MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

immunisation

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The so-called ‘Miracle Mineral Solution’ (MMS) – bleach for you and me – is a SCAM that keeps on giving. On this blog, we have featured MMS several times before, e.g.:

Now,it has been reported that a New Zealand anti-vaxxer has been jailed for selling more than $100,000 worth of an industrial bleach as a “miracle” cure for Covid-19. Roger Blake, who describes himself as a “human man”, was sentenced to just over 10 months’ imprisonment after being found guilty at trial of 29 charges in the Hamilton District Court.

Blake advertised and sold MMS products, claiming it could treat, prevent and cure coronavirus. However, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health had not approved the product, and detailed that when ingested became chlorine dioxide – a bleach commonly used for water treatment, bleaching textiles and paper.

The court heard Blake had marketed the product as a cure in New Zealand from the start of the pandemic between December 2019 and December 2020. Medsafe, the health ministry’s safety authority, said Blake’s company had sales of NZ$160,000 in that period – with sales spiking in March when the country was placed in lockdown.

Judge Brett Crowley said Blake’s behaviour had been “utterly disgraceful”. He added that Blake had “seized upon the tragedy” of the pandemic for financial gain. Before selling MMS as a “cure” for the coronavirus, Blake had marketed the product as a preventive of other diseases and illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and HIV.

Medsafe prosecuted him under the Medicines Act, with compliance manager Derek Fitzgerald saying the “fake cure” Blake spruiked presented a “significant public health risk”. “He targeted the vulnerable, preyed on public fears and exposed people to harm”, he said. “This decision sends a strong message that people who engage in selling so called ‘miracle cures’ will be held to account and face fines or imprisonment.”

The website which sold MMS in New Zealand was registered to US-based Mark Grenon, who set up the “Genesis II Church of Health and Healing”. As reported previously, Grenon and his three sons were jailed in October for several years in the US for selling more than US$1m of the product. Michael Homer, an assistant US lawyer who prosecuted the case, said at the time the family targeted people suffering from life-threatening illnesses. The Grenons poisoned thousands of people with their bogus miracle cure, which was nothing more than industrial bleach,” he said.

Medsafe warns: “Drinking MMS is the same as drinking bleach and can cause dangerous side effects, including severe vomiting, diarrhoea, and life-threatening low blood pressure. We strongly encourage people to only go to trusted sources, such as your doctor, to get reliable information”.

Medsafe received three reports of people requiring hospitalizations after drinking MMS. “His conduct presented a significant risk to public health, and that is why Medsafe acted. His actions were in stark contrast to the requirements of the Medicines Act 1981, which is public welfare legislation designed to protect the public” said Mr Fitzgerald.

It has been reported that the New York State Department of Health has issued a $300,000 penalty as part of a Stipulation and Order signed by a Nassau County midwife who created false immunization records. Roughly 1,500 school-aged children from throughout the State are affected by the vaccine scheme, which has resulted in their immunization records being voided. All affected children must be fully up to date with all age-appropriate immunizations, or be in the process of receiving their missing vaccinations, before they can return to school.

“Misrepresenting or falsifying vaccine records puts lives in jeopardy and undermines the system that exists to protect public health,” State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. “Let it be clear, the New York State Department of Health takes this issue seriously and will investigate and use all enforcement tools at its disposal against those who have been found to have committed such violations.” State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said: “By intentionally falsifying immunization records for students, this licensed health care professional not only endangered the health and safety of our school communities but also undermined public trust. We are pleased to have worked with our partners in government to bring this wrongdoer to justice. We remain committed to upholding the highest standards of health and well-being within our educational institutions.”

The vaccination scheme began at the start of the 2019-2020 school year, just three months after the June 2019 elimination of non-medical exemptions for required school immunizations. Breen supplied patients with the “Real Immunity Homeoprophylaxis Program,” a series of oral pellets marketed by an out-of-state homeopath as an alternative to vaccination. The homeopathic pellets are not authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the Department as an immunizing agent against any disease.

