Tag: advocacy

Who to Trust About Vaccines

We hear a lot about fake news these days.

Fake news on Facebook, Twitter, and from our Google search results.

So who do you trust, especially on an important topic like vaccines?

Who to Trust About Vaccines

Hopefully you can trust your pediatrician, but the fact that we now have holistic pediatricians and “vaccine friendly” pediatricians who encourage parents to follow alternative schedules means that even then, you might be listening to the wrong person.

“Pediatricians who routinely recommend limiting the numbers of vaccines administered at a single visit such that vaccines are administered late are providing care that deviates from the standard evidence-based schedule recommended by these bodies.”

Edwards et al Countering Vaccine Hesitancy

What about a study published in a medical journal?

You have to trust that, right?

Not necessarily, considering that predatory, pay-to-publish journals are a thing. Just like they sound, these journals will publish just about anything – as long as your check clears.

And of course, anyone can put up a website or publish an e-book pushing anti-vaccine talking points or simply get in front of a microphone and lie about vaccines in an interview.

So how do you find trusted vaccine information?

Which Vaccine Websites to Trust

You have to learn to be skeptical when looking for information about vaccines.

Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey went on a mission to Green Our Vaccines in 2008.
Who are you going to trust about vaccines?

Some general questions experts recommend asking, and which will certainly help when visiting a website about vaccines, include:

  • Who runs the Web site?
  • Who pays for the Web site?
  • What is the Web site’s purpose?
  • What is the original source of the Web site’s information?
  • How does the Web site document the evidence supporting its information?
  • Who reviewed the information before the owner posted it on the Web site?
  • How current is the information on the Web site?
  • How does the Web site owner choose links to other sites?
  • What are they selling?

Fortunately, anti-vaccine websites are fairly easy to spot.

Anti-vaccine websites often filled with conspiracy theories, talk about BigPharma, and about how everyone else is hiding the truth about vaccines.
Anti-vaccine websites often filled with conspiracy theories, talk about BigPharma, and ideas about how everyone else is hiding the truth about vaccines.

They are often filled with vaccine injury stories and articles about how vaccines are filled with poison (they aren’t), don’t really work (they do), and aren’t even needed (they certainly are). And many will try to sell you fake vaccine detox kits and autism cures at the same time they are making you terrified about vaccines.

Tragically, their pseudo-scientific arguments can sometimes be persuasive, especially if you don’t understand that they are mostly the same old arguments that the anti-vaccine movement has been using for over 200 years to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Which Vaccine Journals to Trust

Why do “fake” medical and science journals exist?

Probably because there is a lot of pressure to get published.

Unfortunately, almost all of them get listed in PubMed, which is why anti-vax folks with a list of studies from PubMed don’t usually get very far when trying to argue against the fact that vaccines work, are safe, and are necessary.

So how do you know if you can trust the conclusions of a medical study or journal article?

It can help if you look for studies about vaccines that:

  • are published in a legitimate journal, like Vaccine or Pediatrics, and some of these high-impact journals
  • are not published in predatory journals
  • you can actually read, as just reading the abstract isn’t enough to know if you can really trust the conclusions that have been made in the article
  • don’t involve simply looking at VAERS data
  • are not written by folks with a conflict of interest that makes the article biased
  • are written by people who have expertise on the topic they are writing about

Most importantly, look for studies that have not been refuted by others already, as it is often hard to fully evaluate studies to see if they have been designed properly or have other major flaws.

Also know that research into the safety and efficacy of vaccines is much more complete than anti-vax “experts” lead (mislead) some vaccine-hesitant parents to believe. And that the great majority of people understand that the great benefits of vaccines far outweigh any small risks.

What to Know About Finding Trusted Vaccine Information

Learn to find trusted vaccine information, so you don’t get fooled by the latest tactics of the anti-vaccine movement.

More on Finding Trusted Vaccine Information

Best Vaccine Websites

Need to do your research and get educated about vaccines?

There are plenty of great vaccine books to turn to.

Best Vaccine Websites

Rather use the Internet?

Caveant lector et viewor — Let the reader and viewer beware.

Silberg et al, on Assessing, controlling, and assuring the quality of medical information on the Internet

Unfortunately, you can’t just trust any website that pops up at the top of your search results on Google, Bing, or Yahoo or that is shared by a friend on Facebook. Some of these sites might push misinformation about vaccines and be filled with anti-vaccine talking points.

Whether you are on the fence or just have a few questions, instead of feeling lucky that Google will lead you to trusted information, start your research about vaccines on the following websites. They are the most reliable and trusted sources of immunization information you will find.

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  3. World Health Organization
  4. Every Child By Two
  5. EZIZ
  6. Families Fighting Flu
  7. Gavi The Vaccine Alliance
  8. Harpocrates Speaks
  9. History of Vaccines
  10. Immunise Australia
  11. Immunisation Scotland
  12. Immunization Action Coalition
  13. The Immunization Advisory Centre
  14. Immunize Canada
  15. Immunize for Good
  16. Institute for Vaccine Safety
  17. I Speak of Dreams
  18. Just the Vax
  19. Left Brain Right Brain
  20. Measles & Rubella Initiative
  21. Moms Who Vax
  22. National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
  23. National Meningitis Association
  24. NHS
  25. Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters
  26. Nurses Who Vaccinate
  27. Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases
  28. The Poxes Blog
  29. Pro-Vaccine Parenting Group (Facebook)
  30. Shot of Prevention
  31. Skeptical Raptor
  32. TIP Talk
  33. Vaccinate Your Family
  34. the Vaccine Blog
  35. Vaccine Education Center
  36. the Vaccine Mom
  37. the Vaccine Page (Facebook)
  38. Vaccines on the Fence (Facebook Group)
  39. Vaccines Work
  40. Voices for Vaccines

Other websites that are also reliable sources of immunization information, but don’t focus on vaccines include:

Get all of your questions answered yet?

