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).

 

You’re banning me!

Like so many of you, I have been banned from Dr. Bob Sears’ Facebook page. While it isn’t headline-making news, I wanted to write about the comment that got me banned because it highlights, once again, that Dr. Bob is anti-vaccine.

The problem began when he posted something on his Facebook page that stirred in me the inability to stay silent:

“DEATH IS THE ONLY LEGITIMATE VACCINE EXEMPTION . . .”

. . . said the former doctor of one of my patients-to-be. I kid you not. My wife, Cheryl, who manages the office, sometimes picks up the new patient messages on our voicemail. She never has me listen to any of them because, well, that would be stupid. But she grabbed me the other day and said, “You have to listen to this. You’re not going to believe it.”

I didn’t. Believe it, that is.

A mom actually called our office and said she needed a new pediatrician because her old one wouldn’t even discuss vaccine medical exemption with her. Now, of course, that part’s believable. There are hundreds of thousands of doctors nationwide who won’t even discuss these exemptions. And if they choose not to offer informed consent for invasive medical treatments for their patients, that’s their decision. It’s also a patient’s right to leave their care.

But this doctor took it a step further. Well, a giant leap further. The message on our phone actually was “My doctor said death is the only legitimate vaccine exemption . . . and I disagree. So I’m looking for a new doctor.”

I can’t wait to hear the whole story. I hope this patient comes in soon. We’ll see if we can find something in her child’s medical and family history that qualifies for an exemption short of death.

Dr. Bob

Everyone I have spoken to has two reactions to this post.

  1. That sounds like something that never happened.
  2. Does that mean Dr. Bob is going to sell this woman an illegitimate medical exemption?

But my reply actually gave Dr. Bob the benefit of the doubt:

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“I hope that when this parent comes in, you share with her that the contraindications to vaccines are discrete and that if her child does not fit into any of those contraindications, she is not eligible for a medical exemption.”
I also directed Dr. Bob to the list of contraindications to vaccines. This comment does not attack Dr. Bob nor does it treat him or anyone else disrespectfully. It simply points out that there are only so many contraindications to vaccines, and that a medical exemption outside those contraindications is inappropriate.

It is possible the reason for my ban was the only other comment I left on that thread. Unfortunately, I did not get a screen shot, but it was in reply to a woman who was replying to my friend’s comment, a reply filled with references to Thalidomide and smoking as proof that vaccines are terrible. Here is her reply to me:

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I cannot imagine I was banned for pointing out that Thalidomide was never approved by the FDA (fun Women’s History Month fact) or that measles and chickenpox parties, like smoking, used to be acceptable health practices, but now that science has moved on, they no longer are.

But it is significant to me that the commenter above, and others like her, were left on the page to comment freely. The woman above, for example, began her reply to my friend with this dig about her as a mother and about how she gave birth:

Do you have biological children? If so, did you have them without any drugs? If you do, or did then that true bond would not allow you to push for all these vaccines and boosters in your flesh and blood. Other countries have excellent scientists who are against so many vaccines in such a short time. I bet you only had a fraction of the vaccines that babies are subjected to these days

Yes, you read that correctly. If you had a pain-free birth, you don’t love your children and that’s why you vaccinate them.

That comment, along with the mountain-loads of misinformation posted by Dr. Bob’s fangirls, was left untouched and uncorrected by Dr. Bob because it plays into the fear of medical interventions and other doctors he promotes in order to drum up his own business and grow his own brand.

Do me a favor, friends, and call him on it–because I no longer can.

 

 

 

Be Afraid of the Many, Many Vaccines

Dr. Bob Sears wants you to believe he is a vaccine supporter. He so supports vaccines that once, while in the midst of lobbying against the elimination of vaccine exemptions in California, he asserted:

I give vaccines every single day in my office. I am pro-vaccine and understand that vaccines work and have reduced and eliminated many serious diseases. And that’s not just spouting a party line – I firmly believe that, and that’s why I give them in my office.

