8 Reasons You Are Wrong About Not Vaccinating

When I recently came across an article listing 8 reasons the author had not vaccinated his daughter, it reminded me of my own search to find good information about vaccines when my first daughter was born. Years later, I fully understand how and why vaccines are safe, effective ways to protect children from many diseases. In this post, I respond to each of the points made in that misinformative article.

To vaccinate or not. That is the question.

Before I had my first daughter I was a vaccine “fence-sitter.” When I first came across pro- or anti-vaccine articles on social media and blogs, I was truly looking for information.

I questioned why the hepatitis B shot had to be given at birth and wondered why there were so many shots on the schedule. I was perplexed why whooping cough is so prevalent even though babies receive several shots in the vaccine series that are supposed to protect against it. I questioned why I still needed to vaccinate for many other diseases that didn’t seem to be around much anymore. I got called a concern troll and was attacked on “pro-vax” pages for admitting I’d used complementary medicine. Then I got called an uneducated “sheeple” and Big Pharma Shill on the “anti-vax” sites. I didn’t seem to fit in anywhere.

I was stunned by the passionate and rapid-fire judgmental comments from both camps and initially retreated from conversation as I became further alienated by both sides.

I realized it was my choice to take it to heart or continue to ask questions and learn. I realized that I couldn’t expect others to automatically know my intentions, so I decided to put on my objective glasses, see beyond the language and emotion and take on board the facts. Here’s what I have learned.

1 A. The risk of adverse events from vaccines are greatly outweighed by the risks of adverse events from the diseases. If you think it’s the other way round, either:

you’ve failed at risk/benefit analysis
• you don’t know what these diseases are capable of, or
• you are getting your information from dubious sources.

Hands down, the risks are greater with not vaccinating. Gaining ‘natural immunity’ means putting your child through unnecessary suffering and risk of a severe or even fatal outcome. You simply cannot obtain specific immunity to vaccine preventable diseases safely through any other method than vaccination. Natural births, exclusive breastfeeding, chiropractic visits and a well-nourished, healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle will not build specific antibodies to the diseases as vaccination can. Healthy, robust children get sick and die from these diseases. Ask any pediatric ICU doctor. We don’t vaccinate for trivial reasons.

For example, chickenpox is often thought of as a mild disease, even a ‘rite of passage’ in childhood, but it can actually be fatal. I’ve had chickenpox myself, and I was fine. The risk of dying from chickenpox is low, but the risk of severe effects from the chickenpox vaccine is magnitudes lower.

As I did, you may wonder why we need to keep vaccinating children against diseases like polio and diphtheria, which are rare in developed countries. It’s because many diseases we vaccinate against are still common in other areas of the world and can easily be spread by travellers. There have been recent outbreaks in developed countries – including the US – of whooping cough, measles, mumps and rubella. Diphtheria and tetanus are rare (thanks to vaccination) but they still occur and when they do, can be deadly or devastating. These diseases still exist, and without vaccines, they could re-emerge. With every disease on the immunization schedule, the risks from the disease outweigh the risks from the vaccine in gargantuan proportions.

1B. Your sources are key. A decision made from Natural News articles and other pseudo-medical blogs will be poorly informed because the science is dubious and the information is cherry picked, misconstrued or downright wrong.

Every health organization of every country around the world is supportive of vaccination. And so is the overwhelming majority of the medical profession. You can trust information from legitimate medical sites and government health agencies because they are evidence-based.

And please don’t claim that “Big Pharma” are behind every study and every decision these organizations make.
Look up research in the PubMed library, where you will find scientific studies from all over the world from independent scientists, universities and other organizations with zero financial interest in pharmaceutical companies. If you exclude the pharmaceutical company-funded studies, the medical and scientific consensus still concludes that vaccinating is the safer choice over not vaccinating.

1C. Vaccine critics may worry about the long-term effects of being injected with multiple vaccines. Do they build up to toxic levels? Do they lead to chronic disorders?

No. Here’s what happens when you’re vaccinated. You get injected with antigens (bits of the original disease that have been inactivated, killed or weakened) that stimulate your body to make specific antibodies (disease-fighting immune cells) to fight this disease. Developing a good level of immunity from a vaccine can take anywhere from a couple of weeks (the flu shot) to a couple of months (DTaP given at 2, 4 and 6 months). Once antibodies are made, the body disposes of the antigens.

Vaccines also contain inactive ingredients (the excipients), such as aluminum salts, formaldehyde and trace antibiotics. These don’t stay in the body long enough to build up and create long-term health effects. They leave your body within days or weeks. The excipients found in vaccines are also found in things we consume or are in our environment. When spaced out over months on the vaccination schedule, the amounts are diminishingly small compared to what we shovel into our mouths several times a day. And please don’t worry that ingestion differs from injection. We’re talking about infintisimally small amounts here and the calculations for safety limits on injected substances are already factored in. The only long-term effect from vaccines is the immunity to the disease our children develop from them.

