Antivaxers go to Washington to lobby Rep. Jason Chaffetz to investigate the CDC

I sense a disturbance in the antivaccine force. I had meant to write about it the other day, but other things intervened. Really, there’s so much pseudoscience out there at times that on some days it’s hard to decide what to tackle, and sometimes I feel as though I’m writing about vaccines too much. However, this time around I felt as though I couldn’t ignore this one because it involves two highly annoying and fact-challenged antivaccine activists and an attempt to influence a Congressional Representative.

The annoying antivaccine activists are Del Bigtree, the producer of Andrew Wakefield’s antivaccine propaganda film VAXXED: From Cover-up to Catastrophe. whom we’ve met many times before. When last we encountered him, he and his new best bud Andrew Wakefield were acting as privileged white men as they spread antivaccine propaganda to African Americans living in Compton. This time around, he’s bragging about scoring a meeting with Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who is Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR). Basically, that’s Dan Burton’s old committee, which he used to use to launch bogus “investigations” of the CDC over the now discredited idea that vaccines cause autism. Before Chaffetz, the chair of OGR was the profoundly antiscience Representative Darrell Issa (R-California), who, not coincidentally, accepted large campaign contributions from antivaccinationists.

So right off the bat, we’re dealing with a Congressional Committee whose track record with respect to medical has been from time to time—shall we say?—not exactly what it should be. In particular, antivaccine activists like to target this committee, because it can investigate the CDC. Now I bet those of you who’ve been regular readers for a while will be able to guess what’s coming. What was the movie VAXXED about? In large part, it’s about the conspiracy theory known as the “CDC whistleblower,” a.k.a. William Thompson, a CDC scientist who made the profound mistake of unburdening his beef with the CDC onto Brian Hooker, a biochemical engineer turned incompetent epidemiologist. Hooker “reanalyzed” the data from a 2004 CDC paper by Frank DeStefano et al on which Thompson was co-author that failed to find a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Grossly misusing statistics and doing an incorrect analysis, Hooker claimed to “prove” that the MMR vaccine was associated with a 4-fold increased risk of autism in African-American males. Unfortunately for Thompson, Hooker recorded their conversations and blabbed to Andrew Wakefield, who outed Thompson, even though in reality even Hooker’s analysis actually proved Wakefield wrong, except for an almost certainly spurious association in a small subgroup.

From there, the conspiracy theory spiraled out of control, becoming in essence the central organizing conspiracy theory of the antivaccination movement, mainly because it seemed to confirm that the CDC had “smoking gun” evidence of a conspiracy by the CDC to cover up a link between vaccines and autism. Flowing from the “CDC whistleblower,” there have been attempts to get Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) to push for an investigation, protests at the CDC, scattered news reports, and, of course VAXXED.

Now, Del Bigtree has teamed up with Levi Quackenboss, the woman who tried to dox a 12-year-old boy, to lobby Jason Chaffetz. Hilariously, the third member of the trio was Tami Canal, the founder of March Against Monsanto. So, yes, two antivaccinationists, one a pseudonymous blogger who thinks nothing of attacking 12-year-old boys, the other a new convert to the cause who is not exactly the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, and an anti-GM) activists met with Jason Chaffetz, as Bigtree announced late last week:

Poor Bigtree. He loves it that “progressives” like him are anti-GMO but can’t figure out why they are not antivaccine like him. Personally, for me it’s the other way around. It annoys the hell out of me that “progressives” seem to dominate the anti-GMO movement, even if they don’t do it completely. (Chuck Norris, for instance, is about as conservative a wingnut as they come, and he’s anti-GMO.) Be that as it may, we actually learn from Bigtree that other “heavy hitters” in the world of antivaccine loons were there, too, including Mark Blaxill and Jennifer Larson plus some who wanted to remain anonymous. (I wonder why.)

Afterward, Bigtree posted a “debriefing”:

I was actually concerned to learn that the meeting lasted an hour and a half, which is a lot more time than most advocacy groups are usually allowed with a Representative as powerful as Jason Chaffetz is. It does make me worry that we have another Dan Burton in the making, but time will tell. Particularly annoying is how Bigtree and Quackenboss promote an air of mystery, with Bigtree “revealing” that there is an investigation of the CDC by OGR, claiming that the agreement was that he couldn’t say much of anything, so that Chaffetz could speak freely. Quackenboss agrees, although leave it to antivaxers to be jerks to a powerful Congressman:

Chaffetz came in at 1:35. We started to do introductions and honestly, there was a wee bit of hostility from some of our members because we’re sitting there with the impression that the OGR hasn’t done jack for nearly two years now, so Chaffetz had to walk into that. Some of us introduced ourselves and when it got to Del, Del just started talking. He gave the history of Vaxxed, how he got pulled into it, and took Chaffetz through the timeline of it getting kicked out of Tribeca and going nuclear.

Del said that in the fall of 2014 when the Whistleblower story was never reported that it made him question the state of democracy. It would have been one thing to have the media address it and dismiss it, but no one said a word. It’s a sad statement to who is running the news in this country.

There was a huge smile from Chaffetz when Del commended him on how brave his staffer was to stand up in Utah, announce herself, and take questions from the crowd at their Vaxxed Q&A. He knows how to make a boss feel proud.

Chaffetz is obviously a politician and disarmed his audience. Bigtree claims that the official statement by Chaffetz is, “You have my attention.” Whether that’s true or not, who knows? Perhaps we could get some reporters to start calling Chaffetz’s office to ask for an actual official statement, rather than one filtered through someone as unreliable as Bigtree. Of course, it actually doesn’t surprise me that Chaffetz might be susceptible to the blandishments of the antivaccine movement, because Chaffetz is from Utah, and because he is from Utah he is in the pocket of the supplement industry, along with Orrin Hatch. Indeed, he has been co-chair of the Dietary Supplement Caucus and has supported bills to weaken the FDA’s already weak power to regulate supplements.

So what did Bigtree and his clown car full of pseudoscientists want from Chaffetz? This:

Chaffetz asked what we wanted to see happen beyond a Thompson hearing and this was our wish list.

One: that the power to police vaccine safety is taken away from the CDC.

Two: That the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act is repealed and pharmaceutical companies are responsible for the safety of their products.

Three: That the vaccinated vs. unvaccinated total health outcome study (Congressman Posey’s HR 1636) is conducted.

I’m surprised that their number one wish wasn’t to repeal the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. Remember, there were lawyers in the meeting, presumably lawyers who represent parents who think that vaccines caused their children’s autism and represent them in front of the Vaccine Court. As I mentioned recently, these lawyers hate the Vaccine Court. It doesn’t matter that the Vaccine Court requires a lower bar of evidence, is more likely to pay out than regular courts, and even pays the legal fees of complainants. That’s not enough for antivaccine lawyers, who want to sue vaccine manufacturers for huge payouts on the fantastical claim that vaccines cause autism. Sure, most of them will lose, but, our court system being what it is, eventually one of them would likely get a positive verdict.

Quackenboss elaborates on #1 in a followup post:

The most realistic request of a legislative fix is that the government creates a new agency that oversees vaccine safety, and they do it by taking money out of the CDC vaccine safety budget and give it to the new agency so that we’re not creating any debt. Win-win, right? What sane person would be opposed to creating an independent agency to make sure vaccines are safe, and doing it without expanding the budget? Get vaccine safety out of the Immunization Safety Office out of the CDC and create a National Vaccine Safety Board as an independent federal agency charged by Congress to investigate vaccine injury. It goes without saying that any CDC, FDA, or pharmaceutical employees stockholders or lobbyists are not invited to join the board.

