The Art of Green Our Vaccines

9 Jun

Before the “Green our Vaccines” rally (already much discussed–such as here, here, here, here, here), I spent a lot of time thinking about what sort of questions I would ask Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey if I had the chance.

I don’t know how much time Arthur Allen put into thinking about the problem, but I do know he nailed it with two succinct questions.

As part of his story on the rally, he recounts his brief opportunity to pose questions to the couple. Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Carrey passed near him at the same time that they were allowing an opportunity for “sound bites”. Art saw an opportunity and got a few quick questions in, as he recounts:

At which point I saw my opportunity and after checking for rally monitors, asked, “How many vaccines, exactly, is too many?”

“Too Many, Too Soon” is the slogan. It’s on the back of about 500 T-Shirts (with one each on Jenny and Jim). Given that, you’d think they’d have a damned good answer. At the very least, a reasonable, on-topic “sound bite”. Instead they answered (again as recounted by Art):

“In 1983,” McCarthy said, “our kids only got 10 vaccines. Now it’s 36” (actually, it’s 28, max, by age 2). I asked, “So should they only be getting 10? Which ones shouldn’t they get?” I saw McCarthy turning and asking someone, “Who is this guy?” Carrey responded, gamely. “Kids aren’t a bottomless pit you can pour toxins into, there has to be a limit,” he said.

Was that a sound bite or were they just caught flat-footed? Thankfully, Art had a great followup question which shows us the answer:

“So what’s a vaccine they shouldn’t get?” I asked. “A lot of parents of autistic children would have opted not to get the tetanus shot,” he said.

Huh?!? Tetanus? Wow, did I miss the Andy Wakefield study on Tetanus in the guts of autistic kids? Or, was it the Mady Hornig rats with Tetanus study? No, wait, isn’t the Generation Rescue motto, “It’s the tetanus, stupid”?

The answers are “no” to all of the above.

Generation Rescue (who have Jenny as their board-member/spokesperson) doesn’t mention “tetanus” at all on their vaccine page. As in, no “tetanus vaccines cause autism” statements. However, in the link to their “favorite” vaccine schedule (which is a recipe for disaster in this person’s eye), they include tetanus. Yep, they “recommend” kids get tetanus shots. In their number II recommended schedule, they include tetanus 5 times, starting at 2 months (is that “too soon”? as in “too many too soon”?). Their number III (and final) schedule has tetanus 3 times.

Is it possble the Generation Rescue spokespeople don’t know about their own recommended vaccine schedules? Is it possible that in months of planning, Jim and Jenny never prepared for what is one of the most obvious questions?

Jenny. McCarthy has awarded herself an honorary doctorate from Google U in vaccines and autism. From the above exchange with Arthur Allen, it looks like she and Mr. Carrey just failed their “Google SAT” in the “alt-med” view of autism and vaccines. (Let’s not even go down the path of how badly they would fail the entrance exam to Google kindergarden on the actual science of autism and vaccines.)

Don’t look for them to get caught like this by a journalist again. First, don’t expect real journalists to get access often. If they do, all future questions will likely be met with “Generation Rescue has some alternate schedules on their website”. (without noting that “alternate schedule” means “measles outbreaks are Jim-Dandy”).

This time, however, there was a real journalist and he caught them unprepared. Now we know that Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey have basically no depth to their understanding of even the alt-med version of vaccines and autism. Anyone surprised?

But, hey, the day wasn’t a complete waste for Jenny. Access Hollywood named Jim and her the “Green Couple of the Week”. Can someone find this Grand Award on the Access Hollywood website? I admit I didn’t try hard (I’m not trying for a Google Ph.D. in “Access Hollywood”), but is this a…dare we say it….fake award? Sorta like Dr. Corbier and the “Rock Award”? (OK, that one is kinda obscure–tossed in for those who followed the Omnibus too closely.)

Which leads me to the last thought–Jenny has a Google Ph.D. and a fake award…heck, if she could just use the library and go to a couple parties at UCSF, she could be an expert witness for the Autism Omnibus. (Think Vera Byers).

Art, should you read this, I (without consultation with anyone) award you the “LeftBrainRightBrain” Award for Excellence in Journalism. For those who will accuse me of making it up right now–ha!, I made it up a few weeks ago and secretly gave it to AutismNewsBeat.

57 Responses to “The Art of Green Our Vaccines”

  1. Joseph June 11, 2008 at 14:53 #

    The current ‘official’ statistic is 1 in 150, and do you really think ANYONE (outside this site) believes that it’s just been misdiagnosed for the last century?? That’s beyond denial, it’s outright willful ignorance, which eventually hurts a lot of kids.

