Who Is Brandy Vaughan?

Have you ever heard of Brandy Vaughan?

It wouldn’t be surprising if you hadn’t, as the number of folks with their own anti-vaccine organizations has increased over the years. Where we once just had the NVIC, now it seems like everyone has their own anti-vaccine Facebook group. That doesn’t mean that the anti-vaccine movement is growing though, as they are all fighting for the same members.

And it is over this membership fight where some folks got an introduction to Brandy Vaughan. She recently got in a tussle with the organizer for a more popular group.

When Anti-Vax Folks Don’t Get Along

Did you know that the anti-vaccine movement is corrupt?

“A video I wish I didn’t have to make. When I started in this movement, I had no idea it would be as corrupt as pharma.
But I have had my eyes opened many times over…this video describes just one of many disappointments along the way: Larry Cook, who runs a popular page and group.

In the beginning, I believed what he told me and tried to look past the many odd comments and strange behaviors. But it ultimately became clear that he puts his own profit far ahead of our children.

That in and of itself wasn’t enough to motivate me to speak out and open myself up to the hundreds of attacks I would get, I kept hoping the truth would be exposed by someone else. And while some have tried, the past couple of weeks I have seen too much to stay silent any longer.”

Brandy Vaughn

What was her problem with Larry Cook? It’s hard to know, but it seemed to have something to do with the way he was raising money.

“Brandy and I have not communicated in over 18 months (or so). There was a time when I supported her immensely, and then we parted ways (hey, look at the screenshot and see what I wrote and how I wrote it). This is an absolute unjustified attack on my character and absolutely is defamation of character. It’s character assassination. And, already, a LOT of people have been posting hostile comments on my posts, and of course, elsewhere, and I recently learned even VINE is now in on this. So yes, I do need to make a statement about this considering how many people are now involved in this narcissist drama. This is the time to have discernment. If some of it is blatantly untrue, then perhaps the rest is as well. Please use your discernment before proceeding.”

Larry Cook

Folks who understand that what they call a movement is really an anti-vaccine industry, likely aren’t surprised by all of this. Through movies, videos, books, seminars, online stores selling supplements and detox kits, and simply asking for donations, there is a lot of motivation for folks to make you fear vaccines.

Who Is Brandy Vaughan?

Is Brandy Vaughn really one of the world's leading experts on the HPV vaccine?
Is Brandy Vaughan really one of the world’s leading experts on the HPV vaccine?

So who is Brandy Vaughan and what is her connection to the anti-vaccine movement?

Brandy Vaughan used to work for Merck, but she isn’t an immunologist or vaccine researcher. She is a former pharmaceutical representative.

Was she a pharmaceutical representative for Merck vaccines?

Nope. She sold Vioxx, a painkiller that was taken off the market in 2004 because of safety problems and led to $5 billion in lawsuits.

And many years later, as lawmakers in California worked to increase vaccination rates, she created an organization to educate “the public on vaccine risk and dangers.”

This type of anti-vaccine propaganda never mentions the risks of leaving your kids unvaccinated.
This type of anti-vaccine propaganda never mentions the risks of leaving your kids unvaccinated.

Seems like she didn’t like the idea of having to vaccinate her “vaccine-free” son.

How does she educate people?

She raises money and puts up billboards that warn about what she thinks are the risks of vaccines.

She never seems to mention the risks of leaving kids unvaccinated though.

And she seems to encourage other parents to leave anti-vaccine propaganda wherever they can.

Depending on where you live, you might find their ‘risk’ cards in books at the library, stuck to cans of baby formula, or at the grocery store.

Why do they do it?

Because they think that vaccines aren’t safe and that they are injuring and damaging children.

“I’m tired of all the LIES LIES LIES. The chemical additives in vaccines have absolutely no place injected into the human body and are causing irreparable damage. And we are being lied to for profit— vaccines are NOT safe, just as most pharmaceutical drugs are not safe. They all have side effects. With vaccines, there are too many, too soon and this entire generation of children is suffering because of it. People have the RIGHT to know the risks before they do something that may change their lives forever — or the life of their innocent, healthy child.”

