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Refusing the MMR vaccine or personalizing a vaccine schedule isn’t thoughtful it’s the opposite

The measles outbreak from Disneyland is a potent reminder of A) how infectious measles actually is and B) what happens when people don’t vaccinate.

However, despite a mountain of evidence that vaccination is safe and does not cause autism or immune dysfunction or really anything terrible at all people still refuse. I live in a county which is on the leading edge of this scientific ignorance, but we are not alone in Marin as there are several “very special” Bay Area counties when it comes to vaccines. Personal exemptions appeal to people here. After all, vaccines might be fine for your children, *sniff,* but mine are special. That people in these counties likely hold more post-graduate degrees per capita than elsewhere even makes it worse because the science that proves vaccine safety is not challenging. So it can’t be about the science, unless of course all the “research” came from Dr. Bob Sears.

It’s pretty easy to break down

1) Andrew Wakefield who started the whole mess with his case series was funded by a personal injury lawyer looking to make money suing vaccine manufacturers. Wakefield also hoped to patent a test to help identify which children were at risk of getting “colitis” from vaccines, AND the data in his case series was altered. So the idea for the MMR being dangerous comes from a liar with motives that involved a massive amount of financial gain. Make no mistake about it, this published pack of lies funded by personal greed (the opposite of science) started the ball rolling. Before this “paper” was published vaccine exemptions were in the 0.7% range in the United States.

2) There are no credible studies showing any links between MMR vaccine and any chronic illness. None. It’s not like 80% of the literature says vaccines are safe and 20% raises doubts, 100% of the literature says vaccines are safe. In fact, a new 12 year study done by Kaiser Permanente (so not the vaccine manufacturers) indicates the only sequelae of the MMR vaccine appears to be a 1/1000 risk of a febrile seizure (a well-known risk of vaccines) a scary thing but nothing with any long term repercussions.

3) But it’s too many shots at once, it overwhelms the immune system! Nope. While we now give children more vaccines than twenty years ago the antigenic load (what interacts with the immune system) is actually far less because the science of vaccines has progressed. The small pox vaccine contained 200 proteins and the 11 childhood vaccines combined contain 130 proteins. So all of these concerned “scientifically literate” parents in Marin likely themselves received the small pox vaccine and grew and thrived and made enough money to live in Marin. Getting multiple vaccines at once does not weaken the immune system or affect a child negatively in anyway.

From Offit et. al. Pediatrics 2002;109;124-129

From Offit et. al. Pediatrics 2002;109;124-129

4) Thimerosal, the whipping post of the anti-vaccine movement has been removed from the MMR vaccine and autism rates have not fallen. The thimerosal timeline and several supporting safety studies are listed here.

5) A significant part of the increase in autism rates is not a true increase, rather a change in how we diagnose autism. Changes in reporting practices account for 60% (at least) of the increased observed prevalence of autism in children.

The studies supporting vaccine safety are overwhelming.

The “science” questioning vaccine safety is nonsensical

The premise of the MMR vaccine being unsafe was concocted my a man who wanted to profit from a medical lie (i.e. a charlatan)

Ignoring the evidence is the exact opposite of science and it certainly isn’t thoughtful. 

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Discussion

27 thoughts on “Refusing the MMR vaccine or personalizing a vaccine schedule isn’t thoughtful it’s the opposite

  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    Posted by erin bliss | January 25, 2015, 9:56 am
    • If one in 68 children is within the autism spectrum why are no large scale studies getting to the bottom of this epidemic… The fact of the matter is if scientist don’t know why autism is so prevalent they cannot say 100% it isn’t caused by vaccines. My main problem with vaccines is not the actual vaccine but the heavy metals/ preservatives that they contain. Why has the pharmaceutical industry not responded to this issue? Why not make small batch fresh vaccines without the use of preservatives? It’s all about convenience and shelf life which is ridiculous! Why put a child’s health at risk for shelf life?

      Posted by Josh | February 6, 2015, 2:43 pm
      • Yes we can say with 100% certainty that vaccines don’t cause autism.

        Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | February 6, 2015, 4:50 pm
      • You can’t say 100% that it doesn’t that is misinformation period… The fact that no one knows what causes autism, something that is a new epidemic is proof of my point. Why is it no one is figuring this out? It affects way more children and families than measles.

        Posted by Josh | February 6, 2015, 5:36 pm
  2. I live in West LA and go to a pediatric practice in Beverly Hills. There is a well known doc in Santa Monica named Jay Gordon who is as bad if not worse as Dr. Sears when it comes to vaccines. I think he is Jenny McCarthy’s doctor. My doc is friendly with JG and I once asked her if he sees less autism in his practice because he has been anti-vax for some 20-30 years. So she asked him. His answer: “I can’t really say, am not sure”. I was so angry when I heard this. Here is a man who loudly proclaims all over LA that vaccines can cause autism and sees the same rates of autism in his unvaccinated population as is seen in the stats of the General population! Stop spreading false information you asshole!

    Posted by JJ | January 25, 2015, 10:12 am
    • The only problem with vaccines is giving them *too young*. Any veterinarian will tell you not to get your kitten or puppy vaccinated before the age of 3 months, lest it weaken the little creature’s immune system. Now humans live at least five times as long as a cat or dog, so we should wait at least as long after birth before getting our pups vaccinated. In fact, the mother’s milk contains antibodies which will protect the nursing child to the age of 6 months, at which point the immune system is a lot stronger and can withstand any problems from the vaccines. Also, vaccines should be given at least a week apart to give the immune system time to adjust. Vaccination should be done for the benefit of the child, not the convenience of the doctor.

      As for the question of it being the parents’ choice to vaccinate their kids or not, there’s a compromise. Don’t vaccinate your kids if you so choose — but keep them quarantined. They’ll have to be home-schooled, isolated from the public, and can’t go out of their own yard — or house — until they’ve survived to adulthood. Fair enough?

      BTW, the researchers have found that autism is a *hereditary* nerve disease, caused by a complex of related genes: the more of the particular genes, the more severe the autism. I suspect that those anti-vaxers with autistic kids are just trying desperately to deny that they’ve got bad genes, and are trying to blame anything or anybody else for their kids’ disability.

      Posted by Leslie Fish | February 2, 2015, 7:37 pm
      • If it’s just bad genes, why do the *parents* not have autism? Odd.

        There have been studies linking poor nutrition in the mother to autism, and others linking the age of the father to autism. But keep calling it “bad genes”.

        Posted by Dana | October 20, 2016, 5:58 pm
  3. From Jay Gordon’s own blog at
    http://drjaygordon.com/in-the-news/the-mmr-is-not-controversial-because-of-wakefield.html
    “The vaccine is best given later because it can cause large side effects in a small percentage of kids when given at 12-15 months. Parents’ testimony, the above CDC publication and much more supports this conclusion.”
    But he never explains what that “much more” is.

    This guy just says that he is convinced that giving most vaccines on the recommended schedules is not really necessary, and implies he knows more/better than the experts. He appeals to parents who want to “make up their own minds” about which vaccines to give when, while admitting he depends on herd immunity to protect his patients.

    All while hawking his own pseudoscience books on the (supposedly) controversial topics of our time.
    He advocates homeopathy, but implores his patients to get their homeopathic remedies from a “good nutrition store,” not the “commercial ones like GNC,” by finding one in the yellow pages.

    Posted by gewisn | January 25, 2015, 11:59 am
  4. Reblogged this on Straight to the Bone and commented:
    With the expanding numbers of #measles cases we are witnessing a #PublicHealth emergency in slow motion…… Great commentary from Dr. Jen Gunter.

    Posted by StraightToTheBone | January 25, 2015, 2:59 pm
  5. Great piece. One quibble: MMR, as a live-virus vaccine, never contained Thimerosal. Which, like MMR, doesn’t cause autism, of course.

    Posted by Diana Austin (@Diana_Austin) | January 25, 2015, 5:54 pm
  6. This isn’t helped by organisations like Autism Speaks using the idea of an Autism ‘epidemic’ and supporting the theory that vaccines caused Autism for so long – FYI Autism Speaks is considered a hate group by the Autistic community, and the most ableist towards Autistic people tend to be Anti-vaxxers. Anti-vaxx movements always go back to people wanting to make money or pushing an agenda, never back to science.

    Posted by jjay | January 25, 2015, 11:55 pm
  7. Great thoughtful article … and to the point! Thanks!
    I think it’s time to list all those Anti_Vaxx pediatricians and doctors in a national registry, in order to warn all parents about the spreaders of this myth-religion – to the predicament of children’s health!

    Posted by HUS | January 26, 2015, 11:35 am
  8. Hi Jen–

    The acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP) has been “weakened” and is worth so much less than before. As you know, the CDC has cited that (not lowered vaccine rates) as the reason behind increased cases of pertussis.

    The whole cell vaccine was well-known to be awful in its side effects. It’s is gone as are its 3000 antigens. If you don’t count those lost 3000 antigens, the actual total was 41 others in 1980 and 120 in 2000. A tripling of the antigenic load. And more with the addition of the rotavirus vaccine.

    I won’t write an essay about OB/Gyn. Your pediatrics essay is not great. I love most of what you write, though.

    The second hand comments from JJ are wrong. Her doctor bent the truth. Virtually the only autism I see in my practice is in second opinion families. I give fewer vaccines. I don’t know if this accounts for seeing less autism. It might. My families are also incredibly healthy and live the most non-toxic lives they can. That’s probably the real reason.

    Be well, Jen.

    Jay

    Posted by Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP | January 27, 2015, 10:30 pm
    • Jay,

      I’ll have to disagree with your commentary.

      Andrew Wakefield lied and committed scientific misconduct. That is fact. The links are provided about the extensive investigation and about his bias. I’m sure you knew that he hoped to market products off of his “discovery.” By writing this are you saying that you think Wakefield’s data was somehow sound and his case series with falsified data trumps all other work in the area?

      No study provides a credible link between the MMR vaccine and autism. If you have one please link to it. I provided a link to the recent KP study which had 12 years of follow up and excellent safety data. There are also many large studies totaling more than 500,000 participants showing now link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The biggest risk from the vaccine appears to be a 1/1,000 risk of a febrile seizure.

      The data on antigenic load comes from the AAP, essentially a direct quote and of course the table is a screen shot. The information was collected by people who do vaccine research. I have not published in this area and so have to rely on these infectious diseases experts. Have you published in this area?

      My comment on thimerosal contained an error. It was never in the MMR vaccine as one of my wonderful readers pointed out. However, removing it from all childhood vaccines has not affected the autism rate. This fact is not in dispute. If you have data to prove otherwise, please post.

      The data on how coding and diagnosis affect the rate of autism is referenced and has been used by many journalists in articles. Do you disagree with this finding?

      I’m a physician with an interest in evidence based medicine. In addition, OB/GYNs routinely vaccinate. Perhaps you forget but we always check MMR status post partum and make sure women are vaccinated if needed prior to discharge and of course we vaccinate against influenza and pertussis in pregnancy. I have also completed a fellowship in infectious diseases. I believe all of those things are qualifications to write about vaccination.

      I’m not sure what you mean by less toxic lives. Do you mean less stress because your patients are wealthy? Do you mean a low rate of obesity? Eating organic foods? Do you mean they do things like cleanses? Do they use vinegar to clean their homes and baking soda to brush their teeth? Casual observations about a small cohort don’t mean anything. All the men in my family have smoked and all have lived until at least the age of 85 and many longer. That doesn’t mean smoking is safe. I would be very surprised to hear that autism rates are truly lower in your neck of the woods. I live in a community that seems to worship at Whole Foods, drives hybrids and Teslas, and has a very low rate of obesity and and the rates of autism here are pretty much the same as elsewhere.

      Jen

      Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | January 27, 2015, 11:10 pm
      • Awesome keep up the good work, remember though new and old evidence based medicine would not exist without curiosity and a willingness to accept other possible theories. An individual’s perception IS their reality. It will take finding out what is causing the very worst common symptoms of Autism to put parents at ease . Until there is a definite answer parents should not be attacked for doing what they feel is the best decision for their child . All the studies in the world will not change the mind of a parent who’s baby suddenly and swiftly went down hill shortly after receiving the MMR vaccine. An excellent idea in the meantime would be having the CDC create an alternate vaccination schedule , and offering a choice in having each vaccination separate from any other. One can be stubborn on these issues and argue their point endlessly, but that is proving to be useless as the evidence shows. Our country needs to pave the way and start giving parents options otherwise people will continue to opt out of vaccinations.

        Posted by Rach | February 3, 2015, 12:53 pm
    • Then why are the sickest kids in the clinic the ones who are either 1. Immunocompromized or 2. Not vaccinated?

      Posted by Concerned | January 28, 2015, 2:41 pm
    • Actually, Jen’s post is spot-on. This is not an issue that requires board-certification in pediatrics to understand. And what’s remarkable is that it’s the OB/GYN taking the pediatrician to school. Your sanctimonious attitude is disrespectful and dangerous.

