Yesterday, I expressed concern about a FRONTLINE episode that was scheduled to air tonight entitled The Vaccine War (which, by the time you read this, should be available for online viewing in case you missed it). My concern was that there was going to be a heapin’ helpin’ of false balance, based on the promotional materials. My concerns were later somewhat assuaged based on the pre-airing reaction of the anti-vaccine movement, which was fairly wary, if not hostile even. Of course, any television show that doesn’t conclude that their view that vaccines cause autism is at plausible or even likely is virtually guaranteed to have an infiltration of anti-vaccine loons in the comments attacking relentlessly, but I was heartened to see a review like this proclaiming the documentary to be very much science-based and intolerant of the misinformation, pseudoscience, quackery, and lies of the anti-vaccine movement. I could only hope.

Another indication that The Vaccine War might be OK from a science-based perspective was that the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism (AoA) preemptively set up a post in which the merry band of antivaccinationists proclaimed that they would be live blogging and live Tweeting the special. Conveniently enough, they included links to the PBS Ombudsman, links to FRONTLINE, its Facebook page, and its Twitter stream, presumably to facilitate said influx of anti-vaccine loons to those locations to protest most piteously being mistreated by a television show pointing out that there is no evidence that vaccines cause autism and, even worse, pointing out that anti-vaccinationists are endangering children. Then there’s a convenient post full of links to AoA misinformation, cherry picking, and distortions, presumably to provide said anti-vaccine loons with links to use when they protest most piteously their treatment on FRONTLINE.

So I decided to wait until the show aired, watch it, and report back to you, my readers, in the meantime savoring a couple of characteristic reactions, first from the grand macher of the anti-vaccine movement, reclaiming his place now that Jim Carrey has apparently dumped Generation Rescue’s spokescelebrity Jenny McCarthy, your bud and mine J.B. Handley:

I personally spent 2 hours with Jon Palferman and Kate McMahaon, the producers of the piece. The whole point of my meeting was to explain that this was not Parents vs. The Science and that our community takes its cues from doctors and scientists. I encouraged them to interview Jon Poling, Bernadine Healy, Boyd Haley, and many others.

When Jenny was interviewed, Jay Gordon sat next to her the entire time and was also part of her interview – let’s see if they show him.

I told Frontline, “Get all the people from the other side you want, just be fair in telling the totality of our story, and don’t turn this into a Parents vs. the science” like the NY Times did.”

My response back from Kate McMahon:

“FRONTLINE will carry out a detailed and even-handed investigation including voices from all sides of the controversy including parents, activists, physicians, scientists, lawyers, politicians and vaccine manufacturers. We will examine the evidence relating to an association between increases in the prevalence of autism and hypothesized causes such as MMR vaccine, thimerosol and other toxins associated with vaccines.”

Here’s hoping they live up to what they said they would do.

Here’s hoping they don’t, I thought. But clearly J.B. wasn’t too happy, which gave me hope that The Vaccine War would be science-based. Then I saw these Tweets from everybody’s favorite pediatrician to the stars, apologist for the anti-vaccine movement, and pediatrician to Jenny McCarthy’s son Evan Dr. Jay Gordon:

PBS show about vaccines. Don’t bother to watch it.

And:

A number of scary articles in newspapers today to augment PBS’ scary vaccine show tonight. They interviewed me for 2 hrs and cut it all.

Gee, sounds like sour grapes, doesn’t it? It’s also interesting that Jenny McCarthy had Dr. Gordon sitting next to her the whole interview, probably because she’s so prone to saying incredibly stupid things. Of course, Dr. Jay is also fairly prone to saying pretty stupid things, too; so I don’t know if he’s much of a safeguard to the message. I guess we won’t get to find out.

So how did the show turn out? Here follows my impressions and semi-live blogging. Feel free to watch the show (embedded at the top of this post) and check it out for yourself.


The Vaccine War (viewable online)


The opening montage did a bit too much of the whole “balance” thing in that it included J.B. Handley blathering and Jenny McCarthy spewing her same brain-dead false dilemma of measles versus autism. (She’d choose the measles, of course.) I was able to forgive that, because it’s very much setting up the story. The show then launched straight into a birth and a list of the vaccines that children get, with Melinda Wharton of the CDC and Paul Offit pointing out how much good vaccines do, how we no longer see diseases that once killed thousands or even milions.

Then it’s straight to Ashland, OR and the woo and a mother named Jennifer Margulis, who is a writer for that “natural” repository of woo Mothering Magazine and spewing nonsense about “natural immunity” versus vaccines, claiming that it is better than vaccine-induced immunity. Dr. Donna Bradshaw-Walters was then introduced, and she describes how 28% of Ashland’s children are missing some or all of their vaccines, pointing out that it is only a matter of time before there is an outbreak there. It was refreshing to note that there are pro-vaccine parents, one of whom predicted that it would get ugly if there were an outbreak in which vaccinated children started to get sick because of unvaccinated children forming a repository for disease that can spread to vaccinated children whose vaccines didn’t “take,” for whatever reason. The show then described the SSan Diego measles outbreak and how unvaccinated children are a vector for infection, even to the vaccinated, who are less likely to be infected but not immune, as no vaccine is 100% effective.

