Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Geeks and Nerds

As we count down to the release of Paul Offit's latest book, I thought it would be a good time to briefly examine one of his pet theories regarding autism. 

Offit, who will embrace any hypothesis that deflects attention away from a possible link between vaccines and the disorder, has come up with the "autistics are really geeks" theory. 

ABC news reports him as saying:
People that we once called quirky or geeky or nerdy are now called autistic
and the evidence he presents to support this assertion? 
because when you give that label of say, autistic spectrum disorder, you allow that child then to qualify for services which otherwise they wouldn't be qualified to get."
That's it? The government services did it. I'm not even sure what government services would be of value to geeks and nerds.

In addition to an absence of evidence supporting his hypothesis, Offit's revelation seems to conflict with his belief that autism is a condition with a strong genetic component. On page 218 of Autism's False Prophets he states: 
The first clue to the cause of autism is that it's genetic. 
Since those traits thought of as "geeky" would be present in both child and parent, his genetic theory would seem to conflict with his geek theory since so many non-geeky parents have autistic children.

After all when I attend autism conferences, there’s nary a geek in the house. While parents of autistic children such as Dan Marino, Jenny McCarthy, John Travolta, Holly Robinson-Peete and Sylvester Stallone hardly seem like nerds

Additionally Geeks and nerds had geek and nerd friends and interacted with one another. Yet difficulty with social interaction is a key diagnostic feature of any autism spectrum disorder

Finally, anyone with even a cursory understanding of autism realizes there’s noting in the DSM that would cause one to conflate the two conditions

Diagnostic Criteria for Autistic Disorder

A. A total of six (or more) items from (1), (2), and (3), with at least two from (1), and one each from (2) and (3)
(1) qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
(a) marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
(b) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
(c) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest)
(d) lack of social or emotional reciprocity
(2) qualitative impairments in communication as manifested by at least one of the following:
(a) delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gesture or mime)
(b) in individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
(c) stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language
(d) lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level
(3) restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least two of the following:
(a) encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
(b) apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
(c) stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
(d) persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
B. Delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, with onset prior to age 3 years: (1) social interaction, (2) language as used in social communication, or (3) symbolic or imaginative play
C. The disturbance is not better accounted for by Rett's Disorder or Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.

Since there seems to be nothing remotely similar between an autism diagnosis and what we would think of as a geek or nerd, perhaps Offit, by "autism" means PDD NOS - which is a diagnosis falling under the autistic spectrum. Let's look at the diagnostic guidelines for PDD NOS then

This category should be used when there is a severe and pervasive impairment in the development of reciprocal social interaction or verbal and nonverbal communication skills or when stereotyped behavior, interests, and activities are present but the criteria are not met for a specific pervasive developmental disorder,

Admittedly, the above criteria is somewhat cryptic, but it's far from certain - or even plausible - that  "severe and pervasive impairment" is today's version of nerdiness.

Of course if autism was always present at current levels, todays expanded vaccine schedule could not have caused an increase that, in actuality, never occurred

So there we have it. The man who believes that vitamins are more dangerous than vaccines, that children can get 100,000 vaccinations on one day and that vaccines aren't very profitable; is trying to sell the idea that autism is really nothing new based on a self-contradictory theory apparently woven out of whole cloth. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Give It Away Give It Away Give It Away Now!

In 1991, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers recorded this song about what would have to be done with all the unwanted flu vaccine circulating throughout present-day America. The only question is how did they, almost 20 years ago, know what the Wall Street Journal is reporting just today.

