Category: Blog

Measles Deaths in Italy

There have been a lot of measles deaths in Europe over the last few years?

How many?

Would you believe over 100?

Measles Deaths in Italy

Among those measles deaths in Europe, there have been at least eight measles deaths in Italy (four in 2017 and another four in 2018, among just 6,601 cases), including:

Why so many deaths in a developed country with a well-nourished population?

Dr. Bob Sears actually reassured parents that measles wasn't deadly in developed countries, neglecting to mention the dozens of people who have died in outbreaks in Europe - another well-nourished population with lower vaccination rates than the U.S.
Dr. Bob Sears actually reassured parents that measles wasn’t deadly in developed countries, neglecting to mention the dozens of people who have died in outbreaks in Europe – another well-nourished population with lower vaccination rates than the U.S.

If you haven’t guessed yet, as in other countries in Europe, we are seeing more deaths from measles simply because folks aren’t vaccinated and more people are getting measles.

Measles is a life-threatening disease, even in an age of modern medicine, indoor plumbing, sewage systems, clean water, whole foods, vitamins and minerals, etc.

Italy, with about 1/5 the population of the United States, but about equal to the size of California, has had over 600 times as many cases of measles as we have had in the United States over the last few years. To put it in perspective, that would be like having 33,000 cases of measles in the United States.

Think it couldn’t happen? During the measles outbreaks from 1989 to 1991, when vaccination rates had dropped, there were 55,622 cases and 123 deaths in the United States.

Measles in Italy

Again, in Italy, as in other places, almost all of the measles cases, about 90%, have been in those who aren’t vaccinated.

In response to a post praising Italy's decision to dilute their new vaccine laws, some folks thought it was funny that people were dying of measles.
In response to a post from Dr. Bob Sears praising Italy’s decision to dilute their new vaccine laws, some folks thought it was funny that people were dying of measles.

That’s why they passed new vaccine laws – to get back to herd immunity levels of vaccination.

But shouldn’t folks have a choice about getting vaccinated?

Of course.

Even with the new vaccine laws, parents have a choice. As with vaccine laws in the United States, Italy’s new vaccine mandates had nothing to do with forced vaccination.

That’s unlike most of the people who died of measles in Italy. Most of them didn’t have a choice about being vaccinated and getting measles. Some were immunocompromised and couldn’t be vaccinated and at least one was too young to be vaccinated.

Parents had been set a July 10th deadline to provide schools with the relevant documentation, but it will now be possible for parents to simply submit their own confirmation that the child has been vaccinated, according to Giulia Grillo, Italy’s Health Minister, who was speaking at a press conference on Thursday.

Mandatory vaccinations: Italian parents will no longer need to provide doctor’s note

And that’s why it’s unfortunate that the a newly elected government severely watered down a vaccine law that had made getting vaccinated mandatory to go to school.

And it’s unfortunate that people continue to push misinformation about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases.

What to Know About the Measles Deaths in Italy

A drop in vaccination rates has led to measles outbreaks and a number of measles deaths in Italy.

More on Measles Deaths in Italy

Anti-Vaccine Censorship on Facebook

If you ever wander into a holistic parenting group or a vaccine group that claims to offer “both sides” to educate folks about vaccines, you will, or at least you should, quickly notice that all of the posts and replies sound eerily alike.

This toddler might end up with tetanus because of bad information in this anti-vaccine group.
This toddler might end up with tetanus because of bad advice in this anti-vaccine group.

If a parent asks about a tetanus shot for their child’s wound in one of these groups, no one will suggest that they rush to their pediatrician and get it.

The only disagreements you might see are whether they should treat the wound with colloidal silver, black salve, garlic, urine, activated charcoal, tea tree oil, raw honey, essential oils, or some other non-evidence based therapy.

Anti-Vaccine Censorship

It is no accident that folks get uniform advice against vaccines in these so-called vaccine “education” groups.

The comment that got me banned from posting on Phyicians for Informed Consent.
As often happens on anti-vaccine sites, my comment about tetanus shots was quickly deleted and I was banned from posting further messages.

Anyone who goes against the “vaccines are dangerous” mantra of these groups typically has their comments quickly deleted and gets banned from the group.

Why?

“Echo chambers abound for many other conditions which are not medically recognised, from chronic Lyme disease to electromagnetic hypersensitivity. But perhaps most worrisome is the advance of anti-vaccine narratives across the web. The explosion of dubious sources has allowed them to propagate wildly, undeterred by debunking in the popular press. We might take the current drastic fall in HPV vaccine uptake in Ireland, driven by anti-vaccine groups like REGRET, despite its life-saving efficacy. While organisations including the Health Service Executive have valiantly tried to counter these myths, these claims are perpetuated across social media with little to stop them.”