Your pediatrician should also be a good resource for questions about vaccines.

Evaluating Vaccine Websites

Be skeptical if looking elsewhere.

Some general questions experts recommend asking, and which will certainly help when visiting a website about vaccines, include:

  • Who runs the Web site?
  • Who pays for the Web site?
  • What is the Web site’s purpose?
  • What is the original source of the Web site’s information?
  • How does the Web site document the evidence supporting its information?
  • Who reviewed the information before the owner posted it on the Web site?
  • How current is the information on the Web site?
  • How does the Web site owner choose links to other sites?

Fortunately, anti-vaccine websites are fairly easy to spot.

Anti-vaccine websites often filled with conspiracy theories, talk about BigPharma, and about how everyone else is hiding the truth about vaccines.
Anti-vaccine websites often filled with conspiracy theories, talk about BigPharma, and ideas about how everyone else is hiding the truth about vaccines.

They are often filled with vaccine injury stories and articles about how vaccines are filled with poison (they aren’t), don’t really work (they do), and aren’t even needed (they certainly are).

Tragically, their pseudo-scientific arguments can sometimes be persuasive, especially if you don’t understand that they are mostly the same old arguments that the anti-vaccine movement has been using for over 200 years to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

What to Know About the Best Vaccine Websites

With current information, a clear purpose (informing users, not selling supplements in an online store), and authors who are well-respected, our collection of the best vaccine websites can help you get educated about vaccines from a trusted source.

More on the Best Vaccine Websites

Vaccines on TV and in the Movies

No, this isn’t another review of Wakefield’s anti-vaccine movie VAXXED.

And it isn’t about vaccine scare stories in the media.

It is about how vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases have been depicted on TV and in the movies.

Tale of a Dog
A 1944 Our Gang short comedy film had the Little Rascals scaring the town into thinking that a smallpox epidemic was coming.

From doctors in the future creating vaccines for plagues from alien worlds to today’s doctors fighting the plague of parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids, there are more than a few different story lines when it comes to vaccines on TV and in the movies.

Vaccines on TV

The go-to show for vaccines on TV?

It’s The Simpsons, with at least 15 episodes with references to vaccines or vaccine-preventable diseases.

It isn’t the only show though. Others include:

  • Little Rascals “Tale of the Dog” (1944) – the gang gets the whole town scared that an epidemic is coming when they overhear Buckwheat talking to his friend Big Shot about giving smallpox to the gang. Smallpox is name they came up with for Buckwheat’s dog, because it had a lot of spots.

    It takes a while, but the doctor finally figures out that the only smallpox in Greenpoint is the gang's new dog.
    It takes a while, but the doctor finally figures out that the only smallpox in Greenpoint is the gang’s new dog.
  • The Adventures of Jim Bowie “The Quarantine” (1957) – Bowie has to recover a stolen shipment of smallpox vaccine.
  • Wagon Train “The Daniel Barrister Story” (1958) – Flint rides into Johnsonville and finds that they are in the middle of a smallpox epidemic, an epidemic that had already wiped out half the town. “I guess a little vaccination never hurt anybody,” says Flint, as he gets vaccinated, since the town doctor isn’t convinced that he has had smallpox already.
  • Have Gun – Will Travel “The Return of Dr. Thackeray” (1958) – The cook at Barton Ranch has smallpox and everyone needs to be vaccinated, if they can get a supply of vaccine from nearby Fort Landon and keep the men at the ranch until they can be vaccinated.
  • Rawhide “Incident at Red River Station” (1960) – Gil and Rowdy get exposed to smallpox and leave the herd to find vaccine. They instead find a town that believes in Asafoetida bags, leeches and herbal tea, pushing the real doctor out of town to care for patients in a pest house. “There are very few people around here who believe in vaccination,” says Dr. Flood, at least until people start dying of smallpox and they line up for the batch of vaccine he makes from the cowpox of a nearby herd.

    Folks lined up to get vaccinated against smallpox in Red River Station, at least they did once more and more people started dying of smallpox.
    Folks lined up to get vaccinated against smallpox in Red River Station, at least they did once more and more people started dying of smallpox.
  • The Avengers “The Deadly Air” (1961) – An experimental vaccine is stolen from a top secret lab.
  • Dr. Kildare “Immunity” (1961) – Dr. Kildare works to prevent a smallpox epidemic by trying to identify and vaccinate contacts, which is made difficult, as they don’t know the patient’s name, only that he is a Polish immigrant, who they later learn was a part of the resistance that fought the Nazis.

