Dr Bob’s Alternative Vaccine Schedule? He made it up

The Pediatric Insider

© 2013 Roy Benaroch, MD

Thinking of buying a car? Talk to the people who know about cars. Look in those magazines that rate cars. Try, maybe, driving some different cars around for a while. Or asking people who’ve already purchased one: do you like it? Would you buy it again?

What you probably wouldn’t do is take advice from someone who readily admits that he made it up.

Today, Reddit did one of their “IamA” features, starring Dr. Bob Sears, author of “The Vaccine Book.” This is the guy who created his own “Alternative Vaccine Schedule”, different from the one supported by every genuine health authority in the world. He suggests that parents delay some vaccines, space them out differently, or skip some altogether. One might assume it’s because he has some kind of special insight, or tremendous knowledge, or maybe is just more clever than the rest of us.

Nah. In his own words, when asked about the evidence he relies on to support his alternative schedule, he says:

“There is very little to no evidence.”

This is the entire exchange from Reddit, starting with the question posed by “itsajelly”:

[–]itsajelly 6 points 1 hour ago*

Dr. Sears, what evidence do you have to support your alternative vaccine schedule? Do you think it’s possible it validates parents’ fears about vaccines rather than alleviates them?

[–]DrBobSears[S] 8 points 1 hour ago

There is very little to no evidence. I agree that it’s possible it can validate some parents’ fears, but those parents have probably already chosen to not vaccinate anyway. What I think it achieves MORE often is that it allows parents to go ahead and vaccinate, when they wouldn’t otherwise have done so because they won’t follow the AAP schedule. I think it increases vaccination rates. Anyone who is already naturally opposed to or in favor of vaccination probably is unaffected by my schedule.

[–]itsajelly 2 points 1 hour ago

Thank you for your candid response.

Dr. Sears readily admits he made it up. He goes on to explain that his odd delusions actually increase vaccination rates—as if fear-mongering and pandering actually helps. He could have written a book that rationally explains the evidence, and draws a logical conclusion. Instead, he chose to ignore science to sell more books.

Dr. Bob also claims that “Anyone who is already naturally opposed to or in favor of vaccination probably is unaffected by my schedule.” Tell that to the people catching preventable diseases from unvaccinated children.

The “Alternative Vaccine Schedule” is a sham. It’s been thoroughly deconstructed elsewhere—please see here or here if you really want to get into the nauseating details of how Dr. Bob twisted information, ignored science, and created a pagan idol for unnecessary worry. The man was candid, and I’ll give him props for that. Thanks for the honesty, Bob. In his own words, there is “very little to no” evidence that his schedule is safe or effective. It is, in fact, demonstrably less safe because it exposes children to an increased risk of disease. At the same time, there is no evidence (nor any reason to even speculate) that it is in any way safer than following the established schedule.

Be safe. Rely on science and the people who know what they’re talking about. Vaccinate your child, on schedule, on time.

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30 Comments on “Dr Bob’s Alternative Vaccine Schedule? He made it up”

  1. R Gale Says:

    and roy.. where is your science to support your belief system?
    It is wonderful that people are gradually waking up to some rationale inquiry and question the vaccine myths that have been fed to them for decades. Skepticism towards vaccine safety and efficacy did not give birth in a vacuum. Scientific questioning about vaccination has been with us since Jenner. Whether or not federal “health” authorities, such as the CDC and FDA (Fraud and Death Administration) advocate vaccine safety is not the main issue. Why people are increasing suspicious of vaccines is because of the 10s of 1000s of parents across the country with injured children from vaccination.
    Before preaching your belief system… please do some archeological digging into the actual science of vaccination.

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  2. lilady Says:

    I had a run-in with Dr. Bob, when he blogged on the Huffington Post, voicing his opposition to California Assembly Bill 2109. The bill was later enacted into law; it requires parents who wish to “opt out” of mandatory school entry vaccines requirements by claiming a “personal belief exemption”, to meet with their childrens’ health care provider to discuss the consequences of NOT vaccinating their children.

    Dr. Bob was not too pleased with me when I commented that his deliberately not vaccinated 7 year old patient who contracted measles in Europe, was the “index case” responsible for the huge 2008 San Diego measles outbreak.

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/03/27/dr-bob-sears-vs-seth-mnookin-measles-out/

    Thanks Dr. Benaroch, for all your efforts to educate the public about vaccines.