There was then a segment at Pfizer. This may not have been the best idea strategically, given how it feeds into the distrust of big pharma, although the scientist interviewed, Dr. Emilio Emini, did a good job of pointing out how vaccines prevent disease. Still, right there, I could envision doubting parents becoming suspicous. Then, of course, there is Dr. Paul Offit, who, although he is the Dark Lord of Vaccination to the antivaccine movement, who is nonetheless the one of the most effective provaccine voices. Happily, Offit makes no apologies for having gotten rich from a vaccine. He is enormously proud of it, as he should be.

One thing this show revealed that I didn’t know was that bioethicist Arthur Caplan had actually contracted polio in his youth. No wonder he is so effective when he argues for vaccines. Equally effective is a scene in which paramedics are being trained, part of their training being to watch videos of children with pertussis and rotavirus. The video of the child with pertussis is horrifying; the suffering of such children is incredible. This class even pointed out that chickenpox can actually be fatal, showing a child with staph sepsis in the pox lesions.

Unfortunately, Margulis demonstrates the burning stupid by asking why we are still vaccinating for polio as polio has become more rare. This woman was truly irritating and moronic. Worse, she kept popping up throughout the show, sadly enough. But that wasn’t enough. There had to be Barbara Loe Fisher, too, spewing her usual anti-vaccine line. Unfortunately, here’s where FRONTLINE falls down. The show seriously represents BLF as a “vaccine watchdog,” rather than what she is, an anti-vaccine propagandist. Bad FRONTLINE!

Similarly, the interview with Jenny McCarthy is infuriating, as usual, but there was a rather interesting tidbit in the complete online interview:

How long after the MMR was that first seizure?

You know, a lot of people think, and probably from me saying in some interviews, that it was after the MMR I noticed changes.

I don’t think it was just the MMR shot that caused any kind of trigger with autism. I think it was a compilation of so many shots to a kid that obviously had some autoimmune disorders. So I would say maybe a couple of months, a month or so after the MMR, I started to notice some physical ailments such as constipation, rashes, eczema. That was like the first little sign. And then the train just kind of descended from there.

This is very different from the stories she was telling around the time she released her first book, and she even seems to be acknowledging it as she dances around a very simple question. Indeed, I remember McCarthy saying in interview after interview how she saw the “light go out of Evan’s eyes” right after the shot. For example, anti-vaccination activist Ginger Taylor cites what Jenny McCarthy said in her 2007 interview with Oprah:

Jenny says even before Evan received his vaccines, she tried to talk to her pediatrician about it. “Right before his MMR shot, I said to the doctor, “I have a very bad feeling about this shot. This is the autism shot, isn’t it?’ And he said, ‘No, that is ridiculous. It is a mother’s desperate attempt to blame something,’ and he swore at me, and then the nurse gave [Evan] the shot,” she says. “And I remember going, ‘Oh, God, I hope he’s right.’ And soon thereafter-boom-the soul’s gone from his eyes.”

Notice how Jenny appears to have changed her story from its being the MMR to its being a gradual process due to too many vaccines. Truly, her story shifts more than the sands of the Sahara.

This segment ran right into an interview with J.B. Handley. There was really nothing new there in that J.B. claims that “tens of thousands” of parents tell him that their children were “never the same” after vaccines, combined with his simplistic mantra: Vaccines cause brain damage and autism is brain injury. Ergo, to him, vaccines cause autism. Of course, it is not really true that autism is “brain injury.” It is a difference in the brain, but there’s no good evidence that autism is primarily due to “brain injury,” although there’s all sorts of quackery out there that purports to treat “vaccine injury” to the brain.

Here’s another point where the FRONTLINE special drops the ball a bit. The show immediately goes into the MMR fear mongering provoked by Andre Wakefield. The problem is that J.B. Handley wasn’t about MMR. Generation Rescue until recently said that autism is a “misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning.” But the MMR has never had mercury in it, ever. In conflating these issues, FRONTLINE confuses two related issues that are not really the same thing, particularly when it starts showing a speech by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. at the Green Our Vaccine rally from two years ago. As someone who knows about the anti-vaccine movement and its history, this was irritating, and it is more than just a nit to pick.

That being said, I do like how, right after a segment in which Jenny McCarthy claims that scientists won’t study whether vaccines cause autism, the show immediately goes on to show that that she is either mistaken or lying, take your pick. (Personally, I think she’s too stupid to realize how wrong she is about this.) The issue has been studied extensively in multiple countries, and no link between vaccines and autism has been found. Moreover, FRONTLINE did a good job of explaining how correlation does not necessarily mean causation. Just because a diagnosis of autism is made soon after a vaccine does not necessarily mean the vaccine caused autism. It finished this middle part of the documentary by documenting the fall of Andrew Wakefield, in particular pointing out how some of the children in his studies had been referred through lawyers suing vaccine manufacturers.

The beauty of this segment is how FRONTLINE showed that, no matter how much evidence, with J.B. Handley saying, “I don’t give a fuck about the MMR in isolation in one study.” (Yes, he did use the F-word, although it was bleeped out and turned to “crap” in the online transcript.) This was rapidly followed by a demonstration of Barbara Loe Fisher shifting the goalposts asking for more epidemiological studies and basic science studies. It is, as Dr. Offit put it, a classic shifting of goalposts, with Jenny McCarthy blathering about her “mommy warriors” and how “Evan is her science.”