There is nothing to suggest a “synergistic toxicity” either. The ingredients can’t build up and cause “multiplied” harm because we are talking about tiny, miniscule amounts of ingredients and many of them are inert. And again, they exit the body.

Critics might also point out that “artificial” stimulation of the immune system could lead to chronic disorders such as asthma, allergies, diabetes and autoimmune disease. But there is no evidence of this.

Children who receive vaccines on time do not have different neuropsychological outcomes to those who are unvaccinated or on a delayed schedule.

The incidence of allergies and chronic diseases in vaccinated versus unvaccinated children is the same.

1D. Side effects are real, but extremely rare. There is no evidence to suggest serious side effects are under-reported.

Conversely, there is evidence that serious adverse events are over-reported. Minimal side effects, such as swelling and a sore arm, do tend to be under-reported. Yet, most adverse events tend to be over-reported because of the perception that they are caused by the vaccine when the adverse event’s appearance is really just coincidental timing with the administration of the vaccines. For example, there are adverse reports in the US VAERS database which list motor vehicle accidents, accidental drownings, drug overdoses, suicides and teenage pregnancies as adverse events. Each of those is clearly an unfortunate incident that occurred around the same time as vaccination but could not have been caused by vaccines. Similarly, reports such as ovarian failure, autism and multiple sclerosis are not caused by vaccines because each has been studied and found through the scientific method not to be linked to vaccines. Some people might think they got the flu from the flu shot because it developed later on that same day. But the timing of the incubation period makes that implausible. And so on.

When side effects are reported to VAERS, experts evaluate them and many are found to not be causally related. For example, this study shows only 3% of adverse events reported to VAERS were determined to definitely have been caused by immunization. Further, those 3% and the 40% determined to be “probably” or “possibly” related to a vaccine “were dominated by local reactions, allergic reactions, or symptoms known to be associated with the vaccine administered.” In other words, they were the minor adverse events that we already know about and are provided on VIS sheets.

Severe adverse events from vaccines occur less than 1% of the time. We know this from clinical trials, post marketing surveillance and clinical evaluation or reports.

2. It is very unlikely a vaccinated child will contract the disease. If they are unlucky enough to do so, the disease will, with minimal exceptions, be very mild.

With some vaccines, such as the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), it’s extremely unlikely for a vaccinated person to catch the disease. With pertussis and flu vaccines, it is more likely that a person might catch the disease, but the course of the disease will not be as severe as if the person were unvaccinated. That this can occur has more to do with the kinds of vaccines and the nature of the organisms than vaccine failure.

3. You should not automatically dismiss vaccines because you don’t trust drug companies. Pharmaceutical companies’ vaccine manufacturing processes are heavily regulated and stringently tested. To reject vaccines on the basis that Big Pharma needs to make a profit is folly. All businesses need to make a profit, and yes, Big Pharma is heavily invested in the health sector.

However, profits from vaccines are not huge as with other drugs, such as statins, cholesterol or even Viagra. Yes, Vioxx took a long while to recall, but the system has many checks and balances in place in order to work. And work it did. And few pharmaceutical products have the broad evidence base that vaccines have, both in how long they’ve been studied and in how many different countries, institutions and foundations have studied them.

Vaccines have been around for more than a century. Yes, there may be corruption and greed within big corporations – but why is Pharma any different from any other big company? Do you distrust people who manufacture your baby’s car seats, food and clothing as well because they need to make a profit?

4. In the US, you can sue anybody, including the doctor, the nurse or the drug company, if there has been a breach of protocol. You can also seek compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) if you experience a serious side effect.

In the US, you can seek compensation through a specific program called NVICP if you suspect an adverse reaction from a vaccine. You actually can sue the vaccine manufacturer through the civil court system for liability claims to do with manufacturing defects, such as a vaccine which is improperly made, or for warning defects, such as a vaccine which was incorrectly labeled.

In other countries, you can sue for vaccine injuries through the civil system. The US is lucky to have a specific system in place which actually tries to make it easier on people in the unlikely event they have an adverse reaction.

5. We know enough about the human microbiome to understand that it is implausible to be permanently affected by vaccines; actually the microbiome is probably not affected by vaccines at all.

The microbiota inside the walls of my gut is a separate and unique environment from what is within others’ guts, established from birth and genetic influences. It can be affected by things I consume. Vaccines, which are injected into muscle? Not so much.

The microbiota in my gut form part of my gut immune system, the mucosal immunity which makes IgA antibodies. Vaccines are injected into muscle, stimulating local immune cells to make IgM and IgG antibodies. This is occurring well away from your gut biota.

