Jeni Barnett MMR show on LBC - full transcript

Thanks to a sterling effort by a group of dedicated science bloggers and blog-readers, the whole Jeni Barnett MMR radio show has been transcribed for your reading pleasure.

Browse it, read it, blog it, be shocked, be amazed, tell your friends, etc etc.

OBVIOUS DISCLAIMER: This is a transcript pulled together by lots of people working late into the night. There will be mistakes, I'm sure, so use it as a tool to skim the show before listening to the bits that interest you. A recording of the show is available on Wikileaks, see here. You can also listen to each part via YouTube here.

The timestamps demarcated are relative to individual clips the transcribers worked off (six in total), not the whole show or the YouTube clips. Use them for rough navigation within a particular clip, I've tried my best to make it easy to navigate between text and tape. Everything below the fold...

CLIP ONE, 0.00 - 7.00 minutes. Roughly equivalent to this segment on YouTube.

JB: Now, it's cold, it's miserable, lots of us are snuffling, lots of us have got viruses, some of us will be affected by it, some of us won't. Every single time we come round again to 'measles epidemic' or 'infection rates rise in Europe" my first thought is: I'm an independent, individual human being, I have raised a biological child and two logical children. Sometimes their responses to things were worse than others, sometimes children around them had a response that was worse than mine, than my kids. The fact is, the notion that we're all the same, that you have to be inoculating children with this MMR jab, this debate is going to go on for ever and ever and always at the back of it, in my head is 'hold on a minute, there's a drug company that's making lots of money out of it'. And I always get really anxious when I hear the you know now that we've got 'Banishing measles


from Europe in 2010 may have been dashed by poor vaccinations rates in a handful of countries'. you cannot have your cake and eat it. You cannot be putting rubbish and carp in food endlessly and looking at the rise of asthma and obesity and then turn round and not say look what's happening with measles. You have to approach the whole thing at the health of our children and the health of our society. Now back in the day (and that's an expression I've learned from my [unclear] son), back in the day, children got measles, children got mumps. I'm not suggesting - I am not suggesting - that we got backwards where some children, where we have one in fifteen children die of it. And that one person in fifteen is the one we have to be looking at and wondering why and dealing with it. But if, as a human being, you decide you do not want to give your child a vaccination, you should, in a democracy, have that right to day no.


There are some children - whether you like it or whether you do not - that have a response to that triple jabbing that is not good for them. We have evidence, however much people say we don't, we have evidence that if a child's immune system is weak; my daughter was one of them, she was very asthmatic as a child, she could not have received that triple vaccine, she couldn't have done it so I made a calculated decision that I didn't want to go there. and it isn't a decision that's made easily, it's a lonely decision, if you're not part of the herd, if your' not mooing with the other cows or baaing with the other sheep, if you wanting to stand alone, it's a very lonely business standing under a tree in a field all on your own saying 'I don't want to do that'. So I want you to phone me and tell me why you decided against the vaccine and how you're coping with people saying 'See! You're the reason, you are the reason we haven't banished measles'. I had that said to me by doctor in Canada: 'You haven't had your child vaccinated?


You're-' he left me in the kitchen! He blamed me for the whole measles epidemic. 0-8-4-5-6-0-6-0-9-7-3 Why didn't you have your child vaccinated, how are you coping with the fact that people don't like you for it, how do you like it when you are, when the study is documenting that 12,000 cases of European measles in the two years spanning 2006 and 2007 means that we are one of the handful of countries in Britain that are not doing it right. Well maybe, maybe there are all sorts of other figures that have been withheld from us, and I don't know what they are because they've been withheld! Measles is a contagious infection caused by a virus. Measles was once common but because of immunisation it's now fortunately becoming very rare. I want to know from some kind of expert


what measles is and what is in the vaccine, and why people have a reaction to it, and really my question is: what is wrong with childhood illnesses? Is it - to hark back to the first hour - because we don't have parents at home looking after the children? What's going on? Is there something wrong with having mumps, is there something - you know is it - most people aren't that one in fifteen. So if you did not have your child vaccinated, why? 0-8-4-5-6-0-6-0-9-7-3 Text me if you decided against having that triple M, and are now dealing with people saying 'you are responsible for the rise in measles'. Text me on 8-4-8-5-0. We are living in the 21st century, we have running water, most of us have running water, most of us live in better situations than we did when I grew up - I grew up in two rooms with rats and mice in the