After all, you cannot be against vaccines if you give them in your office–every day! To be fair, it is possible to believe that vaccines should not be mandatory for school entry and still be a proponent of immunization. But don’t tell that to his fans and followers. One complained on his Facebook page:

Dr’s at Dr. Bill’s office should be made aware of this. I was bullied by a dr there, and won’t be back. She said they were completely safe and that the disease was worse than any side effects from vaccines.

Oh hey! Wait just a minute there! Vaccines are safe and the diseases they prevent are a bigger risk? Surely, pro-vaccine Dr. Sears would respond in a way that assured this parent that, yes, vaccines are safe. The diseases they prevent are worse than any side effects from vaccines. After all, that’s what someone who believes that”vaccines work and have reduced and eliminated many serious diseases” would say.

That’s not what happened.

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Admittedly, this comment is still treading the line. He wants to be liked by the anti-vax moms and he wants to be liked by the other 99% of the people in the world, too.

But please watch Dr. Bob carefully. He is constantly and eagerly disseminating the misinformation created by the anti-vaccine movement, as he did today on his Immunity Education Group page. This page is geoblocked and available only in the U.S., so here is a screen capture for the rest of the world.

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I asked the eminent Dr. Cox what he thought of this poster, and he told me it is filled with wrong.

  1. Number of injections: Any parent who follows the CDC schedule would look at this and think, “I really do not remember my child receiving 50 injections.” And that parent would probably be right. I checked my own child’s immunization records and noted that the DTaP, IPV, and Hib vaccines were combined into one injection. There are several combination vaccines that minimize the number of pokes a child receives.
  2. 1983 schedule: I was born, ahem, a couple of years before 1983, and my complete immunization record is longer than the list above. Why? Because I didn’t receive all my vaccines in 1983. I did receive a second dose of the MMR before I went to college (and I am fine). I also received (and continue to receive) influenza vaccines.
  3. Liability: If a pharmaceutical company manufactures a vaccine in a way that is negligent, they can be held liable, and you can sue them in civil court. The possibility of this happening is pretty remote, given the amount of FDA oversight vaccine manufacturing goes through.
  4. The doses red herring: If your child receives four pneumococcal vaccines months apart, what is the possible harm? I honestly do not understand the hand wringing over boosters. Such worrying is like letting your child sneeze on your face once and shrugging it off, but then become concerned when he sneezes again because…what? You are going to become extra sick then? Since the ingredients in vaccines are present in such minuscule amounts, booster shots are not really a concern there, either. The fear-mongering about that number, though, is itself boosted when Dr. Bob adds together doses.
  5. Forgetting the diseases: I mentioned above that I was born a tiny, little bit before 1983. I did not have to suffer measles or fear polio because of vaccines. However, a meningococcal outbreak swept through my school, and I am grateful for the vaccine. I know a young man who died from chickenpox, and I am grateful for that vaccine. I have heard absolute horror stories about Hib epiglottis, and I am grateful for that vaccine. I was hospitalized with pneumonia as a toddler, and I am grateful for that vaccine. Rather than saying, “Look at all those vaccines,” I say, “Look at all those diseases we can prevent.”

So why would Dr. Bob post such an inaccurate and terrible graphic–one that misrepresents the CDC schedule, rewrites history, misrepresents the law, and makes no mention of actual disease prevention? If he gives vaccines in his office every day, doesn’t he realize that vaccines can be combined and that we are grateful we can prevent all these diseases?

I honestly don’t know why Dr. Bob gives vaccines in his office every day. He just doesn’t seem to like them very much.

 

Multi-Level Vaccine Refusal

Through Tupperware parties and by being the neighborhood Avon lady, multi-level marketing has a history of introducing women to financial freedom. It also has a history of over-promising profits in order to trick people into investing money they will never earn back. And now, multi-level marketing has a new toe-hold in vaccine refusal among those people who sell so-called Essential Oils (EOs).

