Assignment 5 – Truthiness Claims

*this assignment was about investigating a truthiness claim.  my notes are below the the assignment for those who are super interested.  full disclosure – i have had all three of my children vaccinated and tried to remove that bias from my work….

For this assignment I investigate the truthiness of the necessity of getting childhood vaccinations. This is an interesting topic and one that has led to some interesting discussions in my own family. To investigate the truthiness of this claim, I simply Googled “childhood vaccinations good or bad” and investigated two different websites, one promoting childhood vaccinations and one that gave six reasons not to get vaccinated. I chose these links based on where they showed up in the Google results, both were in the top three of Google provided links.

The first website was and the page that I landed on sorted out fact and fiction, risks and benefits of getting immunized. There were several reasons that they listed as benefits for having children receive immunizations, including: its saves lives, makes a claim that childhood disease issues have dropped, without continued vaccination childhood diseases can come back, and talks about the benefits of community immunity. Community immunity occurs when a majority of members of a community have been vaccinated against childhood disease. Those vaccinated can then protect those not vaccinated by keeping a disease out. For this to occur there needs to be between 80%-90% of children in a community vaccinated against the different diseases. This statistic was supported by a webpage on the CDC website and information take from the 2013 Immunization Survey.

All of the claims made by this website were tied into information available from the CDC, the website which is closely associate with the CDC, and the World Health Organization.

The website is under the umbrella of Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, which is a privately funded non-profit organization. It has a sixteen-member board of directors, eight of them have medical backgrounds, several of those are MD’s and the others are registered nurses. One of those doctors studies vaccinations as part of her practice.

This website has links to several different internet sites that are research based or are funded by research based organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control. The goal for is to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated against childhood diseases and do so in a way that uses objective analysis and science based information. Lastly, there was no specific information on how many times this website had been viewed or shared. It was available in both English and Spanish.

            The second website that I looked was and the page that I landed on listed six reasons to say no to vaccines. The first reason listed is that pharmaceutical companies cannot be trusted. To support her claim she used two different websites, one had a broken link, and the other was the Center for Media and Democracy. This site also shared that Merck, which makes a mumps vaccine, is involved in two lawsuits for falsifying data on vaccine effectiveness. The sources listed for this information was the Courthouse News Service,, the Legal Intelligencer, and a courthouse memorandum. The research that was done by Dr. Andrew Wakefield was also listed in this argument.

The second reason that was listed was that all vaccines are loaded with chemicals and other poisons. The site listed these different ingredients and cited for the ingredients. This website linked to a CDC appendix that listed the ingredients for all of the vaccines. There is a disclaimer at the top of the appendix that may or may not have been correctly interpreted by the reporting websites.

Next the site says that “fully vaccinated children are the unhealthiest, most chronically ill children I know.” The supporting citations for this statement go to and it was difficult to verify any information as there was a problem with the page display, the article was covered by ads.

Number four was that other countries were becoming aware of the dangers of vaccines. The information used here is from and showed the vaccine schedule for Japan and the United States. The difference here is that Japan gives fewer vaccinations and the minimum age for vaccinations in Japan is two years old. The text indicates that Japans infant mortality rate was reduced to one of the lowest in the “western world.” This section also shares information about adverse flu reactions in Australia and cited as the source.

The fifth reason for not being vaccinated is that there have been several vaccines that have been removed from the market because of the number of adverse reactions that were attributed to the vaccine. The particular companies mentioned that have removed vaccines were:

  • GlaxoSmithKline for a Lyme Disease vaccine, the citation for this information was a broken link.
  • Rotavirus vaccine (Rotashield), which was linked to a page describing why the author was dropped by her pediatrician.
  • Rotavirus vaccine (Rotateq), which was cited on The issue was a life threatening twisting of the bowels in infants that had been vaccinated.
  • Gardasil vaccine for adolescent girls and was cited on and discussed some of the severe reactions that were reported through the Australian Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System.

The final reason given for not getting a vaccine is that you can always get vaccinated, but you can never undo a vaccination. The author encouraged people to what and tells the reader that the longer you wait the more likely the childs immune system will be able to handle “the onslaught.”

The author for this article does not have an education in the medical community, but shares that several family members are involved in medicine as doctors and nurses. The author has earned a masters degree in government administration and had ten years of experience in information technology. She is a board member of the Weston A. Price foundation, which is a non-profit charity that is devoted to disseminating information about nutrition. This particular article has been shared over 23,000 times on Facebook, over 600 times on Pinterest, and over 200 times on Twitter. There were over 930 comments at the bottom of the page.

