When people misrepresent facts on the record, journalists are in a tough spot — especially when that information can be harmful.

Which brings me to STAT’s recent interview with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., conducted by Helen Branswell. STAT wanted to interview Kennedy about his claim in January 2017 that Donald Trump would soon appoint him to head a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity. Seven months had passed since Kennedy had made the claim and no announcement had been made. STAT wanted to find out where things stood.

Branswell began her interview by asking Kennedy eight different times and in eight different ways where things stood on his commission. Each time, he failed to confirm or deny whether the White House was about to appoint him.

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That clearly wasn’t what Kennedy wanted to talk about. Instead, he wanted to talk about his belief that mercury in vaccines is poisoning America’s children and that no one in the federal government seems to care. By insisting that the interview be conducted in the question-and-answer format, Kennedy effectively tied STAT’s hands, which had to print what he said without editorial comment or opposing views.

I feel compelled to oppose Kennedy’s claims.

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During the interview, Kennedy said that some babies were being injected with 25 micrograms of ethylmercury, which is part of a preservative called thimerosol that is used in multi-dose vials of influenza vaccine. He claimed that amount to be “100 times” greater than the amount considered to be safe.

As an environmentalist, Kennedy should know that mercury is a natural part of the Earth’s crust. As a consequence, methylmercury (environmental mercury) is contained in water and anything made from water, like breast milk and infant formula. The human body eliminates ethylmercury from vaccines far more efficiently than it eliminates naturally occurring methylmercury.

Babies typically ingest about 360 micrograms of methylmercury during the first 6 months of life, well before they will ever receive their first dose of influenza vaccine. If the 25 micrograms of ethylmercury in vaccines is 100 times greater than what Kennedy claimed is safe, then simply by living on Earth, by 6 months of age babies will have ingested an amount of mercury that is 1,440 times greater than Kennedy’s safety limit.

According to Kennedy’s calculations, all of us are massively intoxicated with mercury. The only way to avoid this would be to move to another planet.

Kennedy also said that he wanted to ensure “that vaccines are subject to the same kind of safety scrutiny and safety testing that other drugs are subject to.” In fact, vaccines are subjected to greater scrutiny than drugs. Much greater. For example, the CDC spends tens of millions of dollars every year on the Vaccine Safety Datalink, a system of linked computerized medical records from several major health maintenance organizations that represents about 7 million Americans, 500,000 of whom are children. Nothing like this exists on the drug side. Frankly, if a Drug Safety Datalink existed, the problem with Vioxx as a cause of heart attacks might have been picked up much sooner.

Kennedy said, “We need to, prior to licensing vaccines, do gold standard safety testing, like every other drug approval requires. We need to do double-blind placebo testing.” Branswell knew that the FDA does require placebo-controlled trials before licensure. So she pushed back. “Sir, that’s done all the time,” she said. “That is done all the time.”

Branswell was right. Here’s an example of the kind of testing that vaccines are put through. One of the currently licensed vaccines against rotavirus was tested in a placebo-controlled, prospective, 11-country, four-year trial of more than 70,000 infants before being approved. That’s fairly typical of most pre-licensure trials. But STAT was stuck having to report Kennedy’s remarks as is, even though Branswell knew they were false. That was the deal. The interview had to be printed without contradiction.

Perhaps most outrageous was Kennedy’s claim that “the hepatitis B vaccines that are currently approved had fewer than five days of safety testing. That means that if the child has a seizure on the sixth day, it’s never seen. If the child dies, it’s never seen.” Safety monitoring for the hepatitis B vaccine, like all vaccines tested before being licensed, involved determining side effects in the vaccinated and unvaccinated group for weeks after each dose. Indeed, some subsets of vaccinated individuals have been monitored for 30 years after hepatitis B vaccination.

Throughout the interview, Kennedy never adequately addressed the new commission. Creating such a commission doesn’t make sense to me for two main reasons.

First, a vaccine safety commission already exists. It’s called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Staffed by epidemiologists, microbiologists, virologists, statisticians, molecular biologists, and clinicians, the CDC supervises the Vaccine Safety Datalink, which I described earlier. Whenever a new vaccine is licensed, this system quickly determines who’s been vaccinated and who hasn’t and detects any side effects that might be occurring more frequently in the vaccinated group.

Second, a commission for scientific integrity also already exists. Independent of the CDC, it’s called the Office for Research Integrity, and is housed in the Department of Health and Human Services.

It’s unfortunate that our culture, and our media, sometimes give celebrities a chance to comment without opposition on subjects about which they are often misinformed. It’s invariably the listener or reader who suffers this advice. Maybe journalists could at the very least add a cigarette-style caution to interviews like the one that STAT did with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Something like “CAUTION: Reading this article might be dangerous to your health.”

