The Anti-Immunization Activists: A Pattern of Deception
Ed Friedlander MD

I'm a licensed physician, board-certified in both anatomic and clinical pathology. I operate the world's largest public pathology site, which has become the largest free one-man medical helpline on the internet. Generally, I am a therapeutic nihilist, and operate a sympathetic page devoted to alternative medicine. I give myself out to be a Christian.

I'm a man of integrity, and I demand basic truthfulness from others.

This site focuses SOLELY on the misuse of scientific articles by anti-immunization activists.

It is impossible to know the mind of another person. But I suspect that some of these people actually intend to deceive their readers.

And I could find no objections from the more responsible critics of immunization -- most of whom seem to be good, public-spirited people.

I am making this posting solely for the sake of health and truth. By doing this, I will...

I have nothing else to gain. As a professional man, a university instructor, and an expert who testifies in court, I have everything to lose if I'm not telling the truth here. As always, I am speaking only for myself.

Concurrently with this project, I am undertaking an online project to publish the significant findings in the autopsy reports of children of who have died as a result of immunizations.

I will not be able to correspond with anyone about the larger issues involved in immunization, pro or con. I operate the internet's largest free personalized health information service, and will not take time from this to argue with militants. Please take your concerns to one of the major pro-immunization sites instead.

This is by no means a complete study of any of the internet sites in question. I'll add more instances of mis-citation as time (and my distaste for this subject) allows.

If you want to know who's lying and who's telling the truth, simply take a copy of this page to your local public library, and obtain the articles I've cited by interlibrary loan. Most libraries can do this. There may be a small fee, but it's worth it to find out who the crooks really are.

This website collects no information. If you e-mail me, neither your e-mail address nor any other information will ever be passed on to any third party, unless required by law.

This page was last modified March 2, 2010.

I have no sponsors and do not host paid advertisements. All external links are provided freely to sites that I believe my visitors will find helpful.

Dispelling Vaccination Myths

[Link now down.] The main feature of this inflammatory site is heavy referencing to the scientific literature. Someone who does not have the time to check the scientific references could be impressed.

The most sensational claims for vaccine ineffectiveness (for example, 29,972 smallpox deaths in Japan, all in vaccinated people) are referenced only to the writings of old anti-immunization activists. If they were true, the author would be able to find something in a refereed medical textbook, or even a history book.

Here is how the author uses his scientific sources.

Lancet 338: 715, 1991. The author cites this article to claim that polio vaccine is ineffective. He says, "In 1989, the country of Oman experienced a widespread polio outbreak six months after achieving complete vaccination." This is clearly untrue. If you will examine the article, you'll discover:

MMWR 33(24): , June 22 1984. The author cites an outbreak of measles among previously-immunized high-school students as proof that the vaccine is not effective. Given that the measles vaccine is (and was known at the time to be) only 90-98% effective in preventing the disease, it is not surprising that there would be a cluster in a high school sooner or later. Here's what the article actually said:

NEJM 332: 500, 1995. The author cites "a very recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine which revealed that a substantial number of Romanian children were contracting polio from the vaccine." The reference, however, is to the Washington Post. If the real reference had been given, it would have been easier for readers to find the author's misrepresentation.

AJDC 145: 1379, 1991. The author cites the article in support of his statement that outbreaks of Hib have occurred despite immunization. Again, examining the actual article shows how the activist is trying to trick you.

Br. Med. J. 283: 696, 1981 The author cites this study of whooping cough and adults and states, "England actually saw a drop in pertussis deaths when vaccination rates dropped from 80% to 30% in the mid 70's. Swedish epidemiologist B. Trollfors' study [this one] of pertussis vaccine efficacy and toxicity around the world found that 'pertussis-associated mortality is currently very low in industrialized countries and no difference can be discerned when countries with high, low, and zero immunization rates are compared.' He also found that England, Wales, and West Germany had more pertussis fatalities in 1970 when the immunization rate was high than during the last half of 1980, when rates had fallen." Once again, examining the actual article shows that it has been misrepresented.

