Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Offit Offensive Has Failed, Vaccine-Autism War Continues, Child Vaccine Refusals Increase in U.S.

Breaking News Update:

I had just posted this comment when I read the CP Breaking News update Parents with more education less likely to let their daughters get HPV shots featuring extensive commentary by Field Marshal Paul Offit the man with great vaccine credibility ... with the main stream media ... not so much ... maybe none at all ...  with parents, including apparently better educated parents.  Personally I think including Paul Offit in an article about vaccine safety is counter productive if parents are the audience that authorities are trying to convince. The article despite the education levels of the parents, blames the internet for leading these parents to question public health authorities pronouncements on vaccine safety.  As always the possibility that parental concerns might be legitimate is not referenced in the article.  The Offit Offensive ... the insanity ... continues.

The latest news from the Vaccine-Autism front is summarized succcinctly in the CBC headline Child vaccine refusals increase in U.S. The article reports on the study by Philip Smith and his colleagues of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta which found that "between 2003 and 2008, the percentage of parents who refused or delayed vaccination doses "increased significantly from 22 per cent to 39 per cent."  Authorities will scratch their heads over this information, will wonder how they can get through to those stupid, ignorant, hysterical and ill informed parents who do not accept their dictates about what is best for their children.  They will continue to follow the same insane strategy of trying to convince parents, while insulting them,  that all vaccines, and all vaccine ingredients are always safe no matter how many times they are given and no matter what contrary information they might stumble  upon.  

What the authorities will not do, can not do, is acknowledge that they have not always been forthright in addressing public concerns and that they have ignored credible health professionals who in fact do have questions about the state of the "science" on vaccine safety particularly as it pertains to autism. 

If anyone from American or Canadian public health offices reads this blog commentary and decides that what I  say in this comment is typical "anti-vaxxer" nonsense they should know that I have two sons all of whom have received all of the recommended vaccine shots. I have never attributed my youngest son's severe autistic disorder to vaccination although I do have an open mind on the issue now.  I do not  believe the rhetoric of the failed, and insane, strategy of public health authorities and mainstream media giants who simply dismiss parents, health professionals and researchers who question whether "science" has actually determined for all time that all vaccines are always effective and safe.  The strategy has failed and yet the strategy continues to be relied on by the same authorities and media giants hoping for a different result.

On January 24 2009 in Einstein's Reply to Paul Offit I questioned the rationality of public health authorities and professionals who keep following the same failed strategy to convince parents to vaccinate their children and expecting to see different results.  I set out two quotes as an introduction to that comment:

"These outbreaks have not, apparently, been sobering. If anything, the number of parents choosing to delay or withhold or separate vaccines is increasing. So what will it take?

Paul Offit

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Albert Einstein"

It is now 16 months later and Paul Offit and company keep doing the same thing over and over and over again and keep expecting to see different results. The insanity has not ended and there are no signs that it will. There are no signs that  public health officials or the mainstream media will abandon the Offit strategy which has been an utter failure.  The increases in vaccine refusals are clear indicators that it is insane to keep following the Offit strategy and expecting a different result.

Insulting Jenny McCarthy and other parents fighting for their children will not work.  Let me repeat that one since it is quite simple yet difficult for Offit and company to grasp: insulting Jenny McCarthy and other parents fighting for their children will not work.

Ignoring health professionals and researchers  like Dr. Bernadine Healy  and pharmaceutical official Dr. Julie Gerberding, both of whom have previously stated that a study comparing autism rates of existing vaccinated and unvaccinated populations could and should be done will not work. Ignoring a clinical and academic neurologist and parent like Dr. Jon Poling who has called for more environmentally focused autism research, including more vaccine oriented autism research will not work. Ignoring a researcher like Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto who says that the studies allegedly disproving a thimerosal autism connection are flawed and that stronger sceince is needed on the issue.

Playing politics by appointing those like Ari Ne'eman who oppose curing  autism to the IACC will not work.  Allowing an Alison Singer, nominated to the IACC by Autism Speaks, to  abandon that organization's mandate by voting against an historically crucial recommendation for the comparative autism vaccine study before jumping ship to join Paul Offit at the Autism Science Foundation, will not work. 

Parents know that the "science" on vaccines and autism is not as solid as portrayed by the Offit media armies. They know that research of vaccine and other potential environmental triggers of autism has been discouraged since the 1990's.  They know that public health authorities like the IACC have pushed the flawed thimerosal autism studies while refusing to  conduct the comparative studies recommended by Gerberding and Healy and while refusing the Hertz-Picciotto and Poling recommendations for stronger scientific research on thimerosal and other vaccine autism issues.