Self-disclosure, I have three children and all have had the full complement of childhood vaccinations. I am also a graduate student who understands the importance of having research back up any statement that is being shared. When comparing these two websites, one is focused on research and is under the direction of medical doctors; the other website is organized by a concerned parent and has very limited research based information available. Both websites used statistics that were not cited. Even the CDC website did not list a source for their statistics. Based on the information from these two websites alone, I would have to go with the first one. I know that there is a lot more to this debate than these are two random sites, but research is important to me. 


Berkeley Wellness:

Center for disease control:

Center for disease control:

Center for disease control:

Center for disease control:

The center for media and democracy:

Ezine Articles:

The healthy home economist:

Health Impact News:

Immunize for good:

Institute of Medicine:

Natural News:



Vaccine Information Coalition:

Vaccination Liberation:

Vaccinate your baby:


World health organization:

Notes for today

Google Search: childhood vaccinations good or bad

    • Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition – privately funded non-profit.
    • 8 of 16 have medical background, several are MDs, several in involved with public health in Colorado. One of the board members studies vaccinations.
      • Vaccinations save lives
      • Looks at data in Colorado, US, and worldwide
        • Cites –
          • Colorado based: Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition
        • Cites –
          • Supported by Every Child By Two
            • Seeks to direct the public to science-based information about vaccines
            • Founded by Rosalynn Carter (Jimmy Carter’s wife) and Betty Bumpers (Former First Lady of Arkansas)
            • Collaborated closely with CDC
            • Seeks to ensure that public health policies and laws are based on sound scientific evidence.
          • Cites –
            • World immunization week 2015: close the immunization gap
          • Linked statistical information to … broken link
          • Claims that drops in childhood disease is a direct result of vaccination and not a result of sanitation or improved hygiene
            • Cites – NPR: parents in poor countries worry about vaccines, too
              • Quote: In poor countries, diseases such as measles kill tens of thousands of children each year. (no citation for this statistic)
              • Quote: the measles risk is so much higher because vaccination rates are lower (no citation for this statistic)
            • Claims that vaccine preventable diseases can and will return if we stop vaccinating
              • Cites –
                • A variety of statistics that support vaccination are give, but there are no sources for where these statistics come from.
              • Vaccination protects people you care about
                • Cites – – the link goes to a page about information for specific groups. But the link previous does mention the community aspect of vaccination.
              • Discusses herd immunity/community immunity – those vaccinated protect those who are not in a community (threshold varies, but is between 80% and 90% vaccinated)
                • Cites –, statistics are credited to a 2013 National Immunization Survey
              • Talks about 16% of vaccinated people will have a large number of people due to the large pool of vaccinated children
              • Vaccines are cost effective – prevent a disease as opposed to treating it
                • Cites –
                  • The about page says this is the leading resource for evidence-based wellness information. It is a collaboration between the School of Public Health at UC-Berkeley and a national team of writers and editors.
                • Vaccines are safe – FDA approval and continual testing (as reported by the CDC)
                  • Cites –
                • References the Institute of Medicine and that there is no evidence of major safety concerns associated with adherence to the CDC recommended childhood immunization schedule
                  • Cites –
                    • IOM is a division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. They are private non-profit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advise to the nation…the academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter signed by Abraham Lincoln
                    • Goal is to help those in government and the private sector make informed health decisions by providing evidence upon which they can rely.
                  • Stat: States with policies that make it easy to exempt children from immunizationwere associated with a 90 percent higher incidence of whooping cough in 2011. (IOM)
                  • The Healthy Home Economist, Sarah. She has a BA in Economics, MA in Government Administration, worked for 10 years in information technology, a board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation
                    • Weston A. Price Foundation – a non-profit charity founded to disseminate the research of Dr. Weston Price (nutrition pioneer). The about section of the website has not been updated since 2001 and focuses on nutrition.
                      • Quote: The board and membership of the Weston A. Price Foundation stand united in the belief that modern technology should be harnessed as a servant to the wise and nurturing traditions of our ancestors rather than used as a force destructive to the environment and human health; and that science and knowledge can validate those traditions.
                      • Current campaigns for:
                        • Real Milk – in support of
                        • Soy Alert – not in support of
                        • Nourishing our Children
                        • Farm-to-consumer legal defense fund
                        • Healthy 4 Life – recommends nutrient dense versions of animal and plant foods with emphasis on healthy traditional fats like butter, lard, egg yolks, and coconut oil.
                      • Sarah offers six reason to not get vaccinations:
                        • Quote: Don’t take the pediatricians word that shots are safe….The doctor is parroting the standard line about vaccination from the AMA playbook. If you think you are getting their honest assessment, think again
