Respectful Insolence

Way back on May 25, 2005, I first noticed something about a certain political group blog. It was something unsavory, something vile, something pseudoscientific. It was the fetid stench of quackery, but not just any quackery. It was anti-vaccine quackery, and the blog was Arianna Huffington’s Huffington Post, where a mere 16 days after its being unleashed upon an unsuspecting world I characterized the situation as Antivaccination rhetoric running rampant on The Huffington Post. It was the start of a long running series that rapidly resulted in parts 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 in the course of a mere month before I gave up counting. Now you can just search for “Huffington and vaccine” on this blog and pull up dozens of examples of HuffPo’s support for the most insane varieties of anti-vaccine nuttery. Dr. Jay Gordon? Check. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.? Check. David Kirby? Check. Bill Maher? Check.

Jim Carrey? Extra double triple check. (Man, the level of burning stupid in that one was beyond anything I had seen before.)

Through it all, I had noticed that there was an anti-vaccine activist missing from the pseudoscientific roll of shame that regularly appeared on HuffPo. As you may have guessed, for some reason, in the three years or so since she became a “mother warrior” anti-vaccine loon, Jenny McCarthy hadn’t blogged for HuffPo, even though she’s an ideal candidate. She’s a celebrity. She’s anti-vaccine. Most importantly, her brain consists of two neurons connected by a spirochete. She seemed to be perfect. On the other hand, I speculated that maybe–just maybe–even HuffPo has standards, and, as McCarthy has shown on Twitter,without a ghostwriter coauthor she appears unable to handle stringing even a mere 140 characters together into a coherent thought. Trying to produce a full 1,000-word post with such thin gruel would strain even HuffPo’s woo-friendly readership.

I guess I was wrong. Yesterday, there appeared on HuffPo a post under Jenny McCarthy’s name entitled Who’s afraid of the truth about autism? Yes, the stupid continues to burn, except this time it’s metastasized to HuffPo, to add to its already existing flame of burning stupid.

Somehow, I can’t help but get a picture of Jack Nicholson as Col. Jessup shouting at Tom Cruise, “You can’t handle the truth!” Except that it isn’t supporters of science-based medicine who are constantly trying to swat down the lies of anti-vaccine propagandists like Jenny McCarthy and the organization for which she and her boyfriend Jim Carrey have become spokescelebrities who can’t handle the truth. It’s anti-vaccine loons like Jenny McCarthy, J.B. Handley, and the organization they represent who can’t handle the truth, which is that there is no scientifically credible evidence to support their belief that vaccines are a major cause of autism. Jenny McCarthy goes on to demonstrate just that from the very first sentence:

Parents of recovered children, and I’ve met hundreds, all share the same experience of doubters and deniers telling us our child must have never even had autism or that the recovery was simply nature’s course. We all know better, and frankly we’re too busy helping other parents to really care.

How many quacks dismiss criticism, excuse their inability to provide scientific evidence, and justify their use of anecdotes and pseudoscience by saying they’re all “too busy” helping others to bother with little things like evidence, science, or reason. They just know. They don’t need no steekin’ science!

Of course, as Kev points out, Jenny’s track record with regard to the truth isn’t so hot. In fact, it sucks. She and her boyfriend have spread egregious misinformation about vaccines, in particular the “toxingambit, and her knowledge of science is so risibly lacking that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I watch this video. She keeps spreading lies about there being antifreeze and “fetal parts” in vaccines. Nothing she says about vaccines, autism, or science can be considered the least bit reality-based, as we see with McCarthy’s question:

Who’s afraid of autism recovery? Perhaps it’s the diagnosticians and pediatricians who have made a career out of telling parents autism is a hopeless condition.

Actually, no one’s afraid of autism recovery! At least no one that I’ve ever seen. Certainly scientists aren’t. As Prometheus points out, as many as 19% of autistic children recover. As Kev points out, Helt et al report that between 3% and 25% of autistic children recover. Even if it’s only 3%, that’s still a heck of a lot of “recovered” children, and almost none of them received any “biomedical” intervention. It’s impossible to know if any of the “biomedical” quackery that people like McCarthy promote does any good except through randomized, placebo-controlled trials. Absent a finding of a higher percentage of “recovered” children in the treatment arm of the trial, there’s no reliable basis to claim a benefit from any of the “biomedical” woo that McCarthy has been selling since 2007.

Not that that stops Jenny from spewing yet more anti-vaccine lies:

The idea that vaccines are a primary cause of autism is not as crackpot as some might wish. Autism’s 60-fold rise in 30 years matches a tripling of the US vaccine schedule.

With so many kids with autism, the environment has to be to blame, and vaccines are an obvious culprit. Almost all kids get vaccines — injected toxins — very early in life, and our own government clearly acknowledges vaccines cause brain damage in certain vulnerable kids.

Actually, yes, the idea that vaccines are a primary cause of autism is a crackpot idea, a classic case of confusing correlation with causation. It’s an idea that has been refuted time and time again through scientific and epidemiological study, and there is no credible evidence that vaccines cause autism. That’s why people who think that vaccines are a primary cause of autism are…well, crackpots–like Jenny McCarthy. Also note how the crackpot Jenny McCarthy characterizes vaccines as “injected toxins.” Clearly, the many attempts of proponents of science-based medicine to point out that (1) many of the “toxins” that Jenny believes to be in vaccines are in fact not in vaccines and (2) the dose makes the poison and that the “toxins” in vaccines are not toxic at the doses present in vaccines. None of this stopp Jenny from proceeding to lay down a swath of flaming stupid so intense that it threatens to cleanse the entire surface of the earth of anything resembling intelligence above that of a paramecium:

Time magazine’s article on the autism debate reports that the experts are certain “vaccines don’t cause autism; they don’t injure children; they are the pillar of modern public health.”

I say, “that’s a lie and we’re sick of it.”

My retort: Jenny McCarthy is lying, and I’m sick of it. I’m particularly sick of straw men like this:

How do you say vaccines don’t injure kids, when a government website shows more than 1,000 claims of death and over $1.9 billion paid out in damages for vaccine injury, mostly to children?

Perhaps its better to say vaccines have both benefits and risks? Who’s afraid of being honest about the good and the bad of vaccines?

No one in the medical establishment, Jenny McCarthy’s straw man argument notwithstanding, claims that there are no risks to vaccines. No responsible scientist or physician denies that vaccines have risks, as do all medical interventions to some extent or another. What McCarthy’s dim intellect cannot fathom is that it is a question or risks versus benefits, and the benefits of vaccination far outweight its tiny risks. Once again, the nirvana fallacy (a.k.a. the fallacy of the perfect solution) rears its ugly head. To Jenny, vaccines must be absolutely, positively, 100% safe or they are far too dangerous to use. Binary thinking. Either or. No shades of gray. It’s fundamentalism at its finest, although not so fundamentalist that McCarthy can’t proclaim just how much she loves to inject a real toxin into her skin in order to stave off aging. Apparently for the sake of maintaining a youthful appearance McCarthy can understand the concept of risk-benefit ratios, but when it comes to protecting children against infectious diseases even a one in a million risk of serious adverse reactions is too high for her to accept.

She doesn’t even know the real story of Andrew Wakefield:

In the recent case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, why did the press constantly report that his 1998 study said the MMR caused autism when anyone could read the study and know that it didn’t? And, why did we never hear that the actual finding of Dr. Wakefield’s study — that children with autism are suffering from bowel disease — has been replicated many times?

Does Jenny mean “replicated” the way that Mady Hornig replicated Wakefield’s findings? Oh, wait. Hornig tried to replicate Wakefield’s study and found exactly the opposite of what Wakefield reported. She found zero correlation between vaccines and GI sypmptoms or measles virus in the gut. Zilch. In fact, the only “replications” of Wakefield’s study have come from groups associated with Wakefield or the anti-vaccine movement and have all been just as bad in terms of science.

Of course, it’s also highly amusing that McCarthy would wonder why the press reported that Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet paper showed that vaccines caused autism. It is true that the study itself didn’t explicitly say that vaccines cause autism, most likely because peer reviewers wouldn’t let Wakefield conclude something like that from the incredibly thin gruel of “data” from 12 children reported in Wakefield’s case series cum study. As I’ve pointed out before, Wakefield was out and about giving press conferences and interviews to any bunch of dupes reporters who would listen around the time his study was released. With no evidence to support him, he proclaimed to anyone who would listen that the MMR vaccine was too risky for children and instead recommended that children receive the three component vaccines of the MMR separately. Thanks to Wakefield’s fear mongering and his credulous, sensationalist lapdogs in the press, soon the message was being spread far and wide throughout the U.K. that the MMR vaccine causes autism and/or “autistic enterocolitis.” Soon fear of the MMR vaccine drove MMR uptake rates in the U.K. to dangerously low levels, as low as 50% in some regions. The result was predictable. Measles came roaring back with a vengeance to the point where it is once again endemic in the U.K.

Seeing the utter idiocy that is Jenny McCarthy’s latest post in HuffPo, I am left with questions. First, did Jenny MCarthy really write this post? I highly doubt it. She has shown no evidence of being able to write coherently before and a lot of evidence that she can’t string two sentences together. Despite spreading anti-vaccine propaganda for nearly three years, she has never blogged for HuffPo, even though I’m sure HuffPo, seeking yet another celebrity anti-vaccine pseudoscience maven for its stable of celebrity anti-vaccine pseudoscience-loving bloggers, has almost certainly invited her many times. That leads to two more questions: First, who actually did write this bit of idiocy? Who in Generation Rescue is stupid enough to fall for the “toxin” gambit but still able to string together the occasional article that is semi-comprehensible? David Kirby is much too clever to use such obvious and easily debunked tropes. Mark Blaxill might have written it, as it echoes much of what he wrote just last week, and the writing style seems potentially consistent. Yet doubts persist because, although not as slippery-clever as Kirby, Blaxill isn’t as rock dumb as Jenny McCarthy. That’s why I’m not sure. It could be J.B. Handley too, although the writing style seems too restrained, insufficiently vicious, and lacking in testosterone-laced braggadocio to be J.B. On the other hand, the post does repeat J.B.’s frequent talking point about the MMR vaccine.

Whoever wrote this tripe, the second additional question that comes to mind is: Why now?

That’s a tougher one to answer. Why would Jenny McCarthy, after two and a half years as a “mother warrior” anti-vaccine activist finally decide to write for HuffPo, either herself (unlikely) or through a ghost writer (far more likely)? My guess is that Wakefield’s fall has hurt the anti-vaccine movement more than they’re willing to admit, in particular Generation Rescue. After all, all within less than a month, Andrew Wakefield was found guilty of ethical lapses in research, had his 1998 Lancet paper revoked, saw his last hope for scientific “redemption” (his “monkey study”) withdrawn, and was then fired from Thoughtful House. GR had staked its reputation on Wakefield, even going so far as to liken him to Galileo and the General Medical Council to the Inquisition. Wakefield’s collapse threatened GR’s ability to agitate for the pseudoscience that vaccines cause autism; so they brought out their big guns.

Sadly, Jenny McCarthy appears to have sunk so deeply into anti-vaccine woo that she may well be beyond redemption. Thanks to Oprah, she has her television show, which, from what I read, seems to be on track for debuting in the fall. Backing away from her anti-vaccine views would take two things she clearly doesn’t have: integrity and brains.

