MMR, Chicken Pox, Febrile Seizures, and Weighing the Potential Risks and Benefits of Vaccines
Where is the ACLU? What about Parents' Rights?

NYT HEARTS CDC

Love By Dan Olmsted

The New York Times reports today that "Death rates in 13 diseases that can be prevented by childhood vaccinations are at all-time lows in the United States, according to a study released yesterday." The study is from the CDC, whose pronouncements the NYT treats with a reverence usually reserved for utterances from Mount Olympus. Sure, the agency is entitled to trumpet that information -- although the fact that many of these diseases were in precipitous decline due to better hygiene before vaccines were used might have provided useful context.

But must the Times continue to show its bias at every opportunity?

Here's the second-to-last paragraph. "In the United States, rumors of a link to autism and inflammatory blowel disease are most commonly attached to the measles vaccine, making it one that some parents avoid." I'm not sure that's even correct -- it's the MMR jumbo combo live virus cocktail they're avoiding, if in fact they are avoiding it in any significantly increased numbers ("some" is one of those suspiciously data-free words that means somewhere from three or four to a whole heck of a lot.)

And Dr. Paul Offit gets to slam parents concerned about vaccines -- more wealthy or middle class families are unwisely avoiding vaccines "presumably because their parents have read about side effects or visited one of the many anti-vaccine Web sites," as the Times puts it. Read about? Visited a Web site? How about, Watched their first child have a severe vaccine reaction, or their sister's kid develop autism right after his shots? The Times never listens to parents, just to their favored experts, so the whole idea that anything is going on "out there" seems like just a bunch of misleading words and Web addresses to them.
On Autism's Cause, it's The Times versus The Real World. (Yes, I'm sending up their infamous parents-vs.-research story -- this is more of the same.)

Since the Times didn't ask for a contrasting comment to Dr. Offit's, here is one they're free to use next time: "Concern that autism can be triggered by environmental factors including vaccines is not anti-vaccine," said Age of Autism Editor Dan Olmsted. "It is anti-autism. Discussion of the current vaccine schedule, and of vaccine ingredients, and of concerns about conflicts within the CDC, are perfectly appropriate topics for debate in a democratic society. Get used to it."

 

Comments

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Wade Rankin

Can someone please Dr. Offit why "diseases that can be prevented by childhood vaccinations are at all-time lows" when so many of us -- according to kindly Doc O -- are avoiding vaccinations. When is anyone in the mainstream media going to notice that the man speaks from both sides of his mouth?

Kelli Ann Davis

Hey Dan,

I actually like to think of it as being "Pro-safety".

In fact, that's EXACTLY what I said today to one of the managers at FOX TV in DC (that's the station that is reporting on the current story in which Prince George's County Schools along with the local Health Department are trying to force immunizations on children).

I don't know if you heard about the court date set for this Saturday in MD (right outside of DC)but I plan on attending (along with Moody) and the manager has indicated that are going to be there. She's passed around my name and address within the station as a parent who can "speak" for the other side.

Anne (AOA media editor) is helping me prep for this event.

Gotta love her!

Kelli

JB Handley

If you read the NY Times in general, they are quick to report on issues pharma has whether its Vioxx, diabetes drugs, cold medicine for children, etc. In general these reports are informative and helpful, and are not particularly partisan -- it feels like good reporting.

And yet, when the subject is either autism or vaccines, the NY Times is unbelievably biased. I think this is actually due in large part to a single influential reporter at the NY Times, Gardiner Harris.

I have interacted with several hundred reporters since we started Generation Rescue in 2005. I have never encountered a more condescending a@*hole than Gardiner Harris.

I was re-reading an article he recently wrote about the sham study CDC did to exonerate Thimerosal from "certain" neurological disorders -- but not including autism!!

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/health/27vaccine.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

His commentary:

"Yet another study has found that a controversial vaccine preservative appears to be harmless."

Let's look at his words closely. "Yet another" implies to the reader that this topic is worn out and tiresome -- how much more do we need to hear? "Harmless" has a very clear meaning, and would give an uninformed reader great comfort.

In the same article, he writes:

"The lone worrisome result was that, among boys, the study found an association between thimerosal and tics, which are involuntary movements or sounds. At least one earlier study had found a similar association."

So, that's "harmless"?

http://adventuresinautism.blogspot.com/2005/10/columbia-journalism-review-on.html

I refer the reader to the above link from the Columbia Journalism Review. Here's one of many great quotes discussing the apparent bias of national reporters:

Some reporters who have portrayed this as an ongoing scientific controversy have been discouraged by colleagues and their superiors from pursuing the story. A reporter for a major media outlet, who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution, told me that covering the thimerosal controversy had been nearly "career-ending" and described butting heads with superiors who believed that the reporter's coverage - in treating the issue as a two-sided debate - legitimized a crackpot theory and risked influencing parents to stop vaccinating their children or to seek out experimental treatments for their autistic sons and daughters. The reporter has decided against pursuing stories on thimerosal, at least for the time being. "For some reason giving any sort of credence to the side that says there's a legitimate question here - I don't know how it becomes this untouchable story, I mean that's what we do, so I don't understand why this story is more touchy than any story I've ever done."

****

I highly encourage any interested reader to re-read the Columbia Journalism piece -- it is invaluable in understanding what is going on with the national press, lead by Gardiner Harris at the NY Times.

Also, I have heard a rumor that a current/former medical writer at NY Times used to work at CDC? Anyone know about that?

JB

Sargent L. Goodchild, Jr.

WBZ TV-4 in Boston just ran a segment on vaccines for last night's 11 o'clock news. They interviewed me as a parent who has chosen not to vaccinate his 5 year-old son. The interview lasted 45 minutes and included many various subjects. Among the topics we covered in that 45 minutes was the fact that a parent who chooses to vaccinate accepts two risks rather than one. The first risk applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated children; it is that they could get the disease naturally. The second risk, which only applies to the vaccinated group, is that they could react to any one of the many chemical ingredients that comprise the vaccine. Since my child has diamond-blackfan anemia which compromises his immune system I made the educated decision not to further burden an already stressed system with toxins that are listed as hazardous chemicals by OSHA, Superfund, and the Clean Air Act.

The final version that was aired lasted just over three minutes and included the brief comments of Dr. Peter Martone a local chiropractor and Dr. Mark Pasternack of Massachusetts General Hospital. Of course, Dr. Mark Pasternack categorizes parents like me as being short sighted and putting their child at future risk. Dr. Pasternack was very quick to point to statistical information that suggests that vaccines have helped to eradicate disease around the globe. Whenever someone alludes to the fact that vaccines have eradicated disease I share two of my opinions. When did statistics replace rigorous scientific research? Statistics that correlate two happenings fail to look at other forces that may have been in place at the same time such as sanitation. Where are the studies that say it is safe to burden children with multiple vaccines in their formative years? Likewise, I believe that the current debate could be summed up as whether these diseases have been eradicated or mutated.

Here is another sound byte that the media can feel free to use whenever and wherever they like "vaccines have not eradicated disease, vaccines have mutated diseases and been a contributing factor in entirely new ones. Where we once had polio we now have seasonal affected disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome" said Sargent L. Goodchild, Jr. the executive director of Active Healing.

Stagmom

The folks up on Mt. Olympus called it, "Hubris" and it was the downfall of many lesser humans. Great piece, Dan.

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