Quackenboss really is living in a fantasy world, isn’t she? She thinks that starting a new bureaucracy is cheap and easy and could be done just for the cost of what the CDC already spends on these functions. However, the CDC has been tracking vaccine safety for decades. It has the infrastructure. It has the expertise. It has the personnel. Under Quackenboss’ fantasy, there’d be a new federal bureaucracy, and she thinks it could be set up without significant startup costs and a huge learning curve. For what purpose? It is an article of faith among antivaccine activists that the CDC is hopelessly compromised by pharmaceutical company influence. It’s a massive exaggeration. No one is saying that the CDC is perfect or that it doesn’t screw up from time to time. It’s an organization composed of human beings. By and large, though, it works, and this is definitely a case of, “If it works, don’t fix it.” Besides, any “independent” new bureaucracy, if truly independent and consisting of experts with the relevant skills and knowledge, would soon conclude that vaccines don’t cause autism, just as the CDC has long ago. Then there’d be new conspiracies to concoct.

Next up, Quackenboss invokes a classic antivaccine canard:

The second most realistic legislative fix is that we finally conduct a large-scale vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study in this country. The CDC already has all of the data; we just need the funding and a trusted independent epidemiologist to conduct the study across all health outcomes– allergies, asthma, ADD/ADHD, eczema, juvenile diabetes, epilepsy, immune deficiency, pediatric cancer, gastrointestinal illness– not just autism.

No, no, no. As I like to say, it’s so cute when antivaccinationists try to do epidemiology. Suffice to say, doing a randomized controlled clinical trial of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children would be incredibly unethical because it would leave one group exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases. It's so unethical that even antivaxers don't propose such a study any more, hence Quackenboss' reference to the CDC already having "all of the data." Whether that's true or not (and it's probably not), what Quackenboss seems not to realize, though, is that doing an epidemiological study would have very limited power unless it were very huge and very expensive—it might even be impossible to do—and, of course, antivaccinationists wouldn’t believe a negative result anyway. There’s plenty of evidence to conclude that vaccines don’t cause autism, as well, to the point where we can say with about as much confidence as we can about any question of epidemiology that there is no association between vaccination and autism or any of the many conditions and diseases blamed on vaccines.

Not surprisingly, Quackenboss is all on board with repealing the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, but since I discussed that already in the context of discussing Del Bigtree’s demands, I’ll move on. Instead, let’s take a look at what Quackenboss fantasizes about:

My personal dream legislative fix that we did not discuss in the meeting would be to overhaul the CDC childhood vaccination schedule. I want hepatitis b on day one of life taken off and be reserved for hep b positive mothers. If you want your kid to have this vaccine, get it when they’re 12. I want the rotavirus vaccine to disappear from this country. I want flu vaccines to go to the incinerater, but I’d accept flu vaccines being banned from pregnant mothers and children under three years old. I want true zero mercury. I want the vaccine schedule to begin after 6 months old and I want it spread out with one vaccine every 60 days with no 5-in-1 shots. I want routine vitamin k shots to go away and only be used in traumatic births or on parents’ request. And I want expanded contraindications to vaccination, with autism, epilepsy, juvenile diabetes and food allergies leading the list.

So let me get this straight. Quackenboss doesn’t want babies protected against hepatitis B until they’re 12 because she apparently thinks it’s only a sexually transmitted disease. It’s not. It’s spread through the bodily fluids of the infected, and many who become infected become infected by their chronically infected mothers at birth, and studies also indicate that the long-term chronic health issues related to this virus, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, and liver cancer, are directly related to when a person is first infected. The hepatitis B vaccine is not a “lifestyle” vaccine.

Let’s see. What else? Rotavirus is a major cause of diarrheal illness world wide, particularly in Third World countries, but apparently Quackenboss doesn’t think it’s needed here, or at least not where she lives. Before the vaccine, though, rotaviral disease lead to 20-60 deaths a year, 55,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations, 200,000 ER visits, and 400,000 doctors visits. Apparently, she wants a financial windfall for doctors and hospitals taking care of all these sick kids again. Apparently Quackenboss doesn’t care how many die of the flu, and she wants to leave children unprotected against vaccine-preventable diseases longer while increasing the number of unvaccinated children by coming up with all sorts of BS “contraindications” to vaccination that are medically not contraindications. And don’t even get me started on vitamin K shots, which save lives? Why on earth are antivaccine quacks so frequently also against neonatal vitamin K shots. Unfortunately, there’s a strong correlation between being antivaccine and vitamin K refusal.

In any case, this is what Quackenboss >wants her fellow antivaccine “warriors” to do:

I’ll put a list of phone numbers and addresses for the other 42 congressmen/women on the Oversight Committee at the end of this entry. The phone calls fanned out to them should:

#1 educate the committee member’s staff who answers the phone about the fact that the CDC Whistleblower exists and there is an ongoing Oversight Committee investigation that they likely don’t even know about; and

#2 ask what each Congressman can do to demand that the CDC comply with the document requests.

Leave your name and your phone number and ask to be called back. You might not even be considered for a callback if you don’t live in their district, so adjust your expectations, but you never know.

If you live in the district of the congressman you’re calling and you have a “voting bloc” you lead of people who have this common interest, make sure you tell them that in the message and ask for a call back. To say you have a voting bloc has no meaning, really, but if you’ve got a blog following of 50k+ vaccine freedom readers I’d mention it on the phone. Find your own congressman by clicking here.

Then get out some paper, pen, envelope and a stamp. I know it’s been a while since we’ve used those things– I don’t even know where I’d find an envelope in my house. In fact, include a self-addressed stamped envelope in your letter and tell them you want answers, not a form letter, returned to you.

On the paper, repeat steps 1 and 2 above in a handwritten letter. Then also:

#3 educate the members about what vaccine injury looks like, how it’s anything but rare, and include your personal story if you have one or send them to hearthiswell.org; and

#4 tell each Congressman what the legislative fix you want to see is.

I’m not sure why Quackenboss thinks a handwritten letter is going to be more effective than a typed letter, which, unlike a lot of people’s handwriting (including mine), has the advantage of being easily legible. Personally, I’d suggest that they all write their letters in crayon. It’d be more appropriate for their message.

Be that as it may, antivaccinationists are laying down a full court press, at least as much as they think they can. Rep. Chaffetz might be receptive to their message because he represents the State of Utah, which is the center of supplement manufacturing in this country, and all major politicians from Utah are basically in the pocket of its supplement industry. Is this for real? Many skeptics dismiss the possibility, and I was tempted to do so at first myself. I still think it unlikely that anything will come of this, at least not in the middle of an election year. However, given Chaffetz’s antiscience leanings towards climate science and his connection to the supplement industry, I wouldn’t put it past him to actually investigate. On the other hand, he could just be being a politician, telling a constituent group what it wants to hear without any intention of doing anything more than a perfunctory investigation because he knows he’s dealing with cranks.

Time will tell.

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Several anti vaccine activists have attacked Chaffetz, claiming he is in the pocket of pharma, and others are calling to continue calling him in spite of his requests not to. Doesn't seem like the best way to maintain his good will.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 21 Jun 2016 #permalink

So let me get this straight. Quackenboss doesn’t want babies protected against hepatitis B until they’re 12 because she apparently thinks it’s only a sexually transmitted disease.

So once you're 12 years-old in her world you can hump your heart out? She's even more liberal than me on that front, then!

