The madness of the anti-medicine movement

Long term anti-vaccine lobbyist, Judy Wilyman recently had one of her standard attacks on HPV vaccination republished on the site of the ambitiously named The New Zealand Journal of Natural Medicine.

The same page on which Wilyman’s piece appears has a link to the New Zealand 3D Investigative TV3 report on the types of injuries and even deaths Wilyman contends are firmly associated with the HPV vaccine Gardasil. The programme, entitled Cause or Coincidence? aired on November 9th 2015.

The Immunisation Advisory Centre based at The University of Auckland have responded directly to claims raised in the programme. Three NZ girls have become ill and two girls have died after receiving the HPV immunisation. The IAC provided a comprehensive response, which included:

There is absolutely no evidence that the Gardasil® vaccine has caused death, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), or any other related fatigue syndromes.

Just because these conditions occurred after vaccination it does not mean that they were caused by the vaccine.

It was also stated in the programme that fatalities of this nature and illnesses of this type are occurring at rates that they would had their been no HPV immunisation programme.

In no way can The New Zealand Journal of Natural Medicine be called a “journal”. It constantly hits the peak of the very worst deceptions peddled by paranoid pushers of alternatives to medicine. Certainly there are advertisements for a cornucopia of unproven concoctions promising to improve or cure a host of mild to moderate ailments. Yet articles seem to follow a pseudo-binary opposite theme. A browse through some available samples is most revealing.

If something is in the realm of science based medicine it is not just useless, but harmful. Not only is this publication in the style of Natural News, but it heavily republishes articles from Adams’ anti-science hysteria website. A typical example is, Why won’t Big Pharma ever cure cancer? Because “the cancer industry is probably the most prosperous industry in the United States”. Exactly why “Big Pharma” should bear this manufactured blame when cancer research continues apace in various research institutions isn’t made clear. Readers are supposed to swallow the tired line that profit from treating cancer is what ensures the “cure” never surfaces.

Readers are of course not alerted to the advances cancer research has delivered, leading to full remission in cases where this was once unheard of. Or treatments that have improved both the quality and duration of life for patients across a range of cancers. Gerson cancer treatment gets a plug. Vitamins C,D,E, Chinese herbs, Ayurvedic herbs, selenium, turmeric and high protein diets which increase the immune system’s ability to kill cancer cells also feature. Homeopathy improves quality of life for cancer patients, and is in fact “extremely helpful” at doing so.

This is just a snippet of cancer treatments. Of course, you must be wondering why we have never heard of this. Simple.

You see “the early Rockefellers” thought up the “business plan of our current medical system”, and “gained control” of most medical schools in the early 20th century.

The plan was to create all sorts of diseases, say with vaccines (e.g. autism, cancer, etc), fluoride, pesticides, junk “food” and the like, and then invent drugs to manage said diseases for the life of the patient, all the while getting gobs of taxpayers’ hard earned dollars to pay for said drugs and management.

Never, ever, ever actually CURE any disease, as that would not be profitable, but get ever increasing increments of cash to “manage the disease” and continually “LOOK FOR” the cure.

Then get nice little old ladies and school kids with freshly baked cookies to raise money for “charity” societies, like cancer, diabetes, heart stuff of all kinds, birth defects, autism, ad infinitum.

Most if not all of which societies are linked to the very same corporations that helped create the diseases in the first place, e.g. cancer societies being funded by pesticide manufacturers.

Call your brand of medicine “scientific” and “evidence-based” while disparaging anything that comes from beyond the pale as “unproven” or worse, “anecdotal”.

When someone comes along with an actual cure, disparage them, ensure their funding gets revoked (if by some miracle it happened in the first place), and in extremis have them imprisoned or murdered.

Hey, nothing personal. It’s just business.

However, millions of people are now waking up, albeit more slowly that one would hope, although it’s sometimes amazing that there are people “out there” who are still thinking for themselves at all.

And, as long as it lasts, the Internet is at your service, where everyone can do their homework.

Oh, my. Murdering those who have an “actual cure”. Ongoing perusal of this esteemed “journal” reveals a Natural News piece informing us that certain medications causally increase our potential to murder up to 200% in the case of anti-inflammatory painkillers. Opioid painkillers “increase the risk by 92%”. Antidepressants – 31%. Tranquilizers – 45%.

The Finnish study, published in June this year in World Psychiatry deals with association between the medications and murder. Yet the study is misrepresented by Natural News/NZ Journal of Natural Medicine under the heading Certain Medications cause people to commit murder…

This has a sub-heading Homicide risk increased by 31% to 200%… 100 million Americans take these drugs. It goes on to claim that the study:

…found that several classes of prescription medications – including antidepressant drugs, tranquilizers and anti-inflammatory painkillers markedly increased the chances of someone murdering another human being.

