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What ex-antivaxer Kelley Watson-Snyder can teach us

Kelley Watson-Snyder was an antivaxer who has now become a pro-vaccine advocate. We can learn a lot from her story and deconversion.

This is a story about Kelley Watson-Snyder, a former antivaxer. I’m writing about her because her story illustrates several things I’ve been blogging about since almost as long as I’ve been blogging. I’ve written many times about the difference between hard core antivaxers and the vaccine-averse. The difference can generally be summed up thusly. Hard core antivaxers have internalized their antivaccine beliefs to the point that they are part of their identity, every bit as much as their religious beliefs, their political beliefs, and their general worldview. It’s more than that though. Antivaxers have often bought into a conspiracy theory mindset that makes all their beliefs about big pharma supposedly hiding horrific side effects from vaccines plausible, at least to them. These conspiracy theories also make it possible for them to believe all manner of misinformation and pseudoscience about vaccines. The merely vaccine-hesitant, however, have not gone so far down the rabbit hole that antivaccine beliefs have been internalized and become part of their identity. Usually, they are parents who have been exposed to the fear mongering of hard core antivaxers through social media and don’t know enough to be able to dismiss it for what it is. Quite naturally, it alarms and frightens them. They want to do what’s best for their children, but the virus of misinformation from antivaccine websites and social media infects their mind, and they are no longer sure that vaccines are best for their children. Some of them come to doubt vaccines sufficiently that they start refusing to have their children vaccinated with one or more vaccines—or even all vaccines.

The key difference between hard core antivaxers and the vaccine-hesitant, however, is that the vaccine-hesitant can be reached. Information, stories, empathy, all can be used to persuade them that vaccines are safe and effective and that by vaccinating they are not harming their children by making them autistic, putting them at risk for sudden infant death syndrome, giving them diabetes, or any of the other myriad conditions and diseases attributed to vaccines by antivaxers. It’s not easy. It takes a lot of work and empathy, but it is achievable. It can be done. Hard core antivaxers, on the other hand, are nearly beyond reach. Masters of motivated reasoning, their identities fully entwined with the world of antivaccine beliefs, they exist in an impenetrable shell of conspiracy theories and pseudoscience, often kept safe within a social media bubble of like-minded people. While it’s not impossible to reach them, it’s damned close. These are the people who become leaders and thought leaders of the antivaccine movement. It’s rare for one of them to turn, and, when one does, it’s almost never because of anything those of us advocating science and reason say. It’s usually from within, either in a “Paul on the road to Damascus”-style moment or, more commonly, through a graduate accumulation of niggling doubts that grow and grow and grow.

Which brings us back to the story of Kelley Watson-Snyder:

Amid the contentious dispute over immunization requirements for children, Kelley Watson Snyder stands out: She has been both a recalcitrant skeptic and an ardent proponent of childhood vaccines. Snyder, a Monterey, Calif., mother of two, was a so-called anti-vaxxer for many years, adding her voice to those that rejected mandatory vaccinations for school-age children. She later realized she was wrong and in 2014 founded a pro-vaccination Facebook group called “Crunchy Front Range Pro-Vaxxers,” which she administers. It is an invitation-only site on which approximately 1,100 members exchange views and information. Snyder, 38, is also an advocate for pending California legislation, SB 276, which targets bogus medical exemptions that allow unvaccinated children to attend school. The number of medical exemptions issued by physicians has risen sharply in recent years. The Medical Board of California is investigating at least four doctors for issuing questionable exemptions for children.

Watson-Snyder explains what she believed and what it was like to be antivax:

Anti-vaxxers have been around for a long time, but social media makes it easier to get into a loop. And once you’re there, it’s hard to see outside of it. Algorithms just show you more of what you’re already looking for. If you start searching anti-vaccination stories, that’s what starts popping up on your tagline. You start to think, “Oh, my God, there’s all these people and there’s so much of this going on.” But if you have a chance to peel back from that, you see that it’s actually a very small portion of the population who are really, really loud. The fear makes you angry and it makes you lash out. Once you get into that state, it’s easy to stay there.

This is very telling, and a very succinct description of how antivaxers are made and maintained as antivaxers, thanks to modern social media. Facebook and other social media companies didn’t set out to create incubators of antivaccine misinformation and radicalization of antivaxers, but that’s just what they inadvertently did with their algorithms. Yes, Facebook, Google, and other tech and social media companies are trying to prevent the viral spread of antivaccine misinformation that created antivaxers like Watson-Snyder.

Here’s what she means:

When my daughter was born, I refused the Vitamin K shot. I remember lying there with my daughter in my arms, and the nurses said, “Hey, we’re going to give her the vitamin K,” and I said, “No, we’re not doing that.” They made me sign a form that said I was going against the recommended medical care. At the time, the anti-vaxxer voices in my head said they were trying to coerce me into doing something dangerous for my child. They told me I was going to have to stay in the hospital longer for observation. I saw that as trying to force me to inject my child with this poison.

This is how antivaxers think. Suspicion and fear are what drive them. Fear of contamination. Fear of poison. Fear that “they” are trying to hurt their children. Distrust of the medical community and government. They think they’re protecting their children from harm, but in reality, by refusing to vaccinate them, they’re putting them at more risk than they imagine vaccination to be putting them at. As Watson-Snyder relays, she was deeply involved in antivaccine proselytizing, calling pro-vaccine mothers “sheeple,” and promoting an antivaccine mindset.

So what changed her mind? There’s the interesting thing:

In the summer of 2014, I was in one particular anti-vaxxer Facebook group, and there was a debate going on about vaccines, and I started to notice that every time someone disagreed with them, the core members got belligerent, going straight to personal attacks. I also noticed that every single point they brought up had this immense conspiracy to go along with it. By that point, I’d started to think, “Do I really believe in all these conspiracies? Am I really that afraid or can I go back and look at the evidence again?” By then, my daughter was 8 months old, and I just got over the fear I had as a first-time mom. I realized that my daughter was going to be OK.

This is what I mean by “niggling doubts.” If you’ll forgive me for the comparison, I will point out that I can’t help but think about how I “converted” (if you will) from being very conservative. The comparison, I argue, is appropriate because to hard core antivaxers, their antivaccine beliefs are every bit as important a part of their identity as political orientation or even religion is to the average person. This is not to pass judgment on anyone’s politics, at least not now, but rather to illustrate how changing one’s antivaccine beliefs can be just as hard as changing one’s religion or political orientation.

Believe it or not, I was once very conservative in my politics. From the time I graduated from high school until around 2003, I was quite conservative and always voted for Republicans. I used to joke about the one exception to my support of Republicans, namely the time I voted for John Glenn for Ohio Senate in 1992 (I was living in Cleveland then), which, I frequently joke, was basically voting Republican anyway. In any event, beginning in the 1990s, I started to get uncomfortable with what I was seeing in Republican politics, just as Watson-Snyder was becoming uncomfortable with what she saw in her antivaccine bubble. That discomfort grew in me as I observed increasing antiscience attitudes in the Republican Party and among conservatives, such as the embrace of creationism and denial of human-induced climate change.

My deconversion was a decade-long process that spanned the time period from not long after President Clinton’s inauguration to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but eventually, I couldn’t stomach the increasing rejection of science and evidence by the Republican Party, as well as what I saw to be the increasing tolerance of racism. (OK, I admit I was blind to that last one, given that that had been there all along. I just started to notice it more.) As an aside, interestingly, my political reorientation appears to have correlated with the rise of right wing media and Fox News. It’s almost as though, instead of drawing me in, right wing media helped push me away.

My story aside, unfortunately the article doesn’t say how long Watson-Snyder’s deconversion process took, but it appears to have taken a lot less time than mine, less than a summer. Of course, perhaps she had been experiencing the sort of niggling doubts that I had experienced long before that summer. Maybe that summer, her notice of the personal attacks just became more acute and became, in essence, the final straw.

Watson-Snyder now works to try to persuade vaccine-hesitant parents and has some good advice:

I tell people that I understand their fears. I understand that parenting is very difficult, and all of us truly want the best for our children. I also know that the evidence is out there when people are willing to let their guards down. And I’m always happy to share real solid scientific evidence with people who want to do their critical thinking for themselves. I’m hoping people come around. I did. But we can’t force anybody. We just want to protect everyone else.

