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A doctor at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic sparked an online uproar when he published an article Friday filled with anti-vaccine rhetoric, including the widely debunked claim that vaccines are linked to autism. Physicians took to Twitter to call the article “vile” and “Post-truth medicine” and demand whether the clinic endorsed its doctor’s views.

Dr. Daniel Neides, a family doctor and the director and chief operating officer of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, wrote on a blog on the news site that preservatives and other ingredients in vaccines are dangerous and are likely behind the increase in diagnosed cases of neurological diseases such as autism — a claim that has long been discredited by researchers.

“Does the vaccine burden — as has been debated for years — cause autism? I don’t know and will not debate that here. What I will stand up and scream is that newborns without intact immune systems and detoxification systems are being over-burdened with PRESERVATIVES AND ADJUVANTS IN THE VACCINES,” he wrote. Adjuvants are added to vaccines to prompt a stronger immune response.


“Some of the vaccines have helped reduce the incidence of childhood communicable diseases, like meningitis and pneumonia,” he continued. “That is great news. But not at the expense of neurologic diseases like autism and ADHD increasing at alarming rates.”

Neides’s wellness institute provides “world-class medical care and quality wellness programs to change unhealthy behaviors and to make healthy life choices,” according to its website. But to the wider medical community, the claims that Neides espoused did not promote “healthy life choices.” Instead, they said these statements were downright dangerous.


Dr. Vinay Prasad, a hematologist-oncologist at the Oregon Health and Sciences University, expressed disbelief on Twitter:

In an email to STAT, Prasad added, “That article … contains many of the tired, unsupported, irrational concerns about pediatric vaccines, as well as generally unsupported thoughts on ‘toxin’ exposure. Frankly, it is a little surprising it is written by a doctor, and not someone on the fringe, who lacks basic science and medical training.”

Dr. Jeffrey Matthews, chair of the University of Chicago’s Department of Surgery, tweeted:

Scientists and doctors were horrified about the misinformation contained in the article, especially given that the source is affiliated with a such a prestigious medical institution. A spokesperson for Cleveland Clinic told STAT on Saturday that Neides “will not be doing an interview.”

“He wrote this opinion piece on his own and it does not reflect the position of the Cleveland Clinic whatsoever, and we strongly support vaccinations and the protection of patients and employees,” said Eileen Sheil, executive director of corporate communications for the medical center.

Many doctors saw the post as an embarrassment for the Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Benjamin Mazer, a resident physician in pathology at Yale New Haven Hospital who tweeted that the article was “one of the most vile, false things I have ever read by a doctor,” said in an interview that it wasn’t an isolated event.

“This is really part of a larger movement that distrusts mainstream medicine, distrusts mainstream public health, and really trades in conspiracy theories,” he told STAT. “This article is a really prime example of that. It’s just a shame that it’s a physician spreading these conspiracy theories because people naturally trust physicians.”

He was especially appalled at the misinformation that Neides was spreading about hepatitis B vaccines, which, Mazer said, “have prevented thousands of deaths.”

Non-clinicians were just as worried.

“When I see opinion pieces that stoke fears about the truly minuscule amounts of formaldehyde (a naturally occurring metabolite in every one of us) in vaccines or suggest that there is still some ‘debate’ as to whether or not vaccines and autism are linked, it sets off alarm bells and huge red flags in my head,” Michael Wosnick, the former scientific director of the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, told STAT by email.

  • Neides makes two points:

    “First, What I will stand up and scream is that newborns without intact immune systems and detoxification systems are being over-burdened with PRESERVATIVES AND ADJUVANTS IN THE VACCINES.” In other words, it is not the vaccines per se, it is the preservatives and adjuvants.