Paul A. Offit, M.D., is a professor of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. His most recent book is “Pandora’s Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong” (National Geographic Press, April 2017).

  • “Lobbyists for Eli Lilly & Company, the pharmaceutical giant, did not have much luck when they made the rounds on Capitol Hill earlier this year, seeking protection from lawsuits over a preservative in vaccines. Senator Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee, tucked a provision into a bill that went nowhere. When lawmakers rebuffed a request to slip language into domestic security legislation, a Lilly spokesman said, the company gave up.

    Now, in a Washington whodunit worthy of Agatha Christie, the provision has been resurrected and become law, as part of the domestic security legislation signed on Monday by President Bush. Yet in a city where politicians have perfected the art of claiming credit for deeds large and small, not a single member of Congress — or the Bush administration — will admit to being the author of the Lilly rider.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/29/us/a-capitol-hill-mystery-who-aided-drug-maker.html

  • Injecting mercury into living things is medically contraindicated. Those who profit from it would have been sued except they are protected (as is Dr. Offit) from professional legal liability by the Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.

    Here is a summary of the panicked response of “public health authorities” when they realized that they were in fact directly responsible for poisoning millions of children worldwide:

    “How I came to be involved in “Evidence of Harm”

    I was doing some research for freelance magazine articles and someone
    had told me about some mothers in Los Angeles who were researching
    alternative treatments for their children with autism. I was writing for
    women’s magazines and thought it sounded interesting. So, I talked to some
    of the women out in Los Angeles. One of them rather casually mentioned
    that she thought, or some people thought, that the cause of autism might
    be the mercury in vaccines, and I had never heard of such a thing. I
    thought maybe she was a little, not crazy, but mistaken, and I put it in
    back of my mind. Still, I thought it was interesting, and then a week
    later, the Homeland Security Bill passed and I found out there was a
    secret rider in there to dismiss lawsuits against Eli Lilly. And that’s
    when the journalist in me said, “I think there is more to this story.”

    I had never met a person with autism in my life and I had never heard
    of Thimerosal. And I had certainly never heard of any connection between
    any form of mercury and autism, although I did know mercury was not good
    for you. But I don’t think I realized the extent to which it could do
    damage in your body. So, I was 100% unfamiliar with this story right up
    until November of 2002.

    In school I had not know any autistic children

    People who insist or say that there is no autism epidemic—that it is
    just better reporting and better diagnostics—I really would like to pose
    the question to them that Mark Blaxill, from Safe Minds, asks: Where are
    all those people in my generation, in my school, with autism? Where are
    the 1 in 166 autistic adults? We can’t find them. So, they have either
    been institutionalized, or they passed away, or they somehow had a
    miraculous recovery because they don’t seem to be around. And Mark calls
    that the “hidden horde” and I think it’s a really good point.

    On July 9th of 1999 when the Public Health Service and the American
    Academy of Pediatrics issued a joint statement announcing that they had
    added up mercury burden in children’s vaccines and found out they were
    over the EPA limit. Up until that time, parents were certainly researching
    alleged connections between vaccines themselves—particularly MMR, but also
    DTP—but not necessarily mercury. With one notable exception, a man named
    Albert Enayati out of New Jersey. He was the head of Cure Autism Now in
    New Jersey. And he started researching this on his own—even before the
    joint statement was issued. But he was not entirely convinced, and
    couldn’t get a lot of information on it at the time. But then when the
    joint statement was issued, he put it all together.

    Rates of Autism in the U.S. and Denmark

    The rate of autism in the U.S. is about 60 per 10,000 children, or 1
    in 166. Now, that is for ASD, not full-blown autism. However, in other
    countries in Europe where they have done extensive studies, and where
    Thimerosal use has not been a common practice for the last decade or so,
    the autism rates are considerably lower—particularly in Denmark because
    that’s where it has been studied, probably, more than anywhere in Europe.
    I believe the rates are about 7 per 10,000 children.

    In the U.S. mercury exposure exceeded Environmental Protection Agency
    (EPA) guidelines

    At the peak of exposure, if a child had received all mercury-
    containing vaccines, that is, vaccine brands that contained mercury, they
    would have received many, many times over the EPA limit on those
    particular days of the visit to the doctor. That would be a ‘bolus’
    exposure—a peak, intermittent exposure, as opposed a chronic, low-dose
    exposure. So, these children would have received at birth 12.5 micrograms
    of mercury and, depending upon how much they weighed, for an 8 pound child
    that would be about 35 times over the EPA limit, but for a 4 pound child
    it would be double that—so, it would be 70 times over the limit. At 2
    months the children were brought back, that’s when they were still
    relatively small and when many important systems inside the body are still
    developing. And that’s when they received the most amounts of mercury, 3
    shots, 62.5 micrograms of mercury. For a 10 pound kid, it’s about 137
    times over the EPA limit. And then of course, at 4 months they came back,
    at 6 months, and then a year. So, in that first year most kids who were
    receiving mercury got about 212 micrograms.

