Deeper into Heckenlively, AoA, and Anti-Vaccination Stances

Firstly: whale.to. If you haven't been there, go. Look. Use the google search and type in some of the AoAers.

Vaccines and informed consent: Is that what AoA is all about?

I wrote a piece on Heckenlively, concluding that it was an admission that AoA is anti-vaccine. Having been taken to task on that by a friend who concluded that Heckenlively was about informed consent, I argued my disagreement with that and promised to offer corroborating quotes that Heckenlively, and by extension, AoA, ain’t about the informed consent.

 So, what is informed consent and do we have to give informed consent before vaccinations? Well, the CDC writes regarding informed consent: “Have a recipient or their parent or legal representative sign a separate “informed consent” form if it is required by your state. There is no Federal requirement for written informed consent for vaccinations, and VISs are not informed consent forms, but some states have such requirements.”

While we no longer have to sign off in most states, we do get the vaccine information statement, and in some places, like when we got our flu shots, we did sign informed consent. According to the CDC, “By Federal law, all vaccine providers must give patients, or their parents or legal representatives, the appropriate Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) whenever a vaccination is  given” (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/VIS/vis-facts.htm). So, every parent is given typically an orange paper, usually with text on both sides. The CDC states: “A VIS must be provided for any vaccine that is covered by the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (i.e., appears on the Vaccine Injury Table). As of June 2009, VISs that must be used are: DTaP, Td, MMR, Polio, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hib, Varicella, Influenza, and Pneumococcal Conjugate.”

You can download these statements here: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/default.htm.

Since every parent or vaccine recipient is given this by law before each vaccination, the idea that parents have not participated in an informed decision and consented to the vaccination is an inaccurate assertion. Perhaps my friend mean Heckenlively just wants folks to be aware of the potential risks. The VIS do that, though. Surely people read the informational packets they get when they get medications, and therefore do the same when they’re about to get vaccinated? Okay, we know many do not. However, that is not the medical establishment nor the government’s fault that people don’t read the information provided them that would let them make informed decisions.

And I would argue rather strongly that this is not what AoA or its editors are doing. They’re not advocating for greater medical and health education and responsible decision making. They delight in people not getting vaccinated. They denigrate as sheoples and trolls those that do.

I promised specifics on Heckenlively, so let’s dig in.

Heckenlively’s article is entitled, “Are We Becoming a Majority?” Let’s examine what he means by we, becoming, and majority.

We: people who doubt the safety and need for vaccines. He’s writing this at AoA to a participating commentatorship that frequently denounces the need for vaccines, asserts that the vaccines are worse than the diseases, and calls people who get vaccinated sheoples and trolls.

Becoming: more folks becoming falsely convinced of the inherent and overwhelming danger of vaccines, or at the very least, the need for vaccines to protect against diseases these people in their lack of experience with said diseases have said are no big deal.

Majority: over 51% of the populace.

I would argue, having waded through Age of Autism’s comments far too often that, no, based on the quote Heckenlively uses, AoA believers are not becoming the majority: most of those Californians considered the vaccine safe. It is patently obvious that the AoA believers do not believe vaccines safe because they contain thimerosal, alum, formaldehyde, fetal cells, monkey virus, etc.

Heckenlively, proving he doesn’t understand how vaccines are produced: “The multiple hormonal pathways which are disrupted by arsenic are an example of how poorly we understand the effects of so many of these toxins in a biological organism. What about the aluminum, or the mercury that’s still used in the process of making the vaccines and in many flu shots? What about the formaldehyde, the lead, the cadmium, the monkey and dog kidney, as well as various animal and supposedly inactivated human viruses? Add to that the level of multi-system complexity and vulnerability of a young child and it’s difficult to see the current vaccination schedule as anything other than a vast, uncontrolled experiment on our children” (http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/05/could-swine-flu-deaths-be-the-key-to-understanding-autism.html#more). Really screams out Heckenlively’s support for vaccination, doesn’t it?

And, no, contrary to my friend’s opinion on this, Heckenlively is not for vaccination (or for facts, either, since any potential linking of aluminum and Alzheimer’s was debunked, and I can only assume that his fear over the flu shot deals with aluminum salts): “my aged father who is still getting his yearly flu shots so that I can worry about Alzheimer's as one of the joys of his remaining years” (Heckenlively).

You don’t lose friends over concerns that vaccines, like medications, ought to be as safe as possible. You don’t. You lose friends, you alienate people, when you believe things to be true which are patently false, and you lose them because of the vociferousness with which you hold the false belief.

Heckenlively ended his piece with the idea that the new majority is one that just wants to hear more. So, I’ll concede that if this all you know of Heckenlively, you might not construe it as confirmation that AoA itself is anti-vaccination; well, you could miss it. Until you catch the piece with the Alzheimer’s and flu vaccines, the belief that vaccination itself causes autism (not an immediate adverse event with brain injury resulting, just getting vaccinated), and the whole losing friends thing.