According to the Journal:
Drugstores, supermarkets and some doctors' offices are slashing prices or offering other kinds of deals on flu vaccine this year amid weaker-than-expected demand.
Rite Aid Corp., for example, is offering coupon booklets for household and beauty items to customers who get the shots.
CVS Caremark Corp., which has already promoted its shots with in-store discounts, plans a wave of advertisements after the holiday season.
Walgreen Co., the nation's largest pharmacy by store count, had set a target of delivering 15 million flu shots this fall and winter. But through November, it had administered only 5.6 million shots.
And finally, Thomas Haugh, the practice administrator at Accent Urgent Care is quoted as saying:
We can't give them away

Thursday, December 16, 2010

When Happy Meets Crazy


Apparently prompted, or perhaps exploited, by the do-gooders at The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a one Ms. Monet Parham, not surprisingly, a government employee, is suing McDonald’s because as a consequence of their Happy Meal ads, she has been subjected to the unbearable fate of receiving from her children “constant requests for McDonald's Happy Meals.” 

Exacerbating the problem is the apparent fact that either her TV has no off switch or her children overpower her when she attempts to use it. Or perhaps while she’s sleeping the Hamburglar sneaks into her home, puts the TV on to the McDonald’s commercial network and forces her children to watch.

Unbeknownst to Ms. Parham, some child psychologists and early childhood development experts recommend saying the word "no" when a child makes an inappropriate request (Perhaps the state should fund parenting lessons to make her and those like her aware of these and other parenting secrets.)

Further details were sketchy. For example news reports did not specify which of Ms. Parham’s two children, the two or the six year old drives when it’s time to procure the latest toy. Additionally, the media failed to go into details regarding the professions from which the youngsters obtain the funds with which they purchase their delicious treats.

One final oddity surrounding this story is that listening to this woman and her handlers, you’d think the child had to eat the meal to get the toy. I doubt the store manger sits at the Parham table exhorting her children to clean their plates before he dispenses the toy of the week. Ms. Parham, if you too weak to resist your children - and if the toy and not the food is the object of your children's desire - buy the meal, keep the toy and give the food to the needy

McDonald’s is not the villain in this case. The villains are those who, unable to care for themselves, look to the government care for them by controlling the actions of others

It would be a travesty if the court disregarded the concept of individual and parental responsibility and decided in favor of these misguided plaintiffs

Disclosure: I am a McDonald's shareholder and sometimes customer. I go for the food not the toys.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Run Grandma Run!

As we barrel headlong into the teeth of another killer flu season, public health officials have assumed their usual role of fear-mongering vaccine salesmen and women.

And, as usual, their exhortations to line up for their life-saving potions are falling on largely disinterested ears.

My home-town paper, The Daily News, reports
More than half of adults most at risk of complications or death from the flu don't plan to get vaccinated
In response to this terrifying news, city health officials are, the paper states,  “aggressively” pushing the vaccine 

Perhaps New York is an anomaly; surely those living in other parts of the country are not so callous with their health. 

Let’s look to the heartland and the common-sense values of Middle America for a more accurate picture of demand. According to St. Louis Public Radio, free vaccination clinics are, due to low interest, being cancelled left and right while the Visiting Nurse Association said that it's given far fewer vaccinations than expected. 

Oh no! More disinterest. It must be due to the average man (and woman) on the street not being sophisticated enough to realize the danger they’re placing themselves in by forgoing these medical miracles. Health-care workers though, being around death and disease on a daily basis, they surely must have a more realistic picture of ravages brought about by the flu. The vaccination rates among these men and women must be astronomical

No so much. WebMD found that only 40% of people in health-care-associated jobs get flu shots.

It’s an American thing. Yeah, that’s it. The reckless cowboy mentality. Surely across the pond (where shots are jabs) the situation is radically different; yet the UK’s Daily Telegraph finds much the same thing, its headlines declaring:
People shunning influenza vaccine
And what would this tepid “demand” be like without the constant hype and harassment emanating from the government and its public health apparatus? After all the CDC – itself part of the vaccine industry – spends millions of tax dollars marketing these vaccines through “Influenza Vaccine Week,”  the website, and videos and quizzes exposing so-called vaccine “misconceptions”

One misconception preventing us from rending each other limb from limb in order to secure their live-preserving elixirs is that the flu shot causes the flu. Nothing could be further from the truth claim the experts.