Which, like the sub-heading, is highly misleading because the study concludes (bold mine):

These results – which may probably be generalized to other developed and stable societies that have a low to medium homicide rate, although not necessarily to countries with higher rates of organized and premeditated crime – imply that the use of antidepressants should not be denied to either adults or adolescents due to a presumed risk of homicidal behavior. The surprisingly high risk associated with opioid and non-opioid analgesics deserves further attention in the treatment of pain among individuals with criminal history.

It can’t be ignored that the study itself notes “non-scientific” organisations blame psychotropic medications, especially antidepressants for large scale shootings in the USA, citing the Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Colorado: a front shop for Scientology’s anti-psychiatry propaganda and lobbying. A 2011 issue of the NZ publication asks on its cover, “Is Psychiatry A Hoax?”

The NZ Journal of Natural Medicine targets a number of areas where conspiracy meets evidence based medicine. Fluoride and how to detox from it, is accompanied in various issues with all the pseudoscientific horrors that are caused by this “poison”.

Predictably since the proposed Australian No Jab No Pay legislation gained increasing media coverage over 2015, this was picked up in NZ. The image below is from Issue 17, May – August 2015.

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Heavily laced with USA-centric articles this edition also included a piece entitled The Government Knows It’s A Medical Killing Machine, as its Health Freedom highlight. Although published in late 2013 the piece rattled off many figures we’ve been fed here by Meryl Dorey pushing the line that the medical system kills hundreds of thousands per year. Vioxx, Avandia, Paroxetine is apparenty ample evidence that peer reviewed publication peddles fraud. Also readers enjoyed this well known image:

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The article following this the incredible “Forced Vaccination At Gunpoint”. This is the same article word for word at Natural News, published November 19 2007 by Mike – Health Danger – Adams. Yep. By the time the NZ Natural Medicine “journal” published it it was 7, 1/2 years old. This image was added:

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Broaching the topic of No Jab No Pay in Australia comes The War Against Vaccine Refusers, written by an editor:

Make no mistake, there is a war hotting up against people, who for want of a better name I will call “vaccine-refusers” – people who choose not to be vaccinated (or allow their children to be vaccinated) or people who may agree to one or more vaccinations but don’t want to have every new vaccine that Big Pharma brings to market injected into them or their children.

In Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott recent announcement that the government planned to remove the “conscientious objection” category from vaccination exemptions from January 1, 2016 is especially worrying. Families who do not vaccinate their children (who do not belong to the Church of Christ, Scientist, and/or cannot obtain a medical exemption from vaccination) would lose their eligibility to the “Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate and the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement)”. The loss of these benefits could cost a family approximately $15,000 per child.

[…]

If the pro-vaccine lobby is successful in inculcating in the general public the belief that people do not want to be vaccinated (or parents who choose not to vaccinate their children) are “irresponsible” or “free- loaders”, the social conditions in which a coercive or even compulsory vaccination policy can be instituted will have been created.

If you take into account all the recent news from the USA (including the forced vaccination of children detailed elsewhere in this issue), the many bills before different US State governments, and the announcement by the Australian PM and the recent promotion of compulsory vaccination by Dr. O’Sullivan in NZ, it becomes clear that Big Pharma and its minions are obviously unhappy that there may be anyone refusing to be vaccinated – even if vaccine-refusers are only a small percentage of the population.

In fact as we know members of the Church of Christ, Scientist were not required to abuse their children by denying them the protection of vaccine induced immunity. Only medical exemptions are valid reasons to not lose access to benefits.

I can’t possibly comprehend why Judy Wilyman would want her name associated with a magazine populated with such varied deception and conspiracy. There is one small piece in this same issue some of you may have read before. There is very little original – or up to date – material in this so-called “journal”. As such they have chosen to publish the utterly insane, amusing as it is offensive piece from the Journal of Public health and Epidemiology, 2014; 6: 271-86.

This has been republished across the Internet, even starring in What Doctors Don’t Tell You. So I’ll publish it in full below:

 

Autism ‘Caused By MMR Using Human Fetal Cell Lines’ October 16, 2014

The explosion in autism has been caused by the introduction of human fetal cell lines in the manufacture of MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccines, a major new study has concluded.

Before 1987, when the vaccines were produced with animal cell lines, autism cases were relatively low. Today, it’s been estimated that 1 in 50 children has autism.

Stem cell researcher Theresa Deisher and others say that the correlation between the sudden explosion in autism cases and the introduction of the new MMR vaccines is too strong to ignore – although, as the old maxim goes, correlation doesn’t prove causation.