I don’t have any experience with Essential Oils, other than witnessing the eventual hawking of them on social media any time someone posts about an illness. A friend might post that she is taking antibiotics for strep throat, only to have someone comment that they should meet up so that the friend can cure the strep with EOs–no antibiotics needed! On a local parenting group, one mother recommended EOs to the mother of an asthmatic toddler in order to ward of strep and influenza. (A dangerous recommendation I warned against.) Even HuffPo has chimed in on the healing wonder powers of EOs, claiming they treat everything from acne to purifying the mind.

If people only bought EOs at Walgreens, the health claims might not be so ubiquitous. After all, when mothers gather online or in real life and complain that their kids are stopped up, I might tell them about the wonders of Miralax, but I don’t really care if they use it or not. I’m not looking for opportunities to push the medications I give my child because I have no financial stake in them.

And that’s really the problem with multi-level marketing that makes health claims. It turns everyone into a healthcare provider. In order to sell these EOs, people have to recruit others to also sell in order to get a commission, so it is important to convert people into believing in the oils. The health claims that these distributors make have to get larger and larger in order to accommodate an ever-growing need to sell. That’s why, on social media, EOs cure everything. The FDA has taken note, advising Young Living Oils to stop marketing their wares as ways to treat and cure illnesses.

The cure-all, MLM healthcare issues associated with EOs is problematic enough, but not every child gets strep, not every person needs a mind purification, and so forth, so those distributing and marketing EOs can’t market them to everyone.

But everyone (except the very few with medical contraindications) should be vaccinated. Vaccines are given to health people to prevent disease, so immunization is an issue for everyone, not just those who are sick. Vaccines are healthcare for everyone at set, particular times. And the Essential Oils crew have picked up on this enormous market.

One Young Living distributor in Australia held a seminar about the dangers of vaccines (Do Not Link hyperlink) and the EOs a person would use instead to prevent disease. The claims on the website included those about mercury being neurotoxic and vaccines causing SIDS and Alzheimer’s. The claims about EOs instead of vaccines are not relegated to one distributor, of course. Like a virus, they spread from distributor to distributor, and there’s no EO to cure it.

Vaccine Choice Canada (Do Not Link hyperlink) claims that EOs are a great alternative to those who are afraid of both vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, and their explanation about how the EOs work defies both all science and logic:

Essential oils can be diffused in the home and have the ability to increase the atmospheric oxygen, as they release oxygenating molecules into the atmosphere. They also increase ozone and negative ions in the home, which inhibit bacteria growth. When applied to the body by rubbing on the feet, essential oils will travel throughout the body in 20 minutes. Essential oils play a major role in their effect on blood circulation, not only in the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues but also in assisting in the disposal of toxic waste from the tissues.

Of course, this explanation about oxygen, blood circulation, and toxic waste is magical thinking. Measles doesn’t care how much oxygen you have in your system. It wants to party in your lungs.

It appears that even the founder of Young Living believes in vaccine refusal. So much so, that he apparently started an entire vaccine-free school in order to corral vulnerable children into a potential outbreak epicenter.

This Facebook post is, of course, marketing for a particular distributor.
This Facebook post is, of course, marketing for a particular distributor.

The use of EOs in lieu of actual health care is frightening enough. Vaccine refusal is also a threat that needs to be addressed. But combining the two is an exponential threat.

In essence, EOs are becoming multi-level marketing of vaccine refusal. Keeping in mind that one distributor needs to sign on more distributors in order to make a commission (and those distributors ever more distributors), these distributors learn vaccine refusal as a marketing technique. Every frightening anti-vaccine rumor is sold along with the Essential Oils solution, as is this case for this distributor who uses a false accusation about the tetanus vaccine in Kenya to tell her clients that they don’t need vaccines at all because EOs:

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The worst part about this multi-level vaccine refusal marketing scheme is that the distributors are financially vested in it. Gone are the days when the people making a buck off of vaccine fears were the big guys like Mercola and Tenpenny. Now any mom with a bag full of oils might want you to be afraid of vaccines so that she can sell you something. Fear is a powerful motivator, especially when your income depends on it.

