Tom Price Says States Can Pass Anti-Vaccination Laws

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, a licensed physician, argued Wednesday that vaccinating children should be a matter best handled by the states, and not dictated by federal guidelines.

Price’s comments, made during a CNN Town Hall on the Affordable Care Act, has fueled concerns that he shares some of the president’s sympathies for those who link childhood vaccinations with autism. This idea has been forcefully discredited by a wide body of scientific research, and the so-called anti-vaxx movement is credited with the return of once-eradicated diseases like measles, mumps, and whooping cough, not to mention the spread of preventable disease like the HPV virus.

The federal government does not currently mandate vaccination policy. However, Price does have the authority to revoke current guidelines and policies set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is under his jurisdiction. Currently the CDC recommends vaccinations for children. Those policies hold significant sway over state law.

Price also supports the Republican Obamacare replacement plan which contains a provision that would slash half the funding for the federal vaccines program. The Section 317 Vaccination program is critical to staying on top of immunizations and disease outbreaks nationwide.

Denise Edwards from Michigan asked Price whether he believed Americans, when deciding on a healthcare plan, should be penalized for eschewing immunizations “for ethical or religious reasons.”

“You ought to be able to select the plan that matches your needs instead of the federal government telling you, ‘This is what you’ve got to buy,’” Price responded.

Co-host Wolf Blitzer interrupted and pressed Price on the matter.

“Dr. Price, you’re a physician,” Blitzer said. “You believe in immunizations; you believe all children should get a shot for polio and other diseases.”

“It’s a perfectly appropriate role for government — this happens by and large at the state government level… to determine whether or not immunizations are required for a community population,” Price said. “Whether it’s growing kids or the like, or, if its an outbreak of a particular infectious disease, whether immunization ought to be required or be able to be utilized.”

Price’s comments are seemingly a departure from the position he took during his Senate confirmation hearing in January. New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez asked Price whether he agreed with Trump that vaccines cause autism.

“I think the science in that instance is that it does not,” Price said. He also promised senators that he would “make certain that factual informing is conveyed to Congress and the president and the American people” on the issue of vaccinations.

In January, during the transition period, Trump met with Robert F. Kennedy, a leading proponent of the anti-vaccination conspiracy theory. Kennedy told reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower after the meeting that the then-president-elect had asked him to chair a special commission on vaccination safety. The purpose of the commission, he said, would be to ensure “scientific integrity in the vaccine process for efficacy and safety effects.”

(h/t Vice News)

Reality

Tom Price belongs to a truly radical medical organization known as the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

The AAPS organization stands at direct odds, in myriad ways, with some of very foundational beliefs of evidence-based modern public-health research.

From ScienceBlogs:

Perhaps [Price] was so attracted to the AAPS vision of doctors as special and “outside of the herd” to the point that he ignored its simultaneous promotion of dangerous medical quackery, such as antivaccine pseudoscience blaming vaccines for autism, including a view that is extreme even among antivaccine activists, namely that the “shaken baby syndrome” is a “misdiagnosis” for vaccine injury; its HIV/AIDS denialism; its blaming immigrants for crime and disease; its promotion of the pseudoscience claiming that abortion causes breast cancer using some of the most execrable “science” ever; its rejection of evidence-based guidelines as an unacceptable affront on the godlike autonomy of physicians; or the way the AAPS rejects even the concept of a scientific consensus about anything. Let’s just put it this way. The AAPS has featured publications by antivaccine mercury militia “scientists” Mark and David Geier. Even so, the very fact that Price was attracted enough to this organization and liked it enough to actually join it should raise a number of red flags. It certainly did with me, because I know the AAPS all too well.

Media

Trump’s “Charity” Gave $10,000 Quack Anti-Vaccination Group

Donald Trump has spent years indulging in anti-vaccination conspiracy theories, so it’s little surprise that his shady “charity” foundation donated a chunk of cash to one of the nation’s biggest anti-vaccination campaigns.

The Daily Beast reports that in 2010, the Trump Foundation gave $10,000 to Jenny McCarthy’s Generation Rescue, a nonprofit group whose primary goal is to promote false links between vaccinations and autism.

“McCarthy’s charity promotes ‘alternative vaccination physicians’ and has a grant program to provide families with autistic children with vitamins, minerals, and supplements; urine testing; and ‘dietary intervention training,’” The Daily Beast notes.

None of the claims that Generation Rescue makes about vaccinations have any basis in scientific reality, and its “alternative” methods for disease prevention have not proven effective.

