On January 9, 2019, the Federal Circuit’s Court of Appeals decided not to rehear an appeal by Laura and Eddie Oliver of a decision of a vaccine injury case (referred to as “Oliver”) by a special master of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) who ruled that the NVICP would not award compensation to their son for his developmental delays and seizure disorder.
Circuit Judge Pauline Newman dissented to the Court of Appeals decision, joined by Judge Jimmie V. Reyna. Although Judge Newman’s dissent carries no legal authority, it can be offered as persuasive materials in other cases. It should not, however, carry much weight, because Judge Newman’s dissent mischaracterizes the Oliver vaccine injury case, mischaracterizes the relevant science, and makes numerous other errors.
This article will examine the Oliver vaccine injury case along with the scientific issues involved. Continue reading “Oliver vaccine injury case – Court denies appeal of NVICP ruling”
On July 12, 2019, Judge Mackey of the Albany County Supreme Court (see Note 1) rejected the temporary restraining order request of plaintiffs challenging the updated New York vaccine exemptions law which removed the state’s religious exemption for school immunization requirements. While this is only the first step in what is almost certain to be a long process, and full arguments were not yet heard, the content of the decision does not bode well for plaintiffs – in line with abundant jurisprudence. Continue reading “New York vaccine exemptions law – judge rejects restraining order request”
On 14 June 2019, a California Court of Appeals issued a decision (pdf) that means, in essence, that Dr. Ron Kennedy (see Note 1) has to provide the Medical Board of California with medical records of three patients for whom he wrote vaccine medical exemptions. This is part of an ongoing saga around Dr. Kennedy’s exemption writing.
Ron Kennedy is a licensed MD who owns a clinic called the Anti-Aging Clinic in Santa Rosa, CA, which offers, apparently, anti-aging treatments. The Yelp reviews for the clinic suggest he has a long history of filling medical marijuana prescriptions.
I am going to review Dr. Ron Kennedy’s background and the case in this article. Continue reading “Dr. Ron Kennedy loses appeal against providing records to medical board for vaccine exemptions”
On 27 June 2018, Dr Robert (Bob) Sears, an anti-vaccine pediatrician, agreed to a stipulation with the California Medical Board that put his license to practice on probation and subjected him to a set of non-trivial conditions.
The revocation of the medical license of Dr Bob Sears was stayed by the Medical Board – it will not become operative unless he violates the conditions – but given the specific allegations in the complaint and the fact that this was his first disciplinary action, an immediate full revocation was not likely. The sanction is non-trivial, and a clear warning against future misconduct. Continue reading “Dr Bob Sears license on probation for invalid vaccine exemptions – again”
On 20 June 2019, after a long day of testimony on California SB276 from both sides of the mandatory vaccine issue, the assembly health committee voted 9 in favor, 2 against, and 2 abstaining to move forward with the bill which can prevent fake medical exemptions.
This post will describe the amended bill and then shortly address today’s events. Continue reading “California SB276 – legislation to reduce vaccine medical exemption abuse”
An anti-vaccine doctor from Oklahoma, Dr. Jim Meehan, wrote an online post about why he would no longer vaccinate his children. It’s pretty clear that his post is not so much a discussion of his own children (most of whom are adults) as an attempt to deter other parents from protecting their children from preventable diseases. His post is basically a set of claims trying to convince parents that vaccinating is very dangerous.
His claims are nothing new – they are strictly out of the anti-vaccine playbook. But the post has received some attention in the anti-vaccine world and was shared several thousand times, likely because many people treat an MD as an authority on the subject. So I decided to take a few minutes to explain why his claims are not good reasons to reject expert opinion and not protect children from disease.
Dr. Meehan’s claims fall into several categories (which will be discussed individually below):
- The diseases we vaccinate against are not dangerous, and it’s okay, even good, to encounter them naturally.
- Vaccines have toxic ingredients.
- Vaccines are dangerous to children.
- The science behind vaccines is corrupt because the pharmaceutical industry controls it and then corrupts it.
- We should listen to him because he is a doctor and knows what he is talking about.