Pediatr. Inf. Dis. 13: 34, 1994. The author cites this article to make the true statement that outbreaks of measles have occurred in immunized populations. Not everybody makes antibody in response to the measles vaccine. Here is how the article begins:

J. Inf. Dis. 169: 77, 1994. The author cites this article to make the true statement that an outbreak of mumps has occurred in an immunized population, this one in Tennessee. As with measles, not everybody makes antibody after immunization. Here is how the article begins:

MMWR 38(18): 329-30, May 12, 1989. The author directly quotes this as saying that "[Measles epidemics] have occurred in all parts of the country, including areas that have not reported measles for years."

Neurology 32: A169, 1982. The author cites this article as confirming "Both national and international studies have shown vaccination to be a cause of SIDS."

Am. J. Epidem. 139: 229, 1994 "There are studies that claimed to find no SIDS-vaccine relationship. However, many of these were invalidated by yet another study which found that 'confounding' had skewed their results in favor of the vaccine."

The author of "Dispelling Vaccine Myths" has NO refereed data to document his obviously false claim that immunization has not led to a reduction in the diseases for which it is administered.

Parents Advocating Vaccine Education

[Link is now down.] This site describes its mission as "to help the public make informed and intelligent decisions about childhood and adult vaccines."

With such a mission, we would expect extensive and honest documentation. You won't find it here.

There is a citation, supposedly from the AMA, to a non-existent issue of the journal "Science" ("March 26, 1977"). An editorial in a real issue from the previous day merely bewailed the fact that regulations and the threat of baseless litigation were making it nearly impossible even for valuable vaccines to get produced.

JAMA 274: 446, 1995 reviews the work on cellular and acellular pertussis vaccine. The author heaps ridicule and sarcasm on the study. (Again, for some reason she has the date of the issue off by a day.)

The author shows that she knows how to cite the medical literature. Some of her claims, including the obviously false one that rubella immunization has placed women of childbearing age at increased danger, are referenced only to the works of other anti-immunization activists.

Claims which are completely unreferenced include:

If the author had provided references, readers could have determined easily that she had yelled "Fire!" where there is no fire.

Of course, the author attributes the vilest motives to physicians, government, and industry. You're free to believe her if you want.

Immunization Studies: Scientific & Medical References

This is another catalogue of citations from the actual scientific literature dealing with vaccine problems. Some citations are fair, while others are deceptive.

Science 256: 1259, 1992. "ThinkTwice" says, "Science reported on a possible link between polio vaccines and the origin of AIDS."

JAMA, August 24/31, 1994. According to "ThinkTwice", "Reputable studies show correlations between the pertussis vaccine and asthma. In fact, children vaccinated with pertussis were shown to be 5 times more likely to become afflicted with this serious respiratory ailment."

J. Inf. Dis. 165: 444, 1992. According to ThinkTwice, "A recent study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases showed that children who received the DPT vaccine were significantly more likely to contract paralytic polio than children who were not vaccinated with DPT."

Pediatrics 91: 699, 1993. "Despite immunization programs targeting high-risk groups, the incidence of hepatitis B has risen 37% since the introduction of the vaccine."

NEJM 311: 1030, 1984. According to the author, "Studies have investigated the probability that recipients of the plasma-derived hepatitis B vaccine may have received inoculations contaminated with undetected viruses, especially HIV, a precursor to AIDS."

NEJM 309: 614, 1983. The anti-immunization activist cites this article as showing that hepatitis B vaccine causes acute polyneuropathy. Lancet, Sept 26, 1992, p. 786. According to the agitprop author, "The United Kingdom quietly withdrew 2 brands of MMR vaccine following several confirmed cases of mumps meningitis after administration of the vaccine."

Vaccinations -- Not Safe, Not Effective.

[The link is also down.] Despite the dark talk about "evidence which is being suppressed by the authorities", this is primarily a catalog of letters to medical journals expressing possible hazards of immunization. When they haven't panned out, the source remains silent.

NEJM 310: 198, 1984. "A report on a study of 11 healthy individuals to determine the effects of routine tetanus booster vaccinations showed that the vaccinations weaken the immune system of the recipients."

Pediatrics 80: 270-274, 1987. The activist cites this article as saying, "This vaccine [H. flu meningitis] has been shown to cause serious reactions including convulsions, anaphylactoid allergic reactions, serum sickness-like reactions and death."