Echo chambers are dangerous – we must try to break free of our online bubbles

To create an echo chamber of anti-vaccine myths and propaganda and help reinforce all of their anti-vaccine beliefs. And of course, to help scare parents who might be on the fence about vaccines.

After all, it is easier to feel confident in your decisions when you think that everyone else is doing the same thing. Of course they aren’t though. The great majority of people vaccinate and protect their kids.

It is only in these echo chambers of anti-vaccine misinformation that anyone would think that it would be okay to not get an unvaccinated toddler proper treatment for a cut, to skip a rabies shot after exposure to a rabid bat, or to not get travel vaccines before visiting high risk areas of the world.

That’s the power of confirmation bias.

And whether or not you realize it, confirmation bias is likely one of the reasons that you aren’t vaccinating and protecting your kids.

That’s why you need to step out of these echo chambers if you want to understand that vaccines are safe and necessary.

What to Know About Anti-Vaccine Censorhip

Anti-vaccine groups routinely censor, ban, and block messages from people who correct misinformation about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases.

More on Anti-Vaccine Censorship

Why Do We Only Worry About Measles?

Anti-vaccine folks often claim that health officials only worry about measles and measles outbreaks.

They can’t understand why anyone gets concerned by a few measles cases here and there, not understanding that a lot of work goes into containing measles outbreaks and making sure that they don’t grow beyond a few cases.

And health officials don’t just worry about measles. They work to control outbreaks of mumps, pertussis, hepatitis A, and all other diseases too.

Why We Worry About Measles Outbreaks

We do get concerned about measles outbreaks though.

“Whenever measles strikes, it’s more than just an outbreak of a single disease, or an indication that children aren’t receiving their measles shots; it’s also a warning that immunization coverage in general, for all vaccine-preventable diseases, is lower than it should be.

To put it another way: When rates of routine vaccination—children receiving all their shots on schedule, as a preventive measure rather than a reaction to an outbreak—start to fall, the first sign is usually a measles outbreak.”

Seth Berkley on Measles Outbreaks Are a Sign of Bigger Problems

The measles vaccine is among the most effective vaccines we have, so if we are seeing outbreaks, even though measles is very contagious, it means there is a problem.

“A focus on measles surveillance can help detect populations unreached by immunization systems and, by extension, program weaknesses. Measles serves as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ for detecting problems with immunization programs, a characteristic whose importance has recently been highlighted in the context of global health security.”

Orenstein et al on Measles and Rubella Global Strategic Plan 2012–2020 midterm review

In the late 1980s, when we had large outbreaks between 1989 to 1991, with 55,622 cases and 123 deaths, it meant that we weren’t vaccinating enough kids because Federal support for vaccine programs had dropped.

As much as anti-vaccine folks like to try and minimize how serious measles can be, it is easy to see that measles is indeed a serious, life-threatening disease. We had good nutrition, proper sanitation, and modern health care in 1990, and still, a lot of people died with measles. Rates of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a late complication of measles, went up too, in the years after these outbreaks.

“Measles is a wholly preventable disease, and it was almost eradicated from the country in 1983, when only 1,497 cases were reported. But by 1990, after Federal budget cuts and the end of the Government’s monitoring of immunization programs, more than 30,000 cases of measles and more than 60 deaths were reported.”

Panel Ties Measles Epidemic to Breakdown in Health System

Those outbreaks were fixed, as we improved access to help kids get vaccinated and protected. Unfortunately, the issue with outbreaks today isn’t about access to vaccines, at least not in the developed world. It is about parents intentionally skipping or delaying vaccines.

How do you fix that?

Hopefully with education.

Why You Should Worry About Measles Outbreaks

Did you know that after the measles outbreaks of 1989, we also saw outbreaks of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome?

  • 396 cases of rubella, 4 deaths, and 2 cases of congenital rubella syndrome in 1989
  • 1,125 cases of rubella, 8 deaths, and 32 cases of congenital rubella syndrome in 1990
  • 1,401 cases of rubella, 1 death, and 34 cases of congenital rubella syndrome in 1991

Did you know that because they have overall lower vaccination rates, measles outbreaks in Europe grow far larger, into the tens of thousands of cases, with dozens of deaths?

“We must not tolerate a world in which a child dies from a disease that can be easily prevented with a low-cost vaccine.”

