Pediatrician Mike Ginsberg's Facebook Vaccine Rant

News: A Facebook post attributed to pediatrician Mike Ginsberg explains a strong stance on vaccines in his practice.

Published Feb 3, 2015

On 2 February 2015, the Facebook page The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe published a picture of a Facebook comment attributed to a doctor identifying himself as Mike Ginsberg. The comment was offered during a then-current outbreak of measles that had been traced back to the Disney theme parks in California which had intensified an ongoing debate over vaccinations and the effects of a decline in vaccination rates:

In my practice you will vaccinate and you will vaccinate on time. You will not get your own "spaced-out" schedule that increases your child's risk of illness or adverse event. I will not have measles-shedding children sitting in my waiting room. I will answer all your questions about vaccine and present you with facts, but if you will not vaccinate then you will leave my practice. I will file a CPS report (not that they will do anything) for medical neglect, too.

I have patients who are premature infants with weak lungs and hearts. I have kids with complex congenital heart disease. I have kids who are on chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia who cannot get all of their vaccines. In short, I have patients who have true special needs and true health issues who could suffer severe injury or death because of your magical belief that your kid is somehow more special than other children and that what's good for other children is not good for yours. This pediatrician is not putting up with it.

Never have, never will.

The post was widely shared in part because it gave voice to the frustrations most commonly expressed about how vaccine fears affect vaccination rates. An Atlantic column described why the practice of modifying vaccine schedules (one of the issues addressed in the post) conferred no benefit and some risk:

We vaccinate kids against 16 diseases. Most vaccinations require three or four doses. The one-poke-per-visit approach is not beneficial and, worse, leaves kids unnecessarily vulnerable during the time between visits. Eminent pediatricians Paul Offit and Kristen Feemster at the University of Pennsylvania wrote last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics, "Delaying vaccines offers no clear benefit and puts children at unnecessary risk. The most significant consequence is increasing the amount of time an infant or young child is susceptible to a vaccine-preventable disease, often during the time when a child is most at risk for severe infection."

Among the untoward effects Offit and Feemster also note but deem less significant: "Delaying administration of measles-containing vaccines increases the risk of fever and seizures."

The post attributed to Ginsberg drew its share of praise and criticism. Social media users who supported science-based medicine lauded the pediatrician for a firm position on vaccines, while anti-vaxxers and adherents of alternative therapies felt the mention of Child Protective Services was too aggressive and unfair.

As to whether the post was correctly attributed, an individual whose profile photos matched the one displayed for Ginsberg had maintained Facebook and Twitter profiles as recently as late January 2015, but those profiles have either been deleted or made private since the Facebook post in question began to circulate. Consequently, it's not clear whether the words attributed to Ginsberg were someone else's, or whether he spoke more emphatically than he'd intended without realizing the comment would reach such a wide audience.

Last updated:   3 February 2015

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as back in 1994.

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