Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Release the Parrots!

Over the past several weeks a torrent of pro-vaccination misinformation has been unleashed upon the nation. Most of it parrots a variety of talking points concocted by vaccine idolaters Paul Offit and Seth Mnookin

Michigan's Kalamazoo Gazette begins the talking point parade with these two:
A growing number of parents are refusing to immunize their children
...diseases thought long gone are making a comeback.
But vaccination rates are at all time highs. The small rise in exemptions (from say perhaps .05% to .2%) is negated by rises among the general population. After all you wouldn't say, after losing a five dollar bill but then finding a ten dollar one, that you had a net loss of five dollars  - would you?

As to the second point, throughout the entire vaccine era there have been small outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses yet the author would have us believe it was 1950 and every child was contracting the measles, mumps and chicken pox

The Gazette then rolls out the obligatory pediatrician and public health official. First we're then treated to the lamentations of Pediatrician Eric Slosberg regarding the reluctance of some parents to do as their told and vaccinate:
“It’s very frustrating; to be frank, it’s like talking to a brick wall,”
We'll Eric there's a flipside to that. I'm very frustrated that you and your public health comrades can't take no for an answer and leave parents alone. It's kind of like talking to a brick wall. Some people don't want vaccines; get over it.

A Dr. Allan Lareau, of Bronson Rambling Road Pediatrics, in Kalamazoo then weighs in:
“Based on all available literature, evidence and current studies, there is no evidence to support that vaccines cause autism or other developmental disabilities,” Lareau said. “It’s way beyond a reasonable doubt at this point — vaccines are not a cause of autism.”
Sadly Dr. Lareau, like so many birds of a feather in the medical community, wants us to believe an absence of evidence due to a lack of investigation is the equivalent of a rigorous investigation of a possible link that turns up no association

Finally, in a point that seems to contradict the entire article - that people fleeing vaccination in droves - we discover:
Statewide, only about 4 percent of all children did not get vaccinated last year.
Its not any better in Baltimore where the Sun call measles and mumps "dreadful diseases"

Then the Pittsburgh Parrots of the Post-Gazette take their shot at the issue in an article that begins:
In the face of increasing evidence that families who oppose vaccination are endangering their own children and public health, some doctors and patients are starting to fight back.
As I've stated before infectious illnesses are a part of living among other people. Therefore people choosing to live around others are at risk of catching something. My decision to forgo vaccines doesn't place others at risk, it just leaves them where they started.

And "fighting back?" How can you "fight back" when nobody's fighting with you. Just take your vaccine and go away - no fight. Their claims of fighting back are analogous to a thief fighting back against those refusing to be robbed.

Not to be denied a whack at the dead horse of the 2010 pertussis epidemic, the article's author continues:
in some pockets on the West Coast, 20 to 30 percent of the residents are unvaccinated...As a result, California is now experiencing its worst whooping cough outbreak in 50 years, with nearly 9,000 people infected and 10 children dead, and Pennsylvania's cases jumped more than 50 percent last year, to 950.
The piece continues, bemoaning the demise of the herd:
...there is an unsettling decrease in "herd immunity" in the American population. When vaccination rates are high, it doesn't matter if some individuals get preventable diseases, because they won't be able to spread very far.
Even though, and I don't know how many ways to say this, VACCINATION RATES ARE AT ALL-TIME HIGHS!!!

Our old friend Gregory Poland then appears claiming:
...about three of every 1,000 people who get measles die from it.
The doctor employs a common tactic of the vaccinator: make the illness seem more dangerous than it actually is.

Poland's probably constructing his numbers from data accumulated during the early 90s where mild measles cases were underreported and infants were more vulnerable than in the pre-vaccine era because mothers passed on less effective maternal antibodies (due to gaining immunity from vaccination and not natural infection)

Additionally the epidemic was concentrated amoung the poor: a group that is more severly effected by almost any infectious illness.

A more accurate measure of measles severity is derived from the CDC's estimate that ~3 to 4 million children contracted the illness each year resulting in 450-500 deaths - leaving us with a mortality ratio of ~1-8,000. And even that ratio overestimates the likelihood of death in a healthy child since those with risk factors such as malnutrition are far more likely to experience severe cases - just as a smoker is far more likely to suffer from lung cancer

Next, Julius Youngner, who helped develop the Salk polio vaccine is quoted:
"When you have a disease like smallpox where 30 percent who get the disease die, and you have this terrible scarring with the survivors, vaccine eradication becomes very popular," he said.
Apparently Younger hasn't read the aforementioned Baltimore Sun piece which states:
Brandeis University historian Michael Willrich is writing a book on the history of smallpox, and in an essay in The New York Times, he describes government troops and city policemen wielding clubs for the forcible administration of smallpox vaccine to suspicious factory workers and immigrants.
Finally it's back to Dr. Poland who ends on an "encouraging" note :
I've found...vaccine-hesitant parents can be reached with targeted education."
Of course those familiar with this blog know "targeted education" is simply a euphemism for propaganda

In conclusion, we examine the Manhattan Institute's City Journal where the the authors - one of whom is the director of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Medical Progress - open with a combination of parrotry and typical Machine deception, squawking:
Vaccines, which save millions of lives every year,
Somehow they fail to mention that, even if these numbers were correct, they apply, not to America where we live, but to Africa, India and other remote corners of the globe where abysmal living condition play a far more powerful role that do mean old bugs and germs.