The ‘change point’ – when the numbers of autism cases rose sharply – happened in the UK in 1987, just when the new MMR vaccine, using human fetal cells, was introduced. A similar correlation was seen around the same time in Denmark, while the autism change point in the US was 1980 to 1981 after the introduction of the new MeruvaxII and MMRII vaccines in 1979. Both vaccines used human fetal cells [as a culture medium for the rubella viruses in the vaccine – Ed] for the first time.

WI-38 and MRC-5 human diploid cell lines are used in the production of hepatitis A, rabies, rubella, varicella and Pentacell DTaP-IPV/Hib as well as MMR.

The article Vaccines Contain No Aborted Fetal Cells looks at the bogus claims of fetal cells in vaccines.

So-called “research” in anti No Jab, No Pay submissions

A casual review of anti-vaccine submissions pertaining to the Social Services Legislation Amendment (No Jab, No Pay) Bill 2015, reveals a striking repetition of unsubstantiated or demonstrably false claims, mixed with more of the misguided beliefs that have brought Australia to this point in the first place.

The most prominent theme backed by deceptive pseudoscience or distortion of genuine science is that vaccines are harmful. More so they are either not needed due to the wonders of modern snake oil or have never had the dramatic impact on the scourge of vaccine preventable diseases, that they have indeed irrefutably had. Vaccines are however, capable of causing the diseases the public is deceived into believing they prevent, and go on to enable their spread.

A while back I touched on the triumphant antivaccinationist claim of “having done my research”. I suggested a lack of critical thinking and cognitive bias left a great deal of these “researchers” incapable of discerning reputable source material from nonsense. That the unwary reader is presented with huge volumes of championed material, yet lacks the rather vital tools of cognition to identify and trust the genuine expert. This is a fast track to accepting opinion (or worse) as fact.

Tim Harding tackles this problem in more depth and with far more care than I, in his article How Dr Google spawned a new breed of health ‘experts’. Harding identifies key elements contributing to this phenomenon. Under the heading Misunderstanding democracy, he writes;

Reducing the influence of experts is sometimes mistakenly described as “the democratisation of ideas”. Democracy is a system of government — it is not an equality of opinions.

While the right of free speech prevents governments from suppressing opinions, it does not require citizens to treat all opinions equally or even take them into account. Equal rights do not result in equal knowledge and skills.

[…]

Deakin University philosopher Dr Patrick Stokes has argued the problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that it has become shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” without justification; and that disagreement is somehow disrespectful.

Dr Stokes suggests that this attitude feeds into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.

The truth and import of Dr. Stokes’ observation of false equivalence between experts and non-experts is a reality I feel we should readily accept. Skeptics and science advocates have experienced and will continue to experience such when it comes to the anti-vaccination lobby.

In recent weeks this lobby has accused its critics of being worse than Nazis. They have launched a concerted attack against the families and grieving parents of infants lost to pertussis. They have produced memes likening vaccination to rape – and defended criticism of this. Whilst less insulting but no less ludicrous they’ve insisted democracy in Australia is dead.

Yet they never doubted their democratic right to swamp the No Jab, No Pay Social Services Amendment process with submissions accommodating a host of patently ridiculous, fallacious and time wasting material.

Some don’t know they are parroting nonsense. Meryl Dorey’s old trick attacking pertussis vaccine efficacy pops up here and there. 1991 was the first year for compulsory notification of pertussis cases, which were recorded by the National Notifiable Surveillance Diseases System. 1991 was a different time. Not all health professionals were logistically prepared to diagnose, much less report pertussis cases. Sensitivity of diagnostic equipment was magnitudes less than today. This was five years prior to the Immunise Australia campaign, launched by Michael Wooldridge.

So the deception runs that in 1991 with only around 71% of 0-6 year olds vaccinated, there were only (according to one submission) 347 cases. In fact there were only that many cases reported. NNSDS pertussis figures for 1991 still creep up at about five per year. 1991 notifications in 2012 are 332. This year to date: 345. The same submission goes on to report that in 2011 with a 95% pertussis vaccine uptake in 0-6 year olds, “there were 38,725 cases of whooping cough”.

Notice the age of vaccination is the 0-6 years cohort, but the pertussis notification figure is Australia wide. This includes overseas visitors, workers and new arrivals who brought the infection with them.

And of course by 2011 it’s not that PCR testing can detect Bordetella pertussis in samples hundreds or thousands of times smaller. And days older. Or that practitioners are constantly on the lookout for signs, or that documentation of notification is meticulous. Or sciencing in this field is better and faster.