As for HuffPo, it is the most hilariously hypocritical of venues, and Jenny McCarthy is a perfect fit for its anti-vaccine propagandizing. My only remaining question is: What took HuffPo so long? Of course, what’s even more amusing is this notice from HuffPo when its editors removed a post by former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, who had posted a conspiracy-laden article agreeing with several of the lies of the 9/11 Truther movement:

Editor’s Note: The Huffington Post’s editorial policy, laid out in our blogger guidelines, prohibits the promotion and promulgation of conspiracy theories — including those about 9/11. As such, we have removed this post.

In response, Alex Pareene at the Gawker noted drily that there is another post that HuffPo should remove using the same policy:

Because today, the very same Huffington Post published this wonderful post from dangerous nutcase Jenny McCarthy about how autism is caused by vaccines and can be cured with experimental treatments that the established medical community doesn’t want you to know about. We can only assume that as soon as the editors discover this conspiratorial nonsense, they will promptly remove it.

Good luck with that Alex. Given that anti-vaccine conspiracy theories were ingrained into the DNA of HuffPo from its very beginning and Arianna Huffington herself is a big fan of woo, there’s about as much chance of that happening as there is that the World Trade Center towers were brought down by cruise missiles disguised holographically as airplanes. Come to think of it, there’s about the same chance that (1) Andrew Wakefield is a competent, honest scientist; (2) vaccines cause autism; or (3) Jenny McCarthy will ever understand science as the “no plane” conspiracy theory for 9/11 has of being true. Ditto the chance that McCarthy will ever learn the error of her anti-vaccine ways through science and reason. Why should she anyway? It’s so much more profitable to be a “mother warrior” against vaccines.

Comments

  1. #1 Travis
    March 10, 2010

    Interesting post. I had no idea she had never written there. After hearing about all the other crazy article, and Carrey writing there I thought she must have written a few articles in the past. But I just cannot handle a visit to that site to read these things so I never went looking.

    BTW: There seems to be a bit of a runaway blockquote.

  2. #2 Marcus Hill
    March 10, 2010

    You’ve made a serious error in that post. You’ve overestimated Jenny McCarthy’s brainpower by a factor of two or so.

  3. #3 Amy Alkon
    March 10, 2010

    My neighbor, whose (vaccinated) children, 5 and 9, attend an LA charter school, told me 45 percent of the children there are unvaccinated. I’m guessing McCarthy has had a substantial part in influencing this idiocy.

  4. #4 Phil
    March 10, 2010

    Well there you have it. Serves me right for thinking she might have changed her mind in the tabloids.

  5. #5 speedweasel
    March 10, 2010

    Prepare for inevitable quote-mining, Orac.

    Orac wrote,

    (2) vaccines cause autism

  6. #6 Kelner
    March 10, 2010

    “What McCarthy’s dim intellect cannot fathom is that it is a question or risks versus benefits, and the benefits of vaccination far outweight its tiny risks.”

    I think this touches on a bigger issue in the whole alternative medicine universe – the obsession with the side-effects of mainstream treatments, all the while ignoring the condition they treat. I know a homeopath whose mother was in hosptial with a superbug urinary tract infection. The hopsital had her on Meropenem which, being an ultra-broad spectrum antibiotic effective against resistant strains, will also go to town on intestinal flora. The daughter was going on about how awful this treatment was because of the diarrhea and kind of implied that the doctors were using it to punish her mother for getting the infection.
    For me, given the choice between a superbug urinary tract infection or temporary bout of diarrhea, it isn’t exactly the money or the box.

  7. #7 DrRachie
    March 10, 2010

    This is what one contributor on my anti-vax list had to say;

    “I believe this to be a great article.”

    Face. Palm.

  8. #8 Arnold T Pants
    March 10, 2010

    I love how she talks about “injectible toxins” being so bad while at the same time she goes on about how much she loves, er, Botox injections.

  9. #9 jfatz
    March 10, 2010

    Apparently for the sake of staying young-looking McCarthy can understand the concept of risk-benefit ratios, but when it comes to protecting children against infectious diseases even a one in a million risk is too high.

    If by that you mean protecting EVERYONE, of course.

  10. #10 gski
    March 10, 2010

    Quoting Orac “the truth, which is that there is no convincing evidence to support their belief that vaccines are a major cause of autism.”

    Some of the general public will read the word “convincing” and conclude that there is evidence of some kind. Creating doubt and an opening for the anti-vaccine rhetoric to be effective.

  11. #11 Jessica
    March 10, 2010

    “Some of the general public will read the word “convincing” and conclude that there is evidence of some kind. Creating doubt and an opening for the anti-vaccine rhetoric to be effective.” -gski

    That to me seems reason enough to put forth campaign to explain to the general public that science doesn’t deal in absolute truths and certainty. As Orac said, there are shades of grey and we really ought to be teaching people to how to thoughtful apply their cynicism rather than swallow this crap simply because it deviates from the established medical practice.

  12. #12 TimonT
    March 10, 2010

    Does anyone know of a resource that SIMPLY and GRAPHICALLY demonstrates the benefits of vaccines?

    I’m thinking of perhaps a one page document that lists each disease, indicates how many people were killed or disfigured by the disease (perhaps with a picture that shows a victim) before a vaccine was developed and then indicates how many people suffer from that same disease today. It might also include testimonials from people who lived at the time such diseases were prevalent and personally experienced the horrors involved.

    Ideally it would be short and simple enough to be pasted into a blog comment (such as the one this post refers to), and emotionally striking enough that it might get the attention of simple-minded, ignorant people such as Jenny McCarthy or Oprah’s viewers.

  13. #13 DrRachie
    March 10, 2010

    @TimonT, Information is Beautiful has done something similar for the H1N1 vaccine

    http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2009/is-the-h1n1-swine-flu-vaccine-safe/

  14. #14 Pablo
    March 10, 2010

    Rachie – think that is a little convoluted. I think this plot makes it a lot easier:

    http://www.iayork.com/Images/2009/3-31-09/Measles.jpg

    Quiz for the layreader: guess when the measles vaccine was introducted?

  15. #15 Rae
    March 10, 2010

    In the 1970s when my children were vaccinated all of them experienced febrile seizures w/temps averaging 104-105. Like other ‘warriors’ with give birth, I ‘knew’ the steekin science was not right. And lo these many years later we find the FDA does only spot checking at best on production of medications, medicines we take for every type of illness including vaccines that are produced in multiple plants in multiple countries outside the US. Laugh as you like as the unscientific knowledge of mothers trying to protect and find answers to destroyed and limited lives they had great hopes and dreams for, but know as we do, its not a simple matter of beneficient science and governments and dumb bunny moms.

  16. #16 Todd W.
    March 10, 2010

    @TimonT

    Another interesting idea would be something like the truth.com folks have done. Short videos of two groups of people. One group represents a non-vaccinated population and the other represents a vaccinated population. Someone with a bullhorn tells the groups to raise their hand if they represent someone who would suffer complications. Then asks them to keep their hands raised and those who represent people who would die from the disease to fall down.

  17. #17 DLC
    March 10, 2010

    Orac — Delivering the Insolence so you don’t have to!
    but, I think I’d have said “There is no credible evidence for a vaccine-autism link, instead of no convincing evidence.

    Wakefield, McCarthy and Handley or Larry Moe and Curly.
    I’ll take the original stooges.

  18. #18 Chance Gearheart, NREMT-P/EMD
    March 10, 2010

    @15 – So basically, getting HIB Meningitis and suffering a seizure from a massive increase in intercranial pressure and pending herniation of the brain stem is better than having a febrile seziure that is mostly benign and temperatures that are easily controlled by NSAIDS, Paracetamol, and passive interventions?

    Oh, and I highly doubt that “ALL” children had seizures because of a vaccine, but you’re more than welcome to present proof. While febrile seizures as a result of fever are a known side effect of many vaccine, they’re often benign. You’re more than welcome to present proof of your arguement.

    I had a 104 fever from getting the vaccine cocktail the army gives. Yet, somehow, I never had a single seizure.

    I hate to say this, but I’ve seen more dumb moms, expecially the ones who are educated at the University of Google in the aspects of Diagnosis, in my line of work than anything else. The last time a mom told me it was a febrile seizure, it turned out to be meningitis. (Yes, I know. I’m a bitter healthcare professional)

  19. #19 JohnTR
    March 10, 2010

    “Most importantly, her brain consists of two neurons connected by a spirochete. She seemed to be perfect.”

    Ouch. That line alone made me snort my morning coffee.

  20. #20 Pablo
    March 10, 2010

    Oh, and I highly doubt that “ALL” children had seizures because of a vaccine, but you’re more than welcome to present proof

    I was just reading a page with side effects for the MMR vaccine, and 3/10000 having seizures is what I saw. 20% will have elevated temps (103 or more). That means that about 1 in a thousand _who have fevers_ have associated seizures. And only 1 in a million have life-threatening complications, which means that 1 in 100 _with seizures_ are life-threatening.

  21. #21 Orac
    March 10, 2010

    “There is no credible evidence for a vaccine-autism link, instead of no convincing evidence.

    How about “There is no scientifically credible evidence for a vaccine-autism link,” which is what I changed the sentence to?

  22. #22 MikeMa
    March 10, 2010

    I read Kev’s open letter Jenny McCarthy yesterday and found it superb, concise and spot on. Orac’s expansion and detail are informative (as always) but the original letter is excellent. Kev might consider doing this up as a poster for pediatrician’s waiting rooms.

  23. #23 Rene Najera
    March 10, 2010

    Binary thinking. Either or. No shades of gray.

    Only the Sith deal in absolutes.

  24. #24 Pablo
    March 10, 2010

    I NEVER think in absolutes, and am not a Sith in any way.

    Although I did play one in a movie once….

  25. #25 Skeptico
    March 10, 2010

    Funny – I saw that article yesterday and I immediately thought “JB Handley.”  Mainly because “McCarthy” wrote this:

    How do you say vaccines don’t cause autism when only a single vaccine — MMR — has ever been looked at for its relationship to autism?

    While last week, Handley wrote this in a comment on your blog:

    Meanwhile, only one vaccine has been studied for its relationship to autism (MMR)

    Of course, one could have easily copied from the other. 

  26. #26 Matt
    March 10, 2010

    The interesting thing will be in another 5-10 years when people are truly able to do studies of the current unvaccinated population. What happens when these studies show no difference in autism (or perhaps even an INCREASE in autism rates) for the unvaccinated? Will these studies be ignored also? There must be vastly increasing numbers of children in whacko communities who are getting autism despite not being vaccinated – what do these parents blame? “Toxins” from non-organic food?

  27. #27 DrKnow
    March 10, 2010

    @TimonT
    The CDC has an online book called “the Pink Book” which describes each vaccine and within each chapter are great graphs that show the number of disease cases for each disease agaist dates and you can quickly see once a vaccine is introduced the number of cases begins to drop and then flatlines. They are wonderful graphs based on actually numbers. The link is http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/default.htm
    The content of the book is for health care professionals but the graphs are very clear.

