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Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

This article is by 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, 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 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.

tucker carlson vaccine

Tucker Carlson conflates ACIP COVID vaccine schedules with mandates

This article about Tucker Carlson recently trying to claim that the ACIP vaccine schedules are vaccine mandates 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 vaccination’s social and legal policies. 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 diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

Contrary to claims circulating online in anti-vaccine circles and broadcast by Tucker Carlson, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)’s discussion of immunization schedules is not about mandating COVID-19 vaccines for school (that is not something ACIP can do). It is also not about removing liability for COVID-19 vaccines —manufacturers and providers of COVID-19 vaccines are already immune from liability under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP). 

The COVID-19 discussion is part of the CDC’s annual revision of its vaccine schedules to reflect what it already recommended during the year. It may be a step towards adding the vaccines to the more generous Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (and reducing the liability protections for manufacturers and providers), though even there, I’m not sure whether adding to the schedules changes the situation – the vaccines are already recommended. The discussion has nothing to do with school mandates.

Read More »Tucker Carlson conflates ACIP COVID vaccine schedules with mandates
Bob Sears

Bob Sears gets third probation for fake medical exemption

This article, about Dr. Bob Sears’ third probation, 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 about vaccination’s social and legal policies in law journals. 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 diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On August 30, 2022, the Medical Board of California adopted as its decision a settlement agreement with Dr. Robert Sears (Dr. Bob Sears) under which he would be under probation until June 2023 and required to undergo a couple of medical courses. The grounds, as set out in the accusation attached to the settlement, were writing a fake medical exemption for a girl of 13. 

This seems like a very, very light penalty for someone for whom this is the third case in a row of giving a baseless medical exemption. I am not sure if the Board was concerned that it may not be able to fully prove the allegation or is especially solicitous to Dr. Bob Sears (and why), or whether something else was going on. 

Read More »Bob Sears gets third probation for fake medical exemption
AB2098

Lawsuit against California AB2098, which allows sanctions of doctors who pass false information

This article about a lawsuit against California’s new law, AB2098, 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 about vaccination’s social and legal policies in law journals. 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 diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On September 30, 2022, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB2098, a bill that tells the medical board that misinformation and disinformation given to a patient as treatment or advice is “unprofessional conduct” worthy of sanction.

As a reminder, misinformation about COVID-19 is a real problem in the pandemic, leading to low vaccination rates that increased deaths and harm, and people using fake treatments against COVID-19.

On October 4, 2022, the first lawsuit against AB2098 was filed, brought in the name of two doctors with a history of COVID-19 misinformation – including promoting unsupported treatment like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine and deterring people from vaccinating. The doctors are represented by attorneys from the conservative organization Liberty Justice Center. 

Although there are some doubts and uncertainties, the law should probably survive judicial review – and these doctors are likely typical of the kind of misinformer that made the law needed, and several of the claims they make are demonstrably untrue, which works in support of the law. 

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ICAN V-Safe

ICAN misuses v-safe data to mislead about COVID-19 vaccines

This article, about how ICAN misuses v-safe data, 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 vaccination’s social and legal policies. 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 diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

The Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), an anti-vaccine organization, has claimed that V-Safe data that it obtained access to shows COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe. ICAN misrepresented CDC’s obligations about v-safe data and its treatment of it and is making claims that, at best, overstate what v-safe shows – while ignoring the extensive evidence from all around the world on COVID-19 vaccines.

This post may come across as a bit cranky, and it likely is. This is Yom Kippur, I am fasting, and this is not how I wanted to spend my fast evening. But countering anti-vaccine misinformation that can harm and kill people is important, I already did the groundwork – I was thinking of writing about the earlier press release from ICAN – so here goes.

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Steve Kirsch

The misleading claims of anti-vaccine Steve Kirsch — a review

This article about misleading claims from anti-vaccine activist Steve Kirsch 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 vaccination’s social and legal policies. 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 diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

I have not previously discussed posts by Mr. Steve Kirsch, of the new generation of antivaccine activists, because they are not generally related to law or regulation, and they have been well debunked by those that are in the field, such are Dr. Jeffrey Morris, Dr. David Gorski, and others more suited to address his statistical errors. 

But his recent post, “Silenced healthcare workers speak out publicly for the first time,” is sufficiently jarring that I would like to address it. Mr. Kirsch’s claims have been getting increasingly more extreme, and this post is a good example of some of the problems with his views that you do not need an extensive background in statistics to address. (I do not link to anti-vaccine posts, but with the title and author they should be easy to find, should anyone wish to). 

