Argument by Vaccine Package Inserts – they’re not infallible

vaccine package inserts

One of the cherished strategies of the anti-vaccine religion is to quote vaccine package inserts (called a Patient Information Leaflet in EU countries and Instructions for Use in other areas) to “prove” that vaccines are dangerous. These vaccine deniers consider the package insert to be the golden tablets of the Truth™.

Yes, it is cynical that these anti-vaccine groupies rail against Big Pharma as if they are demon reptilians, but the package insert, written by Big Pharma, is considered gospel. And there is another broken irony meter.

Just spend more than a couple of minutes in discussion in any vaccine “debate,” and you’ll eventually get someone pointing to a section in any of the many vaccine package inserts (PI) as “proof” that it is dangerous, contains dangerous stuff, or is just plain scary. Or that it doesn’t work.

The snarky Orac has proclaimed it “Argument by Package Insert” – it’s almost at the level of logical fallacy. David Gorski has just given it the Latin name, argumentum ad package insert, so it’s now officially a logical fallacy, at least for vaccine discussions.

Before we start, vaccine package inserts are important documents, but only if the information included therein is properly understood. However, vaccine package inserts are not documents that serve as medical and scientific gospel. But it is a document that can help clinicians use vaccines (or frankly, any medication) properly. Continue reading “Argument by Vaccine Package Inserts – they’re not infallible”

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss – an index of her vaccine articles on this website

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss – Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA) – is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines (generally, but sometimes moving to other areas of medicine), social policy and the law. Her articles usually unwind the complexities of legal issues with vaccinations and legal policies, such as mandatory vaccination and exemptions, with facts and citations.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination–she really is a well-published expert in this area of vaccine policy, and doesn’t stand on the pulpit with a veneer of Argument from Authority, but is actually an authority. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

She was also one of the many contributors to the book, “Pseudoscience – The Conspiracy Against Science.”

Many bloggers and commenters on vaccine issues will link to one or more of her articles here as a primary source to counter an anti-vaccine claim. The purpose of this post is to give you a quick reference to find the right article to answer a question you might have.

Below is a list of articles that Dorit Rubinstein Reiss has written for this blog, organized into some arbitrary and somewhat broad categories for easy reference. This article will be updated as new articles from Professor Reiss are published here. We also may update and add categories as necessary.


Continue reading “Dorit Rubinstein Reiss – an index of her vaccine articles on this website”

Japan banned Gardasil? No, but the anti-vaccine crowd pushes the myth

Japan Banned Gardasil

One of the most popular zombie memes and tropes of the anti-vaccine movement is that Japan banned Gardasil, the HPV vaccine. And like most of those zombie memes and tropes, the facts are a lot different than the anti-vaccine claims. Per usual.

Although I don’t quite understand the reasoning, the anti-vaccine religion absolutely hates Gardasil, possibly more than any other vaccine. These zealots maintain that the HPV vaccines cause all kinds of harm to teens and young adults. Yet, there are literally mountains of data derived from numerous huge epidemiological studies that the Gardasil cancer-preventing vaccine is one of the safest vaccines on the market.

So if you really want to prevent cancer, one of the best ways available to you is getting the HPV vaccine. The idea is so simple, yet is clouded by the myths about HPV vaccines – one of the most popular, of course, is that Japan banned Gardasil. Let’s examine this fable with a critical and skeptical eye.

Spoiler alert – Japan did no such thing.

Continue reading “Japan banned Gardasil? No, but the anti-vaccine crowd pushes the myth”

RFK Jr denies vaccine scientific consensus but accepts climate change

vaccine scientific consensus

I have long criticized those who deny the vaccine scientific consensus but get angry about those who deny the climate change scientific consensus. In other words, they pick and choose what science they like or don’t like based on random things, mostly political expediency.

Robert F Kennedy Jr (and to save me typing too many letters, we’ll just call him RFK Jr) is a perfect example of this contradictory belief system. If you met him and told him that you deny the overwhelming scientific consensus on human-caused (anthropogenic) climate change, he’d argue that you are wrong. 

RFK Jr said recently:

“All of the modeling for climate change” points to future “storms on steroids, droughts, famine, the disappearance of the ice caps, the disappearance of the glaciers on every continent, and that there’s going to be major disruptions, not just to humanity, but ultimately, to civilization.”

That modeling didn’t come from his imagination, it came from scientists, who have established the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change. It is not based on faith, belief, or Uncle Harry. 

Of course, there is a similar overwhelming scientific consensus regarding vaccine safety and effectiveness, yet RFK Jr and his ilk reject it based on faith, belief, and pseudoscience. It’s clear that RFK Jr picks and chooses whatever science supports their pre-existing beliefs – that’s not science, that’s just illogical thinking.

More than that, how can one trust someone who denies one scientific consensus and accept another? I almost would rethink my position on climate change just because I don’t trust RFK Jr.’s opinion on it. 

But, I’m a good scientist – the scientific consensus on both vaccines and climate change (and hundreds of other scientific ideas like evolution, GMO safety, the Big Bang, etc.) is immense. To quote the esteemed David Gorski, MD Ph.D.:

Hostility towards the concept of scientific consensus is a good sign of pseudoscience.

This article will take a look at how denying the vaccine scientific consensus is equivalent to denying the climate change scientific consensus. Of course, I’m sure that there is a whole bunch of people who deny both, but since this is about RFK Jr., it’s his contradictions that matter. Continue reading “RFK Jr denies vaccine scientific consensus but accepts climate change”

Forced vaccinations and public health law – Prof. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

forced vaccinations

This article about forced vaccinations and public health law was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

This is a response to an anti-vaccine myth about me regarding forced vaccinations. I want to clarify that I don’t support using force for routinely vaccinating, or generally, barring extreme circumstances, and never have.

