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Dr. Paul Offit is the most hated doc in the antivaccine universe.
Which is why we love him so much.
In person he’s a gentle, compassionate, soft-spoken soul who cares deeply about the health of children. In this far-ranging interview (interrupted at the beginning by antivaccine activists banging on the glass of our studio…a phenomenon sadly common wherever Paul speaks), we talk about his latest book Bad Advice, which is really a manual on how we in the scientific and medical community can become better communicators to counteract the dangerous, false information spread by celebrities, lawyers, and activists. He speaks with compassion and passion about why parents should choose to vaccinate, and this is an interview you can share with folks who are struggling to make sense of all the misinformation online.
Check out the original video here on Facebook, and make sure to share this and leave your thoughts in the comments. FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW!
– – [Producer] You’re live. – We’re live! Oh my gosh. You guys, I’m so excited. I’m so excited today because we have the dark lord of vaccines. The person that the anti-vaxxers hate so much, and the reason they hate him is that he saves lives every single day through communication, through vaccine development, through science promotion, and through being an amazing superstar. Everybody, you’re not gonna believe it. It’s Doctor Paul Offit. Paul, welcome to the show. – Thank you. – Now, I gotta say something. I start with the bad. We spent about five minutes talking to each other. We’ve never met. I’ve been a fan of yours since 2010 when I made my first vaccine video and I Googled. Actually I want to tell that story later about how I was vaccine hesitant after my kooky neighbor, this was in the Bay area, was like “You know that vaccines are associated with autism, man.” And I’d just had my kid and I was like “Wait, what?” I’m a hospitalist, right, I don’t vaccinate babies. And I’m like “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.” I went down a Google hole, and I saw a very attractive woman by the name of Jenny McCarthy telling me that I was killing my baby by giving vaccines. And then I saw a less attractive woman named Paul Offit who happened not to be a woman saying “No, no, no, no, no, here’s the science.” And it was your persuasion that made me look at the primary data and realize “Okay, I get it now.” Not only are they safe, they’re effective. They’re one of our great advances. So having you on the show today, I wanna talk to you with our audience about how we can better communicate ’cause you have a book that came out that I had the pleasure of reading before it came out, and the whole time I’m turning the pages, I’m like throwing feces ’cause I’m so angry or excited. That’s what I do ’cause I’m a monkey. And I was like “This is a handbook.” It’s Bad Advice: Why Celebrities, Politicians, and Activists Aren’t Your Best Source of Health Information. It’s a handbook on how we can better communicate in a sea of Gwyneth Paltrows, Jenny McCarthys, Donald Trumps, the science denial all around. So let’s start with why are you such a shameless shill for big pharma? I saw you pull up in an Uber that looked like a Honda Civic and I’m like “That’s a lie, alright.” – I’m not a shill for big pharma. I was fortunate enough to work with the team at Children’s Hospital Philadelphia that developed the strains that became the bovine human reassortant rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq, which was licensed and recommended for use in all children in this country in 2006 and then for the world by the World Health Organization in 2013. I mean only pharmaceutical companies have the resources and expertise to do that, to do the research and development. – Wait, wait, wait. So Logan Stewart in the back there in a meth lab can’t just create a RotaTeq rotavirus vaccine? – It’s a little hard to make hundreds of millions of doses in your lab, true. – You don’t know Logan, alright? He broke bad in like 1992. This guy’s had a lot of practice. So I think this point of like “Yeah, you have to work with Merck to make a vaccine “that’s scalable to actually get to lots of people.” – And the minute you do that, you’re a bad guy. You are. There’s no way to answer that question. I’m asked that question. I was asked that question by Matt Lauer on Dateline NBC. I was asked that question by – That guy’s a pervert, by the way. – [Paul] By Steve Colbert, Stephen Colbert. – Less of a pervert. – The minute your name is associated with a pharmaceutical company, the truth of the matter was I was always funded by the National Institutes of Health but the fact of the matter is I was patent holder on something that became a vaccine. Now I’m the intellectual property of my hospital therefore the hospital really owns the patent, but you get tired of explaining it. It never convinces anybody anyway because it’s you work with the pharmaceutical company therefore you’re evil. – Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, look. Look at this! It’s an anti-vax protestor. – [Producer] Oh, is that what that? – Yeah. – [Producer] Wow. – You know what’s amazing? – [Producer] Wow. – So see this is amazing. – [Paul] Really? – You can’t see them on camera so guys, guys, ZPac. – [Paul] Wait, that’s really true? – Yeah, there are actually. – [Paul] This is not a joke Paul. – This is not a joke. There are actually anti-vax activists outside the window right now. – [Producer] Bye – And now they’re gone ’cause Tom turned ’em off. This is what we want to talk about too. You hear ’em? – Yeah, what is he saying? – I dunno but Tom’s gonna make sure that the door is locked and also that Logan’s gun is cocked. – [Tom] I’m going to. – You hear ’em? – [Paul] Yeah, yes. – ZDogg! – [Protestor] ZDogg! – So Paul. – [Paul] Yes. – Let’s get into this because I think this is fascinating. Because you created a vaccine in partnership with a pharmaceutical, right, you’re now a target of parents who think that we’re causing harm with vaccinations. You spend 25 years of your life developing a vaccine that saves lives, that saves I think it’s been estimated hundreds of lives a day, because rotavirus kills children. You do this. You’re a passionate advocate for scientists, for science. You’re a pediatrician. You’re a good human being. You’re a lovely introverted person who in five minutes I loved talking to, and you get this as a reward. Why? – Well, I think. I’ll give you a story. When I was asked to speak once to a group of legislators in New Haven, Connecticut, and after I was done speaking about this, about whether or not vaccines could cause autism, a woman came up to me who was the mother of a child with autism and just started screaming at me, at the top of her lungs screaming at me. And it always gets to me. I never get so thick-skinned that this doesn’t bother me. – Listen to this guy screaming, yeah. – [Paul] These guys are bothering me. – Yeah. – The state senator that gave me a ride to the train station to go back to Philly said something that I’ll never forget, and it’s a true statement. You know you’ve gotten to the center of things when you meet the very best people and the very worst people, and I think that’s happened to me. But I also have had the good fortune to meet some of very best people. People like you. People like Peter Hotez who’s the father of a child with autism who deals with the financial and emotional burden of that and still puts himself out there. Sharon Humiston, Amy Pisani, there’s so many good people out there trying to do good things for all the right reasons and I had the good fortune of being able to meet them, so I think I’m lucky. I think I’m lucky in all this. – You know, I love the way that you are able to bring positivity out of what is a very challenging situation because I read your book and there are stories in the book that are really dramatic about how you’ve been trailed and harassed in public, threatened with death threats. How many confirmed death threats were there? – Three. – Three confirmed. Now, one of the things you taught me in the book, which I had to learn ’cause I get death threats too, is in order for a threat to be considered credible, it has to be specific so like “This is how I’m gonna kill you.” It has to be repeated more than once, and it has to have some plausibility, was that the third thing? – Yeah, it has to be a person who the FBI thinks could do it. – [Z] I see. – So like a paranoid schizophrenic. – So someone who’s a little bit off, like this guy, who then could theoretically do that. I think Tom’s speaking to the police right now, – Great. – Because we are trying to do a show and luckily, Logan is armed so Just so they know that. Because we’re in Las Vegas. – [Paul] This is an open carry state? – This is open carry state, and Logan was raised from very young learning gun safety and hunting with his dad and that sort of thing. So in the book too, you talk about kind of how we as scientists, your first chapter is like how scientists are just terrible communicators. One of the funniest things in the book, and the book is very funny by the way, and I remember you’d ask me “Is it funny at all?” And I’m like “Dude, it’s hilarious.” Me and my friends are laughing because you said the difference between a scientist who’s an introvert and a scientist who’s an extrovert. A scientist who’s an introvert stares at their feet when they talk to you. A scientist who’s an extrovert stares at your feet when they talk to you. And that’s spot on, that’s spot on. How is it that someone, again like yourself, who is deep into science, 130 publications on vaccines, how is it that you’re able then to become a communicator in a way that puts yourself in this kind of space? – For me, it was on one hand, I think I saw how hard it was to make a vaccine. It was a 26 year effort ending in a prospective placebo-controlled, 11-country, four-year, 350 million dollar trial to prove that a vaccine was what it was claiming to be and so that it was safe and effective. While that was happening, I also watched how, I could see how hard it was to make them, but at the same time I could see how easy it was to damn them. When Andrew Wakefield published his paper in the Lancet in 1998 claiming that the MMR vaccine caused autism, it was not a study. It was just a case series of basically eight children who got autism within a month of getting a vaccine. I mean you might as well have published a paper showing eight children who got leukemia and the month before that had eaten peanut butter sandwiches. Really, it was that level – [Z] That lame, yeah. – Of sophistication. And then people made in the United Kingdom, made the choice not to vaccinate their children so thousands of people got measles and hundreds were hospitalized and four children died. Four children died, in a sense because of that paper. I mean that was a wake up call to me. That we as scientists have to be willing to stand up and get in this game of explaining not only that it doesn’t make sense, but why it doesn’t sense. I mean address the science of why his hypothesis never made sense, and when I did that I was a bad guy. To some people I was a bad guy. – [Z] Sure. – [Paul] To some people I was a good guy, but to some people I was a bad guy. – Well I mean I’ll tell you, and again, I don’t wanna blow too much smoke up your butt. But because you get so much hate, the love that you get, when I told my friends who are pediatrics in particular, that you were gonna be on the show, it was like a deity came down from on high because you are so revered for standing up for children. That’s really what it is. You told a really funny story in the book too because you’ve been on Colbert, you’ve been on Daily’s show, the story of being on Colbert. Do you want to tell that story or you wanna save it for the book? – No, no, sure. – [Z] It’s funny. – It was the second time I was on Colbert. The last question that he asked me was “So it’s out there, you’re in the pocket of industry, “how do you respond to it?” and I said “At Children’s Hospital of Philly, “we’re not in the pocket of industry, “If anything we’re in the pocket of children “because we do this and this and this” And so people booed. People booed loudly. It was about 300 people in the studio audience. It’s a little unnerving to be booed loudly by 300 people. So I asked the associate producer, the way that ended up was ’cause he’s a good guy, I mean he knows science. His father actually was a infectious immunology person in South Carolina who died when Colbert was only 10 years old, but he’s very much pro-science and he didn’t want me to be booed on national television in front of millions of people. So he said “That’s not the answer you want. “We’ll try it again.” He asked it again so the second time I said “You can’t on the one hand praise vaccines “for being safe and effective “and not praise those who make them safe and effective.” And then something you’re specifically told not do, I looked at the audience and I said “Was that any better?” And everybody cheered. So then the way they edited it, ’cause it’s not a live show, it’s live to tape as they say. You see me say something nice about vaccine makers and people in the United States cheering on national television which has probably never happened before. When I was walking out, I asked the associate producer “Why did people boo?” And she said “You know people like you don’t realize it’s a comedy show, “and when you said you’re in the pocket of children, “it made you sound like a pedophile.” When we were driving to the train station that night, ’cause this is New York we were going back to Philly, my wife and daughter were with me and I said “Would you ever have imagined that?” And my daughter said “Yeah, I imagined that. “That’s why I booed.” – Got booed by your own daughter. How old are your kids now? – So they’re 26 and 23. – Wow, so are you worried about them with all the sort of hate? – I don’t think so. I really don’t. I choose to believe that most of the people in this world are good, and they see the good in my children and me, and I choose to believe that. But yeah, there’re always going to be the people like the people outside that are knocking on that glass. – Right, right. Who are now gone because the police have been called. Actually I want to dig into that a little bit because there’s a humanity here that I think we often miss when we make an us and them. And you and me are good at, I think, polarizing people in that sense because we are so passionate about, again, not being being in children’s pockets, being on children’s sides and saying “You know what, we have our own kids. “They’re fully vaccinated. “We’ve been through this. “We’ve studied it.” Unlike what the anti-vaxxers say, we’ve actually had quite a bit of training on vaccine science, on immunology and we want to do good in the world and no good deed seems to be unpunished. And then when we see people denying science, the Jenny McCarthys, the Goops, the Gwyneth Paltrows, the Donald Trumps, you say regardless of what your politics are you can say that science denial is not okay when the science is largely settled. The question then is the anti-vaccine people, the mothers that you talked about who have children with autism who are suffering, they’re looking for answers. How do we love and have compassion for them without getting triggered and angry? Because even in your book you said at one point you lost your temper and you got angry in a debate and that was a bad idea. – Yeah, I guess I feel an enormous amount of sympathy for parents who have to struggle with difficulties of a child who’s on the spectrum. I think it’s emotionally burdensome. On some level it’s financially burdensome. I get that, and I think people want answers and there aren’t answers. I mean there isn’t a clear cause, there isn’t a clear cure so its really frustrating and I think what makes me most sympathetic is that I feel like they’ve been duped, that people like Andrew Wakefield or Jenny McCarthy have duped them into thinking that this is the answer, that vaccines were the answer. Therefore if they don’t vaccinate their future children that they won’t have to suffer this, and if they try and figure out what they can do to sort of detoxify whatever it was that toxified their children like chelation therapy, which some people offer. – [Z] Right, or bleach enemas. – That’s right. That that’s gonna make them all better and it just, I feel that they’ve been duped. I feel enormously sorry for them. I had to speak at a Bryn Mawr Library a couple nights ago and there was a woman who actually drove up from Baltimore, and she really wanted an answer. She wasn’t angry. She felt that her child had gotten a vaccine, actually DTAP vaccine, and had been hurt by that vaccine and now he’s autistic and can’t we just do something to find out what happened. I talked to her for some length of time trying to explain to her, because she felt it all happened within minutes of getting the vaccine which just doesn’t make biological sense. – [Z] But it makes emotional sense, Paul, right? – No, no, I know. For instance what Jenny McCarthy says “My child got the vaccine and within moments,” quote, “the soul left his eyes.” – [Z] Right, right, right. – The vaccine doesn’t work that fast. But you know, you want to help her. You do want to help her, and the only way I can think to help her is to say I don’t think this is it. I don’t think that the vaccines are your answer. I make an analogy for example of Type 1 diabetes in the 1800’s. No one knew what caused Type 1 diabetes so there were all these wacky kind of causes and wackier cures and then Banting and Bess discovered insulin 1921 and all of that went away. And I feel like we’re always going to be living with this until we have a clear cause or causes for what is autism or austisms and have something more that we can offer other than behavioral therapies, other than long term therapies which is not terribly satisfying. People want something to make it go away. I think people like Andrew Wakefield or Jenny McCarthy or Gwyneth Paltrow offer those kinds of magic cures, and it’s seductive. – It is very seductive. It guess it’s one of those things ’cause you had actually donated proceeds from one of your books to an autism foundation. Is that your foundation? – I was one of the founding advisor board members of the Autism Science Foundation. Alison Singer runs that foundation out of New York and it’s a great foundation. It’s the only autism foundation with the word science in the title, and they really try and understand, honestly, sort of the genetics of autism and that will help. What I love about Alison Singer actually, so her eldest daughter is autistic and fairly severely autistic and so she now has created, she devotes all her energies to what is clearly a long term solution if it’s to be a solution at all. So what are the genetics? What gene or genes are expressed early in the first trimester? It’s a developmental gene that could explain what we see as autism. ‘Cause you do know that these first-trimester environmental factors like for example, thalidomide, or rubella, natural rubella infection, or valproic acid, an anti-seizure drug increases your risk of autism. That’s interesting, what’s happening then. What gene or genes are affected by these environmental factors or are just genetically involved? Paternal age is clearly a risk factor. When has a child on the spectrum and Robert De Niro has a child on the spectrum it’s because they were roughly 60 years old when they had their children. That’s probably the reason, so what is the genetics of that. That is understandable. It’s not gonna be a single gene like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease. It’ll be multiple genes so it won’t be easy, but I think it’s understandable. – See, that to me is one of the great tragedies of being on this goose chase with the vaccines which we’ve shown time and time again and again the multiple studies, you predicted back when this started that studies would show that this isn’t the case and that proved true. Now so much effort in parents’ communities are spent thinking about vaccines as a cause when it’s all those things you talked about and probably much more that are leading to diagnoses of autism. One of the the big controversies that comes up is autism an epidemic or are we diagnosing it better. Where do you kind of fall on this as a pediatrician? – I think we certainly have far more awareness. I mean what used to be primary autism has become autism spectrum disorder so it’s a much broader range of activities, and we’re certainly more aware of it. And I do think there is, we are older when we have our children now as compared to say when my mother and father had me when they were in their 20’s. So I think that all contributes so I think there is actually a real increase, it just doesn’t have anything to do with vaccines. – Again, I want to apologize to you because you literally you flew from Philly through Charlotte to here, got right off the plane, got in the Uber, came right to here. Tomorrow you’re doing a talk and you’ve been busy. This morning you did ground rounds at like 5:30 a.m. Pacific time and you’ve been busy, busy, busy and I’m sure you’re exhausted so the fact that you care enough about talking about this stuff. And listen, it comes through from the second I met you, I expected actually, if I’m being honest, I expected this kind of asshole that you see in the media who’s just like “Screw these anti-vaxxers “and this is how I do it.” The first thing you said to me was “I feel really, really bad for parents of children “with autism because it’s so hard.” And that to me is, I think, what a lot of the public misses that doesn’t understand what you’re doing. I think it’s the same when you talk about pharmaceutical industry. People like to vilify pharmaceuticals, and I do too. I like to vilify the marketing guys. I like to vilify the business guys. I like to vilify the fact that it’s very expensive, and it shouldn’t be and so on. But the people on the front lines who are doing the research working with the pharmaceutical companies are heroes. Plain and simple. And every time I’ve talked for them, I’ve said “You know what, you guys, “You know what you’re doing. “Every day you’re trying to help human beings. “You’re trying relieve human suffering, “and this is the goal.” Now the question is how do we better communicate what we’re doing to the public when you have celebrities who are very good at communicating, who maybe even have good intentions. Like I’m not sure Jenny McCarthy had evil intent doing this. I mean, Wakefield I worry about, I feel like there’s something going on whether it’s like a narcissism or some ego thing, and I think you might have mentioned some things in the book, some speculation about what you might think. But we can’t know because we can’t know another person’s mind. But in the book, I think the main premise of the book is here’s a manual for how we can be better at communicating without getting so emotional but without ignoring emotion because it’s important. You know when those guys are banging on the door, I started getting emotional. I started saying you know what, let us speak. This is your chance to talk to people and why would you shout somebody down. It means that you’re so emotional yourself, you’re suffering so much. Think about the kind of suffering that that guy has. If you really feel what he feels, he is so angry because he thinks we’re harming children. So I can actually have a kind of cognitive empathy for that and understand that, but the question is then how do we transcend that and actually better connect with these folks. I think the book is very good at that but I wanna hear what your thought is. – I think you do the best you can. I mean when I speak to parents which is almost daily, they call me on the phone, I try an understand what it is that concerns them about vaccines and then try and explain how there are studies that sort of address that concern and to do it in a compassionate and passionate and empathetic way. You do the best you can realizing that there are people who will see you as evil. I mean there were a few parents actually that were anti-vaccine parents a couple nights ago at that Bryn Mawr library. It’s easier for me I guess to feel compassionate for people who aren’t screaming at me and telling me I’m an evil person. You just lose it. Or the person who puts a camera in our face and doesn’t tell you they’re filming you. That’s upsetting because it’s not fair. I think we are going to know much more about science and medicine a hundred years from now than we know now. There’s no doubt about the fact that we have much to learn. But there are things that we do know. Specific germs cause specific diseases. We can prevent those diseases. I think raising the question, you can argue the best case scenario Andrew Wakefield raised the hypothesis does the MMR vaccine cause autism. That’s an answerable question and it’s been answered again and again and again in 17 studies and seven countries on three different continents involving hundreds of thousands of children and costing tens of billions of dollars. The public health and academic community responded to that concern. What upsets me is when people don’t realize that when they say it’s just all a conspiracy to hurt children. – So Paul, I think what it is there and this has been my experience with this is that we have this paradigm on the show, you’ve probably heard of it, the elephant and the rider. So the elephant is our unconscious limbic emotional system. It’s pre-wired. Some of it’s genetic, some of its conditioning, some of it’s education, some of it’s religion, politics, et cetera. And then we have this little rider, our cortex on top riding on top of the elephant and that’s the one that’s supposed to do science and be rational and be persuasive and use words. Use your words. You’re talking to the rider when the elephant’s stomping. I think the issue with some of the anti-vaccine sentiment, the reason it’s so intractable is that their elephants really innately distrust government, industry, et cetera. And that’s for whatever reasons they’re conditioned to feel that way and there is an element of like “Whose fault is this now that this has happened to my child? “I need something to peg this on.” And that’s their elephant. So when you present data, “Well look here’s all the data that says it’s not vaccines.” they move the goal post or they confirm their bias with data that is not well done and that says well maybe, maybe, maybe. Any little thing they’ll go through it. Confirmation bias. All the logical flaws we talk about. Now they are human beings. We expect them to do that. How do we combat it though? Because we know from the data because we can be a little bit more dispassionate about it, and they’ll accuse you. They’ll say well you’re a shill for pharma and you’re getting paid for it so how can you be dispassionate? Well there are millions of pediatricians, thousands of pediatricians around the country who are not getting paid by pharma, who lose money on vaccines who believe so strongly in it because they’ve looked at the same data. This is a good chance for me to tell my quick story. Again, because this show’s all about me, Paul, even though I have Paul Offit. Let me tell you all about me, Paul. So 2009, I’m just about to launch ZDoggMD Industries. it’s as a cry for help from my burnout. I’m making videos to try to draw attention to the suffering we have in healthcare as caregivers and my neighbor, we have a fence that’s about this tall. It’s in California. He comes over. He’s a financial planner. Very, very intelligent guy. His wife’s very intelligent. Lovely kids. He came up to me and said “You know, I know you’re about to have a baby.” Actually this might have been 2007. But “You’re about to have a baby. “Are you gonna vaccinate the child “’cause I heard all this stuff that the vaccines now, “MMR in particular, is associated with autism?” And I said “I hadn’t heard that actually “because it’s just not something that ever came up “in my practice ’cause I take care of adults.” And I graduated med school in ’99, just when Wakefield’s paper was coming out and I didn’t see it. So immediately I was like “Well that sounds plausible “because there’s been all these people talking about autism “and it seems like it would cause an immune response “and maybe adjuvant or aluminum or mercury.” And I get online and I go down the rabbit hole. But because I’m a doctor, because I’ve been trained in immunology, and I’m trained in the scientific method, I could go through it and sort through the garbage and get to the truth. And some of it is going to make sure I know credible sources, understanding the methodology and I was able to answer the question which was “Nope they’ve shown it’s not the case.” Whew, because I don’t want my kid getting measles, mumps or rubella because as a kid, my parents saw that stuff ‘ cause they’re from India and I have this vaccination scar from small pox. This is one of the great public health triumphs of our era. So that was how I came to it, but how does someone without those tools come to that decision? Do they have to rely on Paul Offit to write a book? How do we do this? – I think it’s fair to be skeptical about anything you put into your body including vaccines. It’s easy to see where this comes from. We ask children and ask parents in this country to vaccinate their children in the first few years of life with vaccines to prevent 14 different diseases, which can be as many as 26 inoculations during those first few years of life which could be as many as five shots at one time to prevent diseases most people don’t see using biological fluids most people don’t understand. I think it’s perfectly easy to understand how we got here. You didn’t have to convince my parents to be vaccinated. They were children of the ’20s and ’30s. They saw diphtheria as a killer of teenagers. They saw polio as a crippler of young people, young adults. You didn’t have to convince me. I was a child of the ’50s and ’60s so I had measles, I had mumps, I had rubella, I had varicella. I knew what all those diseases felt like, but my children are in their 20’s. They don’t see these diseases now. They didn’t grow up with these diseases. For them, it’s a matter of faith. So I think it’s fair to be skeptical. That’s okay. So now you’re just, you wanna be reassured that this is still necessary, that all these vaccines are still necessary and so then how do you get that information. This is the hard part because if for example, I’ll have somebody who’ll call me up and say “Look I’ve done my research on “the chicken pox vaccine and I’ve decided not to get it.” But what do they really mean by research? What they really mean is that they’ve looked online and read people’s opinions about the varicella vaccine. What you really should do if you want to have an informed opinion about the varicella vaccine, read the roughly 300 articles that have been published on the varicella vaccine which would require an expertise in micro-biology, virology, and epidemiology, statistics, which most people don’t have and frankly, most doctors don’t have. – [Z] Yeah, that’s true. – So what do they do? They rely on those advisory groups that at least collectively have that expertise, collectively have read those articles, and make recommendations which they think is the best service of the children in this country, like the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices and the CDC or the Committee of infectious Disease for the American Academy of Pediatrics and those groups have served us well. But sell that message in the 21st century, trust us we’re experts, we know what’s good for you, that doesn’t work. So I think you have to give people, as best you can, the information they need to try and help them sort through this stuff, sort through what they’re reading on the internet. But at the very least, it seems to me that if you’re looking on the internet, I can tell the difference between the sort of good sites and bad. First of all, the good sites generally aren’t selling things like cures for autism. – Like Deepak Chopra’s weird like radio camera thing for meditation, right? – [Paul] Something that’ll rearrange the ions in your brain and make your autism go away. – Right, right. – This would be a clue. – So trying to sell you something but then they’ll say “Well but you’re trying to sell me a RotaTeq vaccine, Paul, “so what’s the difference?” What would you say to that? – Well, first of all, I don’t sell it. Merck sells it. I don’t make a penny off of the sale of the RotaTeq vaccine so we’re good. I have not been compensated in any way for that vaccine for the last 10 years so I’m out. – But early on you probably got licensing fees or inventors fees? – I’m the intellectual property of Children’s Hospital Philadelphia. They own me, therefore they do the deal with Merck, therefore they get the money from Merck, and then I’m part of their patent policy so I get a certain percentage of that money. If you want to know what the percentage is, it’s the three inventors, me, Stan Plotkin, and Fred Clark split 10%. The hospital gets 90%. We split 10%. – It’s the typical devil’s deal you make with academics. – The motivation for doing the work on the rotavirus vaccine and the reward from doing the work on the rotavirus vaccine were never financial. It was great. I’m happy that things are a little easier for my family but that certainly wasn’t the reason to do it. Because who does it for that reason? Who goes into science thinking “God, if I could just figure out “which of these two viral surface proteins “evoke neutralizing antibodies, I could be rich.” I don’t think people think that. They shouldn’t because they would be idiots. – They would be idiots. There are much easier ways to get rich. Really, really. A blockbuster statin would make a lot, much more money. – Launder money for Russian oligarchs. – I’ve done that. It’s very lucrative. That’s how we paid for all this opulence you see right here. So that gets me to the point, so people who do things for money, Dr. Oz, how do you feel about these guys? The Ozs, the Chopras, the Dr. Phils, et cetera. In your book, you mention them in passing saying when they say something that’s kooky people tend to listen, when we say stuff everything’s met with questions. – I think Dr. Oz does say some good things about your health, so I’m not trying to, and he certainly is a mainstream doctor. I mean he’s a cardiovascular surgeon at Columbia. He’s a full professor in the division of cardiovascular surgery. I mean he puts people on heart lung machines and holds their hearts in his hands and fixes them so he certainly buys into mainstream medicine. I think what they do and this is the part that bothers me, I think that medicine is uncertain. It is. We are gonna know more in the future than we know now. We only know so much of the puzzle when we’re asked to make a decision. I think if you ask people “Are we gonna know more about your health “a hundred years from now,” everybody’ll say yes, but when it comes to their disease they wanna believe you know everything you need to know right now, even though you don’t. I think what Chopra does and what Oz does and what Andrew Wakefield does is they’re gurus. They’re sort of all knowing. It’s what I call in the book sort of the Bones McCoy seduction. The chief medical officer of the USS Enterprise had his tricorder, he’d just scan you up and down, and he looked and that’s what you had. There’s something very reassuring about that. I think that’s what makes Andrew Wakefield so reassuring. He knows that this is true. He knows the MMR vaccine causes autism, even though study after study has shown that it doesn’t. That’s reassuring in some ways. – I get nervous anytime someone says they know what the problem is. It doesn’t matter who it is, even if I agree with them, like if Bob Lustig says sugar is a toxin and he’s absolutely certain about it then I have sit back and go “Could it maybe not be a toxin?” You have to question these things, even if they’re right. I think that’s the main thing. Someone like Chopra, like he’s from a spiritual side. Sure let him do his thing but when he starts talking about cortisol levels and things like that. He says it, again, with a certainty that then it fools us actually because we’re looking, as much as we hate authority in this space, we want authority. What I found is people wanna know what you do for your kids so what I do, just the other day I took my two kids, 10 and seven, to Target and we got flu shots. What lit the fire under me was the story of the first flu death in a child in Florida last week. We went. I videotaped it. I put it out. It got a million plus views. Probably 30% of them were from rabid anti-vaccine people who were just furious that it was poisoning my children but the rest of people were like “Oh I didn’t realize it was so urgent, “I’m gonna go get it done.” And we know the flue vaccine isn’t as effective as a lot of other vaccines. We know this. We’ll admit it right up. Even if it’s 30% effective, it’s 30% effective that you didn’t have and the flu can be fatal, if not just for you then for those who are vulnerable. So it’s a mix of selfishness and altruism when you get a vaccine. You don’t wanna get sick, but you also don’t wanna make others sick. You wanna do your part for community immunity because we need a certain critical level. I think that’s starting to erode now when we’re questioning experts and the death of expertise and that kind of thing. What I like about your book is you kind of go through it and “Here are all the mistakes I made, “Paul Offit made, when I started doing this. “I would go on these shows “and would give a list of here are all the indications.” Just shoot it all at the rider and not motivate the elephant. Not be simple. Not come from a place of love and compassion. And then you learned, and it’s nice to see the progress on how that played out. Do you feel that in your own career? – Sure, I mean I think yeah. Actually, for me the passion I guess in all this is that we all have our biases. Mine is that I work in a hospital so there’s not a year that goes by at Children’s Hospital Philadelphia where we don’t see a child die of a vaccine-preventable disease. Die from a vaccine preventable disease. – [Z] You’re still seeing it? – Sure and flu being the most. During the pandemic here, we had about five deaths. But you know, pneumococcus, pertussis or whooping cough occasionally. And invariably it’s because a parent made a choice not to vaccinate or in the case of pertussis not to vaccinate themselves when they were pregnant. And so why did they make that choice? They made that choice because they were persuaded by bad information that caused them to make a bad decision that ultimately hurt their child and I think that’s what I always have in my mind. It’s always that story that I have in my mind. I’ll tell you, just within the past couple years there was a child who came into our hospital whose parents had recently converted to Muslim. They had vaccinated their two older children. They decided not to vaccinate this child. – [Z] Religious exemption? – Not that there’s anything in the Muslim religion that says don’t get vaccinated but this was their decision. So we saw that child in our clinic at two, four, and six months of age and at least, tacitly agreed because there is a religious exemption to vaccination in the state of Pennsylvania. At 11 months of age, the child was infected with a strain of pneumococcus that was contained in the vaccine, that would have been prevented by the vaccine, had meningitis, inflammation in the lining of the brain and spinal cord causing the brain to press down on the brain stem which is to say herniated. We intubated him and saved his life but he will never see or walk or speak or hear again. This is a perfectly normal child who could have lived to be 70 or 80 and been a happy productive member of society who was felled by this awful decision. So when you hear people give bad information out there, you always have these images in your mind and I think that’s what makes it so passionate and so difficult for me. I think that’s why sometimes I get angry when I get on these shows and people are giving bad information because I have those images in my mind because I work in a hospital. – That makes perfect sense. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I don’t think you’d be a human being if you didn’t get angry about it. I think it both helps us and hurts us when we get emotional about this stuff because people see that we’re human beings and that we feel strongly about it. I think this idea of what would you do for your loved one is actually more powerful than we accept in medicine. I think there’s a stigma against telling patient “This is what I do for my mom or my kid. “This is what I did for my dad.” Especially at end of life, particularly with kids and so I’ve tried to make a thing in this show to say what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Heres me getting my shots. Here’s my kids. When my oldest gets HPV shots, she’s 10, she’s gonna get it at 11, we’re gonna livestream the whole series and talk about that. ‘Cause that’s on of those, that’s a great one where people really don’t realize that you can prevent cancer, not just of the cervix but potentially of other areas. We’ve done several shows on it. – Yeah, I mean one-third of the cancers caused by HPV occur in boys and men. – Boys and men. And the rest occur in the band of Boyz II Men which is an amazing R&B group out of Philly. Do you see what I did there people? This is why I’m ZDoggMD and you’re not, world. So I do have some questions because we’re about half an hour in. we’ve got 1600 people watching live. There’s a million comments. Angry emojis, happy emojis, love emojis. This is the tribe. I wanna help them be able to talk about this more effectively. I wanna influence moms and dads on the fence, and I don’t want to attack anti-vaxxers and I don’t want to say ad hominem them ’cause I’m good at that, I do that really well. That’s one of my things, Paul, is like you get to try to be professional. I just get to be a dick, and it feels really good but then when I go to bed I think am I helping things? I’m rallying our troops. Maybe I’m swaying someone on the fence, but I’m just entrenching their elephants in hating me and hating science and hating what we do. So maybe there’s a better way that I need to explore and I need to say maybe I’m wrong on this. It feels good but it’s probably wrong. Let me ask some questions ’cause I think I wanna get at some of the science ’cause you’re the expert on this, whatever the anti-vaxxers say. The mercury thing, why is it bullshit? – So the ethylmercury is a preservative that’s contained still in some multi dose vials of influenza vaccine. When you put a vaccine into a multi dose vial, you have like 10 doses per vial, the rubber stopper gets violated again and again, and even though you keep the vaccine in the refrigerator, four degrees centigrade, bacteria and fungi can still grow. So what happened when you gave dose eight, nine, or ten, 70, 80 years ago is that you would inject children inadvertently with skin bacteria like staph, strep which would cause local cellulitis, local abscess or worse, bacterial sepsis and death. So you need to have some preservative if you’re going to have a multi dose vial. Hence, ethylmercury which is a bacteria-static agent meaning it decreases the ability of bacteria and fungi actually to reproduce. – [Z] Because it gives them autism. Is that right? – So ethylmercury was contained in a number of vaccines, so as we started to give more and more vaccines and were giving more and more ethylmercury, it sort of raised, reasonably, raised concerns. Are we doing more harm than good? What we know now and frankly we knew then is that if you live on the Earth’s surface which pretty much everybody does, you are going to be exposed to mercury. Mercury is part of the Earth’s crust. It’s inorganic mercury. As it comes to the surface, it’s get taken up by bacteria on the surface of the seas or on the surface of the soil and methylated so now it’s not inorganic mercury, it’s organic mercury. It’s methylmercury. – Oh, so it’s organic bro, so it’s all good. Is that what you’re telling me? I could sell it at a Whole Foods in the non-GMO organic mercury section. – I don’t even know what organic means anymore. It used to mean carbon-containing. – [Z] Right. – So in any case now the mercury cross cells and do harm, and certainly methylmercury can do harm. You know mercury at high levels, methyl mercury at high levels can be toxic to the central nervous system, to the brain. And we see disasters, the Minamata Bay disaster, the Iraqi fumigating rain disaster, are examples of how high levels of mercury can cause harm. So the question reasonably is can these much, much lower levels of ethyl mercury in vaccines cause harm? Assuming you live on this planet, and you drink anything made from water on this planet, including breast milk or infant formula, you are exposed to far greater quantities of methylmercury than you are ever going to get from ethylmercury in vaccines. And if you look at children are inoculated with ethylmercury contained in vaccines, you can’t tell that there’s an increase in the level in their bloodstream of mercury because we all have mercury in our bloodstream. If you live on this planet, you’re gonna have mercury in your bloodstream. I’ve had to testify in front of congressional hearings where a congressman will say things like “When it comes to mercury I have zero tolerance.” Well if you have zero tolerance, move to another planet because on this planet there’s mercury. – Ironically move to Mercury where there’s less mercury on the surface. No, and that’s exactly it. So of course it’s been taken out of most vaccines. Actually at great cost, because now you can’t have a multi dose vaccine. You have to have individuals and it costs a lot more money. So you’ve charged a little more to do that but they’ve done it just out of pure public relations. Really. – Yeah, I think public Health Service made the decision to do this. I think mostly because their idea at the time was that all theoretical risks should be communicated. I’m not sure why that was the decision. And so we spent tens of millions, probably hundreds of millions of dollars really now moving from multi dose vials to single dose vials. About 50% of the cost of a vaccine is actually in its packaging. So we spent a lot of money and didn’t make vaccines safer. One of the things, if you look back at what they said at the Public Health Services at the time, they said “All the evidence today does “is suggest a notion that mercury level in vaccines “is unsafe but to make safe vaccines even safer.” Well if it didn’t make it unsafe, taking it out never made it safer. It just made it perceived to be safer even though it wasn’t. It was not us at our best. – Yeah, yeah. So also speaking of that then, you’re talking about additives and unsafe things in stuff that you consume, the supplement industry. You’ve written a book on that. So this is another spectrum of the science, right? In supplements you have no idea what’s in them. They’re not FDA regulated and yet, people would sooner take a ton of supplements than vaccinate their child. Explain the sort of thinking there. – Yeah it’s a sort of magical thinking. It’s the notion that when you, first of all the supplement, as you say, the dietary supplement industry is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Not in any effective way because they don’t have the manpower to do it so therefore you don’t know that what’s on that level is actually what’s on that bottle. You don’t know whether it’s made under good manufacturing practices. So we’ve dealt with that at our hospital, I’m the head of therapeutic centers committee, so we deal with this all time. What do we do? The joint commission of hospital accreditation said if you’re going to give this you have to record it and you have to store it and you have to give it. So we did that initially but then we realized somebody wants to give their child selenium 40 micrograms a day, so we would write the order out and we would give it. First of all, we didn’t know it was 40 micrograms. We didn’t even know if it was selenium because we don’t know. We feel we were participating ,frankly, in a fraudulent industry so we stopped. We stopped doing that, and now you have to sign a form that we’re not going to give it. If you want to give it, you can, but realize we don’t know what’s in it. It may interfere with other drugs you’re getting in this hospital. But you’re right. I think people walk into the store and they think this is somehow much more natural. This is being made by elves and old hippies on flowering meadow sides and this is only gonna do good. It can’t possibly do harm. – Right. – Which is true of nothing. If something has a positive effect, it can have a negative effect. That’s always true. But somehow this industry manages to skirt that. It is remarkable to me that they’ve been so successful at it. – And it’s a great counter-example to vaccinations. Here we are, studying it, purifying it, 12,000 degrees of safety measures, studies, et cetera. – Including the vaccine safety data line. Once a vaccine is made and is put out there, there is a linked computerized medical record system so that you know who’s gotten a vaccine and who hasn’t. And if there’s anything that shows up, it’ll show up quickly. It’s too bad this doesn’t exist on the drug side. I think if this existed on the drug side you would have seen Vioxx as a rare cause of heart attacks much quicker. – Earlier than Topol pointed it out, yeah. – [Paul] Eric Topal, right? – Yeah, Eric’s my homie by the way. I like to namedrop, Paul ‘Cause like you’re a famous dude. I’m like “Paul, you know, me and Eric were chillin’ “the other day, just talking about Vioxx.” So yeah, supplements, but then related to that, what’s wrong with our media why is our media not portraying science in a way that is helpful to the public. Because in the book you talk about that quite a bit. Everything from false balance to the idea that they like click-bait titles. What’s going on with the media? – I think for the most part the media doesn’t portray science at all. I think it’s sort of dropped out. CNN has sort of dropped it’s science and technology sections. The Boston Globe which is at the heart in many ways of the biotech industry has dropped it’s science. It’s now like a health section. I think generally it’s not portrayed, but the conflict of interest if you will is that the goal is to sell advertising. You’re gonna sell advertising if you’re interesting. It’s much more interesting if it’s controversial and it’s a man bites dog story. – Mm. Yeah, and it’s frustrating because I feel like here we have a platform. Yeah, there’s 1.6 thousand people watching. This will get a ton of views when it’s done. These are engaged people who can comment in real time, can ask us questions. Way more elderly die from not being vaccinated and being exposed to influenza than from vaccine caused deaths says Jenna Smith-Sanders. So people can leave their feelings. In the media I feel like the physicians’ voices are glossy and they’re soundbited and maybe that’s what the public needs, but I don’t think so. I think the public wants to hear doctors talking about this stuff honestly. – That’s why what you do is so important. I think because you’re a great communicator, but it’s so rare. Think about how rare it is. If there are doctors who do the kinds of things you do, we’re not trained to do it. We’re generally not good at it. We’re not used to it because the scientific method really doesn’t allow you to prove never, we tend to sound like we’re waffling or worse covering something up. It just doesn’t come off well. – You know it’s funny ’cause in the old days I would have thought “Well you’re just blowing smoke up my ass, Paul.” But no, you’re absolutely effin’ right. Doctors are the worst, and every time I get one on my show I fear that the show’s gonna be a disaster because they are, they’ll pull back. They’re very reserved. They’re worried about their professional appearance. They’re worried about saying the wrong thing. They’re worried about taking too much risk in what they say, and it comes off as they’re hiding something or they’re waffling or they’re not being transparent. My job, which is hard, is to try to pull them out. With you, see it’s interesting, because even you’re an introvert and you’re a scientist, you’ve done this enough now that you give of yourself truth that comes out of you. And whether you disagree with it or not, you’re an anti-vaxxer, you’re gonna disagree. But it is authentically you and you can tell. You’re not holding anything back. You’re not prevaricating. That’s a fancy way of saying lying. It’s an SAT word. I looked it up. I think we need more Paul Offits in the world communicating science. Bill Nye is a great example. – [Paul] Yeah, he’s great. – Great science communicator. – [Paul] Neil Degrasse-Tyson I think is great. – Ah, he’s amazing. But you gave a great example in the book of a Neil Degrasse-Tyson eff up where it was, – [Paul] Titanic. – Titanic came out and he puts out a tweet or some public statement like “You know the stars in the North Atlantic don’t look anything like that that time of year “when they were looking up.” – [Paul] In 1912. – In 1912 because he’s got like some, he’s likeoh no, no, no. Orion would have been here. And people ripped him a new one. They’re like listen “Poindexter, it’s a fricking movie, don’t nerd out.” They don’t realize that scientists are passionate about truth. – [Paul] That’s right. – And he couldn’t hide it, and he had to say it. Do you think that was a mistake or do you think it just shows? – No, no, I think that’s him. – [Z] That’s him. – He said “Wait a second. “Whoa, whoa, hold it.” It’s probably of the 400 million people that saw that movie he’s the only person who said that, but still. – Stood up in the theater. You know, I have a funny Carl Sagan story. So I saw Carl Sagan at Fresno State university. I grew up in Clovis, California. Central valley of California. In high school, I was a big nerd of course. Everything. Listening to Rush, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and Carl Sagan comes to town. My buddy gets me tickets. My buddy is the that wears the Iron Maiden t-shirt and is like Yeah! But he’s a super nerd, so we go see Carl Sagan and I’m just waiting. I’m sitting in the back. I’m waiting, I’m waiting, I’m waiting. He says “Billions and billions” which is his catchphrase. I stand up and I’m like “Whoa, billions and billions.” I start clapping. Dead silence in the rest of the audience. All them scientists, nerds. I’m just like “Hey, eh.” But see if the public got as excited about science as the scientist actually internally do, I think we wouldn’t have climate denial. We wouldn’t have vaccine science denial. We wouldn’t have the mess that we’re in. – There’s a movie on that, a new movie called Science Fair I don’t know if you’ve seen it yet. – No, I haven’t. – It just came out but it’s about these high school students who are competing for science prizes. They do exactly what you say. They’re “Whoa, whoa.” They’re screaming for each other and the ones that have won it’s just like they’ve won the Nobel prize. They’re very emotional so something happens I guess between that exciting time when you’re younger to when you get older that you sort of repress some of that. But it’s there. I’m telling you it’s there. It’s just a matter of getting it out. – Let me ask you this, speaking of communication, does shame work? Is shaming somebody for not vaccinating, is that an effective strategy? – No, I don’t think so. I think you have to understand that it’s really hard to watch your child get so many shots at once. It doesn’t make sense. Here your child’s two months old and they’re getting five shots. And for what, polio? Is there still polio in this country? Diphtheria? How many cases of diphtheria is there? Tetanus? I mean it’s really hard to watch that. I get it. I get how you’re sort of put off by that, but a choice not to get a vaccine is not a risk-free choice. I mean it’s not as risky of a choice as it was 50 years ago, but it’s still a risky choice. You’re still playing at some level a game of Russian roulette, and you just have to find a way to say that. You know our job as parents is to put your child in the safest position possible. These are well-tested products. This is based on a mountain of evidence. Feel comfortable with this. Let’s find a way you can feel comfortable with this. But I get the push back. I think we do need to reexplain ourselves. You didn’t have to explain vaccines to my parents. You didn’t have to explain vaccines to me. I had most of these diseases. I didn’t have polio, but I was born clubbed feet actually and was in a polio ward following surgery when I was five years old. So I certainly remember what polio looks like. I have a friend who suffered polio who’s still having post-polio syndrome, so I see all that. But today, we do need to step back and reexplain ourselves a little more because it’s not as compelling. The diseases aren’t quite as compelling as they were. – Yeah, interesting story around that. So I speak of shame and our platform. There’s nurse in Texas, you probably heard this story. She was on a Facebook anti-vaccine group and had written about a patient who was there, violated HIPAA about seeing measles. What I thought was interesting, and I did a show about this where I said it was inexcusable to have a health practitioner violating HIPAA but then also being able to see measles in an ICU setting, see the child suffering and still say I will not vaccinate. Because again, the science is there and then the emotion is there. What was interesting though, Paul, is in her actual post she said “You know guys, this is really bad. “Like this is awful. “What I see here, this is much worse than I thought “and it really had me shook. “But I’m not changing my anti-vaccine stance “but I’m just saying.” And I feel like that was very powerful actually. – But it’s interesting, isn’t it? That this surprised her at some level. Like whoa, this is really bad. When Jenny McCarthy says “I’ll take the fricking measles every time” as if it’s the choice between getting a measles vaccine and risking autism and getting measles, which she sees as benign, it tells you that not only have we largely eliminated the measles from the United States, we’ve eliminated the memory of measles. I mean measles makes you sick. 50% of people who have measles actually have abnormal chest x-rays. They may not have clinical pneumonia but they have abnormal chest x-rays. I can tell whether somebody has measles in 30 seconds based on how sick they are. Then they call people like me down to the emergency department when kids come in with fever and rash because I saw so much measles in training. – How comfortable are you with your own immunity and titers that hang around measles kids? – I had measles. – [Z] Oh, you had it? – Yes, I’m of an age. I was born before 1957. – Oh got it. So you cheated and got measles so you’re saying, okay so I’m just gonna go on record and say Paul Offit says have a measles party everyone. That’s how you get natural immunity. What’s wrong with natural immunity? Chicken pox party, what’s wrong with that? – Right, so the goal of vaccines is to induce immunity that’s acquired after a natural infection without having to pay the price of natural infection. So you could reasonably ask this question. Let’s take the measles as an example. Isn’t it true, I mean I was naturally infected with measles, isn’t it true that after being naturally infected with measles I probably have higher frequencies of memory immune cells B- and T-cells than does someone who was vaccinated? Yes, I do, that’s true. – So you have a bigger antigen response, yeah. – The virus reproduced itself thousands of times in me, not the 10 or 20 times it is when you get the vaccine, so I have a much greater immune response, it’s true. So say why not? Well then why not have natural measles parties? Because if you’re going to get a better immunity. That’s not the right question. The right question is is vaccination good enough? Yes, it’s good enough. We eliminated measles from the United States by the year 2000. The only reason measles has come back is because now enough people are choosing not to get it. So you wanna make sure you get immunity that is close enough to natural infection to prevent the disease, which we did with the measles vaccine, without having to pay the price of natural infection. Chicken pox parties? Really? I mean chicken pox can kill you and did. – [Z] I’ve seen it, yeah. – So that’s the downside of a chicken pox party. – Right, you’re talking about what? Meningitis, pneumonia, what are some complications of chicken pox? – The ones that got most kids into the hospital which would be about 10,000 admitted a year before the chicken pox vaccine which was in ’95, is they would get skin infections because the blisters would burst. The big one was necrotizing fasciitis which can cause loss of limbs. – Now imagine, so this was 1995 even, that recent that chicken pox was causing 10,000 admissions. – [Paul] That’s right, in a year. And about a hundred deaths. – And a hundred deaths. – Most in previously healthy people. – That’s the thing. These aren’t like immune compromised children. So again, these are tremendous advances. HPV vaccine. What do you say to parents who, and this is one of the frustrating things that triggers me a little bit, and again, I should be less emotional about it but I’m not that guy. I’m not a great scientist. I’m more of a emotional communicator and I love medicine and I love people and there’s love but it’s hard for me to get rational sometimes. HPV, we have nurses in the audience. We have very educated people who say there’s not enough data, it causes terrible side-effects. There’s these girls in wheelchairs now, and I believe in vaccines but I don’t believe in this one. What do you say to that? – First of all, it is the most studied vaccine to post last year. It’s been formally studied in more than a million people so that’s number one. Number two is if you had to ask the question of which vaccine preventable disease kills the most people, the answer is flu. Last year in the United States, we had 80,000 deaths from influenza and almost 200 in children. Most previously healthy. What’s number two? HPV. HPV, the current vaccine, the HPV 9 vaccine, GARDASIL 9 will prevent 29,000 cases of cancer every year and 5,000 deaths a year. That 5,000 deaths is more than all other vaccine preventable diseases with the exception of flu combined. Sorry. – No, no, that’s okay. Take a break, man. You’ve been talking a lot. You just got off a plane. I’m gonna grab some comments here while you’re doing that. What again was the death rate with measles before the vaccine, Brandon Leo says. – So before the vaccine there about three to four million cases a year, U.S., 48,000 hospitalizations, 500 deaths. – 500 deaths a year of children. Think about that. – [Paul] Primarily children. – That’s a life that doesn’t happen. You talk about quality adjusted life years. When a child dies, it is 80 years of life, quality of life, weddings, that are lost. It’s not like we’re talking about a 75-year-old person getting a SHINGRIX vaccine and not getting shingles which is still important because it can be debilitating. But it’s a very different thing. Let me see here. Bonnie says bless you and your integrity. – My wife’s name’s Bonnie. – Maybe it’s the same Bonnie. No, it’s not Bonnie Offit thought. It’s Bonnie Headon I would stack it with family too. – I don’t think she knows this is live. I’m not sure she knows it’s on now. – Oh yeah, that’s probably for the best ’cause the live comments are, theses are actually really good comments, Paul. Like “Thank you Dr. Paul Offit. “So sorry to hear about your experience in a polio ward “and having club foot. “Thank you for sharing, Kelly.” This is the thing, Kelly, like I think one thing we don’t do well as doctors is humanize ourselves. I think a lot of times we’re supposed to be the super human detached agents, brains in vats that say vaccines are safe and effective. And people go I don’t resonate with that. ’cause that’s not how we’re tribal creatures. We don’t have somebody in the tribe who’s a Poindexter who goes “Well according to my data.” No one’s going to believe that. That’s why I really like, and gotta be full disclosure here, Paul did not ask me to talk about this book. He sent it to me as a courtesy so could read it, and I loved it. I loved it so much that I think, and here’s my honest feedback, I think that it’s great for lay people, but I think that it’s even better for medical people. Because medical people can go through and they go “God I’m gonna have to deal with these questions. “I get so triggered. “How do I deal with it?” Here’s a great way to think about it. And it also really, I think it puts into place how celebrities are damaging our understanding of science. It’s really damaging our public health. They may not be intentionally doing it. People like Robert F. Kennedy, Junior. Like this guy’s a lawyer. What is he talking about vaccines for? – He has a world mercury project. I think he’s trying to drum up business for a class action lawsuit, to be perfectly honest with you. He is of council to the law firm of Morgan and Morgan, which is a big class action litigator. Maybe that’s it. – [Z] He’s wagging the dog. – I don’t know. I don’t get it. It’s fair to ask the question. I mean mercury is never gonna sound good. It’s not like there’s a national center for the appreciation of heavy metals standing up in defense of mercury. – Sorry, sorry. You’re absolutely wrong. Heavy metal rocks and Freddie Mercury is the shit. Alright? Number next, Paul? – Yeah, so again, it’s fair to ask the question. I mean “Wait you’re injecting children with mercury, what?” So fair enough and it has been answered now in seven studies and it’s exactly what you would expect given that we’re exposed to a form of mercury. There’s more mercury in this than you’re gonna get in vaccines. Not in that. – Okay, good, good. Mine’s clean. ’cause you backwash because you’re a mercury factory, Paul. Because you worked with vaccines for so long, you’re tainted. So Robert? – So the studies have been done, so why isn’t he convinced by that study? It’s okay to be skeptical. It’s just when you cross the line into cynical, that’s when you lose me. – You said that in the book. I thought it was great. Skepticism is important. It’s part of the scientific process. – Right. Exactly, skepticism is a good thing. I’m here actually for the Center for Skeptical Inquiry. It’s a group of skeptics, like Richard Dawkins, and Steven Pinker, and Steven Novella. Stephen Fry. – Oh man, I wanna crash that party. How come I never get invited? – Come on, come on over. – I’m so skeptical I’m too skeptical to show up. I’m like I dunno about these guys man. So skepticism is good, but cynicism is bad. This idea that everybody is out to hurt us, there’s a big conspiracy. Look money is a big driver in healthcare. We talk about it on this show trying to build Health 3.0. You’re in the academic silo, Paul, so you see part of it. But the true dysfunction out in the community is so hurtful that I think until physicians are able and front line healthcare staff are able to overcome their moral injury of practicing in a system where they feel like they’re causing harm deep down, it’s gonna be hard for them to advocate and find the time to go on the news and talk about these things. Be better communicators. They’re hurting themselves. Inside they’re hurting. So this is a real problem. They call it burnout, it’s moral injury. I think it hurts even more when now our patients question everything about us in a cynical way. So skeptical is fine. I love it when patients question what I’m doing ’cause I feel like then here’s a chance for me to explain and make sure they know my thinking because that’s shared decision making. As opposed to “I don’t trust you man, “you’re probably paid off by big pharma bro.” – So you’ve lost. – [Z] You’ve lost, yeah. – You’ve lost, there’s nothing you can say because you’re a part of the conspiracy. – [Z] That’s right, the chem trails. – So you bail. I bail on those. I say “Is there anything I can say “that will help you with this” and if the answer’s no then why have the discussion. There was a person who sort of confronted me at this meeting a couple days ago. She asked a question about aluminum so I was trying to explain about how aluminum works, how aluminum is the most abundant light metal on the planet, and we’re exposed to aluminum ina variety of ways. So here’s how if you’re injected with aluminum versus if you ingest aluminum. And she just wouldn’t believe me and after a while, I just said “Why are you asking me questions “if you’re not gonna believe anything I say?” What’s the point other than to torture me which I think was the point. – I think her elephant was really, she knows what it believes and no matter how you try to persuade her little rider it’s gonna reinforce what her elephant believes. This is a struggle, Paul, because we’re human beings and we’ve evolved not to speak truth but to seek validation in our social tribe . We seek persuasion in our tribe ’cause that’s how we survive. We can transcend that though. That’s the beautiful thing about being human. We have the brain structure to actually go “No I’m better than that. “I can take a space.” Whether it’s just meditating. Whether it’s paying attention. Whether it’s working on yourself. Whether it’s going to therapy. We can do that. And that’s where I agree with people like Deepak Chopra where they’re good at being a guru is where they say “You know we should step back “and say let’s look at ourselves.” So there’s some beauty and truth to be found in all these sides. Even in the anti-vaxxers because at least they have forced us to question things, confirm what we know through science, and then bring it to the public. So for that I’m grateful I guess. For the rest of it, they can go to hell. – Yeah, no, I think that if there wasn’t a formal anti-vaccine movement there would have always been an anti-vaccine sentiment. The fact of the matter is is you aren’t compelled by the diseases in a manner that I was compelled by the diseases or my parents were compelled by the diseases. So I think that would had to have happened. The people would say “Wait, why are we giving all these vaccines? “We don’t even see these diseases anymore” And we’re starting to see an increase in chronic disease because frankly we live longer and could those two things be related. I think it would happen without the Jenny McCarthys or the J.B. Handleys or the R.F.K. Juniors. I think it would have happened anyways. – Yeah, I think you’re right. We got a little hater here. Lynn Waldrup. “You are not evolved, nor do you meditate.” You don’t know me, Lynn. Okay? Ohm. Actually this is the worst time to meditate when you’re like highly emotional and charged. Actually you know what, you can step back and see that as a kind of an experience within your awareness. Anyways, now I’m gonna make Paul Offit into a practicing Buddhist with me right before he goes to a skeptic conference and everyone makes fun of him. Paul, any last sort of admonishments? Because we’ve come up on an hour now and I wanna respect your time ’cause you have to get up at the crack of dawn and you’ve been traveling. And you’ve given so much of your time here even though these guys pounding on the door. Tom, what ended up happening? – [Tom] I called the cops. – Called the cops? – [Tom] They’re in jail. – Are they really? – [Tom] I hope. – Oh, I’m so glad. See, I’m not a big gun person. I don’t like guns. – [Paul] Has this happened before? – [Z] Never. – Really, wow. – This is a first, and I suspect that you’re loony bait. Now, I’ll tell you quick story that may relate to this and it relates to something you said in our book. Your hospital Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, CHOP, and your organization U-Penn, have been very supportive of the work that you do because science. And you care about children, and they know this. But there have been, there are times when you can say stuff that will upset your employer et cetera. We did a thing where we did flu shots. We got live flu shots. We did a live show like we’re doing now. At our hospital in Las Vegas, our county hospital where I’m on staff, where I round, where I know the CEO, I’m friends with everybody there and they said “Sure CVS won’t let you get a live flu shot. “They’re too risk averse. “Come over.” They wouldn’t let us do it. The pharmacist said “Mm-mm, we’re not comfortable with that.” – [Paul] What weren’t they comfortable with? – They weren’t comfortable with us live streaming us getting flu shots. Shame on you, however, Target which is CVS let us do our kids. So it’s always a little soft. So UMC our hospital said “Sure come and do it there.” So we did the live thing. Everybody got vaccinated. They made it a thing to vaccinate all the docs too. We made a couple jokes about, I think, Tom. I said “Now Tom is bout to get his vaccine. “Prepare to become severely autistic, Tom.” I said something like “It’ll be an upgrade for you “because you’ll actually be better at helping me out.” It was a dumb joke. Probably in poor taste but it didn’t occur to me at the time. It’s a live show and we were trying to be funny. The anti-vax people seized on that joke, not on the fact that we’re getting flu shots. We’re trying to prevent disease. They seized on that and they made so much trouble for the hospital that the hospital had us pull the video down. I never pull videos down, Paul. Ever, ever. I did it for my hospital because I love and respect them, but I still think it was cowardly. I understand why they did it because of the joke that we made, and that I understand. But the truth is we need to stand together as agents of reason and people who care and say “You know what, if we have a united front on this “and we support each other in communicating “and our institutions support us, “we’ll be much more successful than if they treat Paul Offit “like a rogue agent for saying we should do “the right thing for children.” – I would say in defense of my hospital, I have not made things easy for my hospital by being sort of a lightening rod. It’d be much easier for them if I didn’t do that. They have consistently stood by me. Our hospital mandates flu vaccines. Starting in 2009, if you didn’t get a flu vaccine and you were an employee of the hospital meaning you could walk into the room so not just doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners but dietary services, environmental services, any who would walk into the room as a health care employee, you had to get a vaccine. If you didn’t get a vaccine, you had two weeks of unpaid leave to think bout it. If you still didn’t get a vaccine, you were fired. Because we made that decision for our children because we’re responsible for the children in our hospital. Occasionally influenza is transmitted in the hospital. Occasionally its transmitted by health care workers and we have a lot of children in the hospital that can’t be vaccinated for obvious reasons because they’re getting cancer chemo therapy or whatever. – Right, right. I think that makes a lot of sense. So I’m glad. I wanna give a shout out to CHOP for supporting you. It’s a really big deal. UPMC’s decision to give Flublok, the egg free flu vaccine. – [Paul] The recombinant vaccine. – Yeah, the recombinant one. What’s your thoughts on that? Is that something that ought to be doing? – No, I think it’s interesting. The flu is elusive. Puts it mildly. It is a moving target. So every year it mutates so much from one year to the next, we need to give you the yearly vaccine and I’m actually on the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee that actually makes the decision about which strains are put in there. – Sorry, just substitute FDA for Illuminati and I think we have an answer there, right. Mm hmm. – [Paul] Lizard Illuminati. – What was that? – [Paul] Lizard Illuminati. – Lizard, oh right, that’s the best kind of Illuminati. Anyways, go on. – So we make that decision in March what goes in in September so it depends how the virus moves It’s not just all these types like H1N1 or H3N2 but there’s these subclades, so it’s really hard. And usually it comes up from South America, but sometimes not exactly, so in 2014, 2015, we missed. The strains that we had in there, specifically the H3N2 that virus had drifted so much so that it didn’t cover it at all. So that’s the second thing it does. But to answer your Flublok question, this is sort of a little complicated, but when you make this vaccine in eggs, you grow the virus in eggs. So the virus actually can drift a little in eggs. – [Z] As it’s replicating. – Whereas that doesn’t happen with the recombinant DNA vaccine, nor does it happen when there’s a cell-based vaccine. FLUCELVAX. – [Z] Canine cells? – That’s right. Canine kidney cells. – Did you get super dog powers when you get injected with dog cells? – You do. You bark. That exactly what happens. – And you understand Fido. – Now you got it. – I’ve seen Beethoven One and Two, Paul, okay. – So you know. – I know. Actually so that’s great. One thing I want to point out, and I think this will put a coat on the whole show ’cause we’ve gone an hour and I really wanna respect your time. Even though I keep asking you questions ’cause I love you so much, Paul Offit. What you just said about drift, and this and that and the other thing, people. People, I’m gonna talk to the camera for a second, which I don’t do. I’m gonna break the third, fourth, what wall is is Tom Hinueber? – [Tom] Four. – I’m breaking the fourth wall. That’s complicated. We have to believe in our experts. In working on this, they study and work very hard to understand this expertise that not everyone have, not every doctor can have. So this is very important that we promote the improvement in flu vaccine. We promote science. We promote more knowledge. Like you said, we’re gonna know more in 10 years than we know now. As always. That’s how science works. So Paul Offit, man, I’m so glad you could brave this nonsense, fatigue, and these two clowns in the back which I mean you’ve only seen a third of what they can do to come on the show and enlighten us and talk to us. I wanna thank you personally for all that you do, and I know it’s hard and I know your family. I know how hard it is on family because my family has the same thing. Like after this last thing where people in the comments were threatening my daughter’s life and saying horrible things about my kids, a part of me is like “Should I not do this?” And I asked my kids and they were like “Screw these people Dad. “They wanna be mean to us we’ll show ’em what we can do. “Give me the shot.” They were gung-ho to do it because they thought it would help other kids and they’re like kids. Why can’t grown ups be that cool? – How old are your kids? – [Z] 10 and seven. – That’s great. – So anyways Paul, thank you. Knock ’em dead tomorrow at the conference. Any parting words? Buy the book. I’m gonna tell you that. – Thanks for having me on. This was fun. It was fun for getting to see. I see your videos, and it’s just cool seeing you. See, I’m like a fan. – That’s crazy, and I don’t believe it at all. That’s really, really awesome man. Oh, one last thing for the ZPac, if you like the kind of work we’re doing here please, please, please become a supporter. Click the button that says become a supporter. For $4.99 a month, you get private uncensored conversations with me. We’re soon gonna do CME so when I do a live show people can a button and go through to CME. – [Paul] That’s great. – So the bigger tribe we get, the less we ever have to worry about sponsors and commercial entanglements. We can just give you the truth and bring great guests on. Paul Offit, thank you. – Thank you. – [Z] Thank you so much. We out!