Breen was found to have administered 12,449 fake ‘homeopathic’ immunizations to roughly 1,500 school-aged patients as pretext for submitting false information to the New York State Immunization Information System (NYSIIS). The agreed-upon settlement reached between the Department and Breen is the first of its kind addressing a scheme to create false immunization records. It includes a $300,000 monetary penalty and requires that Breen never again administer a vaccination that must be reported to NYSIIS. In addition, Breen is permanently excluded from accessing NYSIIS under any circumstances.

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We have discussed the absurd and dangerous idea of homeoparophylaxis several times before, e.g.:

Suffice to stress just this:

Homeoprophylaxis is a criminally stupid way to endanger lives!

Only a few years ago, measles – a potentially lethal disease – were deemed to be almost eradicated. Now we hear that, in the UK and the US, cases of measles have been rising again. The latest UK outbreaks are centered in the West Midlands and London. The UK Health Security Agency has thus declared a national incident after the outbreaks in the UK West Midlands. Health officials are encouraging people to have the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab, after figures showed uptake at the lowest level for more than a decade.

I have long warned that the rise in measle cases is due to proponents of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). Particularly implicated are:

  • doctors of anthroposophical medicine,
  • chiroparactors,
  • homeopaths,
  • naturopath,
  • other healthcare professionals who employ these methods.

A recent case seems to suggest that this is as true today as it was years ago.

A midwife in New York administered nearly 12,500 bogus homeopathic pellets to roughly 1,500 children in lieu of providing standard, life-saving vaccines, the New York State Department of Health reported yesterday. Jeanette Breen, a licensed midwife who operated Baldwin Midwifery in Nassau County, began providing the oral pellets to children around the start of the 2019–2020 school year, just three months after the state eliminated non-medical exemptions for standard school immunizations. She obtained the pellets from a homeopath outside New York and sold them as a series called the “Real Immunity Homeoprophylaxis Program.” The program falsely claimed to protect children against deadly infectious diseases covered by standard vaccination schedules, including diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (covered by the DTaP or Tdap vaccine); hepatitis B; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR vaccine); polio; chickenpox; meningococcal disease; Haemophilus influenzae disease (HiB); and pneumococcal diseases (PCV).

You might say that this is just one silly midwife, but I’m afraid you would be mistaken. Here is the very first websites that appeared today on my search for measles/alternative medicine:

Few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic remedies. A professional homeopath, however, may recommend one or more of the following treatments for measles based on his or her knowledge and clinical experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person’s constitutional type, includes your physical, emotional, and intellectual makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate remedy for a particular individual.

    • Aconitum , for symptoms that come on suddenly including fever, conjunctivitis, dry cough, and restlessness. It is best used very early in the course of the disease.
    • Apis mellifica , for individuals with swollen lips and eyes and a rash that is not fully developed. Warmth increases itchiness as well as swelling.
    • Belladonna , can be used either during early stages of measles or after the rash has erupted. It is useful for those who have difficulty sleeping and symptoms that include fever, headache, and drowsiness.
    • Bryonia , for individuals with a delayed rash who have a dry, painful cough, headaches, and muscle pain that worsens with movement and warmth. This remedy is most appropriate for people with a rash primarily on the chest, a dry mouth, and a desire for cold drinks.
    • Euphrasia , for nasal discharge, red eyes, and tears associated with measles. This remedy is most appropriate for people who have a strong sensitivity to light.
    • Gelsemium , for the early stages of measles when there is a slow onset of fever and chilliness, cough, headache, weakness, and a watery nasal discharge that burns the upper lip. This remedy is most appropriate for people who are apathetic and have little or no thirst.
    • Pulsatilla , can be used at any stage of the measles but often used after fever has resolved. This remedy is most appropriate for people who may have thick, yellow nasal discharge, a dry cough at night, a productive cough in the daytime, and mild ear pain. Symptoms are frequently mild.
    • Sulphur , for measles in which the skin has a purplish appearance. The individual for whom this remedy is appropriate may have red mucus membranes with a cough and diarrhea that is worse in the mornings.

