No More: Medical Truth Decay


It is Time to Stand Up Against Anti-vaxxers

by Scott Ratzan, MD and Kenneth Rabin, PhD

In a world where so many things need to be set right, perhaps the most frustrating is the loss of consensus over public policy that we once thought was written indelibly in the social contract.

The alarming global rise in what public health authorities delicately refer to as “vaccine hesitancy” is a stark example. Worldwide childhood vaccination rates have plummeted for years.


The consequences of “vaccine hesitancy” could unravel decades of healthcare progress, and render meaningless some of the greatest triumphs of medical research in the last century.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the clear and undisputed success of childhood vaccinations — it has been estimated that for each birth cohort in the United States receiving recommended childhood immunizations, around 20 million illnesses and more than 40,000 deaths are prevented, resulting in $70 billion in savings — the public health establishment has failed to respond assertively to opponents of mandatory immunization.

Not on the Fringes Anymore

We have too often dismissed this opposition as a rag-tag army of quack researchers, religious kooks, misguided yuppies, libertarian zealots, and opportunistic politicians. The truth is that these so-called “anti-vaxxers” have now coalesced as a powerful international sociopolitical force that has successfully leveraged social media platforms to create a degree of momentum that will demand concerted pushback if mandatory vaccination is to remain viable public policy.

The issue has become so grave that the World Health Organization lists “vaccine hesitancy” as one of the top 10 global health threats in 2019. “Anti-vaxxers” are now in company with antibiotic-resistant infections, the Ebola virus, air pollution, and climate change as public health threats. We believe that the public health community has good science, good data and good health information on its side. However, based on our combined seven decades of experience in public and private sector health affairs, we believe that the public health community by itself may lack the media resources, strategic communication orientation, and popular acceptance to address what we now recognize as a palpable threat to the health of the world’s children.

Anti-Vax in the U.S.

In America, for example, measles stands as a stunning example of how the “anti-vaxxers” have united to helped bring back a disease we thought we had consigned to the dustbin of history. Three generations ago, uncontrolled annual epidemics of measles infected three million to four million Americans annually. Victims typically suffered a painful itching, sometimes scarring rash, accompanied by fever and diarrhea. Severe cases led to pneumonia or encephalitis. In bad years, as many as 48,000 American children were hospitalized, 4,000 contracted encephalitis, and 450 died.

Beginning in the mid-1960s, an effective measles vaccination was mandated for American schoolchildren, and the disease was brought to heel. By 2000 the U.S. Public Health Service proudly declared that measles had been eliminated in the United States.

But this year, a scant two decades after we declared final victory, sustained “anti-vax” pressure on young parents has brought measles back with a vengeance, with 372 cases confirmed in 2018. So far through Feb. 10, 2019, already over 250 cases have been reported, almost all in children who have not been vaccinated. The problem is not confined to the U.S., as measles cases have also seen a 30% annual increase globally.

This alarming rise in measles cases, driven by variation in vaccine coverage and consequent losses of herd immunity in regions of the U.S. and other countries, stems entirely from “anti-vaxxer” messages that link the measles vaccine to autism. Scientists have long since disproven this connection, but the “anti-vaxxers” continue to push it aggressively. Increasing number of parents now choose to give their children no vaccinations at all.

Fake News on Vaccines

Despite clear evidence of success and peer-reviewed studies of the value of childhood vaccines, anti-vax” publicity continues to debunk science. These avatars of “fake news” have unleashed what the RAND Corporation calls “truth decay” Ironically, the first victims of the societal scourge of anti-vaxxers will be children who are too young to read the news, and were exposed to a vaccine-preventable disease that their parents “refused.”

We advocate urgent investment in a new multi-sector initiative to inoculate society and create a “vaccine literacy” to counter the anti-vaxxers. Good science and accurate information must remain at the forefront of pro-vaccine messages. But it is now time to fight fire with fire. We must reinvigorate the pro-vaccine cause through visible local advocacy for immunization, aggressive social and mass media campaigns to promote immunization, and a far less permissive “opt-out” strategy for parents who do not wish to comply with regulations requiring immunization of school-age children (as California has done).