Also, I might be approaching a certain rule about Nazis and online debating, but anyone else getting a chilling vision of Quackenboss tossing vaccines "into the incinerator" with the same glee certain regimes did with books and other material that offended it's ideology...?

When I saw "vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study" in there, alarm bells went off ... followed by a ludicrously loud gong sound, saying "you've failed, get off the stage". All that's missing from this picture is a big guy with a boathook with which to snare the incompetent clown by the collar and drag him or her off.

The most realistic request of a legislative fix is that the government creates a new agency that oversees vaccine safety, and they do it by taking money out of the CDC vaccine safety budget and give it to the new agency

And exactly 2 seconds after the opening of this new agency, antivaxers' paranoia will dismiss it as being in Big Pharma pocket.
The money trail will be the same, and playing "6 points of connection" will rely any employee to Murdoch and anyone in-between.
Unless that, in their fantasy world, they believe that this agency could be staffed solely with their antivax heroes - Wakefield, the Geiers, themselves...

By Helianthus (not verified) on 21 Jun 2016 #permalink

This seems ill-conceived, to say the least. They want a new "independent federal agency" to oversee vaccine safety... independent of what? The CDC? It would still be a government agency, which gives the anti-vaxxers a convenient out when the new hypothetical agency finds the same results as the current government agency. As Orac said, then they'd have to concoct new conspiracies.

There is just so much wrong with Levi's wish list. I want, I want, I want - so what? And based on what? She sounds like my 3 year old, and like any good parent, the Congresspeople simply cannot reward that behaviour.

Will it take a catastrophic return of preventable diseases and conditions like haemorrhagic disease of the newborn before people learn not to listen to dipsh!ts who have nothing more than feelpinions and too much time on their hands?

The amazing technological and medical advances of the last century or so have been hard-won - I saw something the other night about how people in Victorian England were unwittingly killing themselves with arsenic-filled wallpaper and leaking gas lights, amongst other things. It's amazing how quickly people forget - forget how it used to be, forget why there is a system by which we can know what is and isn't correct, forget why we don't let people who aren't qualified make decisions that impact everyone.

In the words of one of the greatest thinkers of our time - F*ck your short memory.

By Can't remember… (not verified) on 21 Jun 2016 #permalink

The CDC already has all of the data;

Actually, they are not proposing to run a vax vs unvax study, with double-blind and all the frills (OK, they will love to). From this "has all the data" blurb, I would conclude that they are asking for a retrospective study - pick the already compiled medical files of vax and unvax people and compare.
Which, of course, opens another can of worms about confunders, sample bias and the like.

They also do seem to think that the CDC has a full armory of smoking guns in its data archives and they just need a trusted guy to go fish them.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 21 Jun 2016 #permalink

@ Can't remember my nym

Will it take a catastrophic return of preventable diseases and conditions like haemorrhagic disease of the newborn before people learn not to listen to dipsh!ts who have nothing more than feelpinions and too much time on their hands?

I'm afraid that won't be enough.
Science-deniers will always have a way out to explain an outbreak or the ill state of babies. It's the GMOs, or pesticides*, or cell phones.
On the positive side, after the recent measles outbreak, journalists from mainstream media had stirred themselves into pointing out the craziness of the antivax movement. No longer a fringe, and no longer harmless.
Eh, in recent French media, being antivaccine is listed as one of the crazy ideas of Trump, along his racist and sexist opinions.

* and that one may have more than one grain of true, to be fair, at least in regard to general health.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 21 Jun 2016 #permalink

Here is an effective way to deal with this in republican congressman in an election year. Simply change how you refer to anti-vaxxers to domestic biological terrorists. Ask congressman Chaffetz openly why he is meeting for over an hour with terrorists. By every measure, Bigtree and his buddies are spreading a political message through fear and intimidation that is endangering and killing people. Sounds like terrorism to me.

I'm going to write this morning, to a friend who is a retired pediatric ER nurse and ask her what she thinks about eliminating the rotavirus vaccine. Because I remember how she would describe her days when she had an ER full of babies/toddlers with the virus, I expect I'll be able to hear her opinion, even though we live at opposite ends of the country.

@ Ellie

I expect I’ll be able to hear her opinion, even though we live at opposite ends of the country.

You, the scientists working in Antarctica, and everyone in-between, I would guess.
We don't have any of the rotavirus vaccines as a recommended vaccine in France (anymore). One day I was mentioning to my mom the existence of these vaccines, her reaction was very clear. F*ck yes that would be a very useful vaccine.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

And exactly 2 seconds after the opening of this new agency, antivaxers’ paranoia will dismiss it as being in Big Pharma pocket.

Pretty much what I was thinking. This proposal makes no sense even by what passes for logic among the anti-vax crowd.

Will it take a catastrophic return of preventable diseases and conditions like haemorrhagic disease of the newborn before people learn not to listen to dipsh!ts who have nothing more than feelpinions and too much time on their hands?

We have already had serious pertussis and measles outbreaks in this country, and that certainly wasn't enough. We aren't just dealing with a lunatic fringe: these are hardcore crazies.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

@llewelly
One way to measure how important these views are to people is to examine what politicians have done. how many blue states have passed mandatory GMO labeling laws and how many red states have done the same?

Regarding the new "independent" agency, I'm willing to bet that they're hoping they can stack it with the "right" kind of people. Barring that, yeah, they have another chance to cry "Conspiracy!"

I'd advise letting the anti-vaccine folks shoot themselves in the foot by encouraging them to write to Rep. Chaffetz in all their paranoid glory. Of course, if anyone does feel moved to counter them, might I suggest reminding Rep. Chaffetz and others what kind of people Bigtree and other anti-vaccine activists are (warning, may be rage-inducing).

@ Todd

(warning, may be rage-inducing).

Too late.
I hope this story is spread far and wide. Including within range of Rep. Chaffetz, as you suggest.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

The CDC already has all of the data

At face value how do you already have data before you design a study? But if the nutter lawyer is talking about the SEED study, she fails because that isn't nearly a big enough data set to be sufficiently powered. If nutter lawyer is referring to the VSD, her fellow anti-vaxx travellers have never accepted any vaccine studies from this data set before, why would they now?

Bigtree and his buddies are spreading a political message through fear and intimidation that is endangering and killing people. Sounds like terrorism to me.

I sort of agree with this although I would focus on their direct aggression on vaccine advocates rather than the passive endangerment of others. I don't know the legal requirements (if any) for being branded a terrorist but if they aren't, then at least a hate group.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

Slightly off topic yet related: Del has now wandered off the antivaccine reservation and gone full 'health freedom' crazy. On his FB page, you can find a discussion of David and Collet Stephan. Enjoy.

I believe the only reason they want to get rid of the Rotavirus vaccine is the misguided notion that this will hurt Dr. Offit.

Notice that if Quackenboss would like to claim now that she is pro-vaccine-choice, her suggestions - by removing the vaccines from the recommended schedule, and hence leading to less insurance coverage for them - are depriving others from choice.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

I believe the only reason they want to get rid of the Rotavirus vaccine is the misguided notion that this will hurt Dr. Offit.

Well, that and it's a vaccine.

Much as Joe B's idea gives me the chuckles, I think Todd W's is more realistic. If there's one thing the these people do know how to do, it's how to lead the narrative, so don't give them that chance.

Mocking them is fun, but it mostly just plays to the "mostly harmless kooks" perception in most people's eyes, allowing the true horror and extent of their words and deeds to be conveniently overlooked.

Instead, drive it into the public eye that these antivax extremists are child abusers and child abuse apologists (which they are, and there's plenty ugly evidence to back this up) and it's every decent human being's responsibility to stand up and speak against them to stop them hurting more kids.