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  3. Todd W. Says:

    @R Gale

    A search of PubMed will turn up the evidence you seek. CDC and AAP provide good summaries of it.

    The reason that reluctance regarding vaccines is on the rise is not because parents have vaccine-injured children. There are several reasons: 1) Parents confused correlation with causation, blaming vaccines for coincidental illnesses; 2) anti-vaccine groups, such as the misnamed National Vaccine Information Center, Age of Autism, SaneVAX and others actively work to undermine confidence in vaccinations; and 3) others actively oppose and spread fear, uncertainty and doubt because of political, ideological or religious reasons.

    Perhaps you should think about some of the things you’ve heard or read about vaccines that convince you to be skeptical of them and examine the sources. Is it based on true readings of published science, or is it a misrepresentation? How much of it is based on people’s stories, which are prone to all manner of bias?

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  4. Thanks for writing this, Dr. Benaroch. I wonder if you saw what Dr. Bob had to say about the Institute of Medicine report last week:

    and today’s take at the misnamed “Health Impact News”

    http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/institute-of-medicine-concludes-vaccinated-versus-unvaccinated-research-not-needed-the-vaccine-schedule-is-safe-as-is/

    Like


  5. Thank you, doctor, for speaking up. I wrote about Dr. Bob just the other day, and what he had to say about the IOM report.

    http://autism-news-beat.com/archives/2136

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  6. Autismum Says:

    Next time I get someone lauding dr bob, i’ll send them here. Great post, thank you.

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  7. adc Says:

    I read Dr. Bob’s book. I didnt interpret it as an anti-vaccine book at all. The book appeals to parents who are questionning vaccine safety and the wisdom in giving our children SO many vaccines and giving several at one time. For the CDC to advocate a “one size fits all” approach, they are alienating parents who choose to vaccinate in a different way and the alternate schedule could be used as a guideline to those folks who aren’t comfortable just following without asking if the schedule is in their child’s best interest I think some people reading his book may choose not to vaccinate at all. Perhaps his information will at least make them think twice. I don’t give my child anything blindly without questioning the necessity of it and what the possible cons might be regardless of what the CDC says. Common sense dictates all parents asking the questions of what effects the preservatives in the vaccines will have on their childs’ developing system. Pretty sure the toxic substances would be cause for concern if parents knew exactly what was in there.Bottom line–parents who are totally comfortable not asking these questions and vaccinating according to the schedule are not going to gravitate to his book. His alternate schedule (regardless of how he came up with it) may make the folks who are leaning away from vaccines to reconsider.

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  8. Dr. Roy Says:

    I knew the 2008 measles outbreak was started by an un-vaxxed child who picked up measles in Europe; I didn’t know it was Dr. Bob Sears’ own patient. That makes his statement, “Anyone who is already naturally opposed to or in favor of vaccination probably is unaffected by my schedule” especially mendacious. Non-vaxxing or under-vaxxing or delayed-vaxxing puts ALL of our children at risk.

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  9. Dr. Roy Says:

    R Gale’s comment started with an odd sort phrase: “and roy..” I thought maybe a first comment got spam-filtered or something, but this comment is all that this person posted.

    Anyway: for anyone sincerely interested in the science, a great place to start is at the CDC page for vaccine recommendations, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/ACIP-list.htm. Well-organized links to the most-recent general and specific recommendations will take anyone to very well-referenced, extensive information. For instance, the link to “general recommendations” sends you to http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6002a1.htm?s_cid=rr6002a1_e, with 239 solid references. This material might be a bit dry in places– have some coffee ready. But if you want to know why this or that is recommended, here’s the info you want to be looking at.

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  10. Dr. Roy Says:

    adc, Dr. Sears “information,” as he so candidly admits, is stuff he made up with “little or no evidence.” Perhaps that appeals to people looking to have their unfounded fears validated. Would they be as pleased with his advice if they knew he admitted that it is not based on any evidence? I doubt most people would be happy to learn that their trusted source makes things up.

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  11. Alexis Says:

    When you’re name is as prominent in the parenting world as “Sears” is and you put something in a “book” then parental math looks like this: sears+published in a book=truth. Which is why this is so frustrating :(

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  12. Dr. Roy Says:

    “Sears” has become a trusted name, if for no other reason than familiarity. I doubt many families know their relationship with a shady multilevel marketing company, or that their “trusted advice” is far from the pediatric mainstream. I think this quote of Dr. Bob’s is quite telling: he knows he has no evidence, and doesn’t mind saying it, because so many of their followers don’t seem to care.

