Conspiracies against vaccines: Blame the media

How did the idea that vaccines are dangerous, toxin-filled CDC experiments metastasize so quickly from the fringe to the mainstream?

Keep in mind that not only have vaccines been scientifically proven to be safe, but that some of the arguments against vaccines are so scientifically incredulous they are the equivalent of saying there is a UFO sitting in Central Park right now.

So let’s begin at the beginning. In 1998 Andrew Wakefield produced research funded by a lawyer who was crafting a way to sue vaccine manufacturers (and vaccine dissenters say you can’t trust vaccines because Big Pharma is just out for a buck! I’m not saying Pharma isn’t out for a buck, but people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones)

Wakefield’s 12 patient case series, not a prospective study but a case series, was published in the Lancet, probably because it was a novel concept. Big journals do sometimes publish small case series and occasionally even case reports if they offer something completely different. Although, any scientist knows what is identified in a case report or a case series may not eventually hold up to rigorous prospective studies, but ideas have to start somewhere. The only problem is this particular idea was tended to, if not germinated, by a plaintiff’s attorney.

But what was so uniquely different about this case series was that Wakefield held a press conference to discuss the results. I remember seeing it on TV! I thought then and still do now, “Who the hell gets a press conference with cameras for a case series of 12 patients?” For the record, I am still waiting for the press to come calling about my fascinating case series on plasma cell vulvitis, a poorly studied and difficult to treat painful skin condition.

And then it just spread like wild fire. Despite the fact that a small case series would never be enough to change clinical practice, the seed was well sown. What was just incredulous to the scientific community was the fact that almost no time was given to doctors and researchers who count counter the flawed science.

With celebrity activist Jenny McCarthy, the message spread to Oprah, Larry King, and newspapers and on line sources too numerous to count. I don’t blame McCarthy. I have no doubt her motives were pure and she was seduced by flawed science (Google University, you know). However, I do find it curious that she got more air time than other celebrities promoting equally devastating neurological conditions: David Hyde Pierce (Alzheimer’s) and Michael J. Fox (Parkinson’s) come to mind. Then again, they weren’t hollering about a smoking gun (I suppose fact checking is just too much to ask).

So here it is. I call on the press to right the wrong.

Oprah, you gave McCarthy a big pulpit. You have also given Dr. Christine Northrup a big pulpit and she speaks against HPV vaccination. Her idea is HPV doesn’t cause cancer (never mind the Nobel Prize was awarded to the researcher who made the connection between HPV and cancer). Larry King, you gave McCarthy tons of airtime. Arianna Huffington, I don’t know how many op-ed columns decrying vaccines you allowed. And the list goes on and on.

Isn’t it time the press helped undo the conspiracy theory behind vaccines, or is good science just not newsworthy?

Jennifer Gunter is an obstetrician-gynecologist and author of The Preemie Primer. She blogs at her self-titled site, Dr. Jen Gunter.

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  • IVF-MD

    It’s the right (and responsibility) of parents to take in information from competing sides and make their own personal decision as to what they wish to do with regards to the immunization of their children. If Pharma is lying, then let the celebrity non-scientists present their argument. If the celebrity non-scientists are lying, the let Pharma present their argument. Then, we, the public, will make our own decisions. I understand this situation is more complex because it involves children who are not able to make the decision for themselves. But if it were just a case of us people deciding whether or not we want vaccination (ie flu shots), then the choice should be ours because whatever our decision is mostly affects ourselves.

    • stitch

      IVF-MD, have you never heard of public health? Herd immunity?

      Vaccine refusal does not stop at the patients themselves.

      • IVF-MD

        Of course. The benefits of herd immunity still do not give politicians the right to force an individual to inject something into her body against her will.

        • stitch

          I respectfully disagree, to the extent that they can certainly impose penalties on those who choose not to do so and thereby put others at risk.

          The parents who negligently, stupidly, and ignorantly chose not to immunize their children against measles and thereby caused infection to children unable to be so immunized should suffer civil and possibly criminal penalties.

          • Mike

            “I respectfully disagree, to the extent that they can certainly impose penalties on those who choose not to do so and thereby put others at risk.”

            How can you sleep at night after saying something like that? Despite what you believe, it is a person’s choice what they do or do not inject into their body. Allow this and what is next, forced abortions, surgeries, diet? I just do not know what to say about a comment such as this and cannot believe you have given it the least bit of thought.

          • IVF-MD

            OK. We disagree. That’s fine. :)

          • stitch

            @Mike, I have indeed given it quite a bit of thought. I have read reports of outbreaks among unvaccinated people and the exposures to others. Have you?

            Please read what I said. I believe there is a role for at least civil penalties, if not criminal, for those who ignorantly and willfully choose not to vaccinate their children and put others at risk. That does not mean I advocate forcing people to inject things into their body. But if you choose not to do so, do not send your children to public schools, do not take them to public areas where they may expose others, or be prepared to suffer the civil and/or criminal consequences.

            Parents who have refused other forms of well-established treatments for their children (refusing appendectomies, for example) have been charged and convicted of negligence and child endangerment. This is not a new area of the law. Such parents are, however, perfectly within their right to refuse treatment for themselves.

            To compare the vaccine issue with “forced abortions, surgeries, diet” is specious. Those medical treatments do not affect other people directly, just the ones directly involved. That is not the case with vaccine refusal. Viruses and other communicable diseases do not stop at the borders of one individual; that is, in fact, why they are deemed “communicable.”

            When it comes to the issue of communicable diseases, no human being lives in isolation. Vaccines are not just about protecting the individual, they are also about reducing the incidence of disease in the greater population.

            I sleep very well at night, thank you for asking.

          • Alice

            A huge cyber clap, clap, clap to IVF for his honesty, respect for other’s opinions, and believing parent’s have brains and rights.

            Why make parents sign a waiver to absolve you, then tell parents the shots are safe. Why are the shots made overseas?

            Any doctor who is a parent should thank the people who risk their reputations to tell the truth about the shots. Why? Because the shots are now safer….thank you very much radicals for risking the wrath of the radical doctors who do not give parents full disclosure. My brilliant-award winning doctor and his wife did their research…he had no trouble at all with our not immunizing. Same as the medical examiner’s office where the ME’s said hell no on the flu shots (my husband’s employer gave the shots for free two days ago and a healthy man went home and died in his sleep. He was a marathon runner in excellent health).

            What do some doctors think they are some kind of public heath super hero that you think we should bow down and take a shot just because oh Wise One says so? Oh Great One, do tell me where you get such wisdom to tell half the story? Parents have the rights to ALL the facts and the Internet is giving them plenty of fuel (and falsehoods that you should be aware of and be able to use deductive reasoning with parents…yet, I have seen doctors here claim they lack time and patience for patients like me…okay, so the patient is either bullied into submission by your intimidation, or they walk away like me). What is bothersome is some parents know more than the doctor holding the needle. Some of you do not keep up with research and lean on the saving humanity….I am so altruistic approach…that is until a parent asks questions. I was thrown out of a pediatrician’s office for refusing a shot at the one month check up. She did me a favor. On the way out she was telling me to go visit her homeland and see polio patients. Her homeland city had sanitation cesspools and people eating from dumps, and a lack of hospitals and meds, and hand washing. Convincing stuff for an American where polio is wiped put.