What can we do to combat a marketing scheme as old as Amway? While we do not want people to lose their livelihoods, we can also keep in mind that it is unlikely that selling EOs is going to make much money for the average person, and perhaps heralding them back to Tupperware could help. After all, we all need to store our leftovers, too.

Doublespeak: A Dr. Bob Special

Dr. Bob Sears is the author of a bunch of books, the salesman of supplements, a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and a master of doublespeak about vaccines. According to Dr. Bob, he gives vaccines in his office every day. Why, then, does he work so hard to frighten parents about vaccines and downplay the effects of the diseases they prevent?

His newest venture, a supposed non-profit organization called Immunity Education Group (Do Not Link hyperlink), is a case in point. The website itself says almost nothing useful to anyone, but it appears that the real meat of his work is on the associated Facebook page, co-adminned by self-proclaimed data analyst Melissa Floyd.

The past few weeks, I have been ignoring Dr. Bob’s new Facebook page because sometimes ignoring them makes them wither and fade away. But one post last week drew in my attention (and some of my precious time and efforts):

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Since Dr. Bob is so long-winded, I didn’t screen capture the entire post. But this is the part that caught my attention:

Do you see it now? This press conference wasn’t about disease information; it’s the beginning of a hunt for pockets of vulnerability. And, I gotta hand it to them, the CDC’s answer was sheer brilliance. “No, we’re not the bad guys. We won’t share the data. School vaccine laws and sharing exemption information is a STATE and local matter. We’re are staying out of that.” The quotes are my paraphrase of the CDC answer. But the CDC wrapped it up this this statement (my quotes again, but it’s almost word for word):

“We encourage parents to find out their local vaccine exemption levels so that they can work together to help everyone do what’s good for their community.” Yes, they actually said that. It sounded so righteous, useful, and proper yesterday. But when you look at the whole picture, I worry that it’s a portend of what’s to come.

This is why we must work hard to come together, understand one another, start having conversations, accept one another’s varying medical beliefs, and learn to live together in peace and harmony. The current system is working well; diseases are under control, and we have very high vaccination rates. Less than 1% of families make the medical decision to forego vaccines. Coercion is unnecessary and divisive. The alternative, as laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Propaganda, almost seems like the beginnings of a which hunt: which kids are unvaccinated in YOUR neighborhood, and what are YOU going to do about it?

– Dr. Bob Sears, Immunity Education Group

In other words, Dr. Bob doesn’t want vaccination rates at the school level (or district level, county level, whatever level) shared because he is afraid that it will turn into a “which hunt” for his patients. Or unvaccinated patients in general.

So much about this caught my attention since I was on that same CDC media call. Here’s a screen grab of my less-alarming notes:

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Yes, I cannot use less than symbols properly when typing quickly.

You’ll note the lack of CDC intimating that parents should go out and harass the parents of their children’s unvaccinated classmates. Since 21 states now offer this information, you would think the anti-vaxxers would be recounting these incidents if they were happening. But they aren’t. In fact, most parents I know who seek out this information want to know their child’s chances of being exposed to measles or chickenpox. Others want their children going to schools with high science literacy.

In fact, I’d venture to guess that most parents looking up immunization rates for their schools are using them far more legitimately than those looking up free and reduced lunch rates at schools. All sorts of data is available to parents in ways that preserves the privacy of students.

At one point on Facebook, Melissa Floyd, who is not a doctor, took over the reins of moderating the thread. And things went downhill.

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At that point, I asked Melissa for a citation showing that the CDC claims that immunity against measles lasts for a maximum of 15 years after MMR. I also pointed out that a woman in Washington died from measles. My comment asking for a citation seems to have disappeared, and Melissa moved on claiming that no school district with high PBEs was part of the measles outbreak and other such fabricated bologna. Fortunately, others asked her for a citation, and Dr. Bob jumped in to correct this piece of misinformation, right?

