The Truth About TTAV Episode Seven: BUY MY STUFF!

Read this whole series by starting here.

Episode Seven: Natural Immunization, Homeoprophylaxis & Fundamental Freedom of Choice

The Cast

The Claims

Natural Immunization is the Best

  • The film claims that breastfeeding is the best immune defense for babies, but its effectiveness isn’t promoted because it would compromise the pharmaceutical industry’s interests.
    • Passive immunity through breastfeeding only protects infants from infections contracted through the gastrointestinal system. Airborne infections such as measles, chickenpox, influenza, rotavirus, and pertussis, are not covered by the immune passed from mother to child via breastfeeding.
    • Infant formula manufacturers do not manufacture vaccines.
  • The film also claims that healthy vaginal birth is the most important method to ensure a life of gut health for babies. I mean, whatever. Not dying in childbirth is pretty important to c-section mothers. There is some correlation with c-section delivery and asthma, Type-1 diabetes, celiac disease, and obesity, but the causation has not been proven. At this time, none of those conditions is vaccine-preventable. Why are we here? I don’t know.
  • The film claims that essential oils and probiotics provide natural immunity to viruses. But recent research shows that the claims of benefits from probiotics are overblown, and essential oils are a pyramid scheme and as reliable as one.
    • Were allegedly used to curb bubonic plague, gangrene, etc. But quarantine and hygiene likely ended the plague, and aggressive surgeries helped curb the high gangrene death rate, historically. Now we have antibiotics. 
  • The film promotes GcMAF – Gc Protein-Derived Macrophage Activating Factor
    • Claims by James Jeffrey Bradstreet that this diet could cure autism lead to an federal investigation shortly before he died by suicide.
  • It also claims that vitamin A is the cure for measles and reduces. incidence of mortality in outbreaks among children.
    • Children with serious malnutrition who are vitamin A deficient are at higher risk for severe measles infection. Supplementing these children is important, but there is no reason to believe a well-nourished child would see any difference in measles severity with Vitamin A supplementation. We can assume the children of the 1950s U.S. were well-nourished, yet 500 of them died each year before the vaccine was available.
  • The film claims that vitamin C is effective in curbing the spread of viral diseases, like whooping cough, because it energizes the immune system, loosens the secretions in the lungs, and frees the lungs (toxin-neutralizer)
    • Cited famed Dr. Klenner’s research on Vitamin C’s effectiveness, but health theories about Vitamin C have been repeatedly disproven, as early as 1938. But for people who promote natural health, they should realize that taking megadoses of any vitamin is unnatural and often dangerous.
  • The film states that health starts with the diet as feeding children real food, specifically breastmilk, fruits and vegetables, boots immunity, the microbiome and brain and boosting nutrition activates kids’ genetic code and invokes immune responses in a symptomless way (built-in immunology)
    • The idea of boosting immunity is a misunderstanding of how immunity works. Certainly, malnutrition hinders the immune system’s function. But there are two different types of immunity: innate and acquired. The innate immune system (the one that can be hampered by malnutrition) is the rapid-response to new germs the body encounters. The acquired immune system is the one that has been around long enough to recognize and fight off a particular germ. Real boosting immunity is what happens when the innate immune system encounters a germ and revs up: your body might respond with fever, phlegm production, and coughing. Your innate immune system cannot handle big germs like measles and chickenpox without you getting sick.
    • Put simply, measles doesn’t care what you had for breakfast.
  • The film claimed that a Norway study proved that folate taken through pregnancy prevented neurological disorders among children (autism rate was 1 in 1000 vs. 1 in 500 for mothers who didn’t take the vitamin). One study showed that oversupplementation is a risk factor for autism.
  • Finally, the film claimed that mortality rates from VPDs (vaccine-preventable diseases) were eradicated prior to the introduction of many vaccines because of basic improvements in quality of living. This is an extremely common anti-vaccine claim. Here are the facts:
    • Mortality and disease rates are not the same. The rates of mortality from VPDs declined, in part, because of many modernizations, including medical advances.
    • The incidence of VPDs remained somewhat steady even as many deaths from them were prevented. In order to eradicate a disease, the incidence has to drop to zero globally. The only human disease eradicated is smallpox, thanks to vaccines.
    • The drop in incidence in a disease followed the introduction of a vaccine for that disease.
    • Measles incidence dropped in the mid-1960s, chickenpox in the early 1990s, Hib in the early 2000s, and rotavirus in the mid-2000s. Quality of life improvements did not occur neatly at those particular times to coincide with reducing the cases of only one particular disease, except vaccines. Vaccines improved the quality of life.

