uses, Russell Saunders, is just a pseudonym for a pediatrician in New England. How pathetic.

As to some ridiculous charges included in the article itself.

He claims, “those who don’t vaccinate are bringing back the measles.” This is preposterous. Those who don’t vaccinate are not bringing back anything. The measles exists in the world. If it didn't there would be nothing to vaccinate against. There is no bringing back that which is here. Additionally “bringing back” implies an action on our part to actively go out and act in a way to cause the return of an illness. This is laughable. If someone acted to break into a lab where some remaining samples of smallpox were kept, then took those samples onto a train and released them,that would be bringing something back. Not vaccinating is of course nothing like that. Simply stated, not stopping something is not bringing it back

Since not vaccinating is a non-action there is no acting to bring back anything.

What could happen is, as a result of people seeing through the massive vaccination propaganda campaign and realizing how mild certain illness are, those people might begin to choose protection from vaccination rather than protect from those transient illness.

As a result, with fewer vaccinated people, more cases of those illnesses could occur. Conversely children would have to endure fewer vaccines and the risks they present. As such less vaccination would simply be a result of people expressing their personal preferences regarding the risks and benefits of the practice. And since people have no obligation to act in one particular way, one has no cause to feel guilty for making what they believe is the best choice for their families. Other people have no right to selfishly expect us to risk our children’s health to protect them.

Interestingly even this scenario is not happening – vaccination rates are still at all-time highs. And the measles is not making a comeback. In the pre-vaccine era there were four million cases each year. Today there are a few hundred. This is a blip on the radar not a “comeback.”

Additionally the number of measles cases fluctuates naturally as do any cyclical illnesses. With vaccination rates stable, we must look to other causes for these fluctuations. Perhaps increased measles activity in another part of the world has led to a few more cases here. Regardless a few more cases of the measles every so often cannot be attributed to America’s appetite for vaccination when our vaccination rates are stable.

At this point Dr. Pseudonym launches into a pathetic attempt to transform a minor illness into a existential threat to civilization. There is a “crisis” going on he exhorts. He fantasizes about “the good old days when measles was an active public health threat,” when in reality it was, according to the World Health Organization, considered nothing more than a minor annoyance. [link pending]

Here's some evidence regarding the general mildness of the measles and how it is perceived in the absence of a campaign of fear:

  • Although measles vaccine has been licensed since 1968, immunization against measles has not met with much success in France, partly because the disease is no longer feared
  • For most people who get measles, the illness is not serious
  • we invited some general practitioners to write short reports on the cases they have seen in their practices recently…These writers agree that measles is nowadays normally a mild infection.. *

But Dr. Pseudonym states, “Reports from New York note that several people have been hospitalized.”

Don’t hospitalizations mean the illness is serious?

No, not really. What we can discern from patients being hospitalized requires that we know why one is hospitalized. Is it a precautionary measure? Must tests be run? Does someone simply need an IV? From media reports, this is not possible.

One interesting point is that rates of hospitalization are higher than they were in the pre-vaccine era. Fifty years ago hospitalizations occurred in only about one in eighty-three cases. Today that rate is significantly higher. Perhaps this increase is simply a product of an overcautious society or the result the vaccine establishment’s relentless efforts to overstate the risks of self-limiting illnesses in order to scare people into vaccination. We'll examine one other theory to explain increased hospitalizations when we debunk the next of  Dr. Pseudonym’s many specious claims. This one pertains to some measles-related statistics

In order to paint a picture in which the measles is somewhat threatening affliction  Dr. Pseudonym parrots the misleading CDC claim that;
one to three cases per 1000 in the United States result in death
Why is this misleading? Because it is based on one anomalous outbreak occurring during 1989-1991 in the USA, and as anyone familiar with the scientific method realizes, you don’t take one example that is countered by every other available example and hold up the outlier as the standard. And even based upon the data from that outbreak: about 55,000 reported cases and 123 deaths, we only arrive at one death in 447 cases. Additionally since it is widely known that only about half these cases are reported due to their mild nature the figure 1-447 can be logically doubled to about 1 in 900. Neither the former nor the later figure is in line with the CDC’s 1-333 claim.