Similar nonsense can easily be found on ‘X’; here are but a few examples of the dangerous BS that fans of SCAM posted recently:

  • Measles are extremely mild, alternative medicine is better than petroleum-based drugs that don’t even promise to cure anything, and JK Rowling is a Christian.
  • 1. Can we now talk about the fact that MMR does not produce life long immunity? 2. Can we talk about the Hep A, tuberculosis and measles that are now community spread due to not vetting the health of illegals? 3. Can we finally discuss actual homeopathy remedies that work?
  • I so regret obeying our local school district and having my kids vaccinated. Homeopathy has SAFE medicines to prevent childhood illnesses such as chicken pox, measles, polio, small pox, etc, and more SAFE medicines to cure these illnesses. 
  • My kids had chicken pox and pertussis & covid. Cured all 3 with homeopathy. Never had measles.
  • How to Treatment of Measles with Dr.Reckweg R.No.62 Homeopathy Medicine

I think it is high time that:

  1. we realize that SCAM providers can be dangerous through the irresponsible advice they tend to give,
  2. we change their attitude through educating them adequately and, failing this, penalize them for endangering our health.

Proponents of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) are often – as we had many opportunities to observe here on this blog – not impressed with the safety and efficacy of COVID vaccinations. This is despite the fact that several studies have demonstrated the huge number of lives saved by them, both at national and multi-country level in the earlier stages of the pandemic. I wonder whether the doubters will be convinced by new evidence.

This analysis estimates how many lives were directly saved by vaccinating adults against COVID in the Region, from December 2020 through March 2023.

The researchers estimated the number of lives directly saved by age-group, vaccine dose and circulating Variant of Concern (VOC) period, both regionally and nationally, using weekly data on COVID-19 mortality and COVID-19 vaccine uptake reported by 34 European areas and territories (CAT), and vaccine effectiveness (VE) data from the literature. They calculated the percentage reduction in the number of expected and reported deaths.

The authors found that vaccines reduced deaths by 57% overall (CAT range: 15% to 75%), representing ∼1.4 million lives saved in those aged ≥25 years (range: 0.7 million to 2.6 million): 96% of lives saved were aged ≥60 years and 52% were aged ≥80 years; first boosters saved 51%, and 67% were saved during the Omicron period.

The authors concluded that over nearly 2.5 years, most lives saved by COVID-19 vaccination were in older adults by first booster dose and during the Omicron period, reinforcing the importance of up-to-date vaccination among these most at-risk individuals. Further modelling work should evaluate indirect effects of vaccination and public health and social measures.

The authors feel that their results reinforce the importance of up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination, particularly among older age-groups. Communication campaigns supporting COVID-19 vaccination should stress the value of COVID-19 vaccination in saving lives to ensure vulnerable groups are up-to-date with vaccination ahead of periods of potential increased transmission.

Those SCAM proponents who are not convinced of the merits of COVID and other vaccinations will undoubtedly claim that this new analysis was biased and thus unreliable. Therefore, it seems worth stating that this work was supported by a US Centers for Disease Control cooperative agreement, who had no role in data analysis or interpretation. The authors affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO) are alone responsible for the views expressed in this publication and they do not necessarily represent the decisions or policies of the WHO.

The NZZ recently published a long and horrific report about a natural health clinic and its doctors. Here is a  version translated and shortened by me; perhaps it makes a few people think twice before they waste their money and risk their health:

It is a narrow mountain road that they are racing down on this spring evening. Over the green Appenzell hills, towards Herisau hospital. Kathrin Pfister* is fighting for her life in the car. At the wheel is Thomas Rau, internationally renowned practitioner of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) and director of his own luxury clinic, the Biomed Centre Sonnenberg. Three days later, Kathrin Pfister is dead. The most likely finding according to the experts: Pfister was injected with a drug that was not authorised in Switzerland at the time, the side effects of which killed her.

Pfister is not the only woman to have lost her life following treatment at the Sonnenberg. Other experts accuse Rau of serious breaches of duty that led to the death of a patient. Rau and another doctor are thus being investigated for involuntary manslaughter.

The events remained hidden from the public for over two years. It’s not just about one doctor, not just about one clinic. The events are politically explosive for Appenzell Ausserrhoden. The canton is the centre of alternative medicine in Switzerland. SCAM doctors are an important economic factor in Ausserrhoden. Wealthy people from all over the world fly here for therapies that most conventional doctors just shake their heads at. Treatments lasting several weeks with a hotel stay cost five-figure sums.