Homeoprophylaxis (HP) is a Great Thing! (Shop My Store!)

  • Homeoprophylaxis is homeopathic immunization. Homeopathy is a method by which a substance is diluted down by water to such a degree that no active ingredient is left. Often the water is then shaken with a sugar pill and sold as a cure—or a vaccine—for something. The idea is that the medicine becomes stronger the more dilute it is because water has memory.
  • Homeopathy commonly uses the phrase “Like to cure like,” which means that any substance which can produce symptoms in a healthy person can cure symptoms in someone who’s sick. Which is nonsense.
  • The film says homeoprophylaxis has never caused deaths in anyone who uses the method. I mean, sure. It’s sugar pills with nothing in them.
  • These homeopathic nosodes supposedly prevent disease without “toxic” effects
    • Vaccines are not toxic.
    • Claims that you can use them to detox from vaccines are laughable. Your liver and kidneys detox for you. 
    • Nosodes are worthless.
  • The film claims a Cuban study showed that homeoprophylaxis was more effective in reducing the incidence of a swamp-related disease than pharmaceuticals.

Fundamental Freedom of Choice! 

  • Like many anti-vaxxers, the film disdain’s California’s SB 277, the bill that requires all children enrolled in schools be vaccinated unless medically contraindicated.
  • The film claims that Richard Pan was pressured by pharmaceutical lobbyists to push SB 277
    • In reality, Dr. Pan is a pediatrician who understand vaccines because he has seen what they do first hand.
    • Allegedly received $95,000 from pharma lobbyists before the bill passed, but I am not finding them among his top donors.
    • I mean, this film just spend a chunk of time being a commercial for homeoprophylaxis. They want to go to this direction?
  • The film claims the bill is an attack on parental rights. Of course, parents do not have the right to endanger communities, including school communities. 
  • The film claims that vaccine requirements will soon extend beyond education and employment; will be required for driver’s licenses, public events, etc. There is no way to debunk this because I can’t show something that isn’t happening. Prove to me that unicorns don’t exist. Ha! There! I win. 
    • Schools are reasonable places to require vaccine for entry because children are the most at risk for many diseases, the primary vectors of many diseases, and spend much time in close proximity to each other at school.
    • Healthcare settings, where vulnerable people congregate and where illnesses can also abound, are reasonable places to require vaccination for employment.
  • Healthy People 2020 – plans to get everyone vaccinated. Or more people, with the primary goal of reducing diseases.
  • Choose one of their crackpot theories that is the most offensive:
    • Plans to take away the right to vaccine refusal!
    • Plans to have extensive registries!
    • Mandatory vaccinations are completely contrary to America’s founding principles!
    • Forced vaccinations are legally assault and battery!
    • Can’t use one fundamental right to restrict another right; non-medical exemptions are at risk!
    • Losing informed consent makes us slaves!
  • The film proclaims that the anti-vaccine has united people of all backgrounds
    • In reality, most anti-vaccine activists are wealthy and white
    • They believe that they are a protected minority and their movement is akin to Black Lives Matter movement. This is a strategy that remind me of the Russian bot strategy recently discussed.
    • They call themselves “vaccine safety advocates,” claiming they’re against the toxins in them. This is where the film started, but I think the contents of this episode have proven that they are vaccine conspiracy theorists with something to sell you.

That’s it folks. Ultimately, this series ended with a commercial for things you can buy instead of vaccines. For this reason, I refer to the anti-vaccine movement as primarily fear-based marketing to promote alternative remedies.

Here’s what you need to know. The vast majority of experts across the world working in public, private, and educational organizations agree that vaccines are safe and save lives. There are some outliers, and scientific outliers are usually wrong. 

I’m going to go watch Fried Green Tomatoes now.

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The Truth About TTAV Episode Four: Herd Immunity AND MORE!

Did you just find this piece? Start here.