    The FDA realized bolus exposures were occurring in 1999

    It would appear the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) never
    looked at the issue of bolus exposures until 1999, when they were ordered
    by Congress to do so. We know that company officials at Merck did the math
    way back in 1991, thanks to an excellent report in the Los Angeles Times
    about two weeks ago. The company never bothered to tell the government or
    the public that they had done this math. When I talk about the ‘math,’ I
    mean the simple conversion of percentage of volume into actual micrograms
    of weight. And no one at the FDA as far as we know did that until 1999.
    When they did do that, that’s when they got the statement out and urged
    companies to start removing mercury from the childhood shots.

    The public health insititutions did some very clever mathematical
    footwork, I would say. They took the first six months of exposures—so,
    that’s 4 bolus exposures—birth, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months—added them
    up, computing it was 162.5 micrograms of mercury exposure over a period of
    180 days. So, they simply averaged that out and came up with a figure of
    0.9 micrograms of exposure per day—on average. That completely discounts
    the days of exposure where the bolus dose is obviously much higher.”

    http://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/10/30/david-kirby-concerning-%E2%80%9Cevidence-harm%E2%80%9D

    • All flu vaccines being given in NJ and NYC in 2016 had thimerosal in ten that includes the vaccines being given to pregnant women- LIZ

    • Contrary to Liz Matthews’ false claim, flu shots are on the childhood vaccine schedule. Only two formulations are currently approved for children under 3–and one of them is the Flu Zone Quadrivalent in the thimerosal-preserved multi-use vial. Each dose for children under 3 contains 12.5 mcg thimerosal. Each dose for anyone OVER 3 contains 25 mcg thimerosal. So that means Liz Matthews’ claim is completely false.

    • Even counting the flu vaccine, the amount of thimerosal has dramatically declined, at the least, and many children will get none.

      If there was a link between thimerosal and autism we would see a decline in rates of autism.

      We don’t. Time clearly disproved this claim, even if we ignore the many studies that show it’s not true.

      This is beating a dead horse.

    • I stand corrected and I apologise for the incorrect information.

      When are anti vaxers going to apologise for repeating the false claim that vaccines cause autism? Or apologise to the autistic community for the damage caused to them by this claim?

    • Dorit, the enormous mistake you’re making is assuming that the CDC-announced autism rate is for children born in that same year. The CDC-announced autism rate for 2013, for example, is for children born TWELVE YEARS EARLIER, in 2001, when they were not only still getting thimerosal-preserved vaccines, but were also getting 4 doses of Prevnar, which was newly added to the vaccine schedule.

      So of course autism continued to rise for that cohort.

      Interesting that the autism rate STOPPED rising in 2016. The children in the 2016 autism rate were born in 2004–the same year the leftover thimerosal-preserved vaccines still on the shelves expired.

      It’s a huge fallacy to compare the CDC-announced autism rate for any given year with the number and composition of vaccines given for THAT year, rather than for the year the children were born.

      Now that you know that’s an error, I do hope we don’t see you make it again.

      We’ll all be watching you closely to see if you do…

      Gotta love science!

    • First, you’re wrong even if your assumption that I had CDC rates in mind was right is true. If in 2004 there were no more thimerosal, and if there was a link, you would see a drop, not a stall. In fact, you should see a drop during the transition too. It didn’t happen.

      Second, I wasn’t thinking of CDC rates. California not only has its own rates, at kindergarten – so 2012 now – but has a law prohibiting thimerosal for pregnant women and young children.

      It was waived during three years but there were multiple years it wasn’t. Multiple years with no thimerosal in any vaccine.

      And autism rates rose at a pretty constant rate. Same in Iceland; no thimerosal, rising rates.

      The claim is dead. Disproven by reality.

      Only belief leads a minority to repeat it, in the face of evidence.

    • Fluvalal and fluzone, both quadrivalents, are approved for 6 months and up and both have single dose (thimerosal-free) versions. Fluarix is approved for age 3 and up. Flucelvax is approved for 4 and up. Afluria is approved for 9 and up. Fluvirin is approved for 4 and up. Those four all come in single dose, thimerosal free syringes.

      https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/vaccines.htm

      This concern about thimerosal in vaccines is unwarranted. It was never shown to cause harm to infants and children in USA don’t get vaccines with it anyway.

  • Random quotes are not evidence, particularly without even a citation. In any case, this contention does nothing to disprove a legal right to a good standard of health and healthcare. You clearly have no idea how to construct a basic legal argument.