It is possible that a vaccine taken orally, such as the oral polio vaccine or rotavirus vaccine, may have a temporary effect on gut biota. But there’s no evidence these changes are significant, let alone permanent. Taking antibiotics is something that can change a person’s biota, yet even those courses do not have the power to make permanent, irrevocable changes. Eating a diet consisting primarily of heavily processed and readily absorbed food can adversely affect gut flora.

Research from Stanford University shows that we can develop immunity to microbes we’ve never encountered through exposure to gut pathogens. These findings lend credibility to the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, the idea that exposure to common, everyday germs, bugs and parasites strengthens our immune system. The study is not suggesting that we dismiss vaccines, but it’s suggesting we can make greater use of our oral immune system.

There are ways you can improve your oral immune system and develop a more diverse gut flora without probiotics or going to any great expense:
1. Avoid overuse of antibiotics (use when necessary)
2. Eat fermented foods and a wholesome, unprocessed diet with increased fiber intake
3. Get a pet
4. Relax the sanitary regime in your home by letting your children play in the dirt. Wash your hands when pathogens (eg, after visiting the toilet) or toxic chemicals (eg, after handling herbicides and pesticides) are likely to be present, but maybe not after patting the dog.

Meanwhile, injected vaccines target a completely different part of your immune system.

6. Herd immunity is a real thing. It is understood.

Herd immunity, also called community immunity, occurs when the vaccination of a large proportion of people in a community provides a chain of protection for those who cannot be vaccinated or have not developed immunity. When a certain percentage of the population has been immunized, the cycle of infection is interrupted because large numbers are immune or less susceptible to the disease and there are fewer infectious individuals. This means that any outbreak of the disease will be contained quickly. You can see a pictorial representation of herd immunity here. The CDC have even put out a chart of various herd immunity levels required for each disease (PDF, see Slide 17).

When herd immunity drops below a certain level, it fails. Vaccines aren’t 100% effective, and some aren’t as good as others. The MMR vaccine is around 99% effective at recommended doses. Pertussis vaccine is about 85% effective and flu vaccines range up to about 65% effectiveness. But vaccine effectiveness is all factored into the herd immunity percentages.

When herd immunity drops below the needed level and an infected person enters the population, disease outbreaks occur and can spread rapidly among the unvaccinated. Some who are vaccinated will get the illness as well (again, the vaccines are not 100% effective), but the incidence (the rate of infection, given in a ratio or percentage) in the unvaccinated will be far greater. For example, pertussis occurs at a rate 27 times greater in unvaccinated individuals than in vaccinated ones. Similarly, during the 2013 measles outbreak in the US, 82% were unvaccinated.

(Keep in mind: the number of vaccinated individuals who get sick in a disease outbreak may be higher than the number of unvaccinated individuals, but the percentage of vaccinated individuals who catch the disease will be lower than the percentage of unvaccinated individuals. This occurs because there is typically a far greater number of vaccinated individuals than unvaccinated individuals in a community: a small percentage of a big number (1% of 1 million people is 10,000 people) can be larger than a large percentage of a small number (25% of 1,000 people is 250 people).

Vaccinate first and foremost for your own child. And if those who can vaccinate do vaccinate, you get the bonus of herd immunity.

7. The ingredients in vaccines are not toxic in the tiny amounts they occur.

Some ingredients have scary chemical-sounding names that might concern those who don’t understand toxicology — that the dose makes the poison and it depends on the most harmful ways of exposure. For example, did you know that inhalation of formaldehyde is generally the most unsafe way for it to enter your body?

Aluminum, egg protein, antibiotics, formaldehyde, MSG and ethylmercury derived from thimerosal exist in some (but not all) vaccines in such tiny quantities that even people with allergies to these things do not usually react. (There are individuals with allergies that counter-indicate certain vaccines. These allergies are identified in the Vaccine Information Statements provided with each vaccine.) Whether a vaccine is injected or ingested does not matter when we are talking about such tiny amounts. Injection does not magnify the harm or the toxicity. The body has a way of dealing with substances that enter the skin and muscle just as it has a way of dealing with substances that enter the gut. You will consume far more of these substances in your daily diet.

8. I am a mum. Scientists can sometimes get it wrong. But so many scientists are pretty unlikely to be wrong.

The “tobacco science” analogy – that something once promoted as safe is now a lie – is a poor one. Tobacco is and always was a recreational drug. Vaccines aren’t here to help people have a good time or relax. They have a specific purpose for which they were developed and tested – to prevent diseases. And they work.

The system also works. RotaShield was recalled and examined for reported risks. Drugs are recalled for safety. Whistleblowers exist across all industries. There is also not much room for conspiracy when competitors are scrutinizing your actions. Science is a constant process of fact-checking and re-checking which involves scientists from around the world competing against one another to get the “big scoop.” They’re constantly checking out each other’s claims for accuracy and to see if they can be duplicated. Nothing should be taken at face value. But vaccine effectiveness and safety has been reliably and repeatedly replicated by scientists from all corners of the globe.