Episode Four: Examining Influenza, the HIB and Pneumococcal Vaccines & Herd Immunity

The Cast

  • Ty Bollinger is the producer/creator of this series and a previous The Truth About Cancer series. His films and books are steeped in conspiracy theories and his primary M.O. is to stoke fears about mainstream anything.
  • Dr. Toni Bark is an MD and homeopath who sells chocolate and skincare on her website and travels the country testifying at hearings.
  • Dr. Suzanne Humphries is a nephrologist and homeopath who sells books she’s written.
  • Sayer Ji is the founder of non-evidence based website GreenMedInfo.
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is an environmental lawyer who remains convinced that the thimerosal that was removed from childhood immunizations is somehow still causing autism.
  • Dr. Larry Palevky is a “holistic” pediatrician who sells supplements at his website.
  • Neil Z. Miller is a conspiracy theorist and author of anti-vaccine books who helped his daughter self-publish a book about how they’ve spoken with aliens.
  • Del Bigtree is a self-proclaimed award winning television producer who has also produced Wakefield’s film VAXXED and a live YouTube show.
  • Barbara Loe Fisher is the founder of the poorly named National Vaccine Information Center.
  • Eric Zielinski is a chiropractor and “Biblical Health Educator” who promotes essential oils at his
  • Dr. Paul Thomas is a pediatrician who sells supplements and anti-vaccine books at his website.
  • Dr. Jack Wolfson is a “holistic cardiologist” who made a name for himself for a particularly vicious attack against vaccinating parents.
  • Robert Scott Bell is a homeopath, a podcaster, and an HIV denialist.
  • Julian Tharpe is a cinematographer.
  • Dr. Janet Levitan is a pediatrician practicing with Dr. Sherri Tenpenny.
  • Thom and Candice Bradstreet are related to Dr. Jeffrey Bradstreet, whose death by suicide they believe to be a murder to stop his disproven autism treatments.
  • Dr. Joseph Mercola runs a highly profitable online supplement store who has violated federal law by making dangerous claims about alternatives to mammograms.