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Oh dang.

So we know that Dr. Bob isn’t very good at math (by his own admission) or at getting information about vaccines correct. He’s not good at social media, and he’s not good at choosing which side has the larger market base (hint: it’s the side with the 95% of parents who vaccinate).

But he’s great at doublespeak.

See, it’s not that measles lasts a lifetime. It’s that the package insert shows antibodies after 11-13 years. Dr. Bob still has antibodies from his MMR. But some adults might not have antibodies. How many adults? Not important. But the vaccine wears off and the CDC recommends boosters for people like pregnant women because of their rubella immunity. Oh, and if you spread misinformation, he will ban you.

It’s almost magnificent, the amount of obfuscation. In fact, he’s saying almost nothing. He is saying both that immunity from measles lasts 13 years, and that it lasts for much longer. He is saying that immunity from the MMR wanes and that it doesn’t for most people. And he is using pregnant women and their need to be immune to rubella as proof that measles immunity…something.

He might as well have posted a William Carlos Williams poem and told people to interpret it as they see fit.

His comment regarding the woman who died in Washington, though, was much clearer. He says we cannot know if she died from measles, and his actions show that he would prefer to believe that she didn’t because then he can’t lull people into believing that protection against death from measles is a matter of nutrition.

But here’s the thing. The coroner and the state department of health think she died from measles:

The death of a Clallam County woman this spring was due to an undetected measles infection that was discovered at autopsy.

The woman was most likely exposed to measles at a local medical facility during a recent outbreak in Clallam County. She was there at the same time as a person who later developed a rash and was contagious for measles. The woman had several other health conditions and was on medications that contributed to a suppressed immune system. She didn’t have some of the common symptoms of measles such as a rash, so the infection wasn’t discovered until after her death. The cause of death was pneumonia due to measles.

Dr. Bob can dissemble and juggle with the truth all he likes, but had this woman not been exposed to measles because of unvaccinated people, she wouldn’t have died.

That one fact, that someone in the United States in the year 2015 has died from an illness we can easily and safely prevent, is not something to ploy coy with. And because of her senseless death, parents want to make sure that their children are in places where such diseases are not spread. And I think that it’s every parent’s right to know how vulnerable their schools are to the spread of preventable disease.

Sanctimonious Anti-Vaccine Woopreneur is Back on the Circuit

Do you remember cardiologist and supplement peddler Dr. Jack Wolfson? Part of his schtick is convincing parents that vaccines are bad and disease is good–a schtick that gets him quite a bit of publicity.

For example, during the Disneyland measles outbreak he told the Arizona Republic: “We should be getting measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, these are the rights of our children to get it.” Why would a doctor want your children to get sick? After all, most pediatricians try to prevent illness, and therefore suffering and potential complications, in their young patients. But Wolfson is not a pediatrician; he is a cardiologist-turned-supplement salesman. He is not without conflicts of interest.

When asked about children who cannot be vaccinated and who might be particularly vulnerable to diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox, he told a Phoenix news station:

It’s not my responsibility to inject my child with chemicals in order for [another child] to be supposedly healthy…I’m not going to sacrifice the well-being of my child. My child is pure. It’s not my responsibility to be protecting their child.

Not only does he think it is your child’s right to be sick, but he also thinks it is not your responsibility to contribute to community health.

After spouting off about the glories and disease and the pretend dangers of vaccines, Wolfson went silent, perhaps in part because he was under investigation by the medical board. What a relief that was!

Our reprieve was short-lived, though, because he is back. In a in a poorly written article chock-full of false balance, Wolfson is given a platform where he weighs in about vaccines against a doctor who is for them. The article focuses on the vaccine “debate,” framing it as a debate between scientists even though practically every doctor and scientist working in a field related to immunization agrees that vaccines are generally safe and effective.

