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"Protecting the health and informed consent rights of children since


Anti-Science Activists Label Pro-Vaccine Safety Advocates "Antivaccine" in June 26 JAMA Article

A Response

Barbara Loe Fisher, Co-founder and President National Vaccine Information Center

In the latest efforts by anti-science activists to label pro-vaccine safety advocates "anti-vaccine," a trio from Northwestern University have published an article in the June 26, 2002 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) entitled "Content and Design Attributes of Antivaccination Web Sites."

In what must surely be a lull in the careers of Robert M. Wolfe, M.D., Lisa K. Sharp, Ph.D., and Martin S. Lipsky, M.D., these three have spent a lot of time and effort pouring over the content of what they have dubbed "antivaccination" websites in order to come up with an analysis purporting to get to the heart of the thinking and motives behind organizations and individuals who operate websites questioning the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) which operates the oldest and largest vaccine safety advocacy website, offers the following observations about the content of the article and the thinking and motives of its authors:

1. This is not science, it is an op ed piece.

2. The information on the internet, thank goodness, is not peer reviewed by doctors like these authors or we wouldn't be able to believe what is on the internet anymore than we are able to believe what is published in JAMA.

3. They need to include a dictionary in their article. What exactly is their definition of "antivaccination?" Is it the label they apply in the second sentence of the first paragraph to those challenging "the safety and effectiveness of recommended vaccines?" If that is the definition of anti-vaccine, we can label these authors anti-science for suggesting that challenging and testing existing knowledge in science be abolished in favor of protecting the status quo.

4. The hallmark of good science is replication. We call for a public release of the names of all the websites these authors have labeled anti-vaccine so their analysis can be independently analyzed.

5. In just one of the many examples of intellectual bias, the authors perseverate about the internet access the public has to personal and emotional experiences of families with vaccine injured children. They, however, apparently have no problem with the use of visual images of children who were injured or died from polio as an incentive to the public to get vaccinated.

6. This article is a sophomoric attempt to label the vaccine safety and informed consent movement as "anti-vaccine" in order to deflect attention from the very real gaps in scientific knowledge about the biological mechanisms of adverse responses to vaccination. Should the Institute of Medicine be labeled anti-vaccine for repeatedly publishing reports over the past decade calling for increased scientific research into outstanding questions about vaccine safety? Instead of analyzing websites which are pointing out and asking for answers to outstanding scientific questions about vaccine safety, these doctors should be pulling their microscopes out of storage and finding out why some children are not able to handle the 36 doses of 11 vaccines they are now getting. They could work to develop genetic and other biomarkers to identify and screen out high risk children.

That would go a long way toward re-instilling trust in national vaccine policies and eliminating some of the nagging doubts about vaccines that parents of learning disabled, hyperactive, epileptic, autistic, asthmatic, diabetic and mentally retarded children talk about on the internet.

7. History shows that challenge to the status quo, which is embodied in much of the free speech that is taking place on the internet, is a first necessary step to meaningful reform of powerful institutions. We proudly stand by the content of our website at www.909shot.com  which details our 20 year public record of working to institute vaccine safety and informed consent protections in the mass vaccination system, including playing a major role in obtaining a safer pertussis vaccine for American babies licensed in 1996. We will stand by that accomplishment any day even if we haven't published peer reviewed articles in JAMA.

Finally, this kind of pretentious posturing by doctors who claim that they engaged in "critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content" did not remove the responsibility from JAMA editors to exercise a little self discipline and pass on this one. What the publishing of this kind of junk science does is fuel the suspicions of parents that those in power are determined to silence the voices of people suffering because science will not listen and does not care. It is a sad commentary on an even sadder reality that faces many families with vaccine injured children.

Content and Design Attributes of Antivaccination Web Sites Robert M. Wolfe, MD; Lisa K. Sharp, PhD; Martin S. Lipsky, MD Context Individuals searching the Internet for vaccine information may find antivaccination Web sites. Few published studies have systematically evaluated these sites.

Objectives To examine antivaccination Web site attributes and to delineate the specific claims and concerns expressed by antivaccination groups.

Design and Setting In late 2000, using a metasearch program that incorporates 10 other search engines, we reviewed and analyzed 772 links to find 12 Web sites that promulgated antivaccination information.
Analyzing links from these 12 sites yielded another 10 sites, producing a total of 22 sites for study. Using a standardized form, 2 authors (R.M.W., L.K.S.)
systematically evaluated these sites based on specific content and design attributes.

Main Outcome Measures Presence or absence of 11 Web site content attributes (antivaccination claims) and 10 Web site design attributes.

Results The most commonly found content claims were that vaccines cause idiopathic illness (100% of sites), vaccines erode immunity (95%), adverse vaccine reactions are underreported (95%), and vaccination policy is motivated by profit (91%). The most common design attributes were the presence of links to other antivaccination sites (100%of sites), information for legally avoiding immunizations (64%), and the use of emotionally charged stories of children who had allegedly been killed or harmed by vaccines (55%).