Dr Tedros, WHO Director-General on World Immunization Week 2018

We worry about measles outbreaks, because we don’t want to go back to anti-vaccine folks push us back to pre-vaccine era levels of disease and deaths.

We know what happens when vaccine levels drop too low.

A measles epidemic hit New York City in 1951, as this front page NYTimes article reports.
A measles epidemic hit New York City in 1951, as this NY Times article reports.

We know that vaccines are safe and necessary.

You should know that anti-vaccine propaganda that scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids is rooted in myths and misinformation. They often get away with it because most parents today ahve never seen how devastating measles and other diseases can really be, so they believe stories about the Brady Bunch, instead of the advice of real experts.

You hopefully understand that’s a mistake.

More on Worrying About Measles Outbreaks

Learn the Risks of Following Bad Advice

Who do you turn to for health advice?

Even if it’s your pediatrician, with the rise of holistic pediatricians, that doesn’t mean that you are getting good advice.

In general, if the advice you are getting lacks evidence that it is safe and effective, relies on anecdotes and testimonials, and is labeled as ‘alternative,’ then it is a safe bet that it is bad advice.

Learn the Risks of Following Bad Advice

Some folks seem to be drawn to this type of advice though.

Kat Von D has decided that she will be raising a vegan child, without vaccinations.
Kat Von D has decided that she will be raising a vegan child, without vaccinations.

As long as they think it is natural, holistic, and is the opposite of what mainstream health experts say to do, some parents will jump at the chance of trying the latest fad, even if it has no benefits and lots of extra risks.

Take giving your kids raw milk for example. Health experts have been warning about the dangers of drinking raw milk for years and even work to keep selling it outlawed in most communities, but some parents still give it to their young children. This is despite the fact that it has no health benefits and isn’t even fortified with vitamin D!

Would you give your kids raw milk if you knew it could make them critically ill?
Would you give your kids raw milk if you knew it could make them critically ill?

What’s worse than giving your kids raw milk? How about skipping your baby’s vitamin K shot? Although it has no major risks, parents of many anti-vaccine and holistic type Facebook groups on the internet are often encouraged to skip this shot.

The article, translated from Polish, describes anti-vaccine parents and their baby (Maluszek), who died of vitamin K deficiency bleeding.
The article, translated from Polish, describes anti-vaccine parents and their baby (Maluszek), who died of vitamin K deficiency bleeding because they skipped his vitamin K shot.

How come they never warn folks that their baby might die in agony if they skip the shot? After all, there is a very good reason that we started to give all babies vitamin K shots – to stop vitamin K deficiency bleeding.

Just like there is a reason that we started to pasteurize milk – to keep us all from getting critically ill from contaminated milk.

And why we take antibiotics for severe infections, and not essential oils.

“If one gets a cancer diagnosis, they need to detox the toxins that have accumulated in the body, minimize further exposure and boost the immune system to fight the cancer. This is done NATURALLY. Traditional medical approaches (drugs, chemo, radiation) only FURTHER damage the body and immune system.”

Brandy Vaughan for Learn the Risk

And why we take chemotherapy for cancer, and not coffee enemas.

Mud wraps don't cure liver cancer.
Mud wraps don’t cure liver cancer.

And why most of us don’t think to try chiropractic, acupuncture, Ayurveda, homeopathy, Reiki, reflexology, or other non-evidenced based therapies when our kids are sick.

Could someone search for advice on Google on treating a bite from a rabid animal and come away thinking their child doesn't need rabies shots from an anti-vaccine website?
Could someone search for advice on Google on treating a bite from a rabid animal and come away thinking their child doesn’t need rabies shots from an anti-vaccine website?
Can an unvaccinated child really get tetanus after a toe nail injury?
Can an unvaccinated child really get tetanus after a toe nail injury? Photo by Petrus Rudolf de Jong (CC BY 3.0)

Why don’t people get rabies very often any more? It’s not because folks are no longer at risk, although the risk is less because dogs and cats are now vaccinated. It is because the vast majority of people get treated if they are exposed to an animal that might have rabies.

Remember when the six-year-old boy in Florida didn’t after touching a rabid bat? He died.

It’s just like the reason kids don’t get stuck by lightning very often. It’s not because lightning doesn’t happen anymore. It’s because we get a lot of warnings about thunderstorms and we know to go inside at the first sign of lightning in the area. Lightning strikes are rare because we take steps to reduce our risk of getting hit.

Why don’t folks get tetanus that much anymore? Again, most people are vaccinated, and they get boosters if they have wounds that puts them at extra risk. While we know what happens when unvaccinated kids are exposed to tetanus and don’t get treated, that isn’t a risk that you will read about on anti-vaccine websites or Facebook groups.

