Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vaccines: "Wading through the Confusion"

I was invited last year to participate in a webcast about vaccinations. This was conducted by the California Department of Public Health. They invited me because they had searched the web and found an article that I did with Randy Ferrance, DC, MD on vaccinations for Dynamic Chiropractic in February of 2005: What's Good for the Goose Is ... Ethics and Vaccinations

Here is a link to the webcast on vaccinations. It is a 60 minute program. We taped about hours of material which were edited down to this.

I think the production team headed by Lars Ullberg (he's the on camera moderator) did a great editing job.

Other members of the panel were:
  • Ken Reibel is a journalist with a autistic son who blogs at Autism News Beat An evidence-based resource for journalists
  • Frankie Milley (and her husband Bob) lost their only child Ryan Wayne Milley, to Meningococcemia/Meningococcal Meningitis on June 22, 1998 - she started meningitis advocacy group for meningitis a vaccine-preventable disease called Meningitis Angels
  • Mark Sawyer, MD from the San Diego County Immunization Branch, and a pediatrics professor at the University of California, San Diego,
  • Rahul K. Parikh, MD is a physician and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • S. Michael Marcy, MD, UCLA Center for Vaccine Research
  • David G. Amaral, PhD is an autism researcher from the UC Davis MIND Institute
  • Kristine Sheedy, Ph.D., Associate Director for Communication Science, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC Atlanta, GA
  • Jamie Betters, a parent of small children
A few of the panelists have written papers on the topic of immunization which I think are very important. Citations below:
  • Gust D, Brown C, Sheedy K, Hibbs B, Weaver D, Nowak G. Immunization attitudes and beliefs among parents: beyond a dichotomous perspective. Am J Health Behav. 2005 Jan-Feb;29(1):81-92. pubmed record
  • Amaral DG, Schumann CM, Nordahl CW. Neuroanatomy of autism. Trends Neurosci. 2008 Mar;31(3):137-45. pubmed record
  • Thompson WW, Price C, Goodson B, Shay DK, Benson P, Hinrichsen VL, et al. Early thimerosal exposure and neuropsychological outcomes at 7 to 10 years. N Engl J Med. 2007 Sep 27;357(13):1281-92. Marcy SM is one of the et al pubmed record
  • Parikh RK. Fighting for the reputation of vaccines: lessons from American politics. Pediatrics. 2008 Mar;121(3):621-2. pubmed record
There are a lot of web sites that present theories or vitriol regarding vaccinations. The link to the video also links to other valuable web sites on vaccinations.



  1. Dr. Perle,

    I wonder why chiropractors put so much time and energy into having a debate about the issue of immunization. It is really not our area of expertise, but I guess chiropractors feel obligated to inform patients about their health care choices. Certainly this is America, where people have the freedom of choice about their onw personal health care options. However, immunizations are also a public health issue and having an adequate number of people in the general population immunized has a protective effect for everyone (herd immunity).

    Regardless, the issue of immunization is really beyond the scope of chiropractic practice because our education and training is focused on the neuromusculoskeletal system; not the immune system. It is my opinion that when asked by patients about information on immunization, chiropractors should tell them to talk with their family doctor or get information from credible public health sources.

    Michael Schneider, DC, PhD
    Visiting Professor
    School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
    University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA USA

  2. Dr. Schneider,

    I agree completely. When I first published the article in Dynamic Chiropractic more comments were received regarding that article than any other I have written. Many of the comments were Argumentum Ad Hominem which prompted me to write a column by that name.


    Often in my ethics seminars I note that we should support public health efforts, such as vaccinations. One argument I have heard from people in my seminars is that we, the chiropractic profession, must stand in opposition to the medical monopoly and be there to present the contrary viewpoint. My response is that our profession's purpose isn't to oppose medicine. And there are more than enough people within the medical profession who are critical of their own profession. Our job as a profession is to provide the best non-surgical spinal care possible and police our own profession.