Examining the anti-vaccine movement — a podcast from Brandy Zadrozny

zadrozky vaccines

I don’t usually do this, but I wanted to post the transcript from the outstanding Brandy Zadrozny podcast about how the anti-vaccine movement treated Tiffany Dover who fainted after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine 18 months ago. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss wrote an in-depth article about Dover soon after it happened, and we have updated it as we have gotten more information. Not to give away a spoiler, but she’s still alive.

I have posted the full transcript of episode 4 because it gives you a history of the anti-vaccine movement and the various “truthers” who pass fall information about it. I’m not going to edit the transcript, but I will add in my commentary here and there (it’ll be in bold type) and links for more information, something you can’t get from a podcast. This is very long, but it’s filled with great information. I have made minor edits to spelling and punctuation to make it more readable.

I’m someone who prefers reading content to listening to podcasts or watching YouTube because I like clicking on links or researching more. If you’re like me, then you’ll love this.

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Robert F Kennedy Jr pushes misinformation about the HPV vaccine

kennedy HPV vaccine

Robert F Kennedy Jr has made numerous false claims about the HPV vaccine, which is the cancer-preventing human papillomavirus vaccine. Of course, he has recently become a loudmouth anti-vaccine acolyte, who has been chastised by his own family for helping “to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines.”

For some reason, Kennedy has decided to target the HPV vaccine, providing the world with “25 reasons to avoid the Gardasil vaccine.” He would rather pass along “dangerous misinformation” about vaccines than focus on the health and lives of children by preventing cancer. I don’t understand his motivation, but it sickens me.

As a result, I must take the time to respond to his 25 false claims about the Gardasil vaccine with science and facts. I doubt Robert F Kennedy Jr will read this, but this is meant for people who might be on the fence about the HPV vaccine.

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Autism and vaccines – 160 peer-reviewed scientific articles say no link

autism and vaccines

Autism and vaccines are not linked or associated according to real science, published in real scientific journals written by real scientists and physicians. But this false claim that vaccines and autism are related is repeated by anti-vaxxers nearly every day.

Let’s be clear – the lack of a link between vaccines and autism is settled science. There is overwhelming evidence, as listed in this article, that there is no link. Outside of anecdotes, internet memes, misinformation, and VAERS dumpster-diving, there is no evidence that there is a link. 

Ever since MrAndrew Wakefield published his fraudulent, and subsequently retracted, study that seemed to show a link between the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the anti-vaccine crowd has embraced it as if it were a scientific fact. 

This Wakefield chicanery has spawned a cottage industry of other anti-vaccine zealots like Del Bigtree and his fraudumentary Vaxxed, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Christopher Exley, Christopher Shaw, James Lyons-Weiler, Tetyana Obukhanych, and many others. 

This article presents 160 scientific articles, published in high-quality, peer-reviewed journals. Almost all of them are either primary studies that include large clinical trials or case-control or cohort studies. They also include numerous systematic reviews, which represent the pinnacle of biomedical research.

All of these articles, from some of the top vaccine scientists in the world, show that there are no links between autism and vaccines. None. 

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Robert F Kennedy Jr makes good money pushing anti-vaccine nonsense

kennedy vaccine

Robert F Kennedy Jr. has used his name and anti-vaccine disinformation campaign to make some serious money. Kennedy and his anti-vaccine falsehoods have been a subject of my writing for years now, but I think everyone should know what he is — another grifter making money by championing anti-vaccine nonsense.

Kennedy was a fairly good environmental lawyer many years ago, still trading on his name and connections. I find it ironic that he was all about science when it comes to environmental issues like climate change, but he simply denies all science when it comes to vaccines. Of course, his family isn’t happy with his anti-vaccine drivel, and his wife, actress Cheryl Hines, was appalled by his anti-semitic references regarding Anne Frank and vaccine mandates. What is it with anti-vaxxers and anti-semitic fascism?

Let’s take a look at how Kennedy has profited from his anti-vaccine claptrap. I’m sure it will be enlightening.

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Robert F Kennedy Jr is no liberal — he denies vaccines and science

Robert f kennedy jr vaccines

Robert F Kennedy Jr is often portrayed as some liberal icon, but I just think he’s a science-denying anti-vaccines troglodyte that has little evidence supporting any of his points of view. The only reason some people “think” he’s a liberal is because of his family name.

