TOUCHED BY LYME: The NY Times and the question of a Lyme vaccine

By Dorothy Kupcha Leland, August 14, 2018

The New York Times ran an article today under the headline: Lyme disease is spreading fast. Why isn’t there a vaccine?

Most troubling to me is how the article quotes certain people in a way that totally misrepresents who they are.

Here’s a worrisome case in point:

The article states: Dr. Stanley A. Plotkin, an emeritus professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, said that the loss of the vaccine was a “public health fiasco.” He and other researchers said that in the years since, public opposition prevented drug companies from investing in another vaccine that could fail on the market.

It is true that Plotkin is an emeritus professor. It’s also true that he has been a paid consultant to vaccine manufacturers for years. (A simple Google search turns that up.) Shouldn’t that be mentioned in the article? Doesn’t that put his comments in a different light?

Interesting to note that the “public health fiasco” link in the paragraph above goes to a pro-vaccine op-ed that Plotkin wrote for the New York Times in 2013. That article also failed to disclose that its author was a paid consultant for vaccine interests at the time of publication. Seems like a serious oversight to me.

Here’s another illustration:

The article states: Dr. Phillip J. Baker, the executive director of the American Lyme Disease Foundation, a nonprofit group run by volunteers, predicted that opposition from Lyme groups that are suspicious of the medical establishment would hinder any vaccine’s prospects.

It’s true. Baker is executive director of the American Lyme Disease Foundation. But what is that group and who does it represent?


The ALDF is what can be termed an “astroturf organization.” It masquerades as a grassroots group whose name offers no hint of the special interests behind it. (See: The bogus grassroots of the American Lyme Disease Foundation.)

In fact, ALDF is a front organization for the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). Virtually all of its board members and scientific advisors are members of the IDSA. Several are co-authors of the odious 2006 IDSA Lyme treatment guidelines—which the Lyme community views as being one of the major stumbling blocks for patients seeking appropriate diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.

Plain and simple, ALDF does not represent Lyme patients.

Our letter to HHS

In August of 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was poised to choose representatives of Lyme patients for its Tick-Borne Disease Working Group.

The Lyme community was deeply worried that the ALDF might be chosen to “represent” us.

At that time, sent a letter to HHS—co-signed by 48 other Lyme patient organizations—stating in part:

The undersigned advocates and representatives of the Lyme and tick-borne diseases community are advising you that the American Lyme Disease Foundation (ALDF) does not represent patients. We respectfully request that you not award that organization any of the spaces reserved for patients on the federal Tick-Borne Working Group established by the 21st Century Cures Act.

The ALDF represents the interests of researchers affiliated with the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). Yet it portrays itself to the press and others as a patient organization.

In closing, our letter stated:

As real grassroots support groups representing real patients with Lyme disease, we want to make clear that the ALDF does not represent the interests of people with Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. We regard the ALDF’s positions and statements regarding Lyme disease as harmful to patients.

To our relief, no patient/advocate seats on the Working Group were awarded to the ALDF.

Click here to read the whole letter:

Clarifying where views actually come from

The issue of bringing a Lyme vaccine to market is heating up. There will likely be lots of articles airing lots of differing opinions in the coming months.

I’m not saying that reporters shouldn’t cover varying viewpoints regarding this contentious topic. But it’s essential to clarify where those viewpoints actually come from. Paid consultants to vaccine companies should be labeled as such. Organizations that don’t represent patients should not be allowed to speak for us.

The following blogs cover more aspects of the Lyme vaccine debate:

TOUCHED BY LYME is written by Dorothy Kupcha Leland,’s Vice-president and Director of Communications. She is co-author of When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parent’s Survival Guide. Contact her at .



Regarding that last link, a lot has happened since both the 1998 Lyme vaccine and Weintraub’s 2008 book that declares the Lyme vaccine caused “rare” adverse events. THIS VACCINE CAUSED 229 DEATHS, INCLUDING 43 SUICIDES  (Dr. Lapenta lists all the adverse events and how many suffered with them),

In a vile cesspool of conflicts of interest are university patent holders, drug companies, and the FDA itself as another patent holder. It generated 40 million dollars before it was yanked.

Besides, death and suicide, please see:  One doctor stated that 21 patients developed severe arthritis after receiving the LYMERIX vaccine. “Given that Dr. Marks lead the clinical trials for Lymerix’s competitor, the OspA vaccine produced and then abandoned by Aventis Pasteur, his conclusions mean a lot. “In my opinion,” he told FDA officials, “there is sufficient evidence that Lymerix is causally related to severe rheumatologic, neurologic, autoimmune, and other adverse events in some individuals. This evidence is such as to warrant a significantly heightened degree of warnings and possible limitations or removal from marketing of Lymerix.”

Dr. Stricker states:
Another Lyme OspA Vaccine Whitewash
The meta-analysis by Zhao and colleagues comes to the conclusion that “the OspA vaccine against Lyme disease is safe and its immunogenicity and efficacy have been verified.” The authors arrive at this sunny conclusion by excluding 99.6% of published articles that demonstrate potential problems with the OspA vaccine. Furthermore, the authors ignore peer-reviewed studies, FDA regulatory meetings and legal proceedings that point to major problems with OspA vaccine safety (1-3). This whitewash bodes ill for future Lyme vaccine candidates because it fosters disregard for vaccine safety among Lyme vaccine manufacturers and mistrust among potential Lyme vaccines.
Weintraub’s article states that when considering vaccines one has to weigh the risk of the vaccine against the possible adverse reactions – which is true; however, we need to first start with being honest about the number of people with adverse reactions. In doing this, two things are important to keep in mind: 1) All numbers on ALL issues regarding Lyme/MSIDS are notoriously low. 2) ALL numbers on ALL issues regarding vaccines are notoriously low and downplayed.

Since 2008, more has come out about the ability of vaccines to reactivate latent infections:
This is an extremely important point to acknowledge as mainstream medicine STILL hasn’t even accepted the fact Lyme/MSIDS patients are often infected with far more than Lyme (Borrelia) to begin with. The current news that vaccines can activate even latent infections muddies and troubles the waters further and frankly spells doom to Lyme/MSIDS patients.

Personally, every single Lyme/MSIDS patient I know who has undergone vaccination has relapsed. That’s kind of a big deal.

This issue of problems with vaccines has exploded in recent years with new discoveries of contamination:
This contamination could very well be contributing to disease epidemics, including Lyme/MSIDS:

The first-ever study involving a truly unvaccinated population suggests that: fully vaccinated children may be trading the prevention of certain acute illnesses (chicken pox, pertussis) for more chronic illnesses and neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD and Autism. The scientists also found that children born prematurely, who were vaccinated, were 6.6 times more likely to have a neurodevelopmental disorder.





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