What Can We Do?

Ultimately, it comes down to renegotiating the social contract that underlies all successful public immunization programs. We need to rebuild trust in mandatory childhood immunization policy through a communication strategy to reach today’s generation of physicians, parents and policymakers with understandable information about vaccine benefits and risks in language that is tailored to their concerns, delivered by sources they trust via the media they use. The stakes are high. The threat of resurgent diseases that should have no presence in the 21st century is a challenge to us all.

Scott Ratzan, MD, is senior fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business & Government, Harvard Kennedy School. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Health Communication and a past member of the CDC board of scientific counselors on infectious disease. Kenneth Rabin, PhD, is a partner in Baird’s Communications Management Counselors and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Health Communication.


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  1. It was the Soviets who infiltrated our beloved t.v. shows to fool us into thinking these diseases were benign and common. When we all know they were trying to commit genocide on our population for not figuring out a way to vaccinated the population.

    Let’s put this into perspective.

    Measles, Back in the Day before Marketing the Vaccine.

  2. Carol Duff, MSN, BA, RN February 18, 2019 at 6:55 pm
    “Still waiting for your medical credentials.”

    This is exactly the mentality and arrogance I mentioned in a previous comment. The more formal education a person has the less they can critically think. They can’t hold any more information why, their cup is full. They know everything already, they can’t learn any more, especially if it isn’t part of their mainstream indoctrination.

    I know young men who come back from Ag college. They know you can’t grow a plant without first killing anything living in the soil. Then only using water soluble NPK. And then drenching said plants with toxins throughout the growing season. And in many cases kill the plant with more chemicals before harvest. Yep, makes you real impressed what is taught in “higher” learning. The more degrees,the less “knowledge”.

    I wonder if we will ever hear Gordon saying nukes were used on the towers. I guess he has a degree in Nuclear science? Where is his credentials to comment on anything nuclear?