east end of London. I can remember it. And DON'T email me in - there's a guy who emails me in to say 'Oh you just want to be part of the east end' no, I grew up in St Marks St, thank you very much, born in Mile End Road, and when I go there now I look at it and think blimey that's my birthright and thank God for that I like it. my feet are rooted in the east end even though my parents were rehoused - rehoused - in council housing, social housing, [go to Youtube Clip 2] that welfare state looked after us poor little immigrant Jews. And we were sent to this lovely house and there we have it. Asthma runs in my family, asthma runs in my husband's family so my daughter was not inoculated. I, however, have talked to many people over the years - 22 years I've lived with my daughter - and over the years many many people have said the same thing, that when we were little, chicken pox, you took your kid to get the chickenpox, you made sure your child was near somebody who had it. My brother got mumps,


he lived to tell the tale. I don't know if we had measles. I was sitting next to Nick Owen on the settee at TV AM when his children were incubating rubella which is measles, and I was pregnant! Now I'm not saying that we shouldn't be using science and medicine to make everybody healthy, but there's an obsession now with trying to sanitise absolutely everything, and if your child's immune system is strong enough it will fight and it will grow and it will be strong. Too many antibiotics and now we have MRSA and superbugs. I'm not an expert, this is what I have observed, phone me: 0-8-4-5-6-0-6-0-9-7-3. If you chose to stand under the tree in the field outside the herd. Tracey in Olympia talk to me...


This segment is hosted at The Lay Scientist

CLIP THREE, starts 6.43 into this clip

This segment is hosted at PodBlack Cat

CLIP FOUR, roughly equivalent to the second half of this segment

The segment is hosted at The Sceptics' Book.

CLIP FIVE, 0.00 - 11.00 minutes. Starts 30 seconds into this segment

JB: -little band that didn't do anything. Now they've just been signed by FM records - Mazel-tov! - fantastic and their debut EP is going to be released on the 26th of January. Well done Nylonski, fantastic. So the 31st of January if you want to go to the BreastFest it should be really really good. Now, that's my little announcement - we'll come back to the discussion. Geraldine in Hampstead, thank you very much for holding the line, you are absolutely pro the jabs, are you?

GH: I'm not absolutely pro or anti anything, but before I talk about that can I say I think you radio show is wonderful but isn't it a little irresponsible to read out a text from somebody you don't know at all?

JB: I keep saying! You know-

GH: Let me finish.

JB: Go on.

GH: - to say that the vaccinations have cancer-causing substances. Because you will scare new mothers.

JB: Well no no listen-

GH: You don't know who wrote it-

JB: I don't, well absolutely not, but it's an articulate email and I do - you're absolutely right Geraldine and I think people have to give their names,


but she was - whoever has written it was the second person to say it. You heard a homeopath saying, if you go to the same, if you go to a website you will find exactly what this email has been written. But I take your point, I don't know that it's irresponsible but I take your point. Anyway please continue.

GH: OK the only other thing I wanted to say I think it's a luxury, it is a luxury that people can not vaccinate their children because the majority do.

JB: Absolutely, I'll give you that.

GH: I have friends who've had polio, because they weren't vaccinated, I have friends who's children died of whooping cough, in Eastern Europe, because there were no vaccinations, these are very nasty illnesses.

JB: Are you a medic, Geraldine?

GH: My husband's a medic, my daughter's a medic and my grandfather was a medic. And the only other thing I wanted to say was it's not the drug companies, of course the drugs companies are pushing it, it's the doctors, it's the GPs, who see the children that aren't vaccinated, that do catch the illnesses.

JB: Do you see - I find this fascinating -


is this a mindset? I don't come from medicine, you do, I don't like anything to do with allopathic medicine, and you don't have an issue with it. Now do you think it's a mindset that cannot be changed?

GH: I think that science has proved more children survive childhood since the vaccinations have been enforced. Strongly. I'm sorry for the children that do get whooping cough because they were vaccinated and the seventh one that wasn't vaccinated didn't get whooping cough. But I do think that modern medicine saves lives. And I repeat what I said: I think it is a luxury of the few, the middle class few - and I couldn't be more middle class if I tried - it's a luxury of the middle class few to enjoy homeopathy and all the other things that are wonderful!