As to the outbreak being anomalous and distorting the actual severity of the measles, living conditions and nutritional status are well-known determinants of measles severity and during this epidemic, most cases occurred in low income populations having related risk factors not present in a larger, more representative population. Sadly this was the era of HIV and that infection played a role in many of the deaths. For example of the 12 deaths that occurred in New York City in 1989 6 were in persons infected with HIV while in 1990 and 1991, 60% of all measles-related deaths in New Jersey occurred in HIV-infected children.

Because co-factors such as HIV infection very often underlie measles mortality, these are classified as measles-RELATED deaths.

Other recent outbreaks in Europe, where mortality is much lower, belies the CDC’s one to three deaths per 1000. In fact based on European data and under reporting, it seems the CDC is exaggerating mortality by at least ten fold. In addition to that, in the pre-vaccine era an average of three to four million cases occurred with around four hundred deaths. This comes to about one death for every eight thousand seven hundred and fifty cases.

And remember, these deaths were and are concentrated in those with certain risk factors you may not have. So, in the general population, the risks are even lower than those implied by the generalized data.

In relation to mortality figures and to the hospitalization rate I discussed previously, I’d now like to examine the idea that vaccination itself has made certain illness slightly more serious. In the case of the measles’ mother’s who had a natural infection as children pass along antibodies that protect for a longer period of time than the antibodies of mothers who were vaccinated. Inferior protection means more vulnerable infants. In other words vaccination interfered with nature’s defense mechanism and infants got measles when they would not have gotten them in the past.

Also one dose was used in the eighties and protection from that schedule was found to wane. Additionally with fewer cases it became less likely someone would catch the measles as a child. As a result of these two factors some cases were pushed into adulthood where the illness can be more serious.

So should we be worried that vaccination has created a more serious measles threat? The answer is no. In both today’s world and in the pre-vaccine era the measles is and was still mild. It just might be a little less so today for some. The flip side of this is that there are far fewer overall cases.

Having advanced the odd notion that an illness used as a comedic device on TV programs of the 60s is a serious threat, he then tries to convince us also like us a few hundred cases of the measles are now overwhelming a nation of three hundred million. He frets:
not only is the nation’s largest city seeing cases in several boroughs, but other major metropolitan areas are warning of new cases as well.
then goes on to agonize:
But now, shoppers in Boston-area supermarkets get to worry that they may have been exposed when they stopped by for groceries. Commuters in the Bay Area now have to contend with the possibility that they or their children may contract the illness because they happened to get on the wrong train.
Calm down, Dr. Pseudonym. It's going to be OK. You're imagining a scenario that is unlikely to occur in the real world. Unlike you, most sane people are not afflicted with an all-consuming fear of germs, I think few people will express the utter terror you have to wrestle with each and every time you leave you house (or is it a plastic bubble?). You're just projecting your phobias onto the rest of us. Besides, doesn’t anybody’s vaccine work?

Moving on, the doctor continues by sharing this pearl of wisdom:
We vaccinate people for a reason.
What he fails to apprehend is people are not objects that YOU vaccinate. People are sentient beings who decide for themselves whether or not they feel the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.  

At this point he enters full mental break-down mode with an irrational rant that continues his spiteful yet incredibly feeble attack on parents who don’t vaccinate: it is a parade of absurdities one more ludicrous than the other. They suffer from the same flaw as does his initial claim that the unvaccinated are bringing back illnesses (by not vaccinating or by having an unknown infection we are in no way acting to encourage, assist or promote infectious agents. Sorry if reality clashes with your delusions, Doctor) We are simply the victims of infection like everyone else. And there is no obligation to risk our health to stop what we perceive to be minor illnesses (or illnesses for which we are not at risk) when the vaccines used to against those infections are judged by parents to be of questionable efficacy and riskier and more painful than the potential infections for which they promise protection. This is an evaluation each parent must make and is not subject to the approval of others. They are our children and it is our choice.