The 73-year-old Dr Rau is the star among Swiss alternative medicine practitioners.He describes himself as the “Mozart of medicine”. The Biomed Centre Sonnenberg is “Mozart’s” last big project. The clinic has a hotel and gluten-free vegan restaurant from the Tibits chain. Even the feather pillows are replaced with bamboo ones. All for the “detox” that Rau praises.

Kathrin Pfister’s case began in mid-April 2021, just four months after the Sonnenberg centre opened. She is actually healthy and comes to the clinic anyway; because of some digestive problems and headaches. The hospital records show that Pfister received infusions. Initially only those containing vitamin C and homeopathic remedies. Then one with artesunate, a preparation against malaria. And finally, on a Friday, Pfister was injected with a solution of alpha-lipoic acid into his bloodstream. The infusion is used in Germany for long-term diabetics with nerve damage. It was not authorised as a medicinal product in Switzerland at the time. According to the forensic experts, it was this substance that was “ultimately causally linked to the death”.

A few hours later, Pfister had severe abdominal cramps. Then pain throughout the body. The number of platelets in her blood drops dramatically. Anxiety sets in at the clinic. The intensive care doctors in Herisau and later at the cantonal hospital in St. Gallen can do nothing more. Pfister had a massive blood clotting disorder. Her liver and kidneys were no longer functioning.

Mary Anne Hawrylak meets Thomas Rau by chance at the clinic that weekend. She too is a patient, recently flown in from the USA. Hawrylak had massive side effects after infusions that Friday. “When I told him about it, he turned white as a sheet, like a ghost,” says Hawrylak. “Doctor Rau told me in horror that I had received the same infusions as ‘Kathrin’ and that he had to test my blood.” The tests showed that her blood platelet count had also dropped, says Hawrylak.

The forensic experts point to a central fact: Alpha lipoic acid can cause blood clotting disorders.  They come to the conclusion that this is “most likely a lethal side effect of a drug”. The use of drugs that are not authorised in Switzerland is legal if they are authorised in a country with a comparable procedure. However, there is no real reason to inject this medication into the bloodstream of healthy people. It was authorised in Germany for diabetes patients with nerve damage. So, Pfister did not have this authorisation.

Experts refer to such applications as “off-label use”.  Off-label treatments should only be carried out “on the basis of valid guidelines, generally recognised recommendations or scientific literature”. The guidelines also require that patients are given comprehensive information about off-label use. This counselling session should be documented in writing. None of this can be found in the clinic’s files. No written consent, no documented risk-benefit assessment, no reference to the risk of blood clotting disorders. The forensic experts state: “The scant documentation from the Sonnenberg Biomed Centre does not contain any corresponding information document.” The question arises as to “whether the medical treatment at the Sonnenberg Biomed Centre was carried out with the necessary medical care”.

Patient Hawrylak also says: “I was not told exactly what was in the infusions. I was never told that the medication was not authorised in Switzerland or that its use was off-label. I spoke to Dr Rau about what had happened to ‘Kathrin’ because I was worried about myself,” says Hawrylak. “He said to me: ‘I don’t think it was the infusions. I think it was the Covid vaccinations.” He only justified this with his “intuition”.

The Pfister case triggered an investigation by the public prosecutor’s office. But what hardly anyone knew at the time was that it was not the first questionable death at the clinic – not even the first in a month. Ruth Schmid*, a 77-year-old Swiss woman, had died just three weeks earlier. In this case, the forensic pathologists accused Rau: He had made mistakes that not even a medical student should have made, thus causing Schmid’s death.

Schmid was also in the clinic for a kind of cure. When she was about to leave, she began to tremble violently and had extreme stomach pains. She screamed “like an animal”, her partner said during the interrogation. Ultrasound examinations were carried out at the clinic and Rau gave Schmid painkillers, including morphine. According to the partner’s statement to the public prosecutor’s office, he asked Rau whether Schmid needed to be taken to hospital. Rau said no. Schmid stayed in the hotel room overnight. The next day – according to Rau, she had been feeling better since the previous evening – she travelled home. According to Rau’s confiscated notes, “she was to report closely” and return in four days. At home, Ruth Schmid fell into a coma-like state overnight. Admitted to Zurich University Hospital in an emergency, Schmid died there of cardiovascular failure due to septic shock.