  28. #28 Denice Walter
    March 10, 2010

    Interestingly, Jenny may actually say *something* of value here: she informs us that the doctors who dreamed up these so-called treatments leading to “recovery” have children with autism. In other words, their desperation may have led them down the path of irrationality.At AutismWatch,James Laidler,a doctor, details his own descent into woo, following the diagnoses of his two children: he even shilled for some who offered these treatments. Fortunately,Dr. Laidler “recovered” his reason, as he clearly explains, and became an advocate for SB treatment.(BTW, where is Deirdre Imus? My SO hasn’t heard a single word about vaccines lately on Imus’ so-called Sports Radio Show.Her “Dierdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology @ HUMC” is actually in my neck of the(non)woods.Haven’t heard a peep.)

  29. #29 Pablo
    March 10, 2010

    How do you say vaccines don’t cause autism when only a single vaccine — MMR — has ever been looked at for its relationship to autism?

    God she makes me want to slap her.

    Assuming it’s true (and I don’t know and don’t care), why might it be that MMR is the only vaccine that has been looked at for its relationship to autism? Because for 10 FRIGGIN YEARS after Wakefield’s paper came out, all we heard was how MMR caused autism and the horror stories of how my kid was perfectly normal, got the MMR vaccine and that afternoon turned autistic!!!

    Moreover, I’ve mentioned this many times, but at least for MMR, there is a reason to believe there COULD be an association. Most visible autism symptoms do show up near the same times that kids are getting their MMR vaccines, and so it does make sense to ask the question of whether there is any relation.

    Of course, now that it has been established that there ISN’T a relationship, the loons have abandoned the MMR ship faster than Severus Snape when threatened with shampoo, and tried some other shit, hoping that we won’t notice the fact that they have suddenly abandoned all their friends who say their kids were fine until they got the MMR shot. Ironically, this even includes JB Handley. Then again, Handley has suddenly changed his tune to where that child of his that was healthy and happy until the MMR shot is now reported as having suffered serious health problems when he was 2 months old.

    The reason science has focused on MMR is because 1) scientifically, it is the best place to start, and, in fact, the only one that has any reason to study in the first place (studies of other vaccines are no more indicated than are studies of any random feature you can think of), and 2) because that is the vaccine that the autism folks have been attacking!

    You can’t sit for ten years and bitch about the problem of MMR, and then once it is addressed, complain that no one has looked at anything except MMR.

    First it was thimerasol. That got taken out, so it moved to MMR (which never had thimerasol). That got covered, so now they move onto something completely unrelated again. Bah.

  30. #30 DrKnow
    March 10, 2010

    @ Pablo
    “You can’t sit for ten years and bitch about the problem of MMR, and then once it is addressed, complain that no one has looked at anything except MMR.”
    Oh yes they can and that is their MO…shift the goalpost at anytime they feel like it because they are not confined by facts or reality. Its a total free for all with them.
    Also nice geek/nerd reference in your post…i love those

  31. #31 Todd W.
    March 10, 2010

    @Pablo and DrKnow

    The antivax movement takes 1984 as a prophetic text. They look and see agents of the Ministry of Truth making things disappear and history rewritten. What they don’t realize is that they are looking in a mirror.

  32. #32 Denice Walter
    March 10, 2010

    @ Pablo: Exactly.Right now they’re looking for other things to blame- some possibilities: Russell Blalock: Fear the Aspartame! In a press release for Janine Roberts’ book,”Fear of the Invisible”:”Thus it’s not just the mercury- there are thousands of things in vaccines”, such as grotty monkey kidney cells.Deirdre Imus: Coal tar used to make carpets?(HuffPo,11-26-09)that your bebe crawls on!Adams and Null have harped on other vaccines as well(flu,H1N1) as relating to autism.

  33. #33 cheeseburgerbrown
    March 10, 2010

    Frankly, this article has really piqued my interest in one specific kind of intervention; people, we need to gather the funding to research and develop a viable McCarthy Vaccine.

    Once developed, this vaccine will effectively block messaging from a significant percentage of the McCarthy cohort. Sadly, unintended side-effects may include the muzzling of my neighbour, Bob McCarthy, but that’s a burden I’m willing to suffer if it means making the world a measurably less McCarthic place for the generations of the future.

    So, which makes more sense: should we vaccinate the general population with this miracle drug once it is ready for human use, or should we just cut to the chase and vaccinate Jenny directly?

    …Come to think of it, we don’t need a cutting-edge vaccine to mitigate Jenny’s harm. How about a good old fashioned ball-and-duct-tape gag?

    Food for thought.

    Yours,
    CBB

  34. #34 Kristen
    March 10, 2010

    Sadly, Jenny McCarthy appears to have sunk so deeply into anti-vaccine woo that she may well be beyond redemption.

    I think that is a sign of someone who is a fundamentalist and no longer a reasoning member of reality. When one is so sure of being right that they are immune to any evidence of the contrary.

  35. #35 DrKnow
    March 10, 2010

    @toddW
    1984 pfff shows their depths of delusion…when we all know it’s the lizard men under Mt Shasta that have signaled the way and control the infosphere. or was that the illuminati…big pharma? I don’t know I get confused.
    Sorry Orac I digressed in my commenting
    Vaccines are unquestionably the BEST public health triumph …ever
    There made up for my digressions
    I feel like I just asked for absolution from Orac
    hummm

  36. #36 Science Mom
    March 10, 2010

    There appears to be some sacred cows there on HuffPo for whom certain comments don’t go through in response to. Namely, Kim Stagliano and Kelly Ann Davis. I wonder why they won’t venture outside of their echo chambers and engage in uncensored debate; I would happily volunteer to be part of the pro-science side.

  37. #37 DT35
    March 10, 2010

    Matt @ 26:

    Kim Stagliano at Age of Autism has three autistic children, the youngest completely unvaccinated. Ms. Stagliano blames her own childhood vaccinations for the “toxic load” that she passed on to the youngest child during pregnancy, resulting in autism. So it’s still all vaccines, all the time.

  38. #38 Pablo
    March 10, 2010

    Coal tar used to make carpets?

    LOL!!!!

    When I teach gen chem, one of the things we talk about is how important crude oil is in terms of all the things we get out of it. It’s not just gasoline and motor oil, but it serves as feedstock for almost all our drugs and other synthetics, like plastics.

    The plastic that makes your keys on your keyboard was likely obtained from a barrel of oil, as are the nylons and dye in the paint on the wall and your ibuprofin you took for a headache last week. And, yes, your carpet.

    Things like coal tar and crude oil are very important, and used massively in our society.

  39. #39 Ian
    March 10, 2010

    @Rae #15

    Has anyone else noticed that the only people who have been saying that parents are stupid is the anti-vaccine crowd? I’ve never heard Orac or any other source talk about “dumb bunny moms” or disparage the sincerity of the parents in any way. Being susceptible to a logical fallacy or heuristic thinking is not at all the same thing as being “stupid”. Stupid is recognizing all the evidence and STILL making the wrong decision, which is why the GR gang qualify.

    There’s nothing wrong with being scared, and while it may be a little suspect to go to only one source for information before making a potentially life-threatening decision, I might even be able to forgive that. Nobody’s accusing parents of being stupid, or evil, just woefully misguided.

    Then again, recognition of this fact would require a level of self-examination that I’m sad to say seems completely impossible to Truthers of any kind.

  40. #40 DW
    March 10, 2010

    @DrKnow To recap:We are employed by an esoteric cartel variously referred to as “the Masons,the Illuminati,Big Pharma,the Bilderberg group”, etc. This is the human facade we present for our *draconian* Overlords( who are _not_ *actually* lizards, but similar) who are nowhere *near* Mt. Shasta but are known to sometimes alight in Sonoma redwood groves.However, it is important to point out that the entire scenario is a joke, just sport,parody, mockery.It is by no means *real*.I repeat: a joke.

  41. #41 sir_eccles
    March 10, 2010

    Just spotted this on the NYTimes:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/health/10flu.html

    “An unusual study done in 49 remote Hutterite farming colonies in western Canada has provided the surest proof yet that giving flu shots to schoolchildren protects a whole community from the disease. “

  42. #42 njk
    March 10, 2010

    he claimed that the MMR was too risky and recommended that children receive the three compoentent vaccines of the MMR separately.

    Wakefield being a fruitcake aside, is there anything wrong with vaccinating measles, mumps and rubella separately? Or is the issue that people avoid the MMR vaccine, then don’t bother with the individual vaccines either?

  43. #43 Squillo
    March 10, 2010

    “Who’s afraid of autism recovery? Perhaps it’s the diagnosticians and pediatricians who have made a career out of telling parents autism is a hopeless condition.”

    I wonder how those wicked diagnosticians and pediatricians could make even MORE money out of autism?

    Oh, I know! Open clinics offering cures for autism. Special tip: Don’t accept insurance reimbursement–those insurance companies really cut into your profits. Heck, you don’t even have to be an MD to get in on this cash cow.

  44. #44 Natalie
    March 10, 2010

    njk, I’m not sure if anyone has done any studies comparing the MMR versus three separate vaccinations. However, assuming the two choices are equally effective I would personally go for the combined – two fewer injections for the child is preferable IMO, considering kids usually hate getting shots.

  45. #45 Todd W.
    March 10, 2010

    @njk

    Well, there are a few cons to separating the vaccines:

    1) Most obviously, it requires 3 times as many punctures with a needle.
    2) All those “toxins” that antivaxers are worried about being in the MMR would, then, be injected at greater amounts.
    3) Compliance to a vaccine schedule with separated, individual vaccines is likely to be lower, resulting in poorer vaccine uptake and, subsequently, immunity.

    One thing that always puzzled me about Wakefield’s claims that the MMR caused a gut disease due to measles taking up residence in the gut is how his patented to-be-developed single measles vaccine would be any better.

  46. #46 sir_eccles
    March 10, 2010

    @njk

    They either don’t bother at all or they don’t finish the course. The MMR is generally one shot (maybe a booster later I can’t remember) but to do them separately can involve half a dozen or more separate visits to the doctor as each is given one at a time followed by boosters. You then leave yourself vulnerable for a long period of time until the full course has been completed.

    Not to mention that if you are concerned about additives (e.g. by listening to the libelous claims of a playboy model) you’ve just multiplied the amount of those additives by a huge factor.

  47. #47 Ian
    March 10, 2010

    @njk

    Additionally, there are real honest-to-spaghetti-monster risks associated with vaccines, so the fewer shots that are necessary to give efficacious protection against potentially debilitating/fatal illness, the better.

    Please note that this should not be interpreted as a call for “fewer shots”. If there are indeed unnecessary shots on the schedule then that’s something, but I don’t know that this is the case. I’ve heard chicken pox cited as an “unnecessary vaccine”, but Shingles is a real thing and it’s painful as all hell. Preventing that seems like it’s worth the risk.

    Also, from a cost-effectiveness perspective, 3 shots are more expensive in terms of physician time, supplies, shipping, etc. so a combination shot that is equally efficacious/effective is preferred.

  48. #48 Scott
    March 10, 2010

    When I teach gen chem, one of the things we talk about is how important crude oil is in terms of all the things we get out of it. It’s not just gasoline and motor oil, but it serves as feedstock for almost all our drugs and other synthetics, like plastics.