There are more shots on the schedule since than when I was a baby, this is true.  But there were considerably more antigens in vaccines back then (see page 7 of this link) and more antigens means more load on the immune system.  Tons more research,  scientific advancement and refinements have taken place since.  The fact that we now have more diseases covered for less load on the immune system should be viewed as a positive thing, not a negative.

less antigens

And this why we vaccinate newborns against Hepatitis B:

Hepatitis B why vaccinate newborns?






Is the aluminium in vaccines a dangerous amount? Is it toxic?

This post addresses common aluminium myths and questions:

MYTH 1: “The total aluminum exposure received from the entire recommended series of childhood vaccines over the first year of life is extremely worrisome”

Actually no, the risk is extremely low: http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/ScienceResearch/ucm284520.htm

MYTH 2: “There haven’t been any studies done to evaluate whether the amount of aluminium that an infant typically receives when completing the full AAP recommended vaccine regimen is actually safe.”

There have been, for example: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22001122

Also, the FDA conducted an updated analysis of many studies regarding the safety of aluminum adjuvants and found that the maximum amount of aluminum an infant could be exposed to over the first year of life via vaccines would be 4.225 milligrams (mg). They found that the body burden of aluminum from vaccines AND diet throughout an infant’s first year of life is significantly less than the corresponding safe body burden of aluminum, based on the minimal risk levels established by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/mrls/mrllist.asphttp://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/ScienceResearch/ucm284520.htm

MYTH 3: “I just don’t like the sound of aluminium. Hasn’t it been linked to Alzheimers, breast cancer and brain damage? I can control the amount of aluminium I consume, so I want to limit the amount my baby receives from vaccines.”

You can control the amount of aluminium you consume or use in skin products to some extent, but it is everywhere in the environment – the air, soil and water – and is largely unavoidable. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxguides/toxguide-22.pdf

So, avoiding vaccines is really going to do diddly squat towards avoiding aluminium exposure.

Aluminium does not cause Alzheimers or breast cancer. 

To cause neurological damage, you would have to be exposed to enormous quantities. Vaccines just don’t qualify. The potentially toxic effects of very large quantities of aluminum are encephalopathy, osteomalacia and microcytic anemia. These can become apparent during the treatment of patients suffering from chronic renal failure. So what about in babies who receive vaccinations? No. Aluminium toxicity due to vaccination has never been seen in babies.

Aluminium toxicity is usually only found in patients with renal impairment. Acute aluminium toxicity is extremely rare, but it is possible in people with impaired kidney function. Damaged kidneys and PN – or parenteral (intravenous) nutrition products – are the risk factors for developing acute aluminium toxicity. Despite having those risk factors, most patients with acute kidney injury who require PN do not receive excessive exposure to aluminum from the PN formulation. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18728106

So, is acute aluminium toxicity likely in a normal, healthy baby receiving vaccinations? Really, it’s not even possible. What about in a premature baby with kidney dysfunction on parenteral nutrition receiving vaccinations? It’s not very likely, but if you are concerned, you should discuss it with your pediatrician. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/165315-overview

MYTH 4: “Dr Sears says that the amount of aluminium in vaccines is more than injectable aluminium guidelines. He says that the FDA advises premature babies and any patient with impaired kidney function shouldn’t get more than 10 to 25 micrograms of injected aluminum at any one time, yet the total dose of aluminum can vary from 250 micrograms at birth (Hep B) to 295 – 1225 micrograms at 2, 4 and 6 months. He is a medical doctor, and he is worried that these aluminium levels far exceed what may be safe for young babies.”

There is a glaring error with Dr Sears aluminium information that would likely go over most people’s heads. Vaccines are what’s called a biological product. They have a different guideline to aluminium levels in food and a different guideline to aluminium levels in continuous nutritional intravenous products (parenteral nutrition).

Dietary aluminum is in such small quantities that it is not a significant source of concern in persons with normal elimination capacity. Premature babies do not have a normal elimination capacity, so the IV nutritional guideline needs to factor this in.

Dr Sears compares aluminium in intravenous nutrition products for preemie babies to aluminium in intramuscular vaccines. He is comparing the level of aluminium in vaccines to the wrong guideline.

Anti-vax sites are notorious for making this same error eg. they will compare environmental mercury from drinking water (a guideline determined by the EPA) to thimerosal in vaccines (a guideline determined by the FDA – for biological intramuscular injectables)

Here is the correct value:

Chapter 21 of the US Code of Federal Regulations [610.15(a)] limits the amount of aluminum in the recommended individual dose of biological products, including vaccines, to not more than 0.85-1.25 mg per dose.


MYTH 5: “But injected aluminium is different to ingesting it”.

Not really. With aluminium, absorption is extremely low from either route.