    Dr. Kildare interrupts a wedding reception to get everyone vaccinated and protected against smallpox.
    Dr. Kildare interrupts a wedding reception to get everyone vaccinated and protected against smallpox.
  • The Rifleman “Quite Night, Deadly Night” (1962) – the town prepares for a  outbreak as someone new arrives with symptoms of smallpox and the doctor sends out a request for vaccine.
  • The Andy Griffith Show “The County Nurse” (1962) – Andy and Barney help the county nurse talk Rafe Hollister into getting his tetanus shot.
  • Ben Casey “Preferably, the Less-Used Arm” (1962) – Dr. Ben Casey has a hard time finding people who may have been exposed to smallpox because his patient can’t talk.
  • The Wild Wild West “The Night of the Amnesiac” (1968) – Agent West loses his memory after he is shot protecting a stagecoach transporting the state’s only supply of smallpox vaccine.
  • The Virginian “Ride to Misadventure” (1968) – A stage coach with anthrax vaccine gets robbed and the Virginian has to track them down.
  • Petticoat Junction “Sorry Doctor, I Ain’t Takin No Shots” (1969) – Dr. Janet Craig, with nurses Billie Jo, Bobbie Jo and Betty Jo, gets everyone in the valley vaccinated against the flu to prevent an epidemic, including Jasper Tweedy and his whole clan.

    Sam Drucker gave everyone free flu shots at his general store to prevent a flu epidemic in Petticoat Junction.
    Sam Drucker gave everyone free flu shots at his general store to prevent a flu epidemic in the valley (Petticoat Junction).
  • That Girl “The Subject Was Rabies” (1969) – Ann’s (Marlo Thomas) father is bitten by a dog that might have rabies and Dr. Priddy talks about giving him “the Pasteur anti-rabies vaccine series” if they can’t find the dog.
  • Dragnet “Juvenile: DR-32” (1969) – Detective Joe Friday and Officer Bill Gannon have two hours to find a dog that had bitten a little girl on the neck five days earlier because she is allergic to the anti-rabies serum that would be given with the rabies vaccine. The little had survived a polio infection just a few years before the dog bite incident.
  • Marcus Welby, M.D. “Epidemic” (1970) – Dr. Welby’s works to control a flu epidemic.
  • The Carol Burnett Show “Episode #10.15” (1977) – included a skit about a group of scientists working on a vaccine for swine flu.
  • Quincy, M.E. “By the Death of a Child” (1979) – Quincy goes to San Christos to investigate if a diphtheria vaccine is killing children in the small country.
  • The Campbells “Desperate Remedy” (1989) – Dr. Campbell searches for a sick cow to make vaccine after Harriet gets exposed to smallpox.
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman “Father’s Day” (1993) – Dr. Quinn works to convince folks in town to get vaccinated against smallpox.
  • Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood “Brave and Strong” (1996) – It’s a beautiful day to get a flu shot! Mister Rogers takes us on a trip to the Center City Health Center so that kids would understand what happens when they get an immunization.

    Mister Rogers gets a flu shot.
    It’s a beautiful day to get a flu shot!
  • South Park “Chicken Pox” (1998) – The kids have a sleepover at Kenny’s house because he has chicken pox
  • ER “A Walk in the Woods” (2001) – Carter takes care of an unvaccinated child with measles. A child who later dies.
  • ER “Lockdown” (2002) – Everyone in the ER is quarantined as they think two patients have smallpox.
  • ER “Kisangani” (2003) – Carter visits Luka in the Congo, when he is initially away at another clinic giving people vaccines.
  • House MD “Paternity” (2004) – House diagnoses a teen with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE is a late complication of a natural measles infection) and also treats a baby who hasn’t received any vaccines because her anti-vaccine mother thinks they are a BigPharma conspiracy theory.

    House M.D. talking to a mother who thinks vaccines are part of a Big Pharma scam.
    House M.D. talking to a mother who thinks vaccines are part of a Big Pharma scam.
  • Deadwood “Suffer the Little Children” (2004) – people line up to get the smallpox vaccine.
  • Law & Order “Fluency” (2005) – a con man is selling fake flu shots and it leads to the death of 16 people who end up getting the flu.
  • Family Guy “Stewie Loves Lois” (2006) – Peter goes to his doctor to get a flu vaccine.
  • Saturday Night Live “Melissa McCarthy/Lady Antebellum” (2011) – the episode includes a parody commercial for Lil’ Poundcake, a doll that gives little girls an HPV shot.
  • Private Practice “Contamination” (2009) – Dr. Freedman takes care of an intentionally unvaccinated child who got measles when his mother took him and his siblings to Switzerland to treat their brother’s autism. The child dies and Dr. Freedman vaccinates the youngest child against the mothers wishes.
  • Nurse Jackie ” Super Greens” (2014) – Zoey Barkow, one of the nurses at All Saints recruits others to go to a gay bar to give out free meningitis vaccines.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit “Granting Immunity” (2015) – an unvaccinated child  who’s mother may have falsified his immunization records gets the measles and starts an outbreak, hindering an investigation into an underage sex party and the circulation of pornographic images of teenagers online.
  • Call the Midwife “Christmas Special” (2016) – Sister Julienne and a group of midwives work to keep a mission hospital in South Africa open as it works to start a polio vaccination program in the early 1960s.
  • Family Guy “Hot Shots” (2016) – Lois and Peter cause a measles outbreak, after they convince other parents to not vaccinate their kids and Peter destroys every vaccine in town.

    Lois and Peter are alone at their anti-vaccine rally, but still manage to trigger a measles outbreak at Stewie's daycare.
    Lois and Peter are alone at their anti-vaccine rally, but still manage to trigger a measles outbreak at Stewie’s daycare.