    That reminds me of my favorite form of baiting extreme environmentalists. I’ll comment that “it’s really such a bad idea to have cars running on gasoline; they should all be switched to electric.” And they’ll be all “yeah, right on!” Then I follow up with “then we could run all our cars off nuclear power plants, and use the oil to make plastic instead!” The expressions are priceless.

    On-topic: It’s also quite interesting to ponder the similarities between Jenny McCarthy and a certain Senator Joseph McCarthy. Particularly in how they respond to those who disagree with them.

  49. #49 Mu
    March 10, 2010

    Having just gotten two kids through the schedule, I can tell you that every vaccination leads to unhappy kid followed by unhappy parents. Reducing the number of dates increases compliance (by the parents).

  50. #50 Leilah
    March 10, 2010

    So, how do people deal with family members who for one reason or another won’t be vaccinating their kids? I have to admit, it seems like the urge to go vaccinate them would be overwhelming. Also, wasn’t there a time when vaccinations were required to attend school? Am I imagining that, or has it just fallen by the wayside?

  51. #51 Katharine
    March 10, 2010

    “Interestingly, Jenny may actually say *something* of value here: she informs us that the doctors who dreamed up these so-called treatments leading to “recovery” have children with autism. In other words, their desperation may have led them down the path of irrationality.”

    Quoted for truth.

    I am almost always suspicious of anyone who has deeply vested interests, whether financially or emotionally, in the outcome of these sorts of things. So yes, listen to their input, but do not let them be the arbiter of the decision.

  52. #52 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    March 10, 2010

    Man, I can’t believe you people are so clueless! She’s an actress, she’s just playing dumb. She probably deserves an Oscar for staying in character like that all the time. She’s like Keyser Soze: she controls it all. Oprah and Huffington work for her and don’t even know it.

    Either that, or she really is just a raging moron.

  53. #53 Sid Offit
    March 10, 2010

    Having just gotten two kids through the schedule, I can tell you that every vaccination leads to unhappy kid followed by unhappy parents

    Seems like a lot of trouble to prevent the mumps. Glad I passed.

  54. #54 Louise
    March 10, 2010

    Boy Howdy! Jenny McCarthy thinks she’s Norma Rae with bosoms!

  55. #55 Ian
    March 10, 2010

    Now if only they can develop a ‘contrarian troll’ vaccine…

  56. #56 Scott
    March 10, 2010

    So, how do people deal with family members who for one reason or another won’t be vaccinating their kids?

    Personally, I’m just happy I don’t have to. My sister’s in her right mind, my wife doesn’t have any siblings, so all the kids in my near family WILL be fully vaccinated.

    Also, wasn’t there a time when vaccinations were required to attend school? Am I imagining that, or has it just fallen by the wayside?

    They still are required, but (a) more and more states are allowing people to simply say “I don’t want to” (so-called “philosophical exemptions” and (b) antivax advocates also advocate parents lying that they have a religious objection where philosophical ones aren’t allowed, and provide precise instructions for how to go about doing so effectively.

  57. #57 Bronze Dog
    March 10, 2010

    Having just gotten two kids through the schedule, I can tell you that every vaccination leads to unhappy kid followed by unhappy parents

    Seems like a lot of trouble to prevent the mumps. Glad I passed.

    Talk about delusional. I’m quite glad my parents got me the vaccine. I didn’t have to worry about the dangers of going through all sorts of morbidity from mumps (and other diseases) like deafness or sterility. I was free to experience life with greatly reduced fear. All because my parents played the most favorable odds: One in a million of having relatively mild reactions versus one in mere thousands of being permanently crippled or dead?

    I’ll take my chances with maybe a little fever and a painful prick. It’s a no-brainer as far as I can tell.

  58. #58 ebohlman
    March 10, 2010

    Let me rewrite Jenny:

    The idea that basketball shorts are a primary cause of autism is not as crackpot as some might wish. Autism’s 60-fold rise in 30 years matches a tripling or more of the length of basketball shorts.

    The simple fact is that logically unrelated time trends very frequently have whopping correlations (often greater than .90). Stephen Jay Gould once pointed out that the correlation between his age and the price of gasoline was almost .1. The mere existence of such a large correlation isn’t enough to arouse scientific suspicion (in legal terms, it wouldn’t even rise to the level of reasonable suspicion).

    kelner: A lot of what’s going on there is a form of what a commentator called the “moral genetic fallacy”: it’s good if We do it, bad if They do it. A few years ago, when it came out that many Ayurvedic preparations being sold in the US were contaminated with large amounts of lead and mercury, one commentator asserted that the contamination was completely harmless because the “medicines” weren’t made by corporations.

  59. #59 MI Dawn
    March 10, 2010

    @Rae: interesting that your kids had high fevers and febrile seizures in the 1970′s. That was the early days of the MMR. I remember getting my first MMR in the 70′s, although I had already had mumps and rubella (escaped measles by luck…went around the neighborhood but neither my brother or I was allowed out to be exposed, since my sister was an infant at the time.) Of course, back in the 1970s, there were a lot more antigens in the MMR vaccine. And, depending on WHEN in the 1970′s, if your kids got the smallpox vaccine (notorious for fevers), then it’s not surprising that they had fevers.

    Did your children have febrile seizures before the vaccine? Febrile seizures are pretty common in some infants (IIRC, there tends to be a familial component with them).

    I remember when babies got aspirin, but, since I was a child in the 1970s I don’t recall when Tylenol for babies came out. My mother dosed us with APC (aspirin, phenacetin and caffiene) tablets when we got any fevers, vaccine related or not. We also had cough syrup with tincture of opium for coughs, Merthiolate (thimerosol – horrors!) and goodness knows what else. Ah, the good old days when diseases were rampant.

  60. #60 Clay
    March 10, 2010

    I sincerely hope that Ms McCarthy gets the recognition she craves so much. They should name an STD after her!

  61. #61 David N. Brown
    March 10, 2010

    “Prepare for inevitable quote-mining, Orac.
    Orac wrote,

    (2) vaccines cause autism ”
    Yes, and the Bible says, “`There is no God’”

  62. #62 JohnV
    March 10, 2010

    “So, how do people deal with family members who for one reason or another won’t be vaccinating their kids? ”

    I have a cohort of family members living in another state and one of their charming traits is refusal to vaccinate. That makes it easier for me to decide to not have anything to do with them.

  63. #63 David N. Brown
    March 10, 2010

    “Prepare for inevitable quote-mining, Orac.
    Orac wrote,

    (2) vaccines cause autism ”
    Yes, and the Bible says, “`There is no God’”

  64. #64 Pablo
    March 10, 2010

    I sincerely hope that Ms McCarthy gets the recognition she craves so much. They should name an STD after her!

    Clay shoots…he scores!

    And wins the thread.

  65. #65 Karl Withakay
    March 10, 2010

    I came across an interesting take on the cesspit that is the Huffington Post by the Quixotic Man over on the Gotham Skeptic the other day:

    http://www.nycskeptics.org/blog/why-david-kirby-a-treatise-on-the-huffington-post/

    If what you care most about is driving traffic to your site, you can discard any notion that your site is anything other than a firestorm intended to feed on itself.

    Apparently there’s no journalistic integrity because there’s no journalistic intention.

  66. #66 Anonymouse
    March 10, 2010

    Having just gotten two kids through the schedule, I can tell you that every vaccination leads to unhappy kid followed by unhappy parents

    Just want to point out that vaccines aren’t a big deal for every kid. My son doesn’t love them, of course, but it isn’t a big freak out either. A few tears, a lollipop, maybe a slight fever the next day. Some kids are affected more than others, but c’mon, we’re talking a sharp pinch and maybe two days of discomfort. Not the end of the world.

    Also, I’ve seen Jenny McCarthy in Malibu. She was walking up and down the beach on July 4th with fake abs spraypainted on her stomach, looking for the paparazzi. She found them, too, because I saw the photos the following day in the gossip blogs. This autism mommy warrior gig is a dream come true for her–not only does she get attention, but it’s Oprah-sanctioned attention. She’s never giving it up unless it’s pried from her cold, dead hands. Please.

  67. #67 English Rose
    March 10, 2010

    @66 Vaccines aren’t a big deal for my son, either (after the first couple of months). I’d attributed it to the stickers he was given to eat afterwards.

    What, stickers aren’t supposed to help with vaccine reaction? Huh, who’d've guessed…

  68. #68 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    March 10, 2010

    If you make the vaccination a big deal with the kid, it will be a big deal. I’ve explained to my 6 y.o. daughter why it is important to get vaccinated. Even she understands that a little poke in the arm beats dying. Plus she understands how it helps protect her not-quite-1 y.o. brother.

    Jenny McCarthy: not as smart as my kindergartner.

  69. #69 plutosdad
    March 10, 2010

    You are completely misunderstanding the problem. don’t you know the more you dilute additives and the more you dilute the disease the more effective they become?

  70. #70 Andrew S.
    March 10, 2010

    Vaccines still lead to unhappy kid and unhappy parents for us. As much as we understand how beneficial they are, at less than 1 year old, all they understand is that they’re being poked with a needle that hurts. May not be better on her birthday (only a month away! Holy moly!) when she gets her MMR/Varicella vaccines, but hopefully by 18 mo, and definitely when she gets the boosters before she starts school.

    The “doctors claim that vaccines are 100% safe!” statement is absurd. I have in front of me (that I had stashed away in my desk, mostly to be able to use against people who say doctors claim it’s 100% safe) a handout on the MMR vaccine that my daughter’s pediatrician gave us after her 9 mo appointment. The handout lays out all the side effects that can occur as a result of MMR. and it states the odds of each. Not only that, it actually talks about VAERS and the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. And it’s distributed by the CDC!

  71. #71 Ed Zactly
    March 10, 2010

    FYI, my response to McCrackpot’s article yesterday never got posted. It was a rather innocuous criticism of HuffPo, their Living section, and it’s woo-fans’ seeming aversion to reason, … irrespective of a softer re-editing three times.

  72. #72 Prometheus
    March 10, 2010

    Orac states:

    “Most importantly, her brain consists of two neurons connected by a spirochete.”

    Are you positive that she hasn’t received penicillin recently? The connection between her two neurons seems to be getting more tenuous.

    BTW, Caenorhabditis elegans, a 1 mm long nematode (worm), has 302 neurons (in the hermaphrodites), none of which require a spirochete as an interneuron.

    However, having read much of what Ms. McCarthy has said about science and autism, I suspect that she is not using her entire complement (2) of neurons fully.

    Prometheus

  73. #73 Caite
    March 10, 2010

    Can’t we just infect these people with a couple of vaccine-preventable diseases (the “light” ones, like measles and whooping cough)?

    Then when they’re moaning about how wretched they feel, we can point out that they prefer that every child to go through this experience. It’s cruel.

  74. #74 Judd
    March 10, 2010

    Slightly off-topic, but on a positive note – Last year when I took my 4-year old to get her vaccinations (In Australia), I asked the staff there if they ever get any trouble from “Anti-Vax” parents and they said “No, Never”. I suppose an anti-vax parent would not normally go to a vaccination clinic, but nevertheless one might expect them to make a nuisance of themselves from time to time.