Brandy Vaughan

Of course, the overwhelming evidence shows that vaccines are safe and that most side effects are mild. Kids today do get more vaccines, but they protect them from many more diseases, life-threatening diseases, that children used to get very routinely.

Learn the Risks from Brandy Vaughan

Brandy Vaughn wants to teach you about the risks of vaccines.

“Everything I have gone through in my life has been in preparation for this moment. This is why I am who I am. All the pieces of puzzle are coming together. This is why I am here in this world. This is my calling, my purpose. In fact, I often feel like this work is being done through me, not actually by me. I feel like I am floating in a river just going with the current — I don’t even have to swim and I’m fully in the flow.”

Brandy Vaughan

But not the normal risks, like that your kids might get a fever, be fussy, or have some pain after their vaccines. Her organization’s idea of the risk of vaccine comes from the viewpoint that vaccines “have no place in the human body.”

She also believes that:

  • everyone needs to detox because “we are all exposed to a massive amount of toxins from our environment, and particularly from vaccines.” And of course, she sells essential oils and supplements to help you detox.
  • it’s good to get sick because “there are many benefits to common illnesses”
  • vaccines “cannot create real immunity”
  • if you have cancer, you should “say NO to chemotherapy and radiation (get off all medications and no vaccines!)” because “traditional medical approaches (drugs, chemo, radiation) only FURTHER damage the body and immune system”

This is likely why experts in Perth, Australia are trying to keep her latest billboard from staying up in their city.

Learn the Risk billboard

They likely see all three components of anti-vaccine propaganda that the rest of us see:

  1. Making parents think vaccines are dangerous by overstating the side effects and risks of getting vaccinated, pushing vaccine scare stories, and the idea of vaccine induced diseases. And never mentioning any of the many benefits of vaccines.
  2. Making parents think that it’s no big deal to get measles or polio, by underestimating the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases and overstating the benefits of natural immunity over the protection you can get from vaccines.
  3. Making you think that vaccines don’t even work.

Whether these billboards stay up or not, parents only need to know one thing. The organization behind them isn’t helping them make an educated choice for their family. Don’t be scared into making a poor decision of skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines and leaving them unprotected. Be skeptical and learn the risks of getting the answers to your questions about vaccines from these folks.

Vaccines are safe and necessary. Vaccines Work.

Learn the Risks of Folks Like Brandy Vaughan

Brandy Vaughan and her organization scare parents away from vaccines by overstating, and in some cases, making up risks of vaccines.

More on Brandy Vaughan

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

How To Counter Vaccine Hesitancy

There is nothing wrong with having questions about vaccines. And there is certainly nothing wrong with doing a little, or even a lot of research about vaccines.

“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…

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.”

Kat Von D

The problem comes when the answers folks get come from misinformation, and it leads them to skip or delay their child’s vaccines, leaving them unprotected.

What is Vaccine Hesitancy?

To counter vaccine hesitancy, you likely first need to understand what it means.

“Vaccine hesitancy refers to delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccination services. Vaccine hesitancy is complex and context specific varying across time, place and vaccines. It includes factors such as complacency, convenience and confidence.”

SAGE Vaccine Hesitancy Working Group

So it means someone who is anti-vaccine, right?

Not exactly.

“Although many may characterize all individuals who eschew vaccines as “anti-vaccine” or “vaccine deniers,” in reality there is a broad spectrum of individuals who choose not to have themselves or their children vaccinated.”

Tara C Smith on Vaccine Rejection and Hesitancy: A Review and Call to Action

Many of the folks who are vaccine hesitant aren’t truly anti-vaccine. They are likely being misled by anti-vaccine myths and propaganda, but at least they aren’t the ones spreading it across Facebook or on their own blogs and anti-vaccine websites.

How To Counter Vaccine Hesitancy

How do you counter vaccine hesitancy?

“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

You learn to answer all of the questions and concerns that these parents might have about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, including the risks and benefits of vaccines and the risks of being unvaccinated.