Unfortunately, this segment depressed me, because it shows just how much science doesn’t matter in trying to persuade these parents and how the web perpetuates not just the old vaccine myths, but facilitate the spread of new ones. It demonstrates just how much the Internet’s “democratization” of knowledge devalues knowledge, expertise, and science. The forces of pseudoscience proliferate and infiltrate, and, quite frankly, those of us who promote science-based medicine are way behind the eight ball in trying to counter these messages. One thing I had no idea about was just how effective the Desiree Jennings story had influenced high school students not to vaccinate. Roughly half of one class who hadn’t taken the H1N1 vaccine said that the reason they didn’t take the vaccine was because they saw Desiree Jennings on YouTube. This makes me think, more than ever, that blogs such as this one and others are essential in tearing apart such bad information. The result of this information is people like the mothers in Ashland that I discussed last time who ask, “If vaccines work, who am I hurting by not vaccinating?”

The result was shown in the story of a baby who came down with pertussis and almost died. Her situtation was so bad that a chaplain was brought in for possible last rites.

Near the end of the show, there was presented a focus group of people who discuss vaccination. What was interesting is how much vaccination is viewed as a parental choice rather than a societal duty. This in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. The problem is that this choice is being increasingly undermined by misinformation on the Internet and out there. The message of the anti-vaccine movement that the days of “paternalism” are over echoes very strongly with the whole “health freedom” movement. It’s very difficult for anyone to make a well-informed choice when most of the information that pops up when you search the Internet is from the anti-vaccine side.

In the end, I was mostly relieved by The Vaccine War. It was science-based, and it pulled no punches in asserting that there is no good scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism. True, it did confuse the issue of the MMR vaccine and thimerosal-containing vaccines, and that’s more than a minor mistake. It also was far too kind in its treatment of Barbara Loe Fisher, calling her organization, the National Vaccine Information Center a “vaccine safety” advocacy organization, when it is an anti-vaccine organization, plain and simple. It did a little better with Generation Rescue, showing a bit of the sheer insanity behind the organization and how, no matter how much evidence there is against its position, it never looses sight of its founding principle, namely that it’s absolutely, positively always the vaccines. Always. Those complaints aside, FRONTLINE did a far better job than I expected in deconstructing the anti-vaccine movement. It didn’t compromise on the science, although it may have compromised a bit in how it describes, for example, the NVIC and Generation Rescue.

Will The Vaccine War change minds? Maybe. There’s no way it’s going to change the minds of hard core antivaccinationists of J.B. Handley’s ilk. Almost nothing I can think of can. But it might–just might–reassure parents on the fence that all that horrible stuff they’re hearing on the radio, seeing on TV, and, above all, reading on the Internet about the evils of vaccines are not based in science. That’s actually quite an achievement.

Comments

  1. #1 Todd W.
    April 30, 2010

    @cynic

    have a no-fault judicial system in place exempting vaccine makers from discovery

    You say that as if people are not allowed to pursue cases in the regular court system. News flash, they can. True, they need to go through the vaccine court first, but if they wish to reject the ruling and pursue civil or criminal suits against the manufacturer, that is completely within their rights.

    The vaccine court allows people much faster addressing of their complaint and avoids the regular court system from getting bogged down in suits that can be handled quite adequately by the special courts.

    I find it humorous, and a bit disturbing, that people with antivax sentiments complain about the vaccine court, which Barbara Loe Fisher herself helped to establish!

  2. #2 Televisionless Conservative
    April 30, 2010

    Chris,

    Filing a tax return has nothing to do with it. I still haveto pay too many taxes. Federal income, state, medicare, social security, medicaid, health insurance (I count it as a federal tax since it is now illegal to be without it).

    Lower my federal income tax by 50%, get me out of social security altogether, let me drop my insurance, and get me out of medicare altogether. Then I will have the money to improve the economy by buying products that I need and want. The more government steals from people, the less people have to spend and the more the economy suffers. That’s how the real world works.

    I do not wish to go bak to college. Had enough of that, also cannot afford it.

    I want a permanent tax break for life.

    I cannot get DSL where I live.

    I have a digital tv, but it will not pick up the same programs as my real tv did. I tried the digital converter box. It sucked. I lost 4 channels and gained three that I did not want. I want my Andy Griffith Show back dammit.

    The stupid incompetent government should have never got into the broadcasting business to start with, they should have been focused on the econmy and protecting us from foreign threats like the constitution says.

    I know about the subject I am “whining” about. I actually live it.

    I say we dump the digital crap and put back the way it was. and make it illegal to ever change it again. I guess making television digital is far more important than keeping out Mexican drug cartels and Islamofascist terrorists though.

  3. #3 Science Mom
    April 30, 2010

    I said more and more children are having them. We have a shitty system in place to track the reactions, and the GAO in collusion with the CDC reports that less than 10% are actually reported. Parents are claiming it, and people like you are slamming the door in their face. A wonderful tactic to get them to contribute to herd immunity.

    @cynic, how do you know that more children are experiencing vaccine reactions if, at the same time, you report that a fraction of them are being reported? There is no ‘collusion’; VAERS can be filled out by anyone, including parents and all claims are followed up on provided they have sufficient contact information.

    I DID put a sentence in quotations that summarized what I read on a parenting board three days ago though when a calloused skeptic (no shortage of them here) showed absolutely no remorse for Ian Gromowski who died tragically and unnecessarily from a birth dose of hep B.