    It seems that, like creationism, Anti-Vax is an American phenomenon, although both creationism and anti-vax are not unheard-of in Australia (and are quite possibly on the rise).

    On the other hand, I do know someone who refused to vaccinate their toddler, and then took them to India, which did seem very irresponsible to me. The apparent reason for this is that there was another child in their extended family who had autism.

  75. #75 Elemenohpea
    March 10, 2010

    I found one good use for the anti-vax crowd – thanks to Crank Magnetism, if I am searching for information about some health-related issue on the Web and find information on an site with unknown credibility, I search the pages for information on vaccines. If I find the “vaccines are toxins and you shouldn’t get them” rhetoric, I know exactly what kind of site I’m dealing with and “file” the information accordingly.

  76. #76 jenbphillips
    March 10, 2010

    @Judd,
    nope, not just an American phenomenon.

  77. #77 Kevin Bjorke
    March 10, 2010

    Paradoxically, anti-vaxxers aseem to also be anti-healthcare reform. Off that the HuffPo ignores this. But sometimes you have to rise above your principles, I guess.

  78. #78 Judd
    March 10, 2010

    nope, not just an American phenomenon.

    Damn, that is depressing. I thought Americans had the monopoly on stupidity, but apparently I am misinformed. Anyways, thanks for the link.

  79. #79 Adam_Y
    March 10, 2010

    Damn, that is depressing. I thought Americans had the monopoly on stupidity, but apparently I am misinformed. Anyways, thanks for the link.

    Why??????? Some diseases are endemic in Britain because of Wakefield. Austrailia as you found out has had a few kids killed off because herd immunity disapeared. Africa has always had huge problems with this sort of paranoid delusions.

  80. #80 MadScientist
    March 10, 2010

    McCarthey is a celebrity? Huh – who would have guessed. For me “ZZZ” grade isn’t celebrity.

  81. #81 Wake Up
    March 10, 2010

    Vaccines cause autism. Stop living in denial because you may end up harming your kids.

  82. #82 Kristen
    March 10, 2010

    @81

    Vaccines cause autism. Stop living in denial because you may end up harming your kids.

    Poe?

  83. #83 Kate
    March 10, 2010

    I am new to ScienceBlogs and had no idea Jenny McCarthy was an anti-vaccination campaigner until I read this discussion. As a veterinarian who has worked in low socioeconomic areas, with historically low vaccination rates for pet dogs and cats, I have seen first-hand the effects of failure to vaccinate on herd immunity. It is infuriating and heartbreaking to watch animals die of entirely preventable diseases, and I would never take that risk with a child. ‘Celebrities’ need to accept the responsibility that comes with their privileged position, rather than using it as an opportunity to spread misinformation and fear amongst those who may not have the time or ability to accurately assess the evidence.

  84. #84 Kate
    March 10, 2010

    I am new to ScienceBlogs and had no idea Jenny McCarthy was an anti-vaccination campaigner until I read this discussion. As a veterinarian who has worked in low socioeconomic areas, with historically low vaccination rates for pet dogs and cats, I have seen first-hand the effects of failure to vaccinate on herd immunity. It is infuriating and heartbreaking to watch animals die of entirely preventable diseases, and I would never take that risk with a child. ‘Celebrities’ need to accept the responsibility that comes with their privileged position, rather than using it as an opportunity to spread misinformation and fear amongst those who may not have the time or ability to accurately assess the evidence.

  85. #85 Adam_Y
    March 10, 2010

    I love the Huffington Post. Right at this very moment is a blog post almost directly next to McCarthy railing on quack anecdotal autistism treatments….

  86. #86 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 10, 2010

    Vaccines are unquestionably the BEST public health triumph …ever

    Nah, but that’s close to the truth.

    The truth is that when we do ask the question, the evidence always returns the same answer.

  87. #87 Kate
    March 10, 2010

    I am new to ScienceBlogs and had no idea Jenny McCarthy was an anti-vaccination campaigner until I read this discussion. As a veterinarian who has worked in low socioeconomic areas, with historically low vaccination rates for pet dogs and cats, I have seen first-hand the effects of failure to vaccinate on herd immunity. It is infuriating and heartbreaking to watch animals die of entirely preventable diseases, and I would never take that risk with a child. ‘Celebrities’ need to accept the responsibility that comes with their privileged position, rather than using it as an opportunity to spread misinformation and fear amongst those who may not have the time or ability to accurately assess the evidence.

  88. #88 John H.
    March 10, 2010

    I didn’t see this referenced in any of the post above but she did come out a say that her son was diagnosed with Landau-Kleffner….so that should mean (in her world) that vaccines cause Landau-Kleffner right?….
    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.basilandspice.com%2Fmind-and-body%2Fjenny-mccarthy-changes-her-mind-on-autism-feb-2010.html&h=2140b259d3ddeee7e576bea8e68e9bd1

  89. #89 Chris
    March 10, 2010

    No, not really. It was implied by the author of a fluff article about her. See this article, where the blogger admits:

    I went back and read the entire TIME magazine article and nowhere did I find any comments from Jenny McCarthy insinuating that she had changed her view whatsoever.

    Then she noticed the same thing when I read the Time article:

    What about the Landau-Kleffner syndrome that was mentioned in the Hollywood Life report? Jenny herself was never quoted as saying anything of the sort. It was simply the author of the article alluding to what skeptics and pediatricians have been saying all along, that Evan may never have had autism to begin with.

    What I mostly have a problem with is that Ms. McCarthy blames her son’s seizures on the MMR vaccine. Except elsewhere she wrote that his very long and scary seizure happened when he about 2 and half years old. That would have been at least a year after any MMR vaccine (typically given between 12 to 15 months of age).

  90. #90 Kate
    March 10, 2010

    I am new to ScienceBlogs and had no idea Jenny McCarthy was an anti-vaccination campaigner until I read this discussion. As a veterinarian who has worked in low socioeconomic areas, with historically low vaccination rates for pet dogs and cats, I have seen first-hand the effects of failure to vaccinate on herd immunity. It is infuriating and heartbreaking to watch animals die of entirely preventable diseases, and I would never take that risk with a child. ‘Celebrities’ need to accept the responsibility that comes with their privileged position, rather than using it as an opportunity to spread misinformation and fear amongst those who may not have the time or ability to accurately assess the evidence.

  91. #91 Chris
    March 10, 2010

    Kate, do you work for public service where everything has to be done in triplicate?
    ;-)

  92. #92 Kate
    March 10, 2010

    Sorry didn’t mean to post my comment 4 times – server kept timing out on me!

  93. #93 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    March 10, 2010

    @81

    Sorry, you have the wrong universe. The one you are looking for is 3 down on the left. On the plus side, homeopathy works there, too.

  94. #94 maydijo
    March 10, 2010

    @Judd – I live in Australia too. My sister in law, who is a nurse and should know better, refuses to vaccinate her kids because her son has an autism diagnosis, and she blames it on the vaccine. I see a strong genetic link – according to my husband, about one-third of his male cousins had a developmental delay that would probably be diagnosed on the autism spectrum today; although they all became functional adults, so either they ‘outgrew’ it or it is so minor as to be easily managed. (As is her son’s – at 6 he is almost developmentally normal.) But she swears up and down it was the MMR vaccine.

  95. #95 maydijo
    March 10, 2010

    @Judd – I live in Australia too. My sister in law, who is a nurse and should know better, refuses to vaccinate her kids because her son has an autism diagnosis, and she blames it on the vaccine. I see a strong genetic link – according to my husband, about one-third of his male cousins had a developmental delay that would probably be diagnosed on the autism spectrum today; although they all became functional adults, so either they ‘outgrew’ it or it is so minor as to be easily managed. (As is her son’s – at 6 he is almost developmentally normal.) But she swears up and down it was the MMR vaccine.

  96. #96 lauren
    March 11, 2010

    I find it sad that you couldn’t just write an article about vax or autism, you had to take the low road and bully someone else. People are looking on the internet for facts/answers/etc to help them make an informed decision and for me personally, your bullying ruined any helpful information you might have been providing.

  97. #97 jenbphillips
    March 11, 2010

    Lauren,
    what, precisely, do you identify as ‘bullying’ in this post? I’m honestly curious.

  98. #98 Orac
    March 11, 2010

    I find it sad that you couldn’t just write an article about vax or autism, you had to take the low road and bully someone else. People are looking on the internet for facts/answers/etc to help them make an informed decision and for me personally, your bullying ruined any helpful information you might have been providing.

    Concern troll is concerned.

  99. #99 Chris
    March 11, 2010

    I am also curious. Because what I mostly see are McCarthy’s fallacies being pointed out. Then there is the hypocrisy of her screaming about “toxins” while knowingly and voluntarily having a known toxin injected to hide her smile lines.

    Now about bullying… don’t real bullies use libel laws? Look at this entry.

    Are you now going to claim that Barbara Loe Fisher Arthur was bullied because the lawsuit she instigated was dismissed?

  100. #100 tim gueguen
    March 11, 2010

    The Hutterite vaccine study article linked to above was interesting, but I’d argue with a couple of the points. First of all the use of the term isolated, as it implies Hutterite colonies are located in the middle of nowhere as opposed to being located amongst “regular” farms. I’d also question the “little contact with the outside world” idea. In the Saskatoon region at least you see them shopping, visiting the public library, and doing other things a lot more than you would have 20 years ago. I even saw a pair of young Hutterite men in a music store trying out guitars a couple of years ago, and they seemed to have a reasonable idea of what was on the market and what they wanted.

  101. #101 charleneolson@mac.com
    March 11, 2010

    What a sad lot you are – self righteous, sanctimonious, really a pain in the brain. She might be right, she might be wrong but you, none of you know for sure either. You are just blathering on too.

  102. #102 Chris
    March 11, 2010

    Tim, I would interpret it as relative isolation.

    You do have to admit Saskatoon is not Vancouver, or even Edmonton (yes, I looked it up… looks like an interesting place to visit, though I would have to visit hubby’s grandmother’s French-Canadian hometown of Bonnyville, AL first). Anyway from the New York Times article it is noted that

    Although they frown on television and radio, Hutterites drive cars and modern tractors. More important from a medical point of view, they live in communities of up to 160 people, own everything jointly, attend their own schools, eat in one dining hall and have little contact with the outside world. Each community governs itself, but, in Dr. Loeb’s words, “after one very with-it Alberta bishop recognized the study’s benefit to the rest of the world and backed it,” almost 50 communities voted to participate.

    and it is noted that they while do tend to shut themselves off, they are “with it”:

    Hutterites have no religious objections to Western medicine, that very “with-it” bishop, John K. Stahl, 76, said in a telephone interview. While deliberately cut off, they perform acts of generosity — for example, many donate blood frequently.

    Trying to pinpoint some of the places (how many times have you been to Tecumseh?), I found the actual JAMA article. If you read it, you will see there were specific requirements to be in the study (distance from certain sized towns, and minimum number of susceptible persons).

  103. #103 MikeMa
    March 11, 2010

    charleneolson,
    What we are quite sure of is that McCarthy is completely science-free. Her allegations are misleading and often full of lies. We prefer verifiable ideas, ones that can be tested. We also can change our minds based on evidence, something the anti-vax crowd has not been able to do.