            The truth is some kids have a genetic predisposition to the measles shot. When doctors can prescreen, or use the karma they think they possess to pick out those children BEFORE the shot is given and damage done….then parents will believe you….right now the scare tactics and intimidation from doctors wins out. That shot killed my two year cousin a few years ago. It was one of the saddest memories of my entire life.

          • stitch

            @Alice, all I can say to you is what oh so many people have said to you over the time on this board: the plural of anecdote is not data. Please try hard to understand that.

            And yes, the internet is full of information. If you read the internet you can learn lots of things. Whether it is actually factual, much less true, is another issue entirely.

            I am sorry a family member of yours had that kind of reaction to a vaccination. As I have said in other comments, nothing is 100% safe. We do not currently have tests available to tell who would have a bad reaction, and nothing like that will ever be 100% effective, either. I certainly look forward to the era of genomics in medicine but that is not coming any time in the near future. Meanwhile we work with what we have right now.

        • Primary Care Internist

          by that logic we shouldn’t ticket people for not wearing seatbelts, or not putting their child in carseats.

          • gzuckier

            In the past, prosecutions of parents for refusing medical treatment (e.g. tranfusions) for their children on religious grounds have come up with a mixed bag of results; some finding the parents at fault, some not, usually due to specific state laws exempting religious belief from such prosecutions. That being the case, unless parents belongs to a religion which bans vaccinations, they can indeed be forced to have their kids vaccinated; although I don’t think such prosecutions have any grounds unless the kid actually gets sick and presumably dies. Of course, that being the case, the parents should logically have the right to sue the state if the kid is forced to be treated but dies anyway, or loses his or her immortal soul, or whatever.

            All of this probably pales, however, compared to the wrath of the insurance company presented with failure to comply with preventive measures.

        • Mike

          IVF-MD I was agreeing with you.

  • Jackie Fox

    Well said. You should pitch this to USA Today in hopes they want to prove you wrong.

  • Shannon DeBalli

    As the mother of 2 boys with autism I think it is criminal not to vaccinate your children. I am distressed by the previous comment where it is said the decision mostly affects ourselves….what about the elderly, children exposed to your child you have chosen not to vaccinate? I question such a juvenile view of how vaccinations work. Please do the research to find out. Vaccines are only effective when everyone has been vaccinated. As to non-celebrity scientists stating their case, they do constantly but are not celebrities so they get very little media coverage.

    • Alice

      Shannon…..first of all…I am truly sorry to hear about your children. I really do understand the devastation of a diagnosis like that (two of my children have been diagnosed with cancer).

      I found your diatribe to be passionate, but quite limited….a bit short sighted as far as precedents amd our rights go.

      Research is tainted…have you studied how research is done? Everyone of us reading board has an agenda. Some of us may be over protective…some truly believe the public health is at risk…the herd argument is empty….if the shots do what you claim what’s the worry? Your kid…by your own “research” is protected? Right? Not! We know the American Academy of Pediatrics shares that the majority of kids o get pertussis were vaccinated….so you promote a false sense of security.

      Bad science is involved in BOTH sides of this debate. There is room for debate, but when it becomes self righteous the truth gets buried…but because it involves our children I understand that parents side and truly believe they are protecting their child and society….oh if it were just so and there was no risk involved.

      I just think beating up on moms like me is useless.
      I guess this confession of mine means I am jail bait! A negligent mom, who home schooled her children. Yeah, let’s regulate that to as we chisel away at parent’s rights. Next thing you know feeding your kid some Fritos will be a crime (just a little bit of cyberdramatics….yeah…I still drink Diet Coke so it’s hard to take me seriously! *wink*) Let’s give the government so much power we will need a license to take our child on a stroll…..oops….I ate a brownie too….I hope they do not become fond memories….of course, there’s always the option of medicinal pot for me achin” joints….and doctors sure like that option too. I can see the shop signs now for the docs….Pot and Shots! :)

      For those who quote research that the measles shot does not cause autism I will refer you to the court case a neurologist won for his daughter’s autism being caused by the shot. Doctors usually change their mind when their own child is injured or dies. But they are taken more seriously than a mere mom who has not obtained the elitist degree that gives you the right to say millions of moms are full of crap! :)

      • Claire

        …I don’t think you understand the meaning of “jail bait”. And one cannot be “genetically predisposed to the measles shot”.

        • Alice

          I really think many here need to understand what the word “research” means, then how to use a dictionary!:)

          Go to Dr. Oz’s site and watch the video where he explains exactly what I tried to tell you about predisposition to autism. Did you know they can already find some predispositions? That is the New York Times for those who want to truly research the topic. Or dp want me to get you the info?

          What part of “jail” or “bait” doesn’t makes sense? Both words sound pretty easy to figure out. The word is based on a very old movie where a man had plastic surgery to elude…ta’ da…jail! :). I’ll let you look up the word “bait” in the dictionary!

          • Claire

            Your comment about research aside, since I have no idea to what you’re referring…

            We don’t know if an individual can be genetically predisposed to autism. We know so little about it that we can’t say (“we” being modern science). It’s fair of you to say that you believe that an individual can be genetically predisposed to autism, but one cannot be “predisposed to a measles shot”. The word “predispose”, meaning “To make someone liable or inclined to a specified attitude, action, or condition”, is correct when describing a pre-existing condition or state that makes someone more likely to be affected by another thing. Like malnutrition can make one predisposed to cognitive deficits, or family history of schizophrenia seems to predispose an individual to developing that illness. Since the only way one can be predisposed to a vaccine (something you choose to receive, v. e.g. schizophrenia, something one develops regardless of their desire to do so) is if someone (including the individual) chooses to give it to them. In which case, you might say that an individual is “parentally predisposed”, but certainly not genetically, since that individual’s DNA did not will a practitioner’s hand to grasp a syringe and inject them.

            Further, “jail bait” refers to an individual who is under the age of sexual consent, yet appears to be over the age of consent (typically) and is found to be sexually attractive by another. If you want a term to describe someone who behaves in a manner that attracts the attention of the police, go with “heat bag”. And the word “jail” is not based on a movie. It originates from the Old French word “jaiole”, meaning “cage”. “Bait” is derived from the Old Norse “beita”, meaning “food” or “fodder”.

          • Alice

            Well, Claire thanks for proving my point. Who cares what the French meaning is of jail bait. It is common sense……you are bait for going to jail. You, again, showed that common sense is lacking.

            You just haven’t did your research. Just go to google and plug in “Dr. Oz + measles + predisposition” and you will find out WHY there is a predisposition. Vital information for parents to understand because it involved diet……oh no……Jenny may have been right when she switched to the diet. Pin up girl beats the doctors and rabid vaccinaters who have tunnel vision.

            Then take your fingers and brain over to the NY Times and find the research on the topic.

            In other words stay up on the most recent research before claiming other people haven’t researched. Do the actual research and open your mind up to the real truth, and stop being so blindsided you come here and try to prove what a word doesn’t really mean. In an effort to try to prove your inaccurate first statement you did what you are doing well……giving half the story.

  • Julie

    Vaccines have been helpful to many but that does not mean they are completely safe. I understand many/most do not have the time or interest to keep up with scientific literature surrounding vaccines but it may make a huge difference in your own life or someone you know.

    Vaccines have been reported to be contaminated (e.g. rotavirus vaccine RotaTeq with porcine circovirus 1 and 2 (PCV1 and PCV2) DNA). There is also the question whether vaccines can reactivate latent viruses that can cause harm.

