Monthly Archives: July, 2013

Words of a Quack

I’m adding this editorial without a story on the Vaccine news page because it would mean linking a site that I don’t want linked.

The Australian Vaccination Network has been hard at work trying to discredit the Greens and in particular Senator Di Natale on the successful motion put to the Senate in the final week of sitting. In particular, the AVN published several letters sent to the Greens about the motion and a speech that Senator Di Natale presented. I’m focusing on one letter in particular, from a chiropractor who’s name has been with held from the AVN website blog. Here I will take apart his taking apart of the Senator’s speech – the Senator in green (appropriate), and the quack in red;

I rise to address an issue of vital importance to the health of the Australian community, the issue of vaccination. As a former doctor and public health professional, I find it hard to overstate the importance of vaccines to public health. Alongside measures such as access to clean water, sanitation and improved air quality, vaccination is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions in human history.

Such statements are commonly made with little to no attempt to support them. Can you provide support for such statements? This assumes that safety and efficacy data are accurate, which I dispute.

It’s accurate and supported. The data that this quack must be relying on has to come from unreliable sources that do not include all the data. Remember – not all the data is public.

Indeed, it is hard to overstate the importance of vaccines in terms of the human suffering they have prevented. As many as half a billion people died from smallpox in the 20th century. This century, the death toll is zero. That is because a program of vaccination completely eradicated smallpox by 1979. The eradication of smallpox is one of the greatest achievements of science but just one example of what this life-saving technology has achieved for humankind.

Why is it that you can claim prevention through vaccination when you have not assessed general health status of populations, whether populations were exposed to the causative organism at all, whether populations provided the other public health interventions you describe above but not vaccination were similarly protected? There seems to be blind faith that the vaccination program was the primary factor, with little evidence to support this claim. Such statements are made often without critically appraising their basis.

There were no other public health interventions that had any effect! The smallpox vaccine was the first to be created and it’s success is written into history. To underplay it is a disgusting act of ignorance.

Australia in particular is a vaccination success story.

What is your response to the mortality statistics that have been provided by a range of authors in Australia and elsewhere, based on solid data from the departments of health and other relevant bodies? The evidence that clearly shows little impact of illness decline after the introduction of vaccines.

That graph that this quack is relying on has already been debunked. It only shows mortality rates, not affliction rates. If affliction rates were shown the vaccine’s effect would become obvious. Medicine had improved in general to prevent deaths from occurring, but it’s even better to prevent the disease right? Do you believe in prevention is better than cure? Answer us that one!

The first vaccine was used here as far back as 1804, which was a smallpox vaccine. Since then, more and more vaccines have become routinely used. Tetanus, diphtheria and polio were early successes. We have had a measles vaccine since 1969 and a mumps vaccine since 1981. All of these potentially life-threatening conditions are now rare, but not unheard of, in this country.

Are they truly life-threatening if children are appropriately supported, nourished, healthy, and if parents are adequately taught how to improve lifestyle to significantly reduce indicidence or severity. Immune status of the child is critical here, surely you would agree?

They are truly life threatening even for kids like those described. Yes, the immune status is critical – and vaccines play a huge role in that status.

Children born in Australia today are protected from many more diseases, from chickenpox to human papillomavirus, thanks to safe and affordable vaccines.

If you look at the history of chicken pox, it is NOT a serious disease, especially in the context outlined in my comment immediately above. HPV protection, assuming 100% sero-conversion and a true immune response on exposure (usually many years after vaccination, when they become sexually active) is only for 4 strains…of how many exactly? It is deceptive statements like this that reinforce the public perception that they are fully protected when they are not. Some authors have suggested this in turn can modify more appropriate protective behaviours ‘when the time comes’ because of being lulled into this false sense of security.

Chicken Pox has killed and it IS a serious disease. Not taking it seriously is tantamount to murder. Four strains of the HP virus protected is better than none! What, should we not protect from those four? That’s disgraceful.

In other countries, families are still suffering the costs of many of these preventable diseases.