Ingestion via the gut IS different to 
Injection IM – into muscle (vaccines) is different to 
Injected IV – intravenously (directly into the bloodstream)

But you also have to consider how often you consume or inject these substances.

Water and food, which we ingest several times a day, every day of our lives will *always* have a lower safety limit simply because we use them so often. It’s really the aluminium from food and water that we need to watch. Even though very little is retained, it can accumulate because we consume them daily, several times a day, over our lifetime. Vaccines are spaced out over months, and years – so the aluminium contained within them do not have much of a chance to accumulate – the amounts are so small to begin with and the majority is excreted.

With the food and drinks you ingest, your gut mucosa filters out a lot of harmful substances and prevents them going into the bloodstream. So most aluminium that you eat, you would excrete before it even enters the bloodstream. That which does enter the bloodstream can also be excreted via the kidneys–> urine and bile. Less than 1% of the aluminium that you eat is absorbed by the body. 

Even less is retained (in the tissues and skeleton)

Much of the injected aluminium from vaccines enters the bloodstream, but only a very, very small percentage of that will be “dissolved” in the blood – it’s in the form of precipitate and is bound to carrier proteins (transferrin). Approximately 98 % of aluminium in the blood is excreted in the urine, and to a lesser extent bile. The unabsorbed aluminum is excreted in the feces. A diminishingly small amount may be retained. 
We’re talking about a minute fraction of two hundredths of bugger all.

Aluminium given intravenously (via continuous nutritional products for premmie babies – which is the guideline Dr Sears uses – ) has a much higher retention and accumulation value. Of course it does, because it goes straight into the bloodstream and the IV line is continuously there, feeding them all day long. And these tiny preemie babies have underdeveloped kidneys.

When determine the safety of aluminium in vaccines, ingestion of aluminium from food PLUS injection from vaccines is all factored into the formulation and regulation of vaccines when determining safe body burdens.

The amounts in vaccines fall within recommended guidelines when you compare it to the *correct* value.

MYTH 6: “But what about macrophagic myofasciitis? That sounds like aluminium poisoning to me!”

Macrophagic myofasciitis is muscle fibre damage due to aluminium contained in vaccines, but it is localised to the muscle of the inoculation site. ie. it is not due to an acute toxicity in terms of systemic poisoning. The aluminium in macrophagic myofasciitis has not even made it into the bloodstream. http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/committee/topics/aluminium/questions/en/



Vaccines don’t cause autism. Because science.

vaxnoautismNext time somebody says that vaccines cause autism, or that the link has not been studied extensively, hit them with this list of 109 scientific papers (including studies and reviews) showing no link between vaccines, vaccine ingredients and autism. Compiled by Nathan Boonstra, Allison Hagood, Luci Baldwin and myself.