Not surprisingly, vaccines come up in science fiction shows a lot too:

  • Star Trek “Miri” (1966) – Dr. McCoy works on a vaccine to cure a disease that had killed all of the adults on the planet and is starting to affect the landing party, including Captain Kirk.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation “Code of Honor” (1987) – Captain Picard and the Enterprise-D go to Planet Ligon II to get a vaccine to prevent more people from getting Anchilles fever on the Federation planet Styris IV.
  • Star Trek Voyager “Heroes and Demons” (1995) – The Doctor tells a story of developing a vaccine to stop the spread of Parinisti measles among the crew of the USS Voyager.
  • The Outer Limits “The Vaccine” (1998) – After most of the people in the world are killed by a man-made virus, a nurse has to decide who gets a limited supply of a new vaccine.
  • The X-Files “The Red and the Black” (1998) – we learn more about the Purity Control vaccine that can provide resistance against black oil, an alien virus.
  • The X-Files “One Son” (1999) – more on the experiments by the Syndicate that led to the creation of a black oil vaccine
  • Enterprise “Dead Stop” (2002) – not finding evidence of live microorganisms from a recently administered Rigelian fever vaccine in his bloodstream helps the Enterprise crew realize that Ensign Mayweather was replaced with a near-perfect replica.
  • What did the vaccine on Lost even do?
    What did the vaccine on Lost even do?

    Lost  (2004-2010) – multiple episodes of Lost mention a vaccine, CR 4-81516-23 42 or RX-1 GND, that was given every nine days.

  • Stargate SG-1 “The Fourth Horseman: Part 2” (2006) – Work continues on a vaccine for the plague that is spreading across the earth by the Priors of the Ori.
  • Battlestar Galactica “A Measure of Salvation” (2006) – The Cylons are sick with a virus. Should they create a vaccine or work to destroy the Cylon race?
  • Smallville “Oracle” (2006) – Milton Fine creates an alien virus to destroy mankind, while Lex develops a vaccine to protect them.
  • Eli Stone “Faith” (2008) – The first episode of this show includes a legal case about vaccines and autism.
  • V “It’s Only the Beginning” (2009) – The flu vaccine the visitors want to give mankind isn’t what it seems.
  • Get Well Soon “How Do Injections Help You?” (2015)  – Dr Ranj gives Deep an MMR injection, after explaining why shots are important.
  • The X-Files “My Struggle II” (2016) – Scully develops a vaccine, using her own DNA, to protect people from the Spartan Virus, that has infected most people already and is wiping out their immune systems.

There are more TV shows that are about vaccine preventable diseases, but don’t mention vaccines, like when Marcus Welby, M.D. had a few episodes about congenital rubella syndrome in 1972 and Olivia got polio on the Waltons.

Vaccines in the Movies

Haven’t seen many of those TV shows that mentioned vaccines?

You might be more familiar with these movies:

  • The Last Man on Earth (1964) – Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) uses his own blood as a vaccine to cure people who after a plague turns most people into vampires. (Based on the book I Am Legend)
  • The Omega Man (1971) – Robert Neville (Charlton Heston) creates a vaccine to cure the disease that is affecting the survivors of a nuclear war between China and the Soviet Union. (Based on the book I Am Legend)
  • The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998) – Only the Syndicate vaccine can protect everyone from the alien virus.
  • Star Trek (2009) – Captain Kirk has a reaction to a vaccine that Dr. McCoy gives him to protect him from getting infected with Melvaran mud fleas.
  • I Am Legend (2007) – Robert Neville (Will Smith) creates a vaccine to cure the man made disease (was supposed to be a cure for cancer) that wiped most people on earth and turned the survivors without natural immunity into Dark Seekers. (Based on the book I Am Legend)
  • World War Z (2013) – Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) tries to find the origin of the zombie plague virus so that a vaccine can be made. A “camouflage” vaccine is eventually made to hide survivors from the zombies.

Am I missing any?

Probably.

I’m a doctor, not a TV historian!

More on Vaccines on TV and in the Movies

 

Vaccines – The Simpsons Did It

From chicken pox parties and conspiracies about using flu shots to control our minds to vaccine injury stories, The Simpsons did it.

The Simpsons on Vaccines and Vaccine Preventable Diseases

The Simpsons have been on the air since 1989 – just before I started medical school.

Since then, as with many other topics, they have done ahead of their time when it comes to vaccines.

Mr. X let everyone know about that flu shots were being used to control people's minds!
Mr. X let everyone know about that flu shots were being used to control people’s minds!

Consider that the episode “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes,” in which Homer creates a fake conspiracy website (Mr. X) and gets kidnapped by a mysterious group for stumbling upon a secret about how flu shots are given to control people’s minds, first aired on December 3, 2000. That’s long before Alex Jones and other folks started pushing these very same types of conspiracy theories about vaccines!

Jenny McCarthy appeared in The Man Who Grew Too Much episode to endorse an anti-GMO movie and make Lisa realize being against GMOs was unscientific.
Jenny McCarthy appeared in “The Man Who Grew Too Much” episode to endorse an anti-GMO movie and make Lisa realize being against GMOs was unscientific.

And the episode about chicken pox parties, “Milhouse of Sand and Fog,” came out way back on September 25, 2005. That’s before Jenny McCarthy appeared on Oprah and before Bob Sears wrote his “vaccine” book!