    • Liz for all your legal argumentation and corrections please note I went to every CVS , Walgreens, Target and Costco in NYC and NJ (Bergen county ) while there pregnant women, elderly and small children were being shot with thimerosal ! This substance was removed from the childhood vaccine list and then sneakily put into every “available ” flu shot being recommended by the CDC! Shame on the total lack of safety! The CDC should have issued a warning that no child or pregnant woman be shot with a flu vaccine containing thimerosal ! Shame to the CDC and any doctor or lawyer defending this stupidity !

    • Stephania, Thimerosal in vaccines has never been proven to cause any harm, was not “sneakily put into flu shots,” and, therefore, it is not a big deal if people are getting them. That being said, I am 100% positive Walgreens offers preservative-free flu shots for those who ask. And they do not immunize anyone under 3 years. I am sure the others are the same.

  • With every dishonest post “The Real Truther” makes, using name-calling and vicious personal attacks on scientist James Lyons-Weiler, we are reminded that shooting the messenger does not make the very real safety problems with vaccines disappear. If anything, “The Real Truther” seems to be having the opposite of his or her intended effect.

    • I wonder if Dr. Lyons-Weiler might have a case for a lawsuit for being called: “exposed scam artist/charlatan & rabid #antivaxxer/autism bigot.”

      All for simply pointing out the very real problems with the same vaccines he used to urge people to get.

      Hell hath no fury like the pharmaceutical industry when its failures have been exposed…

    • I can tell you right now, Prof. Reiss has a stronger case against the person attempting to pass him/herself off as her. Hell hath no fury like an anti vaxer with no substantive argument.

  • Dr. Offit spoke to my medical school class just two days before this article was published. What an incredible physician doing things to help children survive preventable illnesses. Thank you for your work, Dr. Offit, and thanks for speaking with me before your presentation this week.

  • What I find funny about the exposed scam artist/charlatan & rabid #antivaxxer/autism bigot James “Cherry Pickin” Weiler is that his whole life he wanted to be exactly where Paul Offit is.

    But the reality is writing comments on Offit’s articles is the closest he’ll ever be to Offit.

    Let that reality sink in James.

    • In past decades child and infant mortality decreased and life expectancy increased, as the number of vaccines also increased.

      If vaccines are supposed to poison children, someone messed up.

      Vaccines save children’s lives. We get a lot more aluminum from our environment – it’s in drinking water, food, soil, air.

    • JMJ:

      Your first mistake is assuming that what happens in mice also happens in humans.

      Your second mistake is in comparing autism to the effects of nicotine. If you think autism is devastating like lung cancer, I suggest you spend some time volunteering at and end of life hospice. You won’t find anyone there dying of autism.

    • A review of James “Cherry Pickin” Weiler, the admitted #antivaxxer’s “science” book where he demonizes & exploits autistics & their families for his own agenda & profits. He even admitted in an earlier comment that he has brainwashed 5,000 autism parents to believe his lies. He is also arguably responsible for multiple deaths in Europe this year alone (his book may have led one of the parents whose children died to choose to not vaccinate.)

      This is a man who should be allowed to be around children. I’m sorry for anyone who becomes involved with such a charlatan & purveyor of hate.

      He also censors anyone from Twitter who disagrees with him. Because he cannot do that here I feel great satisfaction. The truth cannot and will not be censored.

      A review of his “book” here:

      The author, James Lyons-Weiler has an impressive-sounding list of degrees in various realms of science including basic biology, zoology, ecology and molecular biology (although not in fields directly related to the arguments he makes in this book, such as immunology, neuroscience and pediatrics). While he apparently has not conducted any research into autism (according to a PubMed literature search), you’d expect that someone with his credentials is capable of analyzing and understanding current knowledge in the field and summarizing it for his readers.

      Disappointingly, “The Environmental and Genetic Causes of Autism” does not do this. Instead, it serves mainly to express and justify the author’s poorly-supported views about what causes autism, in particular a polemic against vaccination.

      What we’re in for first surfaces in a preface in which Lyons-Weiler expresses his belief that immunization causes autism and calls for “reform in vaccine safety” as a solution. It becomes even more clear in the book’s dedication to a Who’s Who of antivaxers, including Russell Blaylock, Gary Null, Brian Hooker, Anne Dachel and even Andrew Wakefield, whose unethical and fraudulent research involving the MMR vaccine cost him his license to practice medicine and severely damaged the credibility of the anti-vaccine movement (it is one of many ironies that Lyons-Weiler thanks Wakefield, and just a few pages later declares that he wrote his book “to defend science”).

      The book could be divided into several sections – one detailing the diagnosis and characteristics of autism (sprinkled with the author’s and others’ theories as to why vaccines and other “toxins” are to blame), another more explicitly targeting vaccines and the forces the author perceives as shutting down the truth about them, and the author’s proposals for classifying autism risk and preventing/mitigating it.