JAMA 239: 285, 1978. Here's how the author summarizes this article. "Of the 18 reported cases of paralytic polio in 1977, three of the patients were person who were in the United States but who were not residents, and 2 of the other 15 victims apparently contracted the disease abroad. Three cases occurred in recent vaccine recipients, and 10 cases had been in close contact with recently vaccinated people. Only 3 cases occurred in persons "without any known vaccine association."

JAMA 244: 804-6, 1980. The author describes atypical measles, which is wild-strain measles in people who received only the killed vaccine as "a very severe form of the disease in which it appears that, because of the vaccination, there is an increased susceptibility to measles virus, resulting from a damaged immune system."

MMWR 38: 101-105, 1989. The anti-immunization activist implies, falsely, that the mumps vaccine has increased the incidence of mumps in teens and adults, who risk sterility as a result.

Other Misleading Sites

As this site grows, I'll examine other people's use of the medical literature.

Vaccines -- A Second Opinion

Unknowing Women Victims of Hidden Birthcontrol Vaccine

James A Miller (link is now down), an anti-contraception activist, charges that conspirators have already put hCG drugs in tetanus toxoid which was given to poor women in the developing world, in order to sterilize them.

Vaccines and Disease: An Investigative Report

I found this in 2006. It's by Roman Bystrianyk, and uses graphs to document that death rates from infectious diseases were already declining markedly prior to the introduction of the vaccines against them.

The author relies on rhetorical questions and selective use of statistics. However, he clearly wants readers to conclude that they should not have their children immunized, and that the vaccines are a fraud perpetrated for some reason by the government and big corporations.

Anyone who visits an old graveyard will realize childhood mortality dropped substantially during the century before the vaccines were introduced. The vast majority of childhood deaths have historically been from the infectious diseases.

The obvious fallacy in Bystrianyk's paper is that he never cites the TOTAL NUMBER OF CASES of the diseases in question, only the death rates. If the vaccines really don't work, somebody as diligent as Bystrianyk would present data from public health sources indicating equally dramatic declines in the numbers of people who got the diseases and recovered. Rather than conclude that the vaccines do not work, Bystriank's graphs merely show that between 1900 and 1950, we got better at keeping sick people from dying.

Bystrianyk has only a single actual citation of a real medical publication that he claims says that a single vaccine did not "play a major role" in decreasing the number of cases of the disease. At the time that Bystrianyk wrote his own article, the paper was a quarter-century old. The quotation from this weird single-author paper (Lancet, Jan 29, 1977, pp 234-237) is genuine, but the conclusion does not follow from the author's own data. Click here to see the impact of immunization on whooping cough in Scotland. It's general knowledge that the vaccine confers only partial immunity. However, since the Y-axis is logarithmic, this is about a two-third decline in the deaths from whooping cough in the two years after immunization was introduced.

Anyone considerng Bystrianyk's notes also needs to know some facts that the author failed to share.

There are at least two other sites that show mortality curves for polio, showing mortality dropping to zero in 1957. Thanks to the iron lung, fewer people were dying of polio during the previous decade. The sites show the vaccine as having been introduced in 1957. It was acutally introduced in 1955. Since polio disappears from countries as soon as widespread immunization is introduced, and reappears when it is neglected, one would have to be very foolish to doubt the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Several people have written me asking about a Raymond Obomsawin, variously described as an MD or PhD, who writes anti-immunization materials which you can buy. According to some websites, which I'll let you find on your own, Dr. Obomsawin was commissioned in 1992 by the Canadian International Development Agency to prepare a report to guide its immunization policy. But when Dr. Obomsawin's report was submitted, it was suppressed by sinister conspirators. A search of the NIH database shows that Raymond Obomsawin has only one peer publication, a popular article from 1978 for Canadian nurses about Indian health issues. If you want to believe that the Canadian government really hired this guy as an elite scientific consultant, you're free to do so. Of course, I don't know one way or the other.

Added in May 2006: I am still occasionally checking the anti-immunization sites. One phenomenon I've noticed is that, since I put this page online, the obvious disinformation artists are much less likely to reference their quotations so that the public can actually check them.