Remember, it's not just about the children who are publicly injured or killed by VPDs they indirectly encourage, or even the precocious 12-year-olds to whom they send death threats for daring to shame them, but also the invisible autistic kids hidden inside their rotten perverted cult who they personally bully and torture for not being just like them.

Focus on the harm they're already doing right now, not just the harm they could do in a future "What if...?" scenario. Cos Joe's right about one thing: these movement AVers are every bit as much the unswerving religious extremists as those ISIL believers are, and a damn sight closer to home too.

Bigtree and the Vaxxed team have been busy. They've been to Canada to visit with the Stephans, the couple who murdered their baby by treating meningitis with crap. RawStory has an article. Uh oh
They are now blaming the ambulance team for their son's death.

I thought Quackenboss's list of dream outcomes was bizarre. You could basically follow that approach today without consequence. Can't you refuse vitamin k? There is no flu vaccine mandate. What is stopping a parent from getting 1 shot every 60 days? Is rotavirus part of the mandate? What is weird is that she wants to make sure no one can get these even if they want them. So much for health freedom...

@AR and MikeMa

The link I shared at #15 talks about Bigtree and the Stephans.

@BKsea

One thing that they can't get are single-antigen vaccines (e.g., splitting up the MMR into three separate shots). However, they already complain about the number of vaccines kids get, so it's odd that they want to increase the number of needle sticks and the total amount of alleged "toxins" kids would get.

Logic ain't a strong suit among these folks.

@Todd, missed the link on your post. Enraged enough about the Stephans that I might have reposted anyway.

These clowns are the same ones that Burzynski's minions appeal to when they want someone to harass the FDA.

By Bob Blaskiewicz (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

Regarding vaccinated/unvaccinated studies:

Wakefield mentioned in a post-Quaxxed Q&A that TWO new vaccinated-unvaccinated studies have been completed or are nearing completion. He claims that those studies were supported by nongovernmental/nonpharma sources. He remarked that he hoped that they were of "sufficient quality" to merit publication.

Let me understand. The anti-vaxxers, tired of government mandated immunizations (or so they claim), want a new bureaucracy with no previous experience set up by that same government? I suppose they want to follow the TSA model, an agency whose motto seems to be "Trust us, this time we will get it right."

@sirchon well, if they do follow the TSA pattern of minimal training and high turnover the anti-vaccine activists can hope to get results that aren't well based and fit preconceptions.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by sirhcton (not verified)

When i talk to politicans about Del all you have to do is emphasis who he rolls with ie Farrahkan and Nation of Islam educate them on who these people are and politicans dont want that baggage which is what they get with Del and the Vaxxed crowd. Then they think twice about wanting the antivaxx vote.

As they say: Follow the money.
Americans spent $30.2 billion out-of-pocket on complementary health approaches
https://nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/NHIS/2012

30.2 billion is 9.2% of out of pocket medical costs and 1.1 % of total medical costs in the US.

The money leads to why the NaDs, chiros etc want licensing and the anti-vaxxers want to get rid of vaccines. They will all make more money.

Quackenboss really is living in a fantasy world, isn’t she?

Indeed.

Meanwhile, back in the real world:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/whooping-cough-annie-mae…

One easy way to get data for the "vaxed vs unvaxed" study that anti-vax loons obsess about might be to repeal the U.S.National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.

This could result in Big Pharma discontinuing the sale and distribution of vaccines in the U.S., which in turn would provide a large pool of unvaxed U.S. kids whose health outcomes could then be compared to those of vaxed kids in Canada, Mexico, etc.

Of course U.S. parents who are not narcissitic conspiracy theorist anti-vaxxers may not be fully on-board with this and could be tempted towards "vaccination tourism" in Canada, Mexico or, now, Cuba.

This would of couse need to be accounted for in the study.

we just need the funding and a trusted independent epidemiologist

I assume by "trusted" she's referring to someone that most in a science based medical profession might characterize as a "crank", "crackpot" or worse.

So who are the potentiual candidates?

Isn't Jake Crosby the only one they have with any background in epidemiology?

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by DGR (not verified)

@brian: that should be interesting. Any takers on a bet that the authors will have undeclared COIs like "I have a case in the Vaccine Courts"? After all, it's not a *real* COI, like scientists declare when they mention Big Pharma money...

Do antivaxers get their pets vaccinated? The rabies vaccine is required by law for cats and dogs in most municipalities.

Would an antivaxer allow their child to receive the rabies vaccination if they were bit by a rapid animal?

By Karl Withakay (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

@Dorit Reiss

Well, Brian Hooker fancies himself an epidemiologist.

Their attitude toward the protesters only reinforces my belief that they hate their autistic children. I'd love for them to prove me wrong.

By Ellie (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by BoxTurtle (not verified)

I'm a little late, I see.

@brian #28:

[Wakefield] remarked that he hoped that [the] [new vaccinated-unvaccinated studies] were of “sufficient quality” to merit publication.

And if anyone knows anything about study quality, it's him.

By Rich Woods (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

@36 typo/spellcheck correction: "rabid animal"

By Karl Withakay (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

Would an antivaxer allow their child to receive the rabies vaccination if they were bit by a rabid animal?

My question would be whether the anti-vax parent would forego medical treatment if they were the one bitten by the rabid animal.

Or, for example, came down with meningitis themselves.

A thought just occurred to me:
Del Bigtree is new to anti-vax, interestingly he joins two other recent additions: Jefferey Jaxen ** and Ben Swann.
Do you think they're clones?

** talk about creative spelling!

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

Personally, I’d suggest that they all write their letters in crayon. It’d be more appropriate for their message.

Green ink would be more apt.

By Chris Preston (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

I’m a little late, I see.

I appreciate the link, as Jezebel now reliably crashes my browser. One good quote from an earlier story:

"It would have been easier for us just to take a plea bargain a long time ago and just basically keep living our lives, but we didn't want this precedent being set."

First law of holes, David.

Please excuse the crayon. They don't let us have anything sharp here.

By Mark Thorson (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

DGR @44
"My question would be whether the anti-vax parent would forego medical treatment if they were the one bitten by the rabid animal."

I phrased it as I did because an antivaxer could easily wiggle out of that/justify/rationalize getting a rabies vaccine themselves because they are too old to be susceptible to any vaccine caused neurological developmental harm that they claim vaccines cause.

By Karl Withakay (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

Maybe congress should investigate; if only to put an end to the nonsense .... except of the cost involved of doing so wold have been a waste and better spent on other things.

By Craig Payne (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

Karl - I have heard about anti-vaxxers not getting their pets immunized against rabies, which is sad and stupid and means that eventually (if it hasn't happened already) a perfectly fine animal will have to be put down after biting someone because they weren't vaccinated.

Honestly, some days the nasty part of me wishes that it was possible to retract all of the vaccinations that adult antivaxxers have already had, so they can walk the walk along with the kids. (I know that there are medical treatments that can wipe one's immunity, but that's 1-wrong and 2-a waste of resources.)

By JustaTech (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

*sigh* This as we've got a confirmed measles case in miami (a kid, who happens to be unvaccinated...anyone surprised?). What is wrong with this country?

@JustaTech

My mom used to work at a dog kennel/doggy day care and there was a 'vet' in the area who was at least part naturopath and used to either lie about vaccinating dogs on their paperwork or make up BS excuses not to. My mom and her boss called her the Witch Doctor and I think they eventually started refusing owners who used her.

JustaTech @51
Even if I could feel comfortable with wishing harm on someone, they would still represent a risk to others beyond themselves.