The Claims

Influenza Vaccines Are Terrible

  • The film disputes the CDC’s annual influenza death estimate (typically around 36,000) as inaccurate and misleading
    • The primary dispute is that the total allegedly does not match the numbers reported in the MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report). Influenza, however, is not reportable in people over 18. The CDC uses estimates because influenza has a history of being underreported on death certificates.
    • Another argument is that the CDC does not report the fact that most flu deaths occur in people with preexisting conditions. People with chronic health challenges are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications. However, health people can and do die from influenza.
  • Influenza vaccine is generally ineffective 
    • Sometimes the film throws in science-y sounding sentences like: “Antibody (humoral) immunity stops the body from producing cell mediated immunity.” I don’t understand immunology, but here’s a link.
    • As proof, they cited the CDC’s 2014 statement on the inability of the flu vaccine to prevent flu that year because the virus had mutated. In fact, the changes in the virus were due to antigenetic drift, which rendered the vaccine less effective but not completely ineffective.
    • As more proof, they cite the Cochrane Collaboration (independent group of MDs, scientists, etc.) and the assertion that the flu vaccine is ineffective in their med analysis, and that for every 100 patients told that they have flu, only 7 actually have the flu. The author of this review is Dr. Thomas Jefferson (not this one), who has significant biases against the flu vaccine and has had dalliances with the anti-vaccine community. Multiple studies show that the flu vaccines is effective.
    • They also cited a 2012 study in which groups of study participants were either given the trivalent influenza vaccine or a saline placebo; the incidence of influenza was similar, but the vaccinated group was found to be “4-5 times more likely to contract a non-influenza viral infection.” One important criticism of this study is that the vaccinated group had 69 people, and the unvaccinated 46. It’s an interesting starting place for research, but not a definitive indictment of anything.
  • Influenza vaccine causes mutations at the level of germ cells, including embryos.
      • The film claims that most vaccines have never been tested for mutagenicity or carcinogenicity (causing cancer). This common anti-vaccine claim comes from a misreading of the package insert, as vaccines and their components are tested for mutagenicity and carcinogenicity in pre-clinical testing.
      • The mutations are allegedly due in part of the presence of thimerosal, which is said to be safe in vaccines (because it is) but the film deems dangerous (which is wrong).
  • Thimerosal was removed from some vaccines but added to others
      • They cite a study on pregnant mothers claiming that flu vaccines caused increased circulation of inflammatory immune markers for their babies, including schizophrenic disorder and autism. However, the study in question looked at illness from influenza and increased risk of schizophrenia and autism. Vaccination, of course, could mitigate that risk.
      • The films asserts that amount of mercury in vaccines is a toxic hazard. Thimerosal, which is sometimes used in some vaccines, is an organic mercury compound that metabolizes into ethylmercury—a different type of mercury than that we might be exposed to through fish and breathing. In vitro and in vivo studies have shown that the amount present in vaccines is safe. 
      • Th assertion that the amount of mercury that vaccinated people are exposed to exceeds legal limits set by the EPA is due mostly to the confusion between ethyl- and methyl- mercury.
      • Also, thimerosal was removed from childhood vaccines in the U.S.
  • Influenza vaccine marketing is awful
      • The film claims that the vaccine is linked to kidney failure. While there are some case reports of patients on statins suffering kidney failure after a flu vaccine, this claim is made mostly through the observations of Dr. Suzanne Humphries. If real, it would be exceedingly rare.
      • The assertion that children who have had the flu vaccine are more likely to be infected by pandemic flu is based on a 2010 Canadian study which found an association but did not posit causation.
      • The film also claims that over-vaccinating harms your ability to fight other infections (and increases susceptibility to them). It’s not clear how they would define “over-vaccinating,” There is some evidence to suggest that getting a flu vaccine in multiple seasons consecutively could reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine, but many confounding factors make it difficult to explain why this observed effect is occurring.
      • Flu vaccine is poison, say the film. Of course, the old adage that the dose makes the poison applies, and if you’ve ever watched yourself getting a flu shot, it’s a tiny amount of anything.
      • The film follows up by claiming that getting sick after the vaccine is administered is your body’s way of rejecting the poison. In fact, feeling achey and bleurghy is your immune system’s way of mounting a defense against influenza.
  • Addressed flu requirements for workers
      • The film discusses that many workers who have refused the vaccine have never gotten sick. People used toot wear seat belts and not die in car accidents, too. It’s hard to see why this is a persuasive argument. The average adult over the age of 30 will catch influenza twice each decade. It’s reasonable to believe that healthcare workers exposed to more germs than the average person would be more at risk for catching and passing along influenza.
      • The film also talks about some who have refused but subsequently taken the vaccine for job security have become ill after being vaccinated. Side effects from the flu vaccine can include headaches, fevers, muscle aches, and other feelings of unwellness that are far less severe than actual influenza.
  • Physicians don’t read the science around vaccine safety
      • The film claims that rather than reading their misinformation, doctors blindly follow CDC recommendations and information. Of course, CDC is not the only governmental agency in the world that agrees on vaccine safety. From the UK to Australia to Canada to every corner of the globe, vaccines are promoted as safe. It also must be noted that doctors learn quite a bit during residency and through continuing education when they become providers.
      • The film claims strong financial incentives for doctors to comply with the vaccine schedule
        • The claim that if 63% are not compliant, doctor forfeits a bonus from Blue Cross Blue Shield is a misunderstanding of BCBS policy. Providers pay into a pool and are reimbursed if they meet certain measurements.
        • Of course, the film says that the vaccine schedule is not about the patient, but it’s a money-driven system. For many pediatricians, however, giving vaccines is not a moneymaker.
        • As evidence, they cite Australia’s “no jab, no pay” policy. While this policy has increased vaccine uptake, it’s important to note that the Australian government offers healthcare to everyone and pays for the vaccines given.

Hib and Meningococcal vaccines

  • The speakers say that you never see bacterial meningitis or type B anymore. Like since the vaccines. Again, it’s hard to understand why they think this proves anything for them.
  • Hib only causes a handful of serious diseases a year. Again, since the vaccines.
  • The film points to problem with vaccines and the food proteins present within them.
    • The claim that food allergies have boomed since the development of certain vaccines has been studied and found to have no substance.
    • The film asserts that the Hib vaccine has peanut oil and consequently has caused food allergies. This falsehood is belied by the fact that such ingredients are, by law, required to be listed and peanut oil or any derivative of it is listed as an ingredient.

