Category: Immunization News

Are More Polio Cases Now Being Caused by the Vaccine Than by Wild Polio Viruses?

Why would people think that more polio cases are now being caused by the vaccine than by wild polio viruses?

More polio cases are now being caused by the vaccine than by wild polio viruses.

Well, it’s true…

Are More Polio Cases Now Being Caused by the Vaccine Than by Wild Polio Viruses?

Wait, what?

“It is no exaggeration to describe it as a crisis. Even worse, looking more widely at the current state of polio eradication, the crisis has three peaks: the first is the level of wild polioviruses in Pakistan; the second is the way that the escalating restrictions in access in Afghanistan have created a huge immunity gap; and the third peak is the widespread occurrence of vaccine-derived polioviruses.”

Independent Monitoring Board 17th Report

Yes, as we are getting close to eradicating polio, we had been seeing fewer and fewer cases of wild polio in the world.

“In rare cases, the live virus in oral polio vaccine can mutate into a form capable of sparking new outbreaks.”

Report raises concern about rare polio cases caused by oral vaccine

And we have been seeing more cases of vaccine-derived polio, which is rarely caused by the oral polio vaccine.

Fortunately, something that most folks miss is that the polio vaccine protects against both wild polio and vaccine-derived polio.

“As recently as 30 years ago, wild poliovirus paralysed more than 350,000 children in more than 125 countries every year. In 2018 there were fewer than 30 reported cases in just two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“Zero polio transmission and health for all”, WHO Director-General gives new year’s wish to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan

And of course, if we weren’t using these polio vaccines, while that would solve the problem of vaccine associated polio, we would simply be seeing lots more wild polio.

More polio cases are now being caused by the vaccine than by wild polio viruses.

Even though cases of wild polio are up this year, after years of decline, they are still tremendously below what they were in the pre-vaccine era.

Remember, we are comparing about 300 cases of wild and vaccine-derived polio that we see today with more than 300,000 of wild polio that we used to see!

“Global efforts to immunise children with the oral polio vaccine (OPV) have reduced wild poliovirus cases by 99.9% since 1988.”

Fact Sheet: Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus

And even those 300 cases of wild and vaccine-derived polio cases can be eliminated if more kids get vaccinated.

“Today, global leaders convened at the Reaching the Last Mile (RLM) Forum in Abu Dhabi to affirm their commitment to eradicate polio and pledge US$2.6 billion as part of the first phase of the funding needed to implement the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s Polio Endgame Strategy 2019-2023.”

Global leaders pledge US $2.6 billion to eradicate polio at the Reaching the Last Mile forum in Abu Dhabi

And we will get those kids vaccinated.

“Fourthly, rumours and deliberate social media seeding of misinformation about the polio vaccine has had a big impact on refusal rates. Fifthly, organised boycotts of the Polio Programme to gain political concessions have reduced some communities’ acceptance of the polio vaccine.”

Independent Monitoring Board 17th Report

And we will eradicate polio.

More on Polio Eradication

Why Did Germany Make the MMR Vaccine Mandatory?

Have you seen the news about the new law that called for mandatory measles vaccination in Germany?

A new law that calls for mandatory measles vaccination in Germany.
Maybe we just need laws against this kind of misinformation about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases…

It’s true, although it certainly won’t cause “death and injury rates” to sky rocket.

Why Did Germany Make the MMR Vaccine Mandatory?

So why did it happen?

“Often, there is a lack of information or targeted disinformation that prevents people from getting themselves or their children vaccinated and exposure to avoidable health hazards.”

Opinion of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedical Drugs, On the Quality and Safety of Vaccines

Germany has been one of the countries most affected by measles outbreaks in Europe over the past few years, with over 5,000 cases since 2015.

And at least three measles deaths, including an unvaccinated toddler. Plus additional deaths from SSPE.

This toddler in Germany who died in 2015 was not vaccinated for measles.
This toddler in Germany who died in 2015 was not vaccinated for measles.

And almost all of the cases are among those who are unvaccinated.