  1. Albizzati, A., Moré, L., Di Candia, D., Saccani, M., Lenti, C. Normal concentrations of heavy metals in autistic spectrum disorders. Minerva Pediatrica. 2012.Feb;64(1):27-31 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22350041
  2. Abu Kuwaik, G., Roberts, W., Zwaigenbaum, L., Bryson, S., Smith, IM., Szatmari, P., Modi, BM., Tanel, N., Brian, J. Immunization uptake in younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder. Autism. 2014 Feb;18(2):148-55. doi: 10.1177/1362361312459111. Epub 2012 Oct 8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23045216
  3. Afzal, MA., Ozoemena, LC., O’Hare, A., Kidger, KA., Bentley, ML., Minor, PD.Absence of detectable measles virus genome sequence in blood of autistic children who have had their MMR vaccination during the routine childhood immunization schedule of UK.   Journal Medical Virology. 2006 May;78(5):623-30. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16555271
  4. Ahearn WH.What Every Behavior Analyst Should Know About the “MMR Causes Autism” Hypothesis. Archive of Behavior Analysis in Practice. 2010.   Spring;3(1):46-50.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22479671
  5.  Allan, GM., Ivers, N. The autism-vaccine story: fiction and deception? Canadian Family Physician. Oct 2010; 56(10): 1013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2954080/
  6. Andrews, N., Miller, E., Grant, A., Stowe, J., Osborn, V., & Taylor, B. (2004). Thimerosal exposure in infants and developmental disorders: a retrospective cohort study in the United Kingdom does not support a causal association. Pediatrics, 114, 584-591. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15342825
  7. Andrews, N., Miller, E., Taylor, B., Lingam, R., Simmons, A., Stowe, J., Waight, P. Dec 2002; 87(6): 493–494.Recall bias, MMR and autism. Archives of Disease in Childhood.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1755823/pdf/v087p00493.pdf
  8. Baird, G., Pickles, A., Simonoff, E., Charman, T., Sullivan, P., Chandler, S., Loucas, T., Meldrum, D., Afzal, M., Thomas, B., Jin, L., Brown, D. Measles vaccination and antibody response in autism spectrum disorders. Archives of Disease in Childhood.2008 Oct;93(10):832-7. doi: 10.1136/adc.2007.122937. Epub 2008 Feb 5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18252754
  9. Baron-Cohen, S. Autism and the technical mind: children of scientists and engineers may inherit genes that not only confer intellectual talents but also predispose them to autism. Scientific American. 2012 Nov;307(5):72-5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23120898
  10. Berger, BE., Navar-Boggan, AM., Omer, SB. Congenital rubella syndrome and autism spectrum disorder prevented by rubella vaccination–United States, 2001-2010.   BMC Public Health.2011 May 19;11:340. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-340. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21592401
  11. Black, C., Kaye, JA. Relation of childhood gastrointestinal disorders to autism: nested case-control study using data from the UK General Practice Research Database. British Medical Journal. 2002;325(7361):419-21. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7361.419
  12. Bower, H. New research demolishes link between MMR vaccine and autism.British Medical Journal. 1999. Jun 19;318(7199):1643. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1116011/
  13. Chen, W., Landau, S., Sham, P., & Fombonne, E. (2004). No evidence for links between autism, MMR and measles virus. Psychological Medicine, 34(3), 543-553. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15259839
  14. Christie, B. Scottish expert group finds no link between MMR and autism.British Medical Journal, 2002. May 11;324(7346):1118. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1172158/
  15. Clements, CJ., McIntyre, PB. When science is not enough – a risk/benefit profile of thiomersal-containing vaccines.   Expert Drug Opinion Safety. 2006.Jan;5(1):17-29. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16370953
  16. Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines; Institute of Medicine. Stratton, K., Ford, A., Rusch, E., Wright Clayton, E. Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012. (a review of more than ONE THOUSAND studies). http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13164
  17. Dales, L., Hammer, S. J., & Smith, N. J. (2001). Time trends in autism and in MMR immunization coverage in California.  JAMA, 285(9), 1183-1185. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11231748
  18. De Los Reyes, EC. Autism and immunizations: separating fact from fiction. JAMA Neurology. 2010;67(4):490-492. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2010.57. http://archneur.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=799645
  19. DeWilde, S., Carey, IM., Richards, N., Hilton, SR., Cook, DG. Do children who become autistic consult more often after MMR vaccination? British Journal of General Practice. 2001 Mar;51(464):226-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1313956/
  20. Demicheli, V., Jefferson, T., Rivetti, A., & Price, D. (2005). Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 4. (a review of 31 studies) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22336803
  21. DeStefano, F. MMR vaccine and autism: a review of the evidence for a causal association. Molecular Psychiatry. 2002;7 Suppl 2:S512. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12142951
  22. DeStefano, F., Chen, RT. Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: No epidemiological evidence for a causal association. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2000 Jan;136(1):125. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10681219
  23. DeStefano, F., Bhasin, T. K., Thompson, W. W., Yeargin-Allsopp, M., & Boyle, C. (2004). Age at first measles-mumps-rubella vaccination in children with autism and school-matched control subjects: a population-based study in metropolitan Atlanta. Pediatrics, 113(2), 259-266. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14754936
  24. DeStefano F., Price CS., Weintraub, ES. Increasing exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines is not associated with risk of autism.  Journal of Pediatrics. 2013 Aug;163(2):561-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.02.001. Epub 2013 Mar 30. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23545349
  25. DeStefano F., Thompson, WW.MMR vaccine and autism: an update of the scientific evidence.Expert Rev Vaccines.2004 Feb;3(1):19-22. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14761240
  26. DeStefano F., Thompson, WW. MMR vaccination and autism: is there a link? Expert Opinion on Drug Safety. 2002 Jul;1(2):115-20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12904145
  27. DeStefano, F. Chen, RT. Negative association between MMR and autism. Lancet. 1999 Jun 12;353(9169):1987-8. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(99)00160-9/fulltext
  28. DeStefano, F., Chen, RT. Autism and measles-mumps-rubella vaccination: controversy laid to rest? CNS Drugs. 2001. 2001;15(11):831-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11700148
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Dear parents, you are being lied to.


Highly recommended reading

Originally posted on Violent metaphors:

Standard of care.

In light of recent outbreaks of measles and other vaccine preventable illnesses, and the refusal of anti-vaccination advocates to acknowledge the problem, I thought it was past time for this post.

Dear parents,

You are being lied to. The people who claim to be acting in the best interests of your children are putting their health and even lives at risk.

View original 1,134 more words


Thanks for nothing, Gianelloni Family.

Your latest blog is crazy full of myths and misunderstandings about vaccines and measles.

1. It’s really not funny to mock a disease outbreak, especially one which is mostly affecting young babies and children.  How do you find humour in a virus that can sicken and disable the body’s defence systems to attack the brain?