On The Huffington Post, Dr. Glenn Braunstein while urging readers to “Roll Up Your Sleeves for Flu Season” sets the record straight.

It cannot be said enough: The flu shot does not cause the flu. The viruses used in the making of the vaccine are killed in the process. Randomized, blinded studies confirmed that the only symptom those who received the flu shot rather than salt water were more likely to develop was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site.
Soreness the only symptom? Not according to vaccine package inserts. For example Fluvirin, produced by Novartis states:

The most frequently reported adverse reactions are … influenza-like symptoms. 
While 14-18% of those vaccinated with Sanofi’s Fluzone were similarly rewarded with flu-like symptoms such as head and muscle aches and malaise.

Perhaps what our friends in public health are missing is the fact that having a product that gives you the symptoms of the illness it attempts to prevent is not all that desirable. 

The flu shot: bypass the flu and just get the symptoms. Brilliant!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Fluoridation Machine

Last week, the release of the book The Case Against Fluoride instigated a vigorous debate on several science-related blogs, namely Respectful Insolence and A Few Things Illconsidered. In light of the books release and the ongoing controversy surrounding fluoride I decided to share a piece I did for Pathways magazine a few years ago.
My comments are posted under the pseudonym Sid Offit, Paul’s anti vaccine alter ego.

At the end of last year, with the hope of improving dental health, Southern California began to add fluoride to its water suppliesa procedure first adopted 68 years ago in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Surprisingly, even though fluoride is now added to most public drinking water and found in the vast majority of toothpaste, few of us actually know what it is.
For promoters of the practice, that’s probably a good thing. Fluoride, as it turns out, is one of the most toxic substances known to man. According to former EPA scientist Dr. Robert Carton, “Fluoride is somewhat less toxic than arsenic and more toxic than lead.” Which is interesting since fluoridated water contains on average 1 mg/liter of fluoride—even though the EPA considers any water containing more than .015 mg/liter of either lead or arsenic to be in excess of its maximum contaminant level.
In its elemental form, fluoride is found in minerals in the earth’s crust, such as apatite, and cryolite. Apatite, used in the manufacture of phosphate fertilizers, is the primary source of the fluoride used in water fluoridation programs. The United States Department of Health and Human Services states: “In the manufacture of phosphate fertilizer …fluorides…are released as toxic pollutants.” That is unless these toxic pollutants are recovered and dumped into our children’ drinking water.
Additionally, fluoride is widely used as an insecticide. It kills bugs while at the same time giving them great teeth. Fluoride is in fact so toxic, your tube of toothpaste contains the warning, “If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.”
Fluoride and fluoridation are responsible for a condition called dental fluorosis, which, in very mild cases, causes white and yellow blotches on our children’s developing teeth. The condition is permanent and can only be masked by expensive cosmetic surgery. Fluorosis is on the rise afflicting 20 to 75% of children living in fluoridated areas.
Dentists often blame swallowed toothpaste for the problem because it allows them to use the “fluoride is only a problem when used improperly” excuse. However, current levels of dietary fluoride are more than enough to cause the condition without any help from toothpaste.
These same dentists assure us the discoloration effecting our children’s teeth is “only cosmetic” (while at the same time marketing their whitening products and services by reminding us how important a beautiful smile is) and that the condition is mild or very mild—which is meaningless when one considers that moderate to severe cases of fluorosis. When waters containing naturally high levels of fluoride are consumed, victims are left with crumbling, dark brown remnants of teeth.
The problem has gotten so bad the ADA, by far fluoride’s biggest supporter, recently had to issue a warning about allowing babies to drink fluoridated tap water because of the fluorosis risk. Think about that. Due to the actions of the government and dental authorities it is unsafe for our babies to drink their own tap water.
But don’t we have to take a risk? After all were told, “Most dentists agree that adding fluoride has drastically reduced tooth decay.” Perhaps, if they were right. But the evidence supporting the efficacy of fluoride is exceedingly questionable and has been widely criticized within the mainstream scientific community.
Articles appearing in the journals Nature and Perspectives in Biology and Medicine have both agreed fluoride was not responsible for the large drop in tooth decay that began in the mid part of the 20th century, which coincided with the post-World War II increase in teeth brushing.
Furthermore, a 1999 investigation performed at the behest of the Ontario Ministry of Health reported that, at that time, the effects of fluoridation were often both statistically and clinically insignificant and, when examining the four major studies initiated the 1940s and whose results led to widespread fluoridation, found them to have been “crude and subject to a number of methodological flaws.” So numerous were these flaws that Sutton in 1959 was able to write an entire book about them.
Finally in 2000, the British Medical Journal published a study by McDonagh entitled “Systematic Review of Water Fluoridation,” which examined 214 studies involving fluoridation and found none of them to have been of good quality.