This led to the reestablishment of endemic measles virus transmission in Germany in 2017, even as we are supposed to be working towards eliminating measles.

So what does mandatory measles vaccination in Germany mean?

“The bill stipulates that all children from the age of one on entering the school or kindergarten must have the measles vaccine recommended by the Standing Vaccination Commission. In the case of care by a childminder, proof of measles vaccination usually has to be provided.

The same applies to persons who work in community facilities or medical facilities such as educators, teachers, day care workers and medical staff (if these were born after 1970). Asylum seekers and refugees must also have the vaccine protection four weeks after admission to a shared accommodation.”

Vaccination is designed to protect children from measles

Passage of the Measles Protection Act (Masernschutzgesetz), which goes into effect on March 1, 2020, also means that parents can be fined up to €2,500 if they don’t vaccinate their children, daycare centers can be fined for admitting unvaccinated children, and certain unvaccinated workers, including healthcare workers, can be fined.

“Since measles vaccination is highly effective and very well tolerated, the German Ethics Council is of the opinion that every person is morally obliged to have him- or herself vaccinated against measles and, if applicable, to provide appropriate immunisation for his or her own children.”

Ethics Council: Increasing measles vaccination rate by a package of measures rather than by mandatory vaccination

While some oppose the law, including the German Ethics Council, it is important to note that few people see mandatory vaccination as the first step in getting folks vaccinated and protected. It is typically one of the last measures taken after everything else has failed and outbreaks are once again getting out of control, with people dying needlessly of an easily preventable disease.

Don’t want vaccine mandates to come to your community?

Then stop scaring people away from getting vaccinated and protected with misinformation and propaganda!

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

More on Mandatory Measles Vaccination in Germany

Anti-Vax Groups Are Targeting Minority Communities

It’s a big deal that anti-vax groups are targeting minority communities.

Anti-Vax Groups Are Targeting Minority Communities

Some of these communities already have low vaccination rates and have been hit with outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Anti-Vax Groups Are Targeting Minority Communities

Unfortunately, Bobby Kennedy and the latest Harlem Vaccine Forum isn’t the first time this has happened.

Remember when Andy Wakefield, JB Handley, and others targeted Somali immigrants in Minnesota?

How about when opponents of new vaccine laws in California targeted Latinos in the community?

Why is this a problem?

“Q: I do have a question, on behalf of the Hispanic media, and also the African-American media. Rates for vaccinations have been historically low. Could you tell us what those communities can do to try and raise those rates, please? And also, the issues that they’re facing?

WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, MD: I think it’s very important that, number one, we reach out in ways to communicate with the minority communities in our country, and that we work with the leadership of those communities to actually educate those communities, bring them in, and to provide access, so that we can actually extend the benefit of vaccination to them. Colleagues?

PATRICIA WHITLEY-WILLIAMS, MD: I would certainly agree with that. I also would say, I am a member of the National Medical Association, which is an association predominantly of African-American physicians. We know about the disparities, with regards to vaccination coverage rates, both in adults and in children. But we also know about the deaths and severity of disease related to flu and pneumococcal infections; there is a disparity there, in terms of hospitalizations and deaths among underrepresented minorities in this country.

It is through education. It also depends on that relationship between adult patients and their providers. Again, there should be no opt-out. Patients need to understand that they’re tremendously at risk, and there is a disparity. As I think we all know, there is a historical context and a belief that exists in the African-American community, in terms of maybe mistrust of the medical system, because of experimentation that had gone on earlier. And again, it’s trying to provide that information and education through providers.”

National Foundation For Infectious Diseases (NFID) September 26, 2019

It is well known that many minority communities have low immunization rates.

“Since 1995, annual estimates of MMR vaccination coverage and poliovirus vaccination coverage increased among all children aged 19–35 months, and since 2007, disparities between racial/ethnic minorities and non-Hispanic white children for these vaccines has been nonexistent.”

Reduction of Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Vaccination Coverage, 1995–2011

Tragically, we are losing many of the gains that we had recently seen in reducing the gaps in vaccination among some racial/ethnic groups.

