Category: Vaccine Misinformation

Has the United States’ Infant Mortality Rate Ranking Been Dropping as We Vaccinate More Kids?

Of all of the myths about vaccines that confuse and scare some parents, those about infant mortality rates can be especially hard to easily put aside.

After all, why doesn’t the United States rank better for infant mortality rates since most parents do vaccinate and protect their kids?

Vaccines and Infant Mortality Rates

That’s actually fairly easy to answer.

“Globally, the infant mortality rate has decreased from an estimated rate of 64.8 deaths per 1000 live births in 1990 to 30.5 deaths per 1000 live births in 2016.”

WHO on Infant Mortality Situation and Trends

Vaccine-preventable diseases don’t have much effect on infant mortality rates in the United States these days.

What does?

  • birth defects
  • premature births
  • SIDS
  • maternal complications of pregnancy
  • injuries

Think about it… If vaccines did increase infant mortality rates, then why would infant mortality rates be dropping as we vaccinate more kids?

Has the United States’ Infant Mortality Rate Ranking Been Dropping as We Vaccinate More Kids?

The Wisconsin Coalition for Informed Vaccination is pushing myths about SIDS and vaccines.
The Wisconsin Coalition for Informed Vaccination is pushing myths about infant mortality rates and vaccines.

Do you know what has been dropping?

The infant mortality rate.

In fact, infant mortality rates continue to drop and are now at their lowest levels ever.

While it is good news that the rate is dropping, most folks think they can be better.

For one thing, some states, like Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and West Virginia, etc., have much higher infant mortality rates than others. Why? Much of those differences, can be explained by socio-economic factors. That’s also though to explain much of the differences in infant mortality rates between the U.S. and other developed countries, most of which have universal health care.

New Jersey, although they have ranked high for autism rates, has lower than average rates of infant mortality.
New Jersey, although they have ranked high for autism rates, has lower than average rates of infant mortality.

Another big difference is that many countries count infant mortality rates using different criteria than the United States.

For example, it is estimated that at least 40% of the differences between infant mortality rates in the United States and other countries is due to those countries not counting extremely preterm births among their statistics.

But why has the United States’ infant mortality ranking fallen relative to other developed nations?

Most European Countries had much higher infant mortality rates than the US in the 1960s and 70s, which affected relative rankings, even as all countries saw infant mortality rates fall.
OECD data shows that most European Countries have historically had much higher infant mortality rates than the US, which have affected relative rankings, even as all countries have seen infant mortality rates fall.

Although anti-vaccine groups try to tie this to ‘routine vaccination,’ it is easy to see that other countries have historically had much higher infant mortality rates than the United States. As they have caught up, the United States’ ranking has dropped relative to theirs, even though all have seen infant mortality rates drop.

Infant Mortality Rates in the Pre-Vaccine Era

But if you really want to understand the relationship of vaccines to infant mortality rates, you just have to look back to the pre-vaccine era. Back then, now vaccine-preventable diseases did have a big effect on infant mortality rates in the United States and elsewhere.

In 1910, for example, the most common causes of death for infants under 1 year were:

  1. diarrhea and enteritis
  2. premature birth
  3. congenital debility
  4. bronchopneumonia
  5. pneumonia
  6. malformations
  7. bronchitis
  8. convulsions
  9. injuries at birth
  10. whooping cough
  11. tuberculosis
  12. meningitis
  13. measles
  14. accident
  15. diphtheria

Although advances in modern medicine would help decrease the mortality from many of those diseases, it was vaccines that truly worked to make sure they were no longer a big part of our infant mortality statistics.

How will we continue to decrease our infant mortality rates?

Most experts think that it will require better access to health care for all members of society.

What to Know About Infant Mortality Rate Rankings

Infant mortality rates are not linked to vaccines.

More Infant Mortality Rate Rankings

Was SIDS Discovered Only After We Began Vaccinating Kids?

There are a lot of myths about SIDS and vaccines.

In the 1970s, many folks tried to say that the DPT caused SIDS. It didn’t.

Rates of most causes of sudden infant death, including SIDS, have dropped since the mid-1990s.
Rates of most causes of sudden infant death, including SIDS, have dropped since the mid-1990s.

Fortunately, because SIDS rates have dropped so much over the years, even as we have added vaccines to the immunization schedule that protect infants against more diseases, it is easy for most parents to see that vaccines are not associated with SIDS.

Well, that isn’t exactly true. Getting vaccinated is actually thought to have a protective against SIDS…

Was SIDS Discovered Only After We Began Vaccinating Kids?