True. And what are we doing in those countries to markedly improve sanitation, refridgeration, food quality, water quality, education, life-stress associated with work load, poverty etc?

As much as possible, but it will have little impact on vaccine preventable diseases.

Everyone should have the same protection that Australian children do. That is why it is so important that Australia continues to provide generous support to organisations such as the GAVI Alliance, which are committed to saving the lives of the millions of children in developing countries who lack access to the vaccines we take for granted.

Indeed, vaccination has been such a success in Australia that a strange thing has happened. We have started to forget what it is like to suffer from the preventable infections we fought so hard to conquer. Few parents today have had the experience of watching a child with measles develop complications that become a life-threatening condition.

Once again, such complications arise in immunocompromised individuals, in part because parents no longer have the knowledge and skills or resources described above.

No, those situations occur because the doctor didn’t do his job – and yet you and your cohorts at the AVN insist on blaming the vaccines. Get onto the real culprit instead of making excuses!

We are spared the horror of watching a child with whooping cough turn blue and suffer a seizure from a coughing fit.

Actually, we are in the midst of the highest indcidence of whooping couch outbreaks in many years, so parents are not being spared this horror – and this despite incredibly high rates of pertussis vaccination – certainly much higher than rates in the past when outbreaks have occurred (maybe herd immunity over time needs higher and higher percentages of the population covered to actually work?). There are valid hypotheses out there that Parapertussis may be causing many of these cases, which is not vaccinated for, and mimics clinical signs and symptoms of pertussis.

And who’s undermining that? You lot! Get out of the way and let the people who know what they are doing do their job instead of distracting them with this mumbo jumbo and delaying the real work being done!

We no longer encounter people on a daily basis whose limbs have been twisted by paralytic poliomyelitis.

Have you been advised of the reports of polio that have occurred as a result of polio vaccination programs in India? Do you know the history of the Salk and Sabin solutions, and the slow reaction times in changing which got administered despite the number of people that contracted Polio as a result? Again, the time when Polio was rampant was economically and socially depressed with much lower quality of life.

What a lot of rot! India had a issue with the delivery system, not the vaccine itself. Just like everything else that is blamed on vaccines. A lower quality of life has NO effect on this.

As these horrors have faded from daily life, we should be celebrating the life-saving innovation that has saved us and our kids from death and disease. Instead, there are people who now question the usefulness of vaccination itself.

Only because the quality and design of the supportive research is so clearly lacking. A temporal association with vaccination programs and disease incidence reduction is CLEARLY not proof of cause and effect. Anyone who argues differently doesn’t quite understand the scientific method of enquiry.

You don’t, because you made this up. The supportive research is NOT lacking! It’s just not publicly visible due to commercial confidentiality, and you can’t stand that can you?

The AVN, the Australian Vaccination Network—misleadingly named—founded in 1994, have styled themselves as providers of vaccine information.

Why misleading? The group is Australian. It is a community network of members. They discuss the topic of vaccination.

And lie about it. The name in full gives the impression of a repository of all vaccine information. It does not. It claims to tell both sides of the story. It does not. It lies and the network is irrevocable broken.

In fact, their mission is to deter parents from getting their children vaccinated.

This is clearly an abuse of parliamentary privilege. Read the purpose of the organisation on their website. It’s about providing information that is, yes, exposing and highlighting the potential risks associated with vaccination because the government and GP’s have chosen to abrogate their responsibility to do so. So much for informed consent when you intentionally design your ‘information’ materials to minimise notification of risk, or avoid it completely.

Informed consent relies on the truth. The AVN website doesn’t tell it, and the Senator is right. It is designed to deter from vaccinating children.

They accomplish their mission by sowing fear and doubt in the minds of parents who have young kids, and by dressing it up in the language of science.

What is this statement? It is inappropriate to present material from scientific journals that questions the blind faith of government policy, which the government actively suppresses?

There is not one reputable scientific journal that the AVN relies upon. Not one.

