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Not that anyone will care, but . . .


The real story behind the new Institute of Medicine report on vaccine-related adverse events isn’t — as many stories have highlighted — that evidence fails once again to support the MMR-autism link. Everyone with a grain of sense has understood this for years; the IOM itself published one of the definitive reports on vaccines and autism seven years ago, and the weight of evidence against the association has only grown heavier since then.

Rather, the most significant note to be made is that recent additions to the vaccination panic spectrum — including concerns that vaccines can cause asthma, Type I diabetes, and Bell’s palsy — are equally lacking in epidemiological and mechanistic support. Where the evidence does favor a causal link between vaccines and specific adversities, the events themselves are generally rare and transient. The more serious risks are borne by children with compromised immune systems or with underlying metabolic disorders (like Dravet syndrome); however, in these cases, it’s worth pointing out that the adverse events in question are almost always milder versions of the very complications that would result from exposure to the actual diseases. And with vaccination rates on a depressingly downward course in states like California — where “personal belief” exemptions allow parents to eschew entirely reasonable public health measures — vulnerable populations will be at much greater risk from the circulation of measles and pertussis than from the MMR and DTaP vaccines. But since Americans are generally inept at assessing risk, the case for tightening those exemptions is not likely to bear many results until we see some pretty massive body counts. Hooray!

Predictably, Orac has the best rundown on the report.

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  • Manju

    One wonders why Jenny McCarthy chose to squander her reputation by championing this issue. All the well-earned credibility she gained from years of posing nude in Playboy have been laid to waste.

    Even Suzanne Somers can’t help her now.

    • Njorl

      Bad things happening to your kids cause irrational responses. We all know life isn’t fair, but when you see such a big tangible dose of that unfairness hurting someone you love, you want to lash out. If you invest enough emotion in that blame, it becomes a thing of value to you. It’s hard to let it go.

      • Mikey

        Well said.
        The hardest thing in the world is to see your kid suffer and know there’s nothing you can do about it.

        • Mark

          There is plenty she can do about it. She can expend her not inconsiderable resources working for a world where kids like hers are understood more fully and where proper social and educational accommodations are made for him or her. There are a lot of parents with autistic kids who are pro-vaccine and pro-science and don’t spend their time putting children at risk of whooping cough. It’s a choice.

      • Manju

        Now I feel guilty for goofing on Jenny McCarthy. A regretful comment.

        Allow me to replace her with RFK,Jr. That feels much better. Plus, its 3rd strike for him. He had the Diebold madness and the reverse-Pam Gelleresque meme about his Uncle: the American RWing were to blame.

        • calling all toasters

          Don’t feel guilty. Jenny McCarthy is a horrible human being. Everyone has pain, but not everyone engages in a public campaign to assign the blame entirely to some blameless others. Having an autistic child didn’t make her character, it revealed it.

      • Anonymous

        If you invest enough emotion in that blame, it becomes a thing of value to you. It’s hard to let it go.

        Nice apology for the MORONS that pushed this “idea” without any evidence whatsoever.

        I’m waiting for the collapse of AGW and the others who will apologize for them as well.

    • Epicurus

      To be fair, her “reputation” was that of an ex-Playmate who was photographed sitting on the toilet. I don’t think she had a whole lot to “squander”….oh, wait, she was married to Jim Carrey! I feel much sorrier for the ignorami who thought that she actually had some facts to contribute to the argument, not anecdotes.

      • witless chum

        If she did those things and wasn’t a vaccine crank, I wouldn’t have any problem with her.

  • Randy Owens

    Dammit, davenoon! All this time I’d gone without knowing Orac’s real name, and you just toss it casually out there without even a spoiler alert!

    • davenoon

      Sorry, dude. I read him at another site where he’s not pseudonymous, and I confused the two…

  • The problem is that even now, newsies won’t give up the false balance approach to this issue. I saw stories from major news outlets quoting Barbara Loe Fisher and NVIC on this report. That’s…hacktacular, to pick a large-font word out of the tag cloud immediately to the right of this comments box.

    To add my two cents to the above comments:

    -Jenny McCarthy’s ignorance is not remotely excused by her child’s suffering. Many parents (me included) experience a child’s autism-spectrum diagnosis without turning into dangerous and ignorant liars who actively and demonstrably want other people to die.

    -RFK Jr. took three strikes on the vaccination issue alone. Jenny McCarthy is genuinely stupid; RFK Jr. should have known better.

    -While Orac is coy about his name for form’s sake, he likes to point out that it’s one of the worst-guarded secrets on the Internetz.

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