    “Hidden In Plain Sight: The Pioneering Work of Frederick Robert Klenner, M.D.” Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D.
    Quotes from the above article:
    Some physicians would stand by and see their patient die rather than use ascorbic acid because in their finite minds it exists only as a vitamin. –F. R. Klenner, MD
    “The sound barrier was broken in 1947. The Korean War began in 1950. In between was the polio epidemic of 1948- 9, during which Dr. Frederick Robert Klenner cured every polio case he saw by using vitamin C.”
    “In 1951, “In an especially incredible case,” Levy says, “Klenner9 described a five-year-old girl stricken with polio. This child had already been paralyzed in both her lower legs for over four days! The right leg was completely limp, and the left leg was determined to be 85% flaccid. Pain was noticed especially in the knee and lumbar areas. Four consulting physicians confirmed the diagnosis of polio. Other than massage, vitamin C was the only therapy initiated. After four days of vitamin C injections the child was again moving both legs, but with only very slow and deliberate movement. Klenner also noted that there was a ‘definite response’ after only the first injection of vitamin C. The child was discharged from the hospital after four days, and 1,000 mg of oral vitamin C was continued every two hours with fruit juice for seven days. The child was walking about, although slowly, on the 11th day of treatment. By the 19th day of treatment there was a ‘complete return of sensory and motor function,’ and no long term impairment ever resulted. Vitamin C not only completely cured this case of polio, it completely reversed what would undoubtedly have been a devastating, crippling result for the remainder of this girl’s life.”4 For such elegant results, in the days before widespread use of either antibiotics or vaccination, one may wonder why Klenner was not awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine.”
    “Born 22 October 1907 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Frederick Robert Klenner earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in biology, magna cum laude, from St. Vincent and St. Francis Colleges. After two teaching fellowships, he entered Duke University School of Medicine. There, while he was ill, he met his future wife, Annie Hill Sharp (born February, 19, 1914), then a senior nursing student who “helped nurse him back to health, and romance blossomed.”10 At the time, Annie would be only the second woman in the school’s history to graduate with a bachelor of science degree. Klenner received his M.D. in 1936, and “The couple settled in Winston-Salem, where Dr. Klenner was completing his residency at the North Carolina Tuberculosis Sanitarium.”10 There, according to a short biography published in the Journal of Applied Nutrition, he “served three years in post-graduate hospital training before embarking on a private practice. Although specializing in diseases of the chest, he continued to do general practice because of the opportunities it afforded for observations in medicine. His patients were as enthusiastic as he in playing ‘guinea pigs’ to study the action of ascorbic acid.”11 Klenner had hospital privileges at Reidsville’s Annie Penn Memorial Hospital where, among other things, he delivered hundreds of babies. Given supplemental ascorbate, not merely from birth but also all throughout gestation, Klenner’s uniformly healthy, trouble-free infants were known by the staff as the “Vitamin C Babies.”12 “
    “…For the past 12 years, Mrs. Klenner has been her husband’s fulltime nurse, and they manage the office with no other help. ‘I’d never see my husband if I didn’t work with him,’ said Mrs. Klenner. . . ‘Sometimes he overworks and feels kind of tired.”15 He was also subject to severe headaches, including migraines. Still, according to journalist Jerry Bledsoe, Klenner never sent bills to his patients. “If a patient couldn’t pay when treated, then he could pay when he could. And even if he couldn’t pay and still needed a doctor, Dr. Klenner would be there, making house calls no matter the hour.”
    “Another Greensboro Daily News article written by Miller recounts how Klenner first used injections of vitamin C: “Dr. Klenner remembers using (ascorbate) for a man, who was lying near death from severe virus pneumonia, but refused to be hospitalized. ‘I went to his house and gave him one big shot with five grams or 5,000 milligrams of vitamin C,’ he recalled. ‘When I went back later in the day, his temperature was down three degrees and he was sitting on the edge of the bed eating. I gave him another shot of C, 5,000 milligrams and kept up that dosage for three days, four times a day. And he was well. I said then, well, my gosh! This is doing something.”17”
    “Vitamins Against Multiple Sclerosis Nearly every person with multiple sclerosis that I’ve met has had two things in common: a lack of hope, and a lack of vitamins. Klenner’s patients lacked neither, with a treatment schedule calling for massive quantities of B-vitamins to, said Klenner, “effect nerve repair.””
    ““We’ve used massive doses of vitamins on over 10,000 people over a period of 30 years,” said Dr. Klenner, “and we’ve never seen any ill effects from them. The only effects we’ve seen have been beneficial.””
    “Klenner is justly remembered as the doctor who was first to boldly assert that “Ascorbic acid is the safest and most valuable substance available to the physician” and that patients should be given “large doses of vitamin C in all pathological conditions while the physician ponders the diagnosis.” Whether overshadowed by scandal or stubbornly ignored by the medical profession, high dose ascorbate therapy is here to stay. “I have used Dr. Klenner’s methods on hundreds of patients,” said Lendon H. Smith. M.D. “He is right.””
    “Only two of Dr. Frederick R. Klenner’s many papers are currently indexed by Medline. No abstract is available for either. The US National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library, indexes nothing whatsoever written by Klenner after 1952, when he published primarily in the Tri-State Medical Journal. “ This illustrates the attitude of the prejudiced ignorant bigots in orthodox medicine in America today, all corrupted by the totally corrupt pharmaceutical companies who seek to make all vitamins into drugs requiring a doctor’s prescription to purchase them! Our corrupt system of medicine needs drastic surgery by citizens just like our corrupt Congress needs to be jailed for allowing a foreign country to hi jack it and for failing to prosecute the perps in Israel for doing 9/11 . Posted by Winfield J. Abbe, Ph.D., Physics

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