ICAN FOIA lawsuit – misrepresenting another non-win from anti-vaccine group

ICAN FOIA lawsuit

This article about another ICAN FOIA lawsuit 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.

The Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) is an anti-vaccine organization, founded in 2016 by Del Bigtree, largely funded by a New York couple, Bernard and Lisa Selz.

On March 4 and March 5, 2020, ICAN claimed a “win” against the CDC that, they said, prevented CDC from claiming vaccines don’t cause autism. In reality, the ICAN Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit was settled, and the settlement doesn’t counter the existing scientific consensus that vaccines do not cause autism. Continue reading “ICAN FOIA lawsuit – misrepresenting another non-win from anti-vaccine group”

2020 Vaccine Day – reminders about their safety and effectiveness

2020 vaccine day

Today is 2020 Vaccine Day. It’s not an official holiday with Hallmark cards but it is an annual event where #DoctorsSpeakUp about vaccines and remind the world that vaccines stop diseases.

And they are safe.

And they are effective.

This article isn’t here to argue about some obscure point about vaccines like they don’t cause autoimmune diseases, because they don’t. I just want to cover some of the more important issues about vaccines about which I wrote over the past few years (I’ve been writing here since January 2012).

So, let’s celebrate the 2020 Vaccine Day, and I’m here to help #DoctorsSpeakUp. Continue reading “2020 Vaccine Day – reminders about their safety and effectiveness”

February 2020 ACIP Meeting review – Ebola, influenza, and coronavirus

february 2020 acip meeting

This article about the February 2020 ACIP meeting 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.

I attended a large part of the February 2020 ACIP meeting (Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices) in Atlanta, GA. I had planned to stay throughout, but my airline changed my return flight and I had to leave before the end on the second day. I did, however, watch the first day and the first two parts of the second.

The coronavirus crisis changed some things. For example, there were multiple international groups visiting the CDC (there was also at least one group that was there for other reasons and sat on part of the meeting). And we had a presentation on the topic from Dr. Nancy Messonnier.

I will describe the meeting in the order it happened, though this is the very abbreviated version. As I said before, an ACIP meeting is a geek’s dream – there’s a lot of data provided and in-depth discussions of details. The committee has a heavy and important responsibility, and since it was targeted by anti-vaccine activists is carrying it out under tricky circumstances. Continue reading “February 2020 ACIP Meeting review – Ebola, influenza, and coronavirus”

Flu vaccine for COVID-19 – why you should be vaccinated soon

Flu vaccine for COVID-19

Yes, this article will discuss the flu vaccine for COVID-19 (the current coronavirus outbreak). But for those of you who don’t just read headlines, no, I am not suggesting that the flu vaccine will prevent a coronavirus infection.

As I wrote recently, a coronavirus vaccine is years away from reality. Any suggestion otherwise depends upon magical thinking and beliefs, not in evidence. But there are many things we can do that may prevent the most severe complications from the disease. Continue reading “Flu vaccine for COVID-19 – why you should be vaccinated soon”

Coronavirus homeopathic potions – here comes the quackery and woo

coronavirus homeopathic

The quacks are out in force with this potential COVID-19 pandemic. Predictably, people are pushing coronavirus homeopathic potions to treat or prevent this dangerous disease.

In case you don’t feel like reading this article, let me give you a spoiler alert – homeopathy is 100% water, and it will do nothing to treat or prevent anything. It’s useless. Continue reading “Coronavirus homeopathic potions – here comes the quackery and woo”

Coronavirus vaccine development – Donald Trump gets it all wrong again

coronavirus vaccine

Donald Trump’s ignorant comments about how the COVID-19 pandemic would be over by April makes people believe there is a coronavirus vaccine just around the corner. There isn’t. 

Of course, Trump is ignorant about the vast swaths of science from climate change to vaccines, so if he says anything about science, it should be immediately ignored.