The Zurich forensic pathologists performed an autopsy on Schmid’s body. Their findings: Schmid had suffered from intestinal paralysis. As a result, bacteria entered her body and poisoned her blood, leading to a heart attack. “From a forensic medical point of view, it is incomprehensible why the attending physician, Dr Thomas Rau, did not carry out appropriate diagnostics.” The irritation of the forensic experts is evident in almost every line. There had been several warning signs of intestinal paralysis. The forensic experts wrote: “This knowledge is taught in medical school and is considered basic knowledge in human medicine.” Rau’s behaviour was “a breach of the doctor’s duty of care”. With timely treatment, the prognosis for intestinal paralysis is excellent. The sad conclusion: Ruth Schmid did not have to die.

During questioning by the public prosecutor’s office, Rau denied any guilt. Schmid had left in “good condition”. There was no causality between what happened in the clinic and the death. The findings and conclusions of the Zurich forensic pathologists were wrong. Schmid did not have intestinal paralysis or septicaemia. He had been able to rule out intestinal paralysis because intestinal noises had been audible in the morning. The dose of morphine had been very small, so that it had had no effect. There were no indications of a serious condition. Rau testified that he had acted professionally, as would be expected of an internal medicine doctor.

In the Kathrin Pfister case, the doctors treating her also deny any culpability and question the forensic medical report. The doctor’s lawyer writes that the criminal investigation will show that there was no breach of the doctor’s duty to provide information. Alpha-lipoic acid was not responsible for the death. The expert opinion is not convincing in terms of method or content: “When analysed in depth, it contains no justification that the use of alpha-lipoic acid was in any way causal for the patient’s death.”

During the hearing on the Pfister case, Rau said that restricting the use of alpha-lipoic acid to diabetics was “a joke” and far too narrowly defined. He claimed that Pfister had polyneuropathy, a complex nerve disease. However, there is no mention of this in the files of Rau’s clinic.

The criminal investigation is ongoing in both cases. But did more happen on the Sonnenberg? A former hospital employee, who independently reported to the police, told the public prosecutor about other hair-raising incidents. During the interrogation, she testified that she had seen a young woman being carried out of the clinic extremely weak after an infusion. Days later, she had overheard parts of a telephone conversation between Rau and the patient’s angry husband which made it clear that the woman had died. The former employee also recounted a conversation with Rau’s wife, who is a trained nurse. She said that she had driven a patient to a hospital in Zurich in a private car with Rau because Rau was determined to take her to a particular specialist. The patient was so unwell that she was afraid the woman would die on the way. If this is true, Rau would have travelled past several hospitals with a seriously ill patient.

Hawrylak has one last memory of Appenzell etched in his memory. The departure. She was just leaving the clinic when Rau wished her good luck: “I could only say to him: I wish you good luck too, Doctor Rau. I think you’re really going to need it.”

*Names were altered.

Carola Javid-Kistel is a German medical homeopath who states on her website that “homeopathy is a very powerful yet gentle medicine with no side effects, which accompanies me as a doctor for the rest of my life. Thanks to homeopathy, I was completely cured of my ailments…” (my translation).

She is famous in Germany – not so much for her devotion to homeopathy but for repeatedly breaking the law and evading justice.

Now, finally, the doctor from Duderstadt has been arrested. The Göttingen public prosecutor’s office confirmed that she was handed over to the German authorities by the Swiss judiciary in Constance. She has been charged with issuing false medical certificates for exemption from the obligation to wear a mask.

Carola Javid-Kistel has since been released from custody. As a condition, she had to pay 30,000 Euros bail and surrender her passport and identity card. She also had to report regularly to the Duderstadt police station.

According to the Göttingen public prosecutor’s office, the 57-year-old physician was arrested on arrival at Zurich airport. Javid-Kistel had fled to Mexico last year to avoid a criminal trial that had already been scheduled at the Duderstadt district court. She was due to stand trial there for issuing false certificates, among other things.