    If what we present here is a pain in your brain, I’d suggest a little science education with a smattering of reading comprehension thrown in.

  104. #104 The Panic Man
    March 11, 2010

    lauren @#96: Uh-oh, I better call you a waaaaaaaahmbulance and have them give you something for all that butthurt and maybe a procedure to extract your cranium from your posterior.

  105. #105 Lenoxus
    March 11, 2010

    Made a year back or so, this Onion video still reminds me of what I think is at the root of a heck of a lot of antivax and anti-medicine.

  106. #106 Pat
    March 11, 2010

    charleneolson@mac.com@101:
    You’ve used the tactic of equating opposite positions to equal positions. Nothing could be further from the truth. The proof of the effectiveness of vaccines is in the fact that I, as a citizen of the United States, have not once worried that Whooping Cough or Measles, or German Measles, or Mumps, or Rubella would carry off any of my children. The increase in autism cannot be related to vaccination. It has been tried.

    So, yes, we can call Ms. McCarthy out on her theories of Phlogiston in this era of chemistry. Her knowledge and expertise is medieval, her logic is associative magic. She is a step below the pigeons in the Skinner study that were dropped a food pellet at regular intervals. They associated whatever behavior they were engaged in as making the pellet come, so ritualistically they continued, never once questioning their assertion. Jenny is worse: she vigorously defends her assertion in the face of overwhelming contravening evidence. And it is harming children. A recent epidemic of Whooping Cough in New York says so, not to mention other disease resurgence.

    And before you snipe: I have an autistic son, an autistic nephew, and yet I still have my newborn second son vaccinated regularly. My money is where my mouth is.

    Anti-intellectualism is when you don’t like the answers of the experts. She doesn’t like the answer “we don’t know,” so she smears the messengers, the ones who can actually analyze the data, and substitutes the answer she wants. By smearing experts, she can claim equal footing.

    Remarkably, it is the exact same tactic that you have used to attempt to pull down one fact-based assessment of thousands of experts down to the level of the knee-jerk hysteria of one not-to-bright opinionated actress.

  107. #107 snerd
    March 11, 2010

    She might be right, she might be wrong but you, none of you know for sure either.

    If only there was some kind of method by which we might determine the greater likelihood of factuality! What a boon that would be to all! Why, we might use such a scientific method (if I may coin a phrase) to create ‘flying machines’ and ‘mp3 players’ and ‘antibiotics’!

    (Anyone getting tired of this yet? It’s probably not a terribly useful way to respond to drive-by flouncers).

  108. #108 storkdok
    March 11, 2010

    This is a microbiologist’s dream post!

    If Jenny doesn’t let logic (or science) get in the way of making money, at least she is fodder for Oracian Insolence at it’s most Respectful!

    Thank you for the laugh! It starts my day off on the right foot!

  109. #109 Orac
    March 11, 2010

    What a sad lot you are – self righteous, sanctimonious, really a pain in the brain. She might be right, she might be wrong but you, none of you know for sure either. You are just blathering on too.

    Another concern troll is concerned.

    One notes that Charlene is unable to refute a single thing in this post; so instead she whines about how mean I am.

  110. #110 Kristen
    March 11, 2010

    @81 and 96

    This reminds me of elementary school: ‘You’re mean, you can’t be my best friend anymore…I’m going home!’

  111. #111 Pablo
    March 11, 2010

    What I mostly have a problem with is that Ms. McCarthy blames her son’s seizures on the MMR vaccine. Except elsewhere she wrote that his very long and scary seizure happened when he about 2 and half years old. That would have been at least a year after any MMR vaccine (typically given between 12 to 15 months of age).

    The first MMR is given after 12 mos, and a second is given soon after 18 months (at least 6 mos after the first). We are currently in-between those shots with Offspring the Elder.

    But yeah, this is problem that we often see, in the “he got the shot, and suddenly came down sick” claim. How suddenly is suddenly? It ranges, apparently, everywhere from “that afternoon” to “3 months later” to “3 years later.”

    Family Guy did a dig on that once.
    Lois: “Let’s just buy a car from a newspaper.”
    Peter: “Oh no. I knew a guy who bought a car from a newspaper once. You know what happened? 10 years later, BAM!, herpes.”

  112. #112 Pablo
    March 11, 2010

    Kate

    Sorry didn’t mean to post my comment 4 times – server kept timing out on me!

    And being new to RI, you wouldn’t know that is a common problem. Er, feature. Er, typical.

  113. #113 Chris
    March 11, 2010

    Pablo:

    The first MMR is given after 12 mos, and a second is given soon after 18 months (at least 6 mos after the first). We are currently in-between those shots with Offspring the Elder.< .blockquote>

    Sorry, Pablo. The first is given betweeen 12 to 15 months, and the second at about four to six years. Here is the the schedule. Though it does have this note:

    8. Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR). (Minimum age: 12 months): Administer the second dose routinely at age 4 through 6 years. However, the second dose may be administered before age 4, provided at least 28 days have elapsed since the first dose

    I would assume the reason for the early 2nd dose is if there is a measles outbreak. My children are old enough that the second was actually after age ten (required for middle school). Though when my oldest was in middle school, I did get my younger kids (age six and nine) their second MMR because there was a measles outbreak in a nearby private school.

  114. #114 Pablo
    March 11, 2010

    So what did we get at 12 mos that we have to wait at least 6 mos to get again?

    I know there is something, because our 12 mo appt came at 12 mo and two weeks, so we have to wait until two weeks after the 18 mo birthday to go back again.

  115. #115 phoenixwoman
    March 11, 2010

    Shorter Lauren: I swear like a sailor in my own personal life, but I’m going to pull the Innocence Abused Gambit because I can’t counter Orac on the facts of the matter.

  116. #116 Science Mom
    March 11, 2010

    Pablo, my guess would be that the 18 month visit would include DTaP, Hib and maybe PCV boosters.

  117. #117 Pablo
    March 11, 2010

    Definitely not DTaP. We’ve had our last one of that for now. Maybe Hib.

  118. #118 Kevin Bjorke
    March 11, 2010

    A quick followup on the connection between the (anti-HuffPo’s principles) Tea-Party anti-health-reform movement and (HuffPo loves) anti-vaccine quackery. Elizabeth Emken is running for congress in my Bay Area district, and has been the “VP of Government Relations” for Autism Speaks. Her website bio, “Why I’m Running” begins: “When my son was diagnosed with autism at age 4…”

  119. #119 Chris
    March 11, 2010

    Looking at the schedule in my link, it looks like Hepatitis A. From that link (and paragraphs breaks removed because this blog wants each paragraph to be its own blockquote):

    10. Hepatitis A vaccine (HepA). (Minimum age: 12 months). Administer to all children aged 1 year (i.e., aged 12 through 23 months). Administer 2 doses at least 6 months apart.

  120. #120 dcotler
    March 11, 2010

    @Pablo: Hepatitis A vax is usually scheduled for 12 and 18 mo

  121. #121 Andrew S.
    March 11, 2010

    @ Pablo: FWIW, this is the schedule my daughter’s pediatrician uses:

    12 Months Varicella #1, MMR #1, Hepatitis A#1
    15 Months HIB #4, Prevnar #4
    18 Months DTaP #4, Polio #3, Hep A#2

  122. #122 JAL
    March 11, 2010

    Hep A, HepB, Varicella, HPV… these are the vaccines that diminish the importance of the other vaccines. An earlier poster mentioned if only people remembered living with the vaccine preventable diseases and how deadly they were. Well, I lived through varicella…twice. In fact, just about everyone over the age of 10 did. Yes pertussis and measles and HIB need to be prevented via vaccines! But once you start lumping ALL vaccines together, you loose people like me who believe in making choices. All vaccines are not the same, and the risks of all vaccines do not outweigh the benefits. I am not interested in my children needing a lifetime of varicella boosters to prevent a relatively benign disease. And zoster reduction in vaccinated individuals has yet to be proven given that the vaccine has not been around long enough for recipients to become elderly. So I do vaccinate, but selectively.

  123. #123 Chris
    March 11, 2010

    Hepatitis A is transmitted through food. Hepatitis A is not benign.

    It used to be very common that there would a news announcement that someone working in a restaurant was infected and those people who had eaten there should go to their health care provider for an immuno-globulin shot.

    In the office next to the one I worked at everyone had to go in for that bit of prevention due to sharing a bowl of popcorn. It turned out an assistant in the office spent several weeks out of work as she recovered from hepatitis.

    Now that does not happen so often.

  124. #124 young skeptic
    March 11, 2010

    “But once you start lumping ALL vaccines together, you loose people like me who believe in making choices.”

    I frequently am told I’m anti-rights or a fascist and totalitarian when I question the wisdom of this. If the individual gets to make an uninformed decision (and it is by it’s nature uninformed given the number of people vaccination has the potential to affect) that has the potential to involve a sizable portion of the population what does that say about our society? It makes us all seem so self centered and callous.

  125. #125 JAL
    March 11, 2010

    @122: I don’t think that my 12mo old would be sharing a bowl of popcorn with co-workers. :-) Risk is relative. The risk of getting in a car accident on the way to the doctors to get the HepA vax far exceeds the risk of contracting HepA, let alone having any sequelae.

    Certainly there are parts of the US where HepA is more endemic and the risk of infection is increased – I don’t happen to live in one of those areas. The reality is that HepA is generally a self-limiting disease that often times is symptom free.

  126. #126 JAL
    March 11, 2010

    @123: Decisions that affect a sizable portion of the population are made every day. A perfect example is when doctors continue to prescribe antibiotics for ear infections when all the evidence based medicine recommends against this. (Antibiotic resistance is a far greater public health threat then Hepatitis A or Varicella).

    It is far easier to argue to blindly follow the vaccine schedule “for the good of society” when it is not your child. Just between my oldest and youngest children there have been 4 new vaccines and another dose of varicella added to the schedule. The more that gets added, the easier it is to question the risks versus the benefits.

  127. #127 young skeptic
    March 11, 2010

    “The risk of getting in a car accident on the way to the doctors to get the HepA vax far exceeds the risk of contracting HepA, let alone having any sequelae.”

    But there are laws that dictate how you can travel in a vehicle, what safety standards a vehicle has to adhere to before it can be sold, which direction you can travel on a road and why there are penalties for violating these laws. Why shouldn’t the same be true for health matters that involve the rest of society?

  128. #128 Scott
    March 11, 2010

    The risk of getting in a car accident on the way to the doctors to get the HepA vax far exceeds the risk of contracting HepA, let alone having any sequelae.

    Citations for those numbers, please. And if your 12mo-old spends any time with other kids, there’s a definite possibility of transmission, popcorn or no!

  129. #129 JAL
    March 11, 2010

    @126: What if there was a vaccine for obesity? Would you support mandating it? After all, obesity is not contagious, but preventing it would certainly benefit society by reducing all of the chronic illnesses that are often associated with it.

    Could there be a law that you had to be vaccinated against being overweight?

  130. #130 Chris
    March 11, 2010

    If you yourself get HepA, you have a high chance of transmitting to your child.