    In addition, the Merck Manual provides guidelines regarding vaccine safety:

    The US Government would not have set up an Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) if safety issues associated with vaccines did not exist. VAERS receives around 30,000 reports annually, with 13% classified as serious (e.g., associated with disability, hospitalization, life-threatening illness or death)

    Here is the link:

    The ability for the general public to make informed decisions regarding vaccines or many other medical treatments depends upon effective and factual education and communication.

    • stitch

      Nothing is 100% safe, and that includes vaccines. However, vaccines are far safer on every measure than the diseases they are intended to prevent.

      • Alice

        Stitch…I think this is a fallacy. Compare the almost nil death rates of an actual disease then compare injury suits. The risk is much higher of an injury than death. Think about it… many a year die from pertussis. Isn’t it about ten deaths in the US? I am not worried about diphtheria or tetanus. I believe rubella is wiped put, and the only cases have been immigrants and the numbers are so low…Winging it here…I think one or two deaths per year? Move onto chicken pox…forget it…my kids got it the natural way and now have true immunities and should not get shingles. The only disease that scared me was measles. I was educated in what to look for, and I think the annual deaths are extremely low…some years list one teen in the US as dying from measles, but far more injuries. Go ahead and quote research…when I see a stage of moms saying their kid was normal before the shot, and we buried my cousin after he got that shot, I don’t need research. A dead tiny body in a coffin with a grieving mom trying to play with him is more than my fear of measles. No, he won’t be a research statistic….but that doesn’t change the truth and reality of what killed this charming, healthy child and deprived us of such sweetness that remained on his face even in death.

        • stitch

          Alice, this reflects so much lack of knowledge and disinformation I do not know where to begin. But I’ll try.

          We have not wiped out any of the diseases which you mention. They are kept in check by the vaccinations. That there are low death rates related to pertussis, to tetanus, to diptheria, is because we immunize. Rubella is not wiped out, the risks of this disease are significant. Look at the complications before immunization were widely available. That’s the data you need for comparison purposes.

          As for chicken pox and shingles, shingles is the reactivation of the varicella vaccine from nerve roots. You don’t get shingles unless you have had varicella. Simply not possible. You can spread chicken pox to people if you have shingles and they are susceptible, but you don’t get shingles from people who have chicken pox. This is simple fact. Now, whether getting immunized for varicella will protect against shingles in the future, we don’t know – the first large cohort of kids who were immunized for varicella/chicken pox is around the age of 15 or so, and the rate of shingles in this group is so low as to be negligible. It will be years before we know anything about that risk.

          Kids die from measles. I wonder how your anecdotes would go if your unimmunized child developed measles and subsequently got SSPE. Or varicella pneumonia. These are rare complications, indeed, but potentially lethal and statistically more likely than a lethal reaction to a vaccine.

          Again, I will say, nothing is 100% safe.

          • Alice

            Stitch….thanks for being nice….but did you really even try to see of I was right before this post? I find the topic to be on the level of passionate interest. I debate doctors on this in real life to (most agree, but not all. Dr. Oz’s wife doesn’t agree with her husband and while he gets a flu shot her and the kids do not. She was the daughter of a doctor who, obviously, raised someone who thinks for herself, uses medical data tp base her decisions, and refuses to be bullied, particularly by those who just will not do complete research.

            Shingles is often the case when a child isn’t fully immune to the chicken pox. The shot is a low dose, therefore, shingles can result from the shots poor ability to truly make one immune as the real disease. Unless your child has an immune system problem it is better to get the disease. In the shot promotional material they say it is better to get the shot because then mom will not miss time off work staying home with a contagious child. Wow…sounds enticing! Those PR people really know to be persuasive. :)

            Okay….here is just one excerpt from a lawyer with a grandchild with autism. There is so much online about the predisposition, that it is discouraging that people come here with the mindset of proving me wrong on linguistics, do not read the intent of the poster, refuse to find recent research and care more about discrediting someone than the truth about the shots or the disease. Real children are at risk here….

            Is there a vaccine to prevent the, I Really Want To Be Right, More Than Expose The Truth mindset:)

            Okay, okay….here goes… in point: The recent announcement that researchers had “uncovered dozens of previously unknown genetic mutations that contribute to autism in children.” While some of the mutations are inherited from the parents, other “tiny genetic errors may occur during formation of the parents’ eggs and sperm, and these variations are copied during creation of their child’s DNA.”
            Notwithstanding headlines to the contrary, this research does not herald a “cure” for autism. If anything it augurs the opposite: researchers found that “every [autistic] child showed a different disturbance in a different gene.” These “private genetic mutations” make “may make it more difficult to design drug therapies that work across a wide range of autistic spectrum disorders.”
            But if a “cure” is no closer than it was before the findings were announced what is closer is our ability to genetically identify people at a high risk for autism in utero.
            And what will we do with this information? Do you really have to ask? We will kill to be kind.
            [end quote]

          • Alice

            How would I feel if my child got measles? I believe in my previous posts I answered that measles is the only disease that scared me, but the shot scared me more. I would have preferred that my cousin got real measles. I said I knew what to look for, and remember I homeschooled the last 22 years, only this year are my kids attending part time private school (that means more exposure, but many there do not immunize. It is a school that teaches thinking and was profiled in Bloomberg recently. Only 200 kids in the whole school.

            The excellent retired pharmacist who is into iresearch said he refuses the shots, and the kids were able to understand each ingredient from a chemical analyses. Probably, much better than most doctors who can’t tell a mom exactly what is in the shots, yet my 16 year old knows and has studied immunology (it is the toughest anatomy course I have seen).

            Stitch did you read the stats at the CDC to see how many a year die from measles? Some years it is one. I do not feel the shot is worth the risk, and again, measles is the only disease that caused me to pause.

            And I do believe kids have stronger immune systems if they are not fed crap, and given shots. They may need stronger immune systems to fight off cancer. As for my daughter they claim a dental xray hit her thyroid at the wrong time. Make sure your dental assistant puts a cuff over your child’s throat.

          • Alice

            Stitch says: Alice, this reflects so much lack of knowledge and disinformation I do not know where to begin. But I’ll try.

            We have not wiped out any of the diseases which you mention. They are kept in check by the vaccinations. That there are low death rates related to pertussis, to tetanus, to diptheria, is because we immunize. Rubella is not wiped out, the risks of this disease are significant. Look at the complications before immunization were widely available. That’s the data you need for comparison purposes. [end quote]

            Egads……you aren’t serious?:) I am sincere in asking if you rechecked your facts before posting. Although, I will admit you seem sincere, but not fully researched. I actually think you believe all you read in medical books! :)

            I said rubella was basically wiped out and I am not worried about tetanus or diptheria. You know I had this debate with my pediatrician. She agreed you can get to the hospital and get a tetanus shot after a bite……and even then it’s really rare to get tetanus. You probably know the shot is diluted so much it’s pretty worthless…….so tell me again how effective the shots are now that they are so safe? They are less effective, but more safe because they aren’t giving the immunity you claim they are. And why so many boosters? Have you had children tested to see if they are really immune? I’m betting they aren’t on all diseases. The only true way for immunity is to get the disease……..risky……but so are the shots. The shots don’t always kill kids, but they can do other types of damage. But, again, some kids are just getting placebos and the parents proudly hold up Little Johnny as the poster child for why you should get shots. A blood test would probably show Johnny is just as suseptible as many of the unvaccinated. It’s a false sense of security.