“HPV vaccine follow-through is lower in racial and ethnic minorities than Whites.”

Spencer et al on Disparities and reverse disparities in HPV vaccination: A systematic review and meta-analysis

In addition to children and teens, we are seeing growing disparities among adults too.

“On further examination, it is evident that some populations receive vaccinations at a level below other populations. For instance, 31% of Hispanic individuals received influenza vaccine in 2014 compared to 34.4% of African American and 46% of White Americans. This difference is also apparent in populations that receive pneumococcal and herpes zoster vaccines. These differences represent disparities in the use of nationally recommended vaccines.”

Anthony Pattin on Disparities in the Use of Immunization Services Among Underserved Minority Patient Populations and the Role of Pharmacy Technicians: A Review

We must continue to work to remove barriers to access to vaccination and encourage providers in these communities to get the message out that vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

“There are many Latino and African-American physicians who have a practice that predominantly serves a population of the same ethnicity. We really rely on those providers to help us get the word out, as the press will. These patients trust their providers. We also need to involve community-based organizations to help us in getting the message out as well.”

Patricia Whitley-Williams, MD

Providers, especially in those communities that are being targeted, can improve vaccination rates by:

  • using standing orders, especially during flu season
  • using reminder and recall systems so that everyone knows when they are due for their vaccines
  • providing consumer-oriented information about vaccines to help overcome any negative perceptions, misinformation, and fears parents might have

Don’t allow anti-vaccine propaganda and misinformation to infect your community and make your job harder or put your kids at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease.

More on Vaccines and Minority Communities

The Vaccine Extremists in the Modern Anti-Vaccine Movement

In 1721, someone through a bomb through the window of the Reverend Cotton Mather’s house in Boston because he was actively promoted smallpox inoculation during a local epidemic.

The vaccine extremists in the modern anti-vaccine movement.

Do we have to be concerned about what the modern anti-vaccine movement might do to folks who advocate for vaccines?

The Vaccine Extremists in the Modern Anti-Vaccine Movement

Before you dismiss the idea, let’s take a look at what they have been doing recently…

Calling for second amendment remedies? Is that a thing in the modern anti-vaccine movement?

“Then I can imagine those same conversations were happening in Nazi Germany amongst the Jewish people. Let’s not talk about it. I don’t want to bring it into my reality. It’s still 20 miles away. I’m still allowed in this theater and not that one. All I have to get is this little star. All I have to do is sign this little thing saying I accept that… that I’m not going to vaccinate because I think that they’re dangerous. And they are dangerous. I’m just going to sign this paper. I’m going to let them put me on a log.

At some point, we have gone too far.

Do you think that it’s a good idea to let the government own your baby’s body. And right behind it, your body. That is the end. To me.

Anyone who believes in the right to bear arms. To stand up against your government. I don’t know what you were saving that gun for then. I don’t know when you planned on using it if they were going to take control of your own body away.

It’s now. Now’s the time.”

Del Bigtree

To many of us, it seems very obvious that anti-vax folks have gone too far.

They don’t seem to get the message though.

Vaccine extremists blocking the entrances to the State Capital in California.
Protestors blocking the entrances to the State Capital in California.

Protesting for a good cause is noble.

But what is it called when you are protesting while holding signs pushing propaganda and misinformation?

The "red liquid substance" was later confirmed to be human blood.
The “red liquid substance” was later confirmed to be human blood.

Remember when a protestor in California threw blood from a menstrual cup at legislators on the Senate floor?

Pretty extreme, right?

Austin Bennett assaulted Richard Pan during a Facebook video he conveniently filmed.
Austin Bennett assaulted Richard Pan during a Facebook video he conveniently filmed.

Or when Austin Bennett assaulted Senator Richard Pan as he walked to lunch?

Of course, the usual response from most anti-vax folks is that these are outliers who don’t represent them. Or they are part of the controlled opposition

Vaccine extremists called a boycott of a local store because their senator was going to speak at their grand opening.
Vaccine extremists called a boycott of a local store because Richard Pan was going to speak at their grand opening.

Not surprisingly, it seems that the denials come from the same folks who set out to ambush, stalk, and attack vaccine advocates.

Senator Richard Pan was harassed at the March For Science in Washington D.C. on Earth Day  in 2017.
Senator Richard Pan was harassed at the March For Science in Washington D.C. on Earth Day in 2017.

Advocates who have done nothing except make sure kids get vaccinated and help protect us from the misinformation that is so often pushed on the Internet and on the signs they hold during their protests.

A finger gun pointed at a shirt covered with "blood everywhere."

Yes, Senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician in California has been a big target in recent years.

Of course, vaccines are tested in placebo controlled trials, some of which even included a saline placebo. Which makes the Stormtrooper an appropriate costume. Remember, they have such bad aim, they never hit their target…

He is not the only one though.

Paul Offit has been a very frequent target of anti-vax critics.
Paul Offit has been a very frequent target of anti-vax critics.

Paul Offit has been a common target.

Protesters banged on the glass during as ZDogg filmed an interview with Paul Offit.
Protesters banged on the glass during as ZDogg filmed an interview with Paul Offit.

Other pediatricians have also been attacked, with protestors showing up at their offices and harassing their patients.

Pediatricians in New York have been targeted too.
“They went up to 3-4 of the morning patients as they walked in, asked them if they vaccinate and when my patients replied yes, one said “Good luck with that!” They gave anti vaccine literature to all the patients and placed flyers on every car in the parking lot.”

But it is not just pediatricians and legislators who are getting harassed.

Who could ever describe Kristen Bell as hateful???
Who could ever describe Kristen Bell as hateful???

Celebrities who advocate for vaccines are also getting harassed and targeted.

Kristen Bell was targeted at Comic Con too.
Kristen Bell was targeted at Comic Con too.

As bad as this kind of harassment has been though, their messaging might be worse.

Fighting to skip or delay your kid's vaccines and keep them in school is not the new civil rights movement.
Fighting to skip or delay your kid’s vaccines and keep them in school is not the new civil rights movement.

Comparing not wanting to vaccinate and protect your kids to the civil rights movement?

That’s pretty extreme, isn’t it?

That they would invoke the Holocaust when talking about vaccines and autism, and compare doctors and lawmakers to Nazis, tells you a lot about the modern anti-vaccine movement.

And you know you are in extreme territory if you are getting called out by the Auschwitz Museum

What else have they been up to?

Defacing public property.

University of Michigan students quickly covered up all of the anti-vax propaganda on this rock.
University of Michigan students quickly covered up all of the anti-vax propaganda.

But do you want to know what maybe the very worst thing that they are doing these days?

How about harassing parents whose children have recently died, trying to make them think that vaccinations were the cause?

Killy did not die from a vaccine injury. He had meningitis.
Killy did not die from a vaccine injury. He had meningitis.

Yes, this is the modern anti-vaccine movement.

It should be clear that the anti-vaccine movement has “shifted its tactics” as they continue to try and scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

“Upon close inspection, the anti-vaccination movement is not about vaccines. It’s an anti-government conspiracy theory. In order to believe the anti-vaccination line, you have to believe the government is working proactively to harm your children (by protecting them from deadly and debilitating diseases). It’s paranoid thinking, and a very small but vocal minority of Americans fervently embrace the irrational fear of immunization.”

The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board on Activism or Terrorism? Anti-vaccine movement must use facts, not violence, to argue

From getting doctors to write unnecessary medical exemptions, misusing religious exemptions, harassing vaccine advocates, targeting minority communities, using racist attacks, and pushing misinformation and conspiracy theories, many in the anti-vaccine movement have clearly moved into extremist territory.

Still, it is very important to remember that these folks are indeed a very small minority, even if they are very vocal and sometimes hard to ignore, especially as they trigger some of the largest outbreaks in recent history and expose high risk kids and adults to life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases.

And that’s because the great majority of people understand that vaccines are safe, with few risks, and very necessary.

Make the right choice. Vaccinate and protect your family.

More on the Vaccine Extremists in the Modern Anti-Vaccine Movement