Measles can kill quickly or it can kill slowly over many years.  This is why we take it seriously enough to vaccinate against it. Playing it down as if it is some innocent disease of childhood is worshipping the suffering of children. You find that funny, really?

2. The Daily Beast article which you focus on sources this newspaper story.   Your first error is in mocking the description of an outbreak being a mere 3 cases.

Take note:  the newspaper story actually says 3 MORE CASES of measles, not 3 cases.  If there were 5 hospitalizations, you can be damn sure there are many more than 3 cases.

So I looked it up for you.  As of 3 days ago, according to this Slate article there were 19 cases (and probably still counting).

Did you note this line in the article: “Many of the victims are children too young to be vaccinated or whose parents chose not to vaccinate them.”  Do you find that funny too?  

Irrespectively, an outbreak is defined as 3 or more cases linked in time or place.  In this case, if a person infected with measles occupies an area and then leaves, the air and surfaces can harbor the virus for up to 4 more hours, so anyone passing through that area can get infected.  Your unvaccinated child could pass through a shopping mall where an infected person had shopped hours ago, and still catch measles from breathing the air.

It really does only take a few cases to start an avalanche of cases.  90% of people who are not immune to measles will become infected if exposed, so the CDC is completely on point to declare that 3 or more cases is an outbreak.

3. So an outbreak can start out with 3 people, it could grow to be 1000 people.  But one thing is for sure and certain, if the anti-vaccine movement is allowed to grow, a measles outbreak will quickly spread amongst the unvaccinated and has the potential to hospitalize many and even kill some.

Consider the 2013 measles outbreaks in the US:   Out of 159 cases, how many were unvaccinated?  82%.  Plus another 9% had unknown vaccination status (which generally means unvaccinated).

So again we see that word. Unvaccinated. Still finding this funny?

4. By the way, you can’t catch measles from the vaccine.  Recently vaccinated persons are not disease spreading vectors as you assume.

Theoretically, any live virus vaccine can shed, but the MMR vaccine has NEVER been known to cause measles disease in another person.  Did that sink in? You cannot catch measles from the vaccine. So those measles cases which came from the doctors office were spread from a person infected and sick with wild measles.   An infected person or persons had been in the doctors office.  (Remember in 2008, how measles spread from Dr Sears waiting room?)

The idea that those vaccinated with MMR could be spreading measles is a ludicrous lie with no scientific or medical basis whatsoever.   The unvaccinated are actually responsible for outbreaks – indeed almost every outbreak in recent years has been linked to an unvaccinated person bringing in measles from overseas.

5.  So, measles was eliminated from America and many other developed countries but is now making a comeback thanks to mostly unvaccinated travellers who return and spread it largely amongst the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.  The most important cause of measles resurgence is low vaccination coverage.  So again, whose kids are more at risk?  Not only your unvaccinated kid but the kid next door with leukaemia who can’t be vaccinated.  This is getting funnier and funnier, really isn’t it?

6.  “Funny how we just can’t seem to eliminate measles within the United States”.   But yet they were eliminated, in fact they still are.  When the CDC says “eliminated”, they mean from endemic transmission.  Endemic meaning, regularly found in a certain area; native or restricted to that certain place.  Endemic transmission still no longer occurs – transmission is because of imported cases.   So what you are finding funny, is that measles is back thanks to unvaccinated people bringing it into the country from overseas.

Yes,  one booster was added to the vaccination schedule – thanks to continual monitoring, via those important things you mentioned:  Research. Statistics. Science. Logic.  It was determined that an additional booster was needed to ensure immunity was longer lasting.  So what’s the big deal?  You actually find science, research, statistics and logic funny too?  The irony of your whole argument is that the MMR is one of the most effective vaccines in terms of duration of immunity.

Vaccine immunity duration

7.  Measles can be deadly serious and Gianelloni Family wants to compare it to the common cold.  Her quote from Dr Mendelsohn explaining an adjusted rate of measles complications for developed nations has no basis.  In fact it cannot be found anywhere other than whale.to.  Groan.  It needs to be said that Mendelsohn is widely regarded as a renegade quack.  So who are you going to put faith in – one renegade doctor’s stab-in-the-dark made up statistics; or the CDC, the WHO and every other major health body around the world who actually do public health surveillance and can verify their statistics?

Here are the real statistics:  30% of persons who catch measles will have severe complications.  1-2 out of 1000 will die.  The risk of encephalitis from measles is 1 in 1000. Anywhere from 4 to 18 people out of 100 000 will get the fatal disease SSPE many years after infection.  This is in DEVELOPED nations.  

8.  Gianelloni Family states that “1 in 50 kids with autism suffer from inflammation of the brain and the MMR vaccine package insert for the measles vaccine actually lists inflammation of the brain as a side effect from the vaccine. Go read the package insert. It’s called encephalitis. Caused by the measles vaccine. Not caused by the natural measles virus.”

