This Is the Way One Father Told His Pediatrician “No” to Vaccines

Looking at various #CDCWhilsteblower tweets the other day, I followed a link to an article on VacTruth.com (an anti-vax website) called ‘This Is the Way One Father Told His Pediatrician ‘No’ to Vaccines‘.

“What does an informed parent look like? We’ll show you”, says VacTruth, before reprinting a letter that lays out the reasons a father, Bob O’Kane, gave to his paediatrician for refusing to sign a vaccine waiver for his daughter.

Is VacTruth telling the Truth? Does the letter represent the views of an informed parent? Let’s look at the two main points the letter makes, firstly based around measles statistics, and then about aluminium in vaccines.

Says Bob “… the head of the CDC in an April/May radio show admitted the so called measles outbreak in New York consisted of 23 cases of which 20 people who got the measles had previously been vaccinated and thus nobody could be assured the vaccines actually work. (this [sic] is public information on the CDC website, and put [sic] a dent in the so called “herd immunity” theory). The other three cases involved foreigners.”

There’s no reference to the radio show in question, but I presume he’s referring to the Feb-Apr 2014 outbreak in New York which eventually affected 25 individuals (there was also one other measles case in this time-frame, unrelated to the outbreak).

I don’t know why he’s calling it a so-called outbreak. An outbreak is defined as three or more confirmed measles cases within a localised population in a month. It was an outbreak.

The “20 people who got the measles had previously been vaccinated” statement is way off, and seems to come from a shoddy video hammered together by conspiracy peddler Experimental Vaccines (‘New York Measles Outbreak 90% Vaccinated‘) and unthinkingly copied across the Internet, where they focus on a single sentence in a news report:

According to the New York State Department of Health, two of 20 people infected in a recent measles outbreak in New York City were children who had not been vaccinated by their parent’s choice.”

This is true, but it is not the whole picture and does not mean the remaining 18 people were vaccinated. At the time the outbreak reached 20 cases, 9 were children and 11 were adults; 7 of the children were too young to be vaccinated, two of the children were indeed the children of vaccine-refusers; 3 of the adults were vaccinated; and 8 had no records that could confirm vaccination. Four of the cases required hospitalisation.

While I don’t know the source of the New York outbreak (except it was picked up at a US airport) I can say that the US was declared measles-free in 2000, thanks to the vaccine program, and the disease flares up almost exclusively when unvaccinated travellers come into the US from locations where measles remains endemic. It is mostly spread by and spreads among unvaccinated people. True, a few vaccinated people will get the disease if it’s allowed to get hold within a community – vaccines are ‘only’ 95% effective, which is why herd immunity is so important, and these very statistics prove it works, contrary to Bob’s claim.

As for the fact that the remaining three cases were foreigners, I’m not sure where this comes from, but I don’t think it lessens the potential severity measles can have on your health or how highly contagious it is.

Bob continues … Our last Doctor even told us people are dying … do you know how many people have died in the past 10 years? The number is in fact less than all the fingers I have on my hands. Again, this is public record available through the CDC and not some Google search result.”

I’m guessing Bob’s attitude to foreigners is prevailing here and that he’s not counting the annual global deaths from measles which was 122,000 in 2012. Either that or he has a disproportionate number of fingers “on his hands”.

The last death from measles in the US was in 2003. The next 10 years saw sporadic outbreaks and not quite 1000 individual cases in total. The crazy thing is, Bob, this is thanks to vaccines. The very fact you proclaim is true is thanks to the vaccines you wish to avoid.

While deaths from measles were declining before the vaccine was introduced in 1963, thanks to advances in medical science and hygiene, it’s vaccines that are responsible for wiping out the disease and its deaths from the US altogether. In the years before the vaccine arrived there were still 400-500 reported deaths and 48,000 hospitalisations per year from measles in the US – way down from the over 7,500 deaths back in 1920, but still far too many.

Bob’s next problem with vaccines is aluminium, used as an adjuvant in some vaccines. To prove its dangers he quotes some text that the FDA required a maker of dextrose solution for IVs to include as part of their package insert, reflecting an update to their guidance on labelling parenterals that are contaminated with no more than 25 micrograms (mcg) of aluminium per litre, and referring specifically to research related to babies with poor kidney function.