If there’s one thing that has unfortunately become quite apparent, it’s that information and science alone do not persuade and can at times even cause people to double down in their conspiratorial and pseudoscientific beliefs. Stories matter. Personalization matters. People do, however, respond to stories and empathy, particularly from members of what they view as their “tribe,” far more than they do to dry facts. It’s also important to realize who is reachable and who is not. Hard core antivaxers are not going to listen or change unless it’s a process that comes from within, as it was for Watson-Snyder. That’s why it’s important to try to keep their misinformation from infecting others and to work to recover from those in the early stages of becoming antivax, while they are still reachable.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

137 replies on “What ex-antivaxer Kelley Watson-Snyder can teach us”

Orac writes, “It’s also important to realize who is reachable and who is not.”

I agree. Some vaccine manufacturers have completely eliminated a known allergenic substance from vaccine-packaging while others continue to use FDA initiated hazard warnings.

@ Orac,

I’ve often empathized with your position in that your such an excellent writer.

@ Orac’s minions,

No matter which side of a coin is favored at the moment, each side has a foundation which strives to land on the upside.

No matter which side of a coin is favored at the moment

You really don’t get this “probability” thing, do you?

It’s really very easy if you think about it in a certain fashion. You have a coin. Your hypothesis is that most coin flips will come up heads. You flip the coin. If it’s tails you reject that toss because you must have flipped it incorrectly. Flip the coin again…

Your conversion from the Republican Party particularly interests me. I went through a similar process. I voted republican for a long time. I became increasingly uncomfortable with their anti-science, pro-Christian stances as well as the increasing infiltration of conspiracy theories into their politics (Trump is the pinnacle of that).

Unfortunately, I am not particularly happy with the Democrats either. I see them as the lesser of two evils. Sigh.

Just curious: are there any political persuasions that you agree with?

I will cherry pick what I think is plausible from each side, in the current environment, mostly from the democrats at this point. Both parties have anti-science elements which are very upsetting to me.

What would “your” party be like?

I mean, nothing is perfect, but the Democratic platform (have you read it?) suits me just fine and always has. I don’t judge the Party by certain people’s representation of it–they’re just trying to get elected and I look at each on his or her merits, voting record and such. The Republican Party platform never, ever appealed to me in any way, just as anti-vax rubbish never appealed to me. So I did take my home-birthed babes to the doctor for a Vit K shot within hours of birth–yes, the people in the elevator were quite surprised too!

For us the switch from Republican to independent, but mostly voting Democrat was much quicker. In the 1980s we were very active, including attending caucuses. There was a stark change from the type of Republican our state voted for before with governors like John Spellman and Dan Evans (the latter created the very liberal Evergreen State College) after Reagan.

That stark change included some churches were literally organizing people to go to caucus and be voted in as delegates. Then around 1990 there was this whole with Dan Quayle and his “single mother” shaming campaign. I got a call from a Republican supporter asking me to support his campaign. Oh, that was not a good thing to say to a very pregnant woman who lost her mother at age eleven years, plus whose hubby lost his father at age ten. I literally blurted out to her “Are you seriously going to legislate against death?”. That poor woman did not know what hit her, and she apologized. Hopefully it made her think.

Since I knew what my mother-in-law went through after her husband’s death, that single parent shaming really offended me. I also know what it is like when you try to keep families that are not working together. Though what I went through was a bit different, my dad got married just six months later to keep my mother’s cousin for suing to get custody of us kids. Let me just say it was not easy.

This is why the 1990s Republicans really disgusted me. And it did not get better when they threw Pat Robertson into the midst. In fact it is now worst, especially with what this present administration is doing to children. Oh, look… there are now over 400 mumps cases in detention facilities in Texas. Oh, joy.

Note: now with new rules in our state we will no longer be able to vote in the primaries. It used to be caucuses, but now it is a primary where you must sign up for the party of your choice. We refuse to give any party our contact information.

“Oh, look… there are now over 400 mumps cases in detention facilities in Texas.”

I have a conspiracy theory. The detention facilities are being run by a cabal of anti-vaxxers. They are surreptitiously running an unethical vaxxed vs unvaxxed clinical trial that they’ve long lobbied for in an environment where no IRB will tread.


Unfortunately it looks like it will promote the conspiracy that all those brown people coming over the border are bringing in diseases. Though in reality even if vaccinated mumps can spread in close groups due to the sheer amounts of virus floating around.

“I see them as the lesser of two evils.”

And thus the evil plot slithers forward to its inevitable conclusion. We are being cleverly manipulated by an advanced species of extra-terrestrial giant lizards. They are so advanced that they do no covet our puny planet but are instead driven to explore new dining experiences. Monitoring us closely for many years they saw their chance and seized it.

With the maturity of the internet far enough advanced they unleashed their army of lizard bots upon us. Using worm hole portals into servers in multiple countries prone to nefarious activities as plausible cover they have infected our social and news media with stories designed to amplify our differences. All over the world politics is devolving into us-versus-them binary thinking.

The next stage is upon us, where we give up on both sides, both too evil to contemplate. Thus ends the lesser of two evils phase of their plan. This is where their lizard cunning truly flowers. We will discover there are actually three evils, not two. Soon they will show their scaly faces and put the true proposition before us: to choose the lesser of three evils. Them!

This may seem peculiar behavior for such advanced beings since they can militarily overwhelm the Earth any time they choose. However they are not only ravenous giant space lizards but ethical ravenous giant space lizards. By their mores they must conquer Earth by popular vote; that is, we must choose them.

As disgust with the two known evils festers they will put forward their evil platform, In great relief we will willingly choose the seemingly least of three evils. It amuses them to be elected by billions of ready-to-eat meals. Their time is coming and no errant asteroid can stop them now.

Political parties in the USA do not represent good or evil, nor the people. They are private, tax-exempt corporations and unlike, say, Monsanto you can’t buy their stock then vote on their policies. Yu can of course vote for or against their picks for public office, but you can’t pick their internal officials. As the Founders predicted, they work for their own benefit always, their constituents now and then, and for the country incidentally, by chance.

But now those who know best, or loudest, have revealed that the Founders were all racist, Eurocentric and probably cisgender oppressors. They imbued wrongthink, and America must be cleansed. Thus after the Grand New Deal, your life will be transformed to one of everything within the Party, nothing outside the Party.

Another example of conversion:

James Laidler ( Wikipedia;, a doctor, followed the DAN! diet (and other woo) for his 2 sons, even lecturing about it at conferences but on a family trip, one of his sons ate a forbidden food and was OK ( he was taught that even a tiny bite of taboo food would cause a regression): later, his wife revealed that she had secretly tried a regular diet without effect.

People who are not entirely convinced that vaccines cause autism ( or that woo is the only way to fly) may have doubts that they tend to push aside unless they get wake-up calls like Laidler did or their doubts gradually accumulate until they can ‘see the light’.

I think it’s important to supplement the data about vaccines ( or woo) with stories like this mother’s: research has shown that parents may be more influenced by stories from other parents than from instruction by professionals.
Orac mentions something from his own political “conversion”**- it was cumulative but it occurred simultaneously as right wing media grew which means that he could see how awful their arguments could become.

Applying this to woo ( and anti-vax):
if those unsure remain in their respective echo chambers perhaps they’ll see more that will cause their doubt to increase:
I like to point out how inconsistent advocates are or how ( self-professed) “brilliant scientists” gets simple science, general information or even the English language thoroughly wrong. If they claim research excellence and can’t figure out how to copy or spell or claim to have studied physiology and can’ pronounce common terms – well, it says more about them than I ever can.

** that means that Orac voted for Republicans until 2000!

** that means that Orac voted for Republicans until 2000!

Shocking, indeed! I hope he doesn’t tell us next that he kicked puppies until 1998!

Well, that means he had no part in helping to give Ayatollah Khomeni and his racist radical regime a resounding redoubt in the Mideast.

