Doctors And Vaccination

April 18, 2010 at 7:15 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Dangerously Wrong) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Dr Sarah Myhill’s website has a page on MMR vaccination that contains several untrue statements. I shall highlight some of the most obviously incorrect assertions and comment on each of them in this blogpost.

The page on Dr Myhill’s website (saved as a PDF here) incorrectly asserts that:

It is now known that multiple vaccinations given to Gulf War soldiers were partly to blame for the subsequent development of Gulf War Syndrome.

This is untrue. As I pointed out in this blogpost on squalene and Gulf War Syndrome, the link between vaccination and Gulf War Syndrome was based on a report that suffered from technical deficiencies and, more importantly, squalene was not added to the vaccines administered to these veterans, nor was it used in the manufacturing process.

Getting mumps before puberty is a minor illness and confers immunity for life.

Mumps is not quite as benign as Dr Myhill seems to suggest. While the disease is self-limiting and deaths from mumps are very rare,  I personally would not wish to risk the possibility of death from mumps when there is a vaccine that can prevent infection with the disease.

Other complications of mumps infection also need to be considered: pancreatitis in about 4% of cases, encephalitis (which is rarely a complication of mumps, but can be very serious indeed), and sensorineural hearing loss.

Boys do not ever need rubella vaccination.

While it may be true that boys do not themselves need to be protected from rubella, this approach would mean that pregnant women who were not immune to rubella (for whatever reason) would be at risk of rubella infection – something that can lead to their baby contracting congenital rubella syndrome. It’s worth looking at the manifestations of CRS to get an idea of how seriously this should be taken.

Now for the longest quote in this post:

My view is autism has many possible causes but that mercury is a major trigger, other heavy metals may also be involved. All vaccines contain adjuvants – these are immune stimulants which wake up the immune system and make it react to the dead or attenuated virus in the vaccine. MMR used to contain mercury, it now contains aluminium – both are know to be toxic to the brain and probably much more so to the developing brain.

This is epically wrong. The NHS website on MMR lists the brands of MMR vaccine – MMR II and Priorix – and I will now link to the patient information leaflets for these vaccines. [Edit 20th June: The vaccines listed in the BNF are apparently Priorix and MMRvaxpro. H/T darkside.]

The growth mediums for MMR II are (a) Medium 199 (a buffered salt solution containing vitamins and amino acids and supplemented with fetal bovine serum), which contains SPGA (sucrose, phosphate, glutamate, and recombinant human albumin) as stabilizer and neomycin (an aminoglycoside antibiotic) and (b) Minimum Essential Medium (a buffered salt solution containing vitamins and amino acids and supplemented with fetal bovine serum) containing recombinant human albumin and neomycin. Sorbitol and hydrolyzed gelatin stabilizer are added to the individual virus harvests.

Priorix contains the following ingredients: lactose, mannitiol, sorbitol and amino acids (and may also contain traces of neomycin).

MMR II and Priorix do not contain aluminium and the MMR vaccine never contained thimerosal (the adjuvant* that Myhill is referring to, which releases ethylmercury). MMR is a live vaccine and as such would not contain a preservative. Holford Watch can explain why MMR would not contain a preservative better than I, so here is a quote from the Holford Watch blog:

Just to be clear, MMR is a live vaccine. You would never add a preservative like thimerosal to it for much the same reason as you wouldn’t pasteurise live yogurt: this would ‘kill’ the vaccine, and render it ineffective.

Dr Myhill is simply wrong – and dangerously so.

More

Another doctor who takes issue with vaccination (and by “takes issue with” I mean “scaremongers about”) is Richard Halvorsen.

For more on MMR and autism, see Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science blog.

* Edit, 21.30: As Dr Aust points out in the comments, thimerosal / thiomersal would normally be referred to as a preservative (as Holford Watch do) rather than as an adjuvant (as Dr Myhill seems to refer to it). Rather than using the same terms as Dr Myhill, I should probably have changed “adjuvant” when referring to this section of her webpage.

Edit, 21:10 19th April: I sent an email asking for the page on MMR Vaccination to be reviewed and Dr Myhill’s website has now been amended slightly. There is now a statement on the page that is correct:

MMR has never contained mercury and does not contain aluminium now. [MMR vaccination - intermediate revision]

Edit, 21:30 19th April: the page has now been amended again: MMR vaccination – Myhill amended [PDF]

Update April 19th 2010

I have received several emails from authorative sources who tell me my information on vaccinations is out of date. This page was originally based on a lecture given by Dr Peter Mansfield.

I am grateful for new information that I will incorporate as soon as reasonably possible!

