Is a Family History of Altered Immunocompetence a Contraindication to Getting Vaccinated?

Have you ever wondered why a “family history of altered immunocompetence” is listed as a contraindication to getting varicella and MMR vaccines?

If family members have altered immunocompetence, getting and exposing them to measles isn't a good idea either.
If family members have altered immunocompetence, getting and exposing them to measles isn’t a good idea either.

It’s probably not why you think…

Is a Family History of Altered Immunocompetence a Contraindication to Getting Vaccinated?

Which vaccines are contraindicated if you have a family history of altered immunocompetence?

Typically MMR and Varivax, the chicken pox vaccine.

Is this about side effects?

Kind of.

As they are live vaccines, you don’t usually want to give them to anyone who might be immunocompromised. And since some conditions that cause immune system problems can run in families, if there is a family history of these conditions, you want to make sure your child doesn’t have one before they are vaccinated.

(g) family history of congenital or hereditary immunodeficiency in first-degree relatives (e.g., parents and siblings), unless the immune competence of the potential vaccine recipient has been substantiated clinically or verified by a laboratory.

General Best Practice Guidelines for Immunization: Best Practices Guidance of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)

Fortunately, these types of severe immune problems are rare.

They might include:

  • Severe antibody deficiencies (e.g., X-linked agammaglobulinemia and common variable immunodeficiency)
  • Complete defects (e.g., SCID disease, complete DiGeorge syndrome)
  • Partial defects (e.g., most patients with DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, ataxia- telangiectasia)
  • Phagocytic deficiencies that are undefined or accompanied by defects in T-cell and NK cell dysfunction (such as a Chediak-Higashi syndrome, Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency [LAD], and myeloperoxidase deficiency)

Talk to your pediatrician if your child has a first degree relative with one of these conditions, before they get their MMR or chicken pox vaccines.

Still, by twelve months, infants with a severe congenital or hereditary immunodeficiency or any other severe immunodeficiency will almost certainly have symptoms already.

Most children, for example, had been diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), in early infancy when they have severe and life-threatening infections and failure to thrive.

And most newborns in the United States are now screened for SCID as a part of their routine newborn screening test, and can be diagnosed and treated before they have symptoms! That’s also long before they might be due for their MMR or chicken pox vaccines.

So, if your child has a family history of congenital or hereditary immunodeficiency, and it is in a first-degree relative, but has no symptoms themselves, then they can get safely vaccinated on schedule.

Not surprisingly, anti-vaccine folks try to abuse their family history of altered immunocompetence as an vaccine exemption, even when their own child isn’t immunosuppressed!

More on Vaccine Contraindications

First Day Deaths and the Hepatitis B Vaccine

Worldwide, one million babies die within 24 hours of their birth?

Why?

“The initial 24 hours of a child’s life are the most dangerous with over one million newborns around the world dying each year on their first and only day of life, according to Ending Newborn Deaths, a new report by Save the Children. The research reveals of another 1.2 million tragic losses: stillbirths where the heart stopped beating during labour. In total, 2.9 million babies die in their first month. Most of these deaths occur because of premature birth and complications during birth – such as, prolonged labour, pre-eclampsia, and infection.”

WHO on One Million Babies Die Within 24 Hours Of Birth

It ain’t vaccines…

First Day Deaths and the Hepatitis B Vaccine

Of course, that doesn’t keep anti-vaccine folks from trying to correlate the two things, especially with the hepatitis B vaccine.

The neonatal mortality rate is actually similar among developed countries…

Korea for example, gives a birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine.

The 2017 Immunization Schedule for South Korea includes all of the US vaccines, plus BCG and Japanese encephalitis vaccines.
The 2017 Immunization Schedule for South Korea includes all of the US vaccines, plus BCG and Japanese encephalitis vaccines. The birth dose of hepatitis B was added to their schedule in 1991.

In general, Korea’s immunization schedule looks a lot like the one used in the United States. And Korea has both a lower infant and neonatal mortality rate than the United States and most European countries.

What about the idea that the United States has 50% more first day deaths than all other developed countries combined?

That’s likely true.

But not because of vaccines.

In addition to our higher population, this reflects “significant gaps between babies born to wealthy, well-educated urban mothers and those born to poor, less-educated mothers,” among other factors.