What’s IV dextrose solution got to do with vaccines, you may ask? This comes from Dr Robert SearsThe Vaccine Book where an entire section is dedicated to showing that vaccines contain aluminium in far higher concentrations than the FDA recommend for IV solutions. Sears does attempt to cover the core of his idea (that aluminium will damage your child) with a gloss of science and an impression of balance, but the reader can be left in no doubt that, yet again, something evil is lurking in the vaccines.

Of course, any flaccid attempt at caution by Sears is left behind as soon as the idea leaves his domain and starts replicating within the hive of anti-vax websites, where ‘Mercury In Vaccines Was Replaced With Something Even More Toxic‘ becomes the new battle-cry. And our letter-writing parent lends his voice too …

The HEP-B shot alone is almost 14 TIMES THE AMOUNT OF ALUMINUM THAT IS FDA-APPROVED. The MMR? The dTap? All have similar amounts.

Note the move to capital letters – the inevitable Act III of nearly all conspiracy argument, starting out reasoned and calm before the underlying fear and paranoia break through, and shouting and screaming fill up the holes where facts no longer fit.

The trouble is, the aluminium argument just doesn’t hold together where vaccines are concerned. IV solution tends to be used on sick people, and if that sick person is a baby, especially a premature baby with weak renal function, then you want to severely limit any aluminium going directly into their bloodstream because they will not be able to eliminate it as efficiently as they should. The FDA recommendation of 25 mcg per litre takes into account that other aluminium contamination will be likely (it is the third most abundant element in the Earth’s crust) and that the patient will almost certainly be taking in many litres over many days in a single period.

Patients who take in intravenously infused aluminium could potentially retain from 40% (adults) to 75% (newborns) of the element, whereas normally the body will eliminate 95% through kidney function, with only 0.3% becoming absorbed. This is why IV fluids, especially for premature babies, have such a strict and low limit.

With vaccines, the shots that contain aluminium salts (which are poorly absorbed anyway) are spread out over many months and are not injected directly into the bloodstream. You cannot compare the FDA limit set for IV fluids, which are administered over long periods in greater amounts, with the minuscule amount in even an entire schedule of vaccines. And, Bob, the MMR vaccine does not contain aluminium.

What does contain aluminium? Well, breast milk contains about 40 mcg per litre and infants’ formula contains about 225 mcg per litre. We’re eating the stuff all the time – unprocessed foods can contain between 100 mcg and 20,000 mcg per kg.

Children will get about 4,400 mcg (4.4 mg) of aluminium salts spread across their first six months through vaccination, just over half of what they’d get from their own mother’s breast milk and almost ten-times less than the amount ingested through formula in the same time. That’s about 1/1250th of a teaspoon.

Seeing as Bob does recognise the FDA’s advice for aluminium control, perhaps he’d  like to move away from the world of parenteral dextrose solutions and look at what they actually recommend for vaccines, which is no more than 850-1250 mcg per individual dose. The largest amount in any vaccine is 625 mcg in DTaP (though it can be as low as 170 mcg), and most vaccines, if they contain it, are no more than 225 mcg.

2014 is a bad year for measles in the US, with more cases from January to August than the country saw in the last five years put together. The vast majority of these are among the unvaccinated – as of May 2014 69% of this year’s cases were unvaccinated and 20% had unknown vaccination status (probably largely unvaccinated); of those who were unvaccinated 85% had declined vaccination (or had it declined on their behalf by their parents), 6% were missed opportunities, and 5% were too young to receive vaccinations.

Ohio has seen a particularly bad outbreak among its Amish populace, where unvaccinated missionaries brought the disease back from the Philippines and it then spread easily among their largely unvaccinated community.

So, have we seen what an informed parent looks like? Does VacTruth spread the truth? No. Bob O’Kane – if he exists – seems to be pretty highly misinformed, probably thanks to websites such as VacTruth, who seem to be in the business of spreading fear and misinformation where vaccines are concerned, and contributing greatly to many parents’ decision not to get their children vaccinated, in turn leading to sick children, sick adults, hospitalisations, and, if the US outbreaks continue at their current pace, eventually, the first measles-related death since 2003*

* Update: a few months after this article was written, a woman died due to measles in Washington State.

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Genocidal Fraud by the CDC. Not.

For a while now I’ve had an anti-vaccination friend trying to get me not to vaccinate my children. Why? Because autism, because toxins, because New World Order population control. At the time of their first intervention I was pro-vax, but largely uninformed on the issue. I knew a little about the fraudulent Andrew Wakefield study, but not much more.