Another important fact to be aware of is that today, when studies measure fluoride efficacy, they generally employ a measure called the DMFS index, which tabulates decayed, missing and filled tooth surfaces (each of us, if we have all our teeth, has 128 surfaces). Using the DMFS index has the effect of creating percentage variations that give the illusion of substantial benefits where none exist. For example, a widely cited National Institute of Dental Research study released in 1990 attributed an 18–25% carries reduction—depending on how the data was interpreted—to fluoridation. Yet when one considers the variation in DMFS, 2.79 vs. 3.39, from which those numbers were derived, the benefit is less than 1/2 of one tooth surface per child. And even that data is suspect because the aforementioned study, like almost all fluoride studies, did not take into account the wellknown fact that fluoride consumption, even in “optimal” amounts, can delay tooth eruption long enough to confound fluoridation studies (a delayed eruption lessens the time a tooth is vulnerable to decay and, since studies compare children of the same age, fluoridated children may actually have “younger” teeth than their unfluoridated peers, creating an invalid statistical comparison.)
Unfortunately, fluoridated water is not the only source of exposure. Toothpaste adds substantially to the burden. It is very often swallowed, especially by vulnerable, younger children. And even when used by children with good control of swallowing, it adds as much fluoride to the “diet” as do all other sources—including fluoridated water.
But can we afford to give up fluoridated toothpaste? Surely that works. After all we’ve seen the commercials telling us it’s “clinically proven to fight cavities.” But what does clinically proven really mean?
When “clinically proven” benefits have been found, they generally fall within the 15–30% range, which is large enough to be called “significant.” However, because these percentages are expressed in terms of the DMFS index, those “benefits” are, as in the previously cited NIDR fluoridation study, again in the half of one tooth surface range—hardly anything to crow about.
Then one must consider the studies from which these numbers are derived. One particularly revealing study, conducted in 1962 and funded by Proctor and Gamble, maker of fluoridated Crest, basically gave out free toothpaste— some fluoridated and some not—to kids and told them to use it, with or without supervision and however they pleased, at home.
Not surprisingly, the study found that the fluoride toothpaste was protective. It also found the kids were brushing less than once a day and for about 40 seconds at a time—a less than optimal regimen to say the least. And remember, they were using toothbrushes of the 1960s, which are hardly comparable to those of today.
In regard to fluoride consumption, there are two other items about which parents need to be particularly concerned. The first is white grape juice and the second mechanically separated chicken which is found in baby food, chicken sticks and chicken nuggets. Both contain high levels of fluoride— the former due to pesticides, the later due to fluoride-containing bone dust released during the separation process.
When fluoride was introduced into the water supply, the 1 ppm level was, in general, deemed optimal. It provided a supposed anticaries effect without creating an excessively high risk of fluorosis. But the emergence of additional sources of fluoride has exposed children to substantially more than the optimal amount, creating an epidemic of dental fluorosis. The government’s response has been to do nothing but to expand fluoridation while celebrating its imagined virtues.
The increased consumption of fluoride among children has been matched by an increase in adult consumption. A 2000 study published in the British Medical Journal found adult fluoride intake varies from between 1.58 to 6.60 mg/day. Much of this fluoride is stored in bone and can cause a condition called skeletal fluorosis. According to the NRC and others, consumption of as little as 10 mg of fluoride per day over a ten-year period may cause a crippling form of the disease. That’s an amount under the highest consumption levels reported, but one must remember these high levels are being consumed over a lifetime, not a ten-year period. Additionally, if 10 mg over 10 years can cause the disease’s crippling form, how much fluoride over what period of time causes a less severe manifestation? And what do we do after our 10 years are up? Move to another country. The NRC report does reassure us that, “crippling skeletal fluorosis in the United States has been rare and not a public health problem.” Which is reassuring until we realize the symptoms of skeletal fluorosis are indistinguishable from those of arthritis—a disease whose prevalence grows day by day.
If fluoride sounds like something you’d like to avoid, here are my suggestions.
Use bottled water for cooking and drinking. I prefer brands that remove fluoride using the reverse-osmosis filtering process. Remember, fluoride exists in the earth as a natural element, and therefore may be present, at undesirable levels, in some bottled waters.
Switch to a non-fluoridated toothpaste. The kids might not like the idea of giving up Tweety Bird™, Barbie™ and the artificial sweeteners (although some non-fluoridated toothpastes now replicate the taste of the fluoridated variety) but they’ll get used to it. Just be firm when you make the change. If they resist brushing, inform them, in a pleasant, non-threatening way that you’ll no longer be able to provide any treats until they see the error of their ways.
If you’re not ready to give up fluoride toothpaste, at least restrict the amount your children use to the recommended pea-sized amount and make sure they don’t swallow it.Additionally keep an eye on them when they brush: at least twice a day and especially before bed. If we don’t see them brush, there’s no guarantee they’re brushing—even if they say they are.
Choose health over chemicals. If you have the former you won’t need the latter. I had a mouthful of cavities growing up in optimally fluoridated—and sugared—NY, while my daughter, fluoride-free for the last five years and living a healthier lifestyle, is, knock on wood, cavity-free at age twelve.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Countdown to Insanity: Paul Offit's New Book