“Well, if you’re going to inform yourself about vaccines, I think anybody who’s truly informed will realize that getting a vaccine is much better than not getting one. If you’re choosing not to vaccinate your child, it’s because you’re getting, frankly, bad information about vaccines.”

Paul Offit, MD

You also make sure that parents, teachers, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, reporters, and everyone else gets good information about vaccines.

And you call out the misinformation and out-right lies of the anti-vaccine movement, especially when they say that vaccines never work, are always dangerous and full of toxins, or aren’t necessary.

You don’t let parents get manipulated by the anti-vaccine industry, which has gotten very good at selling fear – literally.

Like the card trick in My Cousin Vinny, anti-vaccine talking points are easy to explain because they are all an illusion.
Like the card trick in My Cousin Vinny, anti-vaccine talking points are easy to explain away, because they are all an illusion.

Remember, there is not one anti-vaccine argument or talking point that ever holds water.

Why not?

Because unless you go cherry picking, the evidence overwhelmingly shows that vaccines work, vaccines are safe, and vaccines are necessary.

What to Know About Countering Vaccine Hesitancy

If you are on the fence or scared to vaccinate your kids, let us help you learn why vaccines are safe and necessary and arguments against vaccines never hold water.

More on Countering Vaccine Hesitancy

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

 

How Anti-Vaccine Are You? Take Our Quiz.

It’s easy to be anti-vaccine when you are hiding in the herd. You don’t get vaccinated and you don’t vaccinate your kids, and instead, you simply rely on the fact that everyone else around you is vaccinated to protect you from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Would you vaccinate your high-risk child?
Would you vaccinate your high-risk child? Photo by Janko Ferlic.

Of course, this is a terrible strategy, as we are seeing with the increase in cases of measles and pertussis, etc. It is much better to learn about the importance and safety of vaccines, get fully vaccinated, and stop these outbreaks.

This hasn’t seemed to have deterred most anti-vaccine “experts” yet, as they continue to spout their anti-vaccine myths and misinformation and push their anti-vaccine talking points.

But as they continue to tell you that vaccines don’t work, how about asking what they would do in these ten high-risk situations?

Amazingly, some folks continue to try and justify skipping vaccines and accept the risk of disease, even when that risk is much higher than usual and they could be putting their child’s life in immediate danger!

How will you do with our quiz?

Would you choose to vaccinate in these situations?

1. Baby born to mother with hepatitis B.

You are pregnant and have chronic hepatitis B (positive for both HBsAg and HBeAg). Should your newborn baby get a hepatitis B shot and HBIG?

Background information:
Many anti-vaccine experts tell parents to skip their baby’s hepatitis B shot, saying it is dangerous, not necessary, or doesn’t work (typical anti-vax myths and misinformation).

However, it is well known that:

  • from 10 (HBeAg negative) to 90% (HBeAg positive) of infants who are born to a mother with chronic hepatitis B will become infected
  • 90% of infants who get hepatitis B from their mother at birth develop chronic infections
  • 25% of people with chronic hepatitis B infections die from liver failure and liver cancer
  • use of hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) and hepatitis B vaccine series greatly decreases a newborn’s risk of developing a hepatitis B infection (perinatal transmission of hepatitis B), especially if HBIG and the first hepatitis B shot is given within 12 hours of the baby being born

Would your newborn baby get a hepatitis B shot and HBIG?

2. Your child is bitten by a rabid dog.

Your toddler is bitten by a dog that is almost certainly rabid. Several wild animals in the area have been found to be rabid recently and the usual playful and well-mannered dog was acting strangely and died a few hours later. The dog was not vaccinated against rabies and unfortunately, the owners, fearing they would get in trouble, disappeared with the dead dog, so it can’t be quarantined. Should your child get a rabies shot?

Background information:
Although now uncommon in dogs, rabies still occurs in wild animals, including raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. These animals can then expose and infect unvaccinated dogs, cats, and ferrets, etc.

To help prevent rabies, which is not usually treatable, in addition to immediately cleaning the wound, people should get human rabies immune globulin (RIG) and rabies vaccine.