Update, 17:07 23rd April

I left a message on the Facebook group set up to support Dr Myhill, pointing out that she has already removed incorrect assertions from her website. The message was deleted. Someone then posted the following comment:

THANK YOU TO ONE OF OUR MEMBERS FOR INFORMING ME OF A PERSON POSTING ABUSIVE COMMENTS ON THE PAGE . THE OFFENDING COMMENTS HAVE NOW BEEN REMOVED THOUGH IF I HAVE MISSED ANY PLEASE LET ME KNOW . ABUSIVE BEHAVIOUR WILL NOT BE TOLERATED BY ANYONE AND WILL RESULT IN ANY SUCH PERSON BEING BANNED FROM THE GROUP …….. THANKYOU

I’ve now been banned from the Facebook group for pointing out that Dr Myhill has removed incorrect information from her website.

I really don’t think it is abusive to point out that incorrect statements have been removed from a website. I’d also question whether it is acceptable to censor reasonable comment simply because you disagree with it.

Often, people will ignore evidence that contradicts their beliefs.

Personally, I don’t think that Myhill’s supporters are helping her cause.

Update, 30th April 18:13

Here is a PDF of the panel’s ruling in the Sarah Myhill case.

Edit, 20th September

Dr Myhill has now published her defence document: defence-document-finalfinal.

Update, 7th January 2011

http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/Vaccinations_-_good_or_bad%3F – deleted

http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/MMR_vaccination_-_should_my_child_have_it%3F – deleted

http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/Vaccinations – redirects to the first deleted article.

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54 Comments

  1. Cybertiger said,

    More cobblers! Go get a life, jdc532!

  2. draust said,

    Most people wouldn’t call thimerosal an adjuvant, jdc – it is a preservative, as your Holfordwatch quote says, added to multi-dose vial vaccines so that bugs can’t grow in them. It also used to be in a lot of contact lens solutions as a preservative a few years back – not sure about now, though likely it has been superceded.

    An “adjuvant”, strictly speaking, is a substance that increases the “immunogenicity” of what is in the vaccine – i.e. the adjuvant enhances immune reaction to the vaccine contents at the vaccination site – see e.g. here. Although the Wikipedia entry on adjuvants mentions thimerosal, this is confusing as thimerosal isn’t generally regarded as an adjuvant.

  3. draust said,

    PS Good on you for writing about Dr Myhill, BTW.

    PPS And I see Shabby’s comments are as factually-based as ever.

  4. MikeS said,

    Right on the button jdc.

    How can a doctor who says seems to offer vaccine advice not know what is in the vaccines?

    MMR contained mercury????
    Sheesh!

    Hey Cybertiger!
    Judging from your senseless twittering on various websites, I think it is you who needs to get a life.

  5. Cybertiger said,

    “Hey Cybertiger! Judging from your senseless twittering on various websites ..”

    Hey MikeSenseless! What twitter twittering would you be judging? Twit!

  6. symball said,

    *pokes big bad kitty*

    Hey cybertiger- which part was cobblers? or are you just miffed that this is all true?

    ps. insults will be rated on a score of 1-10 with added marks for originality and wit

  7. Cybertiger said,

    Oh, no, another humble cobbler is juggling stuff and nonsense and dropping balls just the same. Twat!

  8. noodlemaz said,

    Marvellous as usual.

    I was, however, under the impression that mumps can also be risky for boys and carry a risk of infertility? Perhaps this is not true… anyone?

  9. jdc325 said,

    Yes, it’s true that mumps can cause problems with fertility Noodlemaz. Myhill seems to advocate vaccinating boys around the time that risk of infertility would be an issue though, so I concentrated on the other complications that can arise from mumps infection.

    Thanks for commenting.

  10. jdc325 said,

    Thanks for commenting everyone.

    Cybertiger – are you able to answer symball’s question? Which part was cobblers?

  11. Cybertiger said,

    jdc523 asks,

    “Cybertiger – are you able to answer symball’s question? Which part was cobblers?”

    jdc352 is always there, peddling his knock-off wares when there’s sneakiness to be done, when the establishment goons are busy giving someone a kicking … the homeopaths, the chiropracters, the evidenceless accupuncturists, Dr Myhill or Andrew Wakefield. jdc532 is the evidence-based cobblers merchant, blithely flogging his patent brand of shoe-shine, his crocodile tears and his oily snake skin sneakers. Ugh!

  12. Benji said,

    Nope, didn’t think he’d answer the question.

    Cybertiger:

    What part of the post is cobblers? Try answering for a change. I assume you have plenty of time on your hands in order to do so.

