Australia New Zealand:
It started when seven-year-old Alijah got a small cut on the bottom of his foot in December 2012.
"Of course we didn’t think it was too serious, it was just a little cut but a couple of days later he started getting symptoms like a stroke on the side of his face," Mr Williams says.
"A couple of days later during the night he started to get cramps across his face. His face would contort and he was in a lot of pain."
After 24 hours in Auckland’s Starship Children’s hospital, the doctors diagnosed Alijah with tetanus, and he was taken to intensive care.
His parents didn’t get him a tetanus shot because they were afraid of vaccines.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, has claimed the 10th victim in California, in what health officials are calling the worst outbreak in 60 years.
Since the beginning of the year, 5,978 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of the disease have been reported in California.
All of the deaths occurred in infants under the age of 3 months, says Michael Sicilia, a spokesman for the California Department of Public Health. Nine were younger than 8 weeks old, which means they were too young to have been vaccinated against this highly contagious bacterial disease.
"This is a preventable disease," says Sicilia, because there is a vaccine for whooping cough to protect those coming in contact with infants, and thereby protect the infants.
However, some parents are choosing to not vaccinate their children. In other cases, previously vaccinated children and adults may have lost their immunity because the vaccine has worn off.
Ignorance kills, and we’ve got people promoting ignorance.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. likes to talk. When he calls you to discuss vaccines, he talks a lot, uninterruptably. He called Keith Kloor after Kloor wrote a story for Discover about RFK Jr.’s keynote address to a convention of people who think vaccines cause autism. You can read about their conversation at Kloor’s blog. Phil Plait wrote a story about RFK Jr. for Slate last week, pointing out that the idea that vaccines cause autism is a crackpot theory that has been thoroughly debunked, that it is dangerous, and that RFK Jr. is one of its most effective proponents.
Kennedy claims that thimerosal, a preservative used in some vaccines, causes autism. No, it doesn’t. This has been tested out the wazoo, and there’s no connection between autism and thimerosal, or autism and vaccines, for that matter. In order to back up his claim, Kennedy is reduced to completely misrepresenting the scientific evidence.
For a guy whose family has such a distinguished record of public service, Kennedy says some pretty awful things about government employees: “The lies that you are hearing and printing from the CDC are things that should be investigated.” He spoke to one scientist (he named her but I won’t spread the defamation) who, he said, “was actually very honest. She said it’s not safe. She said we know it destroys their brains.”
I asked the scientist about their conversation. She said there is in fact no evidence that thimerosal destroys children’s brains, and that she never said that it did.
There’s a pattern here.
When RFK Jr. challenged the university scientist about a study of the biological activity of thimerosal in vitro, which “everybody accepts because journalists hadn’t read it,” the scientist said, “ ‘Oh, yeah, you’re right about that.’ He backpedaled.” That’s because “now he was dealing with somebody who wasn’t afraid to read science.”
I talked to the scientist, who would prefer I not use his name because he gets death threats from unhinged anti-vaxxers. He said, “Kennedy completely misrepresented everything I said.”
I don’t know why Kennedy is bothering to misquote scientists and trying to get scientific authority to back him up, though, because he doesn’t believe in scientists anyway. He’s got a gigantic conspiracy theory in which all these scientific organizations are lying.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s elaborate conspiracy theory is just as delusional and dangerous. Rather than accepting the findings of the Institute of Medicine, the National Institute of Mental Health, or the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kennedy says the scientists are lying. He says vaccine-makers are intentionally poisoning kids and giving them autism. Only he and his fellow activists know the truth because journalists, although they may report aggressively on the National Security Agency, Defense Department, and Central Intelligence Agency, are cowed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Apparently hereditary political lineages are a really bad idea. The UK has Prince Charles, and the US has Robert F. Kennedy Jr.