JB: Yes but why-

GH: - but alongside regular medicine. And it-

JB: Yes that's right and I think that it has to be complementary, and I think that debate has to continue,


because if we're looking at countries that aren't as luxurious as ours - what do we do with them?

GH: But children are dying! From whooping cough and measles, or going blind-

JB: But that's actually Geraldine, my problem, with the hypocrisy of it. If [feedback] - ooh, are you there?

GH: Yeah, I'm here.

JB: If the medical profession absolutely cared, it would be sending drugs freely to countries where they need it. If we're having to pay for these drugs, it's not an altruistic thing that's happening.

GH: No, it's not, I'm talking about this country.

JB: Yeah but I'm talking about the notion of a drug-fuelled world, where if we're going to be using drugs, and if some of them are better than others, and some are beneficial and some aren't, why isn't it free?

GH: Because big business isn't free. Because that's the real world. Sadly, it's wrong, I think 100% it's wrong; but it's not free.

JB: OK, thank you very much, and I'm taking Geraldine's point,


do you know what I might not read out your emails ever again unless you give me your name. I think she's made an absolutely important point and I don't want to scaremonger. Just give me an initial, say who you are, and then Geraldine, she's put her finger on it, she's absolutely right. Rob in Bermondsey, please speak to me.

The rest of this segment is hosted at The Quackometer Blog

CLIP SIX, 37.00 - 44.00 minutes. Starts 2.43 minutes into this segment Note: it's difficult in this section to discern between Jeni's comments and points when she is reading other's letters, exercise caution.

JB: It's 10 to 3. The body is a really delicate organism. The tiniest bit of something can make you go weird. A little tiny bit of caffeine and you can be running up and down the stairs. A little bit of potassium sor...I don't know-whatever they put in these drinks-can make you itch. The body is a finely-tuned animal. We are animals. Obi in Richmond was looking at his sister's London County Council Public Health Department Immunisation Record Card from 1966. Between 2 and 4 months of age, she was injected for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. 2 to 4 months of age. 8 weeks. That little, tiny body was injected for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. Between 6 and 8 months, she was injected for poliomyelitis.


15 months, diphtheria again. 16 months, the smallpox test. 5 years, diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis. "So, my question is", says Obi, "When did the immunisation for the measles and mumps start? I know that I had an allergic reaction to whooping cough as a baby, so I had no further jabs, not even the BCG at Secondary School. It's all government spin", says Obi. "Children don't need the triple jab."

And Helen says, "If there's such a fear of measles epidemic because of lack of take-up of the MMR, why don't they make it easier to have the jabs individually? That way surely more children would be vaccinated. There seems to be an agenda for reaching a target to wipe out measles
by a certain date but at what cost to individuals?". She concludes, "It's so difficult for young mums now. You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. It's such a minefield and you have to live with the consequences of your decision whichever way you vote".


And I think that the reason you fill up my telephone-there are no calls being able to come in at the minute- is because you're phoning is because there isn't a definitive answer. There is no absolute answer.

As a parent, whether you are male or female, you have to make a decision based on your family history. I took my daughter who kept getting ear infections when she was a kid and one of the doctors said to me, "If you do not give her an asthma spray, and do not do this, that and the other, she will die within a week". You don't say that to a young mum, well, I was an old mum but she was only a little person.

Since I had asthma and my mother in law died of asthma and I've told you this before, that doctor didn't take into account where I was coming from. I required him to look in my child's ear and give me some indication of what was going on so I could make an informed decision.

I, however, am not like Yasmin in Chelsea. You would - what would you have done in that situation?

The rest of this segment is hosted at Holford Watch


More like this

If only I didn't know about herd immunity, and the fact that MMR isn't 100% effective therefore putting innocent, vaccinated people at risk as well as those who can't have the vaccine for some (valid) reason...

Damn knowing too much. If I was less informed, I could say "Let the idiots not vaccinate their offspring. Let natural selection do what it does best."


Is it ok if I translate your transcript to Spanish? I think it's importan to let everyone know about this nonsense and I want to contribute with the Spanish speaker public

Greetings from Mexico City

@Hypatia: it's not mine, it's a combined work by lots of different people, and I think they would be very happy to see it reach more people.