In the article, Wolfson claims that “Zero is the number of randomized, placebo controlled vaccine trials,” casting doubt that vaccines have been studied. Granted, they have been studied, but Wolfson wants them studied in a way that would divide a group of children in two, giving half of the children vaccines and half the children a placebo, revealing to no one who has been immunized and who has not, and setting them free into their communities to potentially contract and disseminate diseases.

What sort of parent would agree to that study? Would an anti-vaccine parent agree to possibly having their child vaccinated without their knowledge? Would a pro-vaccine parent agree to leaving their children vulnerable without their knowledge. Of course not, but that doesn’t matter. Such a study is completely unethical.

Even though Wolfson suggests that unethical studies be performed on children, he has the gall to say, “Our children are not an experiment.” I call bologna. Those who perform actual studies that are both rigorous and ethical on immunizations know that they are studied more than any other pharmaceutical before they are given to our children and are continuously monitored unlike any other medication. Vaccinating children is not treating them like an experiment. Suggesting that disease is good and then turning around and selling unregulated supplements is treating children like an experiment.

Making unsupported, ridiculous statements about vaccines and then turning around and selling supplements seems to be a hallmark of anti-vaccine doctors. They are immune to being reasoned with or even shamed as long as their marketing scheme of frightening parents away from vaccines and into the loving embrace of their online stores keep working. We can work on those parents and give them good information about vaccines before they encounter the grifters and their sleight of hand. I fear, though, that nothing can stop these doctors except shutting down their online stores. In the meantime, as loudmouths like Wolfson continue hawking their wares under the guise of answering questions about immunization, we might have to be louder in our response.

Anti-Vaccine Continuing Education Credits

Arizona pediatrician Dr. Chris Hickie decided to find out just how hard it would be to get so-called continuing education credits from an anti-vaccine chiropractor. He was awarded this certificate, but don’t worry. he has no intention of claiming this CE:

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You might ask, how hard did Dr. Hickie need to work to complete these 8 hours of continuing education? Let’s see if you can guess which answer reflects the amount of work involved in 8 hours of continuing anti-vaccine education.

  1. He spent 8 hours in a classroom with Tim O’Shea DC, at the end of which he was required to pass a multi-question quiz.
  2. He spent 8 hours working at an online module and completing quizzes in order to matriculate through each portion.
  3. He answered one question about mercury at the end of the last video, completing the entire 8 hours in approximately 30 seconds.

Thank you to Dr. Hickie for going through the trouble of exposing this sham continuing education and for allowing me to post his certificate online.

So the Anti-Vaxxers Want CA Governor Jerry Brown to Meet with Dr. Toni Bark

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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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 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.

If you think my analysis of Toni Bark was a bit snarky or cruel, keep in mind that this is how she responded to a tweet from a woman named Liz Ditz:

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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.

Who Hacked the Canary Party?

Have you heard of the Canary Party? They are the world’s only political party whose platform rests on being against vaccines. This political party, run by the same people who run a bunch of other anti-vaccine groups, is based in my home state and headed by someone who contributes large amounts of money to political campaigns across the country. From my best estimate, they would like the government to hold hearings where Canary Partiers could testify and spout their conspiracy theories in front of legislators in order to make their YouTube videos* look very official and scare unsuspecting parents away from vaccinating.

So why does Google think they have been hacked?

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I went to the website [hyperlink goes to a Do Not Link site], and it appears to be all the same stuff with no additional not anti-vaccine stuff that might occur had they actually been hacked.

Someone with technical skill might know what is going on. I do not. But here are some completely wild guesses about what Google might thinking when declaring the site hacked:

  • The website is from Bizarro-land. They can’t really mean all that stuff, can they? (Sorry, Google. They can.)
  • They have a hundred different people posting whatever they want on the website, and Google suspects that such a network is suspicious.
  • Google is worried about viruses spreading. Computer viruses, I mean. I’m worried about the other viruses.

Anyone have any real insights?

*This YouTube video links to a pro-vaccine doctor giving accurate information. No point in giving their anti-vaccine videos free press.