Or that it is therefore significant that last year’s total of 11,866 (approx. 700 more than 2005) is comparatively low, and the high figures collated for 2009 – 2011 reflect the national outbreak that is reported as beginning in Meryl Dorey’s backyard. NB: article uses a number of media sources.

Nay. It’s the vaccine whatdunnit, dear reader, and Meryl Dorey has been peddling that lie and tripping up people who “do their research” for years. She never has replied to my January 2012 email wherein I step by step showed her how she pulled off this trick.

Vaccines it is argued, still cause autism. One may read that “autism-like symptoms” are in fact autism. That the US Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has compensated cases of autism arising from vaccination. This is most certainly untrue. The VICP continue to deny ever having compensated any individual for autism caused by vaccination.

Whilst terms such as “autism-like symptoms” are used the Compensation Program at no time refers to anything like “autism arising from vaccination” or “autism as a result of vaccination”. The Pace Law School scandal is deconstructed here. Meryl Dorey’s fraudulent addition of the word “[Autism]” to the US Court of Federal Claims case file dealing with the case of Bailey Banks is documented here. Sadly it is not realistic to think these claims have not influenced opinion in some.

Across the internet the false tale of 83 vaccine induced autism cases, compensated by the US Vaccine Injury Compensation Program will pop up. It refers to a paper written by Pace Law School Students entitled, Unanswered Questions from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A review of compensated cases of vaccine induced brain injury.

I wrote in 2011;

Reading the document reveals ample use of terms such as “settled cases suggesting autism”, “language that strongly suggests autistic features”, “published decisions that used terms related to autism”, “payment of vaccine injured children with autism”, and not – as Seth Mnookin pointed out – “because of their autism”. More so, the authors spend some time arguing why there should be no distinction between autism and autism-like symptoms. This is a major concession they award themselves.

The paper includes caregiver opinion, parental opinion, phrases from doctors who gave evidence at hearings and provides a case table of “Language suggesting autism or autistic-like symptoms”. A notable concern is referencing The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine and a Manmade Epidemic [2010] by Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill.

This issue of insisting “autism-like symptoms” should be accepted as autism may have an intuitive feel to it but would ultimately reap an injustice on individuals involved. If we consider patients who have experienced brain injury from head trauma, stroke, near drowning or drug overdose, each may present with near identical symptoms. However the mechanism of brain injury is different and demands specificity of treatment.

So it is with autism. Diagnosis, treatment and prognosis are not opinions one can choose. Other erroneous opinions we find as a result of anti-vaccine research lean towards the legislative change being an abuse of rights and freedoms. It is an abuse of our constitution. Vaccines, being poisonous and responsible for chronic disease in children will reap harm because natural is best whilst chemicals and toxins are bad.

In fact the submissions rejecting No Jab, No Pay appear to be a cornucopia of all anti-vaccine misinformation. The authors have indeed “done their research”.

The problem of clustered drops in herd immunity

There are many reasons anti-vaccine lobbyists push the falsehood that herd immunity “is a myth”, is not important or simply doesn’t exist.

To listen to recent untruths from Meryl Dorey, one should eagerly accept that it is “documented” in peer reviewed literature as being more or less non-existent. Indeed, “it is a lie” lies Dorey. By essentially mocking the importance of herd immunity, garden variety anti-vaccine tricksters can shirk the responsibility that not vaccinating may harm the wider community, innocent infants or children, and deny larger scale resistance to infection that the immune-compromised rely on.

Herd immunity is an impressive function of mass vaccination. More so it is remarkably easy to understand. But the anti-vaccine lobby refuse to accept any need for or benefit from, mass vaccination. It is even more bizarre when one considers the parallels to so-called “natural immunity” – such as with marvellous measles, or “right of passage” infection and immunity. With mass vaccination we can control the spread of immunity and thus the spread and ultimate impact of vaccine preventable disease.

We should never forget that claims of raising impeccably healthy and disease-free unvaccinated children can exist only for as long as vaccine-induced herd immunity remains at a crucial level. The level that permits a free ride and protection from most vaccine preventable diseases for these very children.

Once again the formula frequently relied upon is “< 100% = 0%” – such as this 1973 article. One popular mode is that if a child is vaccinated against X, they should be safe from infection with X. Even worse is a distortion of epidemiological factors at play. This involves citing nationwide or statewide vaccination rates – which level out as reasonably high – along with reported outbreaks, such as those seen of pertussis or measles. Or including individuals who have had just one MMR jab (in the case of measles) or those whose vaccine-induced pertussis immunity has certainly waned.

This not-very-clever deception ignores the fact that areas with low vaccination uptake provide the ideal conditions for infection to spread rapidly.