Jenni Bonds comments are far far worse than I would have expected - she has out-Felzed even Vanessa which takes some doing. This is appalling judgement by a supposedly veteran talk show host.
In a week when other BBC interviewers have been sacked for inflammatory comment, one wonders how 'Jenni' manages not only to be exempt from internal criticism, but has been granted use of some of my license fee to pay for legal threats to those performing a scientific equivalent of the 'Emperors New Clothes' - instead of being well and truly warned about what I consider an abuse of her (tedious)verbal power.

Shame on the BBC for pandering to the bruised egos of their drivel-spouting presenters - so many to choose from

Great response by adopting the fragmented approach to guarantee more coverage than this silly woman could ever have achieved by herself!

By UKdietitian (not verified) on 06 Feb 2009 #permalink

Well, Ben Goldacre's site appears to be down at the moment - but all the links are available for the respective blogs and the transcripts. Hope people are also checking out some of the discussions on Facebook and also - listening to the latest Skeptic Zone podcast, which features one of the bloggers, Dr Dunlop, talking to Ben himself!!

That's at Enjoy. :)

Crikey|! i thought she broadcast on the beeb. now even commercial radio is aping our national broadcaster in the worst possible way...

By UKdietitian (not verified) on 06 Feb 2009 #permalink

re:"I could say "Let the idiots not vaccinate their offspring. Let natural selection do what it does best."

I hate to be so cold but I agree. A large percentage of the masses can't see the outcome of the exponential function as it relates to population growth. We can slow growth now or face the terrible consequences later. Sadly, it's better to let 'the stoopid' die now versus aggravating the problem.

My favourite line is the "most people aren't that one in fifteen." True, that's only 7% of us, which is, oh what, roughly 450,000,000 of us?

By elaine ellerton (not verified) on 06 Feb 2009 #permalink

Thank you for putting this transcript online. It has become apparent to me that Barnett isn't the villain here. Most of the comment Goldacre must have a problem with seems to have come from listeners, and not from Jeni herself. Yes, she has a opinion on the matter - which she made clear - but, despite her tendency to interrupt everyone, she did give both sides a forum to speak. But, one of the dangers of a phone-in program is that the content is dictated by the calls and emails you receive. If 80% of the calls/emails received talk about the apparent dangers of MMR then that is what the show will illustrate. It's a shame that the nurse who called began her call by accusing Barnett of being irresponsible - it's not normally the best way to start a persuasive conversation.

She is being hugely irresponsible. She is convinced by that ol' alti/homeopathy myth that you can survive ANYTHING if you're immune system is "strong" enough. This is NOT true. Depending on so many variables and what stresses are also in your life at any given time, even young strong healthy kids who have never had a vaccine can die if they get the flu and then pneumonia. Meningitis is a huge killer, since it is the meninges around the brain that can get infected.

Also, get a triple "jab" still introduces less antigens into the body than the diseases do, therefore it is impossible to "overwhelm" the immune system with it.

Gads, the ignorance is a mighty stenchful one, but too bad most people can't tell why.

RobertM, Nichole: the children are the innocent victims here. These people aren't taking risks with their own health but with that of their sprogs. I know it's hyperbole; I'm sure you don't really believe in having kids suffer to teach the parents a lesson, but, y'know, restraint is good.

Can anyone tell me why JB is getting so much stick about this. She has given both sides the opportunity to offer up their arguments for the listeners to make a decision for themselves. It is also very true that parents are leaving their children wide open to very severe illnesses by not having the triple vaccine - so that being the case, why does the government not revert to the single injections? The argument has been put forward that it would be distressful for a child to have every vaccination individually. Surely it is more distressing to parents and children that autism or other health problems are likely to be caused by giving the triple vaccine.

It is time for the government to sort out this mess once and for all. If the individual vaccines were offered then take up would be far higher and an epidemic would not occur.

By Adrian Morgan (not verified) on 09 Feb 2009 #permalink

In response to Mr Adrian Morgan, the triple vaccine MMR is a step forward. Trying not to sound petty (but probably failing badly) just re-introducing the 3 separate vaccines is not a way forward but smacks of saying "go back to horses & carts because the roads would be safer".
For goodness sake, some trust must be placed back with the scientific community and they must be given more opportunities to respond to this scare-mongering.