(h/t Raw Story)

Reality

A little back story… way back in 1998 there was a Doctor called Andrew Wakefield who published a study in the well-respected medical journal The Lancet that linked the MMR vaccine to autism. Funny thing about well-respected scientific journals is, people in your field of study read your paper and try to duplicate the results, this is called peer-review. Nobody could duplicate the results so people became suspicious. Looking harder they found a sub-standard sample size of only 13 subjects, many subjects who already showed signs of autism at the start of the study, discovered data that was fraudulently modified, uncovered plans by Wakefield exploit the new market he created by profiting from his findings, and a discovered conflict of interest. Every single study that has been performed in regards to vaccines and autism continues to find no link between the two. In short Doctor Wakefield is now Mr. Wakefield and can never study medicine again and vaccines remain one of the greatest discoveries of human history.

Just like Mr. Trump, you probably have one friend, who is not a doctor or scientist, who has some story that might shed doubt in your mind that vaccines do cause autism. Think about this; That is just one story versus the vast body of evidence in well-performed scientific studies over decades of time, all publicly available to read, and all show absolutely no link. Know anyone with polio? Know anyone who died from smallpox? I’ll bet good money the answer is no. Thank you vaccines. And thank you evidence-based science.

There should be zero surprise that year after year we experience outbreaks of vaccine preventable disease in the areas that have the lowest vaccination rates where many adults and children die. We’re not at all implying that Donald Trump or Jenny McCarthy is responsible for these deaths. What we are saying is that when you are a leader and you go around promoting dangerous conspiracy theories, what you are doing is reinforcing someone’s deeply held beliefs and this makes it all the more harder for them to accept new factual information. It is very irresponsible and dangerous on the part of Donald Trump to propagate these false claims.

Trump Campaign Spokesperson and Former AntiVaxxer Exec Lies About His Vaccine Beliefs

Donald Trump spokeswoman Elizabeth Emken, a former executive with the leading advocacy group Autism Speaks, was put in a difficult position Monday when asked about the frontrunner’s earlier statements linking vaccines and autism.

Asked on CNN about Trump suggesting a scientific link exists between childhood vaccines and autism during a fall 2015 presidential debate, Emken sidestepped a direct rebuke of Trump’s claims.

“The position of Autism Speaks has been for quite awhile that we need to find out what’s happening. We know there’s a genetic component and there’s an environmental trigger and until we get to the bottom of what’s happening, no one knows what causes autism. Anyone that tells you what does or what doesn’t cause autism is simply not basing that on facts.

“We don’t know, we need to keep looking,” Emken continued, saying she hadn’t discussed the issue with the GOP frontrunner. “But the bottom line is, look, vaccines are the most successful health program in the history of the world, so I don’t believe that’s at all what he was saying.”

(h/t Talking Points Memo)

Reality

Donald Trump spokeswoman Elizabeth Emken made 2 rather large fibs.

First she claimed that “we don’t know what causes autism,” but just before she made the misleading statement that “we know there is an environmental (vaccine) trigger”.

Second, she is lying about Trump’s stance on vaccines:

A little back story… way back in 1998 there was a Doctor called Andrew Wakefield who published a study in the well-respected medical journal The Lancet that linked the MMR vaccine to autism. Funny thing about well-respected scientific journals is, people in your field of study read your paper and try to duplicate the results, this is called peer-review. Nobody could duplicate the results so people became suspicious. Looking harder they found a sub-standard sample size of only 13 subjects, many subjects who already showed signs of autism at the start of the study, discovered data that was fraudulently modified, uncovered plans by Wakefield exploit the new market he created by profiting from his findings, and a discovered conflict of interest. Every single study that has been performed in regards to vaccines and autism continues to find no link between the two. In short Doctor Wakefield is now Mr. Wakefield and can never study medicine again and vaccines remain one of the greatest discoveries of human history.

According to ScienceBlogs, Emken used to be the Executive Director of Autism Speaks, an “autism advocacy” group that used to be very much into anti-vaccine pseudoscience. Indeed, after much foot dragging, it wasn’t until 2015 that Autism Speaks finally grudgingly admitted that there is no good evidence linking vaccines to autism after a large study was published showing no evidence of a link between vaccines and autism and a meta-analysis involving over a million children similarly failed to find a link. It’s not for nothing that Autism Speaks has been quite appropriately accused of speaking up too late on vaccines.