The video below compares the difference in infection spread in the sparsely located unvaccinated compared to a cluster of unvaccinated individuals.

Herd Immunity

Family Court continues to defend vaccination

While ever the child remains unvaccinated, he remains at risk of contracting these diseases

– Justice Jenny Hogan: Family Court of Australia. July 17, 2015 –

“I’ve done my research”.

So goes the inaccurate claim of the anti-vaccine convert. As I’ve noted before this claim should be questioned as to what independent evaluation took place to discern the quality of such “research”. I realise this isn’t very user-friendly. Thus it’s a way of underscoring the inappropriateness of mums and dads using the term to defend their ignorance of vaccine efficacy and safety.

Perhaps this “research” should be compared to the advice and conclusions published by reputable health authorities. Perhaps the most simple approach is to run up a tally of reputable source information vs that from woo and quackery public health menaces. Ideally parents will see that ample research has already been done and their role is to seek advice from a GP.

Yet we know in a number of cases that won’t happen and anti-vaccine fear mongering and deception will be eagerly devoured and believed by some. Many will continue this “research” to varying degrees, perhaps joining forums, Facebook pages and YouTube channels, sinking ever deeper into hive mentality.

A July 17 Family Court of Australia finding provided a glimpse of the harm such forays into the dark and absurd realms of the Internet can potentially cause. In this case of “Arranzio and Moss” before Justice Jenny Hogan, Ms. Moss had told the court she intended to;

…never consent to the child being vaccinated [because she] has a conscientious objection to vaccination on the basis of her research.

Moss was seeking an injunction that would prevent her six year old son (who has never been immunised) being taken by his father for immunisation, “without her written permission”. She believes vaccines may cause cancer and “other health problems”, and believes her son suffers from “a range of allergies to different foods”.

Both parents had witnesses appear on their behalf.

The mother’s doctor, known as Dr J, told Justice Hogan that she had previously held ‘anti-vaccination views’ but now believed that vaccination was sometimes appropriate for children who were, for example, not breastfed.

[…]

Justice Hogan said that “no weight could sensibly” be given to Dr J’s views on the case at hand, because Dr J had not even seen the child when she decided that he had an “underlying immune shift” that might make vaccination problematic for him.

Dr. G, appearing for the father had studied at the Mayo Clinic and is a specialist in childhood allergies. He commented on the uselessness of “tests” Dr. J suggested the child was in need of, describing them as “total nonsense”. He went on to reject the claim that the chicken pox vaccine causes shingles as “bunkum” and noted that allergic reactions to vaccines are so rare he had “only one or two people referred to him over the years”.

The injunction was not granted. The finding quite firmly highlights the risk of contracting disease due to being unvaccinated, as opposed to the fallacious beliefs of the anti-vaccine lobby:

Justice Hogan said “the consequences for the child of contracting a disease weighed significantly against the grant of an injunction” – meaning the father should not be banned from having the child vaccinated because harm from potential diseases posed unacceptable risks.

“While ever the child remains unvaccinated, he remains at risk of contracting these diseases,” she said.

“Having regard to the above, I am not persuaded that an order restraining the father from having the child vaccinated is appropriate for the child’s welfare or in his best interests.”

What is immediately apparent with respect to these cases is that the so-called “evidence” that makes up the body of anti-vaccination “research” is presented in a law court in opposition to genuine evidence provided by qualified medical professionals. Family Court findings uphold the best interests and welfare of children.

In these cases the efficacy and safety of vaccines are themselves arguably on trial.

When the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network reacted to the announcement that Family Tax Benefits would be denied on the basis of vaccine conscientious objection they posted a Facebook meme likening vaccination to rape. This was the second time this group has used that comparison to vaccination.

On January 15, 2011 Meryl Dorey (then steering the group under its old name: Australian Vaccination Network) reacted to the first Family Court case of this type. In this instance the Court favoured the father’s wish to have his five year old daughter vaccinated. Dorey exploded on Facebook:

Court orders rape of a child. Think this is an exaggeration? Think again. This is assault without consent and with full penetration too. If we as a society allow this crime to take place, we are every bit as guilty as the judge who made the order and the doctor who carries it out. If anyone knows this family, please put them in touch with me – xx xxxx xxxx – I would like to see if there is anything the AVN can do.
MD

In this case the witness for the anti-vaccine mother was chiropractor Warren Sipser. It was reported:

The mother produced opposing evidence that the vaccinations were unnecessary, but was criticised in the judgment for submitting evidence from an “immunisation sceptic”, who made what the magistrate described as “outlandish statements unsupported by any empirical evidence”.