FYI: If their immunity to measles wanes, a good case of the measles can wipe out all a person's immunities whether they came from vaccination or from acquired immunity.

By Karl Withakay (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

The problem is that squeaky wheels get oiled. That is how legislation that favors antivaxxers was passed in places like Oregon and California in the first place. Even if you think that these people are nuts and our representatives are not going to listen to them you should contact your representatives about this issue. They show up and we don't.
As far as the Stephans go if there was a doctor in the ambulance their child would have been declared brain dead at first contact. He had no pupil response the first time the paramedics checked. It didn't matter that they couldn't get him intubated.

By Sullivanthepoop (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

I think I know what's coming. As their generation finds their parents and/or their contemporaries afflicted with Alzheimer's disease, they will turn their guns on Pneumococcus and zoster vaccines as the cause. After all, Alzheimer's and autism are just the same, aren't they? At least they begin with the same letter, anyway..

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

Janet: When i talk to politicans about Del all you have to do is emphasis who he rolls with ie Farrahkan and Nation of Islam educate them on who these people are and politicans dont want that baggage which is what they get with Del and the Vaxxed crowd.
Frankly, they shouldn't need to be educated on anything but the links between Del and the Nation of Islam, as they should already know who Farrakhan is. Do any of these congresscritter clowns own a personal computer or know what Google is?

Has:I'm beginning to think I didn't go far enough when I proposed all -day daycare for autistic children. The parents should also be offered financial incentives to 'forget' their children if they're anti-vax. It's to the point where I think most autistic kids would be better off being raised by wolves or robots. Wolves would actually be an improvement.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

"It’s to the point where I think most autistic kids would be better off being raised by wolves or robots."

Since the parents of most autistic children are not anti-vaxx, PGP, you are once again full of it.

By shay simmons (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

The demand for an "independent" vaccine safety committee always makes me sad. We all know how this would play out if the antivaxxers had their way - no expert is independent according to them.

We've seen it before, they'll play six degrees of Big Pharma until they find a connection. If you have ever just worked at a university or hospital that conducts drug research, you are declared to have a conflict of interest by their idiosyncratic definition.

If you were to ever propose experts for such a committee, the antivaxxers will just keep moving the goalposts until the committee is full of naturopaths and chiropractors.

Shay:Prove it. As far as I can see, anti-vaxxers are like sandhill cranes (squawky and numerous) while parents of autistic kids who vaccinate and care about their kids are the whooping cranes of parenthood (rare, but it's always uplifting to see a flock)

Bob:If you were to ever propose experts for such a committee, the antivaxxers will just keep moving the goalposts until the committee is full of naturopaths and chiropractors.

To be honest, some of those might be an improvement on the current and any future House Science commitee.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

“It’s to the point where I think most autistic kids would be better off being raised by wolves or robots.”

Since the parents of most autistic children are not anti-vaxx, PGP, you are once again full of it.

It things like this that make me glad PGP is at Timmeh/Gilbert depth in the killfile. It really reminds me of something abusive my brother said to my dad while living under his roof. As an "adult."

^ "It's things"

PGP: "parents of autistic kids who vaccinate and care about their kids are the whooping cranes of parenthood (rare, but it’s always uplifting to see a flock)"

Well, there is me. Hi! I have been here for a while, I posted a few years ago as "HCN." Then there is Matt Carey at LeftBrainRightBrain, and there are the bunch I see at the Parent2Parent meetings put on by The ARC. Oh, and then there is the are the several families at this site:
http://www.thinkingautismguide.com/

Trust me, the anti-vaxers are a minority among autism parents. You would not believe the rants I have heard about the the annoying "mercury moms" from other autism parents.

The proof you need is the fact that only a tiny minority refuse to vaccinate (but even if it is less than 10% it is enough to cause problems).

Narad: I guess you take after your father's side of the family. Comparing me to Gilbert is a new low, even for you, who makes a hobby of being a massive jerk. Just because I'm not as educated as you and your ego, doesn't give you the right to sneer at me.

Chris: So why is it the anti-vaxxers have all the money and massive organizations, if there's so few of them? It's bizarre. And yes, they do have an outsized impact on public health, such is the way of viruses. (My family, for example is probably really interesting to public health officials, as my uncle and my dad both got two different rare viruses, that were fortunately not contagious.)

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

Politicalguineapig, don't make the mistake of confusing "high profile" with "popular support". The Westboro Baptist Church has a very high profile, but is most definitely a fringe group. In South Africa, we have a political party called the Economic Freedom Fighters. Their support is under 15%, but thanks to their antics, they get disproportionate news coverage.
You mention antivaxxers have "all the money and massive organisations". What about the Autism Science Foundation? It was founded by Alison Singer formerly of Autism Speaks after the first three test cases in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings resulted in heavy defeat for the antivaxxers. It does a lot of very useful research.
I repeat, do not confuse "high profile and loud" with "widely supported".

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

No one is sneering at your lack of education, PGP; we're sneering st your steadfast refusal to abandon your prejudices no matter how many times you're corrected. Uneducated =/= ineducable.

(Present company excepted).

By shay simmons (not verified) on 22 Jun 2016 #permalink

t I’d accept flu vaccines being banned from pregnant mothers and children under three years old.

And there speaks someone who has never had a premature baby or a child at high risk from respiratory illness, and who is apparently completely clueless about the maternal and foetal deaths caused by H1N1.

Actually I could probably have just said "completely clueless" and left it at that.

Narad didn't actually compare PGP to Timmeh/Gilbert. Doing that would be unfair. Tim's pot posts are pretty funny, and he clearly doesn't believe half the poop he writes.

(Apologies if that 'Tim' is not the commenter referenced by 'Timmeh'...)

Medical tyranny is allowing countless vaccines with carcinogenic and neurotoxic components to be injected into infants and children. It is a crime against humanity. I am astounded by people who are unwilling to see past their "agenda", even when faced with alarming numbers of illness in children.

By Donna Davis (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

What a hateful, slanted representation of the vaccine debacle. We should all question the safety of anything injected into our bodies. After reading this, I wouldn't trust anything on Scienceblog.

By Sherry Evard (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink

Donna Davis: "Medical tyranny is allowing countless vaccines with carcinogenic and neurotoxic components to be injected into infants and children."

Do please tell us what neurotoxic components are worst than tetanospasmin and the other toxins caused by pertussis, diphtheria, Hib, and pneumococcal bacteria. Provide the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers.

Sherry Evard: "I wouldn’t trust anything on Scienceblog."

So why would we trust you? You just posted a string of insults, and provided no real evidence. Perhaps you could join Ms. Davis and come up with the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers on how the present American MMR vaccine is more dangerous than measles, mumps and rubella.

Also, do tell us why all the kids (including the African American children) did not show an increase in autism when they got their MMR vaccine on time.

@Donna Davis:

I am astounded by people who are unwilling to see past their “agenda”, even when faced with alarming numbers of illness in children.

