My Efforts with the AAP

First, I dropped my membership with the AAP in 2012 because I cannot belong to a group of pediatricians that will not speak up against Sears's and Gordon's anti-vaccine antics. I did not take this decision lightly, but I saw little reason to pay the AAP $500 a year in membership dues when they continue to allow these two anti-vaccine pediatricians in their ranks. That is how strongly I feel about this. But, I didn't drop my membership without trying to convince the AAP that their silence was wrong.

I first became dismayed with the AAP's apathy towards Sears and Gordon 5 years ago, after reading Sears' "vaccine" book.  I had to read this execrable book, since parents were bringing it with them to well checks and making vaccine requests that made no sense to me. I checked for what the AAP had to say on Sears' book and found they had nothing to say.  So, yearly, from 2009-2011, I wrote the AAP headquarters, asking each year's AAP President very directly and specifically why Sears and Gordon--as AAP members--can promote and profit from their dangerous anti-vaccine materials when what they say is in direct contradiction to vaccination policies of the AAP/ACIP/CDC. Sadly, I received neither response nor even acknowledgment from the AAP for any of those 3 letters--not even a simple "thank you for your letter" note.  It wasn't until, after expressing my frustration to my Arizona AAP chapter (with a note saying I'm not paying dues any more) that I received a call back from AAP headquarters. Mr John O'Brien, the AAP's Director of Media Relations called to try explain why the AAP won't publicly speak against Sears and Gordon. And then, a few days later in February of 2012, I was allowed to speak directly with AAP President Dr. Robert Block.

Off the record, Mr. O'Brien and Dr. Block sympathized with my feelings and frustrations about Sears and Gordon. Unfortunately, they told me the AAP will not publicly oppose Sears and Gordon out of fear of a libel suit.  I pointed out that if the AAP even simply condemned their "alternative" vaccine schedules based on their lack of any scientific or clinical merits, then libel would not be an issue (how can a statement of fact be libel???). Dr. Block did say he would take that point under advisement, but it's been 17 months since those conversations, and nothing new has come from the AAP--and Dr. Block is no longer AAP President.  It seems reasonable to conclude the AAP isn't changing its stance. I am deeply disturbed that AAP leadership appears to be more motivated by doing what is legally safe instead of what is morally and ethically right when it comes to Sears's and Gordon's views.  There is also some  hypocrisy by the AAP here in refusing to challenge Sears and Gordon, since they are more than willing to challenge the NVIC and non-physician writers on vaccine misinformation. (The AAP clearly didn't worry about libel suits in those instances.)  Personally, I would love to see Sears or Gordon drag the AAP into court for a libel suit, since I think the case would give even better exposure to the anti-vaccine idiocy of Sears and Gordon when their opinion is forced to stand against research and fact.

I tried to obtain a booth a last year's NCE (2012) in New Orleans to protest the AAP's tolerance of Sears and Gordon. After submitting an application stating the purpose of my booth (to rally physicians to get the AAP to speak out against Sears and Gordon), I was told by the AAP that any mention of the AAP in print or by mouth at my booth would get me and my booth expelled from the NCE. Well, so much for academic discussion and spirited debate (I didn't waste my time and money getting the booth after that response). The AAP clearly had desire to tolerate anyone challenging their stance openly on their turf.

Most recently, while on the AAP web site, I located a video of Dr. Robert Block on the importance of immunizations (ironically, he does say not to follow alternative schedules (while, of course, not mentioning the "schedules" of Sears or Gordon by name), but it does not come up as a resource when I search the AAP web site for information on alternate vaccine schedules). What is really awful is that the video is hosted on YouTube, and, at the end of the video, there are 9 thumbnail video links, 7 of which are anti-vaccine videos.  Click on one of those, and you, as a parent or pediatrician can watch anti-vaccine propaganda under the banner of the AAP.org web site.  I've suggested to Mr. O'Brien that the AAP should pay a private video streaming company to host the AAP's videos (at a cost of only ~$800/year for all the videos on their web site), but have received no response (and there has been no change on the use of YouTube for hosting AAP videos)

I still check the AAP.org web site (and healthychildren.org, too) to see if the AAP has decided to do the right thing by calling out the medically dangerous anti-vaccine advice of Sears and Gordon, but they have not. I hold little hope that they will without some strong encouragement from more pediatricians (which is where you come in).