They pretend to be neutral providers of information to allow parents to make a choice, but in reality they are fiercely anti vaccine.

Individuals within the organisation are definitely fiercely anti-vaccine, all with good reason (many with vaccine-damaged children) – but all adhere to the principle of allowing anyone to make their own choice. But expectant within this is the idea that people will actually do their own research and not blindly follow policies informed by questionable pharmaceutical company research and a TGA that earns its existence through licensing fees levied on said companies. An organisation that no longer has funding to do any of its own independent research.

You forgot about the CSIRO, dummy! THAT is the quintisential source for research and they have been doing that for decades. The checking mechanisms are in place and are reliable. We are world leaders in this regard and (unlike the US) have not been undermined by money matters. There is no evidence otherwise and to suggest so is defamation against both the pharmaceutical companies in Australia and the TGA. And the Department of Health!

The claims made by the AVN, and particularly by their founder, Ms Meryl Dorey, beggar belief. Despite being corrected numerous times by health professionals, scientists and so on, they continue to propagate outright myths about vaccines and their safety. They say that the MMR vaccine causes autism, a claim they know has been thoroughly and comprehensively debunked.

No. It is not claimed that it causes Autism. It is claimed that it MAY. And the research you claim has been thoroughly and comprehensively debunked was a single case study (on the link between gut disease and regressive autism) that ALSO did not claim a causal link, but suggested a possible link, and asked for further research to be undertaken. Around the world, the actual findings of the case report HAVE been replicated – purely that a then-novel (now, no longer novel) form of gut disease is linked to regression.

May = Does in the eyes of the public. This combined with the still present angst towards the entire Autistic Spectrum (which I can talk about personally of course) is absolute incomptence and the claim has to be withdrawn 100 percent. There is NOT evidence of ANY link between vaccines and Autism. Autism is genetic in origin. Gut disease is also not linked. Gut disease when not treated however can cause a regression. So can poor use of vaccines (the delivery system as I have alsready mentioned).

They claim links between vaccines and sudden infant death syndrome.

Have you looked at the preliminary data collected by PhD researcher Viera Schiebner, that no one was willing to further research? Have you looked at the marked decrease in cot death in Japan when they raised vaccination age to 2?

Schieber is a proven quack who was owned brilliantly in the Queensland Tribunal system. Ask Greg Beattie all about that. He knows!

They claim HPV does not cause cancer but that vaccines do. They are on the record claiming that the vaccine against pertussis, or whooping cough, is not safe and has not been tested. The list goes on.

As well as making false claims about vaccines, Ms Dorey and the AVN make even more ludicrous claims about the diseases they were designed to prevent. They dispute the harms of dangerous childhood diseases in order to downplay the benefits of a vaccine.

Please. Look at the many, many definitions and prognoses about Chicken Pox as a prime example in medical literature and text-books, before someone designed a vaccine for it. Not serious. Benign illness in most children. And those that it is serious in? The immunocompromised who should not receive the vaccine anyway.

Benign my rear end! It was anything but for my sister when she caught it! I am grateful to this day that I avoided it! How dare you, you quack!

One especially preposterous example is the claim that measles is beneficial to children, making them more robust and leading to growth spurts. Ms Dorey has claimed that the word measles in Sanskrit means ‘gift from a goddess’ and has publicised a book called Melanie’s Marvellous Measles that downplays the dangers of this disease.

One of many books for sale, that present a range of views, and are not necessarily the views of Ms Dorey or the AVN! Just SLIGHTLY a leap to make here, Senator.

Not a leap at all! Stay away from BS publications if you don’t want to be associated with them. Simple rule, which the AVN didn’t follow. That book was taken off the shelves as it should have been, and should be banned altogether.

Mr President, as a doctor I can inform the Senate that measles is not a magical gift from Mother Nature. It is a virus that damages the human body and has the potential for serious and sometimes fatal complications. In 2001 the World Health Organization estimated 158,000 deaths from this disease. It is one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide. To suggest that a parent should deliberately expose their child to this disease is reckless. Measles is dangerous and it can be fatal.