“In the United States, many suspect increases are due to more high-risk pregnancies caused by the rising prevalence of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, more older women having children, advancements in fertility treatments that result in multiple births, and the high rate of cesarean sections – all of which increase the risk a mother faces during pregnancy and childbirth. Recent studies in the U.S. also suggest that poor quality care and better counting of maternal deaths may play a role.”

State of the World’s Mothers 2014

First day deaths are a serious issue.

It shouldn’t become yet another talking point anti-vaccine folks use to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

More on Myths About Newborn Deaths

Did a Healthy NY Senator Die After Getting a Flu Shot?

Anti-vaccine folks are heavily pushing the idea that José Peralta, a New York State Senator, died as the result of getting a flu shot.

Senator Peralta did not die of a severe allergic reaction.
All of the same things? Exactly? Senator Peralta did not die of a severe allergic reaction. He died of sepsis.

While Senator Peralta did die several days after getting a flu shot, it appears that he had already been sick for several weeks. And no, that doesn’t mean that the flu shot made him even sicker.

“The senator would be disappointed to find that conspiracy theorists are using his death to forward their agenda by misrepresenting the facts.”

Chris Sosa on No Evidence New York Legislator Died from Flu Shot

New York State Sen. José Peralta had reportedly just gotten his flu shot at a public event, where he was encouraging others in his community to get protected with free flu shots.

Senator Jose Peralta partnered with a local hospital to help get members of his community free flu shots.
Senator Jose Peralta partnered with a local hospital to help get members of his community free flu shots.

And while he did die about four days later, there is absolutely no reason to think that his getting a flu shot was connected to his death.

Anti-vaccine folks have no shame, as they not only don’t respect the privacy of Senator Peralta’s wife, children, family and friends, but also are using him to attack his legacy.

Of course, this is the method of operation of the modern anti-vaccine movement. They make folks think that anything and everything is a vaccine injury and they actually go out of their way to exploit people who have died.

Learn the Risk of falling for anti-vaccine propaganda.
Learn the Risk of falling for anti-vaccine propaganda.

There is no evidence that New York State Senator Jose Peralta died from getting a flu shot.

Don’t let anti-vaccine folks dishonor his legacy by pushing false stories about flu shotsscaring people away from getting vaccinated and protected.

Vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary.

More on Flu Shot Propaganda

Do the FDA and CDC Tell People to Exaggerate Disease Statistics?

Have you heard that the FDA and CDC tell people to exaggerate disease statistics, especially morbidity and mortality statistics of vaccine-preventable diseases?

Why would they do that?

Anti-vaccine folks think that they do it to scare folks into getting vaccinated and protected. While it’s just anti-vaccine propaganda, this is actually one anti-vaccine myth that I wish were true, because then it might mean that 185 kids didn’t die in last year’s flu season.

Do the FDA and CDC Tell People to Exaggerate Disease Statistics?

Of course, it’s not true.

The CDC does provide training material to help get more people vaccinated and protected, but they have never say to lie about or exaggerate disease statistics.

It's no secret that more people look to get vaccinated during a severe flu season.
It’s no secret that more people look to get vaccinated during a severe flu season.

The purpose of these training materials is to reinforce that it is very important to educate people about the dangers of getting the flu, but that it is also very important to not go too far and scare them.

Be concerned enough so that you get vaccinated, but don't worry too much...
Be concerned enough so that you get vaccinated, but don’t worry too much…

But don’t you have to exaggerate things to get people concerned enough to get vaccinated?

Uh, not if you understand what happens in a typical flu season, and definitely not if you understand what can happen in a very severe flu season.

Do you know how many kids, mostly unvaccinated and many otherwise healthy, die during a typical flu season. If you did, and you understood that the flu vaccines are safe, then you wouldn’t think of skipping it.

Problems arise because people get mixed messages from anti-vaccine folks, who tell them that flu vaccines are dangerous and that they can stay healthy and keep the flu away by taking elderberry syrup each day. Or that they can cure their flu symptoms with some Oscillococcinum.

They can’t and it won’t.

Get your family vaccinated and protected against the flu.

There’s no playbook that experts are using to try and trick you into getting vaccinated. Just folks trying to increase awareness, so that everyone understands that vaccines are safe and necessary, and they ignore anti-vaccine propaganda.

More on Promoting Vaccines

Who Is Judy Mikovits?

Dr. Judy Mikovits has a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, doing her thesis on Negative Regulation of HIV Expression in Monocytes.