Show us your evidence that vaccines are causing this "alarming number of illness in children" [sic]. And bear in mind, correlation is not causaton.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

countless vaccines with carcinogenic and neurotoxic components

"Countless"? I believe that Sesame Street has a character who may be able to help with ordinal numbers.
I suppose vaccine ingredients are "carcinogenic" in the sense that kids who live longer incur a greater chance of acquiring a cancer.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

Lane swerve:
It appears that Special Master Hastings filed a decision regarding Hooker's vaccine injury petition a month ago, and Shoemaker subsequently filed for legal fees this month:

117 Filed: 6/7/2016, Entered: 6/7/2016 Motion for Attorney Fees MOTION for Attorney Fees , filed by All Plaintiffs. Response due by 6/24/2016. (Shoemaker, Clifford)

116 Filed: 5/19/2016, Entered: 5/19/2016 DECISION of Special Master DECISION Redactions due by 6/2/2016 Signed by Special Master George L. Hastings. (dj) Copy to parties.
(saw it here: http://www(DOT)plainsite.org/dockets/7m3of04r/united-states-court-of-fe…)

I feel certain that had Hooker prevailed, he would be crowing, and that Bigtree & Co. would have waved this around during their big adventure to D.C.

"What a hateful, slanted representation of the vaccine debacle."

I commend you on accomplishing a balanced presentation in just one short sentence.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

"countless vaccines"

The last I checked AVers made vaccine counting a fetish. There even seems to be a competition of who can count the most. They're very much into precision (but not accuracy).

I feel certain that had Hooker prevailed, he would be crowing, and that Bigtree & Co. would have waved this around during their big adventure to D.C.

Yup, he lost (PDF, 58 pp.).

^ From the end of Section XIV (with the caveat that the decision makes extremely liberal use of italics; citation omitted):

"As noted above, in Althen, the Federal Circuit indicated that the Vaccine Act involves a 'system created by Congress, in which close calls regarding causation are resolved in favor of injured claimants.' Accordingly, I note here that this case is not a close call. For all the reasons set forth above, I find that the causation theories of Petitioners' experts,[*] both as to 'initial causation' and 'significant aggravation,'[**] were not at all persuasive, while the opinions presented by Respondent’s experts were far more persuasive."

* The Geiers, Janet Kern, Boyd Haley, Stephen Smith, M.D. (whose disciplinary record was mentioned more than once), and a switcheroo when the expert report of Mary Megson, M.D., was submitted instead of the expert report from, apparently, this person.

** The case was amended to include the latter when it appeared that the former would be time-barred based on the medical records. I am open to arguments that the statute of limitations should be extended, but I have reservations.

Stephen L. Smith, M.D., who provided care for SRH and was an expert witness certainly comes in for some smiting as well.

pg 23-24 Bennett L. Leventhal.... harshly criticized the medical practices of Dr. Smith in this case, alleging that he failed to perform essential medical services for SRH, while at the same time exposing him to various risky treatments with no established utility. (Ex. C, p. 34.) .

There's a lot more.

Shoemaker subsequently filed for legal fees this month

Presumably the Federal Claims court is aware of Shoemaker's history of inflating his costs by 300% or so, and will scrutinise his claims closely.

In fairness, after the way he was sanctioned for egregious malpractice,
https://popehat.com/2008/06/25/asshat-anti-vaccine-lawyer-clifford-shoe…
it is difficult to imagine that anyone is hiring him except vaccine scammers, so he can be excused for treating the vaccine court as his personal money-teat.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

hdb, IIRC Shoemaker's legal practice has been restricted to Vaccine Court claims for some time. It's still a cash cow.

@ Narad -- thanks so much for the link to the decision.

Do you (or anyone else) happen to have a link to the motion for attorney fees filed on 6/7/16?

Stephen L. Smith, M.D., who provided care for SRH and was an expert witness certainly comes in for some smiting as well.

There seems to be plenty of spanking in that decision -- including toward the amended claims for the purpose of just keeping the case active.

I would not have imagined that Hooker had a convincing case whatsoever, but I was actually surprised at how very poor his evidence and experts were. What a ridiculous waste of the courts time and the taxpayers $$.

How could anybody possibly think that using the Geiers as expert witnesses was a good idea? Was Hooker deliberately trying to hamstring his case?

By shay simmons (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

Presumably the Federal Claims court is aware of Shoemaker’s history of inflating his costs by 300% or so, and will scrutinise his claims closely.

The bill, unfortunately, was not available for download.

Do you (or anyone else) happen to have a link to the motion for attorney fees filed on 6/7/16?

The entire docket is here; as I just noted, COFC PACER has document 117 restricted. I can't recall whether this is usual (obviously, a lot the filings will be in such a case).

Remember, everybody in the U.S. gets $15 free PACER buxx per quarter (and the decision cost nothing). Sign up, but make sure you install RECAP.

Mark AND David Geier. No way to make chicken salad out of that duo.

It does expose, once again, how weak (and dare I say fabricated?) Hooker's claims (and those of the antivax cult) are -- all in one decision. Lots of blogging goodness there -- someone save it. :)

Oh Hooker and the Geiers go way back.

At Age of Autism December 6 2012

http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/12/brian-hookers-testimony-autism.html

My initial thanks go to Dr. Mark Geier and David Geier, who strategically linked me up with a friend of theirs, who in turn has become my good friend as well. Through the work of this individual, Dr. Andrew Wakefield and I were invited to meet with Rep. Darrell Issa, Rep. Vern Buchanan and their wives in early May, 2012 to discuss malfeasance in the CDC regarding autism and vaccines. Andy discussed the MMR vaccine and the vaccine schedule. I talked specifically about thimerosal and the cover-up of CDC data that affirm a causal relationship between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders including autism.

Paragraphs not included, then

I have made over 100 FOIA requests to the CDC over the last 8 years and received thousands of pages of information. This has been a very thorough compilation of work. David Geier, who is my mentor regarding the FOIA, got me started doing FOIA requests back in 2004. David has also reviewed nearly everything I have received.

Remember, David is the son with an BA in Biology.

From the Decision, pg 21

On October 4, 2013, along with the supplemental expert report of Dr. Mark Geier, Petitioners also filed a report by Dr. Geier’s son, Mr. David Geier, as Ex. 21. (ECF No. 45-2.) That report did not state an opinion specific to the case of SRH, but opined generally that thimerosal can cause or contribute to causing an ASD. (Ex. 21.)

However, special masters in prior Program cases have noted that David Geier lacks any qualifications to provide expert opinion on medical matters, his only degree being a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in biology.

The Omnibus Autism Proceeding (OAP) were quite harsh on both Geiers in 2009 and 2010. How the Hookers could continue to cite them as expert witnesses years later really boggles the mind.

How anyone could ignore their son's pediatrician when she notes on four separate visits that the child is not meeting developmental markers (p13) -- all prior to the shot that allegedly triggered the autism -- boggles the mind... well, no, it doesn't.

By shay simmons (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

BTW, if anyone recalls Blaxill's fever-dream "Utah whistleblower" (no, there's no mention of autism rates to be found in her deposition),* Zimmerman is hanging on by a thread, and nothing much seems to be happening.

I seem to have six PACER buxx left to blow, so I'm open to requests for further entries in another installment of the Jan Gabriel Memorial Docket Update! Update! Update....**

* "Depositions from Zimmerman and her former colleagues suggest that the alleged data errors were serious and have the potential to produce major differences in reported Utah autism rates."

** "http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2015/09/15/the-long-sordid-antivaccin…

^ Oh, right: I would be remiss if I failed to ridicule Pattimmy at this juncture.

Mark AND David Geier. No way to make chicken salad out of that duo.

How about a nice bowl of vulture stew?

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

Did I say "Pattimmy"? Why, yes I did. Doctor's Data v. Barrett is up to date, including the 111-page document 305, of March 21.

Doesn't seem to be going poorly at all for Barrett (I wasn't up to more than half-skimmig it after the Hooker decision), but the lawfare must be costing a fortune.

^^ But, two new words in two days: both "sweven"* and, from Barrett, dépeçage. I'm not sure I'm going to have an opportunity to deploy the latter anytime soon.