  131. #131 young skeptic
    March 11, 2010

    “Decisions that affect a sizable portion of the population are made every day. A perfect example is when doctors continue to prescribe antibiotics for ear infections when all the evidence based medicine recommends against this.”

    But, again, there are rules that doctors must follow. My point isn’t that these decisions shouldn’t be made but that there should be rules governing them. And of course repercussions for not. Besides, the doctor’s actions are very much akin to your own. They’re refusing to place the potential harm to society above the potential harm to someone in their immediate care.

    “It is far easier to argue to blindly follow the vaccine schedule “for the good of society” when it is not your child.”

    And by disregarding everyone but those in your immediate circle you are being a poor citizen and a very callous human being. I don’t see how you can excuse this?

    “The more that gets added, the easier it is to question the risks versus the benefits.”

    How so? Is the vaccine likely to cause more harm then the disease?

  132. #132 JAL
    March 11, 2010

    @128: Seriously? You need a citation to know that there are more car accidents a year than cases of HepA? Here you go:

    In 2006, 42,642 people KILLED. 2,600,000 people INJURED.
    http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810791.PDF

    Compare that to under 50,000 estimated cases of HepA each year and approximately 100 deaths.

  133. #133 Scott
    March 11, 2010

    @128:

    Entirely different. Your becoming obese can only cost me money. You not getting vaccinated can kill or seriously injure me or my children.

  134. #134 young skeptic
    March 11, 2010

    “What if there was a vaccine for obesity”

    I would do somersaults. The only thing that would make me happier was if the USMC updated it’s absurd weight requirements.

    “Could there be a law that you had to be vaccinated against being overweight?”

    You said obesity. That is not the same as overweight. Overweight (from what I understand) is just being a little over an average. Obesity is when your body fat is dangerously high impairing your body’s functions and your health.

  135. #135 Chris
    March 11, 2010

    JAL, good, you found that HepA is not benign and actually kills 100 people per year (though it would help if you referenced your source). Now just come up with some actual numbers and supporting documentation on the relative risks of Hepatitis A and its vaccine.

    I can now assume that you do not set foot in any form of motor vehicles since the death rate is so high. This must explain why you are not a fan of getting vaccines. It must be tough taking kids on foot to the doctor’s office.

  136. #136 ebohlman
    March 11, 2010

    JAL: How old are you? What’s changed with respect to varicella is that there are now a lot of adults out there who would be in serious danger if they were exposed to a child with varicella (and by that I mean a child who’s infectious, something that can happen during the asymptomatic phase of infection). Back in the Good Old Days, you didn’t have those kinds of adults because they would have died of the conditions whose treatment now causes them to be immunosuppressed.

  137. #137 Scott
    March 11, 2010

    Seriously? You need a citation to know that there are more car accidents a year than cases of HepA? Here you go:

    In 2006, 42,642 people KILLED. 2,600,000 people INJURED.
    http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810791.PDF

    Compare that to under 50,000 estimated cases of HepA each year and approximately 100 deaths.

    Completely inadequate to your point. You made the claim that there was more risk of “getting in a car accident on the way to the doctors” than of HepA. The number of deaths in car accidents per year does NOT equal the risk of getting in a car accident on the way to the doctors. Please show the risk of getting in a car accident on the way to the doctors is greater than that of HepA.

    This is not nitpicking – you’re making the claim that the one risk outweighs the other; in order for the number you cited to be relevant the choice would have to be between not driving at all and getting the HepA vaccine. This is clearly not true.

  138. #138 JAL
    March 11, 2010

    Chris: I am not sure how you can argue that I am irrational to risk. The risk of dying in a car accident is 426 times greater than that of dying from Hepatitis A, yet you choose to drive in a car to get vaccinated for the lesser risk. Have you been vaccinated for HepA?

    Now, if you can source some evidence of long term efficacy of the Hepatitis A vaccine I’d be glad to read it. The reality is the duration is unknown and so getting “vaccinated” once is not equal to life-long protection. And I am sure you know that adults are the worst when it comes to being up to date on vaccinations.

    Young Skeptic: Once there is a vaccine for obestity, where do you draw the line for “overweight”? If someone is overweight wouldn’t the assumption be that they are on the path to obesity? How would you decide who has to get the vaccine? Would everyone be required so that no one would be overweight or obese? According to the CDC, a BMI 29.9 or under is “overweight”, a BMI 30+ is “obese”.

    I think you underestimate the impact that an overweight and/or obese population has on you. Yes, it drives up insurance costs, but also increases ER wait times and fills up doctor schedules so you can’t get an appointment in a timely manner – both which could have a direct impact on your health.

    My point was more that everyone jumps on the bandwagon of “public health” when it involves children and disease. The wagon slows down when it involves adults and “lifestyle choices”.

    BTW, have either of you had your Pertussis (Tdap) booster? You know that adults are the biggest source of whooping cough infection, right?

  139. #139 Scott
    March 11, 2010

    The risk of dying in a car accident is 426 times greater than that of dying from Hepatitis A, yet you choose to drive in a car to get vaccinated for the lesser risk.

    Completely incorrect, as argued above! The choice is NOT between driving at all and getting vaccinated; in order for your argument to make sense the risk of dying in a car accident on your way to get the vaccine would have to be that high!

  140. #140 Dan Weber
    March 11, 2010

    JAL has a bit of a point.

    The National Safety Council says you have a 1:6500 chance of dying in a car crash in a given year. I’m handwaving that the average person makes 250 trips a year, meaning that each individual trip represents a 1-in-1,600,000 chance of dying. (I gave myself 2 significant figures but that “250″ figure was pulled out of a hat so roleplay accordingly.)

    Assuming that your odds of getting HepA are static, you have 100 out of 300,000,000 Americans dying of it each year. Over the course of 70 years you have a 1-in-4,300,000 chance of dying of it.

    You can play with my numbers; 250 trips per year is probably too small (and anyway time-in-car and distance-traveled are better metrics), but you’ll stay in similar orders of magnitude.

    Of course, you don’t make a special trip to the doctor just for the HepA vaccine. You get it along with the others on your normal childhood and adult visits. Plus there are the network effects of not being a vector yourself.

  141. #141 T. Bruce McNeely
    March 11, 2010

    JAL has also missed the point that there is a lot less Hepatitis A around now than there used to be. This at least in part is thanks to the vaccine.

  142. #142 Chris
    March 11, 2010

    JAL:

    Now, if you can source some evidence of long term efficacy of the Hepatitis A vaccine I’d be glad to read it.

    Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2010 Feb 26. [Epub ahead of print]
    Long-Term Immunity After Two Doses of Inactivated Hepatitis A Vaccine, in Argentinean Children.

    We examined long-term anti-hepatitis A virus antibody persistence in Argentinean children 10 years after the initial study in which they received 2 doses of inactivated hepatitis A vaccine (Avaxim 80U). Of the 111 children, 48 from the initial trial were enrolled. Of 48, 47 (97.9%) participants had serum anti-hepatitis A virus antibody titers greater than or equal to 20 mIU/mL, with the geometric mean concentration of 390.91 (+/-370.14) mIU/mL; (95% confidence interval, 282.2-499.5 mIU/mL), range, 36 to 1860.

    Vaccine. 2008 Mar 25;26(14):1737-41. Epub 2008 Feb 14.
    Impact and effectiveness of a mass hepatitis A vaccination programme of preadolescents seven years after introduction.

    AIM: To investigate the impact of a mass hepatitis A vaccination programme in preadolescents seven years after introduction in terms of its effectiveness and the prevented fraction. SETTING: The age distribution of notified cases and incidence rates in Catalonia (Spain) in the periods before (1992-1998) and after (1999-2005) introduction of the vaccination programme were compared. MAIN RESULTS: The incidence rates in the whole population were 5.51 per 100,000 person-years in the 1992-1998 period and 2.98 in the 1999-2005 period. The rate reduction in the 10-19 years age group was 72.43% and was more than 45% in the 5-9 years and 20-29 years age groups. The effectiveness of the vaccination programme was 99.04 (95% CI: 93.11-99.88) and the prevented fraction in the 12-19 years age group was 90.13% (95% CI: 84.47-90.89). CONCLUSIONS: The universal vaccination programme of preadolescents has had an important impact on hepatitis A in Catalonia, not only in vaccinated cohorts but also in non-vaccinated age groups due to a herd immunity effect.

    World J Gastroenterol. 2008 May 7;14(17):2771-5.
    Protective effect of inactivated hepatitis A vaccine against the outbreak of hepatitis A in an open rural community.

    CONCLUSION: Inactivated hepatitis A vaccine demonstrates a good protective effect against an outbreak of hepatitis A.

    N Engl J Med. 2007 Oct 25;357(17):1685-94. Epub 2007 Oct 18.
    Hepatitis A vaccine versus immune globulin for postexposure prophylaxis

    Low rates of hepatitis A in both groups indicate that hepatitis A vaccine and immune globulin provided good protection after exposure. Although the study’s prespecified criterion for noninferiority was met, the slightly higher rates of hepatitis A among vaccine recipients may indicate a true modest difference in efficacy and might be clinically meaningful in some settings. Vaccine has other advantages, including long-term protection, and it may be a reasonable alternative to immune globulin for postexposure prophylaxis in many situations.

    Travel Med Infect Dis. 2007 Mar;5(2):79-84. Epub 2006 Jun 19.
    A review of the long-term protection after hepatitis A and B vaccination….

    And there are lots more, including several cost effectiveness studies. Plus the recent ones are for a combo HepA/HepB vaccine. You can go find them yourself on PubMed.

    Also, you can read the CDC Pink Book on vaccines. Here is the Hepatitis A chapter. Page 6 has the start of this paragraph:

    Both vaccines are highly immunogenic. More than 95% of adults will develop protective antibody within 4 weeks of a single dose of either vaccine, and nearly 100% will seroconvert after receiving two doses. Among children and adolescents, more than 97% will be seropositive within a month of the first dose. In clinical trials, all recipients had protective levels of antibody after two doses.

    You can find a bibliography at the end of the chapter to find the studies those numbers were taken from. So you can do your own homework. But now I need to return to doing my actual homework (finals week next week!). Though it would help if the guy next door would stop power washing his driveway. sigh

  143. #143 JAL
    March 11, 2010

    Well Scott, maybe you can start an study that tracks how many car accidents occurred on the way to immunization appointments. Until then, as long as the CDC can estimate the number of cases of HepA to be 10 times greater than actually reported, I can estimate that the risk of a car accident (which occurs frequently) on the way to an appt is greater than dying from HepA (which occurs rarely – especially in health individuals).

    In 2007, 2,979 acute symptomatic cases of Hepatitis A were reported; the incidence was 1.0/100,000, the lowest rate ever recorded. After adjusting for asymptomatic infection and underreporting, the estimated number of new infections was 25,000.

    http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/statistics.htm

    BTW, 25,000 is the lowest number I have found. Several other previously cited sites given much higher “estimates”.

    @140: I completely agree that the vaccine has had a tremendous impact in certain areas of the US where HepA infection is prevalent (the southwest in particular). The vaccine only recently became recommended for ALL children regardless of location despite the fact the cases are dramatically lower than they were ten years ago. My children are not at any more risk of contracting HepA today than they were 3 years ago before the vaccine recommendations changed, and so they are not vaccinated for it.