Conclusion Antivaccination Web sites express a range of concerns related to vaccine safety and varying levels of distrust in medicine. The sites rely heavily on emotional appeal to convey their message.

JAMA. 2002;287:3245-3248 __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!?

This concerns the JAMA article: Content and Design Attributes of Antivaccination Web Sites http://www.mindspring.com/~schlafly/vac/vacwebsites.htm

The JAMA brief report is here.

The full article is here.

Here is the list of the 22 "antivaccination" web sites.

Web site name Nation URL


Australian Vaccination Network Australia http://www.avn.org.au/


Center for Complex Infectious Disease USA http://www.ccid.org/safety.htm#


Center for Empirical Medicine USA http://www.empiricaltherapies.com/index.html


French National League for Liberty in Vaccination France http://www.ctanet.fr/vaccination-information/infindex.htm


Gary Null's Natural Living site USA http://www.garynull.com/issues/Vaccines/VaccinationActionFile.htm


Global Vaccine Awareness League USA http://www.gval.com/


HealthWorld Online USA http://www.healthy.net/vaccine/


Immunisation Awareness Society New Zealand http://www.ias.org.nz/ias.htm


Citizens for Healthcare Freedom USA http://www.unc.edu/~aphillip/www/vaccine/informed.htm


Leading Edge Research Group USA http://www.trufax.org/menu/bio.html


National Vaccine Information Center USA http://www.909shot.com/


NVIC - UK UK http://www.van.org.uk/


ThinkTwice Global Vaccine Institute USA http://www.new-atlantean.com/global/vaccine.html


NIIN: Natural Immunity Information Network, NY USA http://goodlight.net/nyvic/


P.A.V.E. - People Advocating Vaccine Education USA http://www.vaccines.bizland.com


PROVE: Parents Requesting Open Vaccine Education USA http://vaccineinfo.net/


Vaccine Safety Website USA http://vaccines.net/


Shirley's Wellness Café USA http://www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com/


WHALE Vaccine site UK http://whale.to/vaccines.html


Well Within / Nevada USA http://nccn.net/~wwithin/vaccine.htm


Missouri Citizens Coalition for Freedom in Health Care USA http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/mccfhc/index.htm


Campaign Against Fraudulent Medical Research Australia http://www.pnc.com.au/~cafmr/

June 27, 2002

By Nicholas Regush

My plan for today's column was to write about how some medical students
are beginning to resist free lunches provided by the drug industry. Yes,
free lunches to the presumably naive, silly little girls and boys that
will one day become big, devoted drug pushers.

But I'll keep that one for another day because this week, the Journal of
the American Medical Association published a study that will rank with
the "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes." Ever see that movie? You should
because it was so bad that it became a legend. Now, we have a hummer in
medicine that we can all go back to, time and again, for quiet
reference, or zip out of the closet for angry demonstration. It will
work for us either way.

The study (dare I call it that?) is really about how some grown-ups
(maybe some naive, silly little boys who got free lunches at some point
in their lives) are now big grownups, are doctors and are into what I
call lynching. No, I didn't say surgery, I said lynching.

Here is what the team did. They hovered around the internet and did a
"content analysis" of what 22 vaccine-related sites were offering their
visitors. I guess the whole idea was to do some bad sociology, throw
science down the tubes for a while and have a grand time. Wow, look at
this site, they are using little girls and boys and tearful mothers to
create high drama for their gullible visitors. The visitors may actually
even listen to some of what is being said by the people in the high
drama, such as notions about children being hurt by vaccines.

Do children not get hurt from vaccines? Probably a ton of children, only
there is a crappy surveillance system run by the government that gets a
slow voluntary stream of reports.

The team also called the sites "anti-vaccination." Why? Because some
people are opposed to the unbelievably bad research that passes for
science. Quick, dirty studies that do not last long enough to determine
much at all about the vaccine. Oh sure, the surveillance system will
pick up the rest of the problems.

Most people I know are not opposed to vaccines per se - and I'm
certainly not - but they are opposed to conflicts of interest, big money
grabs by industry, forceful vaccination, and helter-skelter use of
poorly-tested vaccines.

And there is a movement growing in America that will not be held back on
any of these issues now.

At this time, when there are hundreds of vaccines in the pipeline and
drug companies are looking to inject just about anything into a young
child, here we have the "team" consisting of Robert Wolfe, Lisa Sharp,
and Martin Lipsky conducting the dumbest research that I have ever
personally come across in 30 years of medical reporting. It says a lot
for the Journal of the American Medical Association for publishing such

Their conclusion in the study? Are you ready for this? "Anti-vaccination
Web sites express a range of concerns related to vaccine safety and
varying levels of distrust in medicine. The sites rely heavily on
emotional appeal to convey their message.

Well here's a message to Wolfe, Sharp and Lipsky from me:

Here's my conclusion: You've created a true classic. My guess is that it
will hang in there for a while.