Pneumococcal Vaccines 

  • The film says that previously “harmless” strains of pneumococcal bacteria became vaccine-resistant after 7-valent pneumococcal vaccine was licensed. The strains were actually never harmless, but they become more common after the 7-valent pneumococcal vaccine came to wide use. Theses emerging strains are now covered in the 13-valent vaccine. 
  • The claim that pneumococcal bacteria are immune to the strains that Prevnar 13 guards against is easily rebutted by looking at the drop in incidence of pneumococcal disease.
  • Of course, the cast members claim that the pneumococcal vaccine has never been studied with a true placebo control group, which is incorrect.

Vitamin K and Tylenol

  • It’s important to clarify that the vitamin K injection is not a vaccine.
    • The film asserts that the vitamin K injection has been linked to childhood cancer. Reviews of the original studies making this assertion have not held up, and no study has replicated that finding.
    • The film says the shot is unnecessary because mothers can eat leafy greens to get their babies Vitamin K or babies can take oral supplements. The benefit of the injection is that there is a known quantity of the vitamin the baby’s body absorbs.
    • Another claim is that VKDB (vitamin K deficiency bleeding) is not that common. While the incidence without vitamin K supplementation is between 0.25% and 1.7%, the consequences can be severe, from lifelong neurological difficulties to death.
  • One common anti-vaccine theory is that acetaminophen (Tylenol) prevents children from detoxing and could possibly be the cause of why more boys than girls are affected by autism. The theory hinges on the idea that Tylenol reduces the glutathione levels in a child’s body. The theory was bolstered by a study suggesting a correlation between pregnant women who used acetaminophen and whose children developed autism. A third part of the theory rests on another study suggesting the acetaminophen given after vaccines could render them less effective. Many anti-vaccine theories function this way: stringing together three unrelated studies to come to a new conclusion. However, there’s no association between autism and children being given Tylenol after vaccines.
    • The film claims that incidence of autism and vaccine injury is lower outside of the US because children aren’t required to be vaccinated before age two. In actuality, a number of countries have higher autism rates than the United States. Also, worldwide immunization schedules are not a lot different from the  CDC schedule.
    • The film claims that rates of infant mortality are also lower worldwide than in the U.S. The U.S. rate is due in part to poverty and access to healthcare. Another contributor is preterm birth rates.

Herd immunity is a myth

  • Yes, this is a super common claim. It keeps coming up.
    • First, they say that the DTaP does not prevent illness or transmission in vaccinated people. In the first few years after it is given, the vaccine is about 80% effective. But it is important to note that public health tells people not to rely on herd immunity to prevent pertussis.
    • Doctors don’t know vaccine ingredients and therefore can’t evaluate safety. Next time you go grocery shopping, ask the manager for the chemical makeup of a banana. Refuse to buy it if she cannot list all of them. 
    • We’ve known for a very long time that herd immunity is super real. That’s why disease outbreaks occur where vaccine refusal is high.

Next up, Episode Five: Considering the HPV and Hepatitis B Vaccines, SIDS & Shaken Baby Syndrome

Yes, You Should Get Your Child the HPV Vaccine

The following is a Facebook response I crafted to a woman who was opposed to the HPV vaccine because she felt that the risks of the vaccine did not outweigh the benefit. Since it was lengthy, I share it on my own profile, and my friends asked that I make it public. Subsequently, I was asked to make it into a blog post. So here we are.

I find this argument interesting, but I wonder how much of it comes from a sense of complacency. It seems a little bit like a skewed risk assessment more than anything, borne out of complacency.

This isn’t an insult. Let me explain. If I don’t vaccinate my child against measles, that child could be exposed to measles tomorrow (hypothetically) and contract measles. The consequences of not vaccinating my child could be immediate, and I would have no control.

If I don’t vaccinate my child against HPV, he’s not coming down with cancer tomorrow. However, it is possible that through his own sexual activity (though not necessarily consensual and not necessarily intercourse), he could be exposed to HPV in the next few years and then, in 20 or so years, the HPV infection could lead to cancer.

So the risk of HPV-caused cancer seem distant, and there are plenty of rumors about the HPV vaccine (which, by the way, are false).

If I don’t vaccinate my child against measles, he could be one of the 60-600 people infected in the U.S. this year. (My own state saw 79 cases this spring/summer–so the threat was real.)