Vaccines – The Simpsons Did It

How many episodes of The Simpsons have mentioned vaccines or vaccine-preventable diseases?

  1. An unvaccinated Lisa gets the mumps.
    An unvaccinated (the kids don’t get caught up on their shots until season 12) Lisa gets the mumps.

    “Bart’s Dog Gets an F” – sixteenth episode of Season 2 in which Lisa gets the mumps.

  2. “Lisa’s Pony” – eighth episode of Season 3 in which Homer comes up with a way to save money on luxuries – “Well, you know, we’re always buying Maggie vaccinations for diseases she doesn’t even have!”
  3. “Kamp Krusty” – first episode of Season 4 in which Lisa visits Dr. Hibbert “to get boosters for malaria, German measles, encephalitis, and Hansen’s disease” before heading to camp.
  4. “Lisa’s First Word” – tenth episode of Season 4 in which Dr. Hibbert, at Lisa’s checkup, holds up a giant needle and gives him a “rubella inoculation” when he asks for a lollipop.
  5. “Marge in Chains” – twenty-first episode of Season 4 in which a man is looking for a cure and eats a bee, thinking it is a vaccine.
  6. “Lady Bouvier’s Lover” – twenty-first episode of Season 5 in which everyone sings the Armour Hot Dogs jingle at Maggie’s first birthday party and Milhouse, with spots on his face, sings “even kids with chicken pox” love hot dogs.
  7. “Much Apu About Nothing” – twenty-third episode of Season 7 in which Cotton Mather is the first thing that Apu reads from Homer’s history notes from 9th grade.
  8. “Take My Wife, Sleaze” – eighth episode of Season 11 in which Homer and Marge go to a 1950s-themed restaurant that sell polio dogs.
  9. “Homer vs. Dignity” – fifth episode of Season 12 in which Homer, after coming into some money, is able to get his kids caught up on “six years’ worth of inoculations,” including an “anti-polio shot,” which was much bigger than the “regular” polio shot.
  10. “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes” – sixth episode of Season 12 in which Ned Flanders reads a fake post from Homer on his Mr. X website about how flu shots are given as a form of mind control and he says “They’re controlling our minds with flu shots. I knew it. Well, kids, now aren’t you glad that we don’t believe in inoculations?” as his kids are shivering because they are sick and have fever. Homer is later kidnapped and taken to a secret island for revealing the conspiracy.
  11. “Bart-Mangled Banner” – twenty-first episode of Season 15 in which Lisa and Bart go see Dr. Hibbert (“Children, you should be grateful you live in a country where childhood diseases have been practically…”) to get their vaccines, but Bart escapes. Bart eventually gets his shots, but has a temporary side effect, his ‘earholes’ swell shut…
  12. “Sleeping with the Enemy” – third episode of Season 16 in which Milhouse has the measles.
  13. Free cat flu vaccinations at Springfield General Hospital!
    Free House Cat Flu vaccinations at Springfield General Hospital!

    “Milhouse of Sand and Fog” – third episode of Season 17 in which Homer has a chicken pox party for the kids in the neighborhood after Maggie gets chicken pox.

  14. “The Fool Monty” – sixth episode of Season 22 in which everyone in town waits in line to get a vaccine for the House Cat Flu.
  15. “The Town” – third episode of Season 28 in which after moving to Boston, Marge asks someone if they vaccinate their kids (“of course!”) to make sure that they are progressive, “but not stupid progressive.”

The Simpsons isn’t the first show to include messages about vaccines and vaccine-preventable in their episodes.

Remember the Brady Bunch measles episode?

Like other TV shows, they are consistently sending a message about vaccines that is helping folks understand that vaccines work and that they are safe and necessary.

What to Know About The Simpsons and Vaccines

While some of the humor and jokes in The Simpsons are rather subtle, their message about getting vaccinated and protected against chicken pox, mumps, measles, rubella, and other vaccine preventable diseases certainly isn’t.

More on The Simpsons and Vaccines

Don’t Skip Your Baby’s Hepatitis B Shot

Hepatitis B has infected at least 2 billion people in the world, chronically infects more than 350 million people, and kills more than 600,000 people each year.

Fortunately, hepatitis B is now a vaccine-preventable disease.

“Since 1982, a hepatitis B vaccine has been available to prevent hepatitis B virus infection. Today, the vaccine is made using recombinant DNA technology and contains only a portion of the outer protein coat of the virus, called the hepatitis B surface antigen. The vaccine is a very safe and effective immunization against a viral infection that can lead to liver inflammation, cirrhosis and liver cancer. ”

PKIDs on The Importance of the Hepatitis B Vaccine

Although the first hepatitis B vaccines were developed in the early 1980s, it wasn’t until 1991 that it was added to the immunization schedule for all newborns and infants.

This universal program proved to be much more effective than the previous selective program that only vaccinated newborns if they were in certain high risk groups. In fact, acute hepatitis B infections in children and teens have decreased 96 percent since then.

Why Do Babies Still Get Hepatitis B?

Tragically, even with routine use of the hepatitis B vaccine, some babies still get hepatitis B infections.

Why?

Hepatitis B can be prevented.No, it is not because infants and young children are participating in high risk behaviors, like tattooing, body piercing, or IV drug use.

