Category: Vaccine Misinformation

Do Flu Vaccines Cause RSV?

Why do some people think that getting a flu vaccine can cause them to get RSV?

Flu vaccines do not cause RSV.
Flu vaccines do not cause RSV.

The usual suspects…

Do Flu Vaccines Cause RSV?

Like the flu, RSV or respiratory syncytial virus, causes infections during cold and flu season.

Unlike the flu, we don’t yet have an RSV vaccine, but that hasn’t stopped anti-vax folks from trying to link them together.

Of course it is silly think that a flu shot could cause a child to develop RSV.

For one thing, you can just look at who gets RSV, especially severe RSV infections.

“The average seasonal RSV hospitalization rate in this study was 5.2 per 1000 children who were <24 months old, but the rate varied by season as much as fourfold. Nevertheless, 1-month-old infants consistently were most likely to be hospitalized, almost twice as often as the next 2 most at-risk groups: infants <1 month old and infants 2 months old. These youngest infants accounted for an important proportion of all children admitted with RSV infection in the first 2 years of life: 11% were infants <1 month old, 44% were ≤2 months old, and only 36% were >5 months old.”

Hall et al on Respiratory syncytial virus-associated hospitalizations among children less than 24 months of age

While anyone can get RSV, even adults, it is infants who are under 6 months old that typically are at the greatest risk to have severe infections. And of course, these kids are too young to even have a flu vaccine!

The other reason?

It is no surprise that the flu vaccine delays of 2015 didn’t affect RSV season…

RSV season not only starts before flu season, but often before the time when we are even giving flu vaccines!

Anyway, the whole idea that “RSV is an adverse reaction from flu vaccine” comes from the misuse of a study, Increased risk of noninfluenza respiratory virus infections associated with receipt of inactivated influenza vaccine, that doesn’t even mention RSV.

“Being protected against influenza, TIV recipients may lack temporary non-specific immunity that protected against other respiratory viruses.”

Cowling et al on Increased risk of noninfluenza respiratory virus infections associated with receipt of inactivated influenza vaccine

And it is very important to keep in mind that it was a small study about interference caused by non-specific immunity.

Another larger study that did include RSV, “Influenza vaccination is not associated with detection of noninfluenza respiratory viruses in seasonal studies of influenza vaccine effectiveness,” found that “influenza vaccination was not associated with detection of noninfluenza respiratory viruses.”

What to Know About Flu Vaccines Causing RSV

The bottom line is that flu vaccines do not cause RSV and do not increase your risk of getting RSV.

More on Flu Vaccine Side Effects

The Bob Sears Snare

Dr. Sears has been a well-known pediatrician for many years, writing books about breastfeeding, fussy babies, and sleep, and advocating for co-sleeping and attachment parenting before most people even knew what those things were.

He also advocates for vaccines.

“Because of my “historical” perspective, I have grown to appreciate the value of vaccines as a necessary public-health measure. Currently in our pediatric practice, we follow the vaccine schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

Dr. William Sears on Ask Dr. Sears: Vaccination/Immunization Concerns

If you are a little confused, that’s because you may not have known that Dr. Bob Sears’ father is also a pediatrician. In fact, they practice together, even if they don’t seem to agree on everything.

Who is Bob Sears?

Dr. Bob Sears believes that alternative immunization schedules are safer than getting vaccinated on time, mostly because he seems to think that most vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t that serious.

“I created my alternative vaccine schedule that allows parents to go ahead and vaccinate, simply in a more gradual manner. And I find a lot of worried parents who otherwise would refuse vaccines altogether are very happy to go ahead and vaccinate if they’re doing it in a way that they feel safer about.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

Dr. Bob appeared to have noble goals when he wrote his vaccine book – to convince more parents who were on the fence to get vaccinated – or at least to eventually get vaccinated, even if they had to delay some vaccines to get there.

“As parents’ fears of vaccines grow, I think we may see fewer and fewer parents decide to vaccinate. And then we could see what used to be very rare illnesses become more common. We might see measles escalate. We might see diphtheria come back into the United States. God forbid, we might see polio come back. Then children are going to start dying. And then a lot of those parents that had chosen not to vaccinate might change their mind, and they might start vaccinating again, and then new parents might be more inclined to vaccinate their babies if we see these diseases come back.

Now, I hope and pray that doesn’t happen. I hope that we can maintain adequate herd immunity in our country so we don’t see these diseases return. But that worry of diseases coming back into our country, and the worry of diseases running rampant and killing a lot of babies, I don’t think that supersedes the parents’ basic right to choose what they want to do for their children. And if parents want to accept the disease risk because they don’t trust the vaccines, I think they have the right to make that choice.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

It didn’t work.

It may just be a correlation, but vaccine rates went down after he wrote his book, especially among clusters of worried parents, some of whom would walk into their pediatrician’s offices carrying his book or the immunization schedule he made up.