Then, turning their attention to the poor dead horse of pertussis (now battered beyond all recognition and only identifiable through dental records), they query:
Why, then, is that sickness [pertussis] making a scary comeback in California, which is currently weathering its largest whooping-cough epidemic since 1947, with over 7,800 cases and 10 deaths in 2010? Mainly because more and more parents, worried about the vaccine’s supposed side effects, are choosing to delay vaccinating their children—or not to do it at all.
I've debunked this assertion here and here.

Their next talking point claims that it's those damn "affluent and well-educated" who are spoiling everything for the rest of us by failing to comply with the wishes of our omniscient public health mandarins. This talking point seems to be an attempt to stir up a little class warfare and turn American against American - after all since when is wise to follow not the educated but the poor and ignorant.

The piece ends talking about "today’s anti-vaccine hysteria" which corresponds to their notion that anyone who declines a vaccine must be out of their minds (either naturally or as a result of panic, fear or hysteria) But I, and most others I know, when deciding against vaccination, were of sound mind and not in someway impaired.

Apparently unable to think for themselves, these "journalists" just parrot the spoon-fed talking points of public health functionaries. So when reading one of these stories extolling the miracles of vaccination, look past the feathers and see the facts. And remember, just because a parrot repeats something doesn't mean it's true.


  1. Thank you for this - what an excellent post. I've shared it on my FB wall!

  2. @GDC

    Thank you GDC. You can like us on FB as well.

  3. The dead horse of the 2010 whooping cough outbreak? It's not a dead horse, I just got whooping cough. In 2009, the LA Times published an article about the decrease in pertussis vaccinations. Parents in California who chose not to vaccinate their children had more than doubled since 1997. That statistic is verified in a Forbes article as well, both links copied below. Shockingly, in 2010 and since then, whooping cough made a huge comeback. We have seen our worst outbreak since 1955, as you can see for yourself in my third link. And when did the trend in parents refusing vaccines become significant? Around 2010. When did the decrease in pertussis stop, and start to increase instead? Oh, around the same time? Really, that's interesting.




    How do you feel about smallpox? Because that has been eradicated by vaccines. Or other diseases almost completely eliminated since the widespread use of vaccines, like polio, measles, or diphtheria? Also, how many cases have you heard of in which a child who was vaccinated and spontaneously became autistic? Autism is a condition children are born with, whether they have vaccines or not.
    The way vaccines work is by exposing the body to a very small sample of the illness one wants to avoid. With this direct exposure, the body learns how to fight the illness, learns it's strategies and what defenses work, in a controlled situation where the sample of the illness is so small, the body can win. That allows the immune system to recognize the illness if it encounters it, and fight it off early and effectively. Perhaps you will not get infected with something even though you have a vaccine. But you are more susceptible and more likely to pass it on. In the case of something like whooping cough, where each infected person on average spreads pertussis to 12-15 people, the fewer people susceptible to it the better. When everyone is vaccinated, everyone is 70% less likely to get whooping cough. Look at ten people. Someone walks in carrying whooping cough. Unvaccinated, everyone has a chance of getting it. Say 8 of them do, and two are lucky. Each of those 8 spreads it to 12, not even 15, all of whom are unvaccinated. They have spread it to 96 people. Now, maybe not everyone who they spread it to actually comes down with whooping cough. Only 9 of the 12-15 people they infect actually come down with it. That's still 72 people. That number takes into account luck. Because all 10 could spread to 15 people, and you'd have 150 cases of whooping cough to handle. Now, if you start at the beginning and everyone is vaccinated, everyone is only 30% as likely to get whooping cough. So 30% of 150, which is the worst case scenario, is only 45 people. Your choice not to get a vaccine does affect me. If 45 people have whooping cough, I probably won't come into contact with them. And if I do, I might not get it. If 150 people have whooping cough, I am a lot more likely to get sick.
    Your article does not provide valid information to support any of your points. All you do is announce that you disagree with facts. Please, show me the evidence and statistics about the harm that vaccines do. In the meantime, stop trying to wildly discredit the heavily studied evidence about the harm that refusing vaccines does. You are aiding the spread of disease that may never affect you. Please get vaccinated everyone, it can save lives and I promise, there is no evidence what so ever that it will negatively impact your own.

  4. As to your pertussis theory, remember correlation does not equal causation


    BOSTON – The acellular pertussis vaccine’s failure to deliver durable infection protection to children aged 7-10 years led to the 2010 California pertussis epidemic, and prompted infectious diseases experts to question the current schedule of childhood pertussis vaccination.


    How do you feel about smallpox? Because that has been eradicated by vaccines.

    Long before smallpox was eradicated it had, in the Western world, become nearly as harmless as the measles and chickenpox with a 1% mortality rate

    And why is smallpox relevant to one’s decision regarding any other vaccine? Each illness and corresponding have different risk reward profiles

    You state:

    “Autism is a condition children are born with, whether they have vaccines or not.”

    Citation please.