The Wisconsin Coalition for Informed Vaccination is pushing myths about SIDS and vaccines.
The Wisconsin Coalition for Informed Vaccination is pushing myths about SIDS and vaccines.

What about the idea that infants only started dying of SIDS after more kids started getting vaccinated?

Any truth to that?

Well, let’s start with when the term SIDS was first used, in 1969, when it was mentioned at the Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Causes of Sudden Death in Infants.

So would that make 1960 the year for “the initiation of routine vaccination?”

That would be a surprise to the kids in the 1940s who were already getting DPT, smallpox, tetanus, and typhoid vaccines.

“Sudden unexpected death in infancy, or “crib death,” is probably not a new syndrome, but it is one that has been clearly delineated and brought into sharp focus during the past 10 years. The first international conference on this subject, held in 1963, did much to formulate the salient features and to suggest the major areas open to research.”

Bergman et al on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Causes of Sudden Death in Infants

So just because SIDS finally got a name and an ICD9 code in 1969,  that doesn’t mean that is when it first appeared.

Dr. Kemkes investigated whether 19th century infant deaths attributed to smothering or overlaying shared the same characteristics as known SIDS cases. She analyzed data from the U.S. Federal Mortality Schedule from the years 1850-1880. She found that, just like SIDS, smothering and overlaying deaths occurred primarily during the second to fourth month of the baby’s life, were more likely in the late winter months and amongst boys, and there were more infant deaths among black babies.
The author concludes: “The study strongly supports the hypothesis that these infant deaths represent empirical evidence of 19th century SIDS mortality.”

Was SIDS the cause of infant deaths even 150 years ago?

To get ahead of anti-vaccine folks, while the smallpox vaccine came out in 1798, a similar case can be made for accidental smothering deaths in the medieval period and Renaissance – and before.

Infants have likely been dying of SIDS for ages – it just wasn’t called SIDS and was blamed on other things.

“During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him.”

1 Kings 3:19

In fact, many people even think that “SIDS” is mentioned in the Bible and was described by the ancient Egyptians and early Greeks.

And again, if vaccines somehow cause SIDS, why have rates of SIDS dropped so much as more and more kids get vaccinated and protected?

What to Know About the History of Vaccines and SIDS

The establishment of SIDS as a medical term in 1969 has nothing to do with vaccines or the immunization schedule.

More on the History of Vaccines and SIDS

Has the Vaccine Court Compensated over 70 Families for Autism?

Has the Vaccine Court ever compensated the family of an autistic child?

Kind of.

Hannah Poling is autistic and her family was compensated by the Vaccine Court. But she wasn’t compensated for autism.

“Because she had an existing encephalopathy (presumably on the basis of a mitochondrial enzyme defect) and because worsening of an existing encephalopathy following measles-containing vaccine is a compensible injury, Hannah Poling was compensated.”

Why was Hannah Poling compensated?

Hannah Poling was compensated because she had a table injury.

Has the Vaccine Court Compensated over 70 Families for Autism?

Remember the Autism Omnibus Proceedings?

Those were the test cases that represented three different theories of how vaccines could possibly be associated with autism. None of them were upheld by the Vaccine Court and none of the families were compensated.

“The devil is in the details. You can call autism many different things and it looks very much differently to different folks. But at the end of the day, the Vaccine Court has awarded over 70 families that their children now have autism and these children developed encephalitis, which is brain inflammation, that turned into autism. 70 families. And your viewers can google Hannah Poling and Baxter Bailey. Those are two of the most popular cases. And the U.S. government said to them, your child received autism because of this. I mean, they were awarded. So, it’s in the books.”

Liza Longoria Greve on KOCO News 5

So how could anyone be saying that over 70 families of autistic children have been compensated by the Vaccine Court?

"Reaching out for the other side" of some arguments simply allows them to push myths and propaganda.
“Reaching out for the other side” of some arguments simply allows them to push myths and propaganda.

I guess folks can say whatever they want, especially when the media doesn’t understand the idea of false balance and gives them a platform, after all, that’s how you explain much of propaganda of the anti-vaccine movement.

How can they say that encephalitis turns into autism?

Again, folks can say whatever they want, but this is actually a little different from what they usually claim, that autism is encephalitis.

Of course, it isn’t.

70 Families? Google It

So what happens if you ‘google it‘ and actually research Liza Longoria Greve’s claim?

We already know about Hannah Poling… Again, she has a mitochondrial disorder and autism and she was compensated because it was thought that she had an adverse event to getting vaccinated because of her mitochondrial disorder.

And Baxter Bailey? You don’t find anything if you look for Baxter Bailey, but you will eventually find information about Bailey Banks, who was compensated for (acute disseminated encephalomyelitis) ADEM, which led to Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD). He wasn’t compensated for autism though.