If I don’t vaccinate my child against HPV, he could be one of the 16,500 men (and 39,800 people) who gets cancer in the United States. There is no Pap smear-like test for oropharyngeal cancer, penile cancer, or anal cancer currently, so we wouldn’t know he had cancer until he became symptomatic.

But even with Pap smears, 4,000 women die in the United States right now from cervical cancer alone–almost all of which is caused by HPV. Before the vaccine, 450 children died every year from measles. So in reality, a girl is 10 times more likely to die from HPV-related cervical cancer than her grandparents were from measles. That alone seems to make it worth preventing, and doesn’t mention the damage done to a woman’s body if her cancer is caught early or in the pre-cancerous stage. The risks go beyond death into infertility, pain, suffering, etc.

The data we have, now, is that HPV infections have been reduced by 90% in places like Australia and they are way down, despite our low uptake rate with the HPV vaccine, in the United States. One study of more than a million girls in Scandinavia showed absolutely no serious side effects from this vaccine.

The other issue is how diseases are contracted. Tetanus is also a behavioral illness. Just don’t get a dirty puncture wound, and you will be fine, right? It isn’t infectious–yet every state requires this vaccine for school entry.

Of course we require this vaccine. You can’t really avoid tetanus by just being careful.

And you can’t really avoid HPV by being careful or abstinent before marriage. Unlike HIV, HPV is not passed along via secretions. It lives on the skin. If someone wears a condom, he can still pass on HPV. Deep kissing can pass on HPV. Non-consensual sexual contact can pass on HPV. A virgin can get HPV on her wedding night from a spouse who caught it before marriage. It is much more like contracting tetanus than we think, and for many people, they have absolutely no control over whether or not they contract it.

So I wonder–does it still seem worth the risk to pass on this vaccine?

Smells Like Desperation

Anti-vaxxers have shown, time and again, that they have little in their reserves except mean-spirited attacks against children, doxing, and otherwise moving to silence the voices of pro-vaccine advocates. That’s why “Levi Quackenboss” has written a fifth post tearing down 12-year-old Marco Arturo and his satirical video debunking the vaccine-autism myth. (Yep, five posts attacking a child. Who does that?)

While the unremitting anti-vaccine attack of a child shocked me, almost nothing that anti-vaxxers do to attack adults surprises me. I’ve had friends whose tires have been slashed, who have had threatening voice mails left with their spouses, who have had their jobs put in jeopardy by petitions to get them fired (for activities not related to their employment).

And then last week, some of my friends began disappearing from Facebook. I texted and emailed them. One friend told me that she made this post over a year ago, describing the harassment of our friend Allison Hagood. This post was just recently reported–sending her to Facebook jail for a week.

A few years ago when I first had the idea of writing a book on vaccines to share all I had learned about the subject I thought I would tackle the project myself. I thought I could handle it. I hadn’t written a book before but I’m a reasonably good writer and heaven knows I’ve bought and read enough books to open up my own public library at least twice over.

Then I remembered something.

I remembered that many people who are opposed to vaccines aren’t particularly nice. I remembered that these are the people who call the HPV vaccine, a vaccine that can literally prevent cancer, (YES CANCER!) a vaccine that is given to ten year olds “the slut shot.” They harass Dr. Offit, (a personal hero of mine) the inventor of a vaccine that has literally helped save thousands of lives, so much that he doesn’t dare do a book tour.

Yeah.

Before the book, I’d been writing and commenting on this subject for over a decade. During that time I’d been called all kinds of names. To my shock (because who the heck thinks saving kids from polio and pertussis is controversial?) I was called the kind of names that make you look at someone like they eat kittens for breakfast.

So I found a co-author. A brave, fierce, amazing, wonderfully intelligent co-author. I found someone passionate and devoted who I knew would be able to able to stand up in public with me.

And here we are a few years later in a place I never quite expected to be. As we start to work on a second book, I am sadly forced to write about my dismay and horror at the hours of hell that Allison has endured at the hands of those who refuse to remember history or let science be at our side.