* Indeed, I just had a sweven that involved jumping up and mopping. It didn't pan out.

The Omnibus Autism Proceeding (OAP) were quite harsh on both Geiers in 2009 and 2010. How the Hookers could continue to cite them as expert witnesses years later really boggles the mind.

Apart from Hooker being chin-deep in anti-vaccine miasma, the Hookers were warned after 15 months of failing to submit an expert witness report that they would have the case dismissed for lack of evidence. The Geiers may have been their only option.

It is noteworthy that this particular case was going nowhere fast from the beginning. "Following the resolution of the autism “test cases” (see Section II above), Petitioners filed an Amended Petition (“Am. Pet.”) on July 20, 2011, alleging that SRH developed “mercury poisoning” as a result of the MMR vaccination he received on February 25, 1999, and his fourth Hib vaccination, received on May 26, 1999. (Am. Pet., ECF No. 22, ¶¶ 7, 8, 15, 18.) (Although it is noteworthy that one of those two vaccinations, the MMR, in fact did not contain any mercury.)"

Ooh. that must have hurt.

By Chris Preston (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

* The Geiers, Janet Kern, Boyd Haley, Stephen Smith, M.D. (whose disciplinary record was mentioned more than once), and a switcheroo when the expert report of Mary Megson, M.D., was submitted instead of the expert report from, apparently, this person.

First a hearty thanks for supplying the link. Funny how silent Hooker is on the decision. But the person who apparently was supposed to file an expert report, could that be because he's a mitochondrial disorder expert...

And Hooker's son doesn't even have a mito disorder? Aside from the one fabricated by the slimeball duo of Megson and Smith that is.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

Is it worth noting that by the Geiers’ expert testimony was submitted (June 2013), every single one of Mark Geier’s medical licenses had been revoked, from his home state of Maryland in April 2011, to Hawaii in April 2013?

It's worth noting all right and the Special Master did on several occasions along with all the pathetic (non) qualifications and sanctions of Hooker's "experts".

By Science Mom (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

Further, while Dr. Geier has published many medical articles concerning ASDs, the Institute of Medicine has evaluated a number of these articles and concluded that they are riddled with problems, and essentially without any value whatsoever in terms of contributing to the study of the causation of ASDs.

I can see this is going to be up there with the all time great judicial slayings of Geiers' expert testimony.

By Chris Preston (not verified) on 26 Jun 2016 #permalink

But the person who apparently was supposed to file an expert report, could that be because he’s a mitochondrial disorder expert…

Frances Kendall has presented at AutismOne on the topic of mitochondrial disease. It would be interesting to know what happened with the switch to Megson. It certainly couldn't have been due to Megson's expertise (lack of).

In terms of experts -- it would almost be difficult to find a less credible crew.

Winnie: "In terms of experts — it would almost be difficult to find a less credible crew."

Those "experts" are the Keystone Cops of "medical" experts.

This whole mess would make for good comedy except for all of the pain and suffering they have caused. Most recently the deplorable way these folks treated members of ASAN protesting a VAXXED showing:
https://violentmetaphors.com/2016/06/13/vaxxed-reviewed-what-happened-o…

^ Regarding Doctor's Data, a closer look suggests that the only things that survived this ruling are the per se parts of Count V enumerated in footnote 59 and Count X, which would seem to hinge upon the former.

There's nothing left but a case of asshurt in the first degree, with no obvious damages (PDF).

dépeçage

Have you skinned (dépecé) many fishes lately?

;)

Big Al

Um. ok. So is it a waste of time to hope Chaeffetz isn't fool enough to buy into antivax bullshit ? Surely he can see that this is a bunch of bollocks his committee shouldn't be bothered with ? Do I dare to dream that he might be reality-based enough, or at least politically savvy enough to realize that this issue is a land mine ?
Oh wait. . .

Thanks Todd, I incorrectly assumed that the tax was ultimately paid by the consumer (or insurance company).

I agree that frivolous cases drain the resources (time and $$) of the VICP.

I'd love to be a fly on that wall. As a chiropractor, we are generally against vaccinations, but I may be bending the direction a little. There's nothing wrong with knowing what's going into your bloodstream, especially when it's your own child's bloodstream. I've seen anectdotal evidence that may negate vaccines, but let's face it, noone knows who to trust anymore!

By Another Seattl… (not verified) on 27 Jun 2016 #permalink

Maybe I don't know who to trust, but I certainly know who not to trust, and that would be anyone who thinks vaccines are injected into the blood stream, and anyone who wants to go back to the time of rampant disease, crippling, and death.

By Ellie (not verified) on 27 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Another Seattl… (not verified)

There’s nothing wrong with knowing what’s going into your bloodstream, especially when it’s your own child’s bloodstream.

And this is one of the reasons why chiropractors are quacks and dangerously ignorant cranks. A.) We know what's in vaccines and B.) They aren't injected into the bloodstream you numpty.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 27 Jun 2016 #permalink

Not only has Brian Hooker's case been decided, but it looks like Robert Krakow's case has been decided as well.

https://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2016/06/27/the-next-hannah-poling-not…

For those who may not recall, Robert Krakow's son was supposed to be one of the Omnibus Autism Proceeding test cases. The family pulled out of the Omnibus after the Poling concession. David Kirby wrote about the child as basically the next Hannah Poling, as the family was going to pursue the argument that Poling's concession shows that vaccines cause autism in people with mitochondrial disease.

They failed over and over.

They failed to show their child had mitochondrial disease. They failed to show that their child regressed following vaccines. They failed to show a strong reaction to the vaccines. They failed to show that the validity of the argument that vaccines cause autism in people with mitochondrial diseases.

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 27 Jun 2016 #permalink

"In Poling v. HHS, the presiding special master clarified that the family was compensated because the Respondent conceded that the Poling child had suffered a Table Injury–not because the Respondent or the special master had concluded that any vaccination had contributed to causing or aggravating the child’s ASD."

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 27 Jun 2016 #permalink

DLC:

Chaeffetz is smart enough to buy into antivax bullshit.. not 'buy into' as in 'believe', but 'buy into' as 'climb on the political cart'. OGR could be called 'The Committee For Publicizing Bollocks Congress Shouldn't Be Bothered With But Rallies The Loonies In The Base". He's politically savvy enough to know where his campaign contributions come from, and the supplement industry has a vested interest in anything that undermines Federal authority in enacting science-based regulation of medicine. That is, the hook for him here isn't autism, it's getting a chance to push the CDC back on its heels.

There's nothing odd about Del Bigtree visiting Chaffetz and the Stephan trial in the same week. These are all peas in the same pod. Chaffetz is "co-chair of the Dietary Supplement Caucus and has supported bills to weaken the FDA’s already weak power to regulate supplements." The Stephan's lawyer is Shawn Buckley, President of Natural Heath Products Protection Association, which lobbies against supplement regulation. The Stephan family runs the hugely skeevy supplement scam Truehope. Truehope is Canadian, but it's U/S. distribution partner is in Utah (duh). Truehope's signature product is a 'magic' vitamin concoction called EMPower Plus, advertised to cure all kinds of mental health problems. Among those claims:

When the body and brain are provided with the essential nutrients found in EMPowerplus Advanced™, they are able to function properly—often negating the signs and symptoms of autism. Since the symptoms of autism are caused by chemical issues in the brain, why treat your autism with more chemicals? Try EMPowerplus Advanced™ today to see for yourself how nature can work in harmony with your body to help you feel like your best self."

Land mine? No. Gold mine? Yes.