Note: Dr. Meehan’s post doesn’t present these claims in that order. I have changed the order because I want to address the claims in a logical order, that is, first his claims about vaccine safety, then the conspiracy theory that underlies them, and finally, his appeal to authority. Continue reading “Dr. Jim Meehan anti-vaccine rant – examining his claims”
Anti-vaccine activists consistently try to incorporate other groups’ slogans and statements, such as #MeToo, to increase legitimacy. Rarely, it gets some traction – for example, they have somewhat successfully convinced some Republican lawmakers that their demand to be able to send their children to school without vaccinating them are about “parental rights”, even though they have no parental authority over the classmates that could be put at risk by unvaccinated children.
More often, these attempts fall flat. For example, the anti-vaccine movement tried to build on the black lives matter movement with their own version, “vaccine injured lives matter” – with jarring, painful results, especially from the anti-vaxxer community that skews white and wealthy.
Recently, the anti-vaccine movement has tried to adopt two other slogans. First, it tried to claim that the “my body, my choice” statement used by pro-choice activists can be used to oppose school mandates.
Second, it tried to claim that the #metoo movement means that it’s inappropriate to disbelieve mothers who claim their children were injured by vaccines. Both claims are incorrect and jarring, though in different ways. This second post will address the second claim, about the #MeToo movement. Part addressed the “my body, my choice” claim. Continue reading “Anti-vaccine activists links itself to women’s #MeToo issues – not credible”
The anti-vaccine movement consistently tries to incorporate other groups’ slogans and statements to increase legitimacy. Rarely, it gets some traction – for example, they have somewhat successfully convinced some Republican lawmakers that their demand to be able to send their children to school without vaccinating them are about “parental rights”, even though they have no parental authority over the classmates that could be put at risk by unvaccinated children.
More often, they fall flat. For example, the anti-vaccine movement tried to build on the black lives matter movement with their own version, “vaccine injured lives matter” – with jarring, painful results, especially from a movement that skews white and wealthy.
Recently, the anti-vaccine movement has tried to adopt two other slogans. First, it tried to claim that the “my body, my choice” statement used by pro-choice activists can be used to oppose school mandates. Second, it tried to claim that the #metoo movement means that it’s inappropriate to disbelieve mothers who claim their children were injured by vaccines.
Both claims are incorrect and jarring, though in different ways. This first post will address the “my body, my choice” claim. Part II will address the “me too” claim and the anti-vaccine movement. Continue reading “Anti-vaccine movement attaches itself to women’s rights – it’s falling flat”
In 2014, the Federal District Court of the Eastern District of New York rejected a claim brought by three plaintiff families against various aspects of New York’s school immunization requirements. The decision did not include any legal innovation: it was completely based on well-established precedent that schools can deny religious exemptions. But it offers a chance to reflect on what that precedent is, why it is in place, and what it means for us.
The take-home point? Our immunization jurisprudence gives states substantial leeway to protect the public health via vaccination requirements, specifically, in this context, by allowing states to decide whether, and under what conditions, to exempt students from school immunization requirements. But states have to actually use that power to achieve anything. By leaving the floor to the passionate, if passionately wrong, anti-vaccine minority, we are allowing them to undermine the right of the rest of us to be free from preventable diseases.
In other words, those who vaccinate need to speak up and make it clear to their elected representatives that they want state law to protect their children – and the community – against outbreaks of preventable diseases. The laws will not enact themselves, and our representatives need to know the public wants this protection, that the public does not want high rates of measles cases or other diseases.
Just like the diseases, anti-vaccine legislative successes, such as maintaining religious exemptions, are preventable. And just like the diseases, doing nothing won’t prevent them. Continue reading “Court upholds policy denying religious exemptions to vaccines”
Over the past few months, Vaxxed producer Del Bigtree, who formerly worked on the show The Doctors, has made numerous statements about vaccines and vaccine safety. His claims about fraud by the CDC have been addressed in the past, and the evidence doesn’t support his beliefs. But the claims he makes about vaccines go beyond the movie, and he makes an effort to present himself as an authority on the issue.
Mr. Bigtree’s statements are consistently inaccurate, suggesting he is not a good source of information about vaccines. It’s impossible to address every single wrong claim Mr. Bigtree has made about vaccines, of course. But these problems should demonstrate that Mr. Bigtree’s claims about vaccines cannot be relied on. Continue reading “Vaxxed producer Del Bigtree – not credible on vaccines”