The rabies vaccine is given as a series of four doses on the day of exposure to the animal with suspected rabies and then again on days 3, 7, and 14.

Although rare in the United States, at least 1 to 3 people do still die of rabies each year. The rabies vaccine series and rabies immune globulin are preventative, however, without them, rabies is almost always fatal once you develop symptoms. A few people have survived with a new treatment, the Milwaukee protocol, without getting rabies shots, but many more have failed the treatment and have died.

Would your child get a rabies shot? What if he had picked up a rabid bat?

3. Traveling to Romania.

You are traveling to the Romania to see family with your 9-month-old baby. Neither of you have had the measles vaccine. Should you both get vaccinated before making the trip?

Background information:

Over the past few years, over 100 people have died in measles outbreaks across Europe, with many in Romania.

Although the first MMR vaccine is routinely given when children are 12 months old, it is now recommended that infants get vaccinated as early as age six months if they will be traveling out of the country.

Since the endemic spread of measles was stopped in 2000, almost all cases are now linked to unvaccinated travelers, some of whom start very large outbreaks that are hard to contain.

Would you both get vaccinated before making the trip?

4. Tetanus shot.

Your unvaccinated teen gets a very deep puncture wound while doing yard work. A few hours later, your neighbor comes by to give you an update on his wife who has been in the hospital all week. She has been diagnosed with tetanus. She had gotten sick after going yard work in the same area and has been moved to the ICU. Do you get him a tetanus shot?

Background information:
Most children get vaccinated against tetanus when they receive the 4 dose primary DTaP series, the DTaP booster at age 4-6 years, and the Tdap booster at age 11-12 years.

Unlike most other vaccine-preventable diseases, tetanus is not contagious. The spores of tetanus bacteria (Clostridium tetani) are instead found in the soil and in the intestines and feces of many animals, including dogs, cats, and horses, etc.

Although the tetanus spores are common in soil, they need low oxygen conditions to germinate. That’s why you aren’t at risk for tetanus every time your hands get dirty. A puncture wound creates the perfect conditions for tetanus though, especially a deep wound, as it will be hard to clean out the tiny tetanus spores, and there won’t be much oxygen at the inner parts of the wound.

These types of deep wounds that are associated with tetanus infections might including stepping on a nail, getting poked by a splinter or thorn, and animal bites, etc. Keep in mind that some of these things, like a cat bite, might put you at risk because you simply had dirt/tetanus spores on your skin, which get pushed deep into the wound when the cat bites you.

Symptoms of tetanus typically develop after about 8 days and might include classic lockjaw, neck stiffness, trouble swallowing, muscle spasms, and difficulty breathing. Even with treatment, tetanus is fatal in about 11% of people and recovery takes months.

Would you get your teen a tetanus shot?

5. Cocooning to protect baby from pertussis.

Both of your unvaccinated teens go to school with a personal belief vaccine exemption. You are due in a few months and are a little concerned about the new baby because there have been outbreaks of pertussis in the community, especially at their highschool. Should everyone in the family get a Tdap shot?

Background information:
Pertussis, or whooping cough, classically causes a cough that can last for weeks to months.

While often mild in teens and adults, pertussis can be life-threatening in newborns and infants. In fact, it is young children who often develop the classic high-pitched whooping sound as they try to breath after a long coughing fit.

In a recent outbreak of pertussis in California, 10 infants died. Almost all were less than 2 months old.

Since infants aren’t protected until they get at least three doses of a pertussis vaccine, usually at age 6 months, experts recommend a cocooning strategy to protect newborns and young infants from pertussis. With cocooning, all children, teens, and adults who will be around the baby are vaccinated against pertussis (and other vaccine-preventable diseases), so that they can’t catch pertussis and bring it home.

There is even evidence that a pregnancy dose of Tdap can help protect infants even more than waiting until after the baby is born to get a Tdap shot.

Would everyone in your family get a Tdap shot?

6. Nephew is getting chemotherapy.

Your nephew was just diagnosed with leukemia and is going to start chemotherapy. Your kids have never been vaccinated against chicken pox and haven’t had the disease either. Your brother asks that you get them vaccinated, since they are around their cousin very often and he doesn’t want to put him at risk.

Do you get your kids vaccinated with the chicken pox vaccine?

Background information:
Kids with cancer who are getting chemotherapy become very vulnerable to most vaccine-preventable diseases, whether it is measles, flu, or chicken pox.

According to the Immune Deficiency Foundation, “We want to create a ‘protective cocoon’ of immunized persons surrounding patients with primary immunodeficiency diseases so that they have less chance of being exposed to a potentially serious infection like influenza.”

Would your get your kids vaccinated with the chicken pox vaccine?

7. Outbreak of meningococcemia at your kid’s college.

Your child has just gone off to college. There is an outbreak of meningococcemia in her dorm (8 cases already). It is the strain that is included in the Menactra and Menveo vaccines, although she has not been vaccinated. Do you encourage her to get vaccinated?

Background information:
Neisseria meningitidis is a bacteria that can cause bacterial meningitis and sepsis (meningococcemia).

Depending on the type, it can occur either in teens and young adults (serogroups B, C, and Y) or infants (serogroup B).

Although not nearly as common as some other vaccine-preventable diseases, like measles or pertussis, it is one of the more deadly. Meningococcemia is fatal in up to 40% of cases and up to 20% of children and teens who survive a meningococcal infection might have hearing loss, loss of one or more limbs, or neurologic damage.

Meningococcal vaccines are available (Menactra and Menveo) and routinely given to older children and teens to help prevent meningococcal infections (serogroups A, C, Y and W-135). Other vaccines, Bexasero and Trumenba, protect against serogroup B and are recommended for high risk kids and anyone else who wants to decrease their risk of getting Men B disease.

Would you encourage her to get vaccinated against meningococcemia?

8. Cochlear implants.

Your preschooler has just received cochlear implants. Should he get the Prevnar and Pneumovax vaccines?

Background information:
Cochlear implants can put your child at increased risk for bacterial meningitis caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria (pneumococcus).

Would he get vaccinated with Prevnar and Pneumovax, as he is no at high risk for pneumococcal disease?

9. Splenectomy

Your child is going to have his spleen removed to prevent complications of hereditary spherocytosis. Should he get the meningococcal and pneumococcal vaccines first?

Background information:
Without a spleen, kids are at risk for many bacterial infections, including severe infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Neisseria meningitidis bacteria.

In addition to their routine vaccines, kids with asplenia might need Menveo or Menactra, Bexsero or Trumenba (Men B), and Pneumovax 23.

Would your child get these vaccines that are recommended for kids with asplenia?

10. Ebola

Ebola is returning, but this time an experimental vaccine is available.

Background information:
There were nearly 30,000 cases and just over 11,000 deaths during the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

You are in an area that is seeing an increasing number of Ebola cases and there is still no treatment for this deadly disease. An experimental vaccine is being offered.

Do you get the vaccine?

How Anti-Vaccine Are You?

It’s easy to be anti-vaccine when you are hiding in the herd – seemingly protected by all of the vaccinated people around you.

Would you still delay or skip a vaccine in a high-risk situation?

More on The Anti-Vaccine Quiz

Vaccines for Kids with Asplenia

Asplenia means lack of a spleen or a spleen that doesn’t work.

Although the spleen is an important organ that helps your body fight infections, in addition to other functions, it is certainly possible to live without a spleen.

Asplenia

There are many reasons a child might have asplenia, including:

  • congenital asplenia (children born without a spleen), sometimes associated with severe cyanotic congenital heart disease, such as transposition of the great arteries
  • surgical removal (splenectomy) secondary to trauma or anatomic defects
  • surgical removal to prevent complications of other conditions, such as ITP, hereditary spherocytosis, pyruvate kinase deficiency, Gaucher disease, and hypersplenism, etc.

And some children simply have a spleen that doesn’t work (functional asplenia) or doesn’t work very well because of sickle-cell disease and some other conditions.

Vaccines for Children with Asplenia

Because the spleen has such an important function in helping fight infections, without a spleen, a child is at increased risk for infections.