  13. Badsciencemonk said,

    Since you got sacked from your surgery I was just wondering how the job search was going Cybertiger

  14. Cybertiger said,

    “Which part was cobblers?””

    I see a couple of shoe-shine boys pissed on moonshine are hanging about spewing nonsense. Plonkers!

  15. Benji said,

    Nope didn’t think so. How is that job search going Mark? Not too well presumably.

    Good post JDC. If only you could attract David Mabus to your site somehow. Then you would have a full compliment of nutjobs/disgraced doctors to add to your fanmail section!

  16. Neuroskeptic said,

    Her page on epilepsy is predictably woosome, but more seriously it contains some potentially deadly advice.

    “What to do for a person having an epileptic fit…
    * Wait until they recover on their own.”

    Most seizures do resolve on their own, but sometimes they don’t, which is called status epilepticus, which can easily be fatal or lead to permanent brain damage.

    This is why epilepsy organizations make recommendations like this:

    “Call for an ambulance if…
    # The seizure continues for more than five minutes
    # One tonic-clonic seizure follows another without the person regaining consciousness between seizures”

  17. Cybertiger said,

    Dr Myhill wrote,

    What to do for a person having an epileptic fit,

    • Don’t let them damage themselves – protect their head and limbs if convulsing.
    • Keep them lying down, on their side in case of vomiting.
    • If they are tongue biters, put something soft between their teeth, eg rolled up handkerchief.
    • Wait until they recover on their own.
    • If it is a child fitting because of a high temperature, remove their clothing and sponge them down with tepid water.
    • Get help, unless you are experienced with that problem in that patient.

    You’re a nitpicker, a very tiresome tic: what’s wrong with the advice above, Dr neurospastic?

  18. Skeptic’s Class Now in Session: The 135th Skeptic’s Circle! « The Skeptical Teacher said,

    [...] Last, but not least, over at the Stuff and Nonsense blog we have a very informative post regarding how some doctors are continuing to push various forms of anti-vaccination woo.  Some of these woo-ish arguments are new to me, so if battling anti-vax is something that interests you, head on over to read all about it. [...]

  19. Cybertiger said,

    You stupid bastard! You would have thought the neurosceptic would have engaged some spare brain fragments before frothing forth about Dr Myhill. But no, the spasticneurotic has only tiny fragments of synaptic tissue to engage. Plonker!

  20. pissedOff said,

    This whole page is just sad, titled “stuff and nonsense” is probably appropriate.
    Was looking for a reason why my baby is seriously ill with fever and possibly dying, due to being vaccinated 3 days ago with dodgy serums. After spending the past 3 days on the phone to 13health and doctors, nobody was able to tell us what to do and how to proceed. Then I just witnessed on the news a recall on all flu vaccinations for children under the age of 5. Not that this has anything to do, with my 1year old’s vaccinations. But does prompt concern, and I will be following up all future doctor inquiries with a baseball bat….

  21. Badsciencemonk said,

    We shall see what the GMC think of Myhill, Cybertiger.

    By the way. One of your posts was coherent. Congrats

  22. Cybertiger said,

    “One of your posts was coherent.”

    Which one, MadMonkFish?

  23. Neuroskeptic said,

    Cybertrout: if you read what I wrote, and contrary to all expectations you do seem to have learned to read, you would see that I object to saying “Wait until they recover on their own”. If someone’s gone into SE they won’t recover on their own.

    Saying “Get help, unless you are experienced with that problem in that patient. ” is hardly useful because it doesn’t communicate the fact that SE is a medical *emergency* whereas if someone has a short seizure they probably don’t need immediate help.

    You yourself will never be at risk from epilepsy as it results from overactivity of the brain. However not everyone is so fortunate.

  24. Neuroskeptic said,

    P.S. I notice Dr Myhill has stolen the icon for her website from PubMed. (That’s a search engine for peer-reviewed scientific papers Cybertiger, in case you didn’t know, which would explain quite a lot, although not everything since not everyone who doesn’t know about PubMed is a complete berk.)

  25. Dr Aust said,

    “[Cybertiger] will never be at risk from epilepsy as it results from overactivity of the brain.”

    !!!…. Classic.

  26. draust said,

    And re the supporters’ group and their banning of any dissent… all rather reminiscent of Shabby’s friends over at JABS. I am reminded of that old line:

    “Did you just call me a cult….?”