Dr. Bob’s Long Con

Being savvy at internet communication and social media is becoming more important for doctors and healthcare providers, especially since so many parents seek out information about vaccines (and much more) online. One of the wonderful things I get to do is go around and speak to healthcare workers and public health people, and I stress the importance of reaching out to their communities through online media. People I know and respect, like Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, Dr. Nathan Boonstra, and ZDogg MD, all have varying and significant (and wonderful) online platforms.

Dr. Bob Sears, a pediatrician for whom I have little respect, has lately been dipping his toes into the online scene. In reality, his family has been huge online for a number of years following their success with Attachment Parenting bible The Baby Book and other parenting books. When I was a new mom, I took comfort in some of the information I could easily get from the Sears family books and website, although I knew their approach wasn’t right for everyone.

Page 628 of The Baby Book answered my concerns about vaccines.
Page 628 of The Baby Book answered my concerns about vaccines.

Dr. Bob has since made a name for himself by writing The Vaccine Book, which is full of misinformation and lies by omission. Conveniently, the book also includes an alternate schedule–one which has never been studied or tested, but which does allow the parent to make more than twice as many visits to a pediatrician.

I had always assumed that his endgame was that obvious. Sell some books; get parents to make extra appointments. Actually, I’ll back up. I do believe that he buys into what he is selling–that aluminum is scary and that an alternate schedule is a good thing. I think at some point, he read a study that made him uneasy, and the subsequent studies and evidence have not shaken his obstinate insistence that vaccines are not safe. This assumption is purely my conjecture. However, I think the fact that he uses the fear of vaccines as a marketing tool for his book and for his practice is significant. But I really had thought that was the end.

When Dr. Bob started what he called a “blog” on Facebook (I can forgive him that he has confused a social media outlet for a blogging platform), it seemed to be an extension of his fear-based marketing for his book and his practice. It was clear that he was trying to cultivate an everyman, lovable image of himself.

Of course, he missed the mark sometimes. My favorite so far was the post in which he made fun of parents using strollers at his office.

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That’s not charming. Lately, he has been using this Facebook-blogging platform to lobby against SB277. Since a significant portion of his social media followers (and probably his patients) skew toward vaccine hesitant and anti-vaccine, being against this bill seems to fit both his persona and his marketing scheme. In one recent post, he compares his vaccine refusing patients to holocaust victims (and then adds a disclaimer that he didn’t compare them to holocaust victims).

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I could spend an entire post explaining how that disclaimer is complete horse pucky, that the holocaust was that time when Jewish people many years ago felt discrimination and prejudice while being asked to wear yellow Stars of David, but this is the man who sits in his office and laughs at parents as they put their children in strollers for an appointment with him. There is too much lost on him, and his patients will continue to defend him as long as he makes them feel good for feeling bad about vaccines. It’s part of his marketing scheme.

Except I had the end game wrong this whole time. I had always assumed that because his family already endorsed all sorts of untested supplements and that because he had branched out into anti-vaccine land and staked a claim there, that his marketing plan was just about the book and the practice.

But then Dr. Bob opened his own Mercola-esque online store, selling supplements for all people in many different situations. My favorite is the Immune Boost supplement.

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See all those asterisks under the percentage of the daily value needed? Yep–that’s stuff you don’t even need any of each day.  Perhaps to compensate, Dr. Bob gives us way more than we would need each day in Vitamin C.  All of this stuff we don’t need and extra stuff our bodies won’t use for one (not evaluated by the FDA) reason: to give our immune systems a boost.

It kind of begs the question–how do these herbs we don’t need and vitamins we don’t need that much of know just how much to boost the immune system? What if they boost the immune system too much? Could they turn the immune system against us and make it attack us? And if we are concerned about our immune system, why aren’t we helping it practice defending us against diseases by just getting vaccinated?

Actually, this whole affair begs a better question–now that Dr. Bob has thrown his entire lot in with the anti-vaccine crowd, turning his back on his evidence-based colleagues, will they buy his supplements? Or will they feel like they have been the victim of his long con?