It can happen if a mother has hepatitis B, but doesn’t know it or isn’t managed properly, and her baby misses the preventative doses of HBIG (within 12 hours of birth) and/or first dose of the hepatitis B shot. Or a baby who was exposed to hepatitis B might not complete the three dose hepatitis B vaccine series.

Newborns of mothers with hepatitis B who are highly viremic (they have very high levels of the virus in their blood), which can be detected during viral load testing during the third trimester, might also develop hepatitis B even though they got the proper dosages of HBIG and the hepatitis B vaccine, if they weren’t treated with an oral anti-hepatitis B virus drug, such as lamivudine, telbivudine and tenofovir.

Declining the Birth Dose of the Hepatitis B Shot

If the hepatitis B vaccine is safe and effective and can prevent cancer, why do some parents decline their newborn’s birth dose of this shot?

“Over one third of all people who are infected each year with hep B are in the “no risk” category for infection. I’m one of them, and even a year later, I’m trying to put my horrible experience behind me. No one should ever have to suffer through being infected with this virus — it is totally preventable with a series of three shots. “No risk” living is a meaningless term. If you go to dentist, borrow a toothbrush, get your ears pierced, get a manicure, or engage in countless other mundane activities, you could become infected.”

I Was At No Risk for Ever Having Hepatitis B!

These parents who decline the birth dose of the hepatitis B vaccine are likely influenced by the misinformation that surrounds much of the anti-vaccine movement, including being made to believe that:

  • they don’t need it because you can be tested for hepatitis B – but when relying on testing, some newborns who needed preventative treatment with HBIG and the hepatitis vaccine get missed and are at risk for developing hepatitis B.
  • it is just an STD vaccine, so they don’t need it because only people who use IV drugs or have promiscuous sex are at risk – except that there are plenty of stories of children and adults getting hepatitis B who weren’t at high risk or didn’t know they were at high risk. And although you won’t get hepatitis B through casual contact, there are cases of people getting infected after sharing a toothbrush or razor, and even after getting bitten. Why would your child share a toothbrush with someone that has hepatitis B? They likely wouldn’t, except that many people with chronic hepatitis B who are contagious don’t have any symptoms, so they might not know to be extra careful.
  • it doesn’t work – the hepatitis B works very well and provides long term protection
  • it is dangerous and can cause autism, multiple sclerosis, and SIDS, etc. – the hepatitis B vaccine doesn’t include any toxic ingredients, has been used since 1982, and has been shown to be safe
  • they don’t need it because hepatitis B is not a serious disease – while many adults with hepatitis B can have asymptomatic infections and completely recover, thousands die each year with acute and chronic hepatitis B. Also, younger children have a very high risk of developing chronic hepatitis B infections, which can lead to chronic liver disease, even cancer. Hepatitis B is a very serious disease.

Of course, these are the typical anti-vaccine talking points they use to help them overstate the risks of a vaccine, while downplaying the risks of a natural infection, to scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your children.

Don’t Skip Your Baby’s Hepatitis B Shot

The hepatitis B vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect your baby from this potentially life-threatening disease and there is no good reason to skip it. Just like there is no good reason to skip your baby’s vitamin K shot.

In the United States alone, more than 2 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B, and each year, up to 40,000 become newly infected and thousands die.

“So what I did on my schedule is, I took a more logical look at hepatitis B, and I realized that babies have no risk of catching this disease, so let’s not do the hep B vaccine while a baby’s young and small and more vulnerable.”

Dr. Bob Sears

It’s not logical to encourage parents to delay a vaccine, tell them there is no risk in delaying the vaccine, and not mention any of the potential risks, especially that kids can sometimes get hepatitis B without engaging in high risk behaviors. From a needle-stick injury in the park to getting bit at daycare by an asymptomatic child whose parents don’t even know that they have hepatitis B, you can’t say that there is no risk.

Of the 40,000 newly infected people with hepatitis B each year, there are thought to be up to 950 infants who develop chronic hepatitis B from an untreated perinatal hepatitis B virus exposure. Even if it is more rare than that, skipping or delaying the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine is an unnecessary risk.

The AAP, CDC, and ACIP all recommend that newborns should get their first dose of hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth.

What to Know Your Baby’s Hepatitis B Shots

The hepatitis B vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect your baby from hepatitis B, a potentially life-threatening disease, and there is no good reason to skip their birth dose.

More About Your Baby’s Hepatitis B Shots

Vaccines Work

Most people understand that vaccines work.

“…for those trained in pediatrics in the 1970s, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) was a horror.”

Walter Orenstein, MD

And that they work well.

The Pre-Vaccine Era

Just consider that in the pre-vaccine era, there were:

  • up to 15,000 deaths and 200,000 diphtheria cases each year until the 1940s
  • an average of 175,000 cases of pertussis each year in the early 1940s
  • 1,118 deaths from pertussis in 1950
  • 467 deaths from pertussis in 1955
  • up to 20,000 cases of paralytic polio each year until the early 1950s
  • an average of about 186,000 cases of mumps each year before 1967
  • an average of 40 deaths a year from mumps in the 1960s
  • up to 500 deaths and 500,000 measles cases each year until the early 1960s
  • a rubella epidemic in 1964-65 that caused 12.5 million rubella virus infections and “resulted in 11,250 therapeutic or spontaneous abortions, 2,100 neonatal deaths, and 20,000 infants born with congenital rubella syndrome”
  • up to 20,000 cases of invasive H. influenzae (Hib) disease each year, with more than half of them having meningitis, and about 300 to 600 deaths, mostly children under age 2 years. In 1980, 45 children died with epiglottitis and there were an additional 222 deaths from Hib meningitis.
  • up to 11,000 hospitalizations and 100 chicken pox deaths each year until 1995
  • before 2000, up to 17,000 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease in children younger than 5 years each year, including 13,000 cases of bacteria (blood infection) and 700 cases of pneumococcal meningitis, with 200 deaths.
  • just over 400,000 visits to the doctor and up to 272,000 visits to the emergency room, 70,000 hospitalizations and 20 to 60 deaths each year in children under age 5 years because of rotavirus infections until 2006

Although we are seeing more outbreaks of some of these diseases these days, it is important to remember that they in no way resemble the kinds of epidemics that we once saw before today’s vaccines were introduced.