The Bob Sears Snare

More than anything though, it seems like he has contributed to parents not trusting vaccines.

“What I do instead is I give two vaccines at a time, at 2 months, 4 months and 6 months. I also give two of the vaccines that I’m skipping on alternative months: 3 months, 5 months and 7 months. And I’m avoiding a big overload. I’m giving only a couple vaccines at a time. I feel that babies will experience fewer vaccine reactions; I think babies’ bodies can handle them better. Their immune system can handle them better that way, and I think a lot of parents simply feel more safe about that kind of approach.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

See what he did?

Instead of reassuring parents that vaccines don’t overload a baby’s immune system, Dr. Bob tells them that his schedule avoids a “big overload.”

Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment "Vaccines: A Bad Combination?"
Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment “Vaccines: A Bad Combination?”

If they weren’t scared about vaccines before they heard of Dr. Bob, they probably were after reading some of his stuff.

And once you fall into the snare and get scared, it is hard to get out.

What makes it even more frustrating?

The things he scares parents about aren’t even true!

Dr. Bob misrepresents science and gets parents to believe that vaccines aren’t well tested, that vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t dangerous, and that vaccine ingredients, like aluminum are dangerous.

And although he talks about choice and informed consent all of the time, by misinforming parents about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, he is actually taking away their ability to make an informed choice.

Not surprisingly, even Dr. Bob seems to have been snared by his rhetoric about vaccines.

“As a doctor, I don’t like to undermine the CDC and to help parents mistrust the CDC. Obviously the CDC does so much good for us. They have our best intentions in mind, and they do so much research. And I think parents can overall trust what the CDC says.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

He went from saying in a 2010 interview that parents should trust the CDC and that “There’s so much safety research behind vaccines that most parents should feel very confident in their safety” to now giving presentations at anti-vaccine conferences on How to Counter the Lies Politicians and the Media Use to Pass Mandatory Vaccination Laws.

What’s the worst thing about Dr. Bob though?

Bob Sears warned everyone that measles would come back if too many people listened to him in The Vaccine Book
Bob Sears warned everyone that measles would come back if too many people listened to him in The Vaccine Book

It’s not that he actually predicted what would happen if too many people began to follow non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedules, but that he thinks he is an expert on autism.

“By trying to say that there is no significant increase, is the government hoping to reassure people that autism isn’t a significant problem? That the rising number of children with autism isn’t something that anyone has to worry about? Are they trying to avoid a panic?”

Dr. Bob Sears

In a recent report about autism rates, there was no conspiracy, as Dr. Bob suggests. Unlike Dr. Bob and some others, the CDC was simply trying to not mislead people into thinking that the change from 2.24 to 2.76% meant something that it did not.

What to Know About The Bob Sears Snare

The Bob Sears Snare is a technique that anti-vaccine folks use to misrepresent science so that you actually think you are doing the right thing for your kids by skipping or delaying vaccines and leaving them unprotected.

More on Bob Sears

Vaccines and Profiting Pediatricians

Why do some people think that pediatricians are only in it for money, working to maximize profits over the health and safety of the kids that they care for?

As they traditionally rank among the lowest paid medical doctors, even with the millions in vaccine bonuses they supposedly get, if pediatricians are only in it for the money, they are doing it wrong...
As they traditionally rank among the lowest paid medical doctors, even with the millions in vaccine bonuses they supposedly get, if pediatricians are only in it for the money, they are doing it wrong…

The usual suspects…

Vaccines and Profiting Pediatricians

Even if you believed that the average pediatrician would put profits over the health and safety of their patients, your next thought should then be why on earth would they ever vaccinate anyone…

Consider the rotavirus vaccine.

We hear a lot about the cost savings from decreased hospitalizations and ER visits because of the rotavirus vaccine.

“During the pre-rotavirus vaccine era, it was estimated that 410,000 physician visits; 205-272,000 ED visits; and 55,000–70,000 hospitalizations were attributable to rotavirus infections in U.S. children, costing approximately $1 billion annually.”

It is important to remember that for every visit to the emergency room, many more visited their pediatrician.

“National diarrhea-related healthcare visits during rotavirus season decreased by 48% (95% CI: 47%-48%) in 2008 and by 35% (95% CI: 34%-35%) in 2009 compared with the mean rate from the 2005 and 2006 rotavirus seasons.”

Yen et al on Decline in rotavirus hospitalizations and health care visits for childhood diarrhea following rotavirus vaccination in El Salvador

And now they don’t…

Pediatricians also see fewer kids with ear infections thanks to Prevnar and we rarely see a child with chickenpox.

“There was an overall downward trend in OM-related health care use from 2001 to 2011. The significant reduction in OM visit rates in 2010-2011 in children younger than 2 years coincided with the advent of PCV-13.”