    Second, “We live in a toxic soup. There are over 80,000 chemicals used in various industries country-wide. There are over 2,000 new chemicals being introduced annually. We breathe in these chemicals through exhaust, eat them in our processed foods ( just look at the labels that have 20 or 30 ingredients … ), textiles (clothing, bedding, furniture), and personal care products, including make-up, deodorant, shampoos, and soaps.” In short, we are bombarded with chemicals throughout our environment. Nobody is looking at the cumulative effect.

    • Neide’s complaint about “preservatives” like “formaldehyde” is completely wrong and ridiculous. Formaldehyde isn’t a preservative, it’s used to inactivate the pathogens. The amount left over in the vaccine can’t even be quantified, because nearly all of it has been removed.

      Formaldehyde, when injected in such small amounts, cannot even be considered a toxin, anyway. Formaldehyde is created by the body in far larger amounts as a byproduct of cellular respiration, a normal activity, and your body is VERY capable of removing formaldehyde through urea and urine.

      On top of it all, you think these chemicals are accumulating in the body? Where is that evidence, because you, just like Neides, have not produced any evidence.

  • The following vaccines are for personal protection only and/or do not affect the spread of infection in public spaces: tetanus, IPV (inactivated polio), diphtheria, pertussis, HepB. And just as with antibiotic use, vaccine use is creating strain shifts and unforeseen consequences. For instance while the HiB vaccine reduced the b strains of H. influenzae, this allowed for strains a-f to begin to dominate. The HPV vaccines cover just a few of the more than 100 strains, and per the CDC, HPV infection rates have not declined since strain shift is actively happening. And since it takes up to 40 years for cancer to develop (rarely) because of HPV infection, it is unknown what effect the vaccines and the newly dominant HPV strains will have on cancer rates.

  • Going by the quote cited in this article (shown below) I think there is a bit of an over reaction to the statement.

    //“Does the vaccine burden — as has been debated for years — cause autism? I don’t know and will not debate that here. What I will stand up and scream is that newborns without intact immune systems and detoxification systems are being over-burdened with PRESERVATIVES AND ADJUVANTS IN THE VACCINES,” he wrote. Adjuvants are added to vaccines to prompt a stronger immune response.//

    … and THAT I think needs to be actively debated upon – by the scientific community.

    Adjuvants ARE NOT vaccines. Check out their composition and possible effects they can have. Safety studies on popular adjuvants need to be more transparent.

    It is sad the field of immunology is being dragged to the streets and debated by those having little idea about the field.

    I am yet to read the blog by that doctor BUT his lines don’t seem to be against vaccines at all. Period.

  • Pertussis Vaccine Facts those who choose to vaccinate should know in order to vaccinate responsibly: The vaccine does not provide lifetime protection. Per the CDC:
    “We know that the protection received from any of the available whooping cough vaccines is fairly good (73 to 98 percent effective) in the first year after receiving the vaccine, but it does wear off over time. In the same way, people that had whooping cough in that past gradually become susceptible to the disease again when about 5 – 10 years have passed.”

    The vaccine does not prevent the acquiring, incubating, or spread of pertussis. Per the FDA:

    “This research suggests that although individuals immunized with an acellular pertussis vaccine may be protected from disease, they may still become infected with the bacteria without always getting sick and are able to spread infection to others, including young infants who are susceptible to pertussis disease.”

  • This fight would end if we could all just agree to disagree. The problem is that our personal freedom is at stake when the pro vaxers are forcing the antivaxers to take their poison.
    They are using the “herd mentality” as their “good cause” but that argument is a disagreement as well. The very fact there is strong opposition should be enough of a reason to allow choice. Not being allowed to have a choice is the evil.
    We must be allowed to choose between communicable disease possibilities vs neurological and autoimmune diseases, and let us choose our own form of healthcare with doctors we trust.
    If antivaxxers are wrong then let them suffer the consequences…… with no risk done to those vaccinated.
    The fight against choice, and against finding a different way to build immunity is bizzar and suspicious enough to question its motive.

    • “If antivaxxers are wrong then let them suffer the consequences…… with no risk done to those vaccinated.”

