Dr. Sears and The Brady Family

My son, at his last pediatrician visit where he had four shots for seven infectious diseases, including measles. I did it for him, but also for those who could not be protected with vaccines.

Dr. “Bob” Sears is a pediatrician who overstates vaccine reactions and understates measles as a disease. In fact, his arguments against vaccination and for allowing children to undergo disease is a clarion call for those who do not wish to vaccinate their children.

“Every year in the United States between 3,000 and 4,500 severe vaccine reactions are reported to the Centers for Disease Control,” Dr. Sears told CNN, “Not Mild reactions. Severe reactions that land somebody in the hospital, the intensive care unit, or cause a permanent disability or death.”

The database is open to anyone to post any reaction to a vaccine, or a reaction that happens after a vaccine is given.  Every parent who believes their child developed autism because of a vaccine posts in that database.  There is NO cause and effect relationship. There are duplicate entries and no way of removing them. More important the database proves that correlation does not mean causation.

In 2014 the data base showed 1,244 people hospitalized with 416 cases of people reporting a disability, 122 deaths, and 388 life-threating cases. But, often these are entered by multiple people. Some of the cases are clearly double entries.  When you look back over the years, that number gets no where close to 3000 people per year.

When you look at the Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund, you find that an average of 155 people per year have had their claim paid, or a total of 3,887 people in 25 years.

Sears data is wrong- and clearly intended to cherry-pick his position.

His other argument is that kids had measles, it is a mild disease and the death-rate is over-stated. The statistics about measles, unlike the data base, are under-estimated. Since we as physicians are required to report death and issues from a disease, and not every physician does – this is one of the databases that is underestimating death and disease. But if we go with it the statistics here it is from the CDC:

How serious is the disease?
Measles itself is unpleasant, but the complications are dangerous. Six to 20 percent of the people who get the disease will get an ear infection, diarrhea, or even pneumonia. One out of 1000 people with measles will develop inflammation of the brain, and about one out of 1000 will die.

Today Dr. Sears is spouting the nonsense again, being under attack for being a reason that unreasonable people will not have a shot.

Dr. Sears invokes the Brady fallacy: on tv the Brady Bunch had it (although measles vaccine was available then so they didn’t need to) and it wasn’t so bad. He asks you to ask grandparents about it – of course, they are the ones who survived. Since we have the CDC data about measles before vaccine lets look at that data:
400 people a year died of measles
4000 people a year developed measles encephalitis leading to permanent disability

Then there is the final argument: vaccine isn’t 100 per cent effective so don’t get it.

It is not 100 per cent effective, but it is 97% effective. But here is what is 0% effective – not getting the vaccine. There is no herb, nutritional program, or “healthy” person that won’t get measles without a vaccine.

The other bad number they use is there have been zero deaths from measles in the United States (they omit since widespread vaccination) and cite 108 deaths from measles vaccine.  Of course those deaths, reported to that database, are probably 69 deaths (because of double counting). But they are also any death from any child after a vaccine, that the parent, or someone, felt was related to the vaccine. Here is a better figure- over 15 million people are alive today because of world-wide vaccinations.

The final argument is the most xenophobic of all: that we don’t have it as bad as other places in the world because of our genetic superiority. There are no words for such an argument, other that to state that if we want to do well in the world then we should seek to wipe measles off the planet. We have the ability to do it. But to not vaccinate in the US because we might have “superior” genes, is simply genocide and prejudice. Not surprising- Dr. Bob is in the land of xenophobes in his part of California.

In the State of Arizona there is a rule from the Arizona Medical Boards (and the Osteopathic Board) about making statements against the public good. If Dr. Sears practiced in the State of Arizona, he would be censured for making his false and misleading statements. Too bad California doesn’t have the same rules.

Dr. Terry Simpson About Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and went to medical school. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit www.terrysimpson.com.

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