I write a lot about RFK Jr because he’s one of the most famous anti-vaccine activists out there. And he seems to lack any open-mindedness to vaccines, despite being pro-science on some subjects like climate change. It boggles the mind that he accepts the scientific consensus on climate change, yet rejects the settled science of vaccines. Nothing annoys me more than so-called liberals rejecting or accepting scientific facts based on political expediency rather than evidence. That’s what Republicans do.

And just this past weekend, during an offensive speech to anti-vaccine protestors, he claimed that Anne Frank was better off hiding in a wall in a house in Amsterdam than dealing with vaccine mandates in the USA. By ignoring the fact that Anne Frank was eventually murdered by the Nazis, RFK Jr shows himself to be antisemitic much like his buddy, Del Bigtree.

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Meryl Nass – Robert F Kennedy Jr anti-vaccine acolyte – medical license suspended

Meryl Nass

Dr. Meryl Nass, MD, had her Maine medical license temporarily suspended for spreading misinformation about COVID-19. I might have ignored this one, except Dr. Nass has written misleading articles about COVID-19 and vaccines for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., one of our favorite anti-vaxxers.

State medical licensing boards are fighting back against COVID-19 disinformation, and Dr. Meryl Nass should have known better, but my expectations are obviously too high.

Let’s take a look at the case.

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Why does pseudoscience in medicine and vaccines seem so popular today?

pseudoscience medicine

These days, it appears that pseudoscience in medicine, everything from homeopathy to anti-vaccine beliefs to cancer treatments to chiropractic to naturopathy, has taken hold of many people’s choices. It’s become so frustrating to read stories about people forsaking science-based medicine to use some quack treatment to treat their cancer.

I think there’s a basic reason for it — science is hard. Whether it results from the lack of education in science to a misunderstanding of science is irrelevant, too many people think that science-based medicine doesn’t work. Except it does.

I’ve written about pseudoscience over a hundred times, but I never answered the question of why it grabs the attention of people. I’m going to try to answer that here.

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YouTube bans vaccine misinformation – sometimes science prevails

YouTube vaccine

On 29 September 2021, YouTube announced that it was banning all videos with vaccine misinformation, and it was banning the accounts of several dangerous anti-vaccine activists such as Joseph Mercola, Erin Elizabeth, Sherri Tenpenny, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The tide is turning against the vaccine denialists who have used social media, including YouTube, to push anti-vaccine nonsense. It couldn’t happen soon enough.

YouTube said it would remove videos claiming that vaccines are not effective in reducing the rates of transmission or contraction of the disease. It will remove content that includes disinformation about the ingredients in a vaccine. And they will remove any video that claims that approved vaccines cause autism, cancer, or infertility. Finally, they will remove any information that claims that vaccines contain electronic trackers.

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Vaccine licensing primer – correcting anti-vaccine misinformation

vaccine licensing

This article about vaccine licensing 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. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

Anti-vaccine activists want to claim the Pfizer vaccine is still experimental despite FDA licensing.  They base that claim on a footnote in a document reauthorizing Pfizer’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).  FDA is clear that the now fully-licensed vaccine is identical to the EUA vaccine (except of course for the labeling: the EUA vaccine still bears its EUA label), and that both can legally be marketed.  The anti-vaccine claim is being made because the full licensure of the Pfizer vaccine renders moot their claim (not yet decided by a court) that you cannot mandate a vaccine licensed under the EUA. 

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Anti-vaccine activists use Holocaust tropes to discredit mandates

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Since the anti-vaccine activists find themselves on the wrong side of vaccine mandates, they’ve decided to go a Holocaust trope to describe vaccine mandates. But they just don’t understand what they’re doing again.

Recently, as more measles outbreaks occur across the world, there is consternation in governments, schools, and public health organizations about the dropping of measles vaccination rates in some areas. As a result, states like California are trying to clamp down on medical exemption abuse, and other jurisdictions, like Rockland County, NY, have banned unvaccinated children from public spaces.

And of course, during this COVID-19 pandemic, the anti-vaccine organizations are utilizing the same false equivalencies between vaccine mandates and the Holocaust. What are they thinking?

Public officials implemented these actions to stop the spread of measles, a dangerous, and frequently, deadly disease. As you can imagine, the anti-vaccine religion has been whining and screaming about everything from their individual rights to some cynical conspiracy theory about something or another ever since “mandatory” vaccines became important to public health officials to reduce the spread of the disease.

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