      Early on, Lyons-Weiler shows that he doesn’t accept basic facts about autism acknowledged by the vast majority of experts in the field. He refers to major increases in autism diagnoses while dismissing clear-cut evidence that an overwhelming proportion of this increase is due to changes in dignostic criteria. On the subject of vaccines, divergence between the author and the scientific community as a whole becomes even more glaring. For example, Lyons-Weiler (LW) goes on about perceived risks of mercury preservative (for the rational, a dead issue since thimerosal was removed from virtually all childhood vaccines in 2001 with no effect on autism rates) and aluminum-based adjuvants, relying on a relative handful of papers with dubious relevance while failing to cite a huge amount of research vindicating the safety of vaccines containing them (ironically, LW accuses the CDC of ignoring vaccine-autism studies). LW cites two alleged vaccine-associated disorders, ASIA syndrome and macrophagic fasciitis, not telling readers that neither has been accepted by the medical community as actual syndromes. In particular, macrophagic fasciitis describes microscopic foci in muscle believed to represent tiny aluminum-containing deposits secondary to vaccine injection, but no one has convincingly shown that such microscopic deposits are a marker for vaccine-induced illness. You’d never know from this book that infants get far more aluminum from infant formula than from vaccines.

      LW remarks that the Institute of Medicine (a highly respected source of independent reviews of medical practices) found that most studies used to support thimerosal safety were “fatally flawed”. The IOM has repeatedly issued reports based on comprehensive review of the literature, finding that vaccines have an excellent safety record and that claims of harm (including from thimerosal) are not justified. But I am unable to find the IOM’s conclusions anywhere in this book (remember, this is an author who repeatedly suggests that his opponents are hiding something and “cherry-picking” research; the irony is again rich). LW attempts to toss out much of the research vindicating vaccine safety on the justification that its methodology was incapable of detecting small negative effects in the study population. This is puzzling seeing that LW is simultaneously arguing that autism spectrum disorders have become very common and thus should be detectable in competent vaccine safety studies. Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.

      Autism researchers have demonstrated that a large component of the disorder is genetic, and that susceptibility has a heritable component. Apparently, since science has not yet found a common molecular “smoking gun” leading to autism, we’re supposed to be free to ignore all this evidence in favor shaky correlations between LW’s preferred toxins and the disorder.

      Another major defect of this book is that while it summarizes the author’s perceptions of what his preferred vaccine-related studies show, the studies themselves are not referenced in the book (it doesn’t even have an index!). A little investigation by the reader would show that besides representing a minute fraction of research on the subject, the authors of LW’s cited papers often lack credibility with their peers (for example, he cites a paper by the Geier and Geier father-and-son team (the father had medical licenses suspended or revoked in multiple states related to his prescribing a chemical castration drug for autistic male children, and the son was cited for practicing medicine without a license. The quality of the “research” they conducted out of their home is poorly regarded).

      I’m left to wonder exactly what audience this book was aimed at. It’s going to be very heavy going for non-medical professionals, faced with section and chapter headings like “Application Of Univariate Thinking In the Face Of Etiological Heterogeneity” and “Toward a Multidimensional Matrix Risk Model for Autism” (even physicians and other health care workers would face difficulty slogging through all the nomenclature and conceptualizations). Researchers into autism and related fields will not be impressed by the caliber of LW’s preferred pseudoexperts, nor are they likely to react well to the frequent intimations of malfeasance, conspiracy and profiteering leveled at those whose findings differ from those of the author. This book seems most likely to be casually referred to (if not read) by antivaxers as an authoritative tome by someone they see as having impeccable scientific credentials, and thus irrefutable (never mind the far greater number of scientists with equal or better credentials, who do not agree).

      I found “The Environmental and Genetic Causes of Autism” to represent a rehashing of common antivax misconceptions and claims, dressed up with a patina of science. I considered giving it two stars because some of its basic descriptions about autism diagnosis and treatment are useful, but it is far too riddled with bias and pseudoscience to recommend as an authoritative source.

  • DR said “parents don’t have a human right to fail to protect their children from disease”.

    Ok, law professor, cite the US laws, rules or regulations that say that parents cannot decline the option to vaccinate their child when they are asked by their doctors if they would like to accept a particular vaccine.

    Your answer will be forwarded to your Dean.

    • ABsebt a state law or court order, parents can refuse consent.

      But not having an absolute right means that the state can limit their refusal, either by legislation or via court order. Courts can order vaccinating infants with hepatitis b positive mothers over parental opposition, and have. In an outbreak situation a court in Philadelphia ordered children vaccinated against measles over parental opposition. It’s constitutional.