(dons flamesuit, exits)

I underwent a similar political conversion to Orac, but for me breaking with the party on the Iraq war was the beginning of the process rather than the culmination of it. It was also a roughly decade-long period before I fully rejected my Republican roots (I grew up in a politically conservative nonreligious household), and while I supported Obama both times he ran, I still cast a number of now-regrettable votes for Republicans in state elections (Rick Scott and Marco Rubio stand out in particular). For me the final breaking point was the cult-like embracing of Donald Trump, combined with the increasing pivot to science denial, white nationalism, nativism, and Christian identity politics, which corresponded with my own movement towards atheism and skepticism. At this point, while I have my disagreements with the Democrats, I can’t see myself ever again voting for a party that would have Donald Trump as its standard-bearer.

Conversions such as this are the reason that so many of us doggedly argue with anti-vaxxers even though the anti-vaxxer we are arguing with will never be rational or see reason. But those observing may be swayed by sound, scientific arguments. I’m so pleased that Ms. Watson-Snyder chose to be vocal and activist about her new stance; people like her, as Denice mentioned, are far more persuasive than the “White Coats”.

Maybe it’s worth having longer follow ups with Kelly and other people like her (Voices for Vaccines has a gallery of stories of people who used to be antivaccine) to learn more about drivers and process to change. (Thought that came up from your conversion story and the points you raised).

Thanks, that is such good news from VOV. Nice to hear some good news for a change.

Yes, I agree with this article very much. The hardcores aren’t worth clinic time when I start hearing from an anti-vax parent how germ theory or herd immunity aren’t real or that I need to do my “research” on vaccines or that vaccines never saved anyone. The vaccine-averse can be convinced to vaccinate with time and patience, though I feel like there’s often a progression from vaccine-averse to hardcore anti-vax over time if health care providers aren’t doing anything to engage the vaccine-averse (due to that echo-chamber of social media to which you refer).

This post made me think about whether an anti-vax physician has ever come around to being pro-vax. I can’t think of any, and I think an anti-vax physician is automatically hardcore because for them not to be pro-vax after medical school means the hardwiring for vaccines that should be in their brains from school has been overwritten by all the anti-vax nonsense . A few we know well here like to pretend to straddle some imaginary fence between anti- and pro-vax positions, but they are anti-vax and they aren’t changing their positions for anyone or anything. There’s also the financial benefits for them of being anti-vax (catering to a more affluent group of parents who can pay their much higher cash-only fees and buy their supplments and what not) and the adoration they receive from anti-vaxxers for being such “mavericks” against the medical establishment. I guess that’s also a big part of why I think anti-vax physicians need to be stripped of their licenses as they are akin to a mad rabid dog in the hen house.

they are akin to a mad rabid dog in the hen house

That does not sound like rabies to me, Dr. Hickie. Then again, I may have been overly affected by the TV movie A Cry in the Wilderness.

I really wish that I could reconcile my desire for less government and less taxation with the realities I’ve seen while working in public health. We need the authority of government and the budget to face the many challenges we face today and will in the future. It’s kind of hard to ask for budget cuts if those cuts will be made from critical services from the most disadvantaged. That’s when the Republican Party started to lose me, when they pushed and pushed and finally got Clinton to sign the “welfare reform” of the 1990s that took away food from the mouths of so many of my friends in school. Heck, it took the state of Texas stepping in for me to have cash and food in college.
Then they really pushed me away when they started being so anti-immigrant. No, they’re not just anti-illegal immigrants. Nope. They’re anti-immigrants in general and anti-Brown immigrants in particular. When the started questioning my integrity and patriotism because of my name and background, and color of my skin, that’s when they really pushed me away.
It was in that exile that I had my eyes opened to the missteps the Reagan Administration had with HIV/AIDS. It could have all been stopped dead in its tracks, but they didn’t, and they allowed a lot of people to die for it. Then I looked at Bush 43 and the Iraq War divorced from patriotic feelings brought on by 9/11 and realized how big a mistake that was.
In 2004 and 2006, I was okay or indifferent with the state constitutional amendments pushed by Cheney et al to ban same sex marriage. I realize now how effed up that was, and how I should have paid more attention.

But I’ve always been pro-science and pro-vaccine. 😉

I hear you, Rene.

There was a point in time when I opposed the idea of same sex marriage; it didn’t fit with my preconceptions of what marriage was. I grew up politically conservative as well.

Then I realized how stupid the argument even was, and dropped that opposition like a hot potato.

Libertarians have infected the Republican Party in the worst way. The kind of government the GOP pushes for is what we had under the Articles of Confederation, and that simply didn’t work. It’s why we embraced federalism in the Constitution to begin with.

It’s good to see Ms. Watson-Snyder have a change of heart on vaccination.

I tend to be a bit skeptical about use of “conversion” stories when it comes to controversial issues. Anti-abortion advocates had a great time trumpeting the newly found anti-abortion views of the “Roe” of Roe v. Wade. There’s a well-known advocate for use of genetic modification technology who used to be firmly in the opposite camp, something pro-GMOers have a great time with. We often make a big deal of converts who’ve Seen The Light.

It’s all very well to change one’s views, but when people have stridently taken up a position that indicates a lack of critical thinking capacity (like the more conspiratorially-minded antivaxers, which is most of them), does abandoning that position for an opposing one necessarily show an ability for more rational thought? Or could they be doing the right thing for less than appropriate reasons (like getting mad at their antivax compatriots over personal issues and deserting them out of spite)?

It’s good to have thoughtful allies.

Converts may not be ultra-special though.

The problem with conspiracy theories is that you can’t disprove them. No matter much evidence you present, there’s the possibility that it’s part of the conspiracy.

People are far more impressed by anecdotes, especially from people in their “tribe” because it’s very important that you not alienate your tribe and the scientific method isn’t ingrained into the mammal brain.

I think that heartfelt anecdotes from the vaccine saved might be of more value than actual data.I know these groups harass and threaten parents who changed their mind after whooping cough or whatever, but maybe the stories get to some people.

The problem is that no one knows, or at least cannot be certain that a vaccine has saved them, either from the disease itself or from serious or fatal complications. Population statistics are not as attractive as a good story. At least with seat belts and helmets a connection can usually be drawn between accident data and survival.

So in summary it’s the nigglings of cognitive dissonance that cause people like Kelley Watson-Snyder to turn away from anti-vaccination and other similar pseudoscience. No such cognitive dissonance bothers the leaders of the antivax movement however, as they have mastered the art of Orwellian doublethink. They will use science when it shows what they want it to show, deny it when it doesn’t, and see no contradiction or hypocrisy in doing so.

The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary. — George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Chapter 9

I suppose this is exactly how the minds of grifters like Mike Adams, Gary Null, Andrew Wakefield, and many of the other leading lights of antivax and CAM movements tend to operate.

Grifters like Adams or Null often use Orwell’s ideas – or Bernays, Chomsky or cognitive dissonance – to describe our psychology!

Be that as it may, I’ve noticed a change recently that should encourage us:
— they’ve ramped up their attacks on media, sceptics, and SBM: the accusations are more frequent, wilder and crazier
— in broadcast or videos, I note a certain desperation in their speech perhaps revealing anxiety or worry
— they continually harp upon their own merits- as scientists, as moral, ethical people and as spiritual or Christian

On PRN, most broadcasts – 5 times a week- include a section wherein the quack narrates his great accomplishments over 50 years as a researcher, professor, investigative journalist, revolutionary thinker and humanitarian. Another segment will accuse the mainstream or sceptics of “crimes against humanity” and how he and his legal team will seek revenge SOON. Another part will detail catastrophes on the horizon that will happen if you don’t follow his instruction: cancer, heart disease, death, civil unrest, famine, crime, sea level rise etc. because he tells you how to eat, exercise, work, behave, think, invest and where to live.

I think two events have sparked these changes- in the past decade and this year:
— in the wake of the financial crisis ( 2008-9), both grifters became more political and forecasted economic trends
— this year, they are striking back against FB, Google, YouTube and especially, Wikipedia and sceptics/ SBM who have affected their outreach efforts to customers and enlightened the public about their activities and backgrounds.
As one confesses, ( paraphrase) “If someone wants to follow my protocols but then they read my bio on Wikipedia”: they run away.
He’s lost business and even says so!.


Even with the instructions of all those quacks, one will still die. No-one will live forever, not even Adams or Null.

Re. doublethink: I’d agree that some of them operate that way, but I think it’s also true that some of them are overtly cynical and larcenous at heart. Those are the ones who look down on their followers, and come up with one scheme after another to milk their followers for money.

I would guess that Mike Adams is one of those. Before he became The Health Stranger, he was big on Y2K “end of the world” stuff, and was promoting various expensive nonsense back then, stuffing his pockets with money from people who believed his BS. Then he switched to “health,” and more recently he’s become increasingly ideological from the hard right. He has a talent for sincere-sounding scare mongering and a talent for selling, that, were he born a few thousand miles further away, he might have applied to writing Nigerian Prince emails.

As with most things, “follow the money.” Where someone is living an obscenely extravagant life (look up Mikey’s mansion) from money earned by selling conspiracies and anti-science, there’s a good chance they are an “antisocial personality.”

Wakefield on the other hand, might have gone from being cynically self-interested when he did the fraudulent study, to becoming convinced of his own BS in order to justify to himself the rewards he’s gotten since he became an anti-vax celebrity.

Next year’s election will be a major turning point as to whether the latest version of prideful ignorance gets further reinforced or whether it begins to wane. Bottom line is, vote for the Democrats, even if you’re a reasonable Republican and have to hold your nose while doing so. The GOP needs a “Paul on the road to Damascus” moment of its own, and that can only start with the defeat of its present incarnation.

I couldn’t stomach the increasing rejection of science and evidence by the Republican Party, as well as what I saw to be the increasing tolerance of racism. (OK, I admit I was blind to that last one, given that that had been there all along. I just started to notice it more.)

Thank you for this–it’s easy for people to pretend, including to ourselves, that we would have acted sooner if we’d known something was wrong, so either it’s a new problem, or someone was hiding it from us. Which may be true, but only if we realize that the “someone” who was hiding it was ourselves, because we have lots of reasons to want not to see things.

Yes, it’s better to see the truth sooner, but if “this is a bad thing, and I realized it in 2013” is true, then “and I’ve known it for decades” isn’t true. The problem is, that falsehood can lead to “so the policies I supported ten years ago were fine,” and then to “so we don’t need to change this”, rather than to “I wish I’d realized sooner what was wrong with this policy, how can we remedy it?”

OMG. You have it so wrong. All’s that woman is; is a mom who changed her mind. She can teach you nothing.

Which is likely why you want to listen to her (snort).

I should be happy with how wrong you all are because you have failed to identify your enemy. You will fail to succeed. Doomed strategy. If this was a politics-based blog; I’d just laugh & walk away.

Unfortunately for all people, though; this is a science-based blog. Hint: ‘Moms who change their mind after refusing a vitamin K shot’ are not your enemy. They never were.

Are you trying to apply the writings of Sun Tzu to this? Hint: there is no hint.

All’s that woman is; is a mom who changed her mind. She can teach you nothing.

Mirrors are your friends.

@ Narad,

I can teach you something. You can learn from someone who is not as knowledgeable, nor as smart as you.

I wonder if you misunderstood. The suggestion was not that we can learn from her about the science of vaccines. But that we can maybe learn about the psychological factors that can help people trapped in the anti-vaccine world get out.

Nobody is suggesting that we can draw definite conclusions from one experience, either. But it can at least raise things to consider.

You seem awfully upset that parents are starting to see through the lies.

”If this was a politics-based blog; I’d just laugh & walk away.”

It’s a politics-based blog.

Kelley Watson-Snyder’s refusal of a vitamin K shot for her newborn is an example of a trend, as it’s becoming more common for parents to turn down vitamin K to protect against potentially serious infant bleeding. At least one study has shown that such parents also tend to decline erythromycin eye ointment, refuse topical fluoride treatments and of course, avoid vaccination for their kids.

“Late vitamin K deficiency bleeding, which generally can occur up to six months old,(involves) hemorrhaging (which) nearly always occurs in babies’ brains but can also occur in the intestines and affects four to seven of every 100,000 infants without the shot. About 20 percent of the babies die and 50 percent sustain long-term brain damage. “They could be happy and healthy and doing fine and then—boom, they’re neurologically devastated if not dead,” Jones says. The shot has no side effects other than the brief pain of the injection and rare but possible bruising, and has little to no risk of an allergic reaction because it is injected into the muscle instead of a vein, he says.

(Ha! but no one knows our children better than we do, like Jay Gordon says)

…A report last year of four babies in Nashville who developed late vitamin K deficiency bleeding after their parents declined the shot prompted MacDonald and colleagues to investigate refusal rates and factors for refusals. Among more than 282,000 children born from 2006 to 2012 in Alberta, all but 0.3 percent received the vitamin K shot at birth, they reported in Pediatrics. But the rate of refusals doubled from 0.21 percent in 2006 to 0.39 percent in 2012. “The rate was low, but more alarming was the rising rate of refusal,” says Mark Belletrutti, a pediatric hematologist at the University of Alberta. “I think refusal will grow, especially if we are not better in educating why vitamin K is important. No baby should have to die of a brain bleed from vitamin K deficiency in this day and age.”

Jones says he suspects that the U.S. refusal rate is higher. Preliminary research presented this summer from two Nashville hospitals showed a refusal rate ranging from 2.3 to 3.7 percent. “Pediatricians have long thought the rise in vitamin K refusal mirrors the rise in vaccine hesitancy,” he notes, although the Alberta study is the first to offer evidence of the link.”

@ DB,

At least one study has shown that such parents also tend to decline erythromycin eye ointment, refuse topical fluoride treatments and of course, avoid vaccination for their kids

I think that probably indicates a distrust of the medical community. I’m not trying to justify it, because I’ve never refused those interventions for my children; I’m just trying to explain it.

I think that probably indicates a distrust of the medical community.

And, of course, dentists.

I’m just trying to explain it.

You are trying to “explain” poor thinking skills?

I wish the Vit K shot could just be given with no option to decline. Period. Of course then we’ll get an uptick in people doing homebirths and the complication rate from that would be higher than declining the Vit K shot.

Yes, sadly I’ve run into this when I had a clinical group in the newborn nursery. Several parents refused or suggested refusing Vitamin K.

Some education changed the minds of most of the parents but a few were adamant. Same thing for the Hep B vaccine as well. I’ve also seen parents refuse erythromycin eye ointment. It’s cropping up in birth plans more and more.

@ Narad,

And, of course, dentists

Of course; I consider dentists to be part of the medical community.

You are trying to “explain” poor thinking skills

I can understand why parents may not trust a toe-the-line provaccine doctor regarding other interventions but I don’t think they have anything to worry about. The arrested thought process starts & ends with vaccines because that is the topic of the propaganda. Truly antivaccine parents operate under the false belief that doctors know the vaccines are not safe & are lying to them. They think doctors are ‘in on it’.

You don’t have to like what I am saying but the context of this thread is ‘learning from a former antivaxxer’ & you won’t learn much cause she really wasn’t one.

It is not propaganda, it is papers publiced in peer reviewed journals. I am sure doctors can see difference. Some more citations:
Je G. Chi, Eun Hee Suh and Keun Lee
Congenital Rubella Syndrome with Necrotizing Panencephalitis (An Autopsy Case)
The Seoul Journal of Medicine Vol. 28, No. 3:275- 279: September 1987
Autism in children with congenital rubella
Chess, S. J Autism Dev Disord (1971) 1: 33.
(plus citations therein)
Claiming that all this is “mild rash” actually is propaganda.

She seriously does not know the difference between actual scientific literature and propaganda. This is due to motivated reasoning.

My dearest Arno and Chris:

Of course, you’re both right.
Woo and anti-vax advocates teach their charges that WE are the ones creating propaganda: research literature and historical data worldwide are not real but made up in order to enrich someone ( pharma, doctors) or empower someone ( doctors, governments).Followers hear this every day.

The secrets of advertising and propaganda are NOT arcane, dark arts only revealed in ceremonies that take place in catacombs at midnight BUT something you can study. College students take courses in how to create effective adverts ( either in writing or graphic arts/ video) and researchers study how governments/ media distort factual data. In the 1960s and 1970s, there were a few popular books that examined how companies used advertising to fool consumers and sell products. There are historical collections of propaganda art ( especially Soviet). There are even ficyional television shows about the industry ( Mad Men). ANYONE can study this. Or look it up on the internet. Or buy a book ( remember those?) This is open information.

In the past year, I’ve heard woo-meisters talk about Bernays (Freud’s nephew, the supposed father of advertising) and Chomsky- then I read it here. To people who know little about these studies, this sounds like revelation! Woo-meisters purport that the well educated are the most “captured” by propaganda so no one should listen to them.

ANYONE can learn how to create effective propaganda or write material that distorts the truth: there are many issues but the most important to discuss, I feel, is-
controlling the sources of information that your targets get.
–Right wing politicians try to keep followers away from more centrist or liberal channels/writers
–Woo-meisters / anti-vaxxers discourage their followers from reading general information or sceptical writing**

In contrast to this, sceptics ( like Dr Barrett, Orac, SBM writers – or even, if I dare to include myself amongst that truly distinguished company, me) IMPLORE readers to read and follow the opposition and examine in detail how it works to influence people.

Also it irks me that hacks like those I follow try to represent smart people as being unable to understand how “duped” and how propaganda functions they are whilst they, woo-meisters, hold all of the intellectual trump cards and answers.
ANYONE can read both sides. ANYONE can compare Orac and his critics.

** right now, there is a campaign against Orac, Dr Novella and other SBM people at PRN: for the past year, they churn out articles on a near weekly basis. Similarly, Natural News. They insult sceptics so their followers will avoid their writing.

@DB – So interesting the risks of vaccination are ALWAYS minimized by this pack, yet, they don’t apply the same logic when the risk of the disease comes into play. The shot comes with a freaking black box warning and the pack minimize, BUT, BUT, BUT, the baby could bleed out and adverse reactions are so rare. THE INCIDENCE OF HEMORRHAGE IS SO RARE! Yep, we could also get in a car accident. Life has risks, right? Isn’t that one of the pack’s default arguments? Informed consent is the cornerstone of medical ethics. My body, my choice. My child, my choice. The medical industrial complex has shown itself to be criminal and untrustworthy with profits over people time and time again. It’s laughable you call yourselves skeptics. From the outside looking in, you appear to be more like smug, well-versed parrots who lack original thought.

It is your baby that gets congenital rubella, not you. For you, it actually is a mild rash. You are saying my unborn’s body, my choice. (And that ignores other peoples’ unborn, whose parents may not have given you their consent).

Don’t conflate the problems with have with insurance coverage with medical science. The problems are not the same.

There’s a reason why the only penalty for refusing vaccines is you can’t send your kid to public school. Society recognizes the value of vaccines even if you do not, but balances that need with your right to self determination. Forced vaccination is only a thing in actual epidemics when the risk of spreading disease to innocent people outweighs your desire to be a nut.

The problem you have here is there is no risk beyond the brief pain of a jab with Vit K. Risks from vaccines are so minimal to be equivalent of being hit by a meteor.

Come back when you have actual science showing otherwise.

Shoot yourself in the foot much? This instantiation of argument by insert isn’t relevant to people who don’t refuse the vitamin K shot.

She must have missed these bits: “Whenever possible, administer benzyl alcohol-free formulations in pediatric patients [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and Use In Specific Populations].”

“Use benzyl alcohol-free formulations in neonates and infants, if available.”

I see it is a Vitamin K that is used for other conditions, not just newborns. It looks like she sought out the formulation of Vitamin K with the scariest side effects. But then again, she has failed to compare the risk to not getting it:

I see no survey in the USA, but the effects of Vitamin K refusal were noted a few years ago:

“Life has risks, right?”

That’s definitely what vitamin K and vaccine-refusing parents should tell their infants, even if they only get a gurgle in response. That’s the informed consent they insist on.

“My child, my choice.”

Darn tootin’. The medical-industrial complex doesn’t own your child. You own your child, as Rand Paul has reminded us.

@DB Keep peddling the fear…another default tactic. Do you all receive the same indoctrination?

Yes, tell us all about “peddling the fear”. It’s always worthwhile to hear from an expert.

@ Natalie White,

Do you all receive the same indoctrination

With the exception of those in just a few med schools for a year or two directly following the 1986 Vaccine Injury Act; yes; they do.

At a large university here in Colorado during those years a chief of health sciences professor gave a lecture to an auditorium packed with med students & instructed them that when they saw serious adverse vaccine reactions, including death; that would not be discussed with the parents under any circumstances.

One hand went up during the shocked silence that followed & that student simply asked; “And what if that were your child?’

The doctor, not used to being challenged; publicly ridiculed & expelled that student, while asking the others if any of them also had any objections. None were voiced.

This would not be risked again. Instead; there now ‘are no adverse vaccine reactions. Only coincidences’.

And indeed; they now have seen no serious adverse events. Only coincidences.

The doctor, not used to being challenged; publicly ridiculed & expelled that student, while asking the others if any of them also had any objections. None were voiced.

Let me guess: This happened to a friend of a friend.

I look at vaccinations and similar preventive interventions like wearing a seatbelt on a car journey – chances are that I won’t need it and while there may be some situations that mean I’m more likely to die because I’m wearing a seatbelt, these are vastly outnumbered by the situations where my life would be saved or injuries reduced by wearing one. It seems logical therefore to wear a seatbelt to reduce risk, by this logic all my children have been vaccinated and I have to say that I’ve never met anyone in the flesh who has proof of vaccine injury, but do remember a couple of kids my age needing leg calipers because of polio – something I haven’t seen in my kids classes.

The doctor, not used to being challenged; publicly ridiculed & expelled that student

Not how it works, Toonces.

The doctor, not used to being challenged; publicly ridiculed & expelled that student, while asking the others if any of them also had any objections. None were voiced.

While that might seem to be the dumbest comment ever posted to the internet, I can’t forget that time. I sat next to Winston as he raised his hand. It was awful.

They destroyed him, of course. I lost touch with Winston–we were ordered to never to speak to him again–but years later I happened to brush past him at what seemed to be his usual seat in the Chestnut Tree Cafe. He looked much older, and broken–near death, I thought, and that was back in 1984.

Happy that people change their mind/viewpoint based on evidence. Bump. That evidence could be so (odd/uncontrolled) many observations about the universe, a turtle maybe, I don’t know. It is independence of mind, and that it works within a useful pattern I suppose (did you get better today). Not going too deep here because I have almost no training in philosophy. Some with cognition but not the professional Pinker. Interested that folks are looking in that direction of good mind / bad mind research. Don’t really want to manipulate folks .. want to know when some do try hard only to manipulate. Manipulation likely occurs when people have no other alternative but to lie or scream so hard.

“At a large university here in Colorado during those years a chief of health sciences professor gave a lecture to an auditorium packed with med students & instructed them that when they saw serious adverse vaccine reactions, including death*; that would not be discussed with the parents under any circumstances.”

You didn’t mention that after the lecture, all the students (except the ridiculed and expelled one) filed up to the podium to receive diamond-studded Merck backpacks and passes to the annual Pharma Orgy in Las Vegas.

*it was tricky not discussing death with parents, but students quickly learned stock phrases like “he’s only sleeping” to reassure them.
I miss those carefree Monty Pythonesque days.

@ DB:

Oh Dangerous One:
You know, I’ve heard variants of that story before but never a source: it’s always “someone told me”.
-btw- do med students get “expelled”?

ANYONE can write tales like this.
I’ve heard tales of truth telling alt med purveyors being pursued by shadowy types ( in small cars) because they were a threat to THE ESTABLISHMENT.( PRN)
I’ve heard tales of renegade, truth telling doctors being MURDERED!! ( HealthNutNews)
Doctors being complicit with known criminal doctors, now in jail ( Natural News)
Of journalists being paid off by Big Pharma to ruin valiant doctors who know the truth ( various anti-vax on Brian Deer)
And then there’s and the BolenReport.I won’t even dare to tell those stories.

Med students do get expelled. Google “expelled medical students” and you’ll find some interesting stories. Grounds for expulsion include forging signatures, sexual assault and harassment, criminal offenses and unprofessional conduct of various types. Nothing about questioning the coverup of vaccine reactions, though. Maybe it’s so common no one bothers to mention it.
At my alma mater, there was a guy who should have been expelled but wasn’t. While he was a student, he shot and wounded someone coming after him for a gambling debt, I believe. Other students wanted him out, but the school kept him on. Too bad. He’s now doing life for first degree murder.