Further charges from the Göttingen public prosecutor’s office could include:

  • Incitement to hatred, defamation and insult.
  • At a rally in Herzberg, Javid-Kistel had claimed that the coronavirus measures were “worse than the Holocaust”.
  • She also accused a fellow doctor in a video of “vaccinating patients sick and to death”.
  • Furthermore, she is alleged to have said to police officers and officials during a search of her practice: “This is fascism, you’re all crazy.”

The date for her new trial has not yet been announced.

Sources:

Dr. med. Carola Javid-Kistel (naturheilpraxis-duderstadt.de)

Ärztin aus Duderstadt in der Schweiz festgenommen (aerzteblatt.de)

Flüchtige Corona-Leugnerin Carola Javid-Kistel gefasst | NDR.de – Nachrichten – Niedersachsen – Studio Braunschweig

On this blog, we had more than our fair share of comments from the anti-vax clan. This article asked a question that I have often been pondering:

How to convince the unvaccinated proportion of the population of the benefits of a vaccination?

Designing more successful communication strategies, both in retrospect and looking ahead, requires a differentiated understanding of the concerns of those that remain unvaccinated. Guided by the elaboration likelihood model, this paper has two objectives: First, it explores by means of a latent class analysis how unvaccinated individuals might be characterized by their attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccination. Second, the researchers investigate to what extent (i) varying types of evidence (none/anecdotal/statistical) can be employed by (ii) different types of communicators (scientists/politicians) to improve vaccination intentions across these subgroups. To address these questions, the authors conducted an original online survey experiment among 2145 unvaccinated respondents from Germany where a substantial population share remains unvaccinated.

The results suggest three different subgroups, which differ regarding their openness towards a COVID-19 vaccination:

  • vaccination opponents (N = 1184),
  • sceptics (N = 572)
  • those in principle receptive (N = 389) to be vaccinated.

On average, neither the provision of statistical nor anecdotal evidence increased the persuasiveness of information regarding the efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine. However, scientists were, on average, more persuasive than politicians (relatively increase vaccination intentions by 0.184 standard deviations). With respect to heterogeneous treatment effects among the three subgroups, vaccination opponents seem largely unreachable, while sceptics value information by scientists, particularly if supported by anecdotal evidence (relatively increases intentions by 0.45 standard deviations). Receptives seem much more responsive to statistical evidence from politicians (relatively increases intentions by 0.38 standard deviations).

According to the authors, these insights suggest that, in the short term, receptives and sceptics are the most promising target groups for vaccination campaigns. Yet, in the medium term, opponents need not be forgotten. While mandatory vaccinations may appear as the only strategy to target strict vaccination opponents, politicians and researchers are advised to focus on ways how to rebuild trust and address beliefs in misinformation within this population group. The inconsistency in vaccine related communication has led to a loss of trust in political and scientific decision-makers. It is therefore important to rebuild this trust through evidence-based communication. The way we understand and perceive the credibility of a source significantly impacts our processing of messages and can also significantly affect related behaviours. Using evidence to validate relevant and reliable information can therefore also be vital to build trust and credibility in the vaccines themselves and their safety.

The authors concluded that our study employed sociopsychological theory to challenge the view of the existence of a single homogeneous group of unvaccinated citizens. By drawing on a large sample of unvaccinated citizens and combining latent class analysis with experimental methods, we encourage decision-makers to carefully consider heterogeneities in the effectiveness of their communication strategies, especially regarding their communicator and employed evidence type.

In many parts of the world, vaccination rates have been declining in recent years.

Why?

This study aimed to determine the rates and reasons for parental hesitancy or refusal of vaccination for their children in Türkiye. A total of 1100 participants selected from 26 regions of Türkiye were involved in this cross-sectional study conducted between July 2020 and April 2021. Using a questionnaire, the researchers collected data on:

  • the sociodemographic characteristics of parents,
  • the status of vaccine hesitancy or refusal for their children,
  • the reasons for the hesitancy or refusal.

Using Excel and SPSS version 22.0, they analysed the data with chi-square test, Fisher’s exact test and binomial logistic regression.