            Okay, I found this in about ten seconds and there is more, and I won’t bother with polio because we know it lives in the live virus.

            US eradicates rubella, Canada following suit

            Rubella, better known as German measles, a dreaded disease that contributes hugely to childhood infections and congenital birth complications, has been eradicated from United States and Canada, health authorities of the two countries have said.

            Speaking at a conference held at Washington, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Julie Gerberding said, “This is a major milestone in the path toward eliminating rubella in other parts of the world, including the Western Hemisphere.” However, she asserted the need for taking rubella vaccines since the latest cases of the disease have been contracted by unvaccinated people due to travel to countries where the disease is still present. “As long as there is rubella anywhere in the world, there could be rubella in our children,” she added.

            Canada’s Public Health Agency’s Theresa Tam said, “Rubella is quite prevalent in other parts of the world. And if we let our guard down, we allow some susceptible populations to build up in Canada. It only takes one introduction and we could have an outbreak.” She maintained that keeping vaccination against rubella at its topmost levels is very important. Canada, however, is yet to declare the disease completely eradicated from the country due to the fact that it has not officially tracked the occurrence of the disease.

          • stitch

            Alice, all I can say is I know of what I speak, I have researched this issue extensively, I’ve had multiple discussions on this topic, I’ve read CDC records and read many of the primary research papers.

            You don’t know what you are talking about when it comes to shingles. Period. Any one on this board with medical training knows that.

            But thanks, because you are a good example of what the diary is all about, in the end.

          • Alice

            Ah come on Stitch………just admit it… were wrong. ha! You know where my info on shingles came from? Research and my own doctor when I got shingles. Remember what happened in Japan when they gave the chicken pox vaccine? Shingles when the kids grew up. They were not completely immune.

          • stitch

            @Alice – why I get into these discussions I will never know. They say never argue with an…

            I’m not wrong. I don’t know where your doc got his/her training and without speaking to them directly I’m not about to discuss their qualifications.

            I am not wrong about shingles. Read this.

            or this, from one of the most respected medical texts:

            You, on the other hand, make outrageous statements without providing links or verifiable evidence to back up your claims.

            Hate to use this quote because it can be so trite, but, “you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.”

          • Alice

            Ah come on now …….why would we take someone with a name like Stitch posting anonymously seriously? :)

            I can play dueling websites if you like, but you already disregarded exact words from the CDC that proved you wrong on rubella and the measles. Why mess around with a sore loser? But then again………..there’s always tomorrow!

          • Alice

            Stitch all you have to do is ask….that’s the gist of a good debate. I was talking about shingles in adults…..that’s when I got shingles. Not during childhood. This good doctor talks about the reactivation of the virus in adulthood…….just like I tried to tell you.

            Why are they developing a shingles vaccine if I am wrong and you are right?

            Ya, know I am thinking they give common sense lobotomies in medical school.

            This is from a doctor……..guess he is stupid like me! :)
            New research published in the International Journal of Toxicology (IJT) by Gary S. Goldman, Ph.D., reveals high rates of shingles (herpes zoster) in Americans since the government’s 1995 recommendation that all children receive chicken pox vaccine. Goldman’s research supports that shingles, which results in three times as many deaths and five times the number of hospitalizations as chicken pox, is suppressed naturally by occasional contact with chicken pox.

            Dr. Goldman’s findings have corroborated other independent researchers who estimate that if chickenpox were to be nearly eradicated by vaccination, the higher number of shingles cases could continue in the U.S. for up to 50 years; and that while death rates from chickenpox are already very low, any deaths prevented by vaccination will be offset by deaths from increasing shingles disease. Another recent peer-reviewed article authored by Dr. Goldman and published in Vaccine presents a cost-benefit analysis of the universal chicken pox (varicella) vaccination program. Goldman points out that during a 50-year time span, there would be an estimated additional 14.6 million (42%) shingles cases among adults aged less than 50 years, presenting society with a substantial additional medical cost burden of $4.1 billion. This translates into $80 million annually, utilizing an estimated mean healthcare provider cost of $280 per shingles case.

            After a child has had varicella (chickenpox), the virus becomes dormant and can reactivate later in adulthood in a closely related disease called shingles–both caused by the same varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It has long been known that adults receive natural boosting from contact with children infected with chicken pox that helps prevent the reactivation of shingles.

            Based on Dr. Goldman’s earlier communications with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Goldman maintains that epidemiologists from the CDC are hoping “any possible shingles epidemic associated with the chickenpox vaccine can be offset by treating adults with a ‘shingles’ vaccine.” This intervention would substitute for the boosting adults previously received naturally, especially during seasonal outbreaks of the formerly common childhood disease.

          • stitch

            Once again, Alice, thank you for proving that trying to argue facts and science against faith and willingness to adhere blindly to foolish inconsistencies is a fool’s errand. And I do not wish to be a fool.

            Again, also, thank you for proving the essential basis of the diary by quoting a shameless self-promoter like Goldman who has no medical or bench science training.

            I cede to you your willingness to accept conspiracies and lack of basic scientific knowledge. So goes our country. I hope that my children will be protected against those unvaccinated masses. Perhaps, indeed, that will be the ultimate Darwin award.

          • Alice

            I thank you to because the more falsehoods you brought up the more opportunity to share the truth was presented.

            Hey, before I forget, please tell Lilo we all said, “Hi!”

    • Anonymous

      The ability for the general public to make informed decisions regarding vaccines or many other medical treatments depends upon effective and factual education and communication.

      As a member of the general public, I got Tdap a few years earlier than the usual Td interval in order to pick up the pertussis vaccine. Part of the reason why is that the increasing number of vaccine refusers are just more vectors to be exposed to. Even though pertussis might not be that big a deal for me (though still much higher risk than the vaccine), I do not want to be the vector bringing it to relatives who are elderly or infants (falling outside the age limitations for the vaccines).

      In other words, the growing rate of vaccine refusal means that, for one’s own selfish reasons, it is more important than it has been in decades to keep one’s vaccinations up to date, since the vaccine refusers poke more and bigger holes in the shield of herd immunity that may protect you even if you happen to miss or delay a vaccine.

      • Alice

        Do you know how many cases a year of real whooping cough are diagnosed….not guesses like many stats (they did this with the swine flu lad year. Doctors guessed if you had it, so the media released numbers right from Chicken Little to our unsuspecting brains).

        Hospitals gave the shots out as if the plague had arrived in order to protect themselves (I read that here …am I not so smart? :) ) not just from the disease but lawsuits, but Americans got wise and many said to stick the shot….and we did well.

        • Claire

          From 2000-2008, there were 181 confirmed deaths from pertussis, and in 2008 there were 13,000 confirmed cases in the U.S. And those are just the confirmed cases – many people infected with pertussis don’t ever get a confirmed diagnosis because they can’t or don’t see a doctor.

          • Alice

            Claire what is your source, and how does a physician know for sure a child has pertussis? Many of them guess…then send mom home with antibiotics, then report it. And your post just shows it is not the killer we are getting told it is. Are you saying 20 a year die? You would risk SIDS or a hot lot for one death for every two and a half states per year?

  • IVF-MD

    Wouldn’t the vaccinated people, whether elderly or children, have nothing to fear from the unvaccinated people? They should be immune. Isn’t that what the vaccines are supposed to be good for? The bottom line is that all medical treatments, whether drugs, surgery or vaccines have good and bad and as much as possible should be left to individual free choice. Forced medical treatment is something not to be taken lightly whether it’s forced taking of medication, forced sterilization, forced surgery or forced vaccines.

