By Erin K. Costello
This mother, who we will call Vanessa, lost her 2 month old son, who we will call Kevin, on August 9. On August 8, Kevin had his 2 month check up, and like almost every other 2 month old, he received his 2 month vaccinations. He likely received pneumococcal, DTaP, Hib, and polio combined in 2 shots, and the rotavirus vaccine given orally. These vaccinations are safe and effective. I can share mountains of data to support this but instead I’m going to focus on exactly how people like Larry Cook, and in particular for this blog post, Catie Clobes, distort information to trick parents like Vanessa into chasing a phantom killer.
I don’t blame Vanessa, not for one second. I imagine how I would feel, what state my mind would be in, how big of a hole I would feel in my gut and my soul if I lost a child at any age, but if I lost a child at 2 months of age without any explanation. I would desperately want a culprit. I would need a villain to hate, to unleash all my rage unto, I would have to assign blame just to make it through one day, let alone everyday. I wouldn’t need much convincing at this point either. I would be an easy, eager, and willing mark for the anti-vaccine community because they would be offering me what I need most, a reason for why my child was no longer in my arms. I don’t care who you are, or who strong you think you are, every grieving parent would welcome this gift from the anti-vaccine movement. I don’t wonder how they got to Vanessa. I wonder how any parent in Vanessa’s shoes could resist their illusion of answers at the ready.
Normally I’d go right for the big guns here and reveal who Larry Cook is in the world of vaccine deniers. But, like I mentioned earlier, I have my sights and my fury set on Catie Clobes at the moment, so I am focusing this blog post on her.
Though I am currently angry, it’s hard for me to feel anger towards Catie because she too has lost a child at a very young age. Catie’s daughter, who we will call Amy since she is a minor, had her 6 month check up on 2/27/19, and passed away on 3/1/19. Catie, like Vanessa and every other parent who lost a child to SIDS, understandably needed something to blame. I understand this and empathize how difficult this was and is for them. However, needing to blame something or someone doesn’t make your chosen target guilty or at fault. What is worse though, is that instead of focusing on finding the real fault in all of this, blaming vaccinations is putting every other newborn and young baby at risk today. They are at risk of developing diseases that their bodies are not equipped to fight, they are at real risk of dying themselves if they happen to fall ill from any of the vaccine preventable diseases they are being left exposed to because other scared parents read these stories and choose to opt out of vaccinations due to fear. THIS IS REAL. This risk that is happening is proven. There is no denying this.
In Catie’s relentless and undying search to find proof that vaccines caused her child’s tragic death, she is unable to see things for what they are. Again, I don’t blame her for this. But, at some point you have to look at the whole picture. For example:
In an August 20 post Catie shared a link to a study with the comment,
“Did you know a study concluded 79.4% of children who died of SIDS received a vaccine earlier that day? 😔 You can do everything by the book to prevent SIDS but if you va***nate your baby, you're taking the biggest gamble of your life. It happened to me, it can happen to you.”
However, this is not true. The truth is, according to VAERS reports, for child death reports, 79.4% received >1 vaccine on the same day. They simply received more than one vaccine on the same day, but not on the day of death. What is upsetting about Catie’s post though, is that someone commented the true information and pointed out how her post was incorrect and misleading. Catie thanked this person for sharing the accurate info, but that was all Catie did. She did not correct her post or remove her post. She is currently and knowingly leaving a false and misleading public post up on her profile. Is this because she doesn’t want to believe the actual information? Or because she wishes to further an agenda to demonize life saving vaccinations for other parents?
An August 21 post of Catie’s discusses a Minnesota case of pertussis in a 6 month old baby. Catie points out how the baby had 3 doses of the pertussis vaccine and states how the baby “got it anyways, as many do.” She fails to mention that the current recommended CDC schedule for pertussis at 2, 4, 6 months, but also at 15-18 months, and 4-6 years of age. Meaning, though most babies do have some protection against pertussis by 6 months, they are not yet fully protected. She also adds that pertussis is easily treatable. We have treatments that are often easily administered, however, fighting and recovering from this illness is anything but easy. Some babies do die from pertussis. Others can have long lasting effects from the illness. Have you ever heard a baby cough to the point they can no longer breathe as a result of pertussis. If not, I recommend you check out this YouTube video, then tell me how easy pertussis appears to be for a baby.