Chiropractic Association of Australia (CAA) member Warren Sipser quite recklessly described the outcome as “dangerous”. Sipser is unsurprisingly also a past professional member of the AVN (2004 – 2011), and a board member of CAA Victoria. He is also Secretary of CAA Victoria. The important thing is this “paediatric chiropractor” was comfortable with “outlandish statements unsupported by any empirical evidence”, being put forth to advance his client’s case.

In an October 19, 2012 Family Court ruling Justice Victoria Bennett rejected a Victorian mother’s claim that living a simple lifestyle, avoiding toxins and eating organic and unprocessed foods would develop the immune system of her eight year old daughter. A senior paediatrician from the Royal Children’s Hospital advised Justice Bennett that the homeopathic methods used by the mother had no basis in evidence.

In this case the child’s father had remarried and it was reported his daughter;

…was immunised for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, polio, HIB, measles, mumps, rubella and meningococcal C.

The father told the court he hoped to continue to “secretly vaccinate” her because he did not want to play “Russian roulette with her health”. He said he wanted to protect her from infectious diseases, and he was also concerned the child of his new wife, who is now pregnant, could contract a disease from an unvaccinated child.

In a convoluted and drawn out Family Court case that ended in April 2014 a Sydney father won the right to have his children – who turned 12 and 14 last year – vaccinated. Justice Garry Foster quite rightly observed that the 42 year old mother was narrowly focused with vaccination “perhaps to the point where the best interests of her children have been subsumed”.

As other matters of separation between Mr. Randall and Ms. Duke-Randall continued the court restrained either parent from vaccinating either child until a three day hearing into vaccination took place. The mother kept the children on a low-salicylate and low-amine diet, and was apparently wasting court time in an attempt to obtain evidence that the children would be adversely effected by vaccination. However:

Justice Foster [found] the mother had been deliberately delaying proceedings and ignoring directions, which led to the ”strong inference that she has done so to suit her own end that the issue as to vaccination be delayed for as long as possible”.

[…]

Justice Foster accepted evidence from a senior consultant in immunology, given the pseudonym Professor K, that both children are healthy and do not have any allergies or any other contraindications to vaccination.

This case was particularly concerning in that the children’s mother sought to have immunisation declared a “special medical procedure”. [Family Court: March 11, 2013. July 18, 3013]. This would have placed vaccination in the same category as gender reassignment or sterilisation of intellectually disabled girls. Her quest to convince the Family Court her children would suffer adversely from vaccination included collection of blood, urine and faecal matter.

It is fortunate the Family Court found in favour of the children’s father.

Similar trends are documented in the USA, the UK and other developed nations where an anti-vaccine lobby seeks to spread deception and misinformation. It would appear these cases may well become more frequent. Thanks to the work of groups who tackle the anti-vaccination lobby the public is becomming increasingly aware of the extent of harm “anti-vaxxers” have on their children.

As I mentioned above, these Family Court cases are in many ways a legal challenge to, or opportunity for, anti-vaccination beliefs.

Fortunately in the Family Court of Australia, the anti-vaccination lobby has had no success at all.

Measles Vaccination: make an informed choice

Recently in Melbourne Australia, the wanderings of a baby infected with measles prompted Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester to name certain venues and alert the public. The 11 month old had, while infectious, visited four major shopping complexes, two restaurants, a cafe, a children’s play centre, a church and a chemist. Dr. Lester stressed those who attended these venues should ensure they pay extra attention to symptoms such as;

…common cold symptoms such as fever, sore throat, red eyes and a cough. The characteristic measles rash usually begins 2-5 days after the first symptoms, she said, generally starting on the face and then spreading to the rest of the body.

A bit of a rash, sore throat and temperature then. I’ve heard groups who insist vaccines don’t work or aren’t needed pass measles off as nothing to worry about. Yet the article also included this from Dr. Lester;

“Anyone developing these symptoms is advised to ring ahead to their GP or hospital and alert them that they have fever and a rash,” Dr Lester said. “If you know you have been in contact with a measles case please alert your GP or hospital emergency department. The GP or hospital will then be able to provide treatment in a way that minimises transmission.”

Hmmm. Maybe hospitals in Victoria are running drills this month. Practising for something serious with this little rashy-coughy thing. After all a Slovakian micro-palaeontologist had described it as a simple “right of passage”. And if anyone would know about infectious disease in Australia it is a Slovakian micro-palaeontologist, not a mere Chief Health Officer of a state holding around six million people. But then the piece by the paper’s Health Editor went on to state measles is highly infectious. It is particularly dangerous for young children and young adults.

Those most at risk of getting the disease are people who have not been vaccinated, particularly adults between 33 and 47 years because many in this age group did not receive measles vaccine, and people whose immune systems have been compromised because of cancer treatment, for example.