    BTW, re Dr Myhill and her schtick, the phrase that springs to mind is “nothing new under the sun” Back in the 80s all the alternative allergy / “multiple chemical sensitivity” stuff used to go under the name of “clinical ecology” – see e.g. this mid-80s article from the New York Times. The term was originally coined by Theron Randolph, and the ideas go back to at least the early 60s Over the years new stuff gets added to the grab-bag – chronic Lyme Disease, electrosensitivity, etc.. though anti-vaccinationism is a pretty constant theme, as are “toxic heavy metals”.

  27. jdc325 said,

    “Did you just call me a cult….?” Haha, I used that as a title for a blogpost once – Cult. Can’t remember if I nicked it from elsewhere or thought of it independently. Agree re the banning of dissent – Myhill supporters certainly remind me of the JABS lot.

  28. Al Capone Junior said,

    Great job keeping up with this JDC.

    Oh, and cybertwit, I heard they’re hiring garbage men to work at the dump sorting bottles from cans… and you obviously need a job, so I thought I’d help you out. a\

  29. Cybertiger said,

    “[Cybertiger] will never be at risk from epilepsy as it results from overactivity of the brain.”

    Of course, the Skepticalneurotic is definately an epileptic: the two synapses are sparkling wildly, madly, excitedly and fundamentally. There is something fundamental in the dishonest stupidity of this synaptically challenged fundamentalist twitterer.

  30. Kat said,

    It looks as if all text has been removed from the vaccinations page on Dr Myhill’s website.

  31. jdc325 said,

    Hi Kat.

    Yes, you are quite right – the content on the MMR Vaccination has been removed. The revisions to the page can be seen in the PDFs linked to in the edits to my blogpost (made on 19th April). The misinformation on other pages about vaccination still remains, though. Sadly.

    Thanks for commenting.

  32. Cybertiger said,

    “The misinformation on other pages about vaccination still remains, though. Sadly.”

    You wouldn’t know misinformation about vaccines if it grabbed you by the bollocks. You sad, bogus bollocks promoter.

  33. Neuroskeptic said,

    Here’s some misinformation about vaccines: you’re more likely to have an intelligent conversation with Cybertiger than you are with a box of vaccines.

  34. Becky said,

    Be honest, you’re more likely to have an interesting discussion with a wet cardboard box or a bag of roofing nails than you are with Dr Struthers.

    Having a battle of wits with him is like entering an arse kicking contest against a one legged man.

    Kind regards,

    Becky

  35. Cybertiger said,

    Oh, oh, something nasty, crude and slimy has just crawled out from under a stone. And sparkly ‘two synapses’ skepticalneurotic appears to be short on intellectual subtlety too.

  36. Becky said,

    Yes Dr Struthers. Get back under there, where you belong.

    Kind regards,

    Becky

  37. Neuroskeptic said,

    That’s a bit unfair – I’m sure there are plenty of honest, hardworking woodlice and worms under that stone who are glad to see the back of him. Even though they’re blind.

  38. The 21st Floor » Blog Archive » Dr Sarah Myhill’s License Restricted By GMC said,

    [...] The Transcript of the hearing has been made avaliable on Stuff and nonsense [...]

  39. DT said,

    The transcript of the panel proceedings is a gem.

    Earlier today I was wondering about the appraisal and revalidation that Dr Myhill might need. Now we know she has been appraised by Dr Chris Dawkins.

    Dr Chris Dawkins GMC Number: 3141919
    Specialises in: Chronic fatigue syndrome, Irritable bowel syndrome, Nutrition
    Complementary methods used: Enzyme potentiated desensitisation
    Breakspeare Clinic
    Shipton Road
    Milton-under-Wychwood
    Oxfordshire
    OX7 6LR
    Phone: 01993 830913
    Email: cdawkins@doctors.org.uk

    Nuff said.
    Appraisal by one’s peers.

  40. DT said,

    Q The other question I have is have you in the last ten years been appraised of your
    professional practice?
    A Indeed, yes. I can show you my appraisal file if you so wish to see it.
    Q You have not got it today with you?
    A No, no, I thought you had enough paperwork already.

    :)

  41. DT said,

    Regarding the public gallery’s interruptions:
    “As the independent legal adviser to this Panel, can I say to those that sit in the public gallery that of course this Panel has discretion under its procedure rules to exclude members of the public. I am afraid this is not Friday Night at the Palladium; this is actually a judicial hearing, and the Panel has an important judicial function to carry out; so applause, booing, criticism and that sort of thing is wholly inappropriate while counsel is putting forward his case.”

    Her supporters really, really tried their best to dig her in deeper, didn’t they?

  42. DT said,

    The GMC even had a go at the wording of the petition submitted by her supporters – phrases like “witch hunt by the GMC” didn’t go down too well, for obvious reasons.

    With friends like these, who needs enemies?

