Sunday, December 18, 2011

Anti-Vaccine Nonsense on Facebook

An anti-vaxx post is circulating on Facebook that is completely unoriginal but is being disseminated by someone unknown to me and the content is humorously paranoid and wrong.
 This information is by a man who calls himself Dr. Michael Gaeta and fancies himself "a visionary educator, clinician, writer and publisher in the field of natural healthcare." He calls himself doctor, no doubt to pad his credentials but he is really an acupuncturist who "graduated" from a woo college in New York.  There is no recognised profession as "Doctor of Acupuncture" from any accredited institution or recognised organisation.  As such, Mr. Gaeta has not undertaken the requisite studies to allow him to be competent in matters surrounding vaccinology, considerably more complicated and attested than poking needles into "meridians".  Nothing more than a certification squatter really.

Of particular interest with regards to Mr. Gaeta and his "seminars" is his invocation of "an impeccably-credentialed, pro-vaccine PhD immunologist."  Who, of course, "confirmed what I and others have been saying for years."  She can be heard on an audio file but here is the text of her statements:
Q. So the science seems fairly clear that for the first year of life, probably, that the immunization is not stimulating the kind of response we expect it to stimulate.
A. True.
Q. So what’s the rationale for continuing to do that if it’s not doing what it’s supposed to be [doing]?
A. The vaccines are given at pediatric wellness visits, and the idea is that you are training the parent to bring their child in at all the pediatric wellness visits, and that it’s only the year visit that actually is truly important. But that for most parents you are not going to get them to bring their kid in if they don’t come in at two months, four months, and six months. And so it’s actually more of a training thing.
It’s interesting, I was on the phone with [?] county public health last week, with one of their vaccine nurses. She was like, ‘Oh, you’re talking about vaccines? Make sure you tell them they have to do that year shot because the first three [the 2, 4 and 6 month shots] don’t work.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I know.’ [laughter].
This is Mr. Gaeta's summary of her talk:
The first was that it is pointless to administer drugs intended to stimulate antibody production to babies who are too young to produce antibodies. Infants in their first year mostly depend on generalized, non-specific immunity, including (hopefully) immunoglobulins from breast milk, to protect their young bodies from infection. They do not produce antibodies of their own until about age one. Despite this basic fact, the medical establishment insists administering a total of 19 shots, containing 24 vaccines, to infants on the 2, 4 and 6 month pediatric visits (Source: cdc.gov). Somehow, the basic facts of human physiology and development do not apply to vaccines.
Of course it is demonstrably false that,  "So the science seems fairly clear that for the first year of life, probably, that the immunization is not stimulating the kind of response we expect it to stimulate." and , "The first was that it is pointless to administer drugs intended to stimulate antibody production to babies who are too young to produce antibodies. Infants in their first year mostly depend on generalized, non-specific immunity, including (hopefully) immunoglobulins from breast milk, to protect their young bodies from infection. They do not produce antibodies of their own until about age one."

These statements alone should be a glaring tip-off that the speakers don't know what they are talking about.  Mr. Gaeta is an acupuncturist so it is a given he is clueless about immunology and his "impeccably-credentialed, pro-vaccine PhD immunologist" either is not so impeccably-credentialed and/or has tired of languishing in obscurity and ineptness and jumped onto the anti-vaxx bandwagon for attention.  It is demonstrably false that infants don't produce antibodies until one year old.  All a layperson needs to do is look at a package insert for clinical trial summaries on infants less than one year old to see that there is antibody response.

It is well-known, although not to Mr. Gaeta and Mizz Impeccably-Credentialed PhD Immunologist, that:
Neonates develop the capacity to respond to foreign antigens before they are born. B and T cells are present by 14 weeks’ gestation and express an enormous array of antigen-specific receptors.5 Although the fetal immune system has the potential to respond to large numbers of foreign antigens, few foreign antigens are present in utero, and cells of the immune system are, therefore, primarily “na─▒ve” at birth.
That is from: http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/109/1/124 One can always look it up the references in the literature for that statement or even look it up in the many textbooks available.  I guess Mizz Impeccably-Credentialed PhD Immunologist slept during that portion of her education.  It is also untrue that paediatric well visits are "to train" parents.  If that is the case then every public health programme in the world is in on this great hoax.  Many infant vaccines are not fully effective until the full series are given, infants are particularly susceptible to complications from some of the vaccine preventable diseases thus are generally given from two to six months old.

Mizz Impeccably-Credentialed PhD Immunologist then invokes a nameless "public health vaccine nurse" in an appeal to authority and popularity.  This somehow induces laughter with the audience of "health professionals" which Mr. Gaeta claims he gives his seminars to.  But a glance at his testimonials reveals that the "health professionals" in attendance are also primarily sCAM practitioners such as chiropractors, naturopaths and nutritionists.  It is no small wonder that such a group would lap up unqualified, completely fallacious statements because they are notoriously anti-vaccine and such claims massages their confirmation bias.

What good is a great vaccine hoax messenger without the whiff of intrigue:
You can listen to an audio file of an exchange between an attendee and the immunologist about this question. She declined to be identified in my presentations, including this post, perhaps because she knows that anyone who speaks the truth about vaccines is savaged by the medical establishment and their compliant lapdogs in the mainstream media. It is professional suicide for anyone in conventional medicine to question the unquestionable (yet unproven) assumptions about vaccines: that they are effective, safe and necessary. I have stopped lecturing publicly on this subject for the same reason, because the attacks in recent years have become particularly vicious; and because my main message in my teachings is about personal responsibility, innate wholeness and opening to the largeness of who we are, not just vaccines.
I guess it has become fashionable to be persecuted by The Man™ and lends believability to the poor down-trodden speaker-of-the-truth.  But no, Mr. Gaeta and Mizz  Impeccably-Credentialed PhD Immunologist are free to make fools of themselves in any venue that will have them without any fear of retribution from the New World Order.

Of course it won't go unnoticed the response to this tosh that Dr. Bob Sears had:
This is interesting info. I agree that the general medical teaching on immunology is that infants don’t have much of their own immune system during the first year of life, and they rely heavily on the immunity they gain from mom through th...e placenta and from breastmilk. I don’t know whether babies actually don’t make ANY antibodies during this time, OR if they simply have a lower capability to do so. This immunologist seems to say that they don’t make any? My understanding is that it isn’t that they don’t have any immune system or can’t make any antibodies, but rather that these abilities are immature and lower than what it will eventually be, but that there is still some capability there.
What seems to contradict what this immunologist is saying is that the vaccine product inserts do provide data on antibody responses to vaccines, showing that infants do generate antibodies in response to the vaccines, and that the response increases after each dose.
Do you know if this immunologist addresses that specific issue? I’d be curious.
He almost gets it right but blunders with, " I agree that the general medical teaching on immunology is that infants don’t have much of their own immune system during the first year of life, and they rely heavily on the immunity they gain from mom through the placenta and from breastmilk."  What is so profoundly laughable, if not frightening about his response is that he wrote two books about paediatric vaccines and touts himself as a "vaccine expert" and doesn't really know how to answer the question.  I attribute this to part incompetence and part insecurity to disagree with a fellow anti-vaxxer.  It is a fringe science variant of "honour among thieves" and to quote Dr. James Laidler,  "Utter nonsense treated like scientific data, people nodding in sage agreement with blatant contradictions, and theories made out of thin air and unrelated facts—"