On the one hand, I understand BS Hooker. He was sold a lie, like many parents of children with special needs have been sold a lie about vaccines. The thing is, he took that lie and repackaged it and is re-selling it to other parents. In the meantime, he wastes time and resources (his and others') that could very well go toward making the world more accepting and accommodating to children and adults who need that acceptance and that accommodation. What do they get instead? A horribly-made documentary and a barrage of insults at those (like ASAN-KC) who want the world to know that autism is not a death sentence or even a "tragedy."
Thanks, Dr. Hooker! The world is still not better off with all the time and resources you've wasted.

@ The Real Truther:

Thorough, accurate, thoughtful, measured, beautifully written... Keep up the good work! The material is 'old news' for most readers here, but your post makes a great intro for folks new to the issue, Everythings there in one place, in accessible prose. Very well done!

@Ren -- if you read the testimony of the Hooker's pediatrician, it wasn't much of a hard sell. They were already half-way down denial.

By shay simmons (not verified) on 27 Jun 2016 #permalink

@sadmar Thank you. It was definitely my intention to "lay it all out there" for newbies in one place since so much of this information is in so many different places. And hopefully for Congressman Chaffetz to be able to see the truth in a clear and direct way. Appreciate you reading it!

By The Real Truther (not verified) on 27 Jun 2016 #permalink

No, no, no. As I like to say, it’s so cute when antivaccinationists try to do epidemiology. Suffice to say, doing a randomized controlled clinical trial of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children would be incredibly unethical because it would leave one group exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases. It’s so unethical that even antivaxers don’t propose such a study any more, hence Quackenboss’ reference to the CDC already having “all of the data.”

Why not use the millions of antivaxxers as a cohort? I don't see anything unethical about this.

By James Crawford (not verified) on 09 Oct 2016 #permalink

"Millions," eh? Grand. Please present the other pieces of the design.

I mean, you have willing participants for this study. This would be easy to do. Patient compliance would be perfect, since every vaccine is recorded.
This is way easier than trying to keep someone one a low-fat diet for 30 years!

Win for the anti-vaxxers, and a win for the curious epidemiologists. The only people that would lose is the over-zealous CDC vaccine-pushers.

It has become an open secret that they don't prevent disease very well anyway, so you don't really have to worry about ethics.

By James Crawford (not verified) on 09 Oct 2016 #permalink

Let's see, selection bias, check.

Ignorance about IRB protocols, check.

Ignorance of disease history,mcheck.

Good, three for three....

@ James Crawford: as Lawrence noted above, you won't get a randomized, double-blinded trial out of that data. There's a lot of selection bias (antivaxxers tend to be white, middle-to-upper class). And all you could do is a retrospective review. Not the clinical trial they antivaxxers keep asking about.

If you think this is a possible trial, go ahead, present your design to an IRB, get it approved, get the money for the funding, and go for it.

I mean, you have willing participants for this study. This would be easy to do.

"Other pieces of the design" this isn't. Calculate what this exercise could actually demonstrate. I'll wait.

Oh, wait, are those the notes of Cecil the Sea Serpent covering Wills & Anderson that I'm hearing?

James Crawford: "I mean, you have willing participants for this study. This would be easy to do. Patient compliance would be perfect, since every vaccine is recorded."

They have already been done. There have been several epidemiological studies done in several countries like Denmark, Sweden, Canada and the USA using health databases from national health services, and in the USA large Health Maintenance Organizations that participate in the Vaccine Safety Datalink:
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/ensuringsafety/monitoring/vsd/publicat…

It is not our fault the results are not to your liking, it is just what the data say: vaccines are much much safer than the diseases, and not associated with autism

There have been several epidemiological studies done

Epidemiological studies are invalid, with the sole exception of the one that is constantly demanded and never specified. (Except for Mr. Vaper Papers, who, after tedious prodding, hilariously proclaimed that if a sample size of ~300 in each arm didn't strongly favor the autism causation case, the jig was up.)

Oh, and if I was unclear above, 10 quatloos on James Crawford's being more Fondlesworth.

James Crawford @126:
In case it isn't clear to anyone who isn't familiar with study design, this "study" would be confounded to hell and gone. You'll have too many families in one cohort (genetic causes), you'll have too many people with the same lifestyle choices in one cohort over the other (diet, other medical treatment, air quality, education).

Quite possibly the only thing you would learn is how well anti-vaxxers can hide their children in the herd.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 10 Oct 2016 #permalink

Chris, which study on the page you posted is an epidemiological study between fully vaccinated and totally unvaccinated groups?

By James Crawford (not verified) on 10 Oct 2016 #permalink

Chris, which study on the page you posted is an epidemiological study between fully vaccinated and totally unvaccinated groups?

Yay, it's finally the Magic Study writ large! What degree of similarity between the two imaginary groups would convince you that there is no effect? Be sure to specify both alpha and beta.

^ And a single endpoint.

Jimmy C: "Chris, which study on the page you posted is an epidemiological study between fully vaccinated and totally unvaccinated groups?"

Most of them, especially the ones where lots of folks live in California, a good percentage of the HMO clients probably do not vaccinate. Try reading a few. And if you are still unhappy then write up grant to fund your own study --- stop trying to spend other people's money.

Chris, why would HMO clients not vaccinate? I would think an HMO would be begging all their clients to vaccinate. Saves money on treatment and all that jazz.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 10 Oct 2016 #permalink

It happens. Sometimes, like our local Group Health, it is an employer benefit (though it costs more than our other choice), and the member has just chosen to not vaccinate. The HMOs don't force parents to do preventative health care, though they probably do send them reminders.

Though in the five months or so I had Group Health I never got a single reminder to do anything. Actually as an intern I foolishly signed up for them instead of the "free health insurance plan"... and got my paycheck charged. I never once used Group Health, so that was money that I could have used.

Though that five month internship paid for my last two years of college (living expenses and tuition, though back then Univ. of Washington tuition was about $250 per quarter).

It is my understanding that Kaiser Permanente is very big in California, like the 500 pound gorilla in their health insurance market.

So doing such a study would be unethical? but they have also already been done?

Chris, can you point to the most powerful study every done vaccinated vs unvaccinated people?

And no asshole, I am not trying to spend anyone's money.

By James Crawford (not verified) on 10 Oct 2016 #permalink

"Most powerful"? Somebody seems to be going through an awkward period while trying to sport new words.

So doing such a study would be unethical? but they have also already been done?

The studies which could be done ethically have been done. But the designs people like you want are in general much too extreme, vague, and would never pass an IRB.
So prove us wrong and provide details about the design, besides "fully vaccinated" vs "totally unvaccinated".

Hi James,

As mentioned there are plenty of studies showing basically what you want. There's no need to be injecting people with a placebo and lying to them about their vaccination status. There's the "before and after vaccines are introduced to a population" study.

You can even do your own research, pick a developing country, mark the date they started vaccinations , then check their rates of whatever syndrome you are interested in and look for a significant rise since vaccination.

Do come back if you find anything overlooked by the hundreds of other safety studies.

Jimmy C: "I am not trying to spend anyone’s money."

Yes you are. You are making demands that some kind of special study be done, but you are too lazy to bother learning what it would take. Plus you are too lazy to actually look up several of the studies that have been done, and figure out how they were done to ensure the kids stayed safe. You can start with Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies (a pdf of the uncorrected proof).

Now if you are still unhappy, design your "perfect" study, get it approved by an IRB, then write a grant to get it funded (just no more taxpayer funds please) and go do it. Come back when it is published and give us the PMID.