It is beyond ridiculous that she claims encephalitis is not caused by the natural measles virus when it is a well-known and established consequence of the disease. She also tries to muddy MMR vaccine, inflammation and autism. Firstly, autism is not encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).   Secondly,  MMR vaccine does not cause autism.

Encephalitis has been reported approximately once for every 3 million doses of MMR vaccine.  In no case has it been shown conclusively that encephalitis was caused by a vaccine virus infection of the central nervous system. And to re-iterate, encephalitis is not autism.  Also,  the vaccine protects against SSPE, it cannot cause it.  Go re-read the package insert.  It does not say anywhere on there that the measles vaccine causes autism.  Perpetuating this myth is really funny to you as well, I guess?


Seeking literal meaning through the package insert is an exercise fraught with inevitable misinterpretation.  This article clearly explains the myths surrounding package inserts.

And, there are over 100 scientific papers indexed on PubMed that thoroughly debunk the vaccines-autism myth.

9. According to the CDC around 1 -2 deaths will occur for every 1000 cases of measles in the developed world.

This quote is pure fabrication:  “Data shows that one-third to one-half of the millions of deaths in children across the world, caused by measles, are due to undernutrition, not undervaccination”

It cannot be found anywhere apart from the Gianelloni family’s own blog.  Now, I bet she finds making stuff up funny too.  But I don’t.  When it comes to children’s lives,  I find twisted quotes to be drop dead serious.

So I took the liberty of finding the real quote which she butchered and made it sound like something else entirely:

“Pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles, HIV/AIDS and malnutrition are the primary killers of children in the developing world.  Measles, killed over 500,000 children in 2003, more than any other vaccine-preventable disease. The measles death toll in Africa is so high – every minute one child dies – that many mothers don’t give children real names until they have survived the disease. Measles weakens the immune system and renders children very susceptible to fatal complications from diarrhoea, pneumonia and malnutrition”

So, the upshot of that is, measles is deadly and so are complications of measles.   Measles leads to complications. Malnutrition does not lead to contracting measles.  If there is no measles around, there are no complications of measles to die from.  Let’s take a look at how funny those measles deaths in developing countries really are:

“Immunization activities have had a major impact on reducing measles deaths. Since 2000, more than one billion children in high risk countries were vaccinated against the disease through mass vaccination campaigns ― about 145 million of them in 2012. Global measles deaths have decreased by 78% from an estimated 562 400 to 122 000″.

Laugh out loud funny, isn’t it,  Gianelloni Family?

10.  Gianelloni Family thinks that Big Pharma has created the anti-vaccine movement.  Interesting.  The public health cost of measles is actually far greater than the vaccine cost.  So how exactly is Big Pharma profiting from prevention?  Funny, much?


11.  How are unvaccinated children a threat, she asks?  Dr Larry Palevsky – who believes that getting sick is a good thing because those oh-so-helpful viruses and bacteria are assisting you with a ‘toxin purging opportunity’ –  is another quack.  But she will keep finding the lone wolf doctor with a crazy view, as if that’s the view of every expert on the planet.  Doctors who don’t believe in vaccination are in the extreme minority.

Here is why unvaccinated children are a threat:

Why is MY unvaccinated kid a threat?

Gianelloni Family deeply misunderstands (or misrepresents) community immunity (or herd immunity), a scientific principle accepted by virtually every scientist on the planet.  Any parent who honestly wants to understand the issue of why they may be endangering others by not vaccinating should read the book “Deadly Choices”.  Review of it here.   It goes into great detail about how when vaccination rates drop, rates of disease goes up.  Immunity from  measles vaccine, if given according to the vaccination schedule, lasts well into adulthood.  If everyone who CAN vaccinate DOES vaccinate,  that’s enough to ensure lifelong immunity.

12.  Dear Pharma, she says: “You created an entire generation of sick children.”  Erm, how?  Citation, please? For all of the erroneous claims that vaccines cause x, y, or z problem (SIDS, allergies, autoimmune diseases like MS or type 1 diabetes, autism, etc.) there have been many major studies conducted which found  no association with vaccines. This is one of the most common lies of the anti-vax movement – that somehow we are causing an epidemic of chronic illness because of vaccines.   Really, nothing else in our lives has changed apart from the vaccination schedule?  Every large well-designed study has found that there is no increased incidence of autism, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or allergies because of vaccination. 

Dear Gianelloni Family.  Wake up.  Wake the hell up and stop making excuses for why you are sheltering under the protection of herd immunity.  You’re not fooling anyone.   You are not an expert in infectious disease, epidemiology, immunology, virology, or any of the other myriad disciplines that come together to forge the basis of the science of vaccination. To accept your erroneous claims against the weight of hundreds of thousands of experts in these fields who have produced study upon study, does indeed put everyone at great risk, including your own children.