Gone are the days of prime-time, informative, entertaining programming that kept the country informed about important scientific breakthroughs and developments.

I really wish those days would return soon, as a portfolio of logic-based education on our screens and over the airwaves is distinctly lacking these days.

Public interest broadcasting should be performing the role of "educator" and not scaring young parents into taking wrong decisions that affect both their lives and the lives of their children.

By Jon Ninham (not verified) on 09 Feb 2009 #permalink

I think Jenni raises an important issue and asks some valid questions (why the triple vac as opposed to singles? Why are some kids reacting badly? What is wrong with childhood illnesses? Can we trust what drug companies tell us?). The confusion and fear felt by many parents about this vaccination is evident and allowing a forum for discussing their concerns or explaining why they chose not to vaccinate their children ought to be helpful. However in the context of the whole broadcast I believe the validity of her questions are diminished. She seems to be suggesting(albeit not explicitly)that these illnesses are not as dangerous as they are. It is unfortunate if we become complacent because we do not see the results of these terrible infections but useful to realise that those parents 'back in the day' did see the results and wisely had their children vaccinated.

She does ramble on doesn't she. And so many chips on her shoulder poor thing I'm surprised she can get through a door.
What's the asthma thing all about? Asthma isn't the sign of a weak immune system - quite the reverse I would say. And rubella isn't measles. And.. I could go on.
Could someone also tell me what a 'logical child'is. (first paragraph) Is this 'Islingtonspeak' for a step child ? Ye Gods

First, many thanks to Mr Swain and all the wonderful people who contributed to putting this transcript together - can you imagine this sort of buzz and freedom without the web?

Second, @Helen:
"why the triple vac as opposed to singles?" - Aside from the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever to believe it is any less safe than singles? Because it's considerably cheaper, and the NHS does not have unlimited funds. Because with three separate immunisation visits parents are unlikely to complete the full treatment course.
"Why are some kids reacting badly?" - Don't know what you mean by this.
"What is wrong with childhood illnesses?" - These diseases aren't bad cases of the sniffles! They cause death, blindness, infertility etc. This argument is not on the same scale as allowing a little dirt around the house so children build up immunity to common bugs.
"Can we trust what drug companies tell us?" - Absolutely not, but it's not the drug companies who are pushing for immunisation, it's the doctors and all the epidemiologists who have done the reasearch that proves the effectiveness and safety of the MMR vaccine.

There is no reason why any parent should feel afraid over their child having the MMR vaccine, and to perpetuate the myth that there is under the banner of freedom of choice as Jenni Barnett did is highly irresponsible. It is depressing in the extreme that the media has so little understanding of evidence-based medicine - and worse, so little interest in acquiring it.

By Richard Preston (not verified) on 10 Feb 2009 #permalink

Just a side not to UKdietitian, it is Jenni Barnett not Jenni Bond that's made these comments and it is LBC not the BBC, they are not connected.

By Andrewnotmatt (not verified) on 10 Feb 2009 #permalink

Re "It is time for the government to sort out this mess once and for all. If the individual vaccines were offered then take up would be far higher and an epidemic would not occur."
Posted by: Adrian Morgan

I used to say that if those advocating single jabs could present anywhere near as much safety data for them as there is for the combined vaccine, I would start offering it to my patients. Until then, I was ashamed that some of my medical colleagues were making fat profits exploiting (and, perhaps, with a vested interest in hyping) needless fears. One, even, could not store the vaccines properly, and if I recall correctly falsified blood test results to "prove" that the unreliable vaccines had worked.

Now, I am afraid, I reckon that offering the single jabs "officially" would be such a propaganda coup for the Wakefield crowd ("Well, this Proves we were right all along, otherwise why would they now be offering the single jabs") that the harm done to trust in proper science for the future would far outweigh any current benefits in terms of vaccination rates. As Ben Goldacre puts it, the reason he hates bad science so much is the damage it does to the reputation of good science.

Ivenho said
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
April 18, 2009 at 06:41

âWhen the toxic anthrax vaccine was given to gigantic numbers of soldiers departing for Gulf War One, did you immediately hear about health problems? No, you heard NOTHING. It was only long after the cessation of activity in Iraq that the first reports came trickling in, and they were quickly discredited.