      And do you think you’re the first anti vaccine activist that threatened to contact my employer, or did do that? You’re not. As a way to try and intimidate me into not correcting you, it doesn’t work.

    • Lyons-Weiler, cite the international or domestic human rights instrument which you believe protects the right of parents to leave their children vulnerable to vaccine preventable diseases. Your response is awaited with tremendous interest.

    • Just so anyone reading new comments understands who James “Cherry Pickin” Weiler REALLY is & doesn’t mistakingly take him seriously I will repeat my comments from earlier. Because James is one of the most vocal, angry, frustrated, cowardly & plain dangerous antivax charlatan’s out there, attempting to exploit & harm children for his own pocketbook. While it’s obvious he shouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone (and thankfully isn’t) just in case anyone doesn’t understand his true nature…

      James “Cherry Pickin” Weiler could not be more wrong if he tried (and believe you me, he tries on a DAILY basis.)

      James demonizes autistics & exploits autistic children & their families on daily basis. If he’s not selling his book or tweeting about his debunked blog he’s begging for money for his admitted #antivax “science” group him & his antivax loons set up to “prove” vaccines cause autism. At the same time he shouts about how he isn’t antivax & attacks “biased” studies…Yes, he attacks studies as “biased” as he BEGS for money to create his own…YOU GUESSED IT…MOTHER FUNKIN’ BIASED STUDIES.

      And when someone calls him out on his fraud & BS on Twitter…what does he do? He BLOCKS them like a coward he is. Because he doesn’t want anyone else inside his echo chamber (who is feeding him money & providing him with a home, food & vacations) to see the truth.

      James is the definition of a hypocrite, a fraud, a liar and charlatan. He would gladly sell you the Brooklyn Bridge if he could.

      Nothing he says related to vaccines has any merit. He likes to use big words but in reality he’s a failed scientist who never found glory and became ANTIVAX (yes, you are antivax James) so he could have some sort of fame. Even if half the people who now worship him deny the Holocaust & are either racists, anti-semites or Sandy Hook denying conspiracy loons.

      Alex Jones has more credibility than James. At least Alex doesn’t try to hide the fact that he’s in this for fame and money. I can respect that.

      And if you think I’m being too harsh on James…this is me taking it easy on him.

      Knowing he’s angered and can’t block me in this forum will bring me great satisfaction.

      I’d say see you on Twitter James but you can’t because you blocked me for speaking #truth.

      One more thing.

      #deleteyouraccount

      @thereal_truther OUT.

    • These are vaccine TARGETED illnesses, not “vaccine preventable diseases,” which is why children who are vaccinated can still contract and transmit these illnesses they’ve been vaccinated against. And NO ONE has a “right” to be free from communicable illnesses…Mother Nature doesn’t work that way and neither do vaccines. Forced vaccination goes against basic human rights to decide what does or doesn’t get injected in the body. If we don’t have the freedom to choose that then we have no freedom at all.

    • In accordance with article 25 of the UDHR, the WHO constitution and domestic legislation in numerous countries, including the USA, there is a legal right to a good standard of health and health care.

    • I don’t consider vaccines good quality healthcare. I choose to avoid them because they don’t cause health, they steal it. I will not compromise myself or my kids so others can have a false sense of protection.

    • The law doesn’t care what you ‘consider’ unless you can back it up with evidence, which in this case you can’t.

    • Liz, you can’t back up with evidence that vaccines won’t harm or kill me or my kids and neither can anyone else, so no one else gets to decide what risks we take.
      If a product is not safe and effective for everyone, it should not be mandated. If you believe otherwise, you’re ignorant and dangerous.
      Mandatory vaccination is a prescription for tyranny and exploitation of the people.

    • @Liz Matthews, the “legal right to a good standard of health and health care” does not include a “right” to invasive prophylactic interventions against one’s wishes, even though there is certainly a history of this, as evidenced by the forced sterilization programs in the US, especially California, through the 1970’s.

      http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/unwanted-sterilization-and-eugenics-programs-in-the-united-states/

      You might also look up Buck vs. Bell.

    • A. While nothing is 100% effective, vaccines prevent diseases. That’s why the unvaccinated have higher rates of these diseases and areas with low rates experience more outbreaks.
      http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p2069.pdf

      B. If we couldn’t fool
      Mother Nature people with diabetes would die very young and only one child in five would reach adulthood.

      Mother Nature is fine with germs winning over us. Most humans, including vaccine inventors, want children to live.

      C. You’re an adult. You want to leave yourself at risk of disease because of incorrect beliefs, it’s one thing. The state can quarantine you, but you do have a right to refuse protection.

      You don’t have a human right to leave children unprotected because you reject science.

      D. Commenters can easily note that the comment using my actual name – not the childish distortion – is not me, by its contents.