I was excited to learn Dr. Paul Offit, America’s number one vaccine evangelist, will soon be releasing yet another book celebrating the miracle of vaccination.

What new absurdities will he invent to defend the elixirs of life upon which his very existence is based?

In his previous works, he has set the bar on the absurdity meter astronomically high. Vitamins are more dangerous than vaccine, children can safely get 100,000 vaccines at one time and today’s autistics are really just the geeks and nerds of the 50s – imagine Ralph Malph and Potsie Weber.

Several Offit sycophants have already weighed in with reviews. One, David Oshinsky, author of an excellent history on polio in America exhibits a bizarre detachment form reality in his gushing appraisal of the book.

“A medical crisis has come to America. Diseases of our grandparents’ generation are making a deadly comeback as more and more parents choose not to vaccinate their children.

Oshinsky imagines waves of parents depriving their children of life-saving vaccine while actual vaccination rates are at all time highs. He envisages benign illness such as the mumps and measles to be demonic killers. He suffers hallucinations of an America in crisis, streets filled with dead and or dying children.

Descending from fantasy into gibberish he asks.

…what can be done to reverse this unconscionable assault upon our nation’s public health?

Nations public health? Does he mean the health of people? People, who if they so desire can excercise, refrain from smoking, eat a healthy diet and access as much vaccine as they desire? No, more likely Oshinsky refers to the public health establishment - an entity whose mission is to intrude into our lives by means of forced vaccination, food policing and soda taxation.

So conditioned to believe in the supremacy of the state over the individual, Oshinsky sees the simple desire of Americans to be left alone as an assault upon the rightful role of our benevolent public health masters

So much fanatical vaccine nonsense in just a few paragraphs. I can’t wait for the entire volume to be released.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

When Mommy Says Yes, but the Nanny Says No!