      Selfish and ignorant. A double!

      Herd immunity requires the vast majority to be vaccinated, not only to protect those that can’t be immunized or that have lost immunity, but because vaccines and disease-acquired immunity isn’t 100%. On top of that, allowing a reservoir of unvaccinated to share the disease increases mutation rates, leading to variants that can bypass current immunity within the population.

      There are dozens of strains of measles, for instance. Allowing reservoirs of unvaccinated to pass the disease around could easily create new strains.

      You should learn about science before blathering about it.

  • Wrong, Brian. Vaccines are profitable and a growing market for pharm., and the recently passed 21st Century Cures Act will further escalate its growth. Super cozy and lots of money, and again, no liability. Govt + pharm + medical compliance. A clueless, over medicated U.S. population needs to wake up.

    • The vaccine court exists precisely because the opposite is true. The cost of frivolous lawsuits was on the brink of getting companies to pull out of the US market altogether. And the majority of new vac cine development covers diseases in dirt-poor countries. America is not the world. In fact in healthcare it is an outlier, vastly overpriced per capita but until recently excluding great swathes of the population.

      Think about it: a vaccine can prevent illness for life. It’s much more profitable to sell treatments multiple times than a vaccine once.

  • Censorship IS the problem. For instance, how many times should I comment before mine stays?

    Anyhow, a doctor writes about wanting vaccines free of toxic agents and you would think he was a mass murderer by the way other doctors and the media are beating him up. This firestorm should convince everyone that something is terribly wrong with conventional medicine and the media.

    Are we not allowed to question the wisdom and safety of any medical therapy? Shouldn’t all medical therapies be held to a high standard of care?

    If one patient comes forward asserting that a pharmaceutical or vaccine hurt him in an unusual way, it is reasonable to think that the patient might be mistaken, that there might be another explanation for his pain.

    However, if hundreds or thousands of patients come forward with the same, or similar stories, their assertions should be listened to. Unfortunately, their stories are being systematically disregarded and denied by doctors and scientists alike. Hurt patients have no reason to lie, they have no conflicts of interest (generally), so they should be listened to and believed. In systematically ignoring them and their pain, doctors and scientists are being callous and dismissive, and they are losing credibility.

    Maybe doctors should never question the prevailing opinions in medicine. Perhaps doctors should not have questioned whether cigarettes caused lung cancer because it took a massive campaign for the cigarette-lung cancer connection to come out.

    Perhaps the above doctors need to recall the story of Dr. Semmelweis, who is probably rolling in his grave right now. In the 1800’s, before the germ theory was discovered, a Hungarian phsycian1 questioned whether the lack of handwashing by doctors while delivering babies was responsible for transmitting something to the mothers that resulted in a higher mortality rate than women delivered by midwives. You see, back then, midwives washed their hands before delivering a baby while a doctor did not.

    Anyone who would smugly say, “The science is clear” or “The science is settled” profoundly misunderstands what science is. Science is a process of inquiry. Any scientific knowledge that any given generation has is always subject to scrutiny. Science is never settled because conditions will change.

    Three things cannot be refuted.

    1. Vaccines are so dangerous that everywhere in the world the manufacturers refuse liability.

    The Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 validates that vaccine injuries are real. However, the manufacturers are not held legally liable for any damages that may be incurred as a direct result of their products. If the automobile industry were run like the vaccine industry, would you buy that car?

    2, The CDC has not, nor any other federal agency or the vaccine industry itself, conducted a peer-reviewed long-term safety study between the vaccinated and non-vaccinated populace. So that vaccine mandates have no scientific justification.

    3.The U.S. holds record rates historically of infant mortality, and children with cancer, obesity, diabetes, autism, food allergies, autoimmune and neurological disorders. But our children are also the most aggressively vaccinated in the world – to prevent disease.