Marom et al on Trends in Otitis Media–Related Health Care Use in the United States, 2001-2011

If the idea is to keep kids sick, then why vaccinate and protect them from diseases that would fill up our offices with sick kids?

“Using household-reported data we found a pattern of increased use of well visits and decreased sick visits across the last decade and half, resulting in a net decrease of roughly a third of a visit per child since 2002. The pattern was consistent for privately and publicly insured children. Multiple factors likely account for these trends, including the possibility that greater use of well visits and improvements in medicine may be helping to improve child health.”

Trends in Pediatric Well and Sick Visits, 2002-16

And contrary to the very warped idea that pediatricians vaccinate kids to promote vaccine injuries that keep kids sick, we know that propaganda about the unhealthiest generation is just that – propaganda.

More on Those Profiting Pediatricians

Does Measles Protection from the MMR Vaccine Wane Over Time?

Why do some parents think that measles protection from the MMR vaccine might wane over time?

Yup – misinformation from the usual suspects.

Does Measles Protection from the MMR Vaccine Wane Over Time?

Wait, how can this be misinformation if they are citing a source and it is a study published by the CDC?

“The results, published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, show that even after being previously vaccinated twice for measles, about 35% of vaccinated 7-year-olds and 60% of vaccinated 15-year-olds are susceptible to subclinical infection with measles virus.”

Physicians for Informed Consent: CDC Data Shows Immunity from the MMR Vaccine Wanes Over Time

While that doesn’t sound good, that’s not what the study really says!

“A rise in the proportion of persons with low antibody levels suggests an increase in potential susceptibility, but low titers are unlikely to represent the same risk of illness or viral transmission as absent antibodies.”

LeBaron et al on Persistence of Measles Antibodies After 2 Doses of Measles Vaccine in a Postelimination Environment

They are clearly misinterpreting what the study does say and mean.

“In summary, we found that, in a population of children who had received 2 doses of measles vaccine at ages and intervals consistent with US policy and who were unlikely to have been exposed to wild-type measles, potential susceptibility rates were low for as long as 10 years after the second dose.”

LeBaron et al on Persistence of Measles Antibodies After 2 Doses of Measles Vaccine in a Postelimination Environment

The funny thing is that the study is about what happens to vaccine induced immunity in the absence of exogenous boosting.

In other words, what happens when vaccines get diseases under good control so that we are no longer exposed to wild disease which can give our antibody levels a little boost.

So they are highlighting a study that proves that vaccines work and fortunately, it concludes that “measles antibody persists,” even without exogenous boosting.

The other study they cite discusses a measles outbreak in Japan.

In the 2018 outbreak, 99 people got measles.

“A recent outbreak of measles in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan ended with 33 measles cases whose symptoms were masked because of insufficient protection against the disease (modified measles).”

Mizumoto et al on Transmission potential of modified measles during an outbreak, Japan, March‒May 2018

Only 10 were fully vaccinated with two doses of measles vaccine. An additional 20 had one dose.

“Symptoms in modified measles cases are masked, so they do not present with the full (typical) symptoms of measles (fever, maculo-papular rash and catarrhal symptoms such as cough, coryza or conjunctivitis) and their transmission risk is reported to be lower.”

Mizumoto et al on Transmission potential of modified measles during an outbreak, Japan, March‒May 2018

While many vaccines do lead to milder disease, even if the vaccine doesn’t provide full protection, we don’t typically see that with measles, except for rare case reports.

So instead of modified measles, it is possible that many of these folks were simply very recently vaccinated, likely in response to the outbreak, and were having a vaccine reaction.

Remember, measles containing vaccines do commonly cause a fever and rash as a side effect. That’s why we sometimes see vaccine strain measles in outbreak reports. These aren’t typically people with measles or modified measles.

“This case report adds further evidence for lower infectivity of modified measles with no secondary cases and highlights the potential requirement for updated contact tracing recommendations in this scenario. Other case reports have shown that individuals with modified measles and history of prior vaccination have more robust levels of plaque reduction neutralisation (PRN) titre, reflecting an immunity booster response. These case studies also identified no secondary cases. In measles outbreak reports in healthcare workers with two documented MMR vaccines, no onward transmission of measles has been reported.”

Uren et al on Modified measles with an atypical presentation

Still, although it would be better if vaccines prevented disease and you would get sick at all, when they don’t, isn’t a modified case better than getting full blown measles?

And the bottom line is that the so-called Physicians for Informed Consent is once again misleading people if they are trying to make them think that the MMR vaccine will wane and that “Nearly 50% of Vaccinated U.S. Schoolchildren Can Become Infected With and Spread Measles.”

The only school where you will find that nearly 50% of the kids are susceptible to measles is likely a Waldorf school. But that’s only because they won’t be vaccinated and protected.

More on Waning Immunity