Baily Banks was not compensated for autism.
Baily Banks was not compensated for autism.

What about the other families she is talking about?

A little more googling and you find that she is likely talking about an article,  Unanswered Questions from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Injury, that was published in the Pace Environmental Law Review in 2011 by Mary Holland, in which she reports finding “eighty-three cases of autism among those compensated for vaccine-induced brain damage.”

Instead of proof that vaccines cause autism though, Holland’s paper was little more than a “misleading recasting of VICP decisions.”

And vaccines are still not associated with autism.

What to Know About Vaccine Court and Autism

The vaccine court has never compensated anyone for so-called vaccine-induced autism.

More on Vaccine Court and Autism

Does the CDC Own Any Patents on Vaccines?

Have you heard the CDC owns patents on vaccines?

“The CDC is a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical industry. The agency owns more than 20 vaccine patents and purchases and sells $4.1 billion in vaccines annually. Congressman Dave Weldon has pointed out that the primary metric for success across the CDC is how many vaccines the agency sells and how successfully the agency expands its vaccine program—regardless of any negative effects on human health.”

Robert F Kennedy, Jr

Wait, the CDC sells vaccines?

To who?

Myths About the CDC Selling Vaccines

The CDC doesn’t sell vaccines. That’s not their mission.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety, and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities to do the same.”

CDC Mission, Role and Pledge

They do buy vaccines. A lot of vaccines.

In 2017, the CDC immunization program spent just over $4.8 billion dollars, including $4.1 billion on the Vaccines for Children program.

“…from March through December 2016, over 13,000 doses of meningococcal conjugate vaccine, purchased using CDC funding, were used to respond to a deadly outbreak of meningitis in Southern California.”

Department Of Health And Human Services Fiscal Year 2018

Did they sell all of those vaccines?

If they did, then they wouldn’t have to request money from Congress each year to buy more vaccines, now would they?

“CDC buys vaccines at a discount and distributes them to grantees—i.e., state health departments and certain local and territorial public health agencies—which in turn distribute them at no charge to those private physicians’ offices and public health clinics registered as VFC providers.”

The VFC Program: At a Glance

Instead, the vaccines that the CDC buys, at big discounts, since they are buying so many, are offered free to those kids who can’t afford vaccines in the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program and through Section 317 grants.

What About the CDC Vaccine Patents?

Is Kennedy right about the CDC vaccine patents?

“In the course of performing our mission, many CDC researchers identify novel technologies which may be of interest to commercial partners. Some of these technologies are available as a biological or other tangible material for licensing, whereas others are protected under patent.”

Office of the Associate Director for Science (OADS)

OK, so the CDC has patents…

Well, not exactly the CDC. The United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services has patents…

Patents of vaccines and vaccine technology are not the big deal that anti-vaccine folks make them out to be.
Patents of vaccines and vaccine technology are not the big deal that anti-vaccine folks make them out to be.

When you think of Kennedy’s claim, do you think that the CDC has the patent on 20 new vaccines? After all, that’s how it sounds, doesn’t it?

They don’t. Instead, they mostly own patents on vaccine technology.

“This technology describes a method for inactivating rotavirus. Traditional inactivation strategies use chemicals that reduce antigenicity (by altering rotavirus proteins), leading to less protection against the virus. Conversely, this method preserves and/or maintains the integrity of viral particles, leading to greater protection against rotavirus. This strategy has been validated in mice, piglets and cattle and further clinical studies are underway.”

A Novel Thermal Method to Inactivate Rotavirus for Use in Vaccines

Why patent these technologies?

Because they were discovered by CDC researchers and if their intellectual properly is not patented, then someone else could patent it, use it or sell it, and keep others from using it.

“After a license is negotiated, post-license compliance must be maintained to ensure the scheduled development of the technology, payment of royalties, and compliance to the license agreement. Based on the terms negotiated in the agreement, a percentage of royalties will go to the inventor, while a portion will go to the originating laboratory for that technology. This allows funding to be reinvested into CDC for the development of additional technologies that can meet other public health needs.”

What is the Process of Technology Transfer?

Should it be a surprise that these patents might generate money?

“Certain people are not considered for ACIP membership. For example, people who are directly employed or have an immediate family member directly employed by a vaccine manufacturer, hold a patent on a vaccine or related product, or serve on a Board of Directors of a vaccine manufacturer are excluded from ACIP membership.”

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Childhood Immunization Schedule

Is it a surprise that the CDC and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has taken steps to make sure these patents don’t generate any conflicts of interest among those making decisions about vaccines?