      I think stooping to using a false name and pretending to be someone else reflects on the speaker’s credibility.

    • This isn’t about an adult refusing.

      Children aren’t choosing to refuse to be protected against diphtheria, polio, Jin and measles. They don’t have the capacity to make that choice as young children.

      So it’s not about an individual right to refuse treatment. It’s about a parent’s right to deny proper health care – disease protection that is supported by the scientific and medical consensus world wide – to their child.

      There is no human right to do that. If anything, that choice violates a child’s rights, as Liz pointed out.

      No, the right to informed consent does not include your right to sacrifice your child to diphtheria because you hold false beliefs on vaccines.

    • Sciencemom, since vaccinations are only given with consent, nothing you have stated there is of any relevance to this discussion.

    • Consent given for ANY PREVENTIVE MEDICAL INTERVENTION may be withdrawn for any reason, at any time, WITHOUT DISADVANTAGE OR PREJUDICE:

      “Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information. The consent should, where appropriate, be express and may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice.”

    • Liz Matthews, vaccines are not given with FREE, INFORMED CONSENT.

      Coercing a parent into agreeing to 6 vaccines at once by threatening to refuse to provide medical care for their child if their child ever gets hurt or sick, or by blocking the child from attending daycare or school, is not “obtaining consent.” It is coercion.

      Shocking that you would try to convince us otherwise.

  • Offit does not counter “anti-vax” misinformation. He makes facts up and hope that his white coat and MD will carry the weight of the argument.

    Fact-checking Offit makes him look ridiculous, unprofessional, and frankly I can’t take anything he has to say seriously. Except for the fact that he puts kids at risk of harm. He should be cheerleading for vaccine safety biomarkers to screen kids at risk. And for safer vaccines. In fact, the only position where Dr. Offit will be seen as a credible scientist in the near future will be that vaccines must be made safer. For a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that vaccine risk denialism has caused a massive blow-back and vaccine uptake is being harmed. The vaccine injured community of moms and dads runs circle around him on knowledge of studies showing vaccine risk, all of those studies which he conveniently ignores.

    • Anyone reading Dr. Offit’s articles and the VEC material would see they are aimed at explaining issues, not using authority to avoid anything.

      The WHO, doctors, pretty much all credible bodies acknowledge them as credible because they are carefully accurate.

      Again, the fact that the anti vaccine activists reject them is to be expected.

      It likely adds credibility.

    • Anyone who reads, for example, Dr. Offit’s books – or the VEC materials – will see they don’t ignore vaccines risks. They’re very clear about them.

      They just provide the real, actual risks. Not the ones anti vaccine activists believe in, but the ones evidence supports.

    • James “Cherry Pickin” Weiler, having failed at every effort he’s made in his sorry career to harm children & families is now personally attacking a hero who has saved millions of lives by creating something that helps. This is low even for someone like James, a man who has no moral compass.

      On the other hand James has written a book intended to convince parents to not vaccinate, a decision which has led to 37 deaths in Europe alone this year. Is his book directly responsible for those deaths? Did one of the families purchase his book before making their decision that cost them the lives of their child? That’s not for me to decide.

      Here’s a review of his book for anyone interested:

      ” was sent a copy of this book by a “medical freedom” lobbying group that focuses on opposing vaccination mandates.

      The author, James Lyons-Weiler has an impressive-sounding list of degrees in various realms of science including basic biology, zoology, ecology and molecular biology (although not in fields directly related to the arguments he makes in this book, such as immunology, neuroscience and pediatrics). While he apparently has not conducted any research into autism (according to a PubMed literature search), you’d expect that someone with his credentials is capable of analyzing and understanding current knowledge in the field and summarizing it for his readers.

      Disappointingly, “The Environmental and Genetic Causes of Autism” does not do this. Instead, it serves mainly to express and justify the author’s poorly-supported views about what causes autism, in particular a polemic against vaccination.

      What we’re in for first surfaces in a preface in which Lyons-Weiler expresses his belief that immunization causes autism and calls for “reform in vaccine safety” as a solution. It becomes even more clear in the book’s dedication to a Who’s Who of antivaxers, including Russell Blaylock, Gary Null, Brian Hooker, Anne Dachel and even Andrew Wakefield, whose unethical and fraudulent research involving the MMR vaccine cost him his license to practice medicine and severely damaged the credibility of the anti-vaccine movement (it is one of many ironies that Lyons-Weiler thanks Wakefield, and just a few pages later declares that he wrote his book “to defend science”).

      The book could be divided into several sections – one detailing the diagnosis and characteristics of autism (sprinkled with the author’s and others’ theories as to why vaccines and other “toxins” are to blame), another more explicitly targeting vaccines and the forces the author perceives as shutting down the truth about them, and the author’s proposals for classifying autism risk and preventing/mitigating it.