Heckenlively’s ultimate (unstated) conclusion is that if you know more, you won’t vaccinate, and it completely leaves out the risks of the diseases vaccines prevent against.

But, let’s not just rest on this one Heckenlively piece to make the assertion that AoA is anti-vaccination.

How about this gem: “Usually I have to explain that adjuvants are substances used in vaccines, like aluminum, designed to provoke an immune response from the body. But since our kids seem be suffering from an auto-immune disorder in which the immune response is all screwed up, it’s reasonable to ask whether those adjuvants have over-stimulated their systems” (http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/10/the-new-science-teacher.html#more).

Except there’s no scientific evidence to support the contention that autism is an auto-immune disorder. And no reason to believe that the trace amounts of aluminum would have any impact. This is more shades of the aluminum-Alzheimer’s debunked theory. Of course, there are anti-vaccination folks out there in the autism community who believe that autism and Alzheimer’s are the same thing. I don’t know how they make this leap that it’s aluminum in both, while not noticing they’ve left behind the mercury connection. And a simple gander over at whale.to finds Heckenlively: http://www.whale.to/vaccine/aluminium_a.html. You know how many articles Heckenlively has at whale.to? 17. You got it. So, he’s got 17 articles on a site that also promotes holocaust denial, mind control, and the idea that vaccines are a racket and hoax (http://www.whale.to/b/hoax1.html).

So what does the CDC say about aluminum? You can download a pamphlet at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/additives.htm. In this pamphlet, the question as to whether aluminum in some vaccines causes harm is answered:

“No. The quantity of aluminum in vaccines is tiny compared

with the quantity required to cause harm. Here’s another way

to think about this: All babies are either breast-fed or bottlefed.

Because both breast milk and infant formula contain

aluminum, all babies have small quantities of aluminum in

their bloodstreams all the time. The amount is very small:

about 5 nanograms (billionths of a gram) per milliliter of

blood (about one-fifth of a teaspoon). Indeed, the quantity of

aluminum in vaccines is so small that even after an injection

of vaccines, the amount of aluminum in a baby’s blood does

not detectably change. In contrast, the amount of aluminum

in the bloodstreams of people who suffer health problems from

aluminum is at least 100 times greater than the

amount found in the bloodstreams of healthy people.”

As to why we should seriously consider the accuracy of Heckenlively’s claims (since he gets it really wrong on aluminum), examine this quote: “That would go along with a lot of parental observations about what happened to their children as well as the finding by Dr. Wakefield of the measles virus persisting in the guts of children with autism.” ( http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/09/scientists-find-people-vary-widely-in-their-ability-to-eliminate-arsenic-implications-for-autism.html#more)

Wakefield’s findings were refuted, not just in mainstream science, but during the Cedillo case heard in front of the vaccine court. But Heckenlively obviously follows down that line.

So, Heckenlively thinks aluminum causes Alzheimer’s and autism.

Heckelively thinks autism is an autoimmune disorder despite no evidence by mainstream science.

Heckenlively also thinks Wakefield’s science is right, even though it’s been thoroughly discredited.

Here’s what Heckenlively writes: “Now I can’t tell you if autism is just a heavy metals problem. I think it’s probably also viral, possibly bacterial, there’s got to be some genetic contribution and from that point on I don’t know exactly what is going wrong in the body to allow this condition to continue.” http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/08/dr-house-on-chelation.html#more

Okay, so, it’s auto-immune, a heavy metals problem (from the vaccines? Cuz there’s not enough metals there to give you heavy metal toxicity, which goes to show chemistry isn’t this man’s field, nor biochemistry), but it’s also viral, and a whole bunch of other stuff thrown in.

Wait, not done, not by a long shot. Heckenlively writes: “And the truth is that in the vast majority of cases the vaccines have led directly to autism. Now I can’t tell you the exact path. I don’t know if it’s a methylation problem, an amino acid disorder, abnormal lipids, genetic vulnerabilities, mitochondrial abnormalities, neuro-inflammation, viruses, opportunistic bacteria, or a mold, or fungus, but I do know what started the whole damned thing.” (http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/08/rebranding-.html#more)

Again, Heckenlively is saying vaccines in and of themselves cause autism, no adverse reaction needed. Don’t need to explain it, either, he just knows that’s it.

And finally, sticky blood.

Heckenlively is not the worst of the anti-vaccine people at AoA, but it cannot be said that he is anything but anti-vaccination.

And some final interesting statistics:

How many hits did Stagliano have on whale.to? 6 Olmsted? 96. Handley? 65.