“Dr Offit did not sit on the FDA committee that approved any rotavirus vaccine and he was not a member of ACIP, as RFK Jr claims, at the time they voted to recommend adding rotavirus vaccine to the immunization schedule.”

The Truth about vaccines 6: rotavirus

Is it a surprise that Kennedy is just trying to scare folks with all of this talk about selling vaccines and vaccine patents?

What to Know About the CDC’s Vaccine Patents

While the CDC does own and license some patents related to vaccines and vaccine technologies, they don’t actually sell any vaccines.

More on the CDC’s Vaccine Patents

Did Sweden Ban Mandatory Vaccination?

Have you heard the “news” that Sweden banned mandatory vaccination in their country?

Is that true?

Did Sweden Ban Mandatory Vaccination?

Like most other anti-vaccine myths, this one isn’t true.

Sweden did not ban mandatory vaccination.

“…vaccination coverage is still high and stable, that the diseases covered by the programs are under control…”

Riksdag Social Committee report 2016/17: SoU7

In March 2017, the Riksdag, or Swedish parliament, did vote against a proposal that called for mandatory vaccination. This came as other countries in Europe are seeing lower rates of immunization, rising rates of vaccine-preventable disease, and calls for vaccine mandates. In fact, France and Italy recently implemented vaccine mandates.

“The general vaccination program has a good coverage, and most children are protected against measles and polio, for example. There are, however, skepticism about vaccinations, both the vaccinations included in the basic program and others. In our view, however, it is of societal interest that the vaccination program is implemented in its entirety, and many of the myths and incorrect data circulating about the vaccination program need to be treated and pinned. We therefore consider that the government should provide the appropriate authority with the task of designing an information campaign on the benefits and necessity of the childhood vaccination program.”

Riksdag Social Committee report 2016/17: SoU7

Although the Swedish parliament voted against a motion that would have started a mandatory vaccination plan, there was nothing to ban. Sweden has never had a mandatory vaccination.

The Riksdag passed a motion to add the rotavirus vaccine to the immunization schedule in Sweden.
The Riksdag did pass a motion to add the rotavirus vaccine to the immunization schedule in Sweden.

It is also clear that they see the problem that anti-vax groups are causing in their country and are working to combat them.

That will hopefully keep them from needing a mandatory vaccination program.

What to Know About the Myth of Sweden Banning Mandatory Vaccination

Sweden, with good immunization levels and low rates of vaccine-preventable disease, did not ban mandatory vaccination.

More on the Myth of Sweden Banning Mandatory Vaccination

Can I Give My Kids Tylenol When They Have Their Vaccines?

Many parents ask about acetaminophen (Tylenol) when kids get their vaccines.

Is it okay to give kids Tylenol when they get their shots?

The Tylenol and Vaccines Controversy

As you can probably guess, there is no real controversy about Tylenol and vaccines.

Instead, what we are talking about are the myths surrounding Tylenol and vaccines that anti-vaccine folks have created, including that:

  • giving Tylenol right before a child gets their shots somehow increases the risk that they will have side effects
  • giving Tylenol right after a child gets their shots somehow masks the symptoms of serious vaccine damage
  • giving Tylenol after the MMR vaccine is associated with developing autism

Fortunately, most parents understand that like other anti-vaccine misinformation, none of these statements are true.

Why do some folks believe it?

Well, there have been studies warning people about giving Tylenol before vaccines. It had nothing to do with side effects though. They suggested that a vaccine might be less effective if the child got Tylenol before his vaccines. It is important to note that they never really found that the vaccines didn’t work as well, as all of the kids in the study still had protective levels of antibodies, they were just a little lower than kids who didn’t get Tylenol.

Other studies have found the same effect if Tylenol was given after a child got his vaccines. Although interestingly, other studies have found that giving Tylenol after vaccines does not affect antibody titers.

“Antibody titres to diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and pertussis bacteria of the placebo (n = 25) and acetaminophen (n = 34) groups did not differ significantly from each other. It is concluded that acetaminophen in a single dose schedule is ineffective in decreasing post-vaccination fever and other symptoms.”

Uhari et al on Effect of prophylactic acetaminophen administration on reaction to DTP vaccination

Giving Tylenol after the MMR vaccine is not associated with autism.
Giving Tylenol after the MMR vaccine is not associated with autism.

The only thing that this had to do with side effects though, is that the kids who got Tylenol had a little less fever.

Could giving Tylenol mask something like encephalitis, which some anti-vaccine folks think can be vaccine induced?

Nope. It typically can’t even keep someone from getting a febrile seizure.