I have received a few inquiries about J. Anthony Morris. who is presently cited on many of the anti-immunization sites as having been "the chief vaccine control officer for the United States Food and Drug Administration." On the record of his publications, he was a virologist at the NIH from the 1940's to the time of the swine flu vaccine business. He helped develop several experimental vaccines, most notably the failed attempts to create an influenza B vaccine in the 1960's following the obvious success of the influenza A vaccine (in the development of which he also participated). Not everything works out, in fact most things don't, and this is no reflection on him. His one major paper deals with the discovery that some anti-influenza antibodies are protective and some are not; you can read it in NEJM 274: 527, 1969. It was a great piece of work. In the paper, his title is listed as "Chief, Section on Respiratory Viruses, Division of Biologic Standards, National Institutes of Health." In other words, he was a microbiologist who supervised the standardization of some of the viruses used for research. He is also third author on a paper in Science 116: 117, 1969, which lists his affiliation as "Division of Biologic Standards, National Institutes of Health." He was dismissed from the FDA, at least in part for talking in public about the risk-benefit ratio of influenza vaccines in the early 1970's. This went to litigation that he evidently won. (Academic politics is bizarre. When a practicing scientist goes on "Donahue", something is not right.) I could find no support for the claim that he was "the chief vaccine control officer for the United States Food and Drug Administration". This looks like a propagated error within the anti-immunization community. I am not aware of any attempt by Dr. Morris himself to mislead others during his time as a scientist. If he has in fact stated that no influenza vaccine has been of benefit to humankind, as is alleged here (warning: vulgar language), then time has proved him mistaken.

Crooks who are caught in a lie smear your character and ignore your facts. Ordinarily, I ignore my abusive mail and attacks on my character in blogs. However, this one's special, and I'm sharng this as an example of how they operate. Four years after posting a request for anyone who could inform me whether Dr. Morris was ever truly "the chief vaccine control officer for the United States Food and Drug Administration", I received an e-mail, a very-watered-down version of which may be found here. Yes, ma'am, I did ask him through his attorney and there was no response. On Feb. 9, 2010, four years after my original request for Dr. Morris's credentials, Google count shows 6020 anti-immunization websites calling him "the former chief vaccine control officer" for the Food and Drug Administration. I did rethink my tone, and reflected that we should first honor a man who did contribute in an important way to the battle against influenza. However, my correspondent dodged my question. Was Dr. Morris indeed the FDA's "chief vaccine control officer?" -- a position of which I'd never heard. The lawyer I was supposed to "apologize to" didn't respond. Nor has anyone produced:

I've drawn my conclusion, subject to new evidence if it ever comes along. No, I don't think Dr. Morris ever pretended to be somebody he wasn't. But I believe that someone exaggerated his credentials, and the error propagated because these people -- who are asking you to make life-and-death decisions -- parrot each others' deceptions. It's a pattern. Keep calling me a bad person if you want.

Sites with Greater Integrity

Immunization -- Christian activist in Arizona; no scientific papers cited. Link is down.

Vaccinations and Children -- Yahoo club. So far the main contributors seem fair-minded and eager to get at the truth.

National Vaccine Information Center.

Last Thoughts

If you are interested in the diseases against which immunization is effective, you can visit my own brief notes. In the era before immunization, there would have been no need to describe these to any adult.

Nothing in life is completely safe. Despite the wild accusations of cover-ups, anyone can read the CDC's 35-page summary of the known hazards, contraindications, and precautions in MMWR 45(RR-12): 1-35, Sept. 6, 1996.

No reasonable person would question that there are hazards associated with the present vaccines.

In particular, anecdotes of marked, permanent behavioral changes following immediately after DPT injections have impressed me. Everybody seems to agree that the current negative (for example, JAMA 271: 37, 1994), inconclusive (for example, Vaccine 11: 1371, 1993) or suggestive (Vaccine 8: 531, 1990; Neuropediatrics 21: 171, 1990) statistical studies cannot rule out very-rare cases of DPT-induced acute allergic encephalomyelitis, with the bordetella toxin serving as an adjuvant. In fact, the Institute of Medicine estimated that there are "0.0 to 10.5" cases of AAE per million immunizations in excess of the expected rates (JAMA 271: 68, 1994). The fact that there's no easily-characterized syndrome in these children (Am. J. Dis. Child. 146: 327, 1992) is very much in keeping with the protean nature of acute allergic encephalomyelitis. However, I've been unable to find an autopsy report of this using the usual medical literature search techniques. In the hopes of settling this business to my own satisfaction (and perhaps that of others), I am soliciting autopsy reports from children who are supposed to have died of immunization side-effects.