    BTW Oz is also a nimrod and quack-lover. Who has also sold far more books than me!

    Like


  13. [...] Dr Bob’s Alternative Vaccine Schedule? He made it up. [...]

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  14. Tom K Says:

    Maybe the brilliant Dr. Roy will now explain why the CDC reports that 1 out of every 6 boys has a learning disability, or why 23 million Americans have chronic autoimmune system disorders, or why many schools no longer allow students to bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into the classroom.

    Like

  15. Dr. Roy Says:

    From the tone of his post, it’s clear that Tom K is convinced that vaccines are somehow the cause of these ills, and that somehow Dr. Bob’s alternative schedule is safer.

    Vaccines are the most-studied, safest medical interventions we’ve got. No other medicine or procedure undergoes anything close to the rigorous study required for vaccine approval. Of the candidate possibilities of causes of Tom K’s listed problems, vaccines are the least likely. Nonetheless, a subset of vaccine haters will continue their cult-like preoccupation with vaccines as the cause of all evil. There is no amount of science or explanation that will sway these people.

    Ironically, their singular focus on vaccines continues to distract from the study of other factors, delaying progress and ensuring that more people get sick and stay sick longer. But whether you believe it or not, science is still true.

    EDIT: I found this story today, about progress towards a vaccine to prevent (or, perhaps if caught early, to treat) type 1 diabetes. There are also vaccines in development to prevent and treat a variety of cancers. Progress! Preventing and treating disease! This is good stuff. I don’t know how the antivaccine propagandists are going to spin this stuff. Let’s see.

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  16. J Says:

    I know a parent who probably would have chosen not to vaccinate but because of Dr. Sears’ book does give her child all the vaccines, but one by one–never the Pentacel or more than one shot on a day–because of that belief that it’s too hard on the child’s developing immune system to respond to more than one vaccine. She uses his alternate schedule. I will never understand why people think this, though. I see germs everywhere! Today my daughter and I went to the grocery and I always think of it there because they have those sanitizing wipes for the cart. But you have to think not just of all the customers touching your cart but also all the people who stocked the shelves as well as what’s in the air. Don’t you think that in winter going out would get us exposure to some influenza and a bunch of different rhinoviruses and some other stuff? I don’t see why people think it would be such a strain to get a 5 disease vaccine when we naturally get exposed to things all the time.

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  17. Dr. Roy Says:

    J, well said. Vaccine-phobia is an emotional “belief”, and emotions aren’t always easily swayed by facts. Sears’ books incite the emotional response, so he can sell more books.

    Sadly, these issues have been very well studied, and parents seeking reassurance and truth can find plenty of support for the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. But there’s so much manufactured fear and misinformation out there, it can be difficult for parents to sift through the nonsense.

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  18. Matt Adler Says:

    Dr. Roy – outside of Sears’ claims about vaccines, do you know of any good literature that examines the food products he endorses? E.g. the Happy Baby line, YoBaby yogurt, etc.?

    I agree with everything you’ve written here and now I’m just nervous about Sears in general. I realize you’re probably not interested in an out-and-out war with the guy/company but I’m just curious if you know of any other documented investigations.

    Thanks, Matt

    Like

  19. Dr. Roy Says:

    I don’t know much about Happy Baby or YoBaby. I do know that the Sears family at least used to be interconnected with Juice Plus, a line of vitamins that are sold via a shady multilevel marketing scheme: http://www.mlmwatch.org/04C/NSA/juiceplus.html.

    EDIT: a quick google search shows that there’s still quite a bit of advertising-style material on the “AskDrSears” web site, with letters “signed” by Bob and Bill and Jim Sears, including their personal testimonials. So, yes, it’s fair to say that there’s a promotional relationship there.

    Like


  20. [...] the dangers of vaccines. I think of the mentions of “alternative vaccine schedules” in Dr. Sears books I borrowed from the La Leche League library. The implication of those and the websites I saw [...]