We are taught to believe that vaccines are very safe and very effective in preventing diseases. We are shielded from reports that come to opposite conclusions.

Here is a collection of lesser-known data on vaccines in general. On various vaccines. Keep in mind that when I compiled this collection, many years ago, I was writing about AIDS. I was demonstrating that AIDS is really IMMUNE SUPPRESSION stemming from a number of different causes, none of which was HIV. I was saying that one of these causes was VACCINES.

Once you break through the disinformation barrier on vaccines, you can look at the currently announced OP on smallpox vaccine with a new set of eyes.

For years, critics on the fringes of medicine have pointed to problems with vaccines. It is generally acknowledged that, given to people whose immune systems are compromised, they can be immunosuppressive. And from time to time, stories have surfaced about vaccines which have been contaminated by extraneous viruses or bacteria, as a result of the manufacturing process.

We are taught to believe that untoward reactions to vaccines are rare, and that there has never been a question about the overwhelming success of all vaccines at all times, wherever they have been used.

The recent history of vaccines, though, shows a much more spotty record than one might think. In fact, it raises very disturbing questions about what vaccines do and donât do to the human body. Here is simply a series of excerpts from several authors on the subject. It is a quite different slant on vaccines.â

The pharmaceuticals are well aware of the hazards of vaccines and they cover the web, with Gimpyâs blogs, Jack of Kent, Ben Goldacre, so that cotrary data to the lies and disease they spread that counts on the ignorance of the masses never stops. That is so that nobody stops them to make their billions.

The PHARMACEUTICALS are more INSIDIOUS than any of the the warmongers, and the weapons industry. They spread more harm, as for weapons, they are clearly lethal, BUT THE PHARMACUETICALS appear in the guise of the knowledgeable saviours of public well being, are so powerful nowadays they buy off governments, they bought off the EU.


Mention vaccines and it's just a matter of time before at least one conspiracy nut appears.

And I am sure that Gimpy, Jack of Kent and Ben Goldacre will all be rather surprised to hear they are on the Illuminati payroll.

PS Could the conspiracy "guru" quoted about perhaps be a mate of David Icke's?

How unfortunate that there is now a perception that the pharmaceutical, medical and research industries are killing children with dangerous vaccines for profit. That is what is being postulated. Think carefully whether you actually believe it.

Drugs cost money because research costs money. The £20million that it costs to bring a new drug to the public (not including the cost of other compounds that didn't make it) must be recouped or else research grinds to a halt.

19 trials now refute the claims of Wakefield et al., how much evidence do you need?

"The pharmaceuticals are well aware of the hazards of vaccines and they cover the web, with Gimpyâs blogs, Jack of Kent, Ben Goldacre, so that cotrary data to the lies and disease they spread that counts on the ignorance of the masses never stops. That is so that nobody stops them to make their billions."

I agree I should be placed before Ben on this list ;-)

Dr Aust - I am indeed surprised - and very amused :-)

I am an avid listener of LBC even though some of the presenters annoy me.

Jenni Barnet is always spouting on about Homeopathy and alternative cures and "Detox" diets, and I find her ignorant beyond belief but the nonsense generated by this broadcast was beyond the pale.

She's still at it, just two days ago she was talking to a listener who blamed her children's autism on the MMR vaccine.

Jenni Barnet is a menace, she says that there is no definate proof that the MMR jab does NOT cause Autism when the overwhelming scientific evidence prooves that it is safe.

Please LBC, she's over 60, isn't it about time she was retired?

By James Dewen (not verified) on 22 May 2009 #permalink

Update, they HAVE booted her out on 20/09/10

Well done LBC 97.3!

By James Dewen (not verified) on 24 Sep 2010 #permalink

Terminally stupid, suffering from ferocious envy, and highly dangerous.

The next question is; who is the idiot who decided that she be let loose on the airwaves?

The next idiot is the BBC, I heard her programme being advertised on Friday 08/04/11.

Oh well, they already have Vanessa, so they might as well have a matching pair!

By James Dewen (not verified) on 09 Apr 2011 #permalink

Adrian, if you got your children individual jabs, Big Pharma would sap your money three times!