Paul Offit on NPR

I’m ba-aaack! And fresh both from a wonderful vacation and from a not quite so wonderful reading of Dr. Robert Sears’ The Vaccine Book. I’ll be writing about the experience (if you can call it that – let’s just say it was not a pleasure. I’m afraid the man has has his father’s bent for misrepresenting scientific literature) in several future blogposts, but in the meantime, I recommend listening to this 18-min. podcast of an interview with Paul Offit, MD, vaccine expert and author of the soon-to-be-released Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure . Especially interesting is the mindset (set in stone, that is) of an anti-vax caller named Chantelle and Offit’s – and that of the show’s host, Ira Flatow – answers to her. Chantelle is obviously beyond convincing, and the truth is that the aluminum-in-vaccines issue is somewhat more complex than Dr. Offit’s remarks let on*, but largely, he sounds coherent and truthful – at least to my (admittedly biased) ears.

UPDATE: Liz Ditz at I Speak of Dreams has Chantelle’s (I mispelled her name, apparently) take on her radio performance. At MDC, where else? (And guess who she’s been reading lately?)

*One of Bob Sears’ hallmarks is his unhealthy obsession with aluminum in vaccines. We’ll be looking at this issue, and how valid these concerns are, in a future post.

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20 Responses

  1. I can’t wait to hear your rundown of the book. I just finished it today and was less-than-impressed by his conclusions that lack of information proves that something is harmful.

  2. I just listened to the podcast, thanks for posting the link here. I enjoyed listening. Chantal actually sounded more reasonable than many of the anti-vaccine lunatics I’ve encountered, and that’s sad and scary. I’m really looking forward to your forthcoming post on aluminum in vaccines.

  3. I can’t wait to hear what you thought of the book. My baby is due for his first MMR in November, and Sears’ book really scared me….

  4. The Searses make me sick. They are a big, big part of why pediatricians are having to spend vast amounts of time trying to convince panicked parents that it’s OK to vaccinate on the ACIP-recommended schedule.

  5. I just listened to the podcast. Chantal sounded sort of reasonable until you realized that she was just parroting the garbage that Sears spits out. You could tell from what she said that she had been told that there were no studies about aluminum or concomitant (?) use and she was just trusting that without doing any research on her own.

  6. Ksenia, I’ve covered the MMR issue here and here. There are some rather glaring omissions in Doc Sears’ version of events, to say the least. There are also some studies he references at the end which supposedly support Andrew Wakefield’s findings-a subject for another blogpost.

    And I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Chantal was getting her info about aluminum from Doctor Bob, too.

  7. What no input from TV stars who swear the vaccines did it to her child? We don’t need Doctors and scientific literature, we have folks like Rikki lake and that other lady whose name escapes me. Do you think my lack of memory could be due to the vaccines I recieved as a child? I think I even got some extra ones, it was the 60’s! But on a more serious note, how was vacation?

  8. Reading now. Thank you, Esther!

  9. Around here declining vaccines is the IN thing to do. The one thing that he said that scared me, because it gives them a (stupid, unscientific) talking point is that the common cold and various bacteria gives the body more of an immune challenge than a vaccine. Here some people WANT their kids to get measles, mumps, and especially chicken pox because “They’ll be exposed the right way, and never need boosters.” So I hope they don’t take that statement of his and run with it that “vaccines are worthless anyways.”

  10. bap2:”Around here declining vaccines is the IN thing to do”.

    I was afraid someone would say that. Yes, it does seem that “questioning” vaccines (more like parroting talking points, for the most part) is the fashionable thing for right-thinking parents in some circles.

    Sure, you can get measles the “right” way. you can also die from the pleasure. And you can get each of the 3 strains of polio virus one at a time the “right” way too…and pray you won’t join the ranks of the paralyzed. Feh.

    Pinky – the vacation was fantastic. You know it’s really, really good when your kids tell you they’re having a great time and thank you! We went hiking all over the Galilee and the Golan Heights, on and off the beaten track, and even went ice skating (on Israel’s only ice skating rink!) down the road from the B&B we were staying at.

  11. Ech, I feel like bap2 and I might be living in the same area. Do you have a mumps outbreak just north of you in a country that rhymes with Flanada?

  12. No, we had a measles outbreak last year (when I was pregnant…in my classroom…thanks for making me get MORE pricey tests!) in a county that rhymes with Moshtenaw.

  13. “Moshtenaw”? (thumbing the atlas)

    I have thought of swabbing the playground equipment to demonstrate that there are more immune challenges there than in the MMR. However, I fear the playgrounds would empty. Noses, as Offit suggests, might be better.

    whose country rhymes with “got no wall that’s tan”

  14. PS. Sort of

  15. Can somebody lend me their decoder ring, pretty please?

  16. Oh, sorry I read “country” as “COUNTy”, like the political entities that states are divided into. My country rhymes with Hysterica and the state rhymes with….oh screw it, it’s Michigan.

  17. Ooh! Michigan rhymes with itchy tan! 😉 I feel a little bit better knowing that my geography skills aren’t THAT atrocious!

  18. Well, I live in the Pacific Northwest, where, just this year, we have had a measles outbreak, two pertussis outbreaks, and the previously mentioned mumps outbreak in British Columbia. Despite it happening in a different country I still consider it my area since people go back and forth *all* the time. I am so done with anti-vaxers.

  19. Wow! I’m all over the place…FIRST AND FOREMOST – I AM NOT ANTI-VACCINE!!! THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING ANTI-VACCINE AND BEING A DELAYED VAXER!!!! My children will be vaccinated on my own schedule. WHICH MEANS that on their first day of life, they will not receive the Hep B vaccine or 6 shots AT ONCE!!

  20. Chantele:”My children will be vaccinated on my own schedule. WHICH MEANS that on their first day of life, they will not receive the Hep B vaccine or 6 shots AT ONCE!!”

    Why not? What are you afraid of happening, and who put those fears into your head in the first place?

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