“Potential” “Sometimes” “Can be” Please see earlier comments on quality of life measures. I would argue that obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a GREAT many more chronic preventable illnesses are FAR more ‘leading’, certainly in terms of population involved around the world. 158,000 of the world population is really a PRETTY small figure in this context.

Quality of life measures are useless. 158,000 is 158,000 too many. Fact. And don’t forget that the figure was from BEFORE Andrew Wakefield’s nonsense took hold and the numbers went up in the UK alone!

When concerned citizens seek to shine a light on the absurd beliefs of the AVN their reactions are telling. Doctors are called ‘killers’ and ‘terrorists’, and vaccinations are likened to rape by the AVN. To silence critics they take out apprehended violence orders.

This sounds like it has come direct from the people you laud below. If you investigate the matter in any depth you’ll find that the harmful bullying tactics, are actually being perpertrated by the people you are grateful to below.

No, the AVN started that and continue it as well. The SAVN has only engages in defensive measures.

And when tragedies have occurred that put the lie to their nonsensical claims, they have gone so far as to harass grieving parents. Ms Dorey is alleged to have called Chris Kokogei, whose child died of chickenpox, and said that his child died because his child was weak. In 2009 Dana McCaffery, the daughter of David and Toni McCaffery, tragically died from a whooping cough infection. Incredibly, in response to this tragedy, Ms Dorey went as far as to contact the New South Wales director of the public health to dispute the cause of death and ask for confidential medical information.

It would be wonderful if, before you make such claims in parliament, you read her side of this story. She’s written a number of detailed blogs on the events in question, and the story is far from as clear as you claim.

Dorey is lying about that and we all know it. The story is as clear as the Senator put it and Dorey can’t deny it.

When the story became public the McCafferys had to endure months of harassment from the AVN and had to endure watching Dorey go on TV denying a child could die of whooping cough and accusing them of turning Dana into a martyr.

Can you show the months of harassment? Noone in the AVN has ever seen any. None has ever been produced. A beat up perhaps to gain emotional support from the broader community?

No, it happened. The AVN have tried to hush it up to the best of their ability and they have failed.

Fortunately, there are people in the community fighting against the harmful and bullying tactics of the AVN. In response to this disgraceful harassment of the McCafferys, the group Stop the AVN was formed with the purpose of combating the dangerous campaign. I am grateful to people like Daniel Raffaele, Peter Bowditch, Ken McLeod and others who have endured the harassment of Ms Dorey and her followers, but they do it in order to save other parents the unending pain and heartache that they themselves have had to endure.

This paragraph suggests the source of your speech. Please understand these are actually the people perpetrating harassment, leaving disgusting answering machine messages, sending pornography, and many, many similar acts. The AVN doesn’t, hasn’t and won’t!

The SAVN is not responsible for that conduct – if it even happened (and that’s debatable in itself). There are rogues who are not members of the SAVN who hate the AVN for their lies as much as the SAVN do. These rogues don’t know the lines of decency, and the SAVN has renounced each and every one of those acts that has come to public light.

Dana McCaffery was too young to receive the whooping cough vaccine. She died, though, because the vaccination rate in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales where she was born is alarmingly low, at only 70 per cent. When you reach a threshold level the conditions for an outbreak occur. The virus was only able to survive and thrive in that community because vaccination rates were so low.

Really? Herd immunity. There is no discussion of vaccine shedding from those who have been vaccinated, and the potential for infection of babies and youngsters, again, because people assume that once vaccinated, they and the people they come into contact with are safe. No discussion of efficacy and sero-conversion. No discussion about fully vaccinated populations that experience outbreaks.

You don’t understand how herd immunity works, and vaccine shedding is a rubbish line that belongs with the flat earth society.

And this is the very area where the AVN is strongest and where they are based. Such are the consequences of an irresponsible campaign based on fear and lies.

