Using NVICP cases to prove vaccine-autism link – anti-vaxxers get it wrong

vaccine-autism link

In general, the anti-vaccine religion lacks any scientific evidence supporting their beliefs about vaccine safety and effectiveness. So, they have to default to using memes and tropes based on anecdotes, fake science, or decisions made by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Plan (NVICP). A recent paper, written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss and Rachel Heap, reviewed how NVICP cases are being used and misused by anti-vaccine forces to prove an autism-vaccine link.

Mostly, the anti-vaccine zealots use NVICP cases to attempt to convince the world that there is actual “evidence” that vaccines cause autism spectrum disorders. Of course, we know that the vast body of scientific research tells us that there is no vaccine-autism link. Professor Reiss’ article examines key NVICP cases and shows how they are being used and misused by anti-vaccine forces.

This post is going to review some of the key points presented by Professor Reiss and Ms. Heap in their published article. Of course, their article is over 70 pages long (with extensive footnoting), so I’m just going to hit the key points. However, the full article (pdf) is an important and detailed discussion of the misuse and abuse of NVICP cases in an attempt to claim that there is a vaccine-autism link. Continue reading “Using NVICP cases to prove vaccine-autism link – anti-vaxxers get it wrong”

Anti-vaccine doctor Mark Geier not exonerated – license still suspended

Mark Geier

Autism quack and anti-vaccine Mark Geier, a former physician stripped of his medical license by the State of Maryland, won a lawsuit against the Maryland Board of Physicians that awarded the Geier family $2.5 million in damages. Of course, the anti-vaccine and anti-autism world will claim that Mark Geier is an innocent man, and this ruling “proves” that.

Except it doesn’t. Geier is still not a doctor, being defrocked like his fellow fraud in the anti-vaccine world, Mr. Andrew Wakefield. Geier won a lawsuit that had everything to do with some serious breaches of privacy by the Maryland Board of Physicians, who had a vendetta against Mark Geier (and his son David) for their horrendous treatment protocol to “cure” autistic children. In fact, while the Board stripped Mark Geier of his medical license, they also charged David Geier, who is not a physician of any kind, of practicing medicine without a license.

I cannot repeat this enough – Mark Geier still won’t be practicing medicine, because his medical license is still suspended. This has not changed. And David Geier is still guilty of practicing medicine without a license.

Because this story is so important, we’re going to talk about Mark Geier, what he did, and what this case really means.  Continue reading “Anti-vaccine doctor Mark Geier not exonerated – license still suspended”

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss – an index of contributions to 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. I know a lot of writers out there will link to one of her articles here as a sort of primary source to tear down a bogus antivaccine message.

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 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.

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 added here.

Continue reading “Dorit Rubinstein Reiss – an index of contributions to this website”

Jessica Ericzon death blamed on HPV vaccine with no evidence

Jessica Ericzon

This post revisits another sad, sad tragedy, the death of Jessica Ericzon, was blamed on vaccines – this time, Gardasil, the vaccine that prevents infection with high-risk strains of HPV. Once again, the claim has no real evidence behind it. The concern, of course, is that these stories will lead to parents who are not already anti-vaccine refusing to protect their children against an infection that causes cancer.

Not protecting children against HPV infections that kill thousands and cause tens of thousands of cancer each year is putting them at unnecessary risk and setting the stage up for preventable tragedies. Doing it because of a painful death that no good evidence links to the vaccine, is doubly tragic. However painful, we owe it to future victims of preventable HPV cancers to set the facts straightContinue reading “Jessica Ericzon death blamed on HPV vaccine with no evidence”

CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald resigns – impacts on vaccines, public health

Brenda Fitzgerald

If I asked the general public about the CDC director, or who that person is (Brenda Fitzgerald), I’d get a blank look. It’s not exactly the most prestigious position in the Federal Government, but if you care about vaccines, cancer, infectious diseases, and public health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is probably one of the more important Federal agencies, unless you buy into thoroughly debunked CDC whistleblower conspiracy theories.