Even if he claimed that the blue sky was caused refraction of light, I’d immediately go outside, check the color of the sky, then pull out a physics textbook to confirm what he said. I’m that skeptical of anything that comes out of his ignorant, anti-science mouth.

His claim that the epidemic will be over by April is in direct opposition to real scientists and experts at the CDC, WHO, and elsewhere, all of whom are extremely concerned about a coronavirus pandemic.

His comments, and questions across the internet, seem to imply that a coronavirus vaccine is around the corner, and we shouldn’t worry. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let’s take a look at vaccine development, and I am going to especially focus on some of the technical challenges for a coronavirus vaccine. Just because we need some fact-based evidence so that pro- and anti-vaccine people understand what’s going on.

I’m assuming that most anti-vaxxers will publicly or secretly get the coronavirus vaccine. Just a guess, but maybe they’ll get information here first. Continue reading “Coronavirus vaccine development – Donald Trump gets it all wrong again”

Secret cancer cure – is Big Pharma hiding it from us?

Here is one of the most annoying questions asked on the internet – “Is Big Pharma hiding a secret cancer cure just to make bundles of money?” Seriously, I think a see a variation of that question every day on sites like Quora, where people ask occasional intuitive but mostly ridiculous questions to get answers from so-called experts. 

Since I end up answering this question every day, I thought maybe I should put down my thoughts in an article here. It will allow me to cut and paste the answer right from here – a true sign of either extreme preparedness or laziness. Maybe both.

It’s clear that a lot of the “secret cancer cure” myths arise in the typical pseudoscience websites. They’re pushing “natural” cures that are 100% effective in “curing” every known cancer with no side effects. What’s the evidence? You just need to trust them. Continue reading “Secret cancer cure – is Big Pharma hiding it from us?”

Vaccine skeptics – it doesn’t mean what they think it means

vaccine skeptics

The term “vaccine skeptics” is not only used by anti-vaxxers to describe themselves but also it is employed by some of the popular press to describe them. From a scientific perspective, it would be inaccurate to label them as a skeptic – more accurately, anti-vaxxers are vaccine deniers.

In this case, the word skeptic is being misused, much like the creationists calling evolution “just a theory.” Well, in the case of evolution, “just a theory” doesn’t mean what they think it means since a scientific theory is near the pinnacle of scientific principles. 

Let’s take a look at what real vaccine skeptics would be since it doesn’t mean what the anti-vaxxers think it means. Continue reading “Vaccine skeptics – it doesn’t mean what they think it means”

“Hear This Well” anti-vaccine group misrepresents Colorado legislation

hear this well

This article, about the anti-vaccine group, Hear This Well, 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.

It is not uncommon for anti-vaccine activists, like the Hear This Well group, to misrepresent pending legislation or passed legislation. Striking examples included anti-vaccine activists claiming that SB276, the California law that added a review of medical exemptions, would remove all medical exemptions.

Similarly, these activists proposed a proposition to undo Maine’s law removing the non-medical exemption from school immunization mandates. Opponents, apparently, misrepresented the bill to people, to the extent that some signed thinking they were supporting vaccine mandates

In California, as well, when opponents tried to put SB277 on the ballot, they misrepresented the law by trying to claim it mandated HPV vaccines, which was untrue.

It’s not clear whether the misrepresentations, at least in some of these cases, were out of intentional dishonesty or lack of understanding of the laws or bills in question. The results were the same – misrepresenting the law to others.

Following that tradition, in two posts addressing a newly proposed bill in Colorado, the anti-vaccine page Hear This Well misrepresented the new bill, sometimes just by using hyperbolic, misleading language and sometimes by making clearly incorrect statements.

Whether this was due to misunderstanding of the bill or intentional misrepresentation is impossible to tell, but at any rate, this could lead to people opposing the bill for incorrect reasons or because of misrepresentation. Continue reading ““Hear This Well” anti-vaccine group misrepresents Colorado legislation”

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”