Just like Mr. Trump, you probably have one friend, who is not a doctor or scientist, who has some story that might shed doubt in your mind that vaccines do cause autism. Think about this; That is just one story versus the vast body of evidence in well-performed scientific studies over decades of time, all publicly available to read, and all show absolutely no link. Know anyone with polio? Know anyone who died from smallpox? I’ll bet good money the answer is no. Thank you vaccines. And thank you evidence-based science.

There should be zero surprise that year after year we experience outbreaks of vaccine preventable disease in the areas that have the lowest vaccination rates where many adults and children die. We’re not at all implying that Donald Trump is responsible for these deaths. What we are saying is that when you are a leader and you go around promoting dangerous conspiracy theories, what you are doing is reinforcing someone’s deeply held beliefs and this makes it all the more harder for them to accept new factual information. It is very irresponsible and dangerous on the part of Donald Trump to propagate these false claims.

More info can be found in the links below.

Media

Links

Here is the journalist who helped shed light on Mr. Wakefield’s skullduggery.

Here is an explanation in pretty comic book form.

The original, now retracted, study in The Lancet.

Here’s a study that looked at half a million subjects with zero link found.

Trump Links Vaccines to Autism

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump on Wednesday doubled down on his controversial stance that vaccinations are linked to what he described as an autism “epidemic.”

“I’ve seen it,” he said at the second main-stage GOP debate on CNN Wednesday night.

“You take this little beautiful baby, and you pump — it looks just like it’s meant for a horse,” he said of vaccines.

“We’ve had so many instances … a child went to have the vaccine, got very, very sick, and now is autistic.”

The GOP front-runner said he still supported certain vaccines, but in smaller doses over a longer period of time. Under current procedures, he said it’s dangerous for the public.

“Autism has become an epidemic, he said. “It has gotten totally out of control.”

Trump was one of several Republican candidates to question the current medical standards for vaccination, including two medical doctors: neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), an ophthalmologist.

Responding to a question, Trump said certain vaccines are “very important.” But he added that there should be “some discretion” given to families — a stance increasingly popular within the GOP despite rising numbers of preventable diseases like the measles.

Carson denied that vaccinations had been linked to autism, citing “numerous studies” that have failed to find any correlations. But he suggested that there still could be a link.

“It has not been adequately revealed to the public what’s actually going on,” Carson said.

Paul, who has previously faced flak for suggesting that vaccines are linked to mental disorders, appeared to walk back his stance on Wednesday.

He described vaccines as “one of the greatest medical discoveries of all time,” while adding, “I’m also for freedom.”

“I ought to have the right so spread my vaccines out, at the very least,” Paul said.

(h/t The Hill)

Reality

Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines do not cause autism.

A little back story… way back in 1998 there was a Doctor called Andrew Wakefield who published a study in the well-respected medical journal The Lancet that linked the MMR vaccine to autism. Funny thing about well-respected scientific journals is, people in your field of study read your paper and try to duplicate the results, this is called peer-review. Nobody could duplicate the results so people became suspicious. Looking harder they found a sub-standard sample size of only 13 subjects, many subjects who already showed signs of autism at the start of the study, discovered data that was fraudulently modified, uncovered plans by Wakefield exploit the new market he created by profiting from his findings, and a discovered conflict of interest. Every single study that has been performed in regards to vaccines and autism continues to find no link between the two. In short Doctor Wakefield is now Mr. Wakefield and can never study medicine again and vaccines remain one of the greatest discoveries of human history.

Just like Mr. Trump, you probably have one friend, who is not a doctor or scientist, who has some story that might shed doubt in your mind that vaccines do cause autism. Think about this; That is just one story versus the vast body of evidence in well-performed scientific studies over decades of time, all publicly available to read, and all show absolutely no link. Know anyone with polio? Know anyone who died from smallpox? I’ll bet good money the answer is no. Thank you vaccines. And thank you evidence-based science.

There should be zero surprise that year after year we experience outbreaks of vaccine preventable disease in the areas that have the lowest vaccination rates where many adults and children die. We’re not at all implying that Donald Trump is responsible for these deaths. What we are saying is that when you are a leader and you go around promoting dangerous conspiracy theories, what you are doing is reinforcing someone’s deeply held beliefs and this makes it all the more harder for them to accept new factual information. It is very irresponsible and dangerous on the part of Donald Trump, Doctor Rand Paul, and Doctor Ben Carson to propagate these false claims.

More info can be found in the links below.

Media

Links

Here is the journalist who helped shed light on Mr. Wakefield’s skullduggery.

Here is an explanation in pretty comic book form.

The original, now retracted, study in The Lancet.

Here’s a study that looked at half a million subjects with zero link found.

Trump’s tweet in 2014 that prompted the question.