      Early on, Lyons-Weiler shows that he doesn’t accept basic facts about autism acknowledged by the vast majority of experts in the field. He refers to major increases in autism diagnoses while dismissing clear-cut evidence that an overwhelming proportion of this increase is due to changes in dignostic criteria. On the subject of vaccines, divergence between the author and the scientific community as a whole becomes even more glaring. For example, Lyons-Weiler (LW) goes on about perceived risks of mercury preservative (for the rational, a dead issue since thimerosal was removed from virtually all childhood vaccines in 2001 with no effect on autism rates) and aluminum-based adjuvants, relying on a relative handful of papers with dubious relevance while failing to cite a huge amount of research vindicating the safety of vaccines containing them (ironically, LW accuses the CDC of ignoring vaccine-autism studies). LW cites two alleged vaccine-associated disorders, ASIA syndrome and macrophagic fasciitis, not telling readers that neither has been accepted by the medical community as actual syndromes. In particular, macrophagic fasciitis describes microscopic foci in muscle believed to represent tiny aluminum-containing deposits secondary to vaccine injection, but no one has convincingly shown that such microscopic deposits are a marker for vaccine-induced illness. You’d never know from this book that infants get far more aluminum from infant formula than from vaccines.

      LW remarks that the Institute of Medicine (a highly respected source of independent reviews of medical practices) found that most studies used to support thimerosal safety were “fatally flawed”. The IOM has repeatedly issued reports based on comprehensive review of the literature, finding that vaccines have an excellent safety record and that claims of harm (including from thimerosal) are not justified. But I am unable to find the IOM’s conclusions anywhere in this book (remember, this is an author who repeatedly suggests that his opponents are hiding something and “cherry-picking” research; the irony is again rich). LW attempts to toss out much of the research vindicating vaccine safety on the justification that its methodology was incapable of detecting small negative effects in the study population. This is puzzling seeing that LW is simultaneously arguing that autism spectrum disorders have become very common and thus should be detectable in competent vaccine safety studies. Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.

      Autism researchers have demonstrated that a large component of the disorder is genetic, and that susceptibility has a heritable component. Apparently, since science has not yet found a common molecular “smoking gun” leading to autism, we’re supposed to be free to ignore all this evidence in favor shaky correlations between LW’s preferred toxins and the disorder.

      Another major defect of this book is that while it summarizes the author’s perceptions of what his preferred vaccine-related studies show, the studies themselves are not referenced in the book (it doesn’t even have an index!). A little investigation by the reader would show that besides representing a minute fraction of research on the subject, the authors of LW’s cited papers often lack credibility with their peers (for example, he cites a paper by the Geier and Geier father-and-son team (the father had medical licenses suspended or revoked in multiple states related to his prescribing a chemical castration drug for autistic male children, and the son was cited for practicing medicine without a license. The quality of the “research” they conducted out of their home is poorly regarded).

      I’m left to wonder exactly what audience this book was aimed at. It’s going to be very heavy going for non-medical professionals, faced with section and chapter headings like “Application Of Univariate Thinking In the Face Of Etiological Heterogeneity” and “Toward a Multidimensional Matrix Risk Model for Autism” (even physicians and other health care workers would face difficulty slogging through all the nomenclature and conceptualizations). Researchers into autism and related fields will not be impressed by the caliber of LW’s preferred pseudoexperts, nor are they likely to react well to the frequent intimations of malfeasance, conspiracy and profiteering leveled at those whose findings differ from those of the author. This book seems most likely to be casually referred to (if not read) by antivaxers as an authoritative tome by someone they see as having impeccable scientific credentials, and thus irrefutable (never mind the far greater number of scientists with equal or better credentials, who do not agree).

      I found “The Environmental and Genetic Causes of Autism” to represent a rehashing of common antivax misconceptions and claims, dressed up with a patina of science. I considered giving it two stars because some of its basic descriptions about autism diagnosis and treatment are useful, but it is far too riddled with bias and pseudoscience to recommend as an authoritative source.”

    • Anyone reading Dr. Offit’s articles and the VEC material would see that they are aimed at trying to snow people into believing the manufacturers’ false claims of safety, efficacy, and necessity.

      We already know that these claims are not to be trusted, just as the same claims were not to be trusted for thalidomide, Vioxx, and opioid painkillers.

      Using pejorative labels (“anti-vaccine activists”) to describe critics is such an obvious tactic of attempting to divert the attention from the problems to the critics calling attention to the problems.

      It’s too late for that. The problems are already all too obvious to everyone. We’ve reached a tipping point, where enough people either have at least one child who had a terrible reaction to vaccines, or they know other families who have such a child.

      Trying to destroy those calling attention to the problems with vaccines is backfiring.

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