They also don’t tell you that kids in the US still die of diseases like Hib and rotavirus. And there are still measles deaths in the US.

That’s why the great majority of us get vaccinated, because we understand that vaccines are safe and necessary, and that skipping or delaying any vaccines simply puts our kids at risk to catch one of the diseases the vaccines are designed to prevent.

What to Know About the Risks of Following Bad Advice

You might get lucky and have a good outcome when you follow bad advice, but you should at least understand the risks of what might go wrong if you truly think you are making an informed decision.

More on the Risks of Following Bad Advice

Father’s Day and Vaccines – What’s the Connection?

Mark Zuckerberg posted a photo when he took his daughter to their pediatrician for vaccines.What do you think about on Father’s Day.

Do you ever think about vaccines?

You probably should.

At least a little.

After all, some of us wouldn’t be fathers if vaccines hadn’t been developed to eradicate and control smallpox, diphtheria, tetanus, and measles, etc..

Father’s Day and Vaccines

This father was the only one in the family who skipped getting vaccinated, and he got smallpox.
This father was the only one in the family who skipped getting vaccinated. Not surprisingly, he got smallpox.

There are some vaccine stories that most fathers won’t ever want to hear, but they seem all the more tragic on Father’s Day.

Have you ever read Roald Dahl‘s letter, about his daughter’s death from measles? She died of measles in 1962, the year before the development of the first measles vaccine.

Roald Dahl wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, among other books.

There are many other stories like this…

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin‘s son died of smallpox.

Benjamin Franklin later wrote in his autobiography that:

“In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.”

Fortunately, not all of the stories are quite so tragic.

“The doctors told my parents that little could be done for me, so my father prepared for my funeral. Fortunately, I recovered, except for the use of my right hand.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Vaccination’s Lifetime of Blessings

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a polio survivor.

Jonas Salk vaccinating his son Peter with his still experimental inactivated polio vaccine.
Jonas Salk vaccinating his son Peter with his still experimental inactivated polio vaccine.

On Father’s Day, we might consider these other “fathers” who have had an influence on keeping us all safe and healthy from vaccine preventable diseases:

  • Louis Pasteur – the father of microbiology, who developed the rabies vaccine and proposed the germ theory of disease
  • John Enders – The father of Modern Vaccines
  • Maurice Hilleman – developed 40 experimental and licensed animal and human vaccines
  • William Osler – the father of modern medicine
  • Paracelsus – the father of toxicology
  • the Founding Fathers, who all seemed to support vaccination
  • John Salamone – probably the only real pro-safe vaccine advocate there has been, as he fought to replace the OPV vaccine with the IPV vaccine, to prevent further cases of VAPP, like had happened to his son

And there are other fathers to recognize on Father’s Day.

All of the fathers of autistic children who have to push back against the idea that autism is vaccine damage, because they know that their kids aren’t damaged.

What to Know About Father’s Day and Vaccines

As we wish a Happy Father’s Day to all dads, please take some time to take some time to learn why getting your kids vaccinated and protected is the best choice, because the overwhelming evidence shows that vaccines are safe and necessary.

More on Father’s Day and Vaccines

Why Kat Von D Won’t Vaccinate Her Baby

Have you heard?

It’s been revealed!

The reason why Kat Von D won’t vaccinate her baby!

Looking at this type of anti-vaccine propaganda can help you understand why some parents are scared to vaccinate their kids.
Looking at this type of anti-vaccine propaganda can help you understand why some parents are scared to vaccinate their kids.

Actually, despite the hype, a new video from Del Bigtree, who works with Andrew Wakefield, never does reveal the reason why Kat Von D won’t vaccinate. That shouldn’t be a surprise from a guy who produced a movie about a whistleblower, but left the whisteblower out of the movie.

Why Kat Von D Won’t Vaccinate Her Baby

So why won’t Kat Von D vaccinate her baby?

“We are not against vaccines. Just because we have hesitancies and valid concerns about injecting our baby with specific chemicals and toxins does not mean we are anti anything.”

Kat Von D

We don’t know… Most people assumed it was because she was vegan, but many vegan parents do vaccinate their kids.

“As a soon-to-be-parent [and especially as a first-time-mom] I do feel it my responsibility to have questions, and to listen to my motherly instinct to question things, and do my research.

What we have found is that sometimes it isn’t always so black and white.
While we believe medications, including vaccines, are not all bad – we also can’t dismiss the fact that some may not be good for everyone.