    I have not seen any formal report of that child having died from his Hep B vaccine. The child had sepsis amongst other problems both post and prenatally. Of course people are saddened by the death of an infant but it is disingenuous of you to cry ‘foul’ when you have absolutely no proof of a vaccine-related death.

    The only way to prove that is to listen to the parents and put a system in place to deal with the reactions. When people mock (like you aptly demonstrated with that Wonder Woman bit, Chris) the only system in place to track reactions and have a no-fault judicial system in place exempting vaccine makers from discovery, how on Earth can anyone prove anything by regular evidentiary standards?

    Do you even reside on this planet? There is a system in place to report reactions and there is a system in place to compensate those that were presumptively harmed by vaccines. Instigated by BLF herself as someone mentioned and because they aren’t cutting a blank check to anyone that files a petition, she’ upset, boo-hoo.

    NVICP has a much lower burden of proof, petitioner litigation expenses are paid for if their petition is filed in good faith (most are found to be) and take a much shorter time to resolution than full-tort litigation. What is your complaint with that? Not working out quite the way YOU think it should? Furthermore, as someone else mentioned, petitioners are free to seek remedy directly against vaccine manufacturers after they seek the remedy of NVICP.

  4. #4 mikee
    April 30, 2010

    KR wrote:

    As a fellow skeptic, I must admit I rather despise these poisonous, unsympathetic if not outright contemptuous articles.

    KR, the tone of your message is little better than those you criticise. I think you have some good points to make but saying you dispise someone is hardly respectful.

    Vindaloo replied:

    So K R says fix autism, don’t wage war on scientific illiteracy, pseudoscience, and, in this case, Handley-Gordonesque snake oil.

    Sorry , vindaloo but thats a strawman. All KR is arguing for rational debate with out the name calling and denigration of our opponents. As far as I can see he still thinks we must challenge those who advocate “woo”
    A number of other posters also produced similar strawmen in response to KR’s points, a bit disappointing for a skeptical blog.

  5. #5 Chris
    April 30, 2010

    TC/Medicien Man/not Dr. Smart, get over yourself. Throw out the TV and learn how to read a book.

  6. #6 ebohlman
    April 30, 2010

    Just to amplify on what Science Mom wrote, in the no-fault vaccine court the petitioner’s burden of proof is merely to demonstrate by a preponderance of evidence that the vaccine caused the alleged harm. In regular civil litigation, the plaintiff would not only have to demonstrate that, they’d also have to demonstrate either that the manufacturer of the vaccine was negligent or that the vaccine used was defective. The manufacturer would be off the hook if it turned out that the vaccine recipient had a known but rare reaction to the vaccine, a reaction that that was listed as a possibility in the vaccine’s labeling. In vaccine court, those reactions are called “table injuries” and simply documenting that the kid did in fact receive the vaccine and did in fact experience the symptoms listed in the table is enough to get an award.

  7. #7 Joseph
    April 30, 2010

    I said more and more children are having them.

    @cynic: If you think that’s what VAERS shows, you’re completely wrong. VAERS autism reports peaked in 2002, and cases filed with the vaccine court peaked in 2003.

    Not that it would be a good measure of actual reactions. It’s easy to show that VAERS autism reports track media coverage of anti-vaccination topics. At best, it’s a measure of how well the anti-vaccine movement is doing in its PR campaign.

  8. #8 Chris
    April 30, 2010

    Joseph:

    At best, it’s a measure of how well the anti-vaccine movement is doing in its PR campaign.

    Or how many lawyers were looking at “vaccine injury” as a cash cow. Note this paper: Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System Reporting Source: A Possible Source of Bias in Longitudinal Studies

    RESULTS. In recent years, most case reports to VAERS that were related to overdose, neuropathy, and thimerosal were related to litigation. Many cases that were related to autism and mental retardation were as well.

  9. #9 Joseph
    April 30, 2010

    Or how many lawyers were looking at “vaccine injury” as a cash cow.

    @Chris: Or how many people SafeMinds was sending to lawyers due to its PR campaign in 2002. See their May 2002 homepage and pay particular attention to the “Late Breaking Lawsuit Info” link at the top of the page.

  10. #10 Chris
    April 30, 2010

    I think I remember that. I remember that was the lawyer who went after ritalin, and had some kind of scary “ritalinfraud” website, and then added a “thimerosalfraud” website to solicit clients. Poking about I found this webpage which had this paragraph:

    Then, out of the blue, Bothwell’s old boss called and said he had something she needed to see. Andy Waters had left Los Angeles to set up his own law firm, Waters & Kraus, in Dallas. But he had kept in touch over the years and knew that Frisk and Katrina had autism. The document Waters wanted to show Bothwell was a report called Autism: A Novel Form of Mercury Poisoning. It claimed that children were being exposed to unsafe levels of mercury because of an ingredient called Thimerosal used in vaccines. “She was the first person I thought of when I saw it,” Waters says. He went on to ask Bothwell to help him open a new Los Angeles office. She agreed, but on the condition that Waters take on the Thimerosal case. Within a few months he had filed the first Thimerosal lawsuit in civil court.

    Which pretty much makes me think that Blaxill, Bernard, and friends wrote that silly paper to support a lawsuit. Just like the research they funded, including Burbacher’s primate study.

    And what is interesting about that study is that Bernard could not find the evil thimerosal containing vaccines, and put a request up on the Autism-Mercury Yahoo group in 2001:

    A group of university-based researchers needs several vials of the older DTaP vaccine formulations which contained thimerosal for a legitimate research study. If anyone knows an MD who might have some of these vaccines or knows where to get them, please email me privately.