    Dr. Neides is doing what any caring, intelligent physician should do when he/she recognizes something is wrong with a standard-of-care therapy—in this case, he is questioning whether vaccines may be causing health problems in our children.

    For that crime, he is made to apologize.

    That’s not science. And neither is censorship. That’s medical tyranny.

    Einstein: “Never do anything against conscience” Hats off to the good doctor. The Clinic should apologize to him.

    • It’s laughable when you say “Three things cannot be refuted” followed by three easily demonstrable lies.

      Perhaps you should learn to read scientific studies before you claim they don’t exist.

    • The only sources I can find for the claim that vaccine manufacturers refuse liability, are conspiracy sites. There is nothing in relevant EU or US laws, for example.

      You cannot do a long-term prospective randomised vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study, it would be unethical. Antivaxers know this perfectly well. However, there are numerous long-term cohort studies between those who have chosen not to vaccinate and those who have (see for example), and this shows markedly higher incidence of communicable disease in the unvaccinated population – and *nothing else*. Significant changes to the often-claimed “causes” (e.g. removal of thimerosal and Japan withdrawing MMR) make no difference at all to autism diagnosis rates. The “questions” have been asked and answered, the answers are not what the antivaxers wish.

      The US does indeed have a terrible record for infant mortality. President Obama made a massive step forward here by introducing the Affordable Care Act, which extended cover to an additional 20 million Americans. The current Government are absolutely determined to remove this. The terrible health outcomes for those Americans on low incomes are a stunning indictment to the power of the ideology of naked selfishness in American politics, but are absolutely nothing to do with vaccines. British children are just as “aggressively vaccinated” and have dramatically better health outcomes. The main source for the idea that vaccines increase infant mortality is Miller and Goldman Hum Exp Toxicol. 2011 Sep; 30(9): 1420–1428.. They “forgot” to mention that they are committed antivaccinationists and run anti-vax campaign websites. That “study” is a fine exposition of motivated reasoning (see for a takedown).

      The vaccine injuries act does validate the fact that people bring lawsuits, and that courts will often follow emotive not scientific arguments. It also shows that vaccines are not very profitable. The manufacturers were on the point of simply withdrawing from the US market due to the costs of defending often frivolous lawsuits.

      The vaccine court does not require proof that an injury was caused by vaccines, only that it was likely enough – 50% plus a feather. And even then, most cases fail. The autism omnibus case was one of the better documented. Despite their sincere belief that their children’s autism was caused by vaccines, parents were unable to show any reputable evidence that it is so.

      That’s not a surprise: autism has a strong genetic component and most of the cases showed, on closer investigation, clear evidence of autism form before vaccination. It’s a very simple mistake to make. The doctor notices signs at the office visit for shots, and parents think that this is when it all started. The human brain is a pattern matching engine – and we make false matches all the time. The face on Mars.

  • Julie Gerberding, former Director of the CDC has been over at Merck since 2010. It’s a cozy relationship. $$

  • Follow the money and the mandates. The fierce protection of the vaccine schedule is fueled by these two factors. Public health is not the priority. There is a lot of money to be made. What other drug is mandated by the government and holds no liability? Cha-ching. Add to that, that pharm owns major media outlets with their constant advertising and you have a reliable and subservient mouth piece. It’s always about the money, always. Imagine the liability if it were deemed that yes, in fact, autism is caused by vaccines (beyond the Hannah Poling case) and it made cable news. 1 in 68 would be a pretty large class action.

    • A few points

      1. Pharmaceutical companies make a lot of money, but only a tiny sliver of it comes from vaccines. They make a lot more money treating the diseases that vaccines prevent.
      2. Non-profits, churches, and generous individuals donate to immunization campaigns, so it’s not always about money.
      3. The omnibus autism lawsuit failed to provide any evidence that vaccines have any causal link to vaccines. Hundreds of studies confirm that they don’t. At this point, your “imagine if” scenario makes as much sense as saying “what if NASA actually discovers that the earth is flat!”

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