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Medicine Science

Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'" 588

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Jenny McCarthy is claiming she has been misunderstood and is not anti-vaccine. In an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times, McCarthy tries to ignore everything she's been saying about vaccines for years and wipe the record clean. 'People have the misconception that we want to eliminate vaccines,' McCarthy told Time magazine science editor Jeffrey Kluger in 2009. 'Please understand that we are not an anti-vaccine group. We are demanding safe vaccines. We want to reduce the schedule and reduce the toxins.' But Kluger points out that McCarthy left the last line out of that quotation: 'If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f--king measles.' That missing line rather changes the tone of her position considerably, writes Phil Plait and is a difficult stance to square with someone who is not anti-vaccine. As Kluger points out, her entire premise is false; since vaccines don't cause autism, no one has to make the choice between measles (and other preventable, dangerous diseases) and autism. Something else McCarthy omitted from her interview with Kluger: 'I do believe sadly it's going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe,' said McCarthy. 'If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it's their f*cking fault that the diseases are coming back. They're making a product that's sh*t. If you give us a safe vaccine, we'll use it. It shouldn't be polio versus autism.' Kluger finishes with this: 'Jenny, as outbreaks of measles, mumps and whooping cough continue to appear in the U.S.—most the result of parents refusing to vaccinate their children because of the scare stories passed around by anti-vaxxers like you—it's just too late to play cute with the things you've said.' For many years McCarthy has gone on and on and on and on and on and on about vaccines and autism. 'She can claim all she wants that she's not anti-vax,' concludes Plait, 'but her own words show her to be wrong.'"
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Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:09AM (#46745847)

    Is it because of her advanced medical degree? Her first hand knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry?

  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:33AM (#46745977) Homepage

    Rewriting history is nothing new for people in the anti-vax movement. At first, it was just the MMR which caused autism. (Wakefield's original study - since discredited and proven wrong many, many times.) Then, it was the mercury in vaccines. Then, it was the sheer number of vaccines. Then, it was "toxins" in the vaccines. As each claim was proven wrong, the anti-vax folks moved on to a new claim and declared that scientists had to now prove this new one wrong or they would be "proven" correct. (Never mind that science doesn't work this way. You don't get to make a claim with no evidence and then declare that you are right until people prove you wrong.)

    Moving the goalposts is business as usual for the anti-vax crowd so why shouldn't McCarthy try to rewrite history?

  • by will_die ( 586523 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:40AM (#46746029) Homepage
    There was a recent survey among people who do not vacinate their kids and fear of autism was not high.
    Top reasons given were:
    Would prefer more organic items in the vaccine; or prefer a more natural method of having the kid catch the disease and natural immunization.
    That they were in a good area so the kids would not catch anything.
    Feat of what "big pharma" is doing, how they are misleading people, and cannot be trusted.
  • by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:23AM (#46746425)

    I have not seen any direct quote from her that indicates an opposition to the principle of vaccines or the efficacy of all vaccines. She is misguided in insisting that vaccines cause autism, but that is not the same thing as being against vaccination in general.

    Actually here is a quote from her given during a Good Morning America interview in 2008:

    McCarthy and Carrey said that while they do support immunization, they and their allies believe children receive "too many vaccines, too soon, many of which are toxic."

    "We are not here to destroy the vaccine program. We're here to lend our voices for the millions of people calling for balance and moderation when it calls to substances that we give our children," Carey said. "They are not bottomless pits that you endlessly pour the substances into. You have to consider the cumulative effect. Not only that, the possible interaction. Every other drug has interaction with other drugs and yet they assume vaccines won't."

    She is basically straddling the fence. Being enough anti-vaccine to encourage parents from having their children vaccinated yet not enough to where she doesn't have an exit strategy which will not threaten any product endorsements, possible TV/movie roles or make it impossible for her to simply say she was misunderstood when she is proven wrong.

    Notice how she didn't say which vaccines shouldn't be given to children. She just basically said don't trust your pediatrician and just left it to the parents' fear to figure that out.

  • by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:25AM (#46746447)
    Meningitis and encephalitis are known complications of measles, and either can lead to permanent brain damage. Depending on the location and severity of this damage, the symptoms can be indistinguishable from "true" autism (which is mostly genetic).
  • by Dragonslicer ( 991472 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:39AM (#46746569)

    I have heard, from a recently minted M.D., the opinion that "it doesn't matter if breast cancer screening causes breast cancer, because once we detect it, we can treat it." I, lacking a medical degree, am obviously not smart enough to fathom this reasoning, how we should go around breaking people because we think we know how to fix them later?

    Are you trying to say that screening for breast cancer is the only possible cause of breast cancer? Even if screening increases the number of cases by 1% (to use an arbitrary percentage), but reduces the death rate by 75% (to use another arbitrary percentage), that's still a net win.

    It doesn't take a medical professional to understand simple math.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:07AM (#46746921)

    You get that when they study new vaccines, it's not done in a vacuum, right? A kid enrolled in a vaccine study will have all his other vaccines already, so every new vaccine that gets tested IS being tested in conjunction with all the other scheduled vaccines.