Yet despite all evidence to the contrary Dr. Pseudonym, in order to vilify non-vaccinating parents, clings to a line of unreasoning that fixates upon his spurious idea that unvaccinated kids are or could at some point in time act as infectors, transmitters and spreaders of illness. It is not a new argument (the establishment has been trying to engineer this impression for years) just a bad one.

Remember before the rise of vaccine extremism, kids caught a cold or the measles or the chickenpox. But now in the spirit of scapegoating so popular in militant circles, these same kids now have to be “infected” by other kids. Did anyone ever say, Johnny was infected by Billy in years past? Of course not, because the implication that Johnny acted to hurt Billy is absurd. They said Johnny caught this, that or the other thing at school. And Billy didn’t actively pursue these extant germs in a conscious manner to “catch” them anymore than Johnny acted in a way to infect Billy. Parents knew germs were a part of life and they spread through out the community and it was a part of life. Today this is still true and our children have no obligation to allow an oft-erring medical and scientific community to trick their developing immune system in order to alter the course of natural events that have been going on for thousands of years. The only obligations that exist are when a child is knowingly- infected. And that obligation is to stay home, not undergo unwanted medical procedures such as vaccination

A real case of one person infecting another occurred recently when a medical technician was consciously acting in a way that led to the reusing of contaminated syringes on patients. This is an example of one person acting to infect another. Here the medical technician took physical action with full consciousness of what he was doing in a way that brought harm to another.

To use the same term for a child who is the victim of an unknown, unwanted infection and who is simply going about his or her day-to-day life is at best an abuse of the language and at worst a craven attempt to distort reality in order to turn public opinion against innocent parents

Dr. Pseudonym proceeds full speed ahead on his cray train leveling some additional charges all related to the concepts I covered earlier It is therefore unnecessary to debunk each one all over again. Instead I’ll post some of his sillier claims accompanied by a rebuttal. He charges:

Their [it’s those antivaxxers again] movement is responsible for sickening people.
Movements don’t sicken people. Germs do.
They [vaccine deniers I suspect] are to blame for the word “outbreak” appearing in headlines from coast to coast.
Blame implies moral culpability which requires actions or failing to take actions we have an obligation to perform. But we have no obligation to perform the act of vaccination on our children for the alleged benefit of others. Dr. Pseudonym does not even attempt to provide a sketch as to why such an obligation might exist. As such we can easily dismiss this ill-conceived charge.
The anti-vaccine crowd [so now we have antivaxxer, vaccine denier and anti-vax crowd. I think one way to predict how weak one’s arguments for vaccination will be is to look at the number of times these type phrases are used] may think they’re only making a decision for their own family. In fact, they’re threatening to make the rest of us sick.
More nonsense. People don’t make other people sick. Germs do.
Refusing to vaccinate your children means you are contributing to a worsening public health crisis.
Non actions do not contribute to anything. Non-vaccination simply fails to contribute to a program we have no obligation to support. And the only crisis going on is in your twisted imagination.
I never want to know that a child was sickened or killed because I let the recklessness of a vaccine-refusing parent jeopardize their health.
This claim can be broken into two equally juvenile arguments. The first, that not vaccinating is reckless is simply one more unsupported assertion: he provides no argument to buttress his charge so there isn’t even anything to refute. The second component of his claim, that children who are unvaccinated are endangering or can endanger others is absurd. Simply being unvaccinated puts no one in danger. I like many of you was not vaccinated for the flu this year and despite my existence in the community, I have put no one in danger. Could the unvaccinated put someone in danger if they catch the flu? Not if they are infected without their knowledge. Putting someone in danger in a way that generates moral culpability requires knowledge and intent: think of becoming intoxicated then driving. This is endangering fellow motorists, but only because you acted (by drinking) and did so knowing the ramifications of your actions.

In parting I'd like to leave you with this piece of advice Dr. Pseudonym. Go ahead and hide out in your little hole of an office in New England and make sure everyone you come in contact has received each and every vaccine Big Pharma can produce and that the CDC can foist upon America. And zip up that plastic bubble of yours real tight because you’re not going to use my children to alleviate your paranoia or provide you the protection you and your fellow extremists are responsible to provide to yourselves.

*"Measles Epidemic": British Medical Journal, Feb 7 1959, Page 354