What about the association of MMR, Tylenol and autism? Although one study did suggest that to be true, the study, a parental survey, was found to be “fatally flawed.”

Can I Give My Kids Tylenol When They Have Their Vaccines?

So, can you give your kids Tylenol when they get their vaccines?

The better question is, should you give your kids Tylenol either before or after they get their vaccines?

Have some Tylenol or Motrin on hand after your kids get their vaccinations, just in case they need a dose.
Have some Tylenol or Motrin on hand after your kids get their vaccinations, just in case they need a dose. Photo by Vincent Iannelli, MD

Notwithstanding the very small chance that giving Tylenol might cause decreased immunogenicity (lower antibody production) if you give it before your kids get their vaccines, since there is a good chance that they won’t have any pain or fever and won’t even need any Tylenol, then why give it?

Skip the “just in case” dose and wait and see if they even need it.

What about afterwards?

If your kids have pain or fever and are uncomfortable, then you should likely give them something for pain or fever control, such as an age appropriate dose of either acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Will that cause lower antibody production? Maybe. Will that mean that their vaccines won’t work. That’s doubtful. It certainly won’t lead to increased side effects though, unless they a reaction to the dose of Tylenol itself.

Should you give a pain or fever reducer after a vaccine “just in case?” Again, there is a good chance that your kids might not need it, so it is likely better to wait and see if they do, instead of giving a dose automatically after their shots.

There is even some evidence that giving acetaminophen or ibuprofen before vaccines, or as a routine dose right after, especially with booster shots, doesn’t really prevent side effects that well anyway. They work better if given on an as needed basis instead, and these kinds of doses are less likely to be associated with decreased antibody production.

What to Know About Tylenol and Vaccines

Giving a pain or fever reducer either before or after your child’s vaccinations likely won’t affect how it works, but since it often isn’t necessary, it is likely best to only given one, like Tylenol or Motrin, if it is really needed.

More on Tylenol and Vaccines

Are There Hidden Ingredients in Vaccines?

We know all of the ingredients in vaccines.

We know that they are safe and aren’t toxic.

So what now? Anti-vaccine folks move the goalposts and start talking conspiracy theories about hidden ingredients in vaccines.

Are There Hidden Ingredients in Vaccines?

There are no hidden ingredients in vaccines.

A list of ingredients is included on the vaccine’s package insert and can be found on a number of articles on the Internet.

That’s how we know that vaccines do not contain a vaginal spermicide, antifreeze, aborted fetal tissue, or peanut oil.

Multi-dose vials of flu vaccine still contain the preservative thimerosal.
It is no secret that multi-dose vials of flu vaccine still contain the preservative thimerosal, and that most flu vaccines are now thimerosal free.

One anti-vaccine group did test and find thimerosal in a vaccine, but it was a flu vaccine that said it contained thimerosal. How much did they find? The amount that was supposed to be in the vaccine… If they were really reporting about some kind of conspiracy, you would have thought they would have tested one of the thimerosal free flu vaccines that are available.

What about the idea that “some information regarding additives and residuals is considered to be a trade secret and thus confidential?”

The chapter in the book Vaccines where that quote comes from also states that because of FDA regulations “the use of, and quantity of, additives and residuals should be disclosed on the vaccine label.”

Specifically, vaccines labels must include:

  • the preservative used and its concentration
  • known sensitizing substances
  • the type and calculated amounts of antibiotics added during manufacture
  • the inactive ingredients when a safety factor
  • the adjuvant, if present
  • the source of the product when a factor in safe administration
  • the identity of each organism used in manufacture, and, where, applicable, the production medium and method of inactivation

So what are the trade secrets?

“It is important to recognize that FDA-approval of all new vaccines involves not only assessment of the antigens and final contents, but the entire process of synthesis. Each and every component introduced and used in the manufacture is scrutinized. While there are a wide array of excipients required to either manufacture, package or deliver effective immunity, each of these is part of this approval process.”

Vaccinophobia and Vaccine Controversies of the 21st Century

They are likely very specific details about the production process. In other words, how exactly they put all of the ingredients together to actually make the vaccine.

There is no secret about what’s in your child’s vaccines. No hidden ingredients either.

What about warnings over contaminates in vaccines?

When they rarely occur, contaminated vaccines are discovered and removed. Keep in mind that vaccines are very safe from contamination and the only issue with any recent incidents is that they are used by the anti-vaccine movement to further scare parents who are on the fence about vaccines.

What to Know About Hidden Ingredients in Vaccines

There are no secret or hidden ingredients in vaccines.

More on Hidden Ingredients in Vaccines