Only 9.4% of the participants were male and 29.5% were aged 33-37 years. Just over 11% said they were worried about childhood vaccination, mainly because of the chemicals used in manufacturing the vaccines. The level of concern was greater among those who:

  • got information about vaccines from the internet, family members, friends, TV, radio, and newspapers,
  • used so-called alternative medicine (SCAM).

The authors concluded that parents in Türkiye have several reasons for hesitating or refusing to vaccinate their children, key among which are concerns about the chemical composition of the vaccines and their ability to trigger negative health conditions such as autism. This study used a large sample size across Türkiye, although there were differences by region, the findings would be useful in designing interventions to counter vaccine hesitancy or refusal in the country.

The fact that SCAM users are more likely to be against vaccinations has been reported often and on this blog we have discussed such findings regularly, e.g.:

The questinon I ask myself is, what is the cause and what the effect? Does vaccination hesitancy cause people to use SCAM, or does SCAM use cause vaccination hesitancy? I think that most likely both is true. In addition the two are linked via a common trait, namely that of falling for conspiracy theories. We know that someone believeing in one such theory is likely to believe in other such notions as well. In my view, both vaccination heaitancy and SCAM can qualify to be called a conspiracy theory.

That proponents of anthroposophic medicine have strange attitudes towards established and effective immunizations is hardly a secret. The authors of this review defined anthroposophic communities as people following some/certain views more or less loosely connected to the philosophies of anthroposophy. Their systematic review firstly collated evidence documenting outbreaks linked to anthroposophic communities.

A total of 18 measles outbreaks occurred between 1997 and 2011 in European countries. Eight out of 18 measles outbreaks started at Waldorf schools throughout Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, and the UK. Although data from community reporting was limited, the measles cases at Waldorf schools were predominantly higher than in mainstream private or state schools across the five countries. Offering measles vaccination catch-ups by public health authorities (which is an effective way to manage a measles outbreak) was described in several articles but was largely refused by both parents and Waldorf schools. The most effective outbreak control strategy was the immediate closure of the Waldorf school and strict rules regarding entry to the school upon reopening.

Secondly, the review summarized the literature on vaccination coverage in anthroposophic communities. Six articles described vaccine coverage in anthroposophic communities, and one article described the personal belief exception (PBE) rate at Waldorf school in the USA. The papers focussed predominantly on diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and poliomyelitis (DPTP), and mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccines. Two studies studying the vaccination coverage at Waldorf pre-schools/schools, demonstrated overall low immunization coverage at those schools. One article focusing on PBE rates demonstrated a proportionally high rate at Waldorf schools in California. Three studies from the Netherlands measure vaccination coverage in general and focussed specifically on whether there were special groups that showed specifically low coverage. In these studies, anthroposophic communities were identified as showing low coverage. However, one study suggested that anthroposophic communities are not as significant in terms of low coverage as low-income groups. One paper described rates of vaccination refusal in Switzerland. It showed that complementary alternative medicine users, including people who draw on anthroposophic medicine, are more likely to refuse vaccination. However, the paper also shows that this group was more likely to vaccinate against tick-borne diseases and encephalitis than the general population.

Thirdly, the review discussed the literature that summarized theories and factors influencing vaccine decision-making in anthroposophic communities. Eight articles examining factors and theories influencing vaccine decision-making in anthroposophic communities were included. Five articles focused on parents of children attending Waldorf schools or who considered themselves part of an anthroposophic community. Three articles focused on the perspectives of anthroposophic healthcare providers, although two of those articles mixed and compared views with other alternative/complementary providers or allopathic health providers. Of the eight articles, two were quantitative and did not provide an in-depth discussion. The qualitative findings from six articles were summarized in-depth and revealed four themes.

