12/29/2009

An Anti-Vaxxer Maven: Tenpenny really wants your pennies. And your dollars.

Dr. Sherri Tenpenny bills herself as "The Voice of Reason about Vaccines" on her Facebook fan page.

Her latest entry is more than mind-boggling:

"Study these numbers. We've had SARS, Bird flu and Swine flu. On average, approx. 190 children/year die from the flu. Considering there are about 62M kids under the 14 years of age in the US, this is NOT "statistically signficant" and should not even make the radar screen. See how they manipulate parents into vaccinations?
Next year, PLEASE do not be afraid of the flu. Ever person here should pass this on to at least 25 people! Please pass this to at least 25 friends."



She links to the CDC's latest weekly update with this statement, which is more than a little jarring since the report, which I will detail, has nothing to do with what she's written. In fact, I would argue any rational person reading the two would conclude she didn't really read it before connecting it to her asinine comment. Of course, we reasonable people wouldn't also be selling woo on our website, either, would we?
The CDC weekly update doesn't deal with SARS, doesn't deal with bird flu; it deals with the number of confirmed deaths in one week, with the total deaths so far. 285 children have died (confirmed deaths) since April 26, 2009, from influenza according to this report. We are, in week 50, still above the epidemic threshold. The good news from the CDC is that deaths and hospitalizations for the influenza in week 50 are significantly less than in previous weeks.

 Contrast the CDC data to her remark. Can you find any commonality there? In addition, the idea that 190 average pediatric deaths per year is so insignificant that they don't bear preventing through a simple vaccination that carries very little risk (and certainly not the risk that the flu itself does) is barbaric. And it has little to do with the reality. The 285 deaths are confirmed, but the estimates for actual deaths are much higher. As of November 14, the CDC estimates pediatric deaths may be as high as 1550, and total death as high as 13,930. But Tenpenny doesn't want you to immunize. She's the voice of reason concerning vaccines, after all.

Orac took on Tenpenny back in August of this year, writing: "In case you don't know who these "luminaries" are, Sherri Tenpenny is an infamous anti-vaccine activist whose website, book (Saying No To Vaccines), book blog, and blog are chock full of vaccine pseudoscience. Heck, she even has her own page on Whale.to and has appeared on ├╝ber-crank Alex Jones' show (he of Prison Planet) to lay down some fine conspiracy mongering about the swine flu. Yes, if I were looking for reliable information about vaccines, Dr. Tenpenny is someone I'd go to...not."

Science-Based Parenting also addressed quite ably Tenpenny's nonsense in August, noting her whopper of a disclaimer on her site.

Amazingly enough, Tenpenny has 7075 fans (adding 6 overnight!) on her facebook page. She's twice as popular as Age of Autism, folks! And at her store, you can buy cds, books, dvds, supplements, a $200 wellness kit,  neurotransmitter supplements that will only be sold with a doctor's recommendation (instantly making the cure-hungry, woo-hungry even more desirous of having the products!), and t-shirts so that you can walk around advertising that you're a dumbass. She also accepts donations, of course. :-) She's not a non-profit, though, so I wonder how those donations get included in the tax returns? Hmmm.

And lest you think that Age of Autism's writers have the clear advantage of being the only ones off the deep end, all you have to do is peruse some of Tenpenny's writings to realize she's so far out in left field that she's not even in the ballpark.

From November 3:

"It continually breaks my heart that people have to take a bullet to the head before they find out bullets can be deadly...and they wish they had listened when they were warned not to play with loaded guns."

For heaven's sake, getting vaccinated is not taking a bullet to the head.

"I have a little person in my office who had 10 rounds of antibiotics and 17 vaccines by 20 months of age. Yes, now autistic. That should be assault with deadly weapons and the doctor should be in jail."
Little person? Hmmm. I'm going to translate that as child instead of dwarf. 10 rounds of antibiotics before 2 years old. Sounds like a child who had a lot of infections, was sick a lot. 17 vaccines. For 17 different diseases, or 17 different boosters? I love the implied: antibiotics and vaccines made the kid autistic. It's the only reason to include the antibiotics in the sentence: they get the blame, too. And then to go from the bullet in the head in the first paragraph to the "assault with deadly weapons and the doctor should be in jail"? That's so over the top, it's damn near priceless.

You do enough digging on the site, you realize that the only way to get those neurotransmitter supplements is if you are a patient of Tenpenny's. But don't worry, she gives a free 15 minute phone consult for potential new patients.

Selling patients supplements and other non-prescription health care products from their offices is not illegal in many states. It probably ought to be, and it certainly explains all these practioners who are making big businesses from doing so. Here's my personal opinion on this: any doctor to whom I've gone to for assistance in managing my health who tries to sell me something and directly profit off of recommending something is not a doctor I will go back to. Once the doctor has a financial stake in trying to get me to use a product, he is not an objective health care manager.

Tenpenny, and others like her, are profitting off of desperate parents. She goes beyond the autism angle, and it may be why she has double AoA's following. She appears to be aiming towards Mercola heights.

2 comments:

Squillo said...

I think I'll get me one of those free 15-minute consults. Should be good for a blog post or two.

AutismNewsBeat said...

Tenpenny doesn't understand that a kid who is sick with the flu can infect other children, who can in turn infect others. In fact, there are whole books filled with things that Tenpenny doesn't understand.