Because most Donald Trump appointees to Federal government department and agencies were filled with incompetent, ethically-challenged, science-denying individuals, his appointment of Brenda Fitzgerald as CDC Director was, more or less, taken by the science and medical community with a sigh of relief. She wasn’t anti-vaccine. She seemed to understand the role of public health in the USA. And she was a doctor. Trump could have done much worse, as we’ve seen in other departments.

The anti-vaccine religion has been bigly supportive of Trump because he had shown some proclivity towards the vaccine denier beliefs. But they ended up crying vaccine tears when Trump did the “right thing” (probably the only time I will write that comment with respect to Trump) regarding several public health posts, including the CDC Director and Surgeon General.

Then it all blew up.

Continue reading “CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald resigns – impacts on vaccines, public health”

Anti-vaccine scientists (cough, cough) republish a retracted article

Anti-vaccine scientists

Here we go with the same old story that I’ve pursued for years – the one about University of British Columbia researchers, Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic, who are amongst the most laughable anti-vaccine scientists (and I use the word “scientist” very loosely) to ply their pseudoscientific nonsense onto the world. Their articles are regularly retracted by even minor journals, but like zombies, those articles return to life in even more obscure, minor journals.

Despite the utter junk that Shaw and Tomljenovic publish, the anti-vaccine religion embraces them like they are prophets of the impending apocalypse of vaccines. Every time one of their pseudoscientific papers gets published, even after devastating critiques, the anti-vaccine zealots embrace it without reservation.

So one more paper by the University of British Columbia team gets retracted, and then comes back to life in some other obscure journal. Do you really think I’m going to ignore piling on to Shaw and Tomljenovic? Oh hardly. This is why I have this website. Continue reading “Anti-vaccine scientists (cough, cough) republish a retracted article”

Vaccination is rape – another disgusting and ridiculous anti-vaccine trope

Vaccination is rape

It’s hard to keep up with all the warm bovine manure that emanates from the typing fingers of the anti-vaccine religion. Of course, like a zombie, various anti-vaccine myths and tropes keep returning, as if the anti-vaccine crowd thinks we forget about it from year to year. Some of these tropes are merely laughable. Some are disgusting, giving us an indication of the filth that encompasses the anti-vaccine world. But a returning claim that vaccination is rape is one of the foulest and most reprehensible conceits of the anti-vaccine superstition.

Generally, I take one day a week to read all of the Disqus comments on this website. Most of the comments from the anti-vaccine sect are the usual repugnant claims. I’m a Big Pharma Shill. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss is a Big Pharma Shill who apparently owns 97% of one or more pharmaceutical companies. We’re in collusion with the CDC to hide the truth about vaccines. Same ad hominem personal attacks, different day.

While drinking my favorite coffee, I ran across a comment so vile, so heinous, so disgusting that I wasn’t sure that I read it right – vaccination is rape. What?

Apparently, many of the pro-science side have dealt with this claim before – I must be naive because I never heard of it. But I was wrong, the trope that vaccination is rape has been around for awhile. And the usual suspects on the pro-science side have done their best to demolish it. The secretive Orac wrote about it – “there’s a disturbing amount of rape imagery, both subtle and not-so-subtle, in the language used by antivaccinationists to describe vaccination.”

I’m actually running out of adjectives and adverbs to describe the activities of anti-vaccine religion lately. But claiming vaccination is rape is going to test my knowledge of English language. Continue reading “Vaccination is rape – another disgusting and ridiculous anti-vaccine trope”

Gardasil facts – debunking the HPV vaccine safety and efficacy myths

Gardasil safety and efficacy

The HPV cancer-preventing vaccine, especially Gardasil (or Silgard, depending on market), has been targeted by the anti-vaccine religion more than just about any other vaccine being used these days. So many people tell me that they give their children all the vaccines, but refuse to give them the HPV vaccine based on rumor and innuendo on the internet. This article provides all the posts I’ve written about Gardasil safety and efficacy.