The authors concluded that this systematic review showed that there have been several measles outbreaks linked to anthroposophic communities in Europe. Although studies on vaccination coverage in anthroposophic communities are limited, it appears that coverage is lower than in the general population. Monitoring outbreak numbers and vaccination coverage could be important. Popular beliefs about the anthroposophic communities’ vaccination beliefs are challenged in this review. As the evidence shows the communities are not categorically against vaccines. Moreover, there are a myriad of factors that influence vaccine decision-making of parents belonging to an anthroposophic community. The importance of experiencing childhood illnesses and concerns over long-term side effects were mentioned. Moreover, parents want to be able to individually select vaccines for their children. They consider themselves actively engaged in vaccine decision-making and well-informed. Stigma regarding vaccine choices was mentioned repeatedly mostly by people outside of the anthroposophic community but also by people within the community. This review calls for a better understanding of vaccine choices and beliefs for vaccines beyond MMR, in particular HPV vaccines. The review also highlights a potentially important research gap, which constitutes understanding not only a belief system but the role that stigma may play in making decisions about vaccines.

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If you ask where this strange anti-vaccination stance of anthroposophic medicine comes from, you don’t need to look far:

“In the future, we will eliminate the soul with medicine.

Under the pretext of a ‘healthy point of view’, there will be a vaccine by which the human body will be treated as soon as possible directly at birth,
(1) so that the human being cannot develop the thought of the existence of soul and Spirit.

To materialistic doctors, will be entrusted with the task of removing the soul of humanity.

As today, people are vaccinated against this disease or disease, so in the future, children will
(2) be vaccinated with a substance that can be produced precisely in such a way that people, thanks to this vaccination, will be immune to being subjected to the “madness” of spiritual life.

He would be extremely smart, but he would not develop a conscience, and that is the
(3) true goal of some materialistic circles.

With such a vaccine, you can easily make the etheric body loose in the physical body.
Once the etheric body is detached, the relationship between the universe and the etheric body would become extremely unstable, and man would become
(4) an automaton, for the physical body of man must be polished on this Earth by spiritual will.

So, the vaccine becomes a kind of arymanique [Ahrimanic] force; man can no longer get rid of a given materialistic feeling.
(5) He becomes materialistic of constitution and can no longer rise to the spiritual “.

Rudolf Steiner 

How often have we seen it stated on this blog and elsewhere by enthusiasts of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) that COVID vaccinations were useless or even harmful? Here is some rather compelling evidence that should make them think again.

This population based cohort study investigated the effectiveness of primary covid-19 vaccination (first two doses and first booster dose within the recommended schedule) against post-covid-19 condition (PCC).

All adults (≥18 years) participated from the Swedish Covid-19 Investigation for Future Insights (a Population Epidemiology Approach using Register Linkage (SCIFI-PEARL) project, a register based cohort study in Sweden) with covid-19 first registered between 27 December 2020 and 9 February 2022 (n=589 722) in the two largest regions of Sweden. Individuals were followed from a first infection until death, emigration, vaccination, reinfection, a PCC diagnosis (ICD-10 diagnosis code U09.9), or end of follow-up (30 November 2022), whichever came first. Individuals who had received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine before infection were considered vaccinated.

The primary outcome was a clinical diagnosis of PCC. Vaccine effectiveness against PCC was estimated using Cox regressions adjusted for age, sex, comorbidities (diabetes and cardiovascular, respiratory, and psychiatric disease), number of healthcare contacts during 2019, socioeconomic factors, and dominant virus variant at time of infection.

Of 299 692 vaccinated individuals with covid-19, 1201 (0.4%) had a diagnosis of PCC during follow-up, compared with 4118 (1.4%) of 290 030 unvaccinated individuals. Covid-19 vaccination with any number of doses before infection was associated with a reduced risk of PCC (adjusted hazard ratio 0.42, 95% confidence interval 0.38 to 0.46), with a vaccine effectiveness of 58%. Of the vaccinated individuals, 21 111 received one dose only, 205 650 received two doses, and 72 931 received three or more doses. Vaccine effectiveness against PCC for one dose, two doses, and three or more doses was 21%, 59%, and 73%, respectively.

The authors concluded that the results of this study suggest a strong association between covid-19 vaccination before infection and reduced risk of receiving a diagnosis of PCC. The findings highlight the importance of primary vaccination against covid-19 to reduce the population burden of PCC.

This study should make the anti-vaxers re-consider their views. Sadly, I have little hope that they will. If they don’t, they provide rational thinkers with yet further evidence that they are cultists who are beyond learning from compelling data.

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