And in addition to smallpox being eradicated, others have really been eliminated, like congenital rubella syndrome, diphtheria, neonatal tetanus, neonatal tetanus, and polio. Still others are well controlled, including hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and Hib.

The Idea That Vaccines Don’t Work

Could it be that vaccines don’t work and that it was hygiene, sanitation, and better nutrition that caused the decline in many of these cases?

Of course not, but if they did, then why did pertussis cases decline in the 1940s and it wasn’t until the late 1960s and early 1970s that mumps started to decline.

“From the 1930s through the 1950s, state and local health departments made substantial progress in disease prevention activities, including sewage disposal, water treatment, food safety, organized solid waste disposal, and public education about hygienic practices (e.g., foodhandling and handwashing). ”

CDC on Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Control of Infectious Diseases

That’s not to say that we didn’t see a big drop in mortality in nearly all conditions in the first half of the 20th century.

We did have big improvements in sanitation, nutrition, and health care that helped folks survive if they got sick. After all, this was the time that:

  • penicillin was discovered
  • testing could be done to detect and diagnose many infectious diseases
  • they began fortifying milk with vitamin D
  • we had the establishment of hospital blood banks

But even with all of these improvements, people continued to die of diphtheria, measles, and pertussis, etc., even if it wasn’t at 18th or 19th century levels.

Measles mortality was decreasing after the beginning of the 20th Century, but eventually leveled off to about 400 deaths each year in the pre-vaccine era.
Measles mortality was decreasing after the beginning of the 20th Century, but eventually leveled off to about 400 deaths each year in the pre-vaccine era.

In addition to the idea that better sanitation and nutrition got rid of vaccine-preventable diseases, another idea that anti-vaccine folks push is that these diseases disappear because we simply change their names after a vaccine is introduced.

So polio didn’t go away, it became acute flaccid paralysis and Guillian-Barré syndrome.

Measles became roseola.

Smallpox became monkey pox.

And pertussis became croup.

Of course, these ideas are silly.

If better sanitation and nutrition got rid of vaccine-preventable diseases, then why didn’t it get rid of all of them at the same time? And is it just a coincidence that chicken pox, rotavirus, polio, measles, hepatitis B, and Hib all started to decline at about the same time that a vaccine against each disease was introduced?

Also, why hasn’t hygiene, sanitation, and better nutrition helped RSV, HIV, West Nile virus and other non-vaccine preventable diseases disappear

And if we just change the names of diseases to prove that vaccines work, why don’t we change the name of the flu? Or why don’t we introduce an RSV vaccine that doesn’t work and then just change the name of RSV to something else?

Lastly, where are all of the people with monkey pox?

Vaccines Work

Vaccines aren’t perfect. We need boosters for some and are dealing with problems of waning immunity with others.

“The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest”

Hillary Clinton on Twitter

Vaccines aren’t 100% effective. That’s one of the reasons that intentionally unvaccinated people put all of us at risk.

Vaccines are safe though and work very well to protect us from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Without these vaccines, we would be seeing much larger outbreaks of measles, mumps, and pertussis, etc. that are harder to contain. We would also be seeing more deaths and other serious complications from these diseases.

What To Know About How Vaccines Work

Vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary. Vaccines work very well to protect us from the vaccine-preventable diseases that have now either been eliminated or are well controlled at much lower levels than they were at in the pre-vaccine era.

More About Vaccines Work

Are You on the Fence About Vaccines?

If you have doubts about vaccinating your kids, but you are still doing research, then you are probably what people like to call a fence sitter.

On the Fence About Vaccines

Folks who are on the fence haven’t made a decision yet and are torn between what they see as two difficult options.

In this case, the two options we are talking about are:

  1. vaccinate your kids
  2. don’t vaccinate your kids

What makes those options difficult?

If you spend a little time on the Internet, those two options get complicated quickly and can turn into:

  1. vaccinate your kids – exposing them to toxins and all kinds of vaccine-induced diseases, from autism to SIDS
  2. don’t vaccinate your kids – risking a deadly disease because they are unvaccinated or the possibility that someone will come and force you to get them vaccinated

How do you figure out the truth to help you make the right decision for your family?

The Truth Behind Your Vaccine Decision

Most parents vaccinate their kids on time and on schedule.

These books about vaccines can help with your research about vaccinating and protecting your family.
These vaccine books can help you make the right decision if you are on the fence about vaccines.

Do they all have a hard time making their decision?

Most don’t.

They understand the risks their children face if they aren’t vaccinated.