Read More »The misleading claims of anti-vaccine Steve Kirsch — a review
VAERS facts

VAERS facts — contradicting anti-vaccine claims and beliefs

This article about VAERS facts, literally a FAQ, 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 vaccination’s social and legal policies. 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 diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

Some of the new generation of anti-vaccine activists appear to have built their careers on misrepresentation of VAERS. One example is Dr. Jessica Rose, who apparently started her career as a legitimate young scientist, but at some point became a devoted anti-vaccine activist. Dr. Rose’s background is described by Orac thus:

Her background is more in the sort of computational biology that looks at protein structures and bioinformatics related to DNA sequences than it is to the sort of mathematical and statistical skill set necessary to delve into VAERS with any credibility. A perusal of her curriculum vitae, which is included on the profile, confirms my assessment, particularly her publication record, which includes a lot of molecular biology and virology, but nothing in the way of epidemiology.

In 2021, Dr. Rose joined the anti-vaccine organization IPAK as a research fellow, and she has published several papers in IPAK’s own publication, named Science, Public Health Policy, and the Law, whose editorial board is comprised of leading anti-vaccine activists.

Dr. Rose’s specialty appears to be doing bad analyses of VAERS and claiming, based on them, that COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous.

On August 9, 2022, Dr. Rose published a “Question and Answer” “facts” about VAERS, titled “A question and answer document on the subject of VAERS as a pharmacovigilance tool”. It is highly misleading. But it gave me an opportunity to provide information based on actual facts about VAERS.

If you want to see how it’s misleading, jump ahead to question 3 (and I hope you then go back and read the long discussion in questions 1 and 2).

I will repeat each question, answer it, shortly summarize Dr. Rose’s claims, and explain why they are misleading. Note that this discussion is limited to the mRNA vaccines and the J&J vaccine, which are the ones used in the United States and subject to reporting to VAERS – Novavax is newer and is not the subject of most of the misinformation from the anti-vaccine activists misleading people about VAERS. 

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COVID-19 vaccine religious exemption

Settlement of lawsuit about COVID vaccine religious exemptions

This article about the settlement of a lawsuit and COVID-19 vaccine religious exemptions 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 vaccination’s social and legal policies. 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 diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

Headlines about a settlement between healthcare workers and their employer related to COVID-19 vaccine religious exemptions led people to ask what is the relevance of that settlement. This post explains this settlement and puts the issue in context.

Three points need to be made:

  • First, this is not the first time an employer settled a claim for denial of religious exemption.
  • Second, sometimes the settlement is the result of an employer making mistakes in handling religious exemptions and having a really bad case, and settling is the right thing.
  • Third, in legal terms, the settlement has no relevance to any other case. In practical terms, though, it can be used to put pressure on other employers, even when those employers are on legally solid ground.
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Brook Jackson False Claims lawsuit against Ventavia COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial

This article about the Brook Jackson lawsuit claiming false payment claims for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine 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 vaccination’s social and legal policies. 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 diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

Brook Jackson worked as an operator of three of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials sites for 18 days. Based on what she saw, she brought suit against the operator – Ventavia, the company that hired clinical trials site operators, ICON PLC., and Pfizer in the name of the United States under the False Claims Act. Jackson’s lawsuit claims, if true, may show that Ventavia had many issues in running the trial.

But they do not show fraud in relation to claims of payment from the federal government, which is the heart of a False Claims claim, and that alone should probably lead to her lawsuit being dismissed. The False Claims Act is not a catch-all tool for violation of FDA regulations. 

Again, even if true, they do not show a problem with Pfizer’s vaccine, a vaccine for which there is now extensive independent data on safety and effectiveness. 

Read More »Brook Jackson False Claims lawsuit against Ventavia COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial
close up view of a vaccine vial

Brook Jackson False Claims lawsuit against Ventavia COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial

This article about the Brook Jackson lawsuit claiming false payment claims for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine 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 vaccination’s social and legal policies. 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 diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

Brook Jackson worked as an operator of three of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials sites for 18 days. Based on what she saw, she brought suit against the operator – Ventavia, the company that hired clinical trials site operators, ICON PLC., and Pfizer in the name of the United States under the False Claims Act. Jackson’s lawsuit claims, if true, may show that Ventavia had many issues in running the trial.

But they do not show fraud in relation to claims of payment from the federal government, which is the heart of a False Claims claim, and that alone should probably lead to her lawsuit being dismissed. The False Claims Act is not a catch-all tool for violation of FDA regulations. 

Again, even if true, they do not show a problem with Pfizer’s vaccine, a vaccine for which there is now extensive independent data on safety and effectiveness. 

Read More »Brook Jackson False Claims lawsuit against Ventavia COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial

ICAN anti-vaccine rhetoric — getting it wrong about informed consent

This article about ICAN and its anti-vaccine rhetoric about informed consent 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 vaccination’s social and legal policies. 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 diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

In a misleading “White Paper,” the anti-vaccine organization, Del Bigtree‘s Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) argued that “eliminating vaccine exemptions and curtailing criticism is unethical and un-American” because, they argue, it invalidates vaccination informed consent. The initial statement is wrong, and the arguments brought to support it are wrong. This article corrects the record.

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