    Shannon, would you think it’s criminal for a parent to feed their children any sugar if they are overweight? There’s a big difference between “criminal” and “not what your own preference is”. Wouldn’t you agree?

    • stitch

      There are people who, through no fault of their own, are unable to take certain vaccines. Look at some of the case reports of the measles epidemics that have occurred in this country. Parents who negligently choose to not vaccinate their children bring their sick kids to the pediatrician’s office where they expose other children, including infants too young to be vaccinated.

      Patients with other forms of immunosuppression, including HIV, transplant recipients, undergoing cancer treatment may not be able to be vaccinated or may not respond to vaccines. These people depend upon herd immunity. Such is the concept of public health. We don’t live in isolation from one another.

      • IVF-MD

        Sharing a planet together requires a balance between respect for each others individual choice/freedom and mutual voluntary agreements that serve to boost the quality of life for both parties. Forced vaccination is not a moral answer. There are many solutions. For example, a pediatrician may voluntarily choose to require that all his patients either be vaccinated or go seek treatment from an alternate pediatrician who doesn’t require all his patients to be vaccinated. Alternatively, a pediatrician can have separate waiting rooms. There are unlimited solutions that are available to the unfettered creativity of the free market. There are some things in life such as morality and respect for other people’s rights that supersede a politician’s “public health” agenda. Agreed?

      • Alice

        Stitch….do you know if kids who just received a shot are contagious? If so, maybe I should worry about your child roaming free. If not, then your child is not really immune.

        • stitch

          There are some immunizations which can lead to transmission, but they do not increase the risk of the actual disease. The one that had that potential, the oral polio vaccine, is no longer used in routine immunizations in the US, although it may be recommended for some overseas travelers because it is more effective.

  • Julie

    Dr. Gunter,

    There are plenty of conspiracy theories and significant misinformation being provided from various sources. The media sources you mentioned (Oprah, Larry King, etc) are just a few.

    Medical literature itself has been tainted. So called “peer reviewed” medical journals have been shown to have had major conflicts of interests (e.g. New England Journal of Medicine) where ties to the pharmaceutical industry influenced what was published. These are the journals from which physicians obtain the latest knowledge and research.

    Another source of misinformation has been through federal agencies like the CDC. There are numerous safety threats at this time but information and misinformation is being “managed”.

    Many people are desperate for answers to complex medical conditions and some in the media have tried to bring attention to these illnesses. I don’t believe any of the media celebrities you’ve mentioned have medical education. However, they are not stupid.

    These types of shows and articles prompt strong responses from the patients and family members effected (like Shannon).

    One thing of note, the diseases mentioned, including those not getting equal attention (in your opinion) are all neuro-immune disorders. There a many neuro-immune disorders getting minimal or no attention and the amazing fact is that they may all be linked.

    There is significant research being carried out right now that has been flying under the radar of most in main stream media. You will be hearing much more about it in the near future.

    • Jan Henderson

      Speaking of tainted medical literature, The Lancet, which published (and later retracted) Wakefield’s 1998 results, recently had an editorial in which they criticized Dr. Ben Goldacre, who worked tirelessly to expose Wakefield: “[A] culture of scepticism about science reporting has been promoted by Ben Goldacre and others. … [T]here is a danger that too sharp a focus on examples of poor reporting will sap confidence in scientific and clinical research.”

      I think science is strong enough to take that risk, no?

      • Alice

        Jan…I am so pleased you brought this up. People who have demonized Wakefield should wake up and read what he actually said. I did that recently because my propaganda antennas were up at the character assassination. I found a transcript from the Imus show and Wakefield spoke for himself. Nothing at all like the people who lack research skills say.

        The truth is utmost, and just because someone throws fodder your way we each have a responsibility to share the truth as best as our finite minds are able.

  • Shannon DeBalli

    IVF-MD: As the wife of an Ivy League trained physician I would love to know where you were trained, as your opinions do not coincide with any of the expert guidelines currently accepted by the medical community.
    Your analogy is faulty. Giving one child sugar simply makes that child fat. Exposure to the fat kid cannot make other children sick or overweight. SO, NO I DON’T AGREE. What frightens me is that you think this is a valid point.

    Julie please do not use my name to further spread misinformation about vaccinations being unsafe. Yes, I am emotionally affected but that disproves your point. The average overwrought individual jumps on the conspiracy theory bandwagon without doing any in-depth research. (Who paid for research, who benefits from it, and so forth.) As an outraged mother I am offended by your implication that I am unable to reason. What fills me with rage is not my sons’ condition, but the use of my name to engage in fear-mongering.

    • IVF-MD

      Shannon, with respect to this discussion it’s irrelevant whether I graduated top of my class from a great med school or if I learned my medicine by watching Grey’s Anatomy. The substance of the argument you pose that I think it is criminal not to vaccinate your children is where I disagree with you. My question to you is this: If there are some nice children who are are NOT vaccinated and who never get the illness in question and never contaminate anybody else with it, would you STILL want the police to come and take their mother away from them and throw her in jail? Or are you wanting that to happen ONLY if the non-vaccinated kids actually got someone else sick? If it’s the latter, I still disagree with you, but maybe just not as passionately. :)

      All kidding aside, you certainly have the right to vaccinate your kids and you also have the right to keep away from my non-vaccinated kids, but please don’t throw me in jail for exercising my kids’ freedom not to be vaccinated for everything under the sun. Allow ME to judge which vaccines my kids get and which ones they don’t get. I can tell you for sure they won’t be getting something ilke GARDISIL even if you threaten to throw me in jail for not giving it to them. :)

      • LastoftheZuchinniFlowers

        Since you are mentioning the brand ‘Gardisil’, know that cervical ca is NOT going to affect your (or anyones) newborn/toddler or possibly kill her/him. Contrastingly, have you SEEN a 15 month old baby DIE from Haemophilus Influenza? I HAVE. A horrifying and preventible tragedy which none of us involved in her care will EVER forget. Her death was a DIRECT effect of failure to immunize. This was an immigrant woman who had no access to immunizations for her baby and I believe she wanted to end her own life when that little baby expired in the NICU, despite the combined rescue efforts of at least 22 health care workers. Why did baby die? I co–managed her NICU care and when I read the post, we knew the saddness of loss most profoundly. That little girl was deprived of her Hib immunization and of ALL other recommended vaccines for her age. H. flu was the organism implicated in her rapid death. When your baby is alive one moment and on a vent in the NICU 36 hours later – reality hits like a cannonball to the gut. Your comment is entirely disingenuous. If your intent was to be glib you have failed AND exhibited your deficient clinical fund of knowledge.

        • IVF-MD

          I would fully support that mother’s right to have access to vaccines for her child and I agree it’s very tragic what happened to her, especially from the viewpoint of a concerned person who worked so hard trying to save her. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to go through all that.

          Can I also share that I don’t see clearly what this has to do with my right to choose which vaccines to give to my child and which not to give (of which Gardisil is one that I won’t give)? If my post is still unclear, then just ignore everything I say or make up your own interpretations. I will resign myself to the fact that the risk of miscommunication is a lot higher commenting with strangers online than in a face-to-face talk and take your comment for what it is. Thank you.

        • Alice

          Gardisil was promoted with many lies. Now we find out it was not as effective as the supposed research, and you need boosters. And people died from the shot.