There are plenty of studies that show some vaccinations can work wonders. And there are also studies that show some people [including mothers, and babies] may be more susceptible to vaccine injuries more than others.

It’s unfair for anyone to expect me [or any parent] to take the word of the pharmaceutical companies who have much to gain from and industry worth billions without question – and then have to dismiss any concerns of my own.”

Kat Von D

More than anything, it sounds like she is like many other on-the-fence type parents today, who get scared about all of the things they see and hear about vaccines, from vaccine injury stories and media scare stories to memes about aborted babies in vaccines.

Why Doesn’t Kat Von D Trust Vaccines?

Amazingly, his video included a record number of myths, talking points, and arguments of the anti-vaccine movement, from too many too soon to claiming that unvaccinated children are healthier.

Maybe Kat distrusts vaccines and the pharmaceutical industry because of all the anti-vaccine propaganda that folks put out.
Maybe Kat distrusts vaccines and the pharmaceutical industry because of all the anti-vaccine propaganda that folks put out.

Like many others, Del even managed to misrepresent the Hannah Poling decision, and of course, misused VAERS data.

So maybe we do know why Kat Von D and some other parents are too scared to get their kids vaccinated and protected…

REVEALED – Parents who aren’t vaccinating their kids are trusting the wrong people.

More on Why Kat Von D Won’t Vaccinate Her Baby

“Pro-Safe Vaccine” Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

As a pediatrician who has always fully vaccinated and protected his own kids, I didn’t totally understand what it meant when my first parents told me that they were pro-safe vaccine.

If they were interested in safe vaccines, I thought, why not get their kids vaccinated and protected? After all, vaccines are safe! Their baby was due to get several very safe vaccines at her upcoming two-month checkup.

At a screening for Vaxxed, Paul Thomas, MD, joked that kids with autism were brain damaged. And everyone laughed.
At a screening for Vaxxed, Paul Thomas, MD, joked that kids with autism were brain damaged! And everyone laughed.

I eventually got an answer.

“You don’t have to dig far to know that vaccines have caused tremendous harm. Have they had benefits? Absolutely. Which is why I remain somewhat on the neutral side in saying that I am not anti-vaccine,” said Dr. Paul Thomas. “I’m pro-safe vaccines. I’ve progressed along to the point where I now don’t believe there is such a thing.”

Folks who say that they are pro-safe vaccines typically:

And they want new, safer vaccines that can’t possibly cause any kind of side effects.

Of course, these new, safer vaccines must be toxin-free, without any preservatives, stabilizers, and especially, no chemicals of any kind. They should also be free of gluten, antifreeze, thimerosal, vaginal spermicides, and heavy metals. Essentially, they would just be antigens, without other ingredients, because these folks don’t understand how vaccines are really made.

“Pro-Safe Vaccine” Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

Are you starting to see the problem with folks who say that they are pro-safe vaccines now?

“I’m not for starting an epidemic of another disease. We just want there to be some type of conversation, once. Sit down with our side, with our doctors and scientists, to take a look at what we’re talking about. We’re not an anti-vaccine movement. We’re pro-safe-vaccine schedule. Until we have that conversation, people are going to think it’s an anti- and pro- side.”

Jenny McCarthy

Who were these doctors and scientists that she had on her side?

“In our community we say, “Yeah.” We firmly believe the cause of the epidemic of autism is due to a vaccine injury and/or other environmental exposures — pesticides also. But what on this earth we all kind of share the most is vaccines.”

Jenny McCarthy

Right. So she is not anti-vaccine, but she thinks that vaccines injure people and have caused and epidemic of autism?

And that’s where her pro-safe vaccine schedule comes in…

And we’re saying: “Delay them. Delay them till age 2. Skip some that you might not need.”

Jenny McCarthy

Like all of the other alternative vaccine schedules out there, Jenny McCarthy’s pro-safe vaccine schedule had no evidence that it was safe or effective.

And that gets to the root of the issue. We don’t know what causes autism, so it must be vaccines.

“To our community, Andrew Wakefield is Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ rolled up into one.”

J. B. Handley

But what about the folks who have moved beyond listening to Jenny McCarthy and being concerned about autism?

They have the same goals and are still scaring parents with the same old messages that have been used by the anti-vaccine movement for hundreds of years.

And they just don’t believe the overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe and necessary.

What Does It Mean to Be Pro-Safe Vaccine?

So what does it mean to say that you are pro-safe vaccine?

Essentially, it means that you are anti-vaccine, but don’t want to say that you are anti-vaccine.

More on the Pro-Safe Vaccine Movement