    Furthermore, if the rest of the developed world has a much less intensive vaccination schedule (citation requested), and if vaccinations cause harm, then you ought to see LESS harm in other parts of the world. Can you show me some evidence that the vaccine schedules used elsewhere in the world produce better outcomes? Because (spoiler alert) no such result has ever been detected.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:11AM (#46746967)

    I have an autistic son. I agree with some of what is quoted above "too many vaccines, too soon".

    Essentially I believe that it could be harmful for young babies/toddlers to have too many vaccines administered at the same time - 3 vaccines during the same office visit, for example. I can only imagine how many adults would opt for several shots at the same time.

    We don't know what the cause of autism really is, that's the real problem. Autism is nasty, and more often not, permanent.

    My third son went from talking and acting normal to non-verbal for years around the time of his 2 years vaccines. Now, it's likely coincidence. I'm not blaming vaccines - since there is no established link based on current research. But we need to find the cause for autism.

    In the meantime, I've had another child - a baby girl who is great. She is completely fine. But, I've been overly protective and worried that she could become autistic. She is getting her vaccines, but slowly, on MY terms.

    I'm surprised the amount of negativity the community has presented on this subject.

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:20AM (#46747087)

    Peer review isn't meant to assure accuracy. It's a filter to stem the tide of obvious crap. Scientific journals started as letters that scientists wrote to each other. They're the same thing now, except the letters get published centrally. An article in a scientific journal is "hey, look, we did this, and this is what we found."

    Wakefield's paper itself seems to be the honest report of a valid experiment. Since he found something that would have important consequences, it was subsequently examined in depth. Nobody could replicate his results. That can happen, because statistical false positives and honest mistakes happen all the time, but further investigation revealed that Wakefield experimented without ethics approval on his son's friends, cherry picked data, purposely misrepresented data, and had a serious undisclosed conflict of interest in owning a share in and consulting for an alternative vaccine company.

    The Wakefield thing is how science is supposed to work. The public needs to learn that single articles published in scientific journals aren't necessarily correct. In fact, analysis suggests that most of them are not correct.

  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:42AM (#46747337)

    McCarthy and Carrey said that while they do support immunization, they and their allies believe children receive "too many vaccines, too soon, many of which are toxic."

    Basically when faced with overwhelming facts, McCarthy like many others either double down or move the goal posts. In the beginning of the anti-vax movement, it was "All we ask is someone to do the research on the vaccine." When the initial research came back that no link could be proven it was: "All we ask is someone to look at the thiomersal effects." When more studies came back that thiomersal could not be linked to Austism either it was: "You can't just do epidemiological studies." When Wakefield's paper was retracted due to fraud, it was "They are trying to silence him." They are true believers; anything that goes against their beliefs must be denied.

    In their complete ignorance, McCarthy and others seem to ignore basic facts of medicine. All medication has the possibility of side effects. Vaccines like many other medications has gone under extensive testing before it was released. There still is the possibility of terrible side effects but statistically the vaccine is much safer than the disease and the incidence of side effects are very, very small. Saying that the vaccines need to be safe is like saying that we shouldn't drive cars because they are unsafe.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @11:57AM (#46748089)

    >ignorance is not inherited

    True, but a predisposition toward willful ignorance might be.

    There is strong evidence [] that it is. Stupid people have stupid kids, and those kids tend to be nearly as stupid even if adopted and raised by someone else.

  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @12:14PM (#46748227) Homepage

    There are times when a child can receive up to 6 vaccines at the same time and that's a little bit shocking.

    Yes, they get a preparation that is called Hexavac. It is one shot with six vaccines. It works. And you prefer your child to get six shots? Six times in a doctor's office, six times being pierced, being hurt and feeling dizzy afterwards? I prefer Hexavac everytime (and both my children got it).

  • by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @12:29PM (#46748403)

    I think the stories from parents come not from the vaccines doing actual harm but from the fact that coincidentally the age when symptoms of autism presents itself is the same as when the vaccines are scheduled to be administered.

    Other factors that adds to parents concerns are the rate of autism being diagnosed appears to be rising exponentially based on the graph presented by AutismSpeaks: The rate for 1985 was 1 in 2500, the rate in 1995 was 1 in 500, and the rate for 2009 was 1 in 110. If you looked at the text rather than the very prevalent graph you would have read that the criteria for positive diagnosis of autism has changed and public awareness increased significantly during the time period graphed which can make the graph a little misleading.

    AutismSpeaks also gave another possible reason for the increase over the years being attributed to the increase of the average parental age. Several research papers have demonstrated a link between autism and parental age and have concluded that the chances for a child being born with autism increases with parental age.

    (Source: AutismSpeaks [])

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @01:05PM (#46748837)

    Wow since autism is not always crippling do you really think this is close to a good or moral idea?

    It would be a far worse and immoral idea for me to presume that I, or anyone else, has the right to make this decision for other people. It would also be immoral to willfully deprive parents of information about their own child. It should be up to the parents to have the test done or not done, and it should be up to the parents to decide what to do with the results. The bottom line is that if it is not your kid, it is not your decision to make.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito