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CA Board of Education President Pimps Anti-Vax Propaganda Film

March 19, 2012

Seriously, California?  Or more specifically: Seriously, San Ramon Valley Unified School District? Or even more specifically: Seriously, Greg Marvel, Board of Education President of San Ramon Valley?

What am I going on about, reader? Well, this letter, mostly. In it, a man named Marvelous Greg Marvel recommends that parents in his school district make sure to watch the outrageously misleading anti-vaccination propaganda film known as The Greater Good, which has been dissected quite accurately over at science-based medicine.  In his letter, Marvel states that

Well, okay. The film is definitely provocative, but also intensely inaccurate and full to the brim with misleading statements and emotional appeals to ignore common sense. It’s certainly not thought-provoking in any positive way, and to call it balanced is, in fact, unbalanced. But Marvel isn’t done there. He goes on to add his own personal anecdote, a strategy of many anti-vaxxers, as follows:

Marvel does not elaborate on what is meant by “seriously ill” but from the sounds of things it was certainly well within the bounds of  a normal reaction to a vaccine. Further, while he states that no one ever told him of the potential for long-term damage, he quickly goes on to clarify that his daughter is just fine, thank you very much.

Most disturbing, is the following quote from Marvel:

“However, it is important that parents fully investigate and understand the benefits and the risks associated with the current recommended vaccinations and their opt out rights under their respective “mandatory” state vaccination laws.”

Notice that Marvel puts the word “mandatory” in sneer quotes. Here he is leading his parental flock to the concept that nobody can make nobody get no vaccines in California, a fact already well-known by the population as well as by public health practitioners. You see, California is one of those states for whom vaccine exemptions are so easy to obtain that all you have to do is sign a form saying “I don’t want them”. Fortunately, legislation has recently been proposed which will hopefully put an end to this nonsense once and for all.

It would be remiss not to mention that San Ramos Valley Unified School District happens to be in a particularly vaccine-adverse region. It’s not far from Berkeley, where there was recently a mumps outbreak. And of course California is now sadly infamous in the annals of public health for the 2010 pertussis epidemic in which there were 9154 cases and 10 infant deaths. The last direction in which California needs to go is toward LESS vaccination.

So why is Marvelous Greg Marvel smiling? Is it because he employs several tactics of anti-vaccinators to make his position appear on the surface to be educated, reasonable, and fair? He states that he is a “strong believer” in vaccines, but then goes on to seed his missive with a meaningless emotional anecdote and to cast doubt on the safety of vaccinations, with no scientific evidence to support his view. He then says that he just wants parents to be able to make an “informed choice”, but urges them to view an inaccurate and misleading “documentary”.  Surely Mr. Marvel, who is deeply entrenched in the world of education, understands that one cannot make an informed choice without accurate information. If he were truly interested in balance, he would have directed his parents to read relevant pages on the CDC’s website. But perhaps he already knows that the dry science presented on those pages often cannot overcome the irrational emotional response elicited by films such as The Greater Good.

If you live in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District and are opposed to frank misinformation being given to your community, feel free to write or call.

San Ramon Valley Unified School District

699 Old Orchard Drive, Danville, CA 94526

(925) 552-5500 Phone

(925) 838-3147  Fax

From → vaccines

10 Comments
  1. Oh, but haven’t you heard? According to our anti-vax friends in Australia, pertussis deaths are only from the “oxidative stress” that the “virus” places on the body. Take plenty of vitamin C, they say (with their funny Australian accents), and it will fill in all the spaces in the cells where the pertussis “virus” may enter and make people sick.

    Seriously, I wish I was joking.

    (If this is a double reply, please delete.)

  2. Hi SkewedD!

    Thanks for reminding me that I can look up vaccine exemption rates for each school (they’re listed by each school) — I’ll get on that tomorrow. It’s a tedious process cause the listing is a PDF, so you have to know the name of each school, and there are 35 in the district.

    But I digress.

    Here’s what is in progress so far:

    Kent Heckenlively, who contributes regularly to Age of Autism, teaches middle school in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, so it is possible it is he who encouraged Greg Marvel to write the letter.

    Over the weekend, I wrote to the California School Boards Association and asked the Executive Director if Marvel’s letter was a valid use of school board letterhead, also quoting the NYT review. I haven’t heard back yet, but I forwarded my email to the ED to the executive director of the California Immunization Coalition.

    I also wrote to the executive director of the California Immunization Coalition, alerting her to the Canary Party’s push to publicize this propaganda film in the SRVUSD. She in turn is in contact with other local health authorities, plus some physician’s organizations.

    Finally, I wrote to a physician I know who practices in the area. Said physician confirmed this morning that he had received assurance from Mr. Marvel that Mr. Marvel indeed did write the letter, and made it available to the Canary Party. The physician also sent an alert about this letter and the promotion of the film to OTHER physician’s organizations in which he is active.

    Now what I don’t know is if the letter was distributed via email to all SRVUSD parents. It would have been sent out Friday, the 16th.

    Stand by for updates!

    • Liz, you are a goddess among women! Great job and I look forward to your updates. Have you been blogging about this anywhere so I can link your post? If not, maybe we can write a joint blog post or you could do a guest blog post. You deserve all of the credit for your legwork here!

  3. Bayareamom permalink

    FYI – I know Greg Marvel. He is a friend of my attorney husband and myself. Greg is adamantly PRO VACCINE and always has been. ALL Greg has suggested is that anyone interested in the vaccine safety and efficacy issue, is to view this documentary. As Greg shared with me in a recent phone conversation, he considered this documentary a very well balanced and informative depiction of the issues behind vaccination.

    Our now 19 year old son suffered horrendous vaccine reactions as an infant. And before anyone slams me for being anti-vaccine, think again. Even after I’d been warned about vaccines by a friend of mine (prior to meeting my now husband), I felt that vaccinating our newborn infant was the best thing we could do, in order to protect his health. In fact, I felt that parents that did not vaccinate their children, were horrible parents.

    At Denver’s Rose Medical Center, it was hospital policy to test ALL moms prior to giving birth, for Hep B. I was tested and found to be negative. However, they still injected our son for this disease, even though I tested negative. There was absolutely no risk to our son, but they injected him anyway.

    After every round of vaccines given to him, starting at the age of 2 months, he would react, until finally, at the age of four months, he reacted with immediate SOMNOLENCE (for over 12 hours I could neither awaken him to change or feed him), to then, immediately upon awakening with a high-pitched over three hour screaming episode we shall never forget. Our pediatrician asked us to hold the phone out so that he could hear our son’s screams. He then quietly told me that our baby had suffered a severe vaccine reaction and immediately exempted our son from the whole cell pertussis component to the DPT vaccine.

    However, after our son’s six month well baby visit at which time we allowed the DT vaccine to be given to him (minus the whole cell pertussis component), he still reacted with complete somnolence.

    PLEASE understand that somnolence is brain inflammation. This is STILL a vaccine reaction. After our son’s six month reaction, I asked our pediatrician just what had happened to our infant, given these horrific reactions.

    His response? He stated that our son would most likely suffer with learning issues, starting at the age of Kindergarten.

    Which he did. We finally had our son tested with Dr. Carina Grandison of Children’s Oakland Hospital. She found Ryan to have very profound dysgraphia, higher order speech/language issues and a true inability to understand concepts behind math principles.

    It took my husband and myself years to research all that we now know, about vaccines, the ingredients in vaccines, the manufacturing process behind vaccines, and their down sides.

    Look – folks. Vaccines are drugs and as with any other drug, they DO and HAVE caused severe damage and harm to many children and adults. What my husband and I read when we poured through peer reviewed medical literature, shocked and horrified us.

    So before you browbeat Greg Marvel, I implore you to quit using personal attacks and knee jerk reactions to this very serious issue.

    If people choose to use vaccination as part of their own healthcare needs, that’s their privilege! But given what my husband and I have found through our own research, we’ve learned that there are pre-genetic precursors to the possibility of severe reaction to vaccines and other drugs. My own family is replete with individuals who have had life threatening reactions to certain medications (my own mother for one).

    SO PLEASE – this should be an issue that should be an issue we can all discuss as adults, without all the attacks. I might ask if you feel so compelled in truth about your belief behind vaccines, then why all the vitriol?

    Compassion and understanding really do go a long, long way. It is my fervent hope that ALL of us, no matter what our beliefs, can exhibit those qualities to one another, in spite of our differences.

    • I can (and should) browbeat Greg Marvel and anyone else who chooses to abuse his position to spread dangerous misinformation that is a threat to public health. The film that he (and you) promote as “well-balanced” is anything but, and the belief that it is well-balanced gives insight into an inability to separate emotional anecdotes from scientific evidence. Please read this post at Science-Based Medicine if you want to know the truth about the film.

      If you have read any other entries on this blog, you will know that I feel no compassion whatsoever for anti-vaccinators. I have already explained why this is so in this post. There’s really not much else to say about my “vitriol”. I do, however, have compassion for any parent whose child has been injured or is ill. The problem develops when said parent wrongly attributes that illness to vaccination. I actually do believe that a child who has a real and serious adverse reaction to a vaccination should not have to get any more shots. This is where herd immunity is absolutely critical, and the anti-vax movement is destroying it.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Bayareamom permalink

    With all due respect, we have done our research in public, medical and legal libraries about vaccines. We were absolutely horrified with what we found. There is SO much information about vaccines than is told to the general public. Whistle-blowers of whom have worked with big pharma, including with the FDA, the CDC, the NIH, etc., are starting to not only speak out about what they know as to illegalities behind vaccine marketing and production AND safety studies, but they are filing lawsuits as well.

    Just to clarify – our son’s VACCINE INJURIES were stated as thus, in his Colorado physician’s medical files. These same folks indicated they knew that vaccine reactions happen and immediately exempted our son from any further pertussis component. The CDC has acknowledged that only some 1 to 10% of all cases of vaccine injury, get reported into the VAERS database (Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System). When I asked our pediatricians in Colorado – right after our son’s vaccine reactions – if they bothered reporting our son’s injuries to the VAERS database.

    They told me NO, they hadn’t; I had to do it.

    You can go on all you want, Liz, and state that you KNOW for a fact that vaccines don’t cause harm. But the fact is – THEY DO. Vaccines are DRUGS and just as with any other drug, they can and do, cause harm and in many cases, death.

    Don’t just spout propaganda from the mainstream line. Do your homework – truly look at both sides of the issue.

    I won’t be dropping by any longer. Thanks.

    • Sigh. Not again. Another “do your research” type. I’ve done the research on “both sides” before vaccinating my children. I can assure you that after my scientific research I quickly realized that there is only one side to this non-debate, and that is a complete understanding that vaccines are safe and effective. I wonder how you think you have somehow gotten access to secret files that have not been released to the general public, though?

      You will be hard-pressed to find any scientist or doctor who does not acknowledge that vaccine reactions occur. They do, though extremely rarely, and 99.9% of the time they are not severe. I don’t know why you are upset about the physician not reporting the reaction to VAERS; you did it yourself, so that’s done. That is one of the assets and the limitations to VAERS–anyone at all can report anything at all. It is of some concern, for example, that many “adverse events” cannot be verified. These include alleged deaths reported in relation to the HPV vaccine and which cannot be confirmed. So yep, VAERS is far from perfect, but your story clearly demonstrates its strengths. If you could provide a scientific reference that only 1-10% of adverse events are reported, however, that would be helpful to your cause.

      I can assure you that neither Liz nor I just “spout propaganda from the mainstream line”. I would also like to voice my extreme objection to the utter lie that you spouted by claiming that vaccines cause death in “many” cases. You simply won’t get away with making a statement like that here without providing scientific references from your alleged research, which I begin to doubt has ever occurred in a medical library.

      You say you won’t be back, and that sounds great to me. You’ve been allowed to say your piece here, twice, which is never allowed on anti-vax sites from the opposition. But if you do come back, it had better be with references or this will be your last post here either way.

      And by the way, scientific references do not include links to websites for Tenpenny, Mercola, Humphries, or any other quack.

  5. Inadvertent honesty permalink

    “Don’t just spout propaganda from the mainstream line. Do your homework – truly look at both sides of the issue.”

    Good advice.

    “I won’t be dropping by any longer. Thanks.”

    But I see its good advice that you have no interest in following yourself. Congratulations; you showed how hollow your interest in ‘both sides’ was, in just three sentences.

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