    Which brings me up to a question I asked earlier: If they want the vax/unvax study, why don’t they pay for it? SafeMinds paid for other studies, why not the one they keep screaming about?

  11. #11 cynic
    April 30, 2010

    SM@ 203 VAERS can be filled out by anyone, including parents and all claims are followed up on provided they have sufficient contact information.

    The point, is that physicians are not required to file said reports. Exactly what might a person be met with by using VAERS to substantiate the deaths reported to VAERS for the alleged injuries?

    The child had sepsis amongst other problems both post and prenatally. Of course people are saddened by the death of an infant but it is disingenuous of you to cry ‘foul’ when you have absolutely no proof of a vaccine-related death.

    No contraindication for this vaccine I suppose, and evidently impossible for it to have created a burden that could not be overcome. This only happens with vaccine preventable diseases after all and we only blame the victim when there are vaccines involved. Check.

    Do you even reside on this planet? There is a system in place to report reactions and there is a system in place to compensate those that were presumptively harmed by vaccines. Instigated by BLF herself as someone mentioned and because they aren’t cutting a blank check to anyone that files a petition, she’ upset, boo-hoo.

    Yes. I do and I waive the same wooden spoon around that you do. The system is garbage and BLF’s role in its passage is reprehensible. Believe it or not, not everyone that questions vaccine safety holds her dishonest derriere upon a pedastal.

    NVICP has a much lower burden of proof, petitioner litigation expenses are paid for if their petition is filed in good faith (most are found to be) and take a much shorter time to resolution than full-tort litigation. What is your complaint with that? Not working out quite the way YOU think it should? Furthermore, as someone else mentioned, petitioners are free to seek remedy directly against vaccine manufacturers after they seek the remedy of NVICP.

    Yes, it does have a lower burden of proof. And when a petitioner is granted compensation, skeptics remind of us of the lower burden of proof as a means to avoid addressing whether or not the vaccine was causative in the injury. I know they are free to seek remedy through the civil courts, and those that have the money to do so will.

  12. #12 cynic
    April 30, 2010

    SM@ 203 VAERS can be filled out by anyone, including parents and all claims are followed up on provided they have sufficient contact information.

    The point, is that physicians are not required to file said reports. Exactly what might a person be met with by using VAERS to substantiate the deaths reported to VAERS for the alleged injuries?

    The child had sepsis amongst other problems both post and prenatally. Of course people are saddened by the death of an infant but it is disingenuous of you to cry ‘foul’ when you have absolutely no proof of a vaccine-related death.

    No contraindication for this vaccine I suppose, and evidently impossible for it to have created a burden that could not be overcome. This only happens with vaccine preventable diseases after all and we only blame the victim when there are vaccines involved. Check.

    Do you even reside on this planet? There is a system in place to report reactions and there is a system in place to compensate those that were presumptively harmed by vaccines. Instigated by BLF herself as someone mentioned and because they aren’t cutting a blank check to anyone that files a petition, she’ upset, boo-hoo.

    Yes. I do and I waive the same wooden spoon around that you do. The system is garbage and BLF’s role in its passage is reprehensible. Believe it or not, not everyone that questions vaccine safety holds her dishonest derriere upon a pedastal.

    NVICP has a much lower burden of proof, petitioner litigation expenses are paid for if their petition is filed in good faith (most are found to be) and take a much shorter time to resolution than full-tort litigation. What is your complaint with that? Not working out quite the way YOU think it should? Furthermore, as someone else mentioned, petitioners are free to seek remedy directly against vaccine manufacturers after they seek the remedy of NVICP.

    Yes, it does have a lower burden of proof. And when a petitioner is granted compensation, skeptics remind of us of the lower burden of proof as a means to avoid addressing whether or not the vaccine was causative in the injury. I know they are free to seek remedy through the civil courts, and those that have the money to do so will.

  13. #13 Science Mom
    May 1, 2010

    SM@ 203 VAERS can be filled out by anyone, including parents and all claims are followed up on provided they have sufficient contact information.

    The point, is that physicians are not required to file said reports. Exactly what might a person be met with by using VAERS to substantiate the deaths reported to VAERS for the alleged injuries?

    No, you made a claim that there was collusion keeping VAERS reports down. I would like to see more physicians filing them since it increases the quality of the report, but the fact remains that parents are free to fill them out. The CDC follows up on all reports to substantiate them and obtain more information in order to determine if there is a pattern. Even with the low number of reports, Rotashield was pulled as a result of VAERS.

    The child had sepsis amongst other problems both post and prenatally. Of course people are saddened by the death of an infant but it is disingenuous of you to cry ‘foul’ when you have absolutely no proof of a vaccine-related death.

    No contraindication for this vaccine I suppose, and evidently impossible for it to have created a burden that could not be overcome. This only happens with vaccine preventable diseases after all and we only blame the victim when there are vaccines involved. Check.

    That’s a load of shit and you know it, or should. I’m not blaming the victim, that’s a strawman. I’m merely pointing out that the baby had numerous problems prior to and associated with things other than the vaccine. And since you are drawing conclusions from a blogpost, instead of trying to find a formal or authoritative report, you are being very disingenuous.