I am a parent who vaccinates my children but still has questions about vaccines.  I acknowledge the important role that vaccines have played in public health and disease prevention in children.  But there is a resource which is even more important in protecting and promoting the health of children and that resource is parents. It is that resource which has been subjected to unrelenting attack by the Offit armies as part of a failed and insane strategy to convince parents to vaccinate their children. 

It is long past time for the Offit armies, including the new Autism Science Foundation, mainstream media like the NYT, the Chicago Tribune, the Globe and Mail and PBS and internet foot soldiers like the blogging sites listed on the Autism Science Foundation web site to leave the field.  It is time for health authorities and researchers who understand that parents are the number one resource in child health promotion to work with parents and address their concerns instead of dismissing them. 

Will my small voice be heard and have any impact? Highly, highly unlikely.  The odds are good that a year from now, two years from now, vaccine refusals will have increased again in the US and the Offit armies will still be in the field attacking the number one child health resource ... their parents ... and hoping to see a different result.


Unknown said...

Dear Mr. Mr. Doherty:

Well said. Thank you.

Robert J. Krakow

MySocratesNote said...

Well done, sir!

Here's my take on some of the insults and attacks on Ms. McCarthy.

Anonymous said...

Very well written...there is so much spin and emotional nonsense surrounding vaccines and autism from both sides of the debate.

When you strip away the bias and financial incentives, there remains many unanswered questions...

Randy said...

Hi Mr. Doherty - in a similar vein, I believe Einstein also said "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

Dr. Offit appeasr to lead the charge that contends the case is closed, the "science has spoken". To that end, if I may, I'd like to add a couple more of my favorite Einstein quotes:

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."


"Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it."

And as to as the onslaught of character assassinations:

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."

An old college prof used to say "judge people not by the answers they give, but by the questions they ask". There are great spirits here asking some important questions. From all walks, all professions, all in the mix. The response is still violent opposition, sometimes from very well credentialed people - experts, per se - but with no real answers, and still refusing to turn over certain rocks. IMHO, the "weakness of mind" that Einstein refers to isn't necessarily an academic thing.

Thank you for your eloquent post.

María Luján said...

Thank you very much Mr Doherty

María Luján said...

Thank you very much Mr Doherty

Anonymous said...

"Parents with more education less likely to let their daughters get HPV shots"

How much of *that* is in common with other anti-vaccine attitudes and due to "the vaccine doesn't work well enough to lower the odds of cervical cancer if she catches HPV through consensual sex or getting raped"...

...and how much is instead in common with other anti-safer-sex attitudes and due to "the vaccine works well enough to lower the odds of cervical cancer enough to make my little girl less terrified of sex, but I *want* her to be terrified of choosing premarital sex [and I don't think about the possibility of her getting raped or the possibility of her saving sex for marriage and marrying a man who turns out to have HPV]..."?

from the link:

"...Among the parents who said no, concern about vaccine safety was listed as the major reason for the decision (29.2 per cent). A substantial portion — 15.6 per cent — felt their daughters were too young to get the vaccine and listed that as their major reason..."

Maybe this answers that question? Wouldn't surprise me if some of the people who refuse to let their daughters have the HPV vaccine do let their daughters have the measles vaccine but don't let their daughters have accurate information about condoms.

Unknown said...

Dear Mr Doherty,

I read your blog and the comments and am curious about a couple of things.

Why was it wrong for Alison Singer to make her own choice when voting on the comparative vaccination autism study?

And why was it wrong for her to decide she had disagreements with Autism Speaks and choose to leave that job?

Was it because she said that
"Dozens of credible scientific studies have exonerated vaccines as a cause of autism"?

Unknown said...


1. It was wrong because she didn't just apply off the street for and land a position on the IACC. She was there because of Autism Speaks.

She voted against the recommendation for an historically crucial comparative study of autism rates in existing vaccinated and unvaccinated population groups which ran contrary to the Autism Speaks research agenda. Autism Speaks published a criticism of her for doing so.

Very soon afterwards she connected at the hip with Paul Offit (see th Autism "Science" Foundation) who is trying to shut down research and questioning of vaccines as possible factors in causing autism.

That is what she did wrong.

2. 12 studies?

The studies allegedly disproving an autism vaccine connection have been questioned by Dr. Bernadine Healy and by Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto the latter of whom has stated that those studies are flawed and stronger science is needed on the issue (I'm sure you know that Dr. Hertz-Picciotto has considerably more autism research experience than Dr. Paul Offit who has pretty well none).

Even current senior pharmaceutical company officer Dr. Julie Gerberding has previously stated that the comparative autism studies COULD and SHOULD be done. Dr. Jon Poling a clinical and academic neurologist has also called for more vaccine autism research.