In her own words:

“Since co-authoring a book for parents on vaccines (“Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines are Safe and Save Lives”), I have been cyberstalked, cyberharassed, doxed, and threatened by anti-vaccine advocates. My personal home address was published on social media. My employer has been contacted numerous times by anti-vaccine advocates demanding that I be disciplined, fired, or silenced from engaging in vaccine advocacy. Death and rape threats have been posted against me. I am under almost constant harassment by anti-vaccine advocates fraudulently reporting posts and photos on my social media pages.”

This is the world we live in: a world in which a vaccine advocate — a person who believes that children deserve to be protected against horrible preventable diseases, diseases that maim, deafen and literally kill — that person is allowed by our society to be harassed at work at every turn.

I can only stand back and offer my support to someone who does not deserve to be treated this way. Please join me in standing for Allison Hagood as she stands up to those who shun science and threaten us all.

Another friend was sent to Facebook jail for a post where he used his own name.

How is this happening? How are they gaming the system? It turns out the anti-vaxxers are creating many accounts and sitting on them, sometimes for over a year. They are naming these accounts after actual people–friends of the people they want to attack. Sometimes they use the names of the people they are attacking themselves. And then, using those phony accounts, they report any post using that name.  I imagine they have to report quite a few and get their friends, also, to report, until the report sticks.

The abuse of Facebook’s algorithm is well-documented. It’s important to note that it’s not that Facebook doesn’t care about abuse. It’s that the users are the commodity, not the clients. So our dissatisfaction is not their top priority, and their is no recourse for someone who is being harassed by another who is abusing Facebook’s algorithms.

And that’s one reason the anti-vaxxers resort to this abuse and harassment.

The other reason is that they have nothing else. They have no science backing them. The doctors backing them are frauds like Andrew Wakefield or grifters like Mercola, Tenpenny, and Bark. No goverment agencies back them. In other words, no agency or person who actually is responsible for children should they become ill with a vaccine-preventable disease supports the anti-vaccine position.

Every time they report someone, they reveal just how desperate they are to shut down the advocacy of pro-vaxxers. The only thing we can do is to carry on.

 

 

Walgreens: Not Marco’s Puppetmaster

At some point last week, anti-vaccine crusaders decided that picking on a child was only so much fun, so they turned their sights on Walgreens:

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 2.38.35 PM

Multiply that times a hundred, and you get a taste of what Walgreens’ social media managers are dealing with. Why are they upset with Walgreens? Apparently, Walgreens’ name appeared in an ad on A Plus media (Ashton Kutcher’s site) in a post about Marco Arturo and his vaccine/autism video. The anti-vaaxxers claim? That Walgreens isn’t just advertising on the A Plus website Wellness section, but that they were creating this content and that Marco is just a puppet in the nefarious scheme to push vaccines for evil reasons. And of course, videos were created to promote the idea. Here is Forrest Maready’s contribution:

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A Plus, Marco, and Walgreens. Maniacal Laugh

What do they make of Walgreens advertising on the entire Wellness section of A Plus? Facts schmacts. Who needs them.

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 12.06.09 PM
Spot the Walgreens logos

And then, just like that, the banner ad on the A Plus post about Marco disappeared. Almost as though the internet were not made of paper and banner ads could be cycled through.

But not so soon. A Facebook page named Hear This Well declared victory! Finally, anti-vaxxers are being heard! Only moments from now will Walgreens and the government and the lizard people finally admit that vaccines do cause autism!

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 2.55.38 PM
Hear This Well was a campaign started by anti-vaccine parents of autistic children. Never heard of it? Ironic.

Because I never take anything at face value, it was that point I decided to write an email to Walgreens and ask them what was up. They sent me this official reply:

We had no knowledge of, nor connection to the development of this video.  Walgreens has been an advertiser on the website only in conjunction with the Vitamin Angels program, and again we were unaware of the video’s placement on our sponsored page.

While I would have preferred a statement which would have gone on to declare that the video was awesome and anti-vaxxers can scram, this response seemed pretty corporate and normal.

Forrest Maready (who made the video alluded to above), started to change his tune. Kind of. He issued this partial retraction on his Facebook page:

I don’t believe the APlus media writer knew about the video before it went up. I spoke at length with her, twice over the past two days and she has convinced me she found the post organically through a Facebook group she follows (not a member of) called A Science Enthusiast. She is an avowed Believer, I realize. She could be lying to protect an elaborate PR set up, but I think she is telling me the truth.