The friend sent me a couple of articles, pieces that had appeared in the ‘independent media’ and I decided to look into them in detail. It didn’t take too long for my previously ambivalent pro-vax stance to evolve into a pretty much full-on, raging pro-vax stance. The articles were brimming with blatant lies. The more I examined the anti-vax scene, the more I found it to be anti-scientific, bare-faced nonsense, and the more I learned about just how important and amazing vaccination actually is.

The friend hasn’t given up (despite my polite evidence-based counter-arguments, and my children being well into their vaccination schedule), and the latest salvo was a newsletter from bunkum-buffet website, Forbidden Knowledge TV, a newsletter titled Genocidal Fraud by the CDC.

The background is this: in 2004 the Center for Disease Control released a study that showed there was no link between MMR and autism with respect to the age of first MMR vaccination. One of the researchers on that paper was William Thompson. Now, champion of the ‘vaccine-damaged’, Andrew Wakefield, and one his disciples, Brian Hooker, have revealed that Thompson has turned whistleblower, pointing Hooker in the direction of allegedly covered-up data from that 2004 study and allowing him to re-analyse the raw data and discover a link between MMR and autism in African-American boys. Press releases were released and Wakefield made a video comparing the CDC to various genocidal dictators, and now the anti-vax crowd are dancing in the streets.

Barely two weeks old, this story has already been scrutinised by many bloggers more knowledgeable than me (bearing in mind it’s still playing out and not all the facts are in), but I wanted to pay particular attention to some of the points raised in the Forbidden Knowledge TV piece.

“The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) whistleblower … has been identified”

Well, let’s get this straight. Thompson spoke to Brian Hooker in confidence and he had no idea that he was being recorded. In doing this, Hooker broke Californian and Georgian law (where the relevant parties reside). Hooker further undermined Thompson’s trust (and again flouted the law) when he shared those recorded conversations with Andrew Wakefield, who then went on to publish Thompson’s name and voice on the Internet. If this is how Hooker and Wakefield treat their friends then I don’t think trust and ethics figure very highly on their list of character traits. I also think they’ve trashed the possibility of any future whistleblower contacting them – so I guess they’d better make the most of this one.

Indeed, William Thompson has released a statement stating that he was not aware he was being recorded and did not agree to either his name being made public or his voice being put on the Internet.

As we’re on the subject of Thompson’s statement, he also says this:

I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue  to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.

Epidemiologist, William W. Thompson, PhD broke a decade of silence over the government’s deliberate concealment of the link between the MMR vaccine … and a dramatically increased risk of autism, particularly in African American boys.”

And here the tale unfastens from the world of facts and starts to drift away. Brian Hooker’s reanalysis did not find an increased risk of autism in caucasian boys and girls, or African-American girls, only in African-American boys. You can call “dramatically increased risk” a misrepresentation, or you can call it a lie, but either way it shows the disregard the anti-vaccination lobby has for the truth.

But while we’re on the subject of B. S. Hooker’s  study (yes, those are his initials), let’s add a couple of other things about it. He took the raw data from the CDC’s 2004 study, which was designed and implemented as a case-control study, and re-cast it as a cohort study, thus increasing the risk of false positives. Related to this, his data-set was tiny and had no comparative, so a methodical and definitive conclusion is almost impossible. This bad science makes more sense when you know that Hooker is a biochemical engineer, not a statistician or an epidemiologist, and he didn’t employ one either.

But let’s entertain the idea that Hooker’s forced conclusion is actually correct – this, then, flies in the face of Andrew Wakefield’s and his legion of Warrior Moms’ assertion – that MMR causes autism across the board. It’s a blow to their crusade in particular because the vast majority of these campaigners are white upper/middle class parents. Strangely, they don’t appear to have noticed this.

Lastly on this point, only very short snippets of Thompson’s ‘confessions’ have been released – edited, repeated sound-bites with no context. All the context is added by Wakefield where he references the shameful Tuskegee experiment and goes on to claim that the CDC are worse than Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. If Thompson’s revelations are so damning, why doesn’t Wakefield let us hear them, instead of giving us barely thirty-seconds of illegally recorded conversation in a 9-minute video dripping with propaganda?

“The same month of its publication, Thompson wrote to Dr. Julie Gerberding (then director of the CDC, now director of Merck’s vaccine division – check out that revolving door, eh?), discussing his intention to present, at an Institute of Medicine meeting on vaccines and autism the following week, “several problematic results” that the study had produced.”