  43. DT said,

    Another tidbit that emerged (and glossed over by the panel unless they discussed it in camera):

    Myhill saying she practices alone in a remote rural part of Wales, but gives patients injections of drugs in her surgery without any resuscitation equipment available, and she does not posess a valid Adult Life Support (ALS) certificate.

  44. Cybertiger said,

    Smug-gittism is alive and well. Medical professionalism is dead. Long live the King.

  45. Skepticat said,

    May I shamelessly promote my latest blogpost entitled ‘Dr Sarah Myhill and that witchunt’, which was partly inspired by your own and to which I have drawn attention?

    http://jdc325.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/myhill-gmc.pdf

    Admin Edit: here is a direct link to Skepticat’s post – Myhill witch-hunt.

  46. Cybertiger said,

    One is driven by the evidence to the conclusion that the shameless Scepticat is most tiresomely underemployed.

  47. Cybertiger said,

    DeeTee is a British doctor who loves the tragedy of a spectacular car crash,

    “The compulsion to catch up with the thread and events surrounding the Myhill circus was threatening to steal many hours out of my life that I’d never get back. But like you, I now think it has been a fascinating and highly informative exercise. Watching a spectacular slow motion car crash has had nothing on this.”

    http://www.badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=15693&start=4525#p345511

    One can’t help thinking that DT’s thoughts represent British medical professionalism finally hitting the buffers at 101 miles an hour.

    PS. I think a referral to the National Clinical Assessment Service (NCAS) might help recover some of Dr DeeTee’s professionalism. On the other hand, in view of this difficult doctor’s spectacular car crashing, the case is a hopeless one.

  48. Skepticat said,

    Thanks for posting the correct link, James. I didn’t mean to post a link to that file, obviously.

    Re my underemployment Cybertiger, you speak the truth. Hopefully Big Pharma will be writing me another cheque soon. ;-)

  49. Bill9651 said,

    I wonder how many people who have lambasted Sarah Myhill have ended up on her doorstep when they have caught ME? I have had this bloody illness for ten years and after seeing a mutitude of useless tossers in the NHS it was a revelation to see a doctor who knew what she was doing.

    The reason Sarah Myhill is so popular with her patients is that she gets them better. She also understands that the basis of good health lies in nutrition and lifestyle and not prescription drugs!

  50. mike said,

    i feel the need to show what mercury does to the brain i please copy and watch the 4 min video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n67k4plMV-w&feature=player_embedded

    Now just a few facts which most doctors don’t know, tha\t under european law doctors have to tell the parents of vaccines both the benifits and problems they may cause, and when you look into the ingredients you will find out why they don;t tell you. you may want to have a look at this http://www.tetrahedron.org/articles/vaccine_awareness/ingredients.html

    there is so much information out there by top doctors who state never to vaccinate due to the dangers, and for those people who say “well because you dont vacine your child your putting mine at risk”, this is bull and the reason being, if you have been vacinated then you already have the virus so your child would already be immune to it, or not?

    go research it and find out its not rocket science, oh and this video tops the lot admitting putting cancer virus in the vaccine. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edikv0zbAlU you will be shocked

    happy reading

  51. jdc325 said,

    Thanks for your comments and the links to the youtube vids. Have you got any evidence that the risks of vaccination outweigh the benefits? If not, then I think I’d prefer to keep up to date with my immunisations.

    for those people who say “well because you dont vacine your child your putting mine at risk”, this is bull and the reason being, if you have been vacinated then you already have the virus so your child would already be immune to it, or not?

    Vaccination doesn’t guarantee protection against disease, so no it is not bullshit to say that unvaccinated children could put others at risk. You also ignore the people who cannot be vaccinated – those who are likely to suffer a serious allergic reaction or who have a compromised immune system, as well as those who are too young to receive a vaccine. It’s worth noting that in the Duisburg measles outbreak, one child who was too young to receive the vaccine died: link.

  52. The Wrongness of Dr Sarah Myhill « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    [...] year, I wrote about some of Sarah Myhill’s incorrect assertions regarding vaccination. Since then, Dr Myhill has substantially amended her website, removing many of the factually [...]

  53. GMC Complaint Regarding Dr Sarah Myhill « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    [...] originally written about Dr Sarah Myhill’s views on vaccination in April last year, detailing some of the most obviously incorrect assertions on her website and [...]

  54. Dr Sarah Myhill – Yet More Dangerous Advice? « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    [...] I’ve written about Dr Myhill several times now. Previously, I’ve pointed out various incorrect assertions and unsubstantiated claims relating specifically to vaccination. [...]

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