The do-gooding politicians of Nannystate are at it again. Believing childhood obesity solvable by government edict, the San Francisco city council recently passed a law banning Satan’s tool of epicurean temptation: the Happy Meal.

The story was a focus of a number of media reports. CNN’s Anderson Copper worried of the enormous pressure applied by 3 and 4 year olds to their fragile parents. Coopper imagined a world in which we’re literally strong-armed into supplying a never-ending supply of crispy golden fries, thick frosty shakes and hot, juicy, cheese-laden burgers.

Sadly, assaults upon the ability of Americans to decide for themselves what they and their children eat are nothing new. New York’s activist mayor Michael Bloomberg has been at the forefront of these efforts, banning transfats, spending scarce city dollars on a crusade against salty soups and proposing restrictions on the purchase of soda. Not surprisingly, our government-happy state is not immune from these interventionist tendencies. In LA, prohibiting the opening of so-called fast food restaurants is seen as the panacea de jour while on the national level, first lady Michelle Obama has embarked upon a messianic quest to transform carrots into childhood’s newest guilty pleasure.

These statists would like nothing more than to have us to believe, absent their “help”, responsible parenting is an impossibility. Turn off a TV selling sugary cereals, unthinkable. Deny an unhealthy request in battleground supermarket, inconceivable. Compete with the influence exerted by a gregarious albeit fictional yellow sponge, unimaginable.

And what has the state been cooking up in it’s own glass house over the past decades? That’s right the school lunch: a grease laden, semi-edible smorgasbord of cholesterol, transfats and chemicals far unhealthier than anything that could have ever been concocted in a McDonald’s test kitchen.

To make matters worse the do-gooders have, this past year, been given a gift to make the realization of their ambitious goals eminently more achievable. The gift of course was and is Obamacare.

How can Obamacare further authorize and invigorate government intervention? As is often the case, one intrusion upon freedom is used to justify another. And with the new health care bill the connection between intrusions is obvious. A health care regime in which the state pays for the result of our “unhealthy” actions is the perfect pretext for allowing that state to control, prohibit or tax, through food and, perhaps someday, exercise policing. Perhaps even a ban on couches, TVs and videogames. How fortuitous that an entity with such an insatiable appetite for growth should receive such a powerful and protean gift.

But isn’t all this intervention really for our own good? Doesn’t the state care for and about us as we would care for and about a pet?

History tells a different tale. A tale in which the government owes its allegiance to, not our children, but the special interests. The corrupt process under which the food pyramid - actually the cheese, grain and beef, pyramid - was constructed is a legendary example demonstrating where state interests really lie.

It’s time we reject out of hand these ridiculous violations of American freedom while they’re still seen and mocked as the absurdities they are. For if we do not, and if we begin to journey slowly down the slippery slope of nanny state incrementalism, we will, before we realize it, end up as did the proverbial frog who, slowly and unknowing, had both his life and freedom cooked out of him.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

We Don't Want No Stinkin' Vaccine!

Photo Credits: mollypop via Flicker Creative Commons

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Polio: A Disease of Cleanliness

The N.Y. Times is reporting on a large polio outbreak in vaccinated Congo. Wonder if it has anything to do with the area being one of the most highly polluted places on the face of the earth. That pollution couldn't affect the immune systems of the population affected...could it?

An explosive outbreak of polio is taking place in the Congo Republic, with 201 cases of paralysis found in two weeks and 104 deaths, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

Gardasil: Unwanted and Unloved

Today we see further evidence that, absent the coercion exerted by the medical establishment and it's government allies, few people are interested in vaccines and vaccination. Businessweek reports:

Few teenage girls and young women are getting the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV), and many of those who start the regimen fail to take all three doses, new research reveals.

So if you feel vaccines aren't for you or your family but feel out of the mainstream, remember - as the above story illustrates - the "mainstream" is simply a byproduct of force, misinformation and compulsion.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On Guard Against Gardasil

Here's an op-ed I wrote for the Orange County Register in 2007. Since more and more parents are being asked to vaccinate their children with this vaccine, I thought it appropriate to revisit the topic.