    • Alice

      Shannon you may need to get away from the inner circle. My doctor wins big, national research awards and works at one of the world,s most distinguished hospitals. He is brilliant…and he disagrees with you. So does my PhD friend and research wife,.

      Why bring up credentials? I am good friends with an Ivy Leaguer doctor, and another doctor who is in the news and they claim many of the elite doctors are pompous asses. I want the truth, and that doesn’t mean some ivy on it makes it more truthful or faulty. It actually hinders those who rely on credentials. Maybe we should limit the discussion to Mensa members only? Yeah…..they disagree on the topic too.

  • Julie


    I will not use your name again. I never indicated that you were unable to reason. However, most if not every mother is intensely protective of her children hence the emotional component.

    I am not one to engage in fear mongering but I seek the truth. You elected to publicly respond to an article posted on a well known medical blog so I responded to multiple people including the author.

    You and your husband can believe vaccines are as safe as any other medical procedure. That is your prerogative. Vaccines usage has increased tremendously since first introduced and not all have been without consequence.

    I can only wish you and your family the best regarding the best treatments and outcomes for your sons. Current research may shed light on possible causes and treatments for neuro-immune diseases.

    Please know that I truly only want the best for your family as well as everyone else.

    ~ Julie

    • Anonymous

      Vaccines usage has increased tremendously since first introduced and not all have been without consequence.

      Isn’t it nice that one of the consequences is that we don’t have a lot of people in iron lungs from polio any more? Or that we don’t live in fear of wild smallpox infection?

      • Alice

        Yes, Anon, you are right the only people in the West suffering from polio got it in the live drink. The dead virus is much safer.

  • Dr. Jennifer Gunter

    To say vaccine serious adverse events are common and then to quote VAERS is to have a complete misunderstanding of serious adverse events and VAERS itself. An adverse event does not imply that it is connected to the vaccine. For example, if it rains on election day there is no cause and effect. The MAJORITY of adverse events reported to VAERS are found after rigorous analysis to have NO connection to vaccines.

    For example, during the 2009 influenza season approximately 82.4 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine and 125.5 million doses of the seasonal influenza vaccine were administered. The rate of serious adverse events was 8.8 per 1 million doses for the H1N1 vaccine and 4.1 per 1 million doses for the seasonal influenza vaccine. Each serious adverse event was reviewed to determine if it was directly related to the vaccine or not. For example, there were 48 reported deaths among people who received the H1N1 vaccine, although after review, none were found to be vaccine attributable. Once all the 2009 data was analyzed, the risk of death from influenza vaccination was calculated to be less than two for each 1 million doses administered. To put these numbers in perspective, last year 47 people died in New York City alone from H1N1. Nation wide there are more than 30,000 influenza related deaths each year and 281 children died from influenza in 2009, more than twice as many as 2008.

    The risk of serious adverse events from vaccines (which typically means encephalitis, death, Guillaine-Barre, transverse myelitis, and anaphylaxis) is far less than 1 in 100,000. For example, with anaphylaxis and H1N1, the rate is actually too low to calculate.

    Before you speak up about vaccines have your facts straight. There is a wealth of non-pharma funded avidenced-based medicine (which is the source of all my statistics). My article was about misinformation and I believe that some of the people here who posted against vaccines have only helped to underscore my point of how people are talking about vaccines without using facts. False headlines only help to promote that misinformation.

    Dr. Jennifer Gunter

    • Julie

      I never said serious adverse events to vaccines were common. Talk about misinformation and not using facts!

      Before you write “Before you speak up about vaccines have your facts straight.”, do the same yourself.

      No point responding further.

    • Alice

      Jennifer…I hope you treat questioning patients with respect and patience? They are entitled to ask questions and come to their own conclusions. Quite honestly, you are giving a limited view…go ahead and berate me…I like to debate. How about you give the data from….oh maybe Israel….where people walked out the clinics and died from the flu shots. Better reporting in some countries over others.

      If this message is so cut and dry why the intimidation from docs or their wives? I have raised six kids….three were immunized…three were not… from each set got cancer. I am older and find that doctors like IVF (who reminds me of my own honest doctor who is a researcher and says he does not mind not immunizing…what he minds is ignorance….what can I say….I strongly agree with him and see it time and time again) are more honest and better researched….because a good researcher is searching for the truth. Some researchers set out to do research that supports their own ideologies or agenda. The best researchers are open minded and delight in surprise discoveries that the vast amount of blinder ridden researchers won’t see…but even if they do they can lose funding….so a lot of research is doctored. Sigh!

      We should be skeptical…and the skeptical patient applauded…as well as a doctor like IVF who can think outside the box medical school put you in. Must be constricting in there…it’s a small world.

      I post because my friends tire of the bullying…me…I don’t mind that much….we both have access to the same info…we, hopefully, are both intelligent…not ignorant….so I am willing to match facts.

  • Shannon DeBalli

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    I have sought the truth and loved research my entire life which is why I researched and then rejected the notion that vaccines cause autism and are not safe. There is no proof. Nothing in medicine is a 100% guaranteed, nothing. There are too many variables with in the human body, too many people not following directions. Of course there have been occasional consequences, that falls under the law of averages. But the result of not vaccinating has far more vast and horrific effects.

    Of course vaccine usage has increased tremendously since first introduced. A scientifically proven safe method of preventing disease is in the best interest of everyone. Posting links that you have taken out of context to support your beliefs is fear mongering. Scaring people into not protecting themselves, their families and the general population is causing harm. Even if I accepted the faulty premise that your beliefs are based on the ultimate question becomes would your rather a child become seriously ill or die then possibly autistic?

    I knew writing a response on a public board would elicit reactions. I used my full, real name because I believe in vaccinations. I have nothing to hide, However that at no time allows you to marginalize my opinion because I am emotionally close to the debate. No matter what your intentions, I have every right to be offended. Being the parent of Autistics does not make me a specialist on Autism or vaccines just very interested in both topics. I defer to the CDC, The American Academy of Pediatrics and every other main stream source of medical information and guidelines.

    If you truly are in search of the truth then pursue it to the logical end. Neuro -immune diseases, before that it was mercury and each time testing proves the vaccines are safe in unbiased studies and testing the anti-vaccine groups come up with something else. I usually don’t post on these sites because it is hard to argue with people who reject logic. I would like to tell you that it’s your choice not to vaccinate but your decisions affect us all.

    Lastly Julie, Jenny McCarthy is stupid and desperate for attention. How can you take a woman who makes up statistics and says she graduated from Google University seriously.

    • Julie

      Shannon, j

      Just a quick response regarding some points you raised:

      1) Like you, I seek the truth and do research. While I am not an MD, I have clinical education and have worked in healthcare for 30 years. I spend significant time reading medical journals and have become aware of some nasty realities regarding politics, funding, research, and publication.

      2) Please know I am not and have never been against vaccine usage. I totally understand the value of vaccines and herd immunity and believe most vaccines are safe.I do not refuse vaccination unless it is clinically indicated.

      3) I am not fear-mongering. I am simply having a discussion among others (like you) in response to a blog article. The journals I quoted were not taken out of context what so ever. While members of the media attracted attention and “fueled the fire” surrounding vaccine safety, it also brought attention to vaccine production and very real risks. Vaccines may prove to be ONE of several possible triggers to neuro-immune illnesses (including ASD).

