Sadly the Arizona Osteopathic Board took the easy way out with the cardiologist, Dr. Jack Wolfson. They chose to say he was asserting his “right to free speech” when he advised against measles vaccination.
The back story – some members of the board did not want to get into the public fray about this. The only other conclusion – there are some members of the Osteopathic board whose beliefs about vaccination are as anti-science as Wolfson – and if that is the case I would urge those members to be removed immediately, because they do not do the public a service. The Osteopathic physicians have made great strides in advancing to training to be equivalent of allopathic (MD) physicians – the actions of this board, in my opinion, is a step backward. Too bad the vote was not public so we could identify those board members whose antiquated notions of medicine do the public a disservice.
One of the definitions of unprofessional conduct is “Any conduct or practice that endangers a patient’s or the public’s health or may reasonably be expected to do so.” In addition the concern about violating the American Osteopathic Association’s code of ethics – one of which reads:
Section 5. A physician shall practice in accordance with the body of systematized and scientific knowledge related to the healing arts. A physician shall maintain competence in such systematized and scientific knowledge through study and clinical applications.
Dr. Jack Wolfson, was being investigated by Arizona’s Osteopathic Board for statements made about vaccination (see below). His attorney had advised him not to do any interviews, and Dr. Wolfson faces possible revocation of his medical license. Dr. Wolfson has not granted interviews since the two complaints were filed against him.
Dr. Wolfson’s lawyer had a difficult time as Dr. Wolfson’s comments are both available in many public circles, and Dr. Wolfson did not leave “wiggle room,” for saying that he was not heard entirely. While many might think that it is a right for free speech – that does not mean you have the right to have a medical license.
Here are some of the comments that are concerning:
“We should be getting measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, these are the rights of our children to get it,” said Dr. Jack Wolfson of Wolfson Integrative Cardiology in Paradise Valley.
Wolfson does not believe in vaccination. “We do not need to inject chemicals into ourselves and into our children in order to boost our immune system,” he said.
The cardiologist also believes the key is to have a healthy immune system. In order to have that, he says, you have to avoid chemicals, get enough sleep, exercise, take good supplements, and have proper nutrition.
“I’m a big fan of what’s called paleo-nutrition, so our children eat foods that our ancestors have been eating for millions of years,” he said. “That’s the best way to protect.”
There is no reason to be getting diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella. In a television interview (channel 12, the Phoenix NBC affiliate) he said that 99% of the time kids didn’t have a problem when they got measles. If he means “death” than he is correct, only 2 in 1000 who get measles will die – so 99.8% of them will survive.
Death from Measles: 3 in 1000.
Brain inflammation from Measles: 13 in 1000 (1/4 of these patients die and , 1/3 go on to major mental disabilities or stroke-like symptoms). Or 1 in 1000 patients who die from measles has the brain involvement and 4 out of 1000 patients who have measles will end up with major mental disabilities or other neurologic complications).
Seizures from Measles: 25 in 1000.
Hospitalization from Measles: 19% or 19 out of 100 people who get measles
Below is a bit of the measles virus and how bad it can be.
Vaccines are Chemicals:
So are we, so is the food we eat. So are the viruses that he thinks we should have. So would you rather have the chemical virus that can cause the severe issues and hospitalization or have the parts of the virus that allow your immune system to make antibodies against a virus so you don’t have to go through those complications?
Paleo Nutrition and Immunology
Contrary to Dr. Wolfson’s assertions- there is no evidence that eating “paleo” will improve immunity at all. This is NOT the view of people who practice “paleo” nutrition – just a few misinformed people. The major cause of infant mortality has always been those diseases that we now have vaccines for. Here is how bad measles is – if you are in a room where someone with measles coughed three hours before, you have a 98% chance of getting the measles. The children of cavemen got measles – because if they didn’t get them, then measles would have been wiped out. Measles is an infectious disease, if it has no host to land then it won’t infect people.Do you know the only time in history that measles and other diseases have been wiped out– with vaccines.
Alaska Natives were decimated by diphtheria, whooping cough, measles – and they lived the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. They were the last true Paleolithic hunter gatherers of North America. The story of Balto, it isn’t just a Disneyland Story, it is the story of getting diphtheria vaccine to Nome to save a village, and mostly Native Alaskan kids. Dr. Woflson apparently doesn’t know history. In 1909 most of Polynesia was wiped out by measles – they lived as hunter-gatherers – fresh fish, fresh fruit – and yet, they were wiped out by that virus. Being paleolithic does not protect your immune system. Modern history tells us that.
Healthy Living and Healthy Immune System
While it is important to eat well, sleep that this will protect us against infectious disease is nonsense. Given a choice between eating McDonald’s and having a vaccination against smallpox or measles or eating completely healthy and not having it what would you choose? The answer is the vaccine, every- single-time.
This isn’t a debate among physicians
The anti-vaccine movement would have you believe that vaccinations are a theory, or there is a debate amongst doctors. There really isn’t. Much like there are people who believe the earth is flat, science tells us it is not. There is no debate – science is science. We also don’t debate that you should eat well, get rest, and be healthy. But part of being healthy is having a vaccination. I gather news organizations like presenting all sides- but this is not a debate. This is science. What Dr. Wolfson is proposing is anti-science, anti-medicine, and has absolutely no proof that his contention works. So his theory puts people at risk — and yet he says “at first do no harm.”
What We Know About Dr. Wolfson
Dr. Wolfson is a doctor of osteopathic medicine who trained at the osteopathic hospital in Chicago. Oddly enough, in order to complete course studies, most hospitals require you to have up to date immunizations, so Dr. Wolfson would have been required to have those vaccines. Thus, his anti-vaccination ideas did not come from his medical school. He then spent three years in internal medicine, where that board also endorses vaccinations, and three years in a cardiology fellowship (they do not address vaccinations). His current practice is in Phoenix, just a few miles away from my own office in Scottsdale. He does not accept medicare or AHCCS (Arizona’s version of medicaid) and charges fee for service for his practice. He sells nutritional supplements out of his office, including his “cardio green” that sells for $45 and has lots of “organic vegetables” and other items in it that he says are not in the typical diet. He is a “believer” in the paleo-nutrition and teaches this in his practice.
Dr. Wolfson is not a pediatrician. He will never have to tell a parent that their child died from an infectious disease that could have been prevented by vaccination. Especially if he told them they should not have received a vaccine (like he received).
Dr. Wolfson publicly stated that if another child got sick from his child it “isn’t my responsibility to be protecting their child.” – Dr. Wolfson forgets, as a holder of a license in the State of Arizona he has an obligation beyond just his family. The State Osteopathic Board will be discussing that obligation with Dr. Wolfson – who now, in the face of that, is silent.
The above graph comes from The Journal of Infectious Diseases based on information from the CDC.
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.