  144. #144 Scott
    March 11, 2010

    maybe you can start an study that tracks how many car accidents occurred on the way to immunization appointments. Until then, as long as the CDC can estimate the number of cases of HepA to be 10 times greater than actually reported, I can estimate that the risk of a car accident (which occurs frequently) on the way to an appt is greater than dying from HepA

    Summarized: You made a completely unsupported assertion, and when called on it resorted to a tu quoque and attempted to reverse the burden of proof.

    Sorry, doesn’t fly. You might as well admit that your argument against getting the vaccine has been utterly blown out of the water.

    I additionally note that you continue to attempt to conflate the total risk of dying in a car accident with the risk of dying from HepA; these risks are still completely unrelated.

  145. #145 Chris
    March 11, 2010

    JAL:

    Now, if you can source some evidence of long term efficacy of the Hepatitis A vaccine I’d be glad to read it.

    Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2010 Feb 26. [Epub ahead of print]
    Long-Term Immunity After Two Doses of Inactivated Hepatitis A Vaccine, in Argentinean Children.

    We examined long-term anti-hepatitis A virus antibody persistence in Argentinean children 10 years after the initial study in which they received 2 doses of inactivated hepatitis A vaccine (Avaxim 80U). Of the 111 children, 48 from the initial trial were enrolled. Of 48, 47 (97.9%) participants had serum anti-hepatitis A virus antibody titers greater than or equal to 20 mIU/mL, with the geometric mean concentration of 390.91 (+/-370.14) mIU/mL; (95% confidence interval, 282.2-499.5 mIU/mL), range, 36 to 1860.

    Vaccine. 2008 Mar 25;26(14):1737-41. Epub 2008 Feb 14.
    Impact and effectiveness of a mass hepatitis A vaccination programme of preadolescents seven years after introduction.

    AIM: To investigate the impact of a mass hepatitis A vaccination programme in preadolescents seven years after introduction in terms of its effectiveness and the prevented fraction. SETTING: The age distribution of notified cases and incidence rates in Catalonia (Spain) in the periods before (1992-1998) and after (1999-2005) introduction of the vaccination programme were compared. MAIN RESULTS: The incidence rates in the whole population were 5.51 per 100,000 person-years in the 1992-1998 period and 2.98 in the 1999-2005 period. The rate reduction in the 10-19 years age group was 72.43% and was more than 45% in the 5-9 years and 20-29 years age groups. The effectiveness of the vaccination programme was 99.04 (95% CI: 93.11-99.88) and the prevented fraction in the 12-19 years age group was 90.13% (95% CI: 84.47-90.89). CONCLUSIONS: The universal vaccination programme of preadolescents has had an important impact on hepatitis A in Catalonia, not only in vaccinated cohorts but also in non-vaccinated age groups due to a herd immunity effect.

    World J Gastroenterol. 2008 May 7;14(17):2771-5.
    Protective effect of inactivated hepatitis A vaccine against the outbreak of hepatitis A in an open rural community.

    CONCLUSION: Inactivated hepatitis A vaccine demonstrates a good protective effect against an outbreak of hepatitis A.

    N Engl J Med. 2007 Oct 25;357(17):1685-94. Epub 2007 Oct 18.
    Hepatitis A vaccine versus immune globulin for postexposure prophylaxis

    Low rates of hepatitis A in both groups indicate that hepatitis A vaccine and immune globulin provided good protection after exposure. Although the study’s prespecified criterion for noninferiority was met, the slightly higher rates of hepatitis A among vaccine recipients may indicate a true modest difference in efficacy and might be clinically meaningful in some settings. Vaccine has other advantages, including long-term protection, and it may be a reasonable alternative to immune globulin for postexposure prophylaxis in many situations.

    Travel Med Infect Dis. 2007 Mar;5(2):79-84. Epub 2006 Jun 19.
    A review of the long-term protection after hepatitis A and B vaccination….

    And there are lots more, including several cost effectiveness studies. Plus the recent ones are for a combo HepA/HepB vaccine. You can go find them yourself on PubMed.

    Also, you can read the CDC Pink Book on vaccines. Here is the Hepatitis A chapter. Page 6 has the start of this paragraph:

    Both vaccines are highly immunogenic. More than 95% of adults will develop protective antibody within 4 weeks of a single dose of either vaccine, and nearly 100% will seroconvert after receiving two doses. Among children and adolescents, more than 97% will be seropositive within a month of the first dose. In clinical trials, all recipients had protective levels of antibody after two doses.

    You can find a bibliography at the end of the chapter to find the studies those numbers were taken from. So you can do your own homework. But now I need to return to doing my actual homework (finals week next week!). Though it would help if the guy next door would stop power washing his driveway. sigh

  146. #146 Chris
    March 11, 2010

    Sorry for the double post. I hit post, closed the computer to study… came back, opened it up and it was still on the preview pane.

    How long does it take to power wash a driveway? Two hours and counting. AAARGH!

  147. #147 young skeptic
    March 11, 2010

    “If someone is overweight wouldn’t the assumption be that they are on the path to obesity? ”

    Forgive me for not being clearer. Overweight is simply that, being over the average weight of a person for your age group and sex. Obese is containing a dangerously high level of fat in your body that causes it to not function at it’s optimal level. Overweight is not dangerous in and of itself. Plenty of healthy individuals are overweight. Many of my friends are and could easily out perform an individual 20 pounds lighter in most competitions.

    An obese individual could not because the fat level in his body is suffocating him or preventing adequate blood flow or any other score of problems.

    BMI is obsolete. It’s a general rule of thumb I wish people would abandon. Which is why I said the only thing that would make me happier then a vaccine against obesity would be if the USMC dropped it’s outdated weight/height standards.

    “BTW, have either of you had your Pertussis (Tdap) booster? You know that adults are the biggest source of whooping cough infection, right?”

    Honestly I don’t know. I’m not really in control of what shots I get anymore. I probably have but didn’t realize it. I’ll double check my med records.

  148. #148 John H.
    March 11, 2010

    Chris…After your post I read the Time article as well and found you to be correct…Sorry to everyone for the misinformation.
    Has anyone ever looked into the correlation of the willingness of doctors to diagnos Autism to the increase in cases, I just know that 16 years ago (yes its a long time ago)we could not get a medical doctor to say the word Autism because of their preception of the abstactness of the diagnosis….in other words they didn’t what to be sued if it wasn’t Autism. Now I have spoken to people who have doctors diagnosing kids at 1 with Autism, I’m not a doctor but that seems a bit young to me.

  149. #149 Gray Falcon
    March 11, 2010

    Raw numbers do not make good statistics. There are very few cases of accidents from drunken chainsaw juggling, does that make it safer than driving?

  150. #150 Pablo
    March 11, 2010

    It is far easier to argue to blindly follow the vaccine schedule “for the good of society” when it is not your child.

    No offense, JAL, but you can kiss my ass.

    I AM following the vaccine schedule for my child, for two reasons
    1) I love my child and want to do everything I can to keep him safe, and
    2) I am not a selfish asshole who expects everyone else to take the risks that are associated with vaccines*** to keep the incidence rate low enough so my child is not at serious risk

    How DARE you suggest that I, as a parent, will talk the talk and not walk the walk? You are out of your league.

    This gets even better, see below. But first some unfinished business

    ***yes, there are risks, albeit small; however, if I count on the rest of society to get vaccinated, then because of statistics, some of those members will have complications. But you don’t care if 5 kids (out of a million who get the vaccine) have serious issues, because your children are protected

    BTW, have either of you had your Pertussis (Tdap) booster? You know that adults are the biggest source of whooping cough infection, right?

    I just got mine last summer. Moreover, unlike most people and their booster, it was not because of tetanus. It was because I needed a pertussis booster. So I called the doctor and got one. Your attempt to be clever and trip us up is a fail. Again, you are better to stop while you only look like a minor idiot.

  151. #151 Enkidu
    March 11, 2010

    Got my TDaP booster last year. I’m all in!

  152. #152 Kristen
    March 12, 2010

    Pablo said to JAL:

    No offense, JAL, but you can kiss my ass.
    I AM following the vaccine schedule for my child, for two reasons
    1) I love my child and want to do everything I can to keep him safe, and
    2) I am not a selfish asshole who expects everyone else to take the risks that are associated with vaccines*** to keep the incidence rate low enough so my child is not at serious risk
    How DARE you suggest that I, as a parent, will talk the talk and not walk the walk? You are out of your league.

    I feel the exact same way about what she said. All my children are up-to-date on their vaccinations. The only ‘modification’ I made to their schedule is that I had my youngest immunized for HepB at her two week appointment and not right at birth (that was only because I was in the middle of feeding her when they asked).

    When my son was first diagnosed I kept his vaccines up-to-date even though I believed (erroneously) that they might have something to do with his autism. Because these diseases are very real and can be very deadly.

    Now that I am more educated on the matter I realize how utterly devoid of evidence that assertion is (vaccines have something to do with autism). But that is the big difference between commentators here and those on AoA, here we value reason and proof. No matter how much the anti-vax crowd yells and stomps their feet, vaccines still do not cause autism.

  153. #153 triskelethecat
    March 12, 2010

    I got my DTaP at my annual exam this year. My husband was overdue, and wanted to get it, but ended up in the ER with an injury before he got it, and the ER gave him just the Td. My kids both got DTaPs at their annual exams this year (my error…the youngest wasn’t due for a tetanus booster for another few years and she was NOT happy that she got it when she didn’t need it!)

  154. #154 Natalie
    March 12, 2010

    Oh, me too, me too! I got my DTaP during my annual physical last year. And I don’t even have kids! I got it because a) I don’t want to get sick (who does?) and b) I’m not a fucking freeloader.

  155. #155 Todd W.
    March 12, 2010

    I’ll throw my own experience into the mix, as well. Got my DTaP booster a few years ago. At my most recent physical, my doc recommended I get the HepA and HepB series, since they weren’t around when I was a kid and my bloodwork from my previous physical indicated I didn’t have immunity. I’ve completed the 1st of the HepA and first two of the HepB.

    And no AEs.

  156. #156 Pablo
    March 12, 2010

    Natalie – succinct and to the point. I think I love you.

  157. #157 Scott
    March 12, 2010

    FWIW, I got my booster year before last.

  158. #158 storkdok
    March 12, 2010

    FWIW, my dh and I received the HepA series as part of the final clinical trials to determine how many doses were required to achieve adequate immunity and for the side effect profile. We were medical students preparing to go to Papua New Guinea for a medical rotation for a month, where there is a lot of HepA. I did my part for science happily! ;0)

  159. #159 Zetetic
    March 13, 2010

    Just to chip-in. I just got my DTaP vaccination just a few months ago, and I don’t even have children of my own to protect.

    It’s called being an informed and socially responsible adult (plus a bit of rational self-interest doesn’t hurt either).

  160. #160 Eric
    March 31, 2010

    Late to the fair, here, but I got my DTaP in January 2009–I’m an avid gardener, get a hundred hand cuts a year (usually packed with dirt), and update it more often than required for that reason.

    Plus I’m not counting on herd immunity to protect me from pertussis when the herd is stupid enough not to get the vaccine.