On August 3 and again on August 4, Catie shared a Go Fund Me campaign and post about the baby of a woman named Laura. Laura’s 2 month old daughter, we’ll call Stephi, had a doctor’s visit on 2/8/19 at about 9:30 a.m. At about 11:23 p.m. Laura’s daughter was pronounced dead at the hospital. Her daughter received vaccinations at her doctor’s appointment earlier that day. The posts, the mother’s comments on these posts, and the GFM campaign really try to make it sound like her daughter died from vaccinations. Here’s the problem though, the father of Stephi found out about the posts, the claims the mother was making, and the fundraiser. He took to the comment section of the August 4 post and informed Catie, and all those on her post, that vaccines did not play a role in Stephi’s death. Laura fell asleep on the couch while breastfeeding the baby. In fact, in an interview with Stop Mandatory Vaccination, Laura admits the two took a “nap” on the couch, but that her 2 year old daughter also joined them on the couch for a nap. Three hours later the father came home and found them asleep on the couch, with the baby unresponsive, and Stephi’s face pointing up and into the couch cushions. The father also shared the autopsy report, and in the report the coroner included that police on the scene had reported they found drug paraphernalia all throughout the home. The father also informed Catie and readers that the GFM fundraiser was being investigated by authorities as theft by deception, and that he and Laura already received $10,000 for Stephi’s death, He then asked that his daughter’s name, story, and image no longer be used and exploited for their purposes. GFM has since ended the fundraiser. However, Catie still has both of these public posts up on her profile. Why would she leave these posts up after learning the truth from the father, seeing the autopsy report, and after GFM cancelled the campaign? It’s almost like the truth isn’t what is most important to Catie. Even in her own daughter’s autopsy there was nothing to suggest vaccinations played a role in her tragic death. Catie currently has a GFM campaign in which she hopes to raise funds to pay for a private autopsy. She has raised a significant amount of money so far for additional testing, but her updates reveal that there is still no new information to show vaccines were the cause of death. She is hoping to raise another $20,000 to further investigate a link between vaccinations and the cause of death. She remains convinced vaccines caused this tragedy.
**ETA Catie has since either removed the August 4 post or changed the privacy to friends only since it is no longer publicly viewable. The August 3 post is still viewable though. It appears as though Catie wishes to continue to spread the misinformation surrounding Stephi's death and hide the facts surrounding Stephi's death.
Now, I realize that hearing stories of children dying within days of vaccinations can cause one to wonder “what if?” It is apparent that correlation here is not uncommon, in fact, it’s even likely to happen when you consider that SIDS happens in the first 12 months of life, and babies receive a lot of vaccines in the first year of life. I’m going to use this explanation from someone who knows and understands statistics much better than I do, to better describe what I mean;
“Many vaccine "reactions" are actually just things that happened to occur soon after a vaccine was given, so I thought I'd do a little back-of-the-envelope math to see just how likely something happening after a vaccine due to chance might be. I'm making a ton of oversimplifications here, but I thought it was interesting just for getting a feel for the idea.
Let's imagine we are talking only about a random event that has nothing to do with vaccines. Let's also imagine that our event is equally likely to occur on any day within the first year. How likely is it that the random event happens to fall on a day soon after a vaccination?
First, we need to know how many days are vaccination days. Going by the CDC schedule, there are vaccines due at birth, 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 months. There may also be one at 9 months, if that is when one of the recommended flu vaccines is given. Just to be as conservative as possible, I won't count the 12 month vaccines, since technically reactions to them would fall outside the one year interval (the effect of this will be to decrease the estimates). So, in the first year, 5-6 days are vaccine days. Since our event is truly random across all of the days in the first year, that means the chance that the event occurs at a given time after a vaccination is as follows:
Day of vaccination: 1.3-1.6%
Day of or day after: 2.7-3.2%
Within a week after: 9.6-11.9%
Within a month after: 41-49%
Remember that 1% can sound small, but nearly 4 million babies are born in the US each year--a small percentage of a very large number of people is still a lot of individuals!
And what about things that are NOT equally distributed across the whole year? For example, SIDS risk peaks between 2 and 3 months, and is much rarer after 6 months. So what do our numbers look like for something that would tend to cluster earlier? Let's look at how many days are available for a random event to occur shortly after a vaccination within the first four months, counting just the birth, one month, and 2 month vaccinations.
Day of: 2.5%
Day of or day after: 5%
Week after: 17.5%
Month after has to be calculated differently for this one, because in the first four months, there is only a single period during which an event could occur that is longer than a month from a vaccine--between 3 and 4 months. That means that 75% of the days from birth to 4 months are within one month after a vaccine.
What's the point? Just that it is not at all unlikely for a thing that has no connection to vaccinations to happen shortly after a baby is vaccinated. If you go looking specifically for such cases, you will find them. If you ask enough individuals, you will even find a LOT of them. That isn't proof that the two are connected.”
Have you heard about the VAERS payouts of over “$4billion?” Here is much more data on that huge amount:
According to NVICP, from January 1, 2006* to December 31, 2017 there were 3,454,269,356 vaccinations administered. During this same 11 year time frame 6,094 claimants petitioned The NVICP. Of those, there were 4,172 compensated, and 1,922 not compensated. This means that 99.999823% of vaccinations administered had no negative effect that required a petitioning of the court, and only 0.000177% of those vaccinations did petition the court. Furthermore, it means that 99.999879% of those vaccinations administered did so without any compensation from the court, and only 0.000121% of those vaccinations had won any compensation.
*This time frame begins on this date to reflect petitions filed since the inclusion of the influenza vaccine in July, 2015. The influenza vaccine is now named in the majority of all NVICP petitions.
If this data still worries you, it’s important to point out that the burden of proof in vaccine court is lower than it is in any other court in the US. A petitioner does not have to prove causation to be awarded compensation. They only have to win the argument that their claim is possible, and that it’s possible vaccines could have been the cause. Winning a civil judgement is not the same as proving medical liability.
BUT, if the fact that deaths are reported to VAERS at all worries you, I suggest you take a moment and browse the VAERS database. Since VAERS is a self reporting system, parents can make a report on their own and make any claims or beliefs they like. VAERS does not follow up on any of the reports. I have read reports blaming a vaccine because a person drowned, died in a drunk driving accident, or was shot in the head. That isn’t to say there aren’t some genuine reports of side effects, however, I am unaware of any deaths that are documented to have been caused by a vaccine.
As for the claim that healthy babies just don’t die? Sadly history is full of evidence that this just isn’t true. SIDS has happened since humans began giving birth. I do empathize with any parent who has lost a child to SIDS. I can’t imagine not having answers, a reason, or a cause. I understand why parents like Vanessa and Catie decide to place their blame on vaccinations. However, here is where I draw the line…..
Believing to yourself that vaccines were the cause is one thing. Pouncing on any and every grieving mother that posts to Facebook about their devastating loss and feeding them a bunch of misinformation, lies, and manipulated data while omitting real facts and data is just selfish, low, and unforgivable. Exploiting another mother’s tragedy to further your agenda of blame is not honoring that mother’s child, or even your own child. You aren’t an expert, a doctor, a scientist, nor are you educated in related matters. You know nothing about the circumstances that surround the death of another baby, in fact you don’t even understand the circumstances surrounding your own tragedy. You have been shown the correct information, the facts, and the real story on many of the falsehoods you push, yet you continue to ignore them. You continue to push the narrative of the lie, and now you are pushing this onto vulnerable unsuspecting strangers on Facebook resulting in more and more unprotected babies every day. I am sorry you are hurting. I am sorry for what happened. It wasn’t fair, and it just isn’t right. It never should’ve happened. You did not deserve this and your child sure as hell did not deserve this. You have every right to be mad every day for the rest of your life. I wish I could take this pain away for you somehow. I wish your child could somehow be brought back. But none of this changes the fact that what you are doing is wrong. You are hurting other parents, and especially other children. Please. Just. Stop.
What's The Harm?