@ TBruce:

Right. Like any university student. An undergrad business student crashed a new car into a street lamp on campus and was found drunk and high on cannabis- and was thrown out.
So sure, med students can be tossed BUT not for questioning authority.

@TBruce: Several cases I teach in administrative law regarding due process are about university dismissals. Here is one about medical school.

In none of them is dismissing students from university easy, fast, or a result of a professor getting annoyed at a statement not liked, for whatever reason. Professors just cannot dismiss a student on their say-so that way. Which is what, I think, @Narad was getting at.

Precisely. There is a disciplinary hierarchy that is, in my experience, elaborated in a student guide of some sort that nobody ever reads. Graduate schools do not eject students willy-nilly; at the very least, such tactics would undermine the credibility of the admissions process. Then again, there’s Thomas Cooley in Michigan.

@ Julian,

Christine Kincaid, I agree with TBruce and Dangerous Bacon. Provide a source for your (very unlikely) story, or GTFO*

That med student was my mother & it happened at UNC in the late 1980s.. I have heard of this occurring at other med schools where students were told this but none of those anecdotes included a student who objected on the spot. That occurred only once, to my knowledge.

If there was another case of a student expelled, I would be interested to hear it. Med school is considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity but when he yelled; ‘You will never get your PhD …’; my mom answered; “I can get another PhD’ & she did just that.

My mom was not like me. She was brilliant & she always did the right thing, while I am chaos personified. I am a loser compared to her.

Medical students in the U.S. generally get MDs. Not Ph.Ds.

And in the late 1980s seems an awfully early time for the conspiracy to be in full effect if it only started after the 1986 act.

The story still sounds problematic.

@ Dorit,

I understand. I was a teenager at the time & all I remembered was that my mom left UNC & within a year was at DU working on her PhD in Biochem. I had always assumed it was her ‘second PhD’ because her brother, sister & BIL all held multiple degrees. My uncle was a published PhD in Immunology before he got married & decided to go back for his DDS in order to raise a family. My aunt (whose vaccine is in development phase right now) had a PhD & her MD. It just didn’t seem odd to me.

It wasn’t until March of 2017 when she died, that I found out what had happened. My oldest daughter & I were writing her obituary & my dad saw that I had mentioned her PhD in Immunology & he said; ‘No, that’s not accurate. We can’t write that.’

I was & still am so pissed off about this. I was a bad kid; left home at age 16 & all these years just assumed she held two PhDs. I think she tried to tell me the day she handed me that folder & said ‘We have a problem with the vaccines’. (this was about 4 years later).

By that time I was in nursing school & very provaccine. I never read what she gave me. I think I was too much of an ass for her to keep trying.

If you learned this in 2017, why did you tell RI readers in 2019 that your mother had IIRC two PhDs?
A degree in “immunology” and a medical degree are two different things.

If you learned about her dismissal after her death, how did that affect your decision to drop out at age 16? How did you get such great detail if someone else told you this?

I’ll go with Dorit’s evaluation .

Nonsense. My imaginary friend was expelled from kindergarten because he expressed a belief that vaccinations were “ouchy” – the President at the time (this was 1996, so the President was Nixon) arrive later that day to formally conduct the expulsion. I remember it like it was yesterday. I decided that day to become an astronaut and show them all.

Full confession: I did receive pharma loot as a first-year medical student.

A blue six-inch three-ring notebook was handed out to all of us, courtesy of Squibb Pharmaceuticals (which not long afterwards was absorbed by Bristol-Myers). For years, through med school, residency and into clinical practice I carried that notebook, using it as a concise repository for essential knowledge (I still have it in my office, but haven’t really used it for at least the past five years). The alphabetical dividers carry prescribing info for various Squibb products including Empirin and Sudafed. The Bristol-Myers/Squibb lineup doesn’t include any vaccines, but there are at least a couple of cancer vaccines (for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and prostate cancer) in the pipeline, So that gift probably primed me (true, in a rather circuitous fashion) to support vaccination.

I don’t remember any professors or clinical types yelling at me in med school, with the exception of a couple of bad-tempered surgeons*, nor do I recall seeing a single case of vaccine-related injury (much less being ordered to cover it up by my preceptors), but maybe it’s part of my suppressed memories.**

*one such surgeon who taught a class gave us a totally inane exam featuring questions like “Where was the first blood bank in the U.S. located?”. I couldn’t for the life of me remember that bit of trivia, so I answered “Red Bank, New Jersey” which I thought was kind of clever but didn’t get any credit for it. 🙁
**there were mandatory brainwashing sessions after every clinical rotation to discourage us from reporting malfeasance by the attendings.

@ DB,

nor do I recall seeing a single case of vaccine-related injury

What years were you in school? Did you do an emergency department rotation?

What, pray tell, would an ED rotation add to or subtract from your fantasy life?

And my late father, long a high ranking member of the Illuminati, used to tell me not to take stories I read seriously unless I can verify them elsewhere at legitimate sources.

AND I do remember a prof humiliating a grad student ( who was saying ridiculous things) but she wasn’t kicked out- she failed all on her own later that year.

AND ha ha! Red Bank
-btw- notorious anti-vaxxer, Louise Kuo Habakus had a Health Rights Org/ Woo Co. in that town.

@ Denice,

You don’t know me from any other antivaxxer who has ever come here & I know you don’t have any reason to believe me. This particular doctor did not have a good track record with female students. My mom was the top scoring student in her program (Immunology) & had small run-ins with this guy before.

It just is what it is; I feel like this was largely motivated by the legislation that had just occurred & maybe a university unsure of how to protect it’s residents.

My mom was the top scoring student in her program (Immunology) & had small run-ins with this guy before.

Your ignorance of the difference between med school and grad school and you claim to be a nurse is disturbing and doesn’t give you any credibility, which is something you’ve been struggling with since appearing here.

To continue our weekend stroll down Memory Lane*, my earliest vaccination memory is running upstairs to hide under the bed**, to avoid getting shots administered by my father, a general practitioner/family doc who actually had a very gentle and effective technique when administering shots, but try telling that to a young child. These were probably DPT and polio vaccines – the MMR was introduced after I’d already had measles, mumps and German measles a.k.a. rubella. I don’t remember the measles being that bad but my mother later assured me that I had a severe case.

My father knew the value of vaccination, having undoubtedly seen his share of polio cases and gone through the great smallpox scare of 1947 (immortalized in Berton Roueche’s story “A Man From Mexico”.
While I’ve carried on his support for immunization, there are other cases where the apple fell far from the tree. A certain veteran pediatrician in North Carolina who now practices “integrative medicine” and preaches the antivax line, was profiled awhile back in a newspaper article, which mentioned that his father, a pioneering pediatrician in the area was instrumental in the implementation of mass immunization. I wonder what Dad would have thought of his son’s antivax activities.

*sorry to interrupt CK’s Personal Blog.
**they found me anyway.

@ DB,

sorry to interrupt CK’s Personal Blog

Oh, FFS. The vast majority of my posts are replies to direct questions or to defend myself from snark.

@ Narad,

What, pray tell, would an ED rotation add to or subtract from your fantasy life

Because that’s where many children who are experiencing the immediate symptoms of an adverse vaccine reaction wind up. Usually in the middle of the night after their appointment at the pediatricians office earlier in the day.

Fever. Seizures. Glassy eyes. Circumoral pallor. Either limp & listless or screaming that high-pitched wail; arching their backs with stiff, rigid limbs. Parents say ‘But he just had his well-baby check up today. The doctor said he was perfectly healthy! Next question: ‘Are his immunizations up to date?’

Answer: “Yes, he got another shot during his appointment.’

I did have ER experience both in my training an during 4 years as a GP in a small town. I never saw a vaccine reaction. I did see a few kids with febrile seizures from various causes, usually infections. I suppose an occasional one could have been due to a febrile vaccine reaction. The thing is: febrile seizures are caused by fever of any cause. They are frightening but they are invariably harmless.
Never saw anything like your description.

@ TBruce,

Thank you for your genuine comment. As an RN, I have seen just a few that matched my description. The one thing I have never seen, even after administering hundreds of vaccines; is anaphylaxis.