    Do you even reside on this planet? There is a system in place to report reactions and there is a system in place to compensate those that were presumptively harmed by vaccines. Instigated by BLF herself as someone mentioned and because they aren’t cutting a blank check to anyone that files a petition, she’ upset, boo-hoo.

    Yes. I do and I waive the same wooden spoon around that you do. The system is garbage and BLF’s role in its passage is reprehensible. Believe it or not, not everyone that questions vaccine safety holds her dishonest derriere upon a pedastal.

    I don’t know what TWWS has to do with anything unless you would like to continue this conversation over there ;). Well then, why don’t you tell me what an acceptable compensation scheme would be if you think the current one is so terrible and unfair.

    NVICP has a much lower burden of proof, petitioner litigation expenses are paid for if their petition is filed in good faith (most are found to be) and take a much shorter time to resolution than full-tort litigation. What is your complaint with that? Not working out quite the way YOU think it should? Furthermore, as someone else mentioned, petitioners are free to seek remedy directly against vaccine manufacturers after they seek the remedy of NVICP.

    Yes, it does have a lower burden of proof. And when a petitioner is granted compensation, skeptics remind of us of the lower burden of proof as a means to avoid addressing whether or not the vaccine was causative in the injury. I know they are free to seek remedy through the civil courts, and those that have the money to do so will.

    You’re quite the turd merchant aren’t you? Here is your quote that I responded to:

    “The only way to prove that is to listen to the parents and put a system in place to deal with the reactions. When people mock (like you aptly demonstrated with that Wonder Woman bit, Chris) the only system in place to track reactions and have a no-fault judicial system in place exempting vaccine makers from discovery, how on Earth can anyone prove anything by regular evidentiary [sic] standards?”

    There are table injuries that are known vaccine reactions, no one disputes those. For instance, I haven’t seen anyone dispute a vaccine-association for Bailey Banks. There are others, that yes, are questionable. That has absolutely nothing to do with your claim that NVICP exempts vaccine manufacturers and has a low burden of proof, which is an odd complaint indeed. You really make no sense as far as NVICP goes.

  14. #14 cynic
    May 1, 2010

    SM,

    Even with the low number of reports, Rotashield was pulled as a result of VAERS.

    This runs contradictory to the claim made by most skeptics, Orac being one of them, that VAERS is nearly useless and proves nothing. Either we have a useful system in place to deal with reactions or we don’t. We don’t.

    That’s a load of shit and you know it, or should. I’m not blaming the victim, that’s a strawman

    The hell you aren’t. A week old infant has underlying issues and is some idiot administers the birth dose of Hep b. Yet, it wasn’t the vaccine or the dumbfuck who administered it, it was the child and his existing condition (that was exacerbated by an unnecessary vaccine). Paint it however you want, you are rejecting the vaccine’s role in this tragedy.

    But I’ll tell you what’s disingenuine…exonerating a vaccine given hours before the rapid deterioration of this child, when all it takes is a clinical diagnosis of the flu… complication and death from pneumonia, then we have a flu-associated death.

    Or a child that suffers complications from a self-limiting disease and someone points out that they shouldn’t have had antipyretics adminstered in excess, then that someone is considered to be blaming the victim. There’s very little difference here.

    You’re quite the turd merchant aren’t you? Here is your quote that I responded to:

    I guess you wouldn’t be true to form without taking every possible opportunity to talk shit. As to TWWS, my point is that you should save your smackdowns for hysterical antivaxxers running around telling everyone there is antifreeze in our vaccine supply. I’m not one of them.

    That has absolutely nothing to do with your claim that NVICP exempts vaccine manufacturers and has a low burden of proof, which is an odd complaint indeed. You really make no sense as far as NVICP goes.

    Perhaps that is because you focused on one part of what I said, and either ignored or didn’t understand this:

    the only system in place to track reactions and have a no-fault judicial system in place exempting vaccine makers from discovery, how on Earth can anyone prove anything by regular evidentiary [sic] standards?”

    The key word there being discovery. It was the only thing that held Merck to the fire with Vioxx (and Pfizer with Prempro). Guess what? They make vaccines too. Don’t waive your goddamned spoon at me for being critical of a process that has extracted a necessary part of due process from the entire program. I’m not the one concealing harmful data and that has injured and killed people. And concealing said data is sure as hell NOT the way to instill confidence in a population of parents that you want to endlessly vaccinate their kids. The passage of that piece of legislation has enabled the vaccine schedule to grow exponentially, right along with the number of reactions and deaths reported to an unreliable reporting system.

    You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.

  15. #15 D. C. Sessions
    May 1, 2010

    There are table injuries that are known vaccine reactions, no one disputes those.

    Not exactly. Quite a few of the “table injuries” are medically questionable and the causality in individual cases is extremely questionable. However, the system is set up with a deliberate bias to getting help to kids who need help. Which is fine by me — I’d much rather see all kids who need help get it without having to argue whether vaccines are involved.

  16. #16 Science Mom
    May 1, 2010

    Even with the low number of reports, Rotashield was pulled as a result of VAERS.

    This runs contradictory to the claim made by most skeptics, Orac being one of them, that VAERS is nearly useless and proves nothing. Either we have a useful system in place to deal with reactions or we don’t. We don’t

    Comprehension fail. The sceptics’ claim is that VAERS is useless to try and use as a basis for epidemiological studies, such as that dimwit duo, the Geier Boyz, try to do or the hysterical proclamations of deaths due to X vaccine by anti-vaxxers. It picked up on the rare event of intussusception that appeared to be associated with Rotashield, as it is intended to do. VAERS doesn’t ‘deal’ with reactions, it is a reporting system to detect reactions.

