Friday, November 05, 2010

Where Is the Evidence that Celebrity Autism Advocates are Causing Drop in Vaccination Rates?

Whenever information surfaces showing a drop in vaccination groups in any geographic area or social demographic group the media and public health authorities blame celebrity autism advocates for the drop. TIME magazine does exactly that in commenting on the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Report indicating   that a drop in vaccination rates is occurring amongst children of wealthier parents while rates  actually increased amongst children of poorer parents.

Wealthier families, meantime, are getting too much of their health advice not from doctors and epidemiologists, but from talk shows, the blogosphere and the rumor mill, all of which are filled with vaccine scare stories. Making things worse is that the kind of folks spreading the tales are precisely the kind we find hardest to ignore.

"Very articulate, very good-looking movie stars or personalities ... are giving out information about how bad vaccines are," pediatrician Robert Frenck of the Cincinnati Children's Medical Center told the online health news service HealthDay. "Frumpy middle-aged doctors" find it awfully hard to compete with that.

"Childhood vaccination rates in 2009 declined by almost four percentage points in commercial plans.

A possible cause of this drop is commercial plan parents may refuse vaccines for their children based on the unproven, but increasingly popular, notion that vaccines cause autism. Celebrity activists are outspoken advocates of this view. Interestingly, we see vaccination rates in Medicaid – the program serving the poor – continuing to steadily improve.

“The drop in childhood vaccinations is disturbing because parents are rejecting valuable treatment based on misinformation,” said NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane. “All of us in health care need to work together to get better information to the public."

Neither  the TIME Magazine article, nor the NCQA news release, reference any studies which provide evidence that the drop in vaccination rates amongst children of wealthier parents is due entirely, or in part, to celebrity autism advocates and bloggers ....  good looking or not.

Insulting parents of autistic children (and celebrities) has not worked to restore confidence in parents that vaccines are safe generally or that they are NEVER involved in causing autism in ANY cases even amongst children of women injected with mercury containing vaccines while they were pregnant. I have commented previously (1) (2) on the insanity of continuing with this failed strategy while hoping for a different outcome yet the NCQA and TIME continue to do so.

Unlike the intellects at TIME and NCQA I will not assume that they will ever learn their lesson. I do not expect public health authorities, or TIME, to learn that maybe it is time to start treating the public with respect and make their case with solid, credible studies both as to the cause of drops in vaccination rates and on whether vaccines contribute to autism or any other disorders. Former NIH Director Dr. Bernadine Healey has stated that comparative studies comparing autism rates amongst vaccinated and existing unvaccinated populations should be done but no such study has been attempted. Instead excuses are offered by public health authorities who continue to dismiss, and attack, anyone who asks questions about the efficacy or the safety of vaccines.

There is no evidence that TIME or public health authorities will ever change their view of the public as ignorant, unwashed and incapable of understanding serious issues. It appears to be far easier for public health authorities to blame the public, or good looking high profile members of the public, than to convincingly demonstrate the safety and efficacy of vaccines.


Claire said...

Thank you Harold...particularly for that last paragraph. I find this way of thinking to be offensive. I did a GREAT deal of research about celebrity was ever an influencing factor. I am NOT gullible and stupid. My personal research on the issue has shown me one thing over and over again: the jury is still out on the effects of vaccines on kids. As you say..."Insulting parents of autistic children (and celebrities) has not worked to restore confidence in parents that vaccines are safe generally or that they are NEVER involved in causing autism in ANY cases even amongst children of women injected with mercury containing vaccines while they were pregnant." I might add, not just autism, but other neuro-developmental conditions.

Autism Mom Rising said...

I got a little curious about these accusations that deadly diseases started to increase because Jenny McCarthy started talking so I did a little poking around on the CDC site.

When did Jenny start talking, around 2005. Look at the measles...measles rates have actually gone down from 2005 to 2007 (they have no data listed for after 2008 yet). So just how Jenny McCarthy is responsible for an increase in measles that didn't happen, I'm not sure. Now Whopping Cough has increased, because it requires the highest rate of compliance of any vaccine to keep disease rates down - 95%. Most disease require 90% or under and we are still well within vaccination compliance ranges for that.

Or take the whole Autism rates went up after Thimerosal was removed argument. We can't possible know that yet and I draw this conclusion, again, from the CDC's own website.

This link says Thimerosal was removed in 2001:

This link says the latest Autism 1 in 110 numbers are based on eight year olds born in 1998, before thimerosal was removed. Until they use children born after 2001 we will not know whether or not the rate has gone up. Yet doctors going around saying it has every day without bothering to look at the actual data.

I don't blog about this stuff because my blog has a different focus. But I'm sure glad you do.

quicksilver said...

We need to be clear that far from being removed we now ( in 2010) have for a few years lots of unborn babies injected with full amounts of brain destroying mercury.

Absolutely INSANE

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the inciteful argument. I feel deeply in my soul that the vaccinations were responsible for my son's late onset autism. I often wonder when physicians tell me 'It your genes' how enough people suddenly had bad enough genes to cause an epidemic.