Specifically, there is a risk for severe infections from the Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Neisseria meningitidis bacteria.

Fortunately, there are vaccines that protect against many subtypes of these bacteria, including:

  • Hib – protects against Haemophilus influenzae type B
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccines – Menactra or Menveo, which protect against 4 common types of the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria – serogroups ACWY
  • Serogroup B Meningococcal vaccines – Bexsero or Trunemba, which protect against Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B
  • Prevnar 13 – protects against 13 subtypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Pneumovax 23 – protects against 23 subtypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae

Although Prevnar, Hib, and the meningococcal vaccines (Menactra or Menveo and Bexsero or Trunemba) are part of the routine immunization schedule, there are additional recommendations that can change the timing for when kids get them if they have asplenia.

Some kids need extra protection from vaccines.
Some kids need extra protection from vaccines. Photo by Janko Ferlic.

According to the latest recommendations, in addition to all of the  other routine immunizations that they should get according to schedule, children with asplenia should get:

  • one dose of the Hib vaccine if they are older than age 5 years “who are asplenic or who are scheduled for an elective splenectomy” and have not already vaccinated against Hib. Unvaccinated younger kids should get caught up as soon as possible. In general though, Hib is given according to the standard immunization schedule. This recommendation is about kids who are behind on the shot.
  • two doses of a meningococcal conjugate vaccine, either Menactra or Menveo, two months apart once a child with asplenia is at least two years old and a booster dose every five years. Infants with asplenia can instead get a primary series of Menveo at 2, 4, 6, and 12 months, with a first booster dose after three years, and a second booster after another five years. Older infants can get Menactra at 9 and 12 months, again, with a first booster dose after three years, and a second booster after another five years. While these vaccines are recommended for all kids, those with asplenia get them much earlier than the standard age.
  • either a two dose series of Bexsero or a three dose series of Trunemba, once they are at least 10 years old. The Men B vaccines are only formally recommended for high risk kids, others can get it if they want to be protected.
  • between one to four doses of Prevnar, depending on how old they are when they start and complete the series. Keep in mind that unlike healthy children who do not routinely get Prevnar after they are 5 years old, older children with asplenia can get a single dose of Prevnar up to age 65 years if they have never had it before. Like Hib, this recommendation is about kids who are behind on the shot.
  • a dose of Pneumovax 23 once they are at least two years old, with a repeat dose five years later and a maximum of two total doses. Kids who are not high risk typically don’t get this vaccine.

Ideally, children would get these vaccines at least two to three weeks before they were going to get a planned splenectomy. Of course, that isn’t always possible in the case of the emergency removal of a child’s spleen, in which case they should get the vaccines as soon as they can.

More About Asplenia

In addition to these vaccines, preventative antibiotics are typically given once a child’s spleen is removed or is no longer working well. Although there are no definitive guidelines for all children who have had a splenectomy, many experts recommend daily antibiotics (usually penicillin or amoxicillin) until a child is at least 5 years old and for at least 1 year after their splenectomy.

Other less common bacteria that can be a risk for children with asplenia can include Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella species, Klebsiella species, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Vaccines aren’t yet available for these bacteria, so you might take other precautions, such as avoiding pet reptiles, which can put kids at risk for Salmonella infections.

Children with asplenia are at increased risk for severe malaria and babesiosis (a tickborne illness) infections. That makes it important to take malaria preventative medications and avoid mosquitoes if traveling to places that have high rates of malaria and to do daily tick checks when camping, etc.

A medical alert type bracelet, indicating that your child has had his spleen removed, can be a good idea in case he ends up in the emergency room with a fever and doctors don’t know his medical history.

Keep in mind that since there are many different causes of asplenia, the specific treatment plan for your child may be a little different than that described here. Talk to your pediatrician and any pediatric specialists that your child sees.

What to Know about Vaccines for Children with Asplenia

Children with asplenia typically need extra vaccines and protection against pneumococcal disease, Hib, and meningococcal disease.

More about Vaccines for Children with Asplenia