    That’s a load of shit and you know it, or should. I’m not blaming the victim, that’s a strawman.

    The hell you aren’t. A week old infant has underlying issues and is some idiot administers the birth dose of Hep b. Yet, it wasn’t the vaccine or the dumbfuck who administered it, it was the child and his existing condition (that was exacerbated by an unnecessary vaccine). Paint it however you want, you are rejecting the vaccine’s role in this tragedy.

    Need I remind you that you are the one trying to use a blogpost as ‘proof’ of a neonatal death due to hep b vaccination? It would behove you to know what the chain of events were and have a more authoritative source at your disposal before going off half-cocked and wagging your finger. You have absolutely no proof of the vaccine’s role in that baby’s death do you? And therein lies the problem with so many anti-vaxxers; they are only sceptical insofar as the evidence that refutes their position. And frankly, that isn’t even being sceptical, just plain biased.

    You’re quite the turd merchant aren’t you? Here is your quote that I responded to:

    I guess you wouldn’t be true to form without taking every possible opportunity to talk shit. As to TWWS, my point is that you should save your smackdowns for hysterical antivaxxers running around telling everyone there is antifreeze in our vaccine supply. I’m not one of them.

    There was no point for bringing up TWWS unless you were planning on bringing this conversation there or something relevant from there to here. If you don’t want to be spoken to as a hysterical anti-vaxxer, then don’t talk like one. You don’t have to think that anti-freeze is in vaccines to get everything else so very wrong.

    Perhaps that is because you focused on one part of what I said, and either ignored or didn’t understand this:

    “the only system in place to track reactions and have a no-fault judicial system in place exempting vaccine makers from discovery, how on Earth can anyone prove anything by regular evidentiary [sic] standards?”

    I didn’t miss anything, you have very little understanding of what VAERS and NVICP do. There are table injuries that are known vaccine reactions and saves the petitioner a lot of time and are compensate-able. So if someone is compensated for GBS following an influenza vaccine, what the fuck else do you want? How do you hold vaccine manufacturers liable for individual biology? That is what you are looking for isn’t it? Unless the product was found to be negligently manufactured and/or marketed, like Vioxx or Bextra, why are you seeking to ascribe manufacturer negligence where there is none?

    What data is concealed? Was this concealed? If you want to be taken seriously, you may want to bring specifics to the table. If you have a complaint about the CDC vaccine recommendations, they have nothing to do with NVICP and VAERS, that’s just some more hand-waving.

  17. #17 Joseph
    May 1, 2010

    Orac being one of them, that VAERS is nearly useless and proves nothing.

    Perhaps we haven’t been all too clear, then. VAERS is generally a good idea. It can be useful in detecting anomalies. Unfortunately, anomalies in VAERS can also result from things like anti-vax PR and litigation hype.

    In particular, autism submissions in VAERS are hopelessly tainted. That’s because anti-vaxers have essentially planted data in VAERS.

  18. #18 Antaeus Feldspar
    May 1, 2010
    Even with the low number of reports, Rotashield was pulled as a result of VAERS.

    This runs contradictory to the claim made by most skeptics, Orac being one of them, that VAERS is nearly useless and proves nothing. Either we have a useful system in place to deal with reactions or we don’t. We don’t.

    Wow, a perfect specimen of the false dilemma fallacy! Actually, cynic’s abuse of the fallacy is a wee bit more clever, because here are the two options he presents as the only options, rewritten to reflect his actual claims:

    * Either VAERS by itself is a useful system in place to deal with reactions, or
    * We don’t have any useful system in place to deal with reactions.

    Note that the truth is neither of the above; the truth is:

    * We have a useful system in place, of which VAERS is a useful part, despite the fact that it generates false positives (as any such system inevitably must.)

  19. #19 cynic
    May 3, 2010

    SM,

    Comprehension fail. The sceptics’ claim is that VAERS is useless to try and use as a basis for epidemiological studies, such as that dimwit duo, the Geier Boyz, try to do or the hysterical proclamations of deaths due to X vaccine by anti-vaxxers.

    Selective application of skepticism… pass. Claiming an association of deaths related to a particular vaccine based on the only system in place to track reactions is not hysterical.

    If you don’t want to be spoken to as a hysterical anti-vaxxer, then don’t talk like one. You don’t have to think that anti-freeze is in vaccines to get everything else so very wrong.

    Right. Because you say so of course.

    Need I remind you that you are the one trying to use a blogpost as ‘proof’ of a neonatal death due to hep b vaccination?

    Are you referring to the website that contains the anecdotal report of this incident with chronological photographic evidence? Yes, I’ve seen it. I also read the VAERS report. I suppose we could wait and see if they have filed a claim to be compensated (that won’t prove anything). Better yet, you could contact the parents and tell them that they haven’t enough evidence to claim their son’s death was vaccine-related and you’d like to see something authoritative. Don’t be surprised if they tell you to shove your enquiry up your arse. This is precisely the kind of sanctimonious denial that has created “The Vaccine War” in the first place, if you’d care to peer down from your soapbox long enough to realize it.

    You have absolutely no proof of the vaccine’s role in that baby’s death do you?

