Following the passage through the California Assembly of SB277 – a bill that would eliminate personal belief exemptions to school entry vaccine requirements, the anti-vaxxers have been looking for their Hail Mary pass. And some of them have banded together to buy Illinois Dr. Toni Bark a plane ticket so that she can meet with Governor Jerry Brown. (Read about the other things they are buying, too.)
That’s fine. I have seen Dr. Toni Bark in person and was witness to her Gish Gallop testimony in front of the Minnesota Senate Health and Human Services Committee. It was terrible, and she is not a good representative for any cause. But what was even more amazing was that nearly everything she said was wrong. I have never heard so much wrong in such a short span of time.
Actually, it wasn’t short. Each person giving testimony was supposed to testify for only two minutes. Her testimony went on for twelve, and by the meandering, non-linear nature of it, I am fairly certain it wasn’t planned in advance. But the anti-vaxxers were impressed, and they have been sharing this testimony all over the place.
Here’s some of what she got wrong in twelve minutes of talking:
Before she was enlightened, Toni Bark thought vaccines are safe and effective for all children because that’s what the CDC says.
- Believing that the CDC says that vaccines are (or should be) effective for every child and cause absolutely no adverse health events for any child is a nirvana fantasy. In fact, the CDC acknowledges that some people should not get vaccinated and that while vaccines work very well, nothing is 100% effective. In fact, because not everyone can get vaccinated and not all of those who do respond to the vaccine, it is all the more important that everyone else is vaccinated.
Vaccines are listed as unavoidably unsafe, which means they are defective by nature.
- This isn’t even close to what “unavoidably unsafe” means. According to my good friend and legal expert Dorit Reiss, unavoidably unsafe products are: “NOT defective, and the product’s manufacturer is not liable for the products’ inherent risks….[They] are so valuable – have so many benefits – that the risk associated with their use is justified.” And the risks of vaccines are very, very small.
Vaccines are not tested for effectiveness, only for efficacy – antibody response.
- I don’t know where she got the first part, but I did a 10 second search on PubMed, and this is the first study on the effectiveness of vaccines I saw. Here’s the Wikipedia primer on vaccine efficacy.
Dr. Poland and the paradox of measles.
- During the this hearing, as Toni Bark testified, Senator Carla Nelson (Rochester) called Dr. Greg Poland and asked him for his opinion of Dr. Toni Bark using his study as part of her testimony. He was not supportive of the way she used it.
Most people who get sick in outbreaks are vaccinated.
- Sure. BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE ARE VACCINATED. But if most people who were vaccinated really got sick, then thousands upon thousands of people at Disneyland in January would have contracted measles instead of the hundred mostly unvaccinated people.
Doctors only learn about the vaccine schedule and nothing else about vaccines.
- Dr. Dawn Martin later beautifully countered this point. Anti-vaccine parents like to believe that they know more than pediatricians and doctors when it comes to vaccines, but they simply do not because, as Dr. Martin pointed out, doctors learn about vaccines in medical school.
Vaccine shedding causes illness.
- Shedding of viruses from live vaccines is mostly hypothetical. Dr. Vince Ianelli explains that it is difficult to catch a disease from a recently vaccinated child. Do you know who spreads diseases really easily? Sick people.
People in recent measles outbreaks had the “vaccine viral strain” and not wild measles.
The CDC only references itself because it plays games. The CDC waives everyone’s Conflict of Interest on their advisory committees. The CDC refuses to study the vaccinated versus unvaccinated. The CDC is not transparent. And the CDC is in all ways evil and nefarious.
- Get the feeling that Toni Bark doesn’t like the CDC? A good villain is always convenient, and the CDC, with its ginormousness and its slightly socially awkward scientists is easily made into a villain. But the CDC is just one governmental agency across the world that supports vaccines. In Australia, Canada, and the UK, the governments support vaccines so much that they offer them for free to their citizens. Millions upon millions of researchers, doctors, nurses, public health officials, NGO workers from thousands of university labs, independent research labs, government agencies, and non-profits endorse vaccines. So she has her work cut out for her making all of them villains
- The CDC relies on studies from all over the world and doctors and researchers with expertise in making decisions. They don’t ask the opinions of people who own websites named Skin and Chocolate.
Dr. Toni Bark is for truth.
- Hogwash. Toni Bark is for Toni Bark.
Pediatricians don’t know about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
- By federal law, doctors are required to provide parents with a Vaccine Information Sheet. I believe all doctors can read. Every VIS contains this statement:
Doctors cannot diagnose vaccine injuries.
- Here, Toni Bark is being coy. What she means is that doctors will not say that vaccines cause autism. Mostly because they don’t, they do not, they really don’t, and they absolutely do not. So a doctor will not diagnose autism as a “vaccine injury” because it is not. Which leads me directly to her next point.
At one point in her twelve-minute rambling, Toni Bark looked directly at me and said, “Parents whose children are not damaged by vaccines should count their blessings.”
- You know what? Toni Bark doesn’t know anything about me. My children are blessings, and I am happy that they are mine, but she has no idea what kind of challenges or medical issues my children have had. What she should know is that her campaign to spread misinformation leads to cases of children being exposed to illness to sometimes devastating consequences. What a horribly callous statement on her part. When I stared back at her, she meandered back to another point.
The CDC whistleblower was given immunity by President Obama.
- This isn’t even a thing. The President doesn’t grant immunity since genuine whistleblowers are already afforded that protection by law. This point is either a fantasy or a fabrication. But why would she claim that President Obama gave someone at the CDC whistleblower immunity? Onto the next point:
The CDC made researchers omit data that would show that black children catch autism from on-time MMR vaccination.
- The researchers in questions decided to exclude some data that showed that black children who received the MMR slightly later than scheduled had a great risk of autism. This data was excluded because it did not hold up on further analysis, but this tiny nugget was enough to send Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield into big dreams that they might finally be vindicated. (Spoiler alert: they weren’t.)
The NFL has a mumps outbreak.
- Okay, this is wrong because it was the NHL, but it is a seriously huge mistake to come to Minnesota and mistake hockey for football. Here’s a bit on why the NHL mumps outbreak happened.
Actually, after rereading what I have written, maybe Governor Brown should meet with Toni Bark. Maybe he should invite a pediatric intensive care doctor along, too. That might just be enough to convince him that the anti-vaccine movement needs to be stopped.