    Well, from my reading of the autism literature, it’s clear that autism researchers, in general, tend to either think that or haven’t made up their mind about it. Experienced researchers such as Lorna Wing clearly think that.

    But I’m impressed by your conviction, Keith. It must mean you have clear-cut indisputable evidence of a real increase. What does it consist of? Let’s see it.

  2. Tom June 11, 2008 at 17:50 #

    Another pearl from pD: “Likewise, I’d say that we could probably apply more intelligence to the application of the Hep B vaccine; well in excess of 95% of the children who get this vaccine have no need for this vaccine so early in life.”

    Here’s the intelligence:

    “Before the hepatitis B virus vaccine, every year in the United States about 18,000 children were infected with hepatitis B virus by the time they were 10 years old. This statistic is especially important because people are much more likely to develop liver cancer or cirrhosis if they are infected early in life, rather than later in life (most people are infected with hepatitis B virus when they are adolescents and young adults).

    About 9,000 of the 18,000 children infected in the first 10 years of life caught the virus from their mother during birth. However, many young children didn’t catch the disease from their mother. They caught it from either another family member or someone else who comes in contact with the child. Because the disease can be transmitted by casual contact, and because many people who are infected with hepatitis B virus don’t know that they have it, it is virtually impossible to be “careful enough” to avoid this infection.

    For these reasons, all young children are recommended to receive the hepatitis B vaccine. The best time to receive the first dose is right after birth. This will ensure that the child will be protected as early as possible from catching the disease from someone that doesn’t know that they are infected with the virus.”

    Hope you trust all those day care workers, teachers and classmates in your child’s class aren’t infected. I sure wouldn’t.

  3. passionlessDrone June 11, 2008 at 20:47 #

    Hi Tom –

    Here’s the intelligence:

    According to your values, one half of the children who got Hep B got it from their mothers; these children, all 9000 of them, are great, great candidates for getting the Hep B vaccine on the day they are born. No probalos.

    You can honestly think of no way we could possibly optimize this?

    What about asking mothers, have you ever engaged in risky behaviors? What about testing mothers for presence of the virus? I believe such a test is run if you give blood; considering how much it costs to have a baby these days, I’m having a difficult time believing the cost would be an issue.

    At the very least, we could delay vaccination for children whose mothers test negative for infection; the vast, vast majority of children (say ~3,990,0000).

    Hope you trust all those day care workers, teachers and classmates in your child’s class aren’t infected. I sure wouldn’t.

    Well, for one thing, vaccinating your child before going to daycare would be an option; not too many people are putting their child in daycare the second day they are out of the womb.

    According to the website you pulled information from, these day care workers, teachers and classmates would have to be exchanging blood, or possibly, toothbruses to initiate an exchange of the virus.

    Kids are messy, sure, but lets also keep in mind the numbers we are talking about; there are 40,000,000 children ten and under in the US; each year 9,000 of them were getting Hep B from mechanism other than maternal exposure.

    And yet, the only way we can think of to address this situation is to vaccinate every child, on the day they are born. Incredible.

    – pD

  4. Tom June 11, 2008 at 21:05 #


    Yeah, you’re right, Vaccination is a real waste here. Let’s just let 9000 random children be given a death sentence each year.

  5. Elucidatus June 19, 2008 at 23:39 #

    Please tell me who won this debate? I mean, this is never going to end! Lets just say for a second that its genetics that is causing Autism. What then? Are we going to be handing out prizes that are titled “You knew it all along”? Then on the other hand lets say that it was the vaccines that caused Autism. Do we truly think the Government or President is going to give a crap? Is the president going to say “Geeze, we ah…. ah.. we f*cked up.” Anyways, listen people. Lets get together and figure out what is going on here. Arguing about this is not going to help our children get better. However, at the same time we should be asking our insurance companies to help with the costs of therapies that have been proven to work. Its time to hang up the gloves, shake hands and work together to help out children have a future. Kev, however we may disagree, I respect your views and thoughts on Autism.

  6. Joseph June 20, 2008 at 01:24 #

    Elucidatus, what you probably don’t realize is that parents like Kev and Ms. Clark do this precisely to help their kids get better treatment… respectful treatment from society, that is. They do this by countering the negative discourse of the “our children are damaged” crowd, often by arguing the science related to their worldview. Others do it in a different way.

    If you are someone hoping for a cure, you should also realize that the people in EOHarm and AoA do more than anyone else to discourage promising causation research, in favor of research aimed to prove their latest money-making fantasy. You won’t stop them with “let’s all just get along.”


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