    Only the photographic evidence they have furnished, and their anecdotal report (that is apparently supported by their doctor). How do you think that evidence would fare in a civil court of law? Is anyone negligent for the administration of this vaccine? You bet your ass they are.

    And therein lies the problem with so many anti-vaxxers; they are only sceptical insofar as the evidence that refutes their position. And frankly, that isn’t even being sceptical, just plain biased.

    This hypocrisy is astounding. Infallible evidence required for any claim of vaccine injury, and then out of the other side of the provaxxers mouth they say that “nobody disputes certain injuries” and that the risk is not zero. Acknowledge the risk, and deny the injury, while allowing a perpetual trap door for the vaccine to escape scrutiny every time. Put that shoe on the other foot and have an immunocompromised individual come into contact with someone spreading infectious disease, it sure as shit isn’t their predisposition that gets blamed… it’s the closest unvaccinated kid. Consistency fail.

    How do you hold vaccine manufacturers liable for individual biology?

    If individual biology dictates who will, and who will not have an adverse event – who the fuck are we to be making decisions for OTHER children? Ah yes, let’s guilt people into vaccinating to protect others having no goddamned idea how well they will tolerate a vaccine and then scare the shit out of them by globally broadcasting every vaccine available disease in the country.

    While we are all weeping for the child with pertussis in the FRONTLINE documentary, does anyone give a shit about the 11 deaths reported to VAERS from pertussis containing vaccines? Course not, because VAERS is not a reliable source for such information… well then what is? Or is that information not important because if we stopped vaccinating for this endemic, cyclical disease then a mathematical model tells us that children are going to die? They already are.

    What data is concealed? Was this concealed? If you want to be taken seriously, you may want to bring specifics to the table. If you have a complaint about the CDC vaccine recommendations, they have nothing to do with NVICP and VAERS, that’s just some more hand-waving.

    It’s surprising what you find when you actually look for it (and it’s about fucking time). Where did I suggest that vaccine makers are concealing information regarding vaccines. This attributes to their overall trust profile in the eyes of the public. Vaccine recommendations, and the consequences of them have plenty to do with each other. If injuries (overt and otherwise) are occurring as a result of hasty recommendations, and we have an inept system in place (that some people are just now learning about decades into inflated schedule) that records these events, how on Earth will we ever be able to protect the population of children that cannot tolerate being vaccinated the day they are born, then 2 months later, then 2 months later, then 2 months later? Or do they not matter because the system is not designed to address those issues? Or do they not exist and the observed deterioration is a figment of their caregiver’s imagination and they are simply telescoping? The idea that people cannot tolerate disease and everyone must vaccine, while those sacrificed to attain immunity to said disease are disregarded and ignored is disgusting. Don’t call strawman here either, because ignoring their reports of injury and death (or calling bullshit like you are right now) relays this message perfectly.

  20. #20 cynic
    May 3, 2010

    Well SM, looks we’ll have to continue at TWWS since the comment I posted at 8:45 a.m. CST was held for moderation and never posted. There were no links, only colorful language, but then yours contained it as well so there is no reason it should have been held and never posted.

    I’ll put it in Social Networks, blogs in the “around the internet” section sometime tomorrow when I have time.

  21. #21 KM
    May 6, 2010

    219, thank you. when your healthy happy little baby spikes a fever 2 hours after the immunization and slowly becomes non-responsive over the next 3 days while you sit helplessly in the hospital, then dies, you dont need some stupid test, some stupid piece of paper to prove it was the vaccine to anybody, my child is dead. Dont forget about all the ones that died so you wouldnt get sick. DOnt forget them even if they arent written up in your data bases. Dont you dare forget those dead children. You know there are risks, so dont pretend they dont happen. Spend your time being thankful instead of cynical! Someone died for you.

  22. #22 Antaeus Feldspar
    July 26, 2010

    when your healthy happy little baby spikes a fever 2 hours after the immunization and slowly becomes non-responsive over the next 3 days while you sit helplessly in the hospital, then dies, you dont need some stupid test, some stupid piece of paper to prove it was the vaccine to anybody, my child is dead.

    The problem is that this simply isn’t true. Don’t you remember Natalie Morton? She died shortly after receiving a Gardasil vaccination and many people reasoned as you do, that if she died such a short time after the vaccination, no one needed “some stupid test, some stupid piece of paper” to prove it was the vaccine that killed her. Except that when they performed an autopsy they discovered a large malignant tumour affecting her heart and her lungs, and discovered nothing suggesting that the vaccination had played any role. All those who claimed they didn’t need the tests to know the truth… proved that they didn’t know the truth.

  23. #23 Jeanmarie
    November 1, 2010

    Terrific post, and great discussion afterwards. My two bits on the communication style question: some people are persuaded by a gentler, respectful approach to pointing out their logical fallacies, and some are persuaded by public ridicule. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
    That’s why god created blogs, so everyone could have their say.

    I personally prefer good explanations enlivened with rapier wit, without the name-calling. Unless they deserve it.

  24. #24 Answering Service
    November 1, 2010

    There is no profit in vaccines. If I were a CEO of a pharma company, I’d be more inclined to but monies toward finding the cure for AIDS for the profit than developing a permutation of some vaccine that would be more effective.

  25. #25 MattD
    January 31, 2012

    Ignorance can be dangerous, so a confrontational approach is necessary (it’s too bad, really) when the studies and facts are clear.

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