Plenty of genuine scientists dedicate their careers to vaccine safety. There are huge monetary profits to be made for corporations who can make the safest vaccines. Science is driven primarily by the desire of scientists to enhance their personal reputations. They will jump at any chance to discover (and be the first to publish) a genuine public health hazard. In particular, an academic scientist who could spot misbehavior by a corporation would have his career made.

The burning question is whether you are better off accepting immunization against polio, measles, Hib, hepatitis B, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. There is a level of consensus, rare in either science or politics, that ordinary folks and ordinary communities are better off accepting the standard immunizations. I think you can skip smallpox.

It is also the responsible thing to do, since by immunizing yourself and your children, you diminish your own chances of transmitting disease to those for whom the vaccine fails. This seems painfully clear from the small epidemics that have resulted from activism. You're being asked to assume some risk, for your own good and for the good of the community. Your neighbors have already taken the risk on YOUR behalf.

Read carefully. Despite some reasonable concerns, much of the rhetoric from anti-immunization parents boils down to, "I DON'T CARE if my kid infects YOUR kid." It's a harsh thing to say -- but it's the truth.

This would all seem totally obvious. But people often simply choose to believe lies that make them feel intellectually and morally superior. A "cause" lets you find friends and meaning. A certain percentage of people will decide to believe the radical anti-immunization activists for emotional reasons. That's human nature. But it makes for bad decisions, both public and private. And activists who leave movements that they learn are founded on lies are often tremendously saddened.

I am not an attorney, and I cannot advise you on what to do if you, or a family member, has been harmed as a result of these misinformation campaigns. I would be angry if my child was a non-responder, and then caught an infection from a child whose parents had refused immunization. I would be more than angry if my child became sick or died because I read something that the author knew to be untrue.

If you visit some (not all) anti-immunization sites, the links to organized, big-money health quackery are obvious. It is also easy to recognize other signs of pseudoscience -- beautiful rhetoric, claims of being spiritual and humanitarian, mud-slinging, lack of internal criticism, lack of original experimentation, lack of any real support from genuine scientists working in the areas, wild charges of massive corporate and government conspiracy (no specifics), and occasional outright lying.

If you are a responsible critic of today's immunization policies, you should start demanding that others withdraw their clearly false allegations.

If you are an ordinary citizen, and you still want to believe these people, then that is your business.

But don't let your concern for your health, and the health of others, allow you to be deceived by disinformation artists.

Health and friendship.

Vaccine Page -- world site, lots of links.
ImmunoFacts -- lots of links
Institute for Vaccine Safety -- Johns Hopkins. Real scientists. Unlike activists, if a scientist lies or misrepresents his material, his career is over.

Follow-up: By now, everyone knows of the deceptions by Andrew Wakefield. When I read his article, I realized he was describing the normal microscopic anatomy of the normal bowel as a new disease, and that something was wrong.

Click here for the LA Times on the cost to society of refusing immunization.

Back to Ed's.


New visitors to
reset Jan. 30, 2005:

Follow Up

Three days after posting, I'm already receiving plenty of visitors. As above, I do not have time to correspond with individuals -- pro or con -- on the subjects raised here. Don't take my silence as lack of interest or appreciation.

A few people have written to remind me that activists are right to bring studies on various limits and hazards of immunizations to the attention of the public. Of course I agree. But don't falsify your evidence in the process.

I have received two replies from parents who believe they have lost children to immunization. Please visit my other page -- where you'll see entirely different faces of this controversy and this physician.

The author of one of the sites described at length on this page wrote to me in 2005. He accused me at considerable length of not being a genuine Christian, but did not deny that he had falsified his evidence. Draw your own conclusions.