“When a well-meaning parent like Jenny McCarthy blames vaccines for her child’s autism, placing the fear of God into every parent who has a baby, it’s not only irresponsible – it’s dangerous. Why? It’s simple math: vaccines are less effective when large numbers of parents opt out. And the more who opt out, the less protected ALL our children are.

Celebrity books come and go . . . but the anxiety they create lives on in pediatricians’ offices across the country. A small, but growing number of parents are even lying about their religious beliefs to avoid having their children vaccinated, thanks in part to the media hysteria created by this book.”

Ari Brown, MD responding to Jenny McCarthy appearing on Oprah

That’s not to say that they don’t think about their decision to vaccinate their kids. Or even think twice about it.

But in the end, they know that:

  • vaccines work – even if they aren’t perfect and waning immunity is an issue with a few vaccines
  • vaccines are safe – even if they do have some side effects, which can rarely be severe
  • vaccines are necessary – without them, we would end up in like it was in the pre-vaccine era, even with modern health care, nutrition, and sanitation, etc.

And they know that their decision might affect others around them.

If your research about vaccines has pushed you off the wrong side of the fence and into your pediatrician’s office with a copy of Dr. Bob’s vaccine book demanding an alternative immunization schedule, then you might want to do a little more research.

Misinformed Consent

Most importantly, parents who choose to vaccinate their kids don’t believe the myths and conspiracy theories that might lead them to skip or delay any recommended vaccines.

“If you see a turtle sitting on top of a fence post, it didn’t get there by accident.”

President Bill Clinton

Ironically, the anti-vaccine “experts” and websites that scare some parents often talk about choice and informed consent.

Understand though, that by exaggerating the risks of vaccines and vaccine injury (no, vaccines are not full of toxins), playing down the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases (no, they are not mild diseases that should be thought of as a rite of passage), and ignoring the benefits of vaccines (yes, vaccines do work), they are violating the basic tenets of informed consent themselves.

And that limits your ability to make the right choice for your family.

Making the Right Decision About Vaccines

There is nothing wrong with asking questions and being skeptical about the answers you get.

No one wants to return to the days when reports of measles epidemics made the front page of the New York Times.
No one wants to return to the days when reports of measles epidemics made the front page of the New York Times.

With all of the things you see and hear about vaccines, there is nothing wrong with being a little scared and wanting to do more research, instead of blindly following the advice of your pediatrician.

But remember that if you are going to be skeptical and are not going to blindly follow the advice of someone you know and maybe trust, then don’t blindly believe everything you read on the Internet that says vaccines are bad.

“My husband and I agreed we would just not have our new baby vaccinated until she was at least 1 year old, which seemed like enough time to continue looking for information. Also, we were not concerned that she was at risk of contracting any serious childhood illnesses.

We were wrong.

A week before our baby girl’s first birthday, she was feverish and listless. When she refused to nurse for 24 hours, I took her to see our pediatrician. She was hurriedly admitted to intensive care with the diagnosis of spinal meningitis caused by Haemophilus influenzae, type B, which is a vaccine-preventable disease.”

Suzanne Walther on A Parent’s Decision on Immunization: Making the Right Choice

Suzanne Walther discovered that “it is easy for parents to be misinformed. It is a real challenge to be well informed.”

What questions did she want answers to?

  • Are vaccines really effective at preventing diseases? – Yes, although they aren’t 100% effective, vaccines do work well at preventing and controlling 16 different vaccine-preventable diseases on our childhood immunization schedule. And yes, vaccines did help eliminate smallpox and herd immunity is real.
  • How are vaccines made? – Vaccines are made in a multi-step process that begins with generating the antigens that will go in the vaccine and then moves to releasing and isolating the antigen from the growth medium, purifying the antigen, strengthening and stabilizing the vaccine, and then combining it all into the final vaccine. Unlike videos you may have seen on the Internet, there is nothing scary about this very scientific process.
  • Are they tested for safety? – Vaccines are extensively tested in Phase I, II, and III trials before they are approved and added to the immunization schedule. This entire vaccine development process may take as long as 10 to 15 years.
  • Are there ongoing clinical trials to rule out the possibility that vaccines cause diseases later in life? – Yes, after vaccines are approved and are added to the immunization schedule, ongoing Phase IV studies continue to monitor their safety and efficacy. In addition, Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project, and the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) help make sure vaccines are safe after they are approved.
  • Have allegations of adverse reactions been studied and confirmed or refuted? – Yes. In addition to several Institute of Medicine Vaccine reports, study after study have shown that vaccines don’t cause autism, SIDS, ASIA, or any of the other vaccine induced diseases “they” come up with.
  • And, last but not least, where can I get truthful, clear answers to my questions? – In addition to your pediatrician, there are plenty of vaccine books, sites, and groups that can help you get educated about vaccines.

Today, she might also have had questions about package inserts, aluminum, MTHFR mutations, shedding, vaccine mandates, the CDC Whistleblower, and the HPV vaccine. These and a hundred more have been answered over and over again.

Suzanne Walther learned about vaccines the hard way – after her infant contracted Hib meningitis, a vaccine-preventable disease. She also discovered that you can sometimes delay or wait too long to vaccinate your child.

What will you do to be well informed and to make sure you are making the right choice?

What to Know If You Are on the Fence About Vaccines

It is easy to be misinformed about vaccines, especially if you are on the fence and aren’t sure what to do. Get educated and and be sure you are making the right decision for your family.

More About One the Fence About Vaccines