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  21. Suzanne Says:

    J, everything that you said about exposure to multiple germs makes sense…except for one big thing. When we are exposed to diseases in everyday life, these germs have to filter through the skin and/or mucus membranes. Vaccines bypass both of those and therefore cannot mimic the way we catch diseases. Besides which, where are we going to be assaulted by measles, mumps and German measles all at once? Or diptheria, tetanus and pertussis, all in the same day?

    I am from a Third World country where there are way fewer children who have as many allergies and overall issues as children have in the U.S., and where the vaccination schedule is less aggressive than the AAP suggests. Seeing how many vaccines my baby was scheduled to undergo in the first six, not to mention the first 15 months, of her life certainly gave me pause. I don’t necessarily believe that certain vaccines cause certain issues in children; rather that it is possible that the immaturity of children’s systems AND the multiple vaccines at one time isn’t a good combination. Correlation does not equal causation, that is true. But consider the fact that when we take medications there are often interactions between certain medications. Is it that far a stretch to say that these vaccinations, while good one at a time, may be causing interactions, when combined, that are detrimental?

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  22. Dr. Roy Says:

    Suzanne’s speculations, interesting as they may be, aren’t backed up by any actual evidence. You can speculate that vaccines, or some combination of vaccines, are responsible for X or Y or Z. You could also speculate that pollution causes certain things, or that radio waves are responsible for something else, or artificial fabrics, or Oprah Winfrey.

    Fortunately, we don’t have to guess. We can use science as a tool to investigate these speculations– making hypotheses, testing them using objective measurements. While something can never be disproven with 100% certainty, the weight of evidence is very strong that vaccines, following the current schedule, are both safe and effective at preventing real, devastating diseases.

    Like

  23. chairnitram Says:

    You say that Dr Sears made up his vaccine schedule and so did the person who made up the one thats being pushed Hahaha, So!
    By the way, I reacted to the DPT myself and I know of plenty others out there, so you cant say that theres no harm in vaccinations…the people who control vaccines have chosen to ignore the harm that they can do to some babies/people

    Like

  24. Dr. Roy Says:

    There is no “one person” who “made up” the current vaccine schedule. It has been established by thousands of studies in dozens of countries, and is supported by millions of experts across the globe. That’s in marked contrast to the schedule invented by Dr Sears, who (to his credit) has the honesty to admit he has no support for it.

    No is claiming that vaccines cannot have side effects, including rare serious ones. But they are very, very rare. Many of the reactions that occurred in the the past are now understood to be related to genetic conditions (such as Dravet Syndrome) that are inherited– those seizures would occur with or without vaccines, but the seizures are blamed on vaccines because of the coincidence of timing. That’s why it’s important to look not just at stories and anecdotes, but at actual evidence.

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  25. […] say that the normal vaccine schedule is too difficult for a child’s immune system to cope with. It […]

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  26. Alice Says:

    How does the safety-testing, and research on efficacy, of vaccines for pets compare to the data on vaccines for humans? I have always vaccinated my cats, including boosters, but have recently started to see websites with scare stories similar to those about human vaccines. Could you direct me to any solid peer-reviewed information about pet vaccines?

    Like

  27. Dr. Roy Says:

    Alice, I’m not a good source for veterinary info. I have a great vet, I trust him, and he tells me what vaccines my pup needs. I don’t pretend I’m capable of doing that kind of research on my own.

    Like

  28. Debbie Hypes Says:

    This makes me sick….shame on every one of you !! So who do you represent Dr. Roy…?? Certainly not the innocent children who have been robbed of their quality of life forever. Nor the parents, siblings and family members who grieve, give, and sacrifice because of the losses incurred. And since when do we as ‘ Free Citizens’ not have a choice about what healthcare we choose for our children?

    Like

  29. lilady Says:

    Debbie Hypes: I posted a comment above, about Dr. Bob Sears and I have nothing to feel shame about.

    You’ve accused Dr. Roy, a competent pediatrician and a respected member of the science blogging community, of representing some (unnamed) interest group. Would you care to inform us about Dr. Roy’s undeclared conflict of interest?

    Meanwhile, back on topic. Dr. Bob Sears made a major mistake with a ranting fact-free post on his Facebook page, about the current multiple measles outbreaks, which was a hot topic on multiple science blogs.

    Scroll down this thread to see Dr. Bob’s rant…saved for posterity…before Dr. Bob drops it down the old memory hole:

    http://shotofprevention.com/2014/03/24/vaccine-influencers-and-social-media-messages/

    Like


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