New on PLoS: Evidence, herd immunity, and “total assholes”

May 9th, 2011 → 9:55 am @ // No Comments

My latest PLoS blog post went up on Friday; in it I discuss a comment I made back in January at American University in Washington DC. It begins:

If there’s any one thing I’ve stressed in my talks over the past three months, it’s that parents of children who believe that their children have been vaccine injured deserve compassion and understanding. (That doesn’t mean they should be pandered to or be allowed to dictate public health policy.) I’ve also said many times that I can’t pretend to know beyond any doubt how I would react if I was in their shoes.

I do, however, know what it’s like to be a parent who feels uneasy when a doctor asks you to take off your newborn’s pants so your child can be injected with a vaccine. It’s scary. I don’t know anyone in the world who likes needles or likes watching  needles pierce their child’s skin. However, the fact that something is scary does not convey a license to blithely deny reality — which is why I find the actions of parents who have simply decided for themselves that vaccines and dangerous and at the same refuse to acknowledge the potential repercussions of not vaccinating on those around them to be morally repugnant. This is not a new position of mine; I wrote about it at length in a chapter of my book titled “Medical NIMBYism and Faith Based Metaphysics”…

Click here for the rest of the post.


Post Categories: Blog post & PLoS

6 Comments → “New on PLoS: Evidence, herd immunity, and “total assholes””

  1. Catherina

    13 years ago

    Faux News has already bitten, hook, line, sinker – dangerous fear mongering.


  2. Richids Coulter

    13 years ago

    Hepatitis B Vaccination of Male Neonates and Autism

    Annals of Epidemiology , Vol. 19, No. 9 ABSTRACTS (ACE), September 2009: 651-680,
    p. 659

    CM Gallagher, MS Goodman, Graduate Program in Public Health, Stony Brook University Medical Center, Stony Brook, NY

    PURPOSE: Universal newborn immunization with hepatitis B vaccine was recommended in 1991; however, safety findings are mixed. The Vaccine Safety Datalink Workgroup reported no association between hepatitis B vaccination at birth and febrile episodes or neurological adverse events. Other studies found positive associations between
    hepatitis B vaccination and ear infection, pharyngitis, and chronic arthritis; as well as receipt of early intervention/special education services (EIS); in probability samples of U.S. children. Children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) comprise a growing caseload for EIS. We evaluated the association between hepatitis B vaccination of male neonates and parental report of ASD.

    METHODS: This cross-sectional study used U.S. probability samples obtained from National Health Interview Survey 1997-2002 datasets. Logistic regression modeling was used to estimate the effect of neonatal hepatitis B vaccination on ASD risk among boys age 3-17 years with shot records, adjusted for race, maternal education, and two-parent household.

    RESULTS: Boys who received the hepatitis B vaccine during the first month of life had 2.94 greater odds for ASD (nZ31 of 7,486; OR Z 2.94; p Z 0.03; 95% CI Z 1.10, 7.90)
    compared to later- or unvaccinated boys. Non-Hispanic white boys were 61% less likely to have ASD (ORZ0.39; pZ0.04; 95% CIZ0.16, 0.94) relative to non-white boys.

    CONCLUSION: Findings suggest that U.S. male neonates vaccinated with hepatitis B vaccine had a 3-fold greater risk of ASD; risk was greatest for non-white boys.


    • Chris

      13 years ago

      That doesn’t make any sense. For one thing, ASD is more common in white children, with or without HepB vaccination.


  3. Terri Lewis

    13 years ago

    You know, you are definitely right that some parents are just morally irresponsible.

    I find that to be the case with parents who have simply decided that all vaccines, at any age, in any combo, are “safe enough.” Mercury? Aluminum? Live virus or attenuated? Whatever. For their kids and for everybody else.

    These parents just plow ahead stupidly without doing any research, without weighing the risks (such as “How might this contribute to the 1% chance that my child will suffer brain damage, maybe to the point of autism?”)–those parents, especially the ones telling the rest of us what to do, who willingly risk their own child’s life and health so that other people can be “safer”–those parents are simply abdicating their responsibility to their own children.

    Their actions are also irresponsible to their spouses, parents, siblings, and to society in general (do you know the cost of caring for children who suffer severe vaccine damage? And I don’t just mean the dollar amount).

    What benefit is there in getting a booster shot when you can easily check titers and see–in most cases–that the child is still showing immunity to measles, mumps and rubella? The extra shot carries extra risk, even if small, and there is zero potential benefit if immunity is already shown. (Well, the partial immunity that vaccines provide, that is.)

    What was the phrase you used?

    Oh, yes.

    “Morally repugnant.”

    These very parents, who are so sure of each and every vaccine their child receives, never research their family history for vaccine reactions; never consider the damage they might do if their own child is sick on “shot day,” but due to be injected with 8 or 9 viruses anyway; never think or discuss the risks of seizures, asthma, Type 1 diabetes, life-threatening food allergies; they simply “take off the newborn’s pants” and then again at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months and so on (wait–aren’t some of these vaccines contraindicated for those with egg allergies? Well, he’s only had eggs once, so I guess we’re safe. . .”).

    They don’t think, they just buy the whole thing hook, line, and sinker.

    Thank you, Richids Coulter, for providing just one study of many, many, many that show the link between vaccines and autism.

    Each and every vaccine a child receives should have a greater potential for benefit to that child than risk to that child.

    My baby isn’t cannon fodder in your war on disease.


  4. Margaret

    12 years ago

    When my oldest children, now 28 and 30, were infants, their pediatrician wanted to give them live polio vaccine, and was annoyed when we wanted them given the IPV instead. As is detailed in this publication of the CDC:

    the OPV is no longer recommended in the United States. In spite of the long discussion in Mnookin’s book about polio vaccines, Mnookin ignored this topic, which was quite controversial at the time. We were told that the OPV was safe, that there was no reason to seek an alternative – yet obviously there was a good reason. Mnookin uses the word “truth” several times in the book, as if there is a constant “truth,” – whatever the medical establishment recommends at the time. This is clearly not the case.

    I have relied primarily on traditional medicine, but I was horrified by the author’s arrogance and disdain for anyone who disagreed with him. As far as I can tell, the author has no background in medicine or in risk analysis; he criticizes those who question vaccine safety for relying on anecdotes but does the same thing himself throughout the book; he confuses correlation with causality in the chapter on chelation; he blames the death of the baby with pertussis on low vaccination rates rather than on the misdiagnosis/delayed diagnosis of her illness (there was no excuse for not recognizing the symptoms of pertussis whether or not the doctors had ever seen a case). Why did he not question the practice of allowing a young baby, especially one who was premature, to wait in a waiting room with other children, some of whom were undoubtedly ill? If you want to reduce the transmission of disease, the single most important way is to make sure that all employees have sufficient sick leave to stay home when they or their children are sick, and that they are not penalized for doing so.

    If the purpose of this book was to promote the use of vaccines, it certainly had the opposite effect in my case. Some of my older children received vaccines the safety of which I have started to question after reading this book. I was particularly intrigued by Sears’ philosophy.


  5. Margaret

    12 years ago

    In the epilogue, the author mentioned an HIB epidemic in Pennsylvania, which he blamed on decreased vaccination rates – this was very misleading, because the American Association of Family Physicians blamed it on a vaccine shortage, due the Merck’s recall of the vaccine because of possible contamination.


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