Yes, I did point out that using force to vaccinate can be legal in some circumstances – that’s the law. I don’t think it should ever be a preferred method, but I do think that in extreme circumstances it can be used.

My general approach to fabricated anti-vaccine attacks is to ignore them or respond on the spot if they come up in a comment thread. Basically, making up negative things about people who challenge them is a routine tactic of the anti-vaccine movement, a feature, not a bug,  and honestly, if I spent time going after or responding to every… “creative” idea they come up with, I wouldn’t have time for more important things.

I have to hope most people realize that the anti-vaccine group makes up things about those who stand up to them, especially those who correct anti-vaccine claims when they come up.

But at the request of several pro-vaccine friends, I will address this one about “forced vaccinations.” Continue reading “Forced vaccinations and public health law – Prof. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss”

Facebook mass banning – reasonable response to anti-vaccine attacks

Facebook mass banning

This article about Facebook mass banning of individuals who engage in anti-vaccine attacks on Facebook was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Prof. Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

This article will discuss the tactics of the anti-vaccine activists and how we can respond to it, including Facebook mass banning.
Continue reading “Facebook mass banning – reasonable response to anti-vaccine attacks”

School vaccine mandates do not illegally discriminate – Prof. Dorit Reiss

Anti-vaccine activists have repeatedly claimed that statutes abolishing non-medical exemptions from school vaccine mandates are discriminatory. Some went as far as to compare it to segregation. Courts in California and New York, echoing years of jurisprudence, rejected these claims in recent years in no uncertain claims, making it clear that school mandates are not discriminatory. Continue reading “School vaccine mandates do not illegally discriminate – Prof. Dorit Reiss”

Improving Vaccine Policy Making: A Dose of Reality – Dorit R Reiss and Paul A Offit

vaccine policy

This post is a preprint of an article to be published in Vaccine entitled “Improving Vaccine Policy Making: A Dose of Reality.” The authors are Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Ph.D., Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), and Paul A. Offit, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Disease, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, The Perelman School at the University of Pennsylvania.

This article’s full citation is:

Reiss DR, Offit PA. Improving Vaccine Policy Making: A Dose of Reality. Vaccine. 2020 February 5. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.01.036.

This preprint (see Note 1) is being published here, with permission from Professors Reiss and Offit, as a public service because it is an important part of the discussion on vaccine policy. Continue reading “Improving Vaccine Policy Making: A Dose of Reality – Dorit R Reiss and Paul A Offit”

Novel coronavirus myths – crazy conspiracy theories including vaccines

novel coronavirus myths

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably heard many novel coronavirus myths over the past few days as everyone is breathlessly watching the news about the disease. Well, this article is here to mock the conspiracy theories, just because.

This does not mean that we should ignore the new coronavirus, but we should be aware of the pseudoscience and fake news that’s out there these days. I’m sure that in 1750, people blamed smallpox on the devil. Or on Ben Franklin’s electricity experiments. Or on a solar eclipse.

This article will take on some of the weirder or scary novel coronavirus myths. But if you run across something that makes your eyes roll and makes you wonder about science education, please comment. Maybe I’ll incorporate it into part II. Continue reading “Novel coronavirus myths – crazy conspiracy theories including vaccines”

Ethylmercury and blood-brain barrier – bad vaccine “science” from the Geiers

ethylmercury

This post examines a newly published article that claims that ethylmercury (in this case, thimerosal or thiomersal) crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Of course, it comes from anti-vaccine non-scientists.

As we recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of the retraction of the fraudulent study from Andrew Wakefield and colleagues [1] (retraction notice), this celebration is only half-tone as we have seen more and more an influx of junk studies coming from a new breed of anti-vaccine “scientists” (such as Christopher Exley, Christopher Shaw, James Lyons-Weiler, Romain Gherardi, Yehuda Shoenfeld, Walter Lukiw, citing the most prolific of the bunch) take over the torch and publish deeply flawed studies, if not completely fraudulent in peer-reviewed journals.

Worse, we have seen indeed that some journals, such as the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry or Journal of Trace Elements, have become a hive of anti-vaccine pseudoscience for studies as presented in their published form. They should not have passed a peer-review filter.

Yet, these journals have accepted these articles, despite their important factual errors, botched experimental design and inaccurate conclusions which are not supported by the experimental results. I recently got wind that the infamous Geiers are up into flogging a dead horse once again, this time with the benediction of the journal Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology [2].

If this article was published in a low-tier or a predatory journal, I would understand. But seeing a paper authored by a quack doctor that lost his medical license to practice in 2012 (you can read the detailed case of his disciplinary action here), as well as the recent retraction of a study, with three out of the four authors accused of gross negligence on the claims made and failure to disclose a conflict of interest.

This should have been a red flag for the editor-in-chief and reviewers. Yet, we have a situation similar to the canary in the coal mine, this time about the canary slowly suffocating from the methane slowly leaking into the shaft, but no one taking action.

Seeing the field of academic publishing allowing such biased and non-sequitur review to be published (albeit being in review/revision for 4 months) is concerning. Quacks and charlatans are invading peer-reviewed journals, with the dangerous blessing of their editors and reviewers.

Does this review which was written by the Geiers, the Thenardiers of “autism treatment” (see Note 1), hold up or is completely full of logical flaws?

Let’s give it a read. Continue reading “Ethylmercury and blood-brain barrier – bad vaccine “science” from the Geiers”