The MMR business is back in the media following a report at a meeting in early 2006 on work-in-progress by Dr. Steven Walker (Phys/Pharm, Wake Forest) that his group had isolated vaccine-type measles virus from the gut of children with regressive autism. We all await (April 2007) publication, whether peer-reviewed or not, especially considering the seriousness of the subject. No one questions that other behavioral disorders of children can follow exposures (even "PANDAS" was unknown when I was in medical school). Of course, the impact of these on a family is devastating. I remain undecided as to whether MMR (by immunity, infection, or toxicity) may on rare occasions be etiologic. If so, it has completely eluded the best minds in science for over a decade. I've cited Wakefield's much-criticized work elsewhere. It is now clear that he engaged in a pattern of deception, including re-assigning normal biopsies as "enteropathic enterocolitis", a problem I recognized on first reading his article. He may once have been sincere. I would be enormously pleased if his friend Dr. Walker has something solid to add -- especially since he's from one of my old institutions. Even in a world full of politicians, lawyers, and emotion, science still seems to correct itself. So far, nothing has happened.

* * *

Nineteen days after posting, I have withdrawn my offer to review autopsies.

Here is the text as it appeared:

Immunization Deaths: The Online Autopsy Series

When it is developed, this site will catalogue the significant findings of autopsy reports from children who have died (or who are thought to have died) as a result of childhood immunizations.

I am uniquely qualified to do this.

  • I give myself out to be a Christian, and I am a man of integrity. I am a university teacher in a scientific discipline, under constant, rigorous scrutiny by over 200 disputatious medical students every year. I testify in court and get hammered by elite lawyers, where anything is fair game. In other words, I have nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by trying to deceive the public.
  • Like most pathologists, I am generally a therapeutic nihilist, preferring as few medical interventions as reasonably possible. I have written a sympathetic page on alternative medicine.
  • My focus is autopsy, and although I do not have boards in forensics, I have worked for the office of the KCMO medical examiner as an autopsy pathologist.
  • At the same time, I demand honesty of others. Elsewhere I have reviewed the pattern of deliberate deception in which some (not all) anti-immunization activists engage. I look forward to responsible critics of immunization demanding that these false allegations be withdrawn.

The purpose of this site is not to discuss the larger issues involved in immunization decision-making. Despite the risks, which are real, I believe that immunization is good personal and public policy. I doubt that developing this site will change my mind. In the meantime, I will not be able correspond with anyone on this business.

As of this posting, I have e-mailed the authors of the major responsible anti-immunization sites requesting copies of the autopsies on children who are reported to have died following immunization.

I especially hope to find a credible report of acute allergic encephalomyelitis following pertussis immunization. It is hard not to be impressed by anecdotes of (thankfully rare) permanent behavioral changes in children after DPT shots. The current statistical studies, though large, clearly lack the sensitivity to detect very low frequencies of this protean reaction. Collecting a series of autopsy reports with A.A.E. would be very helpful for me, and for others who are concerned with the truth of this business. And perhaps in the process we might discover something else.

In the meantime, please visit these sites, which contain first-hand accounts of deaths reported to be due to immunizations. Whatever each of us may decide, as scientists or human beings, about the actual causation, it is impossible not to be touched emotionally by the love and grief which the surviving parents show -- and to admire their concern for others.

    [Four links followed.]

If you have autopsy reports, please fax them to me at 816-283-2251.

If I decide that there is not a link between the vaccine and your child's death, you have my word of honor that this will stay between us. Neither readers of this site, nor anyone else, will hear about it.

If I can make a connection, I will give you whatever help I can, pro bono.

Thank you very much.

I have had only three correspondents who have been gracious. I thank these people for their kindness and thoughtfulness, and for staying with what they see to be a good cause.

Although this is not my first controversy, I have never gotten this much hate mail -- twenty at current count. I have been called "butcher", "murderer", "totally closed-minded", "brainwashed", and "idiot". Despite a wealth of detail about supposed corporate and government wrongdoing, the level of overall ignorance is astonishing. It's revealing to hear these people say that "the germ theory of disease is now discredited" and so forth.

    I must of hit pretty close to the mark to get her all riled up like that, huh kid? -- Han Solo

More germane to my decision to withdraw the offer, I was informed that the activists have urged each other, via their online newsletters, not to let me look at their cases, both for their own legal reasons and out of the belief that I intended to break my promise of secrecy should I arrive at a negative conclusion.

What disturbs me the most is that only one of the more responsible anti-immunization activists had anything to say about the obvious pattern of deception carried out by their less-scrupulous colleagues. Draw your own conclusions -- I've drawn mine.

More favorably, one of the responsible activists agreed to help me gather material from older cases. I look forward to the chance of perhaps finding an anatomic signature for vaccine injury. However, I never heard from this correspondent again.