Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Double fail

"It's my second wedding and with me being older . . . I want to look classy and elegant and age appropriate." — Jenny McCarthy

JENNY MCCARTHY caught my Shiny attention because she and actor Donnie Wahlberg got married August 31.

I'm not a fan of Ms. McCarthy. You remember her. She started out modeling nude in Playboy magazine and used that notoriety to move into television and movies, and for a time was co-host on the TV show called The View.

What I dislike about her is that she has used her celebrity status (such as it was or is) to disseminate and promote dangerous falsehoods about a non-existent causative relationship between childhood MMR vaccinations and autism.  

Here's a little about Ms. McCarthy's "views" from Wikipedia

She has claimed that vaccines cause autism, and that chelation therapy helped cure her son of autism. Both claims are unsupported by medical consensus, and her son's autism diagnosis has been questioned. Evan's disorder began with seizures and his improvement occurred after the seizures were treated, symptoms experts have noted are more consistent with Landau–Kleffner syndrome, often misdiagnosed as autism.

The original paper by Andrew Wakefield that formed the basis for McCarthy's claims (and for whose book she wrote a foreword) has been shown to be based on manipulated data and fraudulent research. 

The British Medical Journal published a 2011 article by journalist Brian Deer, based on information uncovered by Freedom of Information legislation after the British General Medical Council (GMC) inquiry into allegations of misconduct against Wakefield that led to him being struck-off from the medical register (unable to practice medicine in the UK) and his articles retracted, stating that Wakefield had planned a venture to profit from the MMR vaccine scare.

Here's a story that appeared March 18, 2014 in the New York Post about the damage McCarthy has done.

Jenny McCarthy’s dangerous anti-vaccine crusade
By Rich Lowry
March 18, 2014

In a feat that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago, the anti-vaccine movement has managed to breathe life into nearly vanquished childhood diseases.

It took all the ingenuity and know-how we are capable of to find safe, effective ways to dramatically diminish diseases like measles and whooping cough in the developed world; it took all the hysteria and willful ignorance we are capable of to give them a boost. A developer of the measles vaccine, Dr. Samuel Katz, says the question “is not whether we shall see a world without measles, but when.”

Not if Jenny McCarthy has anything to say about it. The former Playboy model and current co-host of “The View” is a leading light of the anti-vaccine movement. She has a boy with autism-like symptoms that she is convinced were caused by the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). You can credit her passion for her child, sympathize with her heartbreak — and still cringe at her wholly irrational cause.

It’s only natural that parents who see their young autistic children slip away at about the same time they receive vaccinations make the mistake of confusing correlation and causation. And it’s only human to want to believe that a tragedy is a morality tale with readily identifiable villains, in this case the drug industry and the medical establishment. None of this makes the so-called anti-vaxxers any less wrong, or doggedly impervious to evidence. 

No amount of discrediting makes a difference. One theory was that a preservative in children’s vaccines called thimerosal was causing autism. But the United States removed thimerosal from most childhood vaccines in 2001. If the theory had been sound, this should have reduced cases of autism. It didn’t. Cases have continued to rise, and the same held true in Canada and Denmark after eliminating thimerosal in the 1990s.

Another theory, latched onto by Jenny McCarthy, is that the MMR vaccine in particular causes autism. Dr. Andrew Wakefield publicized this supposed link in a famous article in the British medical journal The Lancet. It has since been thoroughly debunked. The Lancet retracted Wakefield’s paper, and the British Medical Journal reported that he “falsified data.” He had his medical license revoked. All of which should have been enough to give the anti-vaxxers pause.

Nonetheless, they fight on. In an interview with the Fox Business Network the other day, former MTV star Kristin Cavallari plugged the anti-vaccination cause, citing “books” and “studies.”

Most parents don’t listen. Only 1.8 percent of kindergartners get exempted from vaccinations, according to NBC News. But the number is higher in some states. In Oregon, the rate is 6.4 percent, with some counties hitting double digits. In California, Marin County has an exemption rate of nearly 8 percent. The more kids go unvaccinated, the greater the chance that diseases can get a foothold.

They usually are imported from abroad, but the absence of vaccination is a boon to their spread. A study in the journal Pediatrics found that the 2010 whooping-cough outbreak in California — when the state had the highest number of cases since 1947 — hit hardest in areas with high levels of nonvaccination. In 2013, measles cases tripled nationwide. Outbreaks were centered in religious communities in Brooklyn, Texas and North Carolina that had resisted vaccination. New York City has another small outbreak right now.

In the panic created by the Wakefield article, England saw MMR vaccination rates fall to 80 percent in 2004 and Wales to 78 percent. In 2012, England and Wales had the highest number of measles cases in 18 years.

These are dangerous illnesses, and the victims of an outbreak are often infants too small to have yet received vaccinations. Jenny McCarthy styles herself a “mother warrior.” If so, the kids sickened in the fallout from reduced vaccinations are the victims of friendly fire. Nothing good can come from undoing one of the miracles of medical progress.

As a matter of fact, there's even a website devoted to the influence McCarthy has had on people getting sick and dying as a result of being unvaccinated called jennymaccarthybodycount. Here's a screen cap from it:




Way to gain notoriety at the expense of people's lives, Jen.

And now as we make a very Shiny roundabout back to her recent walk down the aisle, let me share with you how Ms. McCarthy described her wedding plans to Good Morning America. She is quoted as saying that since it would be her second wedding, she wanted "to look classy and elegant and age appropriate."

Well, ya' didn't. 






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