As many of regular readers know, I focus on just a few topics in medicine, with my two favorites being vaccines and cancer – of course, the Gardasil cancer-preventing vaccine combines my two favorite topics. Here’s one thing that has become clear to me – there are no magical cancer prevention schemes. You are not going to prevent any of the 200 different cancers by drinking a banana-kale-quinoa smoothie every day. The best ways to prevent cancer are to quit smoking, stay out of the sun, keep active and thin, get your cancer-preventing vaccines, and following just a few more recommendations.

The benefits of the vaccine are often overlooked as a result of two possible factors – first, there’s a disconnect between personal activities today and cancer that could be diagnosed 20-30 years from now; and second, people think that there are significant dangers from the vaccine which are promulgated by the anti-vaccine religion.

It’s frustrating and difficult to explain Gardasil safety and efficacy as a result of the myths about safety and long-term efficacy of the vaccine. That’s why I have written nearly 200 articles about Gardasil safety and efficacy, along with debunking some ridiculous myths about the cancer-preventing vaccine. This article serves to be a quick source with links to most of those 200 articles.

And if you read nothing else in this review of Gardasil, read the section entitled “Gardasil safety and effectiveness – a quick primer” – that will link you to two quick to read articles that summarize the best evidence in support of the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.

Continue reading “Gardasil facts – debunking the HPV vaccine safety and efficacy myths”

Pro-vaccine hate speech – stop, because that’s what THEY do

pro-vaccine hate speech

I was going to write something different today, but no, I have to deal with a foul example of pro-vaccine hate speech. I’ve pointed out hateful and violent comments from the anti-vaccine side of the discussion so many times, I kind of ignore it. Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a regular contributor to this website, gets hateful, vile, and racist comments from the anti-vaccine religion almost daily.

The feathery dinosaur has received his fair share of violent threats. A few years ago, someone commented on an article (since deleted) with a clear threat – I had to contact the police in his city about it, and he deleted his comments and Disqus account after a visit from the constabulary.

I generally delete overt hate speech, including racism, anti-semitism, violent threats and pedophilia comments from the anti-vaccine religion on the comments for this website. I don’t catch them all, but I have a keyword search that warns me if someone posts something repugnant.

Our side generally doesn’t have to resort to hate speech, because we have all the evidence on our side. We may despise, loathe, mock, and scorn the anti-vaccine religion, but we don’t have to do what they do. Pro-vaccine hate speech should not be a thing. Sadly, it may actually be a thing. Continue reading “Pro-vaccine hate speech – stop, because that’s what THEY do”

Polio-like syndrome – blame enterovirus 68 not vaccines

Polio-like syndrome

In 2014, I reported on an outbreak of a mysterious viral disease that exhibited polio-like symptoms. At the time, around 23 children and young adults were afflicted with this polio-like syndrome, known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). After that report the outbreak grew and, another 100 children in the USA were diagnosed with AFM in 2014.

This outbreak caused the public health sleuths to search for the actual causes of this polio-like syndrome. Of course, the anti-vaccine religion had to jump in with their unfounded opinions about the outbreak which led to the anti-vaccine tropes about polio vaccine.

As we know, olio is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease caused by the poliovirus, a human enterovirus, that spreads from person to person invading the brain and spinal cord and causing paralysis. Because polio has no cure, the polio vaccine is the best way to protect ourselves from the crippling disease.

The United States last experienced a polio epidemic in the 1950sprior to the introduction of the polio vaccine 60 years ago. Today, polio has been eradicated from most of the planet, as the number of worldwide polio cases has fallen from an estimated 350,000 in 1988 to 113 in 2017 – a decline of more than 99% in reported cases.

Because real scientists wanted to know what caused this polio-like syndrome outbreak, they tried to hunt down the actual cause. And that’s when they landed on enterovirus 68, a once-rare virus. As we always do, we’ll look at the facts behind this virus and it’s relationship to polio (or polio vaccines).

Continue reading “Polio-like syndrome – blame enterovirus 68 not vaccines”