Of course, he went on to add that Marco’s video is still suspicious because of Marco’s shirt and because the Google dates don’t make sense to him. The retraction, then, is just that A Plus media isn’t part of some conspiracy, not that Marco could really be awesomely intelligence and well-spoken. If you are an anti-vaxxer, you have to feed the conspiracy theorists, after all.

If pro-vaxxers were conspiracy theorists, we would be all in a tizzy about the fact that the Hear This Well Facebook page disappeared.* But then, we know that Facebook pages, like banner ads, are hardly a constant in life and that there is no point getting wound up about it. I guess no one is hearing them at all any more.

*UPDATE: They’re back.

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Filling Wakefield’s Coffers

Really, that’s all VAXXED is about. The movie, written by, produced by, funded by, and starring Andrew Wakefield is about Andrew Wakefield. It came to the city where I live and caused very little stir.

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The Uptown theater in Minneapolis didn’t even list VAXXED in its marquee while it was being shown there.

Nor should it. Andrew Wakefield is a fraud, but he is also a washed up has-been. It was no surprise when friends of mine went to see the film, sitting in nearly empty theaters.

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My gut feeling is that this film, like many of the other anti-vaccine endeavors preceding it, will fizzle out with a whimper.

But not without a fight. The anti-vaxxers are goading each other to buy tickets to the film, even if they have no intention of using the tickets. They hide this racket by terming it a donation or calling it their “Angel Ticket” program. But what they are trying to do is to make this film seem like more of a success than it is so that they can push it out to more theaters across the country.

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The Hear This Well Facebook page is only one of many encouraging people to “donate tickets” (to whom? they don’t say) in order to sell out the theaters in Florida and pressure Regal theaters to show the movie nationwide.

I have to believe that Regal will notice that no one is actually in these so-called sold out theaters, although they might not care–as long as they are selling tickets. I have heard rumors from insiders that the VAXXED DVD is coming out next month, though. I don’t know any theater that would show a movie that is also out on DVD.

All this brings me back to the beginning. The movie itself is made by, written by, promoted by, and starring Andrew Wakefield. He tried to swindle us all once with a phony study and a media tour aimed at frightening us away from the MMR vaccine. Andrew Wakefield doesn’t do anything that doesn’t benefit Andrew Wakefield, and once again–even in the promotion of this film, the main beneficiary is Andrew Wakefield (and the main victims are public health and autistic people).

 

Is NVIC Anti-Vaccine?

Of course it is.

For those of you who do not know who NVIC (National Vaccine Information Center) is, I submit to you this simple and accurate definition by Michael Specter:

[A]n organization that, based on its name, certainly sounds like a federal agency. Actually, it’s just the opposite: the NVIC is the most powerful anti-vaccine organization in America, and its relationship with the U.S. government consists almost entirely of opposing federal efforts aimed at vaccinating children.

Of course, this is not how NVIC defines themselves. In an interview with NVIC president Barbara Loe Fisher, the author noted:

NVIC is not “anti-vaccine,” as mainstream news media might encourage the public to believe. Rather, it is pro-safe vaccines and exists to ensure the informed consent of the parents and patients who chose to vaccinate.

Of course, an organization that frames itself as being “pro-safe vaccines” should be able to answer what it would take to make a vaccine safe. In fact, one anti-vaccine parent DID ask NVIC what makes a vaccine safe, and received the clearest and most revealing response possible from NVIC’s New Hampshire State Director of Advocacy, Laura Condon:

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“Nothing can make a vaccine safe,” according to Laura Condon, speaking on behalf of Barbara Loe Fisher and NVIC. The assertion that it is impossible for vaccines to be safe is stunning, and it brings what is meant by “pro-safe vaccines” into focus.

Let’s keep this in mind the next time NVIC claims that they are for “informed consent” (meaning filling people with nonsense about how vaccines are never safe) and that they are “pro-safe vaccines” (even though they believe such thing is an impossibility. What they really want is for you to be scared witless about vaccines, to refuse vaccines, and to demand that it is as easy as possible to refuse vaccines without consequences (except, of course, leaving your children at risk for terrible diseases).

If you are for only safe vaccines, but safe vaccines are impossible, you are, by definition, against all vaccines. What is the name for someone who is against all vaccines? Oh yes, right. Anti-vaccine.