                        • 1: Pharmaceutical companies can’t be trusted
                          • She cites two examples one link did not work and one link went to The Center for Media and Democracy.
                            • A national media group that conducts in-depth investigations into corruption and the undue influence of corporations on media and democracy.
                            • Publishes the online news journal PRWatch
                            • Has been cited by the New York Times, the Guardian, and the Washington Post (no attached links). Credited by several different news outlets (no attached links).
                            • Lisa Graves – former Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the US DOJ is the leader.
                          • Cites a story on Health Impact News that Merck (mumps vaccine) is in two lawsuits for falsifying data on effectiveness of the vaccine
                            • Listed source is the Courthouse News Service
                              • A nationwide news service for lawyers and the news media.
                            • Listed themselves as a source
                            • Listed as a source
                            • Cited the Andrew Wakefield Study – the one that showed autism links
                            • Listed the Legal Intelligencer as a source
                            • Listed the court memorandum
                          • 2: ALL vaccines are loaded with chemicals and other poisons
                            • Cited for the ingredients of vaccines.
                              • Link to CDC appendix – appendix header states: this table includes not only vaccine ingredients, but also substances used during the manufacturing process, including vaccine-production media, that are removed from the final product and present only in trace quantities. In addition to the substances listed, most vaccines contain Sodium Chloride (table salt)
                            • No information about this group is on their website
                              • On a related note: from the Autism Society: they do not indicate that childhood vaccines are a possible reason that people become autistic. They list possibilities of genetics, hereditary, and medical problems. No single trigger has yet to be identified.
                            • Quote: Sadly, I know many Moms with 20/20 hindsight who greatly regret their decision to vaccinate.   I don’t know ANYONE who has not vaccinated and regrets their decision, however.  Which group do you want to be a part of in 10 years?
                          • 3: Fully vaccinated children are the unhealthiest, most chronically ill children I know
                            • Links to the website:
                              • The article was covered by ads and I could not get to the sources of their information
                            • She says to ask the people in your circle whether children are vaccinated or not – says that hands down, the unvaccinated children are healthier and have less problems
                          • 4: Other countries are waking up to the dangers of vaccines
                            • Says that Japan raised its minimum vaccination age to 2 years old, resulting in the lowest levels of infant mortality in the Western World
                              • Cited – no about page for this website. Just some contact info. They are based in Idaho.
                            • Says that flu vaccines were suspended for children under 5 because large numbers of children were reported in emergency rooms with febrile convulsions or other vaccine related reactions.
                              • Cited 250 adverse flu reactions, says that flu experts have cautioned that the spike may prove to be illusory or caused by factors unrelated to the vaccine
                                • Australia’s number 1 news site with 3.9 million people reached (according to the about page)
                              • 5: A number of vaccines have already had problems/been removed from the market
                                • GlaxoSmithKline Lyme Disease vaccine
                                  • Cited – broken link
                                • Rotavirus vaccine (Rotashield)
                                  • Links to page where she describes why her pediatrician dropped her as a patient
                                • Warning issued for second Rotavirus vaccine (Rotateq)
                                  • Cited – life threatening twisting of the intestines in infants vaccinated against a virus that is a leading cause of early childhood diarrhea. FDA said it was unknown if the vaccine caused the 28 cases – the condition can also occur spontaneously. The reports don’t exceed the numbers expected to occur naturally each year.
                                • Gardasil vaccine for adolescent girls
                                  • Cited – which discussed a situation that occurred in Melbourne, Australia. Also looks at data from the US – 1,600 adverse reactions between June 2006 and the article dated May 23, 2007.
                                  • Reactions: feinting, hyperventilating, headache, blurry vision, vomiting,
                                  • Article data referenced the Australian Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System
                                • Quote: If the vaccines above have had serious problems, the others probably do too as vaccine manufacturers follow the same basic formula when coming up with each new shot.
                                  • No citations with this statement
                                • 6: You can always get vaccinated, but you can never undo a vaccination
                                  • Encourages people to wait and states that the blood/brain barrier does not fully develop until adolescence (no citation)
                                  • Says that the longer you wait, the more likely a child’s immune system will be able to handle the onslaught with minimal damage (no citation)
                                  • Quote: And, I have NEVER met a fully vaccinated child that is healthier and more robust than a well nourished, unvaccinated child.   Period.


%d bloggers like this: