Physicians for Informed Consent – another radical anti-vaccine group

Physician for Informed Consent

There are a bunch of anti-vaccine groups out there who invent legitimate sounding names in an attempt to appear to be rational, positive organizations. They’re mostly neither rational nor positive. A new one (at least for me) is a group called the “Physicians for Informed Consent,” whose “vision is to live in a society free of mandatory vaccination laws.”

Although there are individuals who are pro-vaccine but are opposed to mandatory vaccination, mostly on a politically libertarian point of view, almost all of these groups, especially in California, are specifically anti-vaccine. In fact, “informed consent” is one of those veiled code-words used by the anti-vaccine world, especially in the fight against SB277, California’s recently enacted law that removes personal belief exemptions to vaccinations for school age children.

This article is going to examine some of the issues around “informed consent,” then look at a recent statement from the radical anti-vaccine gourd, Physicians for Informed Consent. Continue reading “Physicians for Informed Consent – another radical anti-vaccine group”

Natural News is wrong about mandatory vaccinations – Part 1

natural news

For the typical American skeptic, there is nothing surprising by a headline that says that Natural News get it’s it all wrong. Most skeptics might wonder when they’ve ever gotten it right.

Just to be thorough, Natural News is a website that’s focused on anti-science delusions and pushing junk medicine, while marketing a whole boatload of nonsense remedies and “cures” for whatever makes the website money. It is owned by Mike Adams, self-styled “Health Ranger”, considered one of the biggest lunatics on the internet. Some consider him the #1 American Lunatic (and that takes some serious effort). Adams is so delusional, he insists that he’s just as science-oriented as Neil deGrasse Tyson. Only if it’s one of those alternative universes, I suppose.

Natural News has had a long history of vaccine denial, which always piques my interest, even if it’s to laugh hysterically. Occasionally, however, Natural News takes its anti-science beliefs to a whole new level, one that requires a double-pronged rebuttal and refutation. Continue reading “Natural News is wrong about mandatory vaccinations – Part 1”

HPV vaccine propaganda – anti-vaxxers get it all wrong again

HPV vaccine propaganda

Although I don’t have official evidence, I think that anti-HPV vaccine propaganda is a special subset of the anti-vaccine disinformation effort. I think that the most outrageous claims about vaccines are often made about HPV anti-cancer vaccine.

But the anti-HPV vaccine propaganda hit a whole new high (no, wait, it’s a low) when an anti-vaccine group on Facebook produced what they claim is an “accurate” HPV vaccine commercial.

I couldn’t let this disinformation about a cancer prevention vaccine pass. So here we go. Continue reading “HPV vaccine propaganda – anti-vaxxers get it all wrong again”

Genevieve Rail – “lead developer” of HPV vaccines opposes it

Genevieve Rail

Here we go again. We recently wrote about Diane Harper, another “lead developer” of the HPV vaccines, who has a rather complicated view on HPV vaccines. She makes disparaging remarks about the vaccine, yet her peer reviewed publications are generally favorable to the HPV vaccine. Genevieve Rail, a kinesiology researcher at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada is the next one being pushed by anti-vaccine activists.

Outrageous claims are made about Genevieve Rail’s expertise with HPV vaccines, like Gardasil. And she helps with the claims by making outlandish comments about the vaccine:

“I’m sort of raising a red flag, out of respect for what I’ve found in my own study, and for the despair of parents who had totally perfect 12-year-olds who are now in their beds, too tired to go to school. Yes, we’re going against the grain, and we are going against those who are believed, i.e. doctors and nurses and people in public health.”

So here we go again, another darling of the anti-vaccine world. Time to look into who Genevieve Rail is. And does she have any standing in the scientific knowledge about the HPV vaccine. Continue reading “Genevieve Rail – “lead developer” of HPV vaccines opposes it”

Peter Doshi, vaccine denier, sees a conspiracy about VAERS

Peter Doshi

I am not a fan of Peter Doshi, one of the go-to “authorities” for the anti-vaccine crowd. He has no credentials that would indicate that he is an expert in vaccines, yet one of his opinion pieces (not real science lacking data and evidence) is used as “proof” that flu vaccines don’t work. And of course, like all zombie memes of the anti-vaccine universe, it comes around every year or so, requiring a new debunking.

So what is he going on about now? The Poxes Blog reports that Doshi seems to think that something foul and evil is going on with the VAERS database. Sigh.

Let’s talk about Peter Doshi and his latest conspiracy theory. It’s always fun.

 

Continue reading “Peter Doshi, vaccine denier, sees a conspiracy about VAERS”

Lyme disease vaccine for dogs – good for your pet but not for humans

Lyme disease vaccine

If you go to your veterinarian to get the Lyme disease vaccine for dogs, just make an appointment and your family pooch will be vaccinated against this serious disease. If you go to your pediatrician to get the Lyme disease vaccine for your children, give up now. It’s simply not available.

Is it because Lyme disease is more serious to your dog than your children? Nope. Is it because Big Pharma makes more money from dogs than humans? No. Is it because the Lyme disease vaccine is safer for a dog than in a human? Again, no. 

Enough with the guessing game!

The blame for why there is a Lyme disease vaccine for dogs but not one for children can be placed right where some of you expect it to be – anti-vaccine activists. This was in the mid-1990s, and the internet was barely usable without Google to help us, but there were people pushing the same narrative that we hear about the cancer preventing HPV vaccine – the Lyme vaccine was worse than the disease. Let’s take time to look at this story.

Continue reading “Lyme disease vaccine for dogs – good for your pet but not for humans”

Properly evaluating vaccine mortality – let’s not abuse VAERS

vaccine mortality

The public’s concern about adverse events, especially death, immediately or soon after vaccinations is very disruptive to vaccine uptake, leading to increased morbidity and mortality of vaccine-preventable diseases. For example, a 2009 Japanese study that showed 107 deaths following H1N1 influenza A vaccination, assumed a causality between the vaccine and the deaths without any evaluation of background rates of of deaths, which would help indicate whether there was any significance to the death rate or even if its related to the vaccination. Vaccine mortality is one of the most abused terms in discussions about vaccines.

It has been demonstrated that passively reported data, that is, data that isn’t actively investigated by trained researchers, cannot be used to assess causality. In an active investigation, it was found that only 2 of the 107 deaths had an autopsy performed, and most of the others had other underlying diseases and conditions that were causally related to the mortality events. Furthermore, 15 million people were vaccinated with the H1N1 seasonal vaccine, and it would be expected that there would be >8000 deaths during the 20 days after vaccination using a crude mortality rate in Japan. Though it would still be a misuse of statistics,  there really is more evidence that the H1N1 vaccination lowered the background death rate from 8000 to 107 post vaccination. Continue reading “Properly evaluating vaccine mortality – let’s not abuse VAERS”

We have a cancer prevention vaccine, and it’s called Gardasil

cancer prevention vaccine

I’ve written this so many times, but it bears repeating – there are just a handful of ways to reduce your risk of cancer. Quit smoking. Quit drinking alcohol. Stay out of the sun (and tanning beds). Keep a healthy weight. And add to that list a cancer prevention vaccine, and it goes by the name of Gardasil.

There are more than 200 forms of cancer known to science, and very few are directly preventable. Tobacco smoking causes around 85% of lung cancers, possibly the best understood cancer, killing hundreds of thousands of people each year. Moreover, smoking causes more than a dozen other cancer that kill thousands of more people. Never smoking, or stopping smoking if you do, is probably the number 1 guaranteed method of preventing cancer.

Similarly, the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes nearly 40,000 cancer cases annually in the USA. And, like quitting smoking, we have the Gardasil cancer prevention vaccine which blocks HPV infections that lead to one of those 40,000 cancer cases.

Despite all that we know about HPV and Gardasil, it’s still a 50:50 shot whether a teenager will receive the vaccine. We need to change the dynamic about Gardasil, because it prevents cancer!

This article will review the science behind Gardasil along with its impressive safety profile. For those of you who don’t need convincing, maybe this article will serve as a good reference when you’re in one of those exhausting arguments with the anti-Gardasil crowd.

Continue reading “We have a cancer prevention vaccine, and it’s called Gardasil”

Vaccine open-mindedness – confessions of a science nerd

vaccine open-mindedness

Sometimes a reasonably intelligent anti-vaccine troll will show up to an internet discussion. Although they’re filled with various logical fallacies, like cherry picking, they will often say “you should be open-minded about vaccines causing autism.” The thing is my vaccine open-mindedness is the precise definition of what should be open-minded.

People conflate “open-mindedness” with “you should accept everything stated, because of insert logical fallacy here.”

Let’s use my favorite example, sasquatch, the mythical ape-like creature that inhabits everywhere, as far as I know.

A close-minded person would say, “sasquatch exists, damn the evidence.”

A pseudo-open-minded person would say, “sasquatch exists, because the Federal government is suppressing the evidence. Furthermore, just because we don’t have evidence today, we know we’ll find it tomorrow.”

A real open-minded person would say, “sasquatch does not exist, because of the utter lack of evidence. However, if someone brings irrefutable evidence, I will reconsider my position.”

In other words, a really open-minded person doesn’t have to be open-minded to the hypothesis proposed, just open to the evidence. I am pretty certain that sasquatch does not exist – that’s not being close-minded. Because what I would actually say is that “I reviewed the highest quality evidence, and I found nothing that would support the hypothesis that sasquatch exists.”

As someone once said, “keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.” In fact, scientific progression is utterly dependent upon open-mindedness.

Continue reading “Vaccine open-mindedness – confessions of a science nerd”

Identifying who is anti-vaccine

It’s natural and important to ask questions about vaccines, to have hesitations and doubts. Luckily, for pretty much every question parents ask there are reassuring answers. There is a reason the expert consensus – across countries, and at the local, national, and international level – supports vaccines so uniformly: the data is clear that the vaccines we give children have tremendous benefits that far outweigh their small, if real, risks.

In addition to the reliable information available, there is also extensive misinformation from anti-vaccine sites and people who promote an anti-vaccine agenda. And identifying who is anti-vaccine should be an important objective.

As pointed out by several bloggers, including and especially Orac in this post and in this one, those promoting anti-vaccine information rarely admit that they are anti-vaccine. The National Vaccine Information Center, America’s largest, oldest and probably most savvy anti-vaccine organization denies being anti vaccine. The Australian Vaccination Network, as it was then known, does the same.

Similarly,  individuals may deny they are anti-vaccine even when they are. This can be tricky, because people may sincerely believe they are not-anti-vaccine while actively promoting anti-vaccine claims.

It may be hard for those not constantly involved in the dialogue surrounding vaccines to identify who is, in fact, anti-vaccine. I previously found extremely useful Dr. David Gorski’s post on this issue where he addressed in detail several arguments that can help you identify someone as anti-vaccine. The problem is that Dr. Gorski’s article may be too long and complex for those wanting a quick way to identify whether their interlocutor is anti-vaccine – or those who want to point out to others that someone is anti-vaccine.

So, as a public service, here is a short checklist. I am including it as part of this post and also as a stand-alone handout (pdf) people can send to anyone who needs it or use themselves. Continue reading “Identifying who is anti-vaccine”