The kids who regress into autism are typically not seen by providers until the regression is almost complete. The symptoms are so vague at onset. I would have felt crazy asking for an appointment because ; ‘Well, he kept stopping & staring. Then he started waving his arms up & down. Now he’s buried himself in his toys & he’s just hiding there …’ It starts within days of vaccination, yet they won’t be diagnosed for months.

Unless you came home with me; you wouldn’t have seen what I saw. The ER rotation was my best idea to jog someone’s memory that they actually had seen an adverse vaccine reaction.

Only those infants who progressed into encephalopathy would be admitted & observed as a reaction. The rest just get discharged & start to unravel at home. It’s understandable to me but only as an RN & a mom; how a doctor would believe that he/she had ever seen an adverse vaccine reaction. If I were ‘just a mom’ or even ‘just a nurse’; I wouldn’t have that perspective.

@ Squirrelite,

It is possible that different approaches will influence different people

Of course they will. I doubt most here would be able to do this though. I have lurked here since 2017 & have read most of the vaccine related threads & comments back to about 2009.

That’s long enough to have seen the ‘one-post wonders’; usually a parent or grandparent of a disabled child who rants on & on about how terrible you all are & how there will be ‘a special place in hell’ for you due to how cavalier & arrogantly you dismiss their devastation.

This would be an example of ‘how not to reach parents’ but the oblivion here is profound. Your biggest obstacle is that you are human & once you stop snickering & even pretend too listen; you will begin to soften. Your resolve will weaken.

The truth is inevitable.

@ Squirrelelite:

Sure. There’s been research that shows that some parents may be reachable if the information comes from other parents rather than from professionals- usually this is in a story-like format about their personal experiences.**
But, curiously, SB information can make the more entrenched dig in even deeper. It may be a function of how much IMNSHO they rely upon their anti-vax/ woo beliefs as a part of their identity
I doubt that any of us could reach certain partisans with data, stories or historical explanations. It’s just who they are. Some people can be influenced with reason and sympathy.

Like I say about woo, it starts with a grain of truth: I believe that parents DO “see something” in children with ASDs that they misinterpret. There has been research about whether actual regression occurs in ASDs: the anti-vax model purports that after vaccines, kids lose skills . Kids who may have seemed to be fine “worsen”. Some research suggests that there may have been gradual losses all along that weren’t noticed. ALL of this information is readily available by googling.

The MMR is administered at a time ( 12-18 months) when average kids are changing, making great strides especially in verbal development so it may just be more obvious that some kids aren’t progressing compared to normative standards. Other measures ( patterns of gaze, brain waves, physiognomic features, video data) suggest earlier dx can be possible.

BUT when parents have seen ( or believe that they’ve seen) changes immediately after a vaccine they may become intractable. Jenny McCarthy famously described her son as if he died a little.

** just as parents have been influenced by anti-vax stories from other parents. TMR started at FB.



@ Denice,

BUT when parents have seen ( or believe that they’ve seen) changes immediately after a vaccine

Thats not how it works. Those parents might be seeing the expected reaction that lasts until the adverse reaction becomes evident.

Think about it; the regression wouldn’t become evident until enough time had passed to allow the synapses to ‘tangle’, thanks to the inactive microglia. It would be impossible for a kid to become autistic overnight.

There are an awful lot of anti-vaxxers who claim that changes occurred immediately or nearly immediately. In fact Wakefield even fixed data to make it appear that changes occurred within a very small window after vaccination with MMR. ( see Brian Deer .com) Others: kids screaming with a “high pitched cry”, a sure sign of encephalopathy/ encephalitis a la Cia Parker. Kids collapsing like “rag dolls”.

Where did you get this data about “inactive microglia” and “tangled synapses”?

I never encountered a vaccine reaction either on the ED service or pediatric rotation. I recall patients who came in with serious infections, including one unfortunate child hospitalized with a severe case of Stevens-Johnson syndrome which apparently was triggered by a herpes outbreak. I don’t remember if any of the sick kids had vaccine-preventable diseases; serious RSV infections in babies stick out in my mind.

Antivaxers have curiously selective memories. There’s a local nurse active in a “health choice” group who claims to have seen numerous cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome and somehow knows they were all vaccine-related and not due to influenza or other factors.

BUT but but isn’t GBS relatively rare: 1 or 2 per 100,000?
Maybe she saw a few million patients? That’s it.

When I was in high school many many years ago I read Andromeda Strain. Since it was written by a medical doctor, I sought out writings by medical doctors meant for the general public. I came across mystery disorder essays (where I learned about what happens when you eat too many carrots), and a few autobiographical books.

The one thing that really stood out were the essays/chapters where the author described the utter despair and helplessness while dealing a toddler dying so quickly from meningitis due to Hib. Fast forward over fifteen years later when my oldest was a frequent flyer at the children’s hospital ED with croup. The kid could not breathe. One time when he came in with a fairly low oxygen level they brought in two guys with a fancy little camera to stick down his throat as the looked for epiglottitis, a life threatening condition.

After making my kid miserable for a few minutes, they have him back to me. Then one related that he did not have what they were looking for. In fact since the Hib vaccine (then only given to kids over two years old) they had been seeing less and less. And they were good with that.

@ DB,

Okay then. I will take your word for it. It just seems unusual that no children in your area got a fever after an immunization that scared new parents into the ER now & then.

That would be a ‘typical’ or expected reaction, however. The atypical reaction would require for you to actually be the hands-on primary caregiver to observe.

I’ve cared for patients with GB but have no idea if they were vaccine-related or not. That also requires a period of time to observe.

@Chris – The formulation for Vitamin K I referenced was the first one that came up on the search. I agree it is a scary list. How do I know which one is being used? Should one be “safer” than another? The rate of VKDB in first world countries is so low – mean says 8 out of 100,00. – “There is low-quality evidence from observational studies that routine IM administration of 1 mg of vitamin K at birth reduces the incidence of late VKDB during infancy. Given the high risk of mortality and morbidity in infants with late VKDB, it seems appropriate to administer IM vitamin K prophylaxis to all neonates at birth. Future studies should compare the efficacy and safety of multiple oral doses with IM vitamin K and also evaluate the optimal dose of vitamin K in preterm neonates.” Given the lack of consensus, the WHO (World Health Organization) did not make a universal recommendation on routine vitamin K prophylaxis in the first edition of its Pocket book of hospital care for children.

I pointed out you did not read it. Now what is the relative risk from VKDB versus reactions to the Vitamin K injection?

Also that paper did not reflect the differences in type of administration of Vitamin K. There is a difference between oral and IV. You might note the difference in VKDB incidence based on the wealth of the country in Table 2. Now look at Table 4, the incidence of VKDB was much more in those who did not get the prophylaxis. In fact it says: “It is not clear whether the neonates received routine vitamin K prophylaxis at the time of the first survey, but almost all neonates received prophylactic vitamin K during the subsequent surveys. The incidence of VKDB declined nearly four times from 10.5 per 100 000 live births in the first survey to 2.8 (95% CI 2.0 to 3.8) per 100 000 by 1988 (third survey), and further to 1.9 (1.2 to 3.0) per 100 000 live births by the fifth survey.”

Do you actually read the citations you give? By the way some of the studies done, and would propose would not be allowed in the USA due to the Belmont Report. There is a risk to not getting the Vitamin K prophylaxis.

Cherry pick much? You did not even read the conclusions! Check it out:

Implications for policy-makers

With significant benefits observed in the incidence of VKDB, policy-makers and other stakeholders are likely to give a high value to the routine administration of IM vitamin K (1 mg) at birth. The WHO also now recommends routine prophylaxis in all resource-restricted countries.8

Implications for researchers

There is a definite need to evaluate the efficacy of using smaller doses (between 100 and 1000 mcg) of IM vitamin K in preterm infants. In addition, the effect of multiple oral doses vs IM vitamin K in term neonates needs to be evaluated systematically.


There is low-quality evidence from observational studies that routine IM administration of 1 mg of vitamin K at birth reduces the incidence of late VKDB during infancy. Given the high risk of mortality and morbidity in infants with late VKDB, it seems advisable to administer IM vitamin K prophylaxis to all neonates at birth. Future studies should compare the efficacy and safety of multiple oral doses with IM vitamin K and also evaluate the optimal dose of vitamin K in preterm neonates.

”Early and classical VKDB (vitamin K deficiency bleeding) (occur) in 1 in 60 to 1 in 250 newborns, although the risk is much higher for early VKDB among those infants whose mothers used certain medications during the pregnancy.
Late VKDB is rarer, occurring in 1 in 14,000 to 1 in 25,000 infants..
Infants who do not receive a vitamin K shot at birth are 81 times more likely to develop late VKDB than infants who do receive a vitamin K shot at birth.

Just an observation that just occurred to me as I read a citation posted above: that someone with so much motivated reasoning will post a citation without reading it.

I’m convinced a certain party not heard from recently, with a long Sri Lankan surname, did a great deal of that in his early days. I think he would just find the abstracts and pretend he’d read the papers.

@DB – “Early and classical VKDB (vitamin K deficiency bleeding) (occur) in 1 in 60 to 1 in 250 newborns, although the risk is much higher for early VKDB among those infants whose mothers used certain medications during the pregnancy.” There is no citation listed by the CDC for these and smells of more CDC fear mongering. From the article I referenced, in first world countries the mean was 8 in 100,000.

At the bottom of the CDC link given to you by DB:


1. Zipursky A. Prevention of vitamin K deficiency bleeding in newborns. Br J Haematol 1999;104:430–7.

2. Sutor AH, Kries R, Cornelissen EAM, McNinch AW, Andrew M. Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) in infancy. Thromb Haemost 1999;81:456–61.

3. American Academy of Pediatrics, Vitamin K Ad Hoc Task Force. Controversies concerning vitamin K and the newborn. Pediatrics 1993;91:1001–3.

4. McNinch AW, Tripp JH. Haemorrhagic disease of the newborn in the British Isles: two year prospective study. BMJ 1991;303:1105–9.

@ Chris – Read the references. There is no citation for the quote. “Early and classical VKDB (vitamin K deficiency bleeding) (occur) in 1 in 60 to 1 in 250 newborns, although the risk is much higher for early VKDB among those infants whose mothers used certain medications during the pregnancy.” Maybe the CDC made it up.

From Zipurski et al
Classic HDN was described initially as occurring from day 2 to day 5, at a time when the prothrombin time was prolonged (15) and, as described below, vitamin K deficiency became more profound. In infants who have not received prophylactic vitamin K at birth the incidence of classic HDN is thought to be 0.4–1.7/100 births
It is you that did not read citations. Surprise!

@Chris – “The WHO also now recommends routine prophylaxis in all resource-restricted countries.” – The U.S. isn’t resource restricted.

“There is low-quality evidence from observational studies that routine IM administration of 1 mg of vitamin K at birth reduces the incidence of late VKDB during infancy.” – Low quality evidence from observational studies and conclusion let’s do it anyway “just in case”.

This is why a medical history is taken to evaluate the need for such treatments. Did the mom take medication, ie seizure meds. The “one size fits all” approach is low bar, low quality medicine.

Maybe babies are born with the right amount of Vitamin K by design. Who has determined what is a normal Vit K level for a newborn? To even test for this sounds complicated with clotting times, etc…

@ Natalie White

The U.S. isn’t resource restricted

Are you kidding me? In term of healthcare coverage and availability, the US are just a good third-world country.
Just ask US diabetics if they think that their country is overflowing with insulin.

“Just ask US diabetics if they think that their country is overflowing with insulin.”
Or ask allergy sufferers about epi-pens

@Athaic – Resource shortage because Americans can’t afford the increasing prices not due to availability of insulin. Last month, the powerful Senate Finance Committee asked the three dominant insulin makers detailed questions about the drugs’ price increases. The price for one vial of Eli Lilly’s Humalog surged from $35 in 2001 to $234 in 2015. From 2013 to this year, Novo Nordisk’s Novolog jumped from $289 to $540 and Sanofi’s Lantus from $244 to $431, according to a committee letter.

@Carl – Oh another classic from the playbook, the seat belt analogy! I wear my seat belt because it is required by law and it’s dangerous to drive without one. Now, if my seat belt was poking me causing me illness or pain, I probably wouldn’t wear it.

@ Natalie White,

It’s a ridiculous analogy. Nobody has ever claimed that seat belts caused death or destruction, despite that poorly designed or improperly worn seat belts have caused more harm than good.

When that has happened, the DOT invested time & money into correcting those ‘rare’ occurrences & the result improves safety for everyone.

Nothing about that scenario is relative to allegations against vaccines.

Not only is the CDC making it all up about newborns needing vitamin K, all their references must be fabricating it too, as part of a plan to enrich Big Vitamin!!

“Maybe babies are born with the right amount of vitamin K by design.”

And maybe antivaxers are so blinded by irrational bias as to unnecessarily jeopardize vulnerable infants, over an well-understood problem that has nothing to do with vaccination.

“Repeatedly during the past 40 years there has been concern that intramuscular vitamin K prophylaxis may be toxic and/or unnecessary for all newborn infants. As a result, in many centres vitamin K prophylaxis has been either omitted, given only to ‘high‐risk’ newborns, or substituted for by oral therapy. All of these policies have resulted in the re‐appearance of HDN (hemorrhagic disease of the newborn) with disastrous consequences.”

@DB – Can we settle this first before I delve into your latest post? I need verification of these scary numbers. If true, there is a problem with our newborns that may go beyond a Vit K rx. “Early and classical VKDB (vitamin K deficiency bleeding) (occur) in 1 in 60 to 1 in 250 newborns, although the risk is much higher for early VKDB among those infants whose mothers used certain medications during the pregnancy.” Where is this info from besides the CDC? Where did they get the numbers?

@ Denice,

There are an awful lot of anti-vaxxers who claim that changes occurred immediately

Yes, I know. I think that if a child developed a high fever with seizures & encephalopathy that the recovery time could merge with the symptoms from impaired synaptic pruning & make it seem as though the child ‘was never the same again’. I’d bet that would be the minority of cases though.

Where did you get this data about inactive microglia and tangled synapses

Those are just my own, non-clinical terms for the impaired synaptic pruning found in the brains of autistic people. The microglia cells are supposed to maintain synaptic growth in those learning-based synapses by pruning away the older ones in favor of the newer, more sophisticated ones but in autism; the microglia (immune cells in the brain) have stopped pruning & this leads to overgrowth.

It makes sense to me; given the hypersensitivity experienced by many autistics; that a child who is sensitive to lighting may have ‘tangled’ or unpruned visual-synaptic growth. A child sensitive to noise may have tangled auditory synapses.

This would take time to be expressed symptomatically by behaviors; not something that would manifest overnight.

” Those are just my own”

I should probably ask Prof Reiss first but I think that it’s about time that I said:
Case closed!

@ Denice,

Maybe you could first ask someone with a background in neurology?

Find me research where a neurologist discusses anything remotely resembling what you describe-
events that occur during development in people with ASDs due to vaccines
no one shows it is due to vaccines. It is part of development of individuals who have particular forms of ASD. People with ASDs have brains that develop differently from NT people.

I’d do better to argue with a dining room table than with you.

@ Natalie White,

Good points

Thanks, don’t even get me going on ‘organic food sales’ as correlated with autism rates.

But they are. I even could make up a typical antivaxxer causation theory: organic food has less preservatives, so more bacteria. Bacterias immunomodulate, and autism is a form of immunomodulation. Bingo!
So more substantial evidence than comparing two plots are needed.

@ Aarno

We could also point out how the organic food industry, depending on countries, is allowed to use specific plant-protection products which are not exactly harmless.
Some old chemical compounds, which, because they are traditional, are not seen as “chemicals”.
There is even a favorite of antivaxers: heavy metals. Namely copper salts, used as fungicide in many places.

@Chris and Aarno. Thank you for your responses. I looked over the study again and it seems like the majority of the cases either had mothers who took medication or the newborns had liver disease. I still think it is interesting to compare newborns Vit K to adults. The “Vit K deficient breast milk” definitely great marketing for formula (pharma) manufacturers.

You may want check how much vitamin K mother milk contains. That would be a very simple analysis.

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