Perhaps, as they say, this is not a drill. I remember reading material from those against vaccination. They spend a lot of time and caps lock justifying why vaccines are dangerous, or useless, or part of a conspiracy. The claim that vaccines are useless is backed by graphs which plot disease induced mortality against time and contend X vaccine was introduced well after mortality reached zero. Clean water, nutrition and better living standards stopped these infectious diseases they insist, not vaccines. So I decided to check the measles graphs drawn up by renowned antivaccinationist Greg Beattie.

Beattie_measles1Greg Beattie’s “Figure 1” from Fooling Ourselves

The above graph is from Beattie’s Fooling Ourselves. The Australian Vaccination-sceptics Network is littered with this and many others from Beattie. Material published by the AV-sN has been independently examined and discredited in the preparation of a public statement and warning by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. It appears then, Beattie’s graphs have been examined and discredited in an official capacity. There is no mistake as to why the HCCC warned the public to exercise caution in viewing “misleading” material. It is important to focus on Beattie’s intent here. Namely that vaccines had no impact or an irrelevant impact on the control of infectious disease. In part this post challenges the intent of Beattie’s graphs by presenting independent data that show vaccines most certainly had a powerful effect in controlling the spread of vaccine preventable disease. Thus Beattie’s cunning use of mortality rate above, is met with absolute and predicted numbers. Greg Beattie cites the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Commonwealth Year Books and “data published by the Commonwealth” in Cumpston’s 1927 The History of Diptheria, Scarlet Fever, Measles and Whooping Cough in Australia. One notes the first problem is his reliance on mortality and not morbidity. Death as a consequence of a vaccine preventable disease is a limited indicator of how effective vaccination has been in reducing infection. Overall morbidity (infection) offers a more realistic picture. Indeed the anti-vaccine lobby are today only too quick to point to the number of pertussis notifications in those vaccinated, when launching attacks on the efficacy of the vaccine or the need to be vacccinated. They concomitantly avoid noting pertussis mortality in Australia hits the unvaccinated. The vaccinated cop a less dangerous, and to date, non-lethal infection. [Update] Children not vaccinated against pertussis are 24 times more likely to be infected with the wild strain, than those who are vaccinated. Below is another graph from Communicable Diseases Intelligence. I’ve boxed in measles in red and used coloured horizontal lines to link mortality to years pre and post introduction of the measles vaccine. It’s clear that the greatest gap – or in fact drop – in mortality follows the introduction of measles immunisation. Thereafter reductions are smaller and more evenly spaced. Diptheria tetanus polio measles highlight Could there be more important facts left out by Beattie? Clearly his graph is designed to visually convince the reader that the measles vaccine was introduced when measles was all but eradicated. Thus Beattie contends vaccination had no impact on its control. So what of Beattie? Do we afford him the benefit of the doubt? You be the judge. Immediately after the graph he writes in Fooling Ourselves.

The graph for measles (Figure 1) shows us that the five-yearly death rate, 100 years before the vaccine was introduced, was around 170. One hundred years later, and immediately prior to introducing the vaccine, it was less than one. That’s a reduction of 99.5%—before the vaccine arrived. The remainder of less than 1% is therefore the only portion of the decline to which the vaccine can possibly lay claim, because it simply was not around for the first 99.5%. […]
Let’s check that again: One hundred years later, and immediately prior to introducing the vaccine, it (the five year mortality rate from measles) was less than one. Looking at the CDI graph above, and countless others that can be wheeled out from developed nations around the world he is simply misinforming his readers. Less than one for five years? Whilst the CDI graph plots 150 from 1966 – 1975. An excellent way to further debunk Beattie’s “vaccines-didn’t-save-us” mess is through statistical estimation of the deaths that would have occurred without immunisation. Cost effectiveness and the money saved through improved health is vital. Love it or loathe it the cost of running a vaccine-conspiracy would be monumental. The savings to be made in controlling infectious disease are also wonderfully impressive and much time and energy goes into ensuring we invest in what pays for itself. The figure loving, graph scribing, number crunching chaps at Applied Economics are deft hands at such dark arts. In a semantic flick of the bird to antivaccinationists they write;

The trend in measles deaths since 1940 reveals a secular decline. This reflects a reduction in case fatality associated with a general improvement in health status as well as the introduction of antibiotics in the late 1940s (Russell, 1988). By fitting a trend to measles deaths for the period 1940–69 and extrapolating it from 1970 onwards, we can estimate the deaths that would have occurred without immunisation. A trend can also be fitted to actual deaths that occurred with immunisation. The difference between these two trend curves is our estimate of the lives saved because of immunisation.