She had several papers published with Dr. Frank Ruscetti, with whom she continues to work.

Instead of research, it seems that they now do:

  • Advocacy for vaccine injury legal cases worldwide. 
  • Research and documentation on medical exemptions for vaccinations.

What happened?

Who Is Judy Mikovits?

After working at the National Cancer Institute, it seems that Judy Mikovits became research director of the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI).

A paper by Mikovits and Ruscetti was retracted because no one else could replicate the work.

She was eventually fired after a paper she was lead author on, which found xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) in patients with CFS, was retracted and the institute accused her of stealing notebooks and manipulating data.

“But the leader of the team that authored the 2009 paper, researcher Judy Mikovits, apparently presented the same figure — carrying different labels and supporting a different point — in a talk given at a conference on Sept. 23 in Ottawa.”

Manipulation alleged in paper linking virus, chronic fatigue syndrome

An even larger study found no evidence of XMRV infections in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, even as she had claimed the virus could cause CFS, Parkinson’s disease, autism and multiple sclerosis.

The source of XMRV in her patients?

“Well-controlled experiments showed that detection of XMRV was due to contaminated samples and was not a marker of or a causal factor in prostate cancer or CFS.”

Johnson et al on Xenotropic Murine Leukemia Virus-Related Virus (XMRV) and the Safety of the Blood Supply

The virus was in a contaminated cell line in which she and others were doing research. The virus wasn’t in the actual patients themselves.

Judy Mikovits on Vaccines

Before her paper was retracted and she was fired from her lab, Judy Mikovits did actually do research on viruses and she is a scientist. She didn’t do research on vaccines though.

Judy Mikovits is still finding retroviruses wherever she looks for them...
Judy Mikovits is still finding retroviruses wherever she looks for them…

That seems to be something she talks about a lot now though:

  • at anti-vaccine rallies
  • at anti-vaccine conferences
  • in anti-vaccine videos

Her claim to fame seems to be talking about contaminated vaccines and bashing Gardasil. And deep state conspiracy theories about why she was arrested and lost her job.

To be clear, a rotavirus vaccine was found to be contaminated with DNA of porcine circovirus type 1.  While that might sound a little scary, it is important to keep in mind that the PCV1 virus doesn’t actually cause disease in people and these weren’t even “biologically active virus particles.”

PCV1 isn’t a retrovirus though and Judy Mikovits wasn’t even the researcher who discovered the contamination, which has since been resolved. 

“These findings do not indicate the presence of either ALV or EAV infection in MMR vaccine recipients and provide support for current immunization policies.”

Hussain et al on Lack of Evidence of Endogenous Avian Leukosis Virus and Endogenous Avian Retrovirus Transmission to Measles Mumps Rubella Vaccine Recipients

Studies have looked at retrovirus contamination of vaccines, but they were  done over 17 years ago. And not by Mikovits. Studies that confirmed that vaccines are safe.

None of this has kept Judy Mikovits from scaring people about vaccines, especially the HPV vaccine.

“Cervical cancer is not a public health threat. It’s not an infectious disease. Why is it in the Department of Public Health? Why are we mandating every child over 9 years old, and I heard soon to be pregnant women, to get this vaccine? It makes no sense.”

Judy Mikovits

It is really hard to understand how someone who worked at the National Cancer Institute could make these statements. Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women.

There is, of course, no mandate for 9-year-olds to get the HPV vaccine. In the United States, HPV vaccination is recommended, beginning at age 11 to 12 years. The HPV vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women and while several vaccines are recommended, no vaccines are actually mandated in pregnancy.

“It was never developed to prevent cancer. It was developed and approved to prevent warts. Warts are not a public health threat. It’s beyond… When scientists like myself, and I work in cancer and AIDS hear this, we are just…”

Judy Mikovits

Gardasil and Cervarix were developed to prevent HPV infections, which cause cervical cancer. HPV can also cause genital warts.

“I think we need to ban… Japan and India have, all HPV vaccinations now, until the appropriate studies are done, until the patients are tested…”

Judy Mikovits

Neither Japan nor India have banned HPV vaccinations.

Why should we? The HPV vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary.

And why would anyone listen to Judy Mikovits? 

More on Judy Mikovits

Why Is a Toxicologist Making Claims About Vaccines and Autism?

It will never end, will it?

Both toxicologist and research should be in quote marks…

Vaccines are very clearly not associated with autism, but that doesn’t seem to keep us from getting new anti-vaccine heroes popping up now and then with new theories from their “research.”

Is it different this time?

Unlike most of the other anti-vaccine experts who are practicing way out of their field of expertise when they talk about vaccines, Ashley Everly is a toxicologist, so is actually an expert on vaccines, right?

“Most toxicologists begin by working at the bench, conducting experiments on in vitro and animal models. Over time, as they gain experience, they may move up to supervise others. While a master’s degree is sufficient for applied research positions, a Ph.D. degree with postdoctoral experience is required for the highest levels.”

Toxicology Overview

Ashley Everly does not have a master’s degree and has not published any research about vaccines. Her opinions are not those of a toxicologist, but of a mother who thinks that her child was injured by vaccines.

Her Facebook copypasta post, while posted as a toxicologist, should remind you of just one very important fact. The great majority of working toxicologists do not share her opinions about vaccines.

“Vaccines are among the most efficacious and cost-effective prevention tools… Parents of children with non-medical exemptions to immunization requirements have been documented to have perceptions of lower susceptibility to and severity of vaccine preventable diseases and perceptions of lower safety and efficacy of vaccines compared to parents of vaccinated children. Moreover, compared to parents of vaccinated children, vaccine hesitant parents had less trust in the government and the health care system.”

Scientific Liaison Coalition (SLC) Epidemiology of Vaccine Refusal webinar

What is the Scientific Liaison Coalition (SLC)?

It is a group of eight toxicology organizations that “increase awareness of toxicology and related sciences on human health,” including the:

  • American Academy of Clinical Toxicology (AACT)
  • American College of Toxicology (ACT)
  • Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society (EMGS)
  • Safety Pharmacology Society (SPS)
  • Society for Risk Analysis (SRA)
  • Society of Toxicologic Pathology (STP)
  • Society of Toxicology (SOT)
  • Teratology Society (Teratology)
  • Union of Toxicology (IUTOX)

And not surprisingly, they teach folks that vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary.

Some of these folks are also the ones doing research on new vaccines.

But, of course, they do a lot more.

The Society of Toxicology wants everyone to know that they are working to help reduce our exposure to potential environmental sources of methylmercury.

“Toxicologists have played a major role in identifying the health risks associated with exposure to methylmercury.”

Society of Toxicology on Mercury : A Long-Appreciated Hazard

What don’t they scare folks about? Thimerosal and ethymercury in vaccines!

“Recent research has confirmed that the ethylmercury component found in Thimerosal is less hazardous than methylmercury. These are different compounds and should not be considered as equivalent neurotoxins. Experimental conditions can be created that result in neurological cell dysfunction. However, current literature supports the contention that childhood vaccinations do not deliver a sufficient dose to produce these neurological injuries.

American College of Medical Toxicology on the IOM Report on Thimerosal and Autism

Neither does the American College of Medical Toxicology.

Maybe that’s why Ashley Everly and other anti-vaccine folks have moved on to MTHFR, glyphosate, aborted fetal cell DNA, and aluminum

More on Toxicologists and Vaccine Safety

Retired Hospital Worker’s Flu Shot Speech at the ACIP Meeting

Did you see the video of the retired hospital worker, an emergency room technician, at the ACIP meeting earlier this year?

A retired emergency room technician gave a speech at an ACIP meeting because she is upset that hospital workers have to get yearly flu shots.
A retired emergency room technician gave a speech at an ACIP meeting because she is upset that hospital workers have to  either get yearly flu shots or wear a face mask.

Although brief, and emotional, she hit a lot of anti-vaccine talking points and managed to somehow talk about adult autistics walking around the mall with diapers and helmets at least four times.

Retired Hospital Worker’s Flu Shot Speech at the ACIP Meeting

Praised by anti-vaccine folks for being “explosive” and a “bombshell,” all the speech really does is reveal how easily influenced some folks are by the modern anti-vaccine movement.

“I don’t come here with any degree.”

The only true and one of the most important things she says comes at the beginning. Although it certainly isn’t a requirement to have a degree to speak your mind, in a room full of scientists and doctors who study health policy and vaccines as their life’s work, she was there to tell them that they were wrong.

“No one believes in the flu shots. My colleagues. I didn’t. Because the efficacy – and I won’t give you data, you created the data. 10% one year. 18% another year. 40% at best. And the FluMist you gave to our children from 2 to 8 years for almost 4 years – it never worked. 3%. Oh well.”

Most people actually understand that flu vaccines are important and many get a flu shot each year. Even more get their kids vaccinated and protected each year.

In most years, the flu vaccine is at about 40 to 50% effective at preventing the flu, but has other benefits, including preventing a severe case of the flu, getting hospitalized, and keeping you from dying with the flu!

Did a drop in flu vaccine coverage help contribute to a rise in flu deaths?
Did a drop in flu vaccine coverage help contribute to a rise in flu deaths?

The idea that “no one believes in flu shots” is silly. It is certainly possible that no one this speaker knows believes in flu shots, as many anti-vaccine folks exist in an echo chamber and only hear and read negative things about vaccines.

Her statements about flu vaccine efficacy are also way off, especially about FluMist, as there was only evidence that it didn’t work well against H1N1 flu strains for a few years.

“And then came your mandates. And then came your recommendations. So you know what, for four years before I retired I put a mask on. 12 hour shifts. It wasn’t easy to breath. But that’s how much I didn’t believe in your efficacy.”

Neither the CDC or ACIP mandate that hospital workers get a yearly flu shot.

It is recommended and it is the ethical thing to do, so that we protect our most vulnerable patients, including those who can’t be vaccinated, but the CDC doesn’t issue mandates.

“But the truth. The public’s truth. My observation – which is the first step in scientific theory – they didn’t believe in your shot.”

Making an observation is actually the first step in the scientific method. But you don’t stop there. Why don’t they believe in flu vaccines? Are they scared about all of the anti-vaccine propaganda that they see and read on the Internet or even from anti-vaccine friends or coworkers?

“This year I retired. I’m grateful for that, because my soul was sick about what I saw go on. That flu shot was crazy. First it was 10%. How can you do data? Which 10 got the shot out of a 100?”

How do they know which 10 got the shot?

Believe it or not, when they tell us about flu vaccine effectiveness, they are not basing that number on each and every person who got a flu vaccine. They do a study, enroll patients, see if they get flu, see if they had a flu vaccine, compare them to other patients, etc. It’s actually very easy to tell which ones got the shot…

“I’m looking around, some of you are my age. And if I’m mistaken, I apologize. But I’m in a generation where I got 7 shots. 26 years later, my daughter got 10. Her son got, maybe 60. My new grandson is expected to get maybe 72, and I just watched you add more.”

Yes, a lot has changed from her generation.

Four generations of vaccines or vaccine misinformation?
Four generations of vaccines or vaccine misinformation?

Our now vaccinated kids don’t die from Hib meningitis, Hib epiglotittis, pneumococcal disease, rotavirus, chicken pox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, measles, etc., and they don’t get congenital rubella syndrome!

And for the record, her new grandson won’t need 72 shots or more.

They didn’t add any more at that ACIP meeting she gave her speech at either.

“Robert Kennedy, Jr – do you know what he says? His family started Special Olympics – there were no autistic kids. He says, where are the 40 year olds wearing diapers with helmets on at the mall if you misdiagnosed them. If you missed them, because you say it’s not vaccines,  where were the special ed classes for people in my generation – there weren’t any. Because they didn’t exist.”

Special education classes didn’t exist back then, because we didn’t start getting things like that until passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act in 1975. Before that, many states actually had laws excluding special needs children from school!

So there weren’t any special ed classes because they weren’t available, not because they weren’t needed.

And as the first school for autistic children, the Sybil Elgar School, was established in 1965, it should be obvious that her comments about autistic adults are not only wrong, they are offensive.

“I don’t care what you say that the autism and vaccines don’t exist – it does. I watched a perfectly healthy beautiful 2-year-old get those shots and become a severe autistic child. And guess what, he will be 40 and walking around the mall with a diaper on and helmet.”

This is everything that is wrong with the modern anti-vaccine movement.

Continuing to push the idea that vaccines are associated with autism and being locked into a deficit model of thinking about autism, so that when you look at your child, all you see is an adult with a “diaper on and helmet,” instead of beautiful autistic 2-year-old.

Ironically, she ended her speech with this quote by William Wilberforce.

“Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.”

William Wilberforce

Nothing she said was true and some of it was actually offensive.

You can’t say you don’t know now.

More on the Retired Hospital Worker’s Flu Shot Speech at the ACIP Meeting