Friday, 6 February 2015

Dear Jenny McCarthy

Dear Jenny McCarthy, 

I know it's unlikely you'll ever read this, and that if it ever does come to your attention rather than reading it, you'll probably block me on twitter instead, but on the very remote chance you do read it, there are some things I think you need to know. 

Firstly, there is *NO* link between vaccination and autism. Here's a publication from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It lists 40 studies (with links to each) showing no links between vaccination and autism. No links at all. 

Here are a few selections from the author conclusions (emphasis mine):
"The authors concluded that parents’ concern that “too many vaccines too soon” could lead to autism is not supported. "
"This comparison of children vaccinated on time with children whose vaccinations were delayed or incomplete found no benefit in delaying immunizations during the first year of life."
"Data do not support a causal association between MMR vaccine and autism" 
"Results provide further evidence against a causal association between MMR vaccination and autism"
"This study provides strong evidence against the hypothesis that MMR vaccination causes autism." 
These are just five examples. Each of the 40 studies has a conclusion similarly worded. Given this, your quote: 
“Time magazine’s article on the autism debate reports that the experts are certain ‘vaccines don’t cause autism; they don’t injure children; they are the pillar of modern public health.’ I say, ‘that’s a lie and we’re sick of it.’”
Seems terribly irresponsible, don't you think? You 'say' it's a lie but why? What's your reasoning for saying it's a lie? I've given you examples of 40 studies which show no link. Can you provide one that shows there is? 

I know you're familiar with Andrew Wakefield as you wrote the foreword to his book (which I see has no reviews on Amazon. I can only hope this means no one has bought it). I'm sure it's his 'study', published in the Lancet in 1998, on which you're basing your claims. I hope you know that the study was retracted and Mr Wakefield has lost his medical license. 

Why? You may ask. Because the study was fraudulent. You can see the details in this article, but here are some highlights (or lowlights)

  • It was poor science. He used case reports (considered among the weakest kind of medical studies)
  • He paid children at a birthday party to provide blood samples (not controlled nor ethical)
  • He manipulated and misrepresented data
  • He had financial conflicts of interest. Whilst attempting to discredit MMR, he was filing a patent for single shot vaccinations. 
  • He has refused to replicate the paper's findings. 
Of it all, this last one is the big one. As the article says, replication is the bedrock of science! Replication is what shows that there was no mistake, no misrepresentation. If Mr Wakefield wanted to show that his study was accurate, why not replicate it under controlled conditions? I'll tell you why, Jenny, because he made it up. And he made it up because he stood to benefit financially from the demise of the MMR vaccine. 

You once said:
"“Moms and pregnant women are coming up to me on the street going, ‘I don’t know what to do’… And I don’t know what to tell them..."
Here's a suggestion - Tell them to see a doctor. Talk to a medical expert. I wouldn't cast my local GP to play Jean Valjean so why you feel qualified to distribute medical advice is beyond me. It's dangerous. 

There is a measles outbreak in the US at the moment. According to this article at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there are 102 confirmed cases between January 1 and January 31 2015. There were under 200 cases in all of 2013. Approximately 50 in all of 2012. There was a spike in 2008 when measles spread through communities with groups of unvaccinated people. Things are getting bad. Last year, 2014, there were over 600 cases. In England in 2012/2013 there was a study of 203 cases of measles. Over 90% of those people were NOT vaccinated. 

Things you should know - the majority of people who got measles were not vaccinated. Measles spreads when it reaches a community where groups of people are not vaccinated. Just to be clear: Measles spreads when people aren't vaccinated. 

You see there's a thing called 'herd immunity'. The way it works is that if a large enough portion of the population is vaccinated there is a lower chance that someone who hasn't developed immunity will come into contact with an infectious individual. For measles the herd immunity threshold has to be around 83-94%. 

So when you say
"If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it’s their fucking fault that the diseases are coming back."
It's really, really not. Measles is coming back because people aren't getting vaccinated and people aren't getting vaccinated because people like you are telling them it's not safe. 

Measles isn't a simple disease. It's not a day or two in bed and then you're right as rain. This article  lists some of the problems with measles. It's dangerous and people die from it. 

You again: 
“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.”
The diseases *are* back, Jenny, and the vaccines *are* safe. The change that's needed is for people like you to become informed and to stop lying and spreading misinformation. 

Jenny, I don't know if you truly believe vaccines are dangerous or you've got another motive for spreading lies. If it's the latter, then you are an awful human being who should be ashamed of herself. 

If it's the former then I think there is hope. You owe it to yourself and to parents who look up to you, and the children whose lives are going to be impacted, to actually read, and understand the science. If you find the science supports your position, then by all means, keep up your work. But if you you find that the science doesn't support your position, and not only that, actually disputes your position, you must immediately retract your statements and go on record as being in favour of vaccination and you must go on record saying there is no known link between vaccination and autism. 

It's all well and good to be passionate about something and to make the public aware of something you think they need to know. But when you're telling lies and misleading people and this leads to the spread of preventable diseases, you are responsible for that and that is an awful position to be in. 

1 comment:

  1. This is brilliant, and thank you for making the effort (even though it is unlikely Ms. McCarthy will see it or take it to heart if she does). Somebody has to try!

    When is this anti-vax madness going to stop???