Unfortunately, I do not have time to complete the catalogue of crimes against reason and common decency perpetrated by this group. I do not know what motivates them. I imagine that they are sincere, but they are misguided, probably due to some combination of superstition, paranoia and scientific illiteracy.

How offensive can you manage to be in one single statement? I think you will find that all of the people who make the decision not to vaccinate have done a great deal of research. It is the remainder of the population that due to THEIR scientific illiteracy, rely on doctors and governments to provide truthful information.

No they haven’t. They have been scared away by the incorrect information given not just by the AVN, but by the very sources that the AVN rely upon directly. The scientific illiteracy is represented by people like you, you quack.

All of that can be forgiven, but the tactics they have used to spread their message of fear and doubt to unsuspecting parents are abhorrent.

Nice use of emotive language! Abhorrent how, exaxtly?

By stopping vaccinations from happening, children’s lives are put at risk. That’s not abhorrent??

It is true that we do enjoy freedom of speech in this country, and I am a fierce defender of that freedom. But because of the potential for harm we have rules about misleading medical claims, we regulate medicines and we regulate doctors.

In the case of the AVN, that regulation is not working.

The AVN is not a medicine or a doctor. Hence the HCCC embarrassingly lost their case in NSW for investigating the organisation outside their scope. And despite this, they are so focussed on ‘winning’ they had the law changed to increase their scope! One organisation. Despite a GREAT many on the internet and around the world offering similar information. Are you next going to expect that claims made by other community-based advocacy organisations all be vetted and controlled? Where is the logical end of your argument here?

Yes, the AVN is not a medicine or a doctor – so they should NOT be giving out such false information! The HCCC have the teeth now to stop this and they will. The other website offering the same information will eventually be shut down once the clear and present danger is defined in the countries that host those websites.

For instance, among the many complaints directed against Ms Dorey and her group, the TGA ordered her to retract claims about a dodgy cancer cure called ‘black salve’ but she has not done that—in violation of the TGA order.

Well-meaning parents in this country who, in good faith, search for information on vaccines are confronted with AVN propaganda. Without knowing the background, it is difficult for them to weigh the credibility of this information against the medical literature.

Would that be the medical literature supportive of your position or the great deal of medical literature that case doubt on your position?

The medical literature that is proven via peer review to be correct. The literature that casts doubt is not peer reviewed.

In closing – chiropractors are not trained in the area of medical practice that provides knowledge of vaccines. So they have no right to even get involved in such debates because they are not qualified. Their area of expertise is in bone and muscles manipulation. Stick to that, and leave vaccines to the real experts.

No wonder you had your name with held.

(This entry contains content that has been copied from another source and is claimed under the fair use provisions of Section 41 of the Copyright Act 1968 for the purposes of review and criticism)

Anti Vaxxers Strike Back against Senator Di Natale

After the motion was put and agreed to in the Senate last week, the Anti Vax movement lost no time with it’s usual fare towards politicians – foul mouthed rants and threats.

As the Senator said; “the behaviour said a lot about the people involved in the anti-vaccination campaign” and to my delight he took the same attitude as me in the face of this nonsense. He was going to fight harder. The right reaction.

I also thought that Greg Beattie’s actions were disgusting. Beattie is a cheap shot shot artist who needs to pull his head in and remember what happened before the Queensland Tribunal (whatever it was) where he was given a mighty broadside over his attitude towards vaccines and not vaccinating his child.

A lot of us on the pro vaccine side are accused of bullying. It was noted that Meryl Dorey has taken out AVO’s (and I believe at least one has been thrown out and rightly so) when in fact she and her AVN supporters are the bullies. They are convinced that they are right – when in fact they are wrong and don’t have the guts to admit it. The sooner the New South Wales Tribunal orders them to change their name to what they really represent the better. They don’t represent vaccine truth. They represent vaccine hate and should be called to a count for it.

Senator Di Natale represents vaccine truth on behalf the entire Parliament, not just the Senate. Because both of the major parties supported his stand. And for that – I applaud them.