      Posted by DrV | January 29, 2015, 6:24 am
  9. “Getting multiple vaccines at once does not weaken the immune system or affect a child negatively in anyway.”

    I ferociously disagree based on personal experience. I received six vaccines in preparation for college, all at once, including MMR. The nurse told me to leave the office afterwards, and I ended up fainting in the hallway, hitting my head on the ground and getting a concussion.

    Posted by Jess | January 30, 2015, 5:39 am
    • Could that have been because you vasovagaled out? A lot of people faint or pass out after needle sticks: blood draws or otherwise. It isn’t uncommon at all. Especially that many at once. Ask any corpsman or medic at boot camp his/her count on imms day/indoc. Having a reaction that soon after getting a vaccine has nothing to do with the vaccines but being stuck.

      Posted by Concerned | February 1, 2015, 1:07 pm
  10. Not one person here mentions the fact that Dr William Thompson of the CDC (Google him) had come forward in the summer of 2014 to admit that he and his coauthors fraudulently suppressed data back in 2004 to hide the fact that MMRs were linked to Autism, particularly in Afro-American males below 36 months of age, at a rate of 340% above that for other groups. That’s 1 child in 42, folks.
    And this was revealed by a researcher, Dr Brian Hooker, in 2014 (Google him), who spent more than a decade and over 100 FOI petitions and several court challenges to force the CDC to hand over its 2004 raw data for his own analysis. His findings are irrefutable. MMRs are linked to Autism. The CDC, WHO, and the govt had been lying to us for many, many years.
    And not only has the federal govt muzzled the mainstream media to keep this on the back pages (thus reducing claims under NVIP), President Obama has quietly granted Dr Thompson whistleblower immunity last month (Feb 2015) in exchange for his testimony at a congressional hearing yet to be scheduled. But not a word about this entire scandal from ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, or NBC.
    Not one word.
    Thimerosal was “phased out” in 2001 (CDC website) from all childhood vaccines…..sort of. Because let’s not forget, the CDC had declared thimerosal “safe”, so an outright ban on the mercury-based preservative would be silly, right?
    But if thimerosal is to blame, WE SHOULD NOT SEE, NOR EXPECT TO SEE ANY DECREASE in Autism rates because thimerosal is STILL being used in Hep A and B shots, the Influenza vaccine, and others.
    And if I may use the flu vaccine as an example; how long has it been around? Well, in wide use (and growing) since at least 1979. And whom do you suppose get the flu shot every year? Well, let’s see now; moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and ummm……oh, and children! My, my!
    And they wonder why the Autism rates aren’t falling?
    Do some proper research, people.
    You’ll find Dr Hooker’s article here: http://anh-europe.org/documents/brian-hooker-measles-mumps-rubella-vaccination-timing-and-autism-among-young-african-ameri

    Posted by Eric O'Connell | March 21, 2015, 2:28 am
  11. I’m sorry, Jen, but the whole anti-vax paranoia shtick is wasted breath on me. I’m not an anti-vaxer. I support vaccination programs, for clearly, no one can argue against their societal benefit. But what I don’t like are govt officials and their respective agencies lying to us about safety when money and liability are the only factors of their concern.
    I also find it deeply troubling that you, an accredited doctor, would so willingly dismiss the findings of a credible researcher, Dr. Brian Hooker, who exposed the CDC’s bogus 2004 study. Is your position on MMR/Autism so firmly entrenched that your pride is all you have to offer in the face of new evidence?
    Dr. Hooker’s findings are fact and irrefutable, so much so that the CDC’s Dr. Thompson had to admit they skewed their population sample criteria to reflect a “safe” study outcome for MMRs. This too is fact and irrefutable.
    To sum up, I really don’t care who is innocent or guilty in this entire scandal. Will a congressional hearing exonerate the likes of Dr. Wakefield or even Jenny McCarthy? Who knows? But really, I could care less. What concerns me are the scientific facts…….which reminds me of the quote you used to end your article:
    “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it” – Neil Degrasse Tyson
    May I suggest that you read Dr. Hooker’s research results and re-examine your stance on this issue? I’d hate to think that a learned individual as yourself would pin professional credibility to a CDC piñata. I can assure you, it will take a beating.

    Posted by Eric O'Connell | March 27, 2015, 4:18 pm

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