In today's America - a country seemingly driven more by its desire for health care than for health itself - an idea has taken hold that every child should receive whatever vaccine that medical science can conjure up. Seemingly unimportant is whether our children are at risk for developing any of the diseases against which the corresponding vaccines promise protection.

The latest of these "necessary" vaccines is Gardasil. Produced by Merck, it is said to prevent HPV, a viral infection spread by sexual contact and the cause each year of approximately 10,500 cervical cancer cases, and 3,500 deaths.

We're told Gardasil, to be effective, must be administered before sexual activity commences - hence the desire to start vaccinating girls at ages 11 and 12.
The millions spent by Merck on marketers and lobbyists convinced the states of Texas and Virginia to require this vaccine as a prerequisite for attending public schools. California, like at least 18 other states, has seen a similar proposal. A bill linking HPV vaccination and public school admittance has been revived by its author and is scheduled for a hearing today in the Assembly Health Committee.

But unlike other mandatory vaccination measures, this one has encountered resistance. Many Americans, particularly Christian social conservatives, are concerned that requiring the vaccination of 11- and 12-year-old girls against a sexually transmitted disease sends the wrong message to our youth.

This rationale I neither endorse nor oppose. My objections are of a different nature. I do, however, believe the religious community's resistance has been helpful to Merck and its government allies. Here's why.

Since, as we'll see, it's difficult to build a logical case for this vaccine because of the preventable nature of cervical cancer, an appeal based on emotion is needed. And how better to stir up more emotion than what could be marketed as a struggle against narrow-minded Christian conservatives whose irrational fears about sex were putting women's lives at risk? Throw in the word cancer, and you have a perfect emotion-based marketing strategy and one that seems to make facts and logic unnecessary.

But facts and logic are always necessary, and, in this case, they speak loudly against the vaccine. Here's what they have to say:
Cervical cancer is nearly 100 percent preventable. Ninety percent of those contracting the disease have not had a pap smear in the previous five years. Smoking increases risk by 200 percent.

Finally, the salvation promised by vaccination does not come without a price. Short-term risks associated with Gardasil include nausea, dizziness, pain, diarrhea and vomiting. The vaccine's long-term health effects remain largely unknown because it has been approved for use for less than a year.

If we mandate this new HPV vaccine - rewarding Merck with a billion-dollar windfall - we'll undoubtedly be subsequently deluged with other new vaccines, each accompanied by a new and unique set of risks to our children in exchange for, as in the case of the HPV vaccine, little to no benefit. We might see a replay of the thimerisol fiasco of the 1990s, when many children were, because of mandatory vaccinations containing that preservative, exposed to levels of mercury exceeding EPA guidelines by 70 to 125 times.

I believe most parents would, based on the aforementioned evidence, choose not to have their children injected with Gardasil. Regrettably, under a statewide mandate, these parents would not be offered a choice.
"But there's an opt-out provision," say the politicians. "No one has to get this vaccine if they don't want it."

Unfortunately, most parents are, based on the number of times I was told "You know, your kid can't get into school without shots," unaware of these provisions, making them meaningless.

Mandatory vaccination with Gardasil is simply a bad idea. Parents must be given real choices, not manipulated into making ones chosen by politicians and drug companies. As for me, the choice is simple. My daughter will be, to paraphrase a certain ad campaign sweeping the state's airwaves, "one less."

One less unnecessary vaccine recipient. And my hope is that California will be one less. One less state swept up in the hysteria of indiscriminate vaccination.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'm a Vaccine and I'm Special

Jay Sekulow and Judge Napolitano discuss an ongoing Supreme Court case challenging the special protections afforded vaccine manufacturers when cases of alleged vaccine-related injury arise.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Safe Baby

I'm told vaccination is safe. Does this baby look safe?