      4) I hope people make wise choices surrounding all medical decisions not just vaccines. Those that cannot make those decisions for themselves should have a knowledgeable family member as a patient advocate. Even the medical community has difficulty keeping up with the the latest research due to the vast volume. I cannot expect any of my physicians to be knowledgeable of everything. You mentioned a number of medical organization to which you defer. I agree for the most part and consult similar organizations and publications. However, because I myself have a neuro-immune disease, I’m aware of misinformation as well.

      5) When I stated members of the media are not stupid, I was referring to Oprah, Larry King, etc. NOT, Jenny McCarthy (an actress) who has been active because of her child.

      This was never a personal attack, just a presentation of different information.

    • Alice

      Shannon…I link to my name and my story of how a doctor’s neglect has harmed my child and allowed cancer to spread in my precious daughter’s lymphs. Does that give me more credibility as you suggest.

      Your last line about Jenny McCarthy sorta shows you have not did the amount of true research you suggest. Let’s see… many hours a year does Jenny volunteer to help those with autism, to do activism to help, and how much money does she raise by using her celebrity status. You said you have children with autism? Just because you disagree with Jenny should not elicit this type of response. And if you want some real research…Jenny is not against vaccinations…she is against thimerosal which is in the flu vaccines. She is against replacing thimerosal with a type of antifreeze preservative. Hmmm…..doesn’t that sound really stupid? Sigh!

  • LastoftheZuchinniFlowers

    Dr. Gunter was too kind to the comedian/playboy centerfold jennymac. Her ‘autisic’ son is now miraculously cured? Please. At the time she was out there touting her nonsense she had the assistance of her ‘Mask” lapdog, alleged ‘comedian’ Jim Carrey. He actually actually made the stupefying comment (on Larry King) that the AAP was soley a money making organization. This, despite the fact that immunizations are free for so many. These two did more damage to pediatricians practicing everywhere than King could have ever known. Not that he cares, given his penchant for ratings at any price. I wrote to King after that debacle and not even the courtesy of a recognition was forthcoming.
    Having spent MANY extra hours in many a well baby visit with many a well intentioned parent whose love for their babies (which ALL parents share) was tainted by this ersatz ‘science’. There is a real mind set which prevails in many medical communities that ‘infectious dz will get us all in the end.’ This is not only the mantra of our ID colleages.
    I have lost patience with the vaccine deniers. Due to their propaganda, and my attempt to immunize babies and children in accordance with pediatric standards of care, I have found myself three and four hours behind schedule on too many days, simply trying to unravel the lunacy of that cabal. After much consideration I came to the choice that I could no longer do well baby visits, an aspect of practice which I once LOVED. I’ve moved into less tumultous clinical waters as to my family’s great joy. AND as soon as my son and daughter were aged 12 they received their MENACTRA vaccines. Watching a teen leave this earth from that horrific dz is an experience NO one should have to endure.

    • Alice

      I wish I was Charles Dickens and could get paid by the word to post here. Just clearing up inaccuracies would pay my house off.

      Jenny’s son was put on a special diet. Did you ever watch her videos that show what happened to her son? Anyone who studies autism would know that some kids are misdiagnosed. Doctors often disagree and use different criteria. Maybe Jenny’s son didn’t have autism? Does that negate her hard work for the cause? So what if she is a pin up. Good grief if I had her body and could raise money like that to help with cancer research I would probably do it (well….maybe, sorta….um) Wouldn’t you if you thought you could raise that kind of money? What are we Puritans here? Only those as white as driven snow can have an opinion? Celebrities bug me to death with their liberal agendas….but even in disagreement I admire many of them for using their clout to help others. I guess only Snow White is the only celebrity that can discuss here…..whoops….maybe if she was immunized that apple wouldn’t have had the same effect….to think history could have been changed that day! :)

    • Alice

      Hmmm…….when a real debate happens people ask questions. I am not anti-vaccination. I am pro-brain…’s usually a good thing to do your homework and that includes asking questions and not being compliant just because another mere human being with a medical degree who usually isn’t up on the latest news says to stick your arm out. They rarely can even quote how many die per year from the actual disease, nor the number of injured….but they sure know where that waiver is.


      Doctor: Yes, yes, the shot is safe and those radicals don’t know what they are talking about. Oh yes, where is the assistant to find that waiver. I can’t give you the shot unless you sign. [Mom asks a question] Oh….it says you understand the risks? Why are you reading that waiver. Trust me it will be fine.

      Mom: ….but MS runs in my family? My sister has it.

      Doctor: It will be fine, trust me.

      On the exam table: Child faints, falls off table, and goes into seizer and doctor calls 911.

      Yeah, real life. My girlfriend went through this when her child was age 5 and reading completely. The child couldn’t read again until age 12.

      So, yeah, thanks for the opportunity to once again display that there are no risks and we are all stupid. Probably those shots we had when growing up! :)

  • Cheapo

    Dr. Gunter you are correct in your assessment, good science does not make good TV, jenny macarthy is awesome especially on that show on MTV back in the 90′s, and she looked great in her playboy shoot, i remember watching this on oprah and saw how much it influenced my wife, and how she disregarded what i was trying to tell her, I am board certified in internal medicine, at that point oprah and jenny’s opinions were more important.

    • Alice

      Your wife was right.

  • Marc Gorayeb, MD

    People have a right to expect that mandatory vaccinations have been proven to prevent epidemics of serious disease. The posts above demonstrate that the line between vaccination for personal health and vaccination for public health has been blurred. You have to weigh the societal need for each vaccination mandate against individual freedom, which we should all value very highly. Otherwise, our public health system will lose its credibility and effectiveness.
    I personally think it’s wise to receive vaccination to avoid pneumococcal disease, meningococcal disease, influenza B, hepatitis, HPV, and even influenza virus. But I would never agree to strip a person of their free choice unless and until it has been clearly shown that vaccinating a population against a particular disease prevents epidemics.

    • Julie

      “The line between vaccination for personal health and vaccination for public health has been blurred”

      Excellent point.

      Public and patient education of the difference may facilitate compliance with public health vaccination programs.

      Another point to consider: Trust in government and in the medical community has significantly deteriorated. Rebuilding trust will take time.

  • Shannon DeBalli

    I never took it for a true personal attack but disliked intensely your using me to try to prove one of your faulty points.

    With all due respect I disagree that taking one page of warnings off the CDC’s site and misrepresenting it by not allowing for all the other pages urging the public to use vaccinations is misrepresenting the truth.

    I am not a Doctor either. I do however rely on the physicians who study, keep current with the latest PROVEN medical findings and update their education to help guide me with health decisions. I deal in cold hard facts.

    Trust in the medical community may have deteriorated but it is because of the issues Dr. Gunter has listed in this article. Not because the medical community is at fault. People flock to someone who tells them what they want to hear, be they a doctor or not. Doctor’s often tell people the very things they don’t want to hear, lose weight, stop smoking, etc. Also the truth is bad things happen. There is not always someone to blame for everything that goes wrong. People like Oprah (who touts some of the most vile pseudo science out there) have caused the erosion of people’s faith in medicine. Her viewers sometimes forget she is just a celebrity, nothing more.

    • Julie


      Never was “using you” to make a point. I don’t “use” anyone. While I did provide one example from the VAERS site (it was not the CDC website but an HHS website), I didn’t think I needed to cite numerous references to make the point.

      The CDC website is used by many people but through personal research, I’ve become aware of misinformation on the CDC website as well. Hopefully it will be corrected in the near future.