So, Thompson intended to present the “problematic results” of the 2004 study at an IoM meeting? Wrong. Read the letter. Thompson is asking Gerdberding to respond to a letter by Rep. David Weldon which asks for clarification of a completely different vaccine study – not the 2004 paper that Thompson worked on. He wanted leadership support for the science that showed there was no MMR-autism connection. Another lie.

“Dr. Julie Gerberding (then director of the CDC, now director of Merck’s vaccine division – check out that revolving door, eh?) …”

First of all, this has no bearing on the facts of whether MMR causes autism, but if you’re going to play that game then we should be fair, and check out the biases of both sides.

Andrew Wakefield was struck off the Medical Register in 2010 and is barred from practising medicine in the UK after his 1998 paper that led to the MMR-autism kerfuffle was found to be not only bad science, but fraudulent – he used a tiny sample size of children with no control group, subjected them to unnecessary and invasive medical procedures, was reportedly in the pay of lawyers acting on behalf of several autistic children whose parents wanted to sue MMR manufactures (and these children made up a portion of Wakefield’s study subjects) and had just filed a patent for his own single-jab measles vaccine. He now relies on his position in the anti-vaccine movement for both his income and his status.

Brian Hooker, the author of the re-analysed CDC data, has been involved in litigation against the CDC and claims that vaccines caused his own son’s autism. He’s also a board member of Focus Autism, a group who want to “put an end to the needless harm of children by vaccination”.

By two years of age, US children receive as many as 24 vaccine injections, and might receive up to five shots during one visit to the doctor – all of these containing the toxic mercury-based preservative, Thimerosal and administered to toddlers whose immune systems are not developed enough to cope with so much toxicity.

So many wobbly facts in this paragraph. Only two vaccinations in the US childhood schedule might contain thimerosal, DTaP and DTaP-Hib combined, and these would only contain trace amounts as the thimerosal is removed after the manufacturing process, so it isn’t an ingredient in the actual vaccine. Similarly, no childhood vaccines in the UK contain thimerosal as an ingredient. Some flu shots do contain thimerosal, but MMR never contained it.

The amount of mercury in thimerosal is not toxic – “the dose makes the poison” and there is too little. Furthermore the mercury in thimerosal is ethylmercury which is expelled from the body pretty quickly, it doesn’t build up like its cousin, methylmercury – which is probably what most people are thinking of when they hear about ‘toxic mercury’.

If mercury in vaccinations is the cause of autism, then how come autism has continued to rise even though thimerosal has not been an ingredient in the majority of vaccinations for over 14 years?

As for the ‘too many too soon’ argument, this just doesn’t bear out. A child is exposed to vastly greater amounts of “toxicity” in real life, from food, the environment and naturally acquired disease from the moment they are born. Their immune systems cope just fine.

I have a distinct suspicion that the release NOW of the genocidal fraud and criminality of the CDC, of a vaccine which specifically harms black boys …”

Is it actually possible to have a substance injected into any member of the human populace, but which will only take effect if that human happens to be of a specific ethnic origin and gender?

This last bit is the cue for the remainder of the newsletter to go into full-on conspiracy mode, claiming the US government are inciting a race war, a civil war and even a world war.

Conspiracy theorists just can’t help it. Everything is connected, it’s all just one big convoluted plan … ‘They’ are lying to us about everything from the moon landing to spraying us from the air with chemicals, from murdering Princess Diana to bringing down the World Trade Centre. They start out trying to be calm and scientific, and end up ranting about lizard-aliens coming to drink the life-essence from our children.

My friend continues to believe that MMR causes autism and that the government want to inject brain-controlling microchips into the population. He accuses me of being ‘indoctrinated’, yet he gets his news solely from the fear-merchants in the ‘alternative media’, not allowing a single counter-argument to unbalance his Matrix-tinged view of the world, even though that alternative media tell blatant lies and assert things without a shred of evidence. Even if you don’t trust the ‘mainstream media’ (whatever that is), a lot of the claims are backed up with various forms of evidence that you can often check yourself.

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, Hooker’s re-evaluation has been removed from the public domain “because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions”, and Wakefield and his cronies’ claims about autism continue to lead to real-world deaths, in numbers, from diseases that are preventable and, in many cases, were on the brink of being eradicated.

Thanks to the continued vigilance and expertise of various bloggers at Science-Based Medicine, and many other writers and blogs linked to in the piece above.