I’ll leave you dear reader to pop over and peer at their graphs revealing the “lives saved because of immunisation”. They also sacrifice many pure white A4 sheets doing the same with Hib vaccination. Nonetheless here is (the businesses end of) the table born of such mysterious chanting and ritual. Pre immunisation years from 1940 are available. The point here is to further debunk the antivaccinationist claim that vaccines did nothing. By analysing pre and post immunisation mortality and morbidity trends, a strong estimate of lives saved and disease prevented can be clearly demonstrated.

 Estimated deaths due to, and notifications of, measles tabulated as with or without immunisation

Consequently estimated lives saved and estimated cases averted based solely on measles immunisation can be calculated as the difference

Deaths Notification
 Year Without Immunisation With immunisation Estimated lives saved Without immunisation With immunisation Estimated cases averted
1970 16 10 6 110,693 77,000 33,693
1971 15 10 5 112,391 67,459 44,932
1972 14 10 4 114,061 59,100 54,961
1973 13 10 3 115,706 51,777 63,929
1974 13 9 4 117,325 45,362 71,964
1975 12 9 3 118,921 39,741 79,180
1976 11 9 2 120,494 34,817 85,677
1977 11 8 3 122,044 30,503 91,542
1978 10 8 2 123,574 26,723 96,851
1979 10 7 3 125,083 23,412 101,671
1980 9 7 2 126,573 20,511 106,062
1981 9 7 2 128,044 17,969 110,075
1982 8 6 2 129,497 15,743 113,754
1983 8 6 2 130,932 13,792 117,140
1984 8 6 2 132,351 12,083 120,268
1985 7 5 2 133,753 10,586 123,167
1986 7 5 2 135,139 9,274 125,865
1987 6 4 2 136,511 8,125 128,385
1988 6 4 2 137,867 7,118 130,749
1989 6 4 2 139,209 6,236 132,973
1990 6 4 2 140,537 5,464 135,074
1991 5 3 2 141,852 4,787 137,065
1992 5 3 2 143,153 4,194 138,960
1993 5 2 3 144,442 3,674 140,768
1994 5 2 3 145,719 3,219 142,500
1995 4 2 2 146,983 2,820 144,163
1996 4 1 3 148,236 2,470 145,765
1997 4 1 3 149,477 2,164 147,313
1998 4 0 4 150,707 1,896 148,811
1999 3 0 3 151,927 1,661 150,266
2000 3 0 3 153,136 1,455 151,680
2001 3 0 3 154,335 1,275 153,059
2002 3 0 3 155,523 1,117 154,406
2003 3 0 3 156,702 979 155,723

 © Applied Economics

These are impressive figures. Lives are saved and disease is averted due to the MMR vaccination. Conversely with no vaccine induced protection from measles lives are lost, disease is spread and disability and suffering ensues. There can be few better examples as to the efficacy of mass immunisation, or indeed, the danger of the anti-vaccine lobby.

Consulting reputable publications we can see that measles is indeed a potentially very serious disease. Health authorities have never denied that vaccination carries a negligible risk. The anti-vaccine lobby is apt to demand vaccines be both 100% effective and 100% safe. As a public we are rather poor at assessing risk-benefit and thus many fall prey to the anti-vaccine slogans and lies.

Encephalitis is a one in a million plus risk as a consequence of measles vaccination. As a consequence of measles it is a one in a thousand risk. In short those who argue “natural immunity” is best subject their children to the risk of brain damage or death at a rate 1,000 times greater than had they chosen MMR. For every ten who contract encephalitis one will die and four will be permanently brain damaged. Around one third of those infected will develop complications that will likely require hospitalisation.

Depending on age, one child dies for every 2,500 – 5,000 cases of measles.

MMR vs infection

© The Encephalitis Society – Access full document here

Recently the vaccine-autism zombie had some life breathed into it. Fortunately it turns out that just as Wakefield perpetrated his original – and ongoing – fraud for money, the author of the latest scam is a member of a group erroneously believing vaccines cause autism and will stop at nothing to mislead the public to this same misconception. The “paper” was withdrawn in one month. A statement has been published by Dr. William Thompson who was deceived into becomming a “whistleblower”.

He was recorded against his will and it appears the anti-vaccine author Brian Hooker had worked for months to get the pro-vaccine Thompson on record as sounding like a whistleblower.

And so it continues. This is indeed not a drill. We do have reasonably healthy rates of vaccination but the return of measles, varicella and other vaccine preventable diseases means there is no room for complacency.

Make an informed decision. Vaccination saves lives.

The history of measles

Australian Immunisation Handbook – 2013

MMR

Measles Fact Sheet – WA Health

NCIRS – events in MMR vaccination practice