      I beg to differ with you on the total reason for the deterioration in trust in medical providers. While many in the general may get their information from the likes of WebMD, Mayo Clinic online information, google, Oprah, etc., I do not.

      I’ve seen physicians make mistakes and refuse to accept responsibility for them – letting someone else take the blame. Physicians are not the only ones to make mistakes either (e.g. pharmacists, nurses, lab techs). The Institute of Medicine has published regarding the incidence of medical errors.

      I admire physicians and any other medical provider who is able to acknowledge his/her limitations and are willing to work WITH patients towards resolving significant health issues.

      As physicians well know, telling patients what to do does not mean they will comply. A humble a patient demeanor may help but given ridiculous demands placed on many physicians, few have the time to truly know their patients.

      Many have liked Opray for her personal style. While she may be trying to help people by bringing physicians on to her show, her staff is not trained to know fact from fiction, evidence based medicine vs. snake oil.

      Perhaps physicians should consider a mainstream media effort to truly educate the public to counter. Just a thought…. I know I would personally love to see it!

      • Alice

        Julie you are right. The Ombudsman cited the doctor who did not read the lab notes and caused harm, but do you think he will apologize? And his colleagues protected him…it was blatant…they looked silly even trying to cover up. We still are waiting to see of more damage was done. Hard to think 60 seconds of his time would have prevented this horrific error…and I questioned him too.

        Often doctors seem to lose the ability to be objective. Between management, fear of losing their career, fear of lawsuits, constantly changing research, innovation, prescriptions, and now questioning patients I am sure it is rough….but as I tell my doctors…I have ONE patient…not a thousand. I can concentrate really well on that ONE patient because I love her more them they do, I have more time than the doctor, and less distractions. So sometimes doctors need to be open to actually listening to their patient’s fears because, surely, who would want a mother to offer up her child’s arm for a shot without doing your job to make sure she understands the risks, the side effects, and what the waiver means. If a doctor wants compliant patients who do not ask questions ten you are negligent.

  • LastoftheZuchinniFlowers

    I truly sympathize with ANYONE with a chronically sick child and for a mother with two children with cancer: life must be unbearable. However I remain amazed that she has the time or the desire to blog here when she could BE WITH THEM instead of trying to alter best practice protocols of the AAP which are not going to consider her comments as science – just anecdote. Please, Alice, you write well and should continue to do so, but your venue here is a poor choice and the commentary gets old after a while. How about a self-published book on Amazon. OR medical school? Now THAT would open your eyes a bit, especially pediatric residency. You have hated doctors for so long (for reasons you can and have catalogued, some relevant, others less than relevant) that your need to expunge your OWN guilt has taken over. You’ve made your choices. New parents worldwide will do the same. Most will choose to immunize. I pray your kids continue to do well. Go and BE with them, please. The time you waste here trying to make US alter our prescribing habits is best spent with them. Good luck to you.

  • Jan Henderson

    New Scientist had a series of excellent articles last May called Living in denial: Why sensible people reject the truth. I was struck by a subsequent letter to the editor on the topic. It made the case that denial plays an essential role as a psychological defense mechanism. “Denial kicks in when there is a major threat to our sense of identity, or when we are confronted with something we cannot cope with knowing … [It] provides mental protection and demonstrates a sophisticated level of knowledge, at some level, that the individual does not have what they need in order to cope with their circumstances.”

    In the case of vaccination denialism, what seems to be lacking is information that would be sufficient to eliminate all questions and fears.

    The argument is especially apt for climate change denial. People wonder whether they and their descendants are being asked to make sacrifices for the greater good that others will not choose to make. In that situation, “Denial protects us against feelings of guilt and shame that result from the knowledge that our personal failure to act exacerbates our situation.”

    What corresponds to this in the case of vaccination is the risk that unvaccinated children will infect others.

    If denial is a defense mechanism, then the acrimonious back and forth discussion between the two sides of this debate only makes things worse. “Denigrating denial in the population at large serves only to strengthen people’s need for it as a defense mechanism.”

    Just a thought.

    • Alice

      Jan….I admit these conversations can be both uncomfortable…but fascinating. I receive private email about my posts and have made friends with people like the medical student who wrote and thought my posts made sense, gave him fuel for thought because medical school does cover the opposing side. There is a debate right now about an article Kevin wrote about malpractice. Two lawyers are showing the legal aspects and emotional repercussions of negligence. The reason it is one of the best threads is the patience of the lawyer who authored the article. Yes…there is much indifference but so much to be learned for people who actually understand learning outside the box. Posting from this cellphone is about as painful and error ridden as the global change Al Gore propaganda:)

  • Alice

    I am rushing in and out the geriatric psych ward today (no not for me……my mom falsely charged my father and he was pink slipped), so I grabbed this quickly.

    It is for those who want the truth……. there is research in Scientific American and a few other sources I grabbed quickly. I have the neurologist’s name (his article is listed in Child Neurology) and his nurse/lawyer wife who won the lawsuit that showed their child had a predisposition to autsim (that Stitch denies……but….well……), and a Congressman and another doctor, and the beat goes on……….

    Dan Burton Addresses Congress on the Vaccine Hearings

    “I believe the families of these autistic children deserve to be compensated for their vaccine injury as Congress intended when it created VICP. I believe the science is there to prove this case and I am hopeful that the court will agree and at the end of this arduous process these 4,800 families will finally get justice.”

    Dr. Tenpenny has many articles

    Hannah Poling is the name of the 9-year-old autistic child whose “pre-existing mitochondrial disorder…. was ‘aggravated’ by her shots,” as was conceded last week by the government in the Court of Federal Claims. Today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiles her and her parents, neurologist Jon Poling and Terry Poling, a lawyer and nurse, note that the court decision “will help pay for the numerous therapists and other medical experts their autistic child needs — now and for the rest of her life.” More about Hannah’s story:

    Hannah is said to have started showing signs of autism at “3 months” after receiving her vaccines, though the Atlanta Journal-Constitution states that symptoms of autism appear in Hannah when she was 19 months old.

    Hannah requires one-on-one care at all times, said her mother, Terry Poling, a nurse and lawyer. The Polings described how Hannah was a normal, verbal toddler until she received several vaccines during a well-baby visit. Within 48 hours of the shots, she developed a high fever and inconsolable crying and refused to walk. She stopped sleeping through the night. At 3 months of age, she began showing signs of autism, including spinning and staring at lights and fans. For a while, she lost her ability to speak.

    When Hannah was 6 months old, as the family came to grips with the likelihood that she was autistic, they turned to leading experts in neurology. “I had to know. My daughter didn’t just suddenly develop autism for no reason,” Terry Poling said.

    Hannah’s father co-authored an article about her case, which was published in the Journal of Child Neurology in 2006.

    No well researched, honest nurse, doctor, or even bureaucrat would deny the risk involved in vaccinations especially since the Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund has awarded over a billion dollars to families of children harmed by vaccinations since it was started in 1988. In light of this and the principles of liberty this nation was founded on, we should be free to decline and make decisions as we see fit without having to navigate difficult unjust laws. Instead we are forced to hand responsibility over to our doctors and government who don’t have to live with the consequences or raise disabled children. Their only answer is to hand us money as an apology for their bad policy, as if that is adequate compensation for any physical or mental injuries as well as the submission of our bodies, our minds ability to reason, and our rights as free individuals.

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