The editors and writers of Age of Autism are aligned with whale.to. Whale.to is out front in its belief that vaccines are unsafe (see any of its vaccination page, or this one: http://www.whale.to/vaccine/why_vaccination_continues.html or this one: http://www.whale.to/b/hoax1.html).

This was not a pleasant post to write. I dislike the sliminess of whale.to. And any decent, reasonable person really should. And should really question not only the ethics and morality of the people who have anything to do with that site, they should question the accuracy of the information these people are providing elsewhere. After all, if you think mind control is possible, that the holocaust didn’t happen and that vaccines are a hoax, well, you’re wrong. So, what else are you wrong about?


AutismNewsBeat said...

Again, Heckenlively is saying vaccines in and of themselves cause autism, no adverse reaction needed. Don’t need to explain it, either, he just knows that’s it.

And we're just supposed to take their word for it.

kathleen said...

It would appear that he enjoys throwing medical terminology around..he doesn't make much sense
No, if AoA were about education-improving lives and or services for people with autism-they wouldn't have these silly articles. I have always been given information on every vaccine any of my kids were given. I signed for all of them.
The whole sheople/troll thing-this is bully pulpit at its best. Where do any of those comments reach out and help someone? They don't. As I have said before-it is all about guilt and blame..Guilt because you are overwhelmed by the child you have is not acceptable-but guilt for immunizing your child is-because you TRUSTED big pharma and they lied. So you are not to blame-vaccines are. Lord help anyone who tries to disagree with them-your either censored OR my favorite..letting your comment on-but not allowing you to defend yourself by not allowing any more of your comments on. I question any site that does that. It is sites like AoA that detract from the experiences of people who have suffered from vaccine injuries..I refuse to go there anymore.

Clay said...

This Heckenlively sounds like quite a character. It's hard to believe, but Best was kicked out of there quite awhile ago for insulting everyone's intelligence. I guess even AoA draws the line somewhere!

Corina Becker said...

Kim, remember the mother of an autism blog, who refers to her son as having "autism" and states that it's an auto-immune disorder that his son got from the vaccines? that notices that her husband is most likely on the spectrum?

the mother whom I stated should be calling what her son has as an acquired-autoimmune-disorder-misdiagnosed-with-autism?

yeah, the part about autism being an autoimmune disorder reminded me of her.

Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

davidbrown said...

The Heckenlively article is complete posturing. The statistically demonstrable reality is that even very successful anti-vax activity has fallen well short of convincing a majority of the population. The UK MMR scare, for example, only brought vaccination down to 73%.

Something I have been thinking about is conflicting stories about H1N1. On one hand, there continue to be surveys reporting on the large percentages (45% seems to have come up more than once) who don't trust the vaccine. But, there are also recurring stories about clinics running out of the vaccine. (Even an NYT story on "low" turnouts, gleefully posted by AOA, describe turnouts of over 1,000 in one day.) Is there something flawed about the studies? Do the demographic groups being targeted for vaccination not overlap with those who distrust the vaccine? Or are people simply unwilling to act on their doubts in the face of a palpable threat? Thoughts would be welcome!

KWombles said...

"Media Editor's Note: Lynette Volkers is an RN who's looked beyond the official claim, 'vaccines are safe, vaccines save lives.'"

Daschel essentially admitting she is anti-vaccination: she doesn't believe they are safe; she doesn't believe they save lives.

KWombles said...


300 million Americans, nowhere near that many doses of this vaccine. I don't know what the percentage rate of flu vaccination is, but it doesn't approach 90 percent like the mandatory vaccinations children receive to attend school. That may account for the disparities in numbers, why the vaccine could run out and yet still around half the people don't get vaccinated.

davidbrown said...

I thought of a headline this morning: "Are vaccines the new porn?" (ie, somebody must be buying it, but no one will admit it.)
Another potentially relevant datum is a study of the "Procter & Gamble Satanism" legend/hoax. A study found that, of the national population, only 3% pelieved the rumor that P&G was associated with Satanism, and only 5% of them said they were buying fewer P&G products.

AutismNewsBeat said...

Look into alien abduction stories, and you'll see a remarkable similarity in the process of myth making and group think. When somebody says "thousands of parents can't be wrong", I think of all those people who reported a similar experience of being abducted by space aliens.


davidbrown said...

OK, "Is anti-vaccination the new `Harper's'?" is now up on evilpossum.weebly, on a new H1N1 subpage. I also put two previous articles there, so Kim, you may want to update links.

AutismNewsBeat: I think I see the point you are getting at: People gathering in large numbers can reinforce a false belief. Problem is, no one disputes that "abductions" are in some sense a "real" phenomenon. They almost certainly have nothing to do with physical contact with